Water Wheel Wizardry

As a follow up to the previous blog on the huge trash collection in the Pacific Ocean, here's a feel-good sustainability story from Baltimore. 

Baltimore's Inner Harbor had a water pollution problem. When people throw garbage on the ground instead of a trash can or a recycling bin, rain water carries the garbage off streets and into storm drains which flow unfiltered into neighborhood streams. These streams carry the trash into the Baltimore Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay. Over time, the collection of trash became an eyesore and a health hazard.

Baltimore's solution: Mr. Trash Wheel.  Mr. Trash Wheel is a floating barge of old technology and new, using an old water wheel design to harness water power of downstream current that drives a conveyor belt and trash skimmer to collect the garbage like a giant trash-eating bug. It evens is designed to look like a giant bug! And when the current is slow, Mr. Trash Wheel uses new technology in the form or solar panels to drive the conveyor belt and skimmer. The conveyor belt then deposits all the trash in a large dumpster. When the dumpster is full, it is towed away by boat and replaced with a new dumpster.

The impact has been amazing! Since May of 2014, Mr. Trash Wheel has collected over 1.7 Million pounds of trash, including 685,000 plastic bottles, 800,000 styrene cups, 10.4 million cigarette butts, 550,000 plastic grocery bags, and 850,00 chip bags! Just think, all of that would be sitting in Baltimore or nearby waterways if it weren't for Mr. Trash Wheel. In fact, Mr. Trash Wheel was just named a 2018 Waste Wise Pioneer for its use of water and solar power utilization. 

Congratulations Mr. Trash Wheel!  We need more just like you in our lives......


Mr. Trash Wheel.jpg


In my book, "Kicking Gas & Taking Charge!", I talk about the reasons that everyone should care about Sustainability. It's a word many people have heard...but just ask them to explain it and watch the stammering begin....

Why is it important? Well, if we take oil for example, I make the case in the book that with the significant global population growth and associated energy usage growth, the world could literally run out of oil within the younger generation's lifetime. A stretch? Maybe...but no one really knows. What I know is that oil takes millions of years to form and we're using it like drunken sailors on the Titanic...

But here is my point: we have ways to avoid a major energy catastrophe--be it by spreading our type of energy use through electric products (cars, lawn equipment, etc), renewable energies (wind, water, solar, etc) or simply getting on the bandwagon for recycling. Recycling is a HUGE opportunity...but perhaps more importantly...it should be a REQUIREMENT and HABIT for us all. Why is it so important? I'll give you a couple good reasons.

First, our landfills are fast filling up. I've posted previous articles on this problem. Part of the issue is that it's being filled up with plastic and glass which take decades and even hundreds of years to biodegrade. We can't just keep stacking it up underground....But sadly, it isn't just underground; it's also in our waters--which is what this post is about.

A French architect is setting out to be the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean.....a huge undertaking. But if anyone can do it, Benoit Lecomte can...after all, he's already swam across the Atlantic Ocean. And along the way, he plans to swim through what's called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.. a humungous collection of trash consisting mainly of plastic materials sitting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. For reference, the below article notes that this embarrassment contains over 80,000 tons of plastic and the size of this water-based dump is TWICE the size of France!! Benoit plans to swim right through it, collecting data for some 27 environmental agencies, including NASA, along the way.

I encourage you to read this enlightening article...and decide for yourself: DO WE WANT TO CONTINUE TO LEAVE OUR WASTE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS TO CLEAN UP?

#kickinggas #electriccar #recycle #garbage #pacificocean #sustainability #swimming



Chinese Checkers: Tax Cuts vs Technology Incentives

Most everyone knows the game Chinese Checkers. It's a marble game using one spot moves or jumps to move across the playing board to the other side and win the game. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_checkers). Simple right? Just figure out the best way to out-strategize your opponents' future moves.The winner, however, is usually the one who figures out how to jump over his opponents marbles the most times. If you don't jump, it takes longer to get across the board. 

