Monday, February 26, 2007

Australia's Bright Idea.

I'm not surprised that it happened, I'm surprised that it happened now. I thought this kind of thing would be longer in coming.

From USAToday:

SYDNEY, Australia — The Australian government on Tuesday announced plans to phase out incandescent light bulbs and replace them with more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs across the country.

Legislation to gradually restrict the sale of the old-style bulbs could reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 4 million tons by 2012 and cut household power bills by up to 66%, said Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Australia produced almost 565 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2004, official figures show.

Prime Minister John Howard said the plan would help all Australians play a part in cutting harmful gas emissions: "Here's something practical that everybody will participate in."


Australia is not the only place looking to replace them with fluorescent lighting, which is more efficient and longer lasting.

Last month, a California assemblyman announced he would propose a bill to ban the use of incandescent bulbs in his state. And a New Jersey lawmaker has called for the state to switch to fluorescent lighting in government buildings within three years.

Cuba's Fidel Castro launched a similar program two years ago, sending youth brigades into homes and switching out regular bulbs for energy-saving ones to help battle electrical blackouts around the island.

The idea was later embraced by Castro's friend and ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who announced his own program to save energy and in recent months has given away millions of incandescent bulbs in neighborhoods nationwide.

Is It Anything like a Furby?

Yay! I've adopted my very own MP!

The Climate Action Network has started a "Adopt an MP" program.

Thirteen MPs have been assigned a task that would make any self-respecting politician tremble. While balancing pressures from lobby groups, their own political parties and, yes, environmental organizations, they have to improve Canada’s Clean Air Act to make it more acceptable to Canadians.
Adoptive parents will be asked to send emails prepared by CAN-RAC to your MP. If you have more time to devote to parenting duties you can follow the committee proceedings and send your feedback on your MP’s actual performance. Unlike real parenting, how much time you spend on your MP is totally up to you.

Interesting. I've selected Ottawa-South MP David McGuinty. Say hello, Dave.


I don't currently live in Ottawa South, but I will in a few weeks...or months. Whenever the hell we finally move in to our new house. There's been a delay in the closing date, don't you know.

But that's neither here nor there. Bottom line is that my current MP is recently-appointed Environment Minister John Baird (I miss you, me?), and McGuinty (who will henceforth be know as "D-Mac" to street him up a bit) will be my next one. Sweet!

I lead a charmed life, I tell you. Except when it comes to having houses built. There, karma chooses to kick me in the ass to make up for all the other stuff that's so good.

So...I don't know what to do right now. I don't believe that I'm expected to feed him like a Furby, put a towel over his head to make him sleep or change his diaper or anything. I'm still a little unsure. But I'll think on it for a spell and at least introduce myself at some during the course of the week.

I hope my adopted MP and I get along...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Song for Africa.

I'm signed up for so many newsletters and Google alerts, that if I go a couple of days without checking my e-mail inbox, I can drown in unread messages. I checked around mid-week and I believe at that point I had 138 unread.

Yet there are times I still find it hard to come up with something to post about. I don't want to go over old ground unless it's to add a twist to things previously talked about. There are only so many things you can say about certain subjects without repeating yourself and/or being preachy. I'd like to avoid both (though I probably repeat myself all the time, since I do it in person).

But even though I probably have 200+ e-mails to sort through, the topic of conversation tonight came as a result of trying to see what the members of the greatest band in the world were up to.

That's right, Big Sugar. I've seen these guys nine times in eight different venues, including one in Kingston (thanks again, Kathy). They broke up a couple of years ago but the various members remain in the music business and I'm convinced at some point, they're getting back together.

In any event, my attention was drawn to a link on the website of a member of theirs named Mr Chill (Huh...that's not his real name...). He states...

Mr. Chill participated in the recording of this song, along with Gordie Johnson, Ian Thornley, Danny Greaves, Damhnait Doyle, Choclair and Ian D'sa (from Billy Talent) to name just a few. Please go to iTunes to download the song and video and we urge you to go to Song For Africa for more important info. Learn how you can help fight the AIDS pandemic in Africa.

Gordie Johnson was Big Sugar's front man, and if they did get back together, it wouldn't be Big Sugar without him and Mr Chill reunited.

So what's the deally-o, daddy-o, with this Song for Africa, anyway? Well...

