clean energy


solar panelsOK. Texas started. In addition to the ones mentioned here, there are also schools with some solar panels. Can the whole country do this? Can we do a better job at recycling at school? Can we turn in more work electronically and not on paper? Can they cut down on the AC sometimes? What’s happening where you live?

Schools find it easy being green

Districts strive to make campuses eco-friendly.

Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen


AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Sunday, August 26, 2007

When it comes to building schools, district leaders and taxpayers are focused on being green: being environmentally friendly as well as fiscally responsible.

Several campuses are opening for the first time Monday in the Austin area, and dozens of other campuses and school buildings are under construction or are being renovated. Many have gone green — using recyclable materials in construction and operation and saving on water and energy — as part of a nationwide movement that touts green schools as healthier for students and cheaper to operate.

Almost four years ago, the Austin school district made the largest purchase to date of renewable energy from Austin Energy’s GreenChoice program: 45.7 million kilowatt-hours annually of solar, wind or geothermal power. It was the largest such purchase by a school district nationwide. The district is eligible for $430,000 in Austin Energy rebates for environmentally friendly projects in the 2004 $519.5 million bond program.

When Pickle Elementary School opened in Northeast Austin in 1999, it was the first Austin campus to include green building features like proper solar orientation to better take advantage of natural light, which helps it use 25 percent less energy than other campuses, along with rainwater collection to replace water that evaporates out of air conditioners and salvaged long-leaf pine floors. An analysis estimates that those features will save the district $12 million over the life of the school.

Schools represent the largest construction sector in the nation, with $53 billion being spent this year, and they are the fastest-growing market for green building, which is expected to account for 5 percent to 10 percent of the school construction market by 2010, according to the Council of Educational Facility Planners International.

About 60 schools across the country, including two in Dallas and Houston, have been certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit organization in Washington that sets “green” standards. An additional 370 are in the pipeline; one San Marcos school is among the nine in Texas.

I wonder who is behind THESE people.

Not everyone believes that it’s easier being green, however. Saying that building costs would skyrocket, the Fast Growth School Coalition, a group of 124 Texas school districts, helped defeat a bill during the most recent legislative session that would have required all school construction to fall in line with standards set by the Green Building Council.

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Aryeh wrote yesterday at YouThinkLeft about how Obama supported liquefied coal, which is one of the most inefficient uses of fossil fuel yet invented, and about how this will cost him among environmentally-conscious voters.

There’s better news this week out of Texas. Yes, Texas. A $20 million dollar wind power research center will be built in Corpus
Christi in order to test longer wind turbine blades and other innovations in the area of wind power.

An article from yesterday’s Dallas Star-Telegram explains that:

Texas strengthened its position as the nation’s No. 1 wind-energy state Monday when the U.S. Department of Energy selected a site near Corpus Christi for one of two $20 million research centers for next-generation wind-turbine blades.

The Lone Star Wind Alliance, which includes universities in Texas and other states as well as state agencies, has pledged $18 million to design, build and operate the research center on 22 acres in Ingleside donated by BP. The Energy Department will contribute $2 million in test equipment.

A site in Boston also was selected with a similar financial arrangement.

The centers will test blades as long as 100 meters, or about 330 feet, about 50 percent larger than the longest blades currently produced and about twice as long as the blades commonly used in new installations. The larger blades are outgrowing the research capabilities of the government’s facility in Colorado.

“These two testing facilities represent an important next step in the expansion of the competitiveness of the U.S. wind-energy industry,” Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said in a statement. The government’s contributions are subject to congressional appropriations.

The same article also notes that the United States is far behind Europe in developing this technology, but also points out that this recent decision by the U.S. Department of energy helps Texas to strengthen “its position as the nation’s No. 1 wind-energy state“.

World Environment Day — What can WE do?

solar powerBryce from YouthInkLeft had a great post this morning giving his ideas for ways we can celebrate World Environment Day, June 5. As that day draws to a close, it’s time to look at what actions we can do for the environment for the days and months ahead. Bryce gave great suggestions for things people can do, and I have a few more to add.

  1. Get the government to require better mileage and force the auto makers to sell their efficient cars here. If they sell them in Europe, they should sell them here.
  2. Start a campaign to get your town or county to use solar and wind energy. Here’s an example.
  3. Get energy-saving products for your home, including new technology like this:
    1. sunlight table
    2. solar panels
    3. efficient light bulbs
    4. solar or electric cars
    5. swamp coolers instead of air conditioning
    6. Get rid of junk mail.
  4. Learn more
  5. Learn even more.
  6. This one’s my favorite, but I don’t think I’ll get one. 😦 Not this year.

electric motorcycle

What else can we do? Any or all of us?

Like most of my political posts,

this is cross-posted at Political Teen Tidbits and at YouThinkLeft.

I hate the idea that I am in the state that was just named “No. 1 in carbon dioxide emissions” by the AP. THIS is why we need more solar and wind energy and a lot less coal.