If we apply this logic to the current Administration's approach to business, one could make the argument that while the U.S. is making steady moves, we're slowly losing the game because we are getting 'jumped' by our opponents. While the recently enacted tariffs and EPA reversals have brought back a few jobs in the steel and coal industries, they are single space moves. They are not "jumps" in an industry as the technology applied is slowly being replaced by new technologies or other construction materials; the 'jumps are in new technologies like electric vehicles and renewable energies. So who is winning the game? Well while there are multiple players on the board, Europe, Japan, the U.S., etc, one could make the argument that it's the Chinese that are winning.

Want proof? Well recently we posted an article about BYD, the Chinese bus manufacturer that is making inroads in the American automotive market. (https://www.greenbiz.com/article/worlds-biggest-electric-vehicle-company-youve-never-heard). This week, an electric car company from China-SF Motors-purchased a shuttered U.S. Hummer assembly plant in Indiana with the intent to start sales next year.(http://www.autonews.com/article/20180530/RETAIL01/180539973/electric-vehicles-indiana-china-sf-motors) 

If you turn to energy, 7 out of the top 10 solar panel manufacturers are from...you guessed it..China. There are few U.S. companies that build in America; most U.S. companies source their components from China. This is why the Trump Administration placed tariffs on Chinese solar panel imports. 

 Table: Top Solar Panel Manufacturers in 2018 –        Global ranking by shipment volume 2017               

Rank        Company             Headquarters

   1            Jinko Solar                 China

   2            Trina Solar                 China

   3            Canadian Solar          Canada

   4            JA Solar                       China

   5            Hanwha Q CELLS      South Korea

   6            GCL-SI                        Hong Kong

   7            LONGi Solar                 China

   8             Risen Energy              China

   9             Shunfeng                    China

  10             Yingli Green               China

              *Source: pv-tech.org

The point here is one of tactics and focus. The recent tax reduction package that the Trump Administration passed was met with huge fanfare. The stock market went up along with 401k values. Corporate tax reductions will keep American company profits in the U.S. Everyone was happy right? Well, for now. Yet there are growing signs that the enormous windfall profits that companies are experiencing in 2018 are not going to new technologies and employee salaries as the Administration predicted. Rather they are going toward stock buy-backs and a small amount toward increased facilities. Who benefits from stock buy-backs? Shareholders and, in particular, top executives who own large quantities of corporate stocks. (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/26/business/tax-cuts-share-buybacks-corporate.html) 

Is this the best tactic for the American economy? Well, not from an 'let's advance the U.S. share of future technology' standpoint. And especially not if the economy doesn't expand as forecast to recover the unbelievable loss in tax revenue included in the tax package for corporations. Could part of this tax reduction been done through incentives to develop new technologies? We will never know.

If it is a game of Chinese checkers, the U.S. better come up with some new moves...….fast. Or they will lose the game. Badly.

chinese checkers.jpg

A Sign of the Times: Are Cars Going Forwards......or Backwards ?

We live in an era of great confusion in the U.S. Nowhere is that more evident than in the auto industry right now. As many of you know, several manufacturers including General Motors, Volvo and others have announced they are transitioning to plug-in electric vehicles over the next couple decades and away from gas engines. They're investing BILLIONS of dollars in these products. Hybrids and electric vehicles, with Tesla leading the way is clearly the way of the future, correct?

Well, just this week the Trump Administration rejected the proposed CAFE (Corporate average Fuel Efficiency) recommendations which mandate the fuel economy standards that OEMs must meet in future years. And they had the full support of the big players...Ford, GM, Toyota, VW, etc. What's more, their manufacturers alliance organization is now questioning the global climate modeling that is used in such analysis to define the standards. 

It leaves us asking.....are OEMs..(and thus all of US)  investing in technologies, products, and services that support a move to an electric vehicle world? Or are we reverting back to a world of gas engine vehicles and more the status quo? 

No one can answer this right now for the U.S. However, one thing is for sure..... other countries buy into the science behind the Paris Climate Accord and are moving their companies and technologies in that direction. Which leads to the next obvious question...is the U.S...in its attempt to do what's best for the U.S. with new policies...ultimately falling behind?

Read the following article to get more details of this brewing debate.


Why do automakers support climate rollbacks?