Over the past several years, it has come to the attention of certain key industry players involved in the Canadian Music Industry, that the aids pandemic in Africa has become a worldwide call for concern. It is now a statistical fact that over 21.8 million deaths have occurred since the beginning of the aids pandemic. It has also become harsh reality and statistic to report that over 4.3 million children have been killed by the aids pandemic since it’s beginning. Furthermore, there are over 18 million orphan children living in the world who have lost their parents due to the aids crisis. It has also been suggested that over 6600 people are dying daily from this disease...

With the above facts in mind, representatives based in the Canadian music industry including top recording artists, writers, producers and media have felt the need to utilize their powerful influence in the Canadian popular culture and mass media to raise awareness and call Canadian citizens to action all over the country, those who are not aware of the aids pandemic occurring throughout the world, with a specific focus on Africa.

Ah? I'd be lying if I said that I recognize most of the names of the list of artists involved, but so long as those two are involved (and Tara Slone's name jumps out at me too...she used to sing for Joydrop), I'm interested. Especially if proceeds are going to a good cause. Maybe we'll give this a listen...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Slam Evil!

Couldn't ask for better timing for this story to come out, since I discussed something similar just a few days ago. Another comic company is donating sales proceeds to a charity that helps young people deal with the hardships of war in their country.

The Phantom isn't a character I've ever gotten bit-time into, though I did see the 1996 movie with Billy Zane and a then-unknown, but no less global warming, Catherine Zeta-Jones. I would suspect that, if the character is written true to form, that this would be a non-violent book that parents could buy for their kids. They might even be able to trick them into learning something that way!

Here are excepts from an article on a site called Comic Book Resources:

...people around the world remain exploited and violated...such as in Uganda where children are being kidnapped for use as pawns in a barbaric war.

While it may seem there's not much you...can do to fight these acts of sadism, writer Mike Bullock and Moonstone Books have teamed up to show that you're wrong.

Beginning in June's "The Phantom"#17, and continuing through issue #19, proceeds from the sale of each issue will be donated to the charity Invisible Children to create sanctuaries for these children, safe havens where they may live in peace and with proper nourishment. CBR News spoke with Bullock to learn about these real life villains, what his "Phantom"story is all about and the origins of the tale.
Full article

Sunday, February 18, 2007

George W Bush T-Shirt Slogans

Just repeating something I saw on a message board. Many of them cracked me up.

1) (On an infant's shirt) Already smarter than Bush.

2) 1/20/09: End of an Error

3) That's OK, I Wasn't Using My Civil Liberties Anyway

4) Let's Fix Democracy in This Country First

5) Bush. Like a Rock. Only Dumber.

6) You Can't Be Pro-War And Pro-Life At The Same Time

7) If You Can Read This, You're Not Our President

8) Hey, Bush Supporters: Embarrassed Yet?

9) George Bush: Creating the Terrorists Our Kids Will Have to Fight

10) Impeachment: It's Not Just for Blowjobs Anymore

11) : One Nation, Under Surveillance

12) They Call Him "W" So He Can Spell It

13) Which God Do You Kill For?

14) Jail to the Chief

15) Who Would Jesus Torture?

16) No, Seriously, Why Did We Invade?

17) Bush: God's Way of Proving Intelligent Design is Full Of Crap

18) Bad president! No Banana.

19) We Need a President Who's Fluent In At Least One Language

20) We're Making Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill Them

21) Rich Man's War, Poor Man's Blood

22) Is It Yet?

23) Bush Doesn't Care About White People, Either

24) Where Are We Going? And Why Are We In This Handbasket?

25) You Elected Him. You Deserve Him.

26) Impeach Cheney First

27) Dubya, Your Dad Shoulda Pulled Out, Too

28) When Bush Took Office, Gas Was $1.46

29) The Republican Party: Our Bridge to the 11th Century

30) 2004: Embarrassed 2005: Horrified 2006: Terrified

FAX on Junk Mail

Here's a little tip that I spotted in a newsletter from Green Communities:

FAX ON JUNK MAIL. In addition to limiting where you provide your mailing address, stop a good deal of junk mail, and waste, by registering with the Canadian Marketing Association’s Do Not Call/Mail list. Get the low down on CRTC regulations regarding unsolicited FAX use and use a simple ‘No Flyers’ sticker on your mail box. Send the junk back for advertisers to deal with (and pay for through taxes in their own municipality, not yours) by using postage paid envelopes.