Dubious honor: Texas No. 1 in carbon dioxide emissions
By SETH BORENSTEIN

WASHINGTON — America may spew more greenhouse gases than any other country, but some states are astonishingly more prolific polluters than others — and it’s not always the ones you might expect.

The Associated Press analyzed state-by-state emissions of carbon
dioxide from 2003, the latest U.S. Energy Department numbers available. The review shows startling differences in states’ contribution to climate change.

The biggest reason? The burning of high-carbon coal to produce cheap electricity.

—Wyoming’s coal-fired power plants produce more carbon dioxide in just eight hours than the power generators of more populous Vermont do in a year.

—Texas, the leader in emitting this greenhouse gas, cranks out more
than the next two biggest producers combined, California and
Pennsylvania, which together have twice Texas’ population.

—In sparsely populated Alaska, the carbon dioxide produced per person
by all the flying and driving is six times the per capita amount
generated by travelers in New York state.

“There’s no question that some states have made choices to be greener
than others,” said former top Energy Department official Joseph Romm,
author of the new book “Hell and High Water” and executive director of
a nonprofit energy conservation group.

The disparity in carbon dioxide emissions is one of the reasons there
is no strong national effort to reduce global warming gases, some experts say. National emissions dipped ever so slightly last year, but
that was mostly because of mild weather, according to the Energy
Department.

“Some states are benefiting from both cheap electricity while polluting
the planet and make all the rest of us suffer the consequences of
global warming,” said Frank O’Donnell, director of the Washington
environmental group Clean Air Watch. “I don’t think that’s fair at all.”

He noted that the states putting out the most carbon dioxide are doing the least to control it, except for California.

Several federal and state officials say it’s unfair and nonsensical to
examine individual states’ contribution to what is a global problem.

“If the atmosphere could talk it wouldn’t say, ‘Kudos to California,
not so good to Wyoming’,” said assistant energy secretary Alexander
“Andy” Karsner. “It would say, ‘Stop sending me emissions.'”

Some coal-burning states note that they are providing electricity to customers beyond their borders, including Californians. Wyoming is the largest exporter of energy to other states, Gov. Dave Freudenthal told The Associated Press.

He said two-thirds of the state’s carbon footprint “is a consequence of
energy that is developed to feed the rest of the national economy. That
doesn’t mean that somehow then it’s good carbon, I’m just saying that’s
why those numbers come out the way are,” Freudenthal said.

And the massive carbon dioxide-spewing and power-gobbling refineries of Texas and Louisiana fuel an oil-hungry nation, whose residents whine
when gasoline prices rise.

However, some of the disparities are stunning.

On a per-person basis, Wyoming spews more carbon dioxide than any other state or any other country: 276,000 pounds of it per capita a year, thanks to burning coal, which provides nearly all of the state’s electrical power.

Yet, just next door to the west, Idaho emits the least carbon dioxide per person, less than 23,000 pounds a year. Idaho forbids coal power plants. It relies mostly on non-polluting hydroelectric power from its
rivers.

Texas, where coal barely edges out cleaner natural gas as the top power
source, belches almost 1 1/2 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide yearly.
That’s more than every nation in the world except six: the United States, China, Russia, Japan, India and Germany.

Of course, Texas is a very populous state. North Dakota isn’t, but its
power plants crank out 68 percent more carbon dioxide than New Jersey, which has 13 times North Dakota’s residents.

And while Californians have cut their per-person carbon dioxide
emissions by 11 percent from 1990 to 2003, Nebraskans have increased their per capita emissions by 16 percent over the same time frame.

Officials in Wyoming, North Dakota and Alaska say numbers in their
states are skewed because of their small populations. But Vermont,
Rhode Island and the District of Columbia are similar in size and have
one-12th the per-capita emissions of Wyoming.

A lot of it comes down to King Coal.

Click here for more.

Like most of my political posts, this is cross-posted at Political Teen Tidbits and at YouThinkLeft.

 

Who’s enjoying all these high gas prices? Not consumers. Not drivers. Not truckers. Yep, you guessed it …

high gas prices

Is it time yet for fuel efficient cars and alternative sources of energy?


The US is number 1 !!!! (Is that a good thing?))

There is a new list out of all of the things that United States leads in. Unfortunately, the list excludes things like health care, education, press freedom and income equality. Instead, consider these items:

First in oil consumption:

The United States burns up 20.7 million barrels per day, the equivalent of the oil consumption of China, Japan, Germany, Russia, and India combined.

First in carbon dioxide emissions:

Each year, world polluters pump 24,126,416,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the environment. The United States
and its territories are responsible for 5.8 billion metric tons of
this, more than China (3.3 billion), Russia (1.4 billion) and India
(1.2 billion) combined.

First in external debt:

The United States owes $10.040 trillion, nearly a quarter of the global debt total of $44 trillion.