Auden Schendler

Wednesday, April 4, 2018 - 2:15am


ShutterstockTrong Nguyen

In a press release for its annual sustainability report, Ford Motor Company quoted Executive Chairman Bill Ford: "We know climate change is real and a critical threat, and we will continue to work with leaders around the world in support of ambitious global greenhouse gas reduction targets."

Similarly, in an October 2016 press release, GM wrote, "The company believes there’s economic opportunity as well as a social imperative in lowering emissions and addressing climate change."

Given their public positioning, one would think that Ford and GM would be among the first to defend the one key climate action available to automakers: fuel efficiency standards.

Not so fast.

This week, the Trump administration rejected Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency, or CAFE, standards adopted by the Obama administration. In doing so, the administration had the full support of Ford, as well as GM, VW and even Prius manufacturer Toyota, among others. Trade groups these automakers fund, including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, long have asked the administration to put vehicle fuel efficiency standards on hold.

They are questioning climate science as well. In a submission to the administrative record, the alliance selectively cited quotes from articles on climate modeling in order to cast doubt on the science; the actual authors of those articles soundly have refuted the alliance’s misrepresentations. When asked for comment on their position in light of the alliance’s submissions, automakers either refused to respond or referred the reporters to the alliance.

Truth is, Ford and GM matter very much in the climate battle. Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and CAFE standards are critical to controlling those emissions. The Obama-era regulations would have resulted in the largest U.S. reduction in global warming emissions from a single policy, bringing America’s average fuel economy to 40 mpg by 2020 and 50 mpg by 2025. The weakened standards will result in $4,000 in additional fuel costs over the life of an average new vehicle — basically a hidden tax on consumers and businesses that does no good, only harm.



If the company could so flagrantly mislead in its sustainability report, what are shareholders to make of legally binding statements in its fiscal reporting?

A recent University of Michigan study underscored the importance of preserving (or strengthening) the standards. It found that additional reductions in the automotive sector beyond those provided under Obama would be necessary at the latest by 2025 in order to meet climate goals and avoid increased costs. And, as demonstrated in analysis by the nonprofit Ceres, robust standards will have long-term benefits for the industry; such standards provide market certainty, spur innovation and make U.S. auto manufacturers and suppliers more competitive in a global market that demands increasingly cleaner and more efficient cars and trucks. (Both Ford and GM are Ceres members.)


Is this how Ford works "with leaders around the world in support of ambitious global greenhouse gas reduction targets"? And if the company could so flagrantly mislead in its sustainability report, what are shareholders to make of legally binding statements in its fiscal reporting? Would it not be more responsible for Ford to forthrightly say that it doesn't support action on climate? Last, how does GM square its position with its statement that the company "believes in being an advocate for climate change action and awareness"?

We’re hearing a lot from big automakers such as Toyota, Ford and GM about their concern for the environment, most recently during the Olympics, when Toyota released what appeared to be the first auto industry climate ad.

If they really care, they should stop trying to undermine our most important climate policy. Our future depends on it.

So does their integrity.



A Climate Change 'Hail Mary'?

A recent energy study by the McKinsey Group contains a number of interesting forecasts:

  • 2016 was the first year that renewable energies (solar and wind) exceeded fossil fuel ( gas and oil) in new entity additions globally; this trend is expected to continue                                    
  • Demand for coal will peak around 2030 and oil around 2040 as renewable energies and storage efficiencies and cost effectiveness improve.                                                                   
  • While coal and oil demand begin to decrease and CO2 emissions peak around 2030, the CO2 level will remain double the level consistent with a 2 degree Centigrade long-term path--which was the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement.

What does this mean? Well, it means that if scientists and these forecasts are correct, we can expect to see at least a 2 degree Centigrade global temperature increase in our environment...a change which would bring unprecedented changes in weather patterns as we know it and forced adaptation to a new way of living on the Earth's surface. 

Is there no alternative? Well, maybe. There are groups of scientists and environmentalists that are playing the 'what if' game of trying to find solutions to the worst case scenario. For example, is it possible for man to develop artificial means of controlling the environment? One way might be to inject other chemical compounds into the atmosphere to supplement the ozone layer that protects us from the sun's ultraviolet rays. Is that possible? And if so, what are the risks or downsides. ?

Should the U.S. and the world pursue a last-minute strategy? Do we continue to push alternative energy initiatives?

Note: photo courtesy of planetearthandhumanity.blogspot.com


Courtesy of planetearthandhumanity.blogspot.com

All 'Jacked Up' to Undermine the World !

The world, via the Paris climate agreement,  is trying to eliminate Carbon emissions in the second half of this century. This is an aggressive plan agreed to by hundreds of scientists around the globe who believe global warming is real and must be dealt with immediately if we are to have any chance at maintaining an environment on the Earth's surface as we've known if for thousands of years. 

Yet, the United States, on its current path, will be slightly HIGHER in emissions by 2050 according to a new projection by the Energy Department.  And thus the U.S. will almost single-handedly exhaust the whole world's carbon budget by mid-century

Think there's no way this will happen?? Well, the oil companies seem poised to follow the Energy Department's projection. In fact, the number of oil and gas pump jacks is up 38% over last year's count!  In fact, by 2022, the U.S. will be a net exporter of oil and gas to other countries, meaning no decrease in methane or carbon emissions despite increases in solar and wind power sources.  

How will the world see the U.S. if global warming is in fact real? Will they allow us to undercut their efforts to avoid environmental catastrophe?  Will we be looked at as the greedy Romans of our time? It's possible...

All efforts for sustainability are moot if Big Oil continues to 'Jack Up' its profits..


Oil pump jacks.jpg

Renewables in the classroom, Non-renewables in the White House?

I recently spoke to a 5th grade class about my Guinness Record-setting trip across the U.S. in 2013. They were very interested in the challenges associated with finding electricity along the route and how many times I had to re-charge the car battery. It was a fun interaction.

What I found intriguing was that their science class includes discussions about the differences between renewable energies and non-renewable energies. And it became clear during our Skype call that the kids understood that renewable energies were important because they didn't pollute the air, land or sea and are an alternative to the limited natural resources of oil/gas/coal. 

So my question is.... if these 5th graders see value in expanding renewable energies, why doesn't the Trump Administration?? With global population projected to increase by 6 BILLION people over the next 50 years and energy use EXPLODING, isn't it a natural conclusion that it's possible we could run out of those natural resources of oil/gas/coal?  If so, why are we undermining renewable energy initiatives? In the U.S.... wind and solar represent <5% of our total power generated. In Europe, some countries are projecting 25-35% of their power needs coming from wind and solar.... Are they that far ahead of the U.S.??

We are making strides in renewables......as this article points out. But it sure appears that it is not due to our current President.....So should we continue to teach about renewable energy in schools?  Or does the President have his own agenda??


Trump coals.jpg

NYC Takes On Big Oil Companies

In a direct contradiction to recent legislation by the Trump administration which permits oil companies to apply for drilling for oil and gas along all of the coastal areas of the U.S., the city of New York today took the unprecedented step of challenging major oil companies in two major ways:

1- filing suit against these oil companies for reportedly hiding data that showed burning of fossil fuels was having a negative impact on the environment, and

2- removing fossil fuel company stocks from all public worker pension plans which involves hundreds of thousands of workers. 

Wow. Talk about raising the stakes in the environmental battle! 

What does all this mean--aside from a lot of citizen tax dollars being spent to fight another legal battle? Well, clearly more lines will divide the country between those that believe the Earth is being damaged by fossil fuel burning and those that think it's a hoax. What's different with this action is that there is BIG money behind NYC's action aside from the lawsuit.

Watch the video of New York's press event. Now, where do you stand on this issue? How much do you know about sustainability? You can find out more at kickinggasandtakingcharge.com

#kickinggas    #NYC    #sustainability    #leaf    #oilcompanies


NYC skyline.jpg

Will Coal Make a Comeback in the U.S.?? in China??

The short answer: not likely. 

According to forecasts last year by the eia (U.S. Energy Information Administration), coal production will at best be flat vs recent year production levels; more likely levels will continue the downward trend of the past decade due to replacement by natural gas and renewables for energy. Employee levels associated with coal have also been declining and would thus continue to fall in future years. In fact, the headline of their forecast says it best: "Future coal production depends on resources and technology, not just policy choices." 

To summarize as they say.....'the train has left the station...and it's not loaded with coal'.

But the U.S. is not the only country that will be moving away from coal for energy.  China's government is now taking an active role in cleaning up their air. That's a good thing for everyone. China is the world’s No. 1 polluter: it burns more coal than the rest of the world combined. It produces more than a quarter of the world’s human-caused global warming gases.

China's plan is to provide a giant market where companies could trade credits for the right to emit carbon emissions. If it works as intended, it would give power companies a financial incentive to move to cleaner emissions.

Will it work? That is yet to be seen. But the intent is clear--i.e. coal is not the fuel source of choice in the world's largest market for the future. 

The train.....is leaving without coal in China too.



Before you put all your Christmas gifts away.......

Hopefully, that bright new cotton shirt that your kids or spouse gave you for Christmas fits perfectly. if not, you'll have to face the return line crowds this week. But before you put away the one  that does fit just right, check out the label on where it and all your clothing gifts were made. How many of them were made in the U.S.? Chances are, very few if any. 

Despite the fact that the U.S. if the 3rd largest global producer of cotton, the majority of clothing today is imported from outside the U.S. In fact, the United States is the top cotton exporting country in the world. Yet we import a lot of it back to the U.S. in the form of finished goods like  T shirts, blouses, shirts, jeans etc. This dynamic results not only in  fewer jobs but also works against sustainability as textile industries are high contributors to carbon emissions.

Here's an article about a creative solution to change this dynamic; i.e. to create jobs locally and contribute to sustainability. 

Can you get behind this project? Do you think it can work in your area?


&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp; Where was your Christmas gift made? &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;

                                                             Where was your Christmas gift made?     





Is Trump right....or are scientists right?

President Trump and his team continue to disembowel elements of the EPA and other ecologically-based organization policies. His belief is that global warming is a cyclical natural phenomena. However, evidence continues to be served up by scientists that global warming is real and IS due, in part, to human interaction. 

A recent article in Scientific American outlines a recent study where scientists now say they have clear evidence that at least SOME of the natural disasters seen in 2016 were due, in part, to human interaction--meaning the event would not have happened or would have been less severe if humans had not somehow impacted the natural environment we live in. Further, they state that the number of major catastrophes (i.e. > $1B damage) is up dramatically in recent years and that they expect this trend to continue. They cite the Houston floods of 2017 as an example of a natural disaster that was exacerbated by global warming and which would not have been as severe in previous eras:


Meanwhile, the Trump team is making wholesale policy changes. Here's a list of environmental policies that have been or will be changed in the near future according to The Sierra Club:

Sierra Club List photo.png

So who do you think is right?  Mr. Trump or the scientists? Your answer and subsequent vote may determine our quality of life on the planet Earth in a few short years.......

Houston floods.jpg



Should Electric Vehicles Be Powered By Coal?

One of the arguments that critics of electric vehicles always raise is that most electricity in the U.S. is generated by burning coal..... which is a very high air pollutant and threat to our ozone layer. Let's discuss this head on.

In my book, I provide one argument that critics can't get around...that is that electric vehicles are far superior in efficiency to gas powered vehicles. This point alone is a reason to accelerate electric vehicle usage; i.e. at minimum we slow the use of needed energy to power our world.

The second point is that instead of trying to re-invigorate an industry that's not going to come back, we should be investing in technologies that accelerate us to the front of the energy usage for the future. Here's a good example. There are many potential ways to generate electricity as shown in this video from the Facebook SciencNaturePage by Hashem Al-Ghaili. Watch the video and you tell me whether this is the type of investment the U.S. government should be exploring instead of resurrecting the mining industry for electricity?

For me... we should move toward future opportunities instead of holding on to past success.

Electric Explosion! : A Decade of Electric Vehicles

When I took my cross-country adventure to set a Guinness World Record for distance in 2013, there were roughly 250,000 electric vehicles across North America and Europe