Apparently the CMA involves about 800 companies.

More applicable to us, they have a "no call" list as well. The last time I stayed home from work due to illness, the phone rang seven times during the day. Being that no one was supposed to be home, it can be nothing but marketing calls and perhaps a wrong number or two. It's insane.

It's said to take about six weeks to take effect. Because we're moving and likely changing numbers, we may not get to really evaluate how well it's worked but it's worth a shot. And if it makes things worse, we'll know for the new place.

I didn't sign up for the mailing one yet, in the event that it prevents me from receiving mail from certain charities I've supported (I doubt it, but didn't want to take the chance).

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I'm Five Degrees from Kevin Bacon.

I work with a guy named Guy Leduc.

Guy has met actor Adam Beach.

Adam Beach was in Joe Dirt, with the lovely Christopher Walken.

Christopher Walken was also in Catch Me if You can, which co-starred Tom Hanks.

Tom Hanks was in Apollo 13 with...Kevin Bacon! God, it's like we're blood relatives!**

From this silly little game, Kevin Bacon started a community of people dedicated to raising funds for their favourite cause. Not surprisingly, he named it Six Degrees. Anyone with a charity that they particularly care for can create their profile and provide people an easy method by which to donate.

I quiet like this idea. I frequent a number of message boards and such, but I know that there are people that do far more of that than I do, and in a more widespread manner (MySpace, etc). I would create a Six Degrees profile and include a link to it in my signature for every message board of which I'm a part. Even if people who view it are not motivated to donate, you can at least increase awareness to your cause.

**Surely Kevin Bacon and Christopher Walken have done a movie together at some point??

Annual Japanese Dolphin Slaughter

I first came across the Japanese dolphin slaughter last summer in a magazine called Shock (if I recall correctly).

As you can determine from the name, the publications intent is really just to curl your toes. I forget what really drew me to flip through it, but among the first few pages was a picture of a boat (I believe in Taiji) and a couple of guys in wet suits one of whom was swimming in what appeared to be V8. Draw your own conclusions.

And I thought I had a shitty job.

There were little details so I wasn't sure how to go about finding out more about it, but I figured sooner or later I'd come across it again. And sure enough it resurfaced in an e-mail from the Earth Island Institute. They refer to a site named, on which I came across the following blog entry:

The Save Japan Dolphins Coalition is back on the ground in Taiji, Japan. The dolphin hunters appear to be extremely angry, even more so than we have ever seen them in the past. Every action has a reaction. Our success in getting the Okuwa Supermarket chain to ban the sale of dolphin meat must cost the dolphin hunters a great deal of money. No doubt this upsets them greatly. Adding to their frustration is the fact that we are currently working to block the export of the Taiji Twelve to the Dominican Republic.

Apparently the dolphin hunters have seen our recent dolphin capture footage, which is running on YouTube and is being viewed by thousands of people worldwide every day. They have reacted by putting 24 new signs up in the same area from where we shot the compelling video. To further prevent anyone from witnessing the dolphin massacres, they have erected a wall that prevents anyone from entering the tsunami mountain – a favorite location for observing the victim dolphins who are driven into the secret killing cove.

There was a time when the dolphin slaughter took place in the open. Those days are gone forever. As the international exposure grows larger and larger, the circle is getting smaller and smaller for these few dolphin hunters in Taiji. It is only a matter of time before their anachronistic and barbaric practice is abolished forever, and they know it: They once told us that if the world ever learned about the annual dolphin slaughter, they would have to stop it. And the world is finally learning about it.

The 13 dolphin drive boats went out to sea at daybreak today. They did not find any dolphins. It is getting late in the killing season and the dolphins are thinning out. The pickings are – fortunately – slim.

In terms of numbers, we're talking about 23,000 or so killed per year.

I'm a little surprised, considering the amount of attention the Canadian seal hunt gets, that this doesn't get talked about more. Granted, it's less than a tenth of the volume of seals killed, but nonetheless I would think that it would generate more outrage ( I know, I know...if they smelled more donations to come from, they'd give it more attention).

Another good source of information about this, from what I could gather at first glance, is the One Voice Project site. And this link you'll be able to contact, if you're so inclined, the International Marine Animal Trainers Association in order to ask that they cease doing business with the Taiji dolphin hunters.

Friday, February 16, 2007

An Offer I Can't Refuse!

Received an offer to help from PETA recently:

Have you ever wanted to participate in one of PETA’s infamous nearly nude protests? Well, this is your chance!

We are currently looking for volunteers to participate in an upcoming “Die-In” demo happening in Ottawa next Thursday, February 22, from noon to 1 pm. This attention-grabbing demo will feature several nearly nude activists – guys and gals – lying silently in a pile with fake blood to depict the plight of Canadian harp seals who are bludgeoned to death and often skinned alive for their fur.

Huh...Let me check the weather network first. This THIT doesn't want to expose his twig and berries to -25 celsius weather any more than he has to. Jeepers...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Got Ice Cap?

A little visual aid, for kicks.

Haven't You Outgrown Those Yet?

The above was an insulting reply by a friend to a comment I made once about upcoming evening plans. It was years ago, and I had a long weekend coming (I took a Monday or Friday off, I forget which, just because I could). I'd been asked what i was going to do, and it included buying a stack of comic books.

"Haven't you outgrown those yet?"

Nope. And I have no plan to. I like a good story regardless of how it's told. Oh, I don't buy anywhere as many as I used to, but I still get the bug every now and again, so I buy a bunch.

And I'm a super-hero buff. Can't help it. It occured to me once that for some reason I'm drawn to stories that involve characters with a certain code of ethics or honor. I frequently read Arthurian novels (currently working on "Clothar the Frank" by Jack Whyte, who has written my personal favourite Arthurian series) and for a while I was on a big Samurai kick. Superheroes have that quality about them, so I dig 'em.

The reason one gets a response like the above is that the perception of reading comics includes Archie or Daffy Duck. There actually are comics (or "graphic literature" for those who don't like the term) written for people over the age of eight.

Came across one yesterday.

A lousy cover gives it a "for kids" feel, unfortunately. Inside, the character in black has found that donating millions to the situation in Darfur is having no effect and perhaps even making things worse. He decides to get directly involved by eliminating members of a militia named Janjaweed. Being that he's American, the U.S. government is being blamed for it, so the other character is sent to stop him.

The specifics are fictional, but the backdrop is factual, as writer Marc Guggenheim explains on the last page of the book. He's very much of the belief that this issue is being discussed far too little considering the levels it has reached (the death toll is estimated at 400,000 and displacement at 2.5 million). As a result, he has donated his writing fees from this particular project (a four-issue series) to and provided a number of links to sites where people can educate themselves on the matter.

And of course that's aside from the exposure given to readers who may have heard little about it until now. I admit that I'd heard of it, but little in the way of specifics.

So thank you for the lesson, Mr Guggenheim and I'd encourage people to at least sign the petition at the bottom of this site.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Speaking of Heavy Drinking...

Panda cubs drink milk at the Giant Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu, China Friday Feb. 9, 2007. A mini-baby boom last year has pushed up the number of pandas bred in captivity in China to 217, state media said Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2007. Some 34 pandas were born by artificial insemination in 2006 and 30 survived, both record numbers for the endangered species.(AP Photo) CHINA OUT

Be a Responsible Lush.

Earlier this week, the Ontario government started a program by which wine bottles (and boxes) and "spirit containers" could be returned for a refund on a small deposit. Since Christine hardly goes a week without visiting a liquor store, we already have our blue bag. ;-)

I include the list of environmental benefits below, and you can reach the main index by clicking on the pic above.

The 80 million containers we'll collect each year under the new system will be cleaner and colour separated. The Ontario Deposit Return Program will ensure that more glass will be recycled into high value products (bottles or fibreglass) rather than used as road aggregate or landfilled due to contamination.

The new program's deposit incentive will also enhance the Blue Box by increasing the number of containers that are recycled, including about 25,000 to 30,000 additional tonnes of glass from landfill annually — the equivalent of about 80 million bottles. This represents a 32 to 38 per cent increase over the approximately 78,000 tonnes of wine, beer and spirit containers currently being recycled through the Blue Box program and by licensed restaurants and bars.

We will also build on the success of Ontario's renowned Blue Box system by:

  • Freeing up space in the Blue Box giving municipalities room to expand their recycling programs

  • Making for fewer and lighter walks to the curb

Myth Busters:

Myth #1
The new Deposit Return program looks like an attempt by the Ontario government to introduce a tax on wine and spirits.

It’s not. The deposit you’ll pay on wine and spirit containers at the LCBO starting February 5 is not a tax, it’s a deposit which will be fully refunded to you once you
return your empties to The Beer Store.

With Deposit Return, every Ontarian can help the environment by reducing the amount of waste we send to landfills. The deposit return program will actually divert the equivalent of about 80 million more bottles than are currently being diverted.

Better yet, the program will ensure that more glass will be recycled into high-value products (bottles or fibreglass) rather than be used as road aggregate or sent to landfills due to contamination.

Myth #2
The Blue Box isn’t doing the job it was intended to do.

To the contrary, Ontario’s Blue Box program is very successful. In fact, today, 25 years after it was introduced, it is acclaimed the world over as one of the most
recognizable symbols of environmental responsibility. Thanks to the Blue Box, we’ve made exceptional progress in diverting our waste in this province and millions of Ontarians have changed their views and -- more important -- their habits with respect to environmental stewardship.

In 2005, the Blue Box program diverted more than 860,000 tonnes of residential
Blue Box materials – a 4.5 per cent increase over 2004. Deposit Return will enhance the Blue Box program, help to increase the number of wine and spirit containers that are recycled, and free up space in Blue Boxes, allowing municipalities to expand recycling programs.

Myth #3
The government stands to make a fortune from deposits that are never redeemed by customers.

Deposits that are left un-claimed by customers will be put right back into financing the Deposit Return program -- it’s that simple. However, the purpose and the mandate of Deposit Return is to help the environment so we strongly encourage consumers to return their empties. They will be helping to keep containers out of landfills.

Myth #4
Deposit return won’t make much difference to the province’s waste diversion efforts.

In fact, Deposit Return will significantly increase the amount of wine and spirit containers that are recycled in Ontario. It will divert an additional 80 million
bottles, or 25,000 to 30,000 tonnes of glass, from landfill annually. This represents about 32 to 38 percent increase over the approximately 78,000 tonnes of wine and spirit containers currently being recycled through the Blue Box program and by licensed restaurants and bars.

The Blue Box currently recovers 68 per cent of LCBO containers and most are being recycled into a variety of uses. The goal, however, is to recycle at least 85 per cent of wine and spirit containers into high-end products.

Furthermore, putting a value on wine and spirit containers will encourage recycling in licensed establishments.

Speaking of recycling boxes and trips to the curb (I have to admit that I got a bit of a chuckle from that part of the "benefits", Mrs THIT has long been a believer in a green box to match our blue and black.

Well, it slipped by me, but it seems it was announced that Ottawa would be getting it later this year. From the Ottawa Sun:

Next year, the city will introduce a green box organic recycling program with an ambitious goal -- to increase the rate of recycled trash from 33% to 60%.

“That’s what this is all about -- changing habits and understanding the effect of garbage and landfill and environmental protection and the fact that we don’t have unlimited resources ... We need to rethink the whole notion of garbage,” said Ken Brothers, director of utility services at the City of Ottawa.

City staff are now drafting the specs for the composting plant that would turn food scraps, kitty litter and sawdust into composting material ready for the market.

While supplying green boxes to 300,000 households comes with a $10-million price tag, Brothers said the final cost of the project will depend on details yet to be finalized, including a possible public-private partnership.

Municipalities can’t achieve targets of 60% waste diversion without an organic waste recycling program, he said.

Bay Ward Coun. Alex Cullen calls the current rates of recycling “pretty good,” but says the city’s dumps have a short-term future and the solution isn’t building a new $100-million landfill.


An organic waste pilot program offered to more than 5,000 households in Ottawa achieved a 54% diversion rate after its first year.

Although the city only handles residential garbage, Brothers said the city is working with institutional, commercial and industrial sectors to tackle low recycling rates.

Currently, only 17% of industrial and commercial garbage is recycled and 70% of the 1.1 million tonnes of garbage in city landfills comes from the business sector.

Sharp. When considering the possibility of a massive change in public habit, recycling is one area that gives me confidence. It wasn't long ago that very few people recycled regularly. It wasn't long ago that there weren't recycling boxes next to the garbage cans in shopping mall food courts.

For something of a preview of how the green box program will work, check out this link. This has been going on in the Toronto area for a little while now, as far as I now, successfully.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

It's Not What You Say...

...It's What People Hear.

This is the title of a book by one Frank Luntz. Luntz is a GOP strategist that was recently interviewed by Grist magazine. He's had some not entirely kind things to say about environmentalists, based on his personal experience with them, that I found interesting. Excerpt below:

Q...You've since said that the environment played a negligible role in the 2004 and 2006 elections. Why did this huge vulnerability fail to play a central role in the elections?

A...Because the environmental community hasn't figured out how to communicate effectively.

Q...What do you mean?

A...People think environmentalists tend toward the extreme position -- they're considered uncompromising, unyielding, very political. I get yelled at by them all the time, and yet they keep losing and losing when they should be more successful.

The American people believe in clean air and clean water. The American people believe in open spaces. I know this, I've polled it. What they don't believe is the idea that you would close everything down, put it under lock and key. They believe that you can use the environment while still protecting and appreciating it, and the environmental community just doesn't understand that. It's why the word environmentalist, people don't like it anymore.

But you understand, I'm not in the business of trying to explain this to them. In my dealings with them, they're mean. Some of the most personally nasty people come out of the environmental community.

Q...Why do you think that is?

A...I think that they believe so strongly in their point of view, and they believe that anyone who doesn't share what they share or believe what they believe is not only wrong but evil.

Q...It sounds like you see it as a dogma almost, as religious zealotry.

A...I don't see environmentalism that way, I see environmentalists that way. I think it's like they've taken a very important issue and they've undermined their own case for it.

The problem the environmental community has is they don't listen to their opponents. When I do my research, I spend more time studying the opposition argument because that's what I need to respond to. The environmental community never listens. If they listened, they would have realized very early on that they would find common ground with other allies.

Full interview here. You'll note some debate as to whether Luntz makes a good point.

I tend to think he does, to a degree, though I don't believe "mean" is quite the right word. The reason that some environmentalists come off as mean is because it sometimes feel like you can't be heard otherwise.

There's also the flip side. When you're passionate about an issue, and wear your heart on your sleeve about it, people know that it's a button they can push with you.

Now I can't say I've had many bad experiences. Most people I've known have been quite supportive and encouraging. Of course, Christine and I also made it a point to not be "in your face" with this stuff, so one probably leads to the other.

Still, from time to time when we first became vegetarian, I'd get teased about it a little. I'd get told things like "this dead cow tastes fantastic, you should try some" and how not only should we continue to eat animals, but we should eat more kinds.

To me, in terms of intentions, that's the equivalent of sitting in front of a person trying to lose weight, holding a giant tub of ice cream and going on about how great it is. Mind you, it doesn't really work in our case, however, because...

a) I've had meat before, I know full well what it tastes like. So I do "know what I'm missing", thank you.

b) I don't crave it anymore, so I don't "miss" it.

...but the intent to take a little dig at a strong personal belief is there and that's, well, mean. I don't believe the intention was to "hurt" anyone, so it's shrugged off.

Now that's a very small experience, but I know how irritating I find it. I can only imagine how someone who's convinced that global warming will lead to unbelievable disasters feels when told that it's nonsense, in light of what they feel is at stake.

So I get Mr Luntz's point, I believe, but it works both ways. You're right that it's caused in part by strong belief in a point of view.

But I think that there's the added frustration of feeling like you're trying to tell the captain of the Titanic "Hey, you might want to take a left here". He can't be bothered to listen because for whatever reason, he disagrees no matter what argument you present.

Be that as it may, if I'm wrong it's a small, wasted effort. But if he's wrong, it's a colossal disaster.

That some people are unable to grasp this very, very simple notion of erring on the side of caution can be infuriating. Perhaps there should be more listening done from BOTH sides.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

THIT Tip: Don't Eat Yellow Snow.

It'll be interesting to find out what comes of this. I hope I come cross it.

From the BBC:

Russia has flown a team of chemical experts to a Siberian region to find out why smelly, coloured snow has been falling over several towns.

Oily yellow and orange snowflakes fell over an area of more than 1,500sq km (570sq miles) in the Omsk region on Wednesday, Russian officials said.

Chemical tests were under way to determine the cause, they said.

Residents have been advised not to use the snow for household tasks or let animals graze on it.

"So far we cannot explain the snow, which is oily to the touch and has a pronounced rotten smell," said Omsk environmental prosecutor Anton German, quoted by the Russian news agency Itar-Tass on Thursday.

"We are waiting for the results of a thorough test on samples."

But Vladimir Gurzhey, an official with the civil defence ministry in Omsk, told the Russia TV channel that the snow had four times the normal levels of iron in it.

The TV also reported that coloured snow had fallen in the neighbouring regions of Tomsk and Tyumen.

Omsk, in western Siberia, is a centre of Russia's oil industry. About 27,000 people live in the areas affected by the snow, Russian officials said.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Colts by 17.

Unless you're living in a cave (and congratulations to you on your fine "green" choice if you are), you're aware that the Superbowl is on this weekend. All kinds of media that would not normally cover football briefly will, including Forbes Magazine which has an article bout the "greening" of the Big Game.

One football team will wake up Feb. 5, the day after Super Bowl XLI in Miami, in a bad mood. But Jack Groh, director of the National Football League’s environmental program, will be all smiles regardless of who wins.

Groh is spearheading the NFL's third go at offsetting greenhouse gas emissions created during the big game at Dolphin Stadium. A green Super Bowl? Yes, and more events like it keep popping up.

The green-events list includes the Indy 500, Fifa World Cup and 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy. There is enough demand for green events that the United Nations Environmental Program recently held a conference on sports and the environment where participants discussed topics ranging from the impact of building design and how to harvest rainwater to methods of trash disposal.

This year, the NFL is buying certificates that will offset the amount of carbon generated through electricity use at the game. This effort, combined with the planting of hundreds of native tree seedlings, aim to make the event carbon neutral, meaning it will have a minimal effect on the environment. "Carbon mitigation: that to me is where the excitement, the challenge and the opportunity are," says Groh.

This is the 14th year the NFL has hosted a Super Bowl with green elements linked to the festivities, like recycling souvenirs and providing food banks with uneaten food. But this is the first time the organization is going another step further and buying certificates to offset carbon emissions.

The NFL started its environmental initiatives in a bid to identify and then address the environmental impacts of the Super Bowl. At the time, a top executive of the organization said the group should be doing something on the environment because of its size and scope.

As a result, the Super Bowl has gone beyond just being an annual game, and it is now looked to as an example of how to incorporate green aspects into sporting events.

Before the event, the NFL worked with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, a facility of the U.S. Department of Energy, to calculate how much carbon will be emitted during the football game. That excluded carbon emissions created through transportation to the host city. Groh and others then decided how many trees they will need to plant and how many renewable energy certificates they would need to buy.

The renewable energy certificates, supplied by a company called Sterling Planet, are created when electricity is generated using renewable resources instead of fossil fuels. A business seeking green power can either buy renewable power directly, or couple power from a traditional utility with the certificate to offset the use of fossil fuels. In this way, a body like the NFL does not have to find a new energy supplier, but can instead use its current provider and buy certificates to ensure an investment in green power.

Add to that the hundreds of trees the NFL will plant ahead of the Super Bowl, and Groh says the event actually becomes carbon negative. He says there are minimal emissions created through the process of tree planting because plants are bought at local nurseries and do not require excess water because there are native species.


The NFL is not the only American event to undertake green initiatives. In 2007, all IndyCar Series cars will run 100% on fuel-grade ethanol. From 1996 to 2005, Indy cars ran on 100% methanol, a fuel created from natural gas. Ethanol does not cause a difference in the cars' speed or horsepower, and the vehicles improve their gas mileage.


The most-recent World Cup in Germany was the first climate neutral soccer contest of its kind, and the amount of greenhouse gases saved at the event more than compensated for emissions generated at the tournament. Gas emissions would have been 114,000 tons or carbon dioxide, but instead came in at 92,000 tons. Organizers said carbon offset measures, which included cutting electricity use and buying carbon credits, amounted to 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

In Turin for the 2006 Winter Olympics, organizers offset close to 70% of greenhouse gas emissions and are still working to offset the other 30%. The event also managed its waste more effectively by planning ahead: In 2000, an average of 20% of waste was recycled, but by 2005, that climbed to more than 33%.

Sporting events are thus becoming fertile testing grounds for new environmental practices, and the events leave lasting examples of how events can change their practices for the better.

Take Miami for example. In 1995, when it last hosted a Super Bowl, Dolphin Stadium installed an onsite cardboard baler to take care of the material that had been going straight into the trash. Now Dolphin Stadium bales and sells the cardboard after every event, and pockets the cash.

It doesn't amount to millions of dollars year, it’s closer to $25,000, but Groh says this is an important example of how sporting events can reduce both their environmental impact and overall costs.