First in military expenditures:

The White House has requested $481 billion for the Department of
Defense for 2008, but this huge figure does not come close to
representing total U.S. military expenditures projected for the coming
year. To get a sense of the resources allocated to the military, the
costs of the global war on terrorism, of the building, refurbishing, or
maintaining of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and other expenses also need to be factored in. Military analyst Winslow Wheeler did the math recently: “Add $142 billion to cover the anticipated costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; add $17 billion requested for nuclear weapons costs in the Department of Energy; add another $5 billion for miscellaneous defense costs in other agencies … and you get a grand total of $647 billion for 2008.”

Taking another approach to the use of U.S. resources, Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard Business School lecturer Linda Bilmes added to known costs of the war in Iraq invisible costs like its impact on global oil prices as well as the long-term cost of healthcare for wounded veterans and came up with a price tag of between $1 trillion and $2.2 trillion.

If we turned what the United States will spend on the military in 2008 into small bills, we could give each one of the world’s more than 1 billion teenagers and young adults an Xbox 360 with wireless controller (power supply in remote rural areas not included) and two video games to play: maybe Gears of War and Command and Conquer would be appropriate. But if we’re committed to fighting obesity, maybe Dance Dance Revolution would be a better bet. The United States alone spends what the rest of the world combined devotes to military expenditures.

First in weapons sales:

Since 2001, U.S. global military sales have normally totaled between
$10 and $13 billion. That’s a lot of weapons, but in fiscal year 2006,
the Pentagon broke its own recent record, inking arms sales agreements worth $21 billion. It almost goes without saying that this is significantly more than any other nation in the world.

First in sales of surface-to-air missiles:

Between 2001 and 2005, the United States delivered 2,099 surface-to-air missiles to nations in the developing world, 20 percent more than Russia, the next-largest supplier.

First in sales of military ships:

During that same period, the United States sent 10 “major surface combatants” like aircraft carriers and destroyers to developing nations. Collectively, the four major European weapons producers shipped 13. (And we were first in the anti-ship missiles that go along with such ships, with nearly double [338] the exports of the next largest supplier Russia [180]).

First in military training:

A thoughtful empire knows that it is not enough to send weapons; you have to teach people how to use them. The Pentagon plans on training the militaries of 138 nations in 2008 at a cost of nearly $90 million. No other nation comes close.

First in private military personnel:

According to bestselling author Jeremy Scahill, there are at least 126,000 private military personnel deployed alongside uniformed military personnel in Iraq alone. Of the more than 60 major companies that supply such personnel worldwide, more than 40
are U.S.-based.

And here are some things where we are no longer #1:

Not first in automobiles:

Once, Chrysler, General Motors and Ford ruled the domestic and global roost, setting the standard for the automotive industry. Not any more. In 2006, the United States imported almost $150 billion more in vehicles and auto parts than it sent abroad. Automotive analyst Joe Barker told the Boston Globe, “It’s a very tough environment” for the so-called Detroit Three. “In times of softening demand, consumers typically will look to brands that they trust and rely on. Consumers trust and rely on Japanese brands.”

Not even first in bulk goods:

The Department of Commerce
recently announced total March exports of $126.2 billion and total
imports of $190.1 billion, resulting in a goods and services deficit of
$63.9 billion. This is a $6 billion increase over February.

Like most of my political posts, this is cross-posted at Political Teen Tidbits and at YouThinkLeft.

coal plant Oil and coal are important industries in Texas, so it makes some sense that the state legislature wants to protect them, but global warming is real and it is happening very fast and we need to do more to counteract it. Changing 10 lightbulbs in my small apartment is a help but there needs to be a change at the level of industry, public financed infrastructure, energy planning, and and big corporations. So why is Texas going the other way? As reported on the front page of today’s Austin-American Statesman, Global warming measures on hold.

The lawmakers in Texas are concerned about the owners of power plants, who contribute to their campaigns but they are not serving the needs of Texans or the planet. According to the article

A United Nations report released Friday says
policymakers around the globe should take stronger steps to address
climate change. In Texas, however, lawmakers have largely shrugged off
the issue.

The state of Texas is not serious enough about this issue and the lawmakers don’t seem to realize that there can be a lot of economic growth for the state in alternative energy, such as wind and solar power. Some laws about that have been proposoed this session,

But most proposals at the Capitol explicitly
addressing climate change have languished in committees. Committee
heads say they don’t believe human activity affects climate change and
say they don’t want to put the state at a competitive disadvantage
before the federal government acts.”

Given the fact below and the huge number of coal power plants in Texas, it is time for environmentalists everywhere, and anyone who cares about the future of our planet, to help change the policies in Texas.

U.N. scientists estimate that the biggest
increases in carbon dioxide emissions could come in electrical
generation and urged policymakers to shift away from coal-fired power
plants to natural gas, nuclear and renewable sources.

Texas Campaign for the Environment and Environment Texas may be good places to start.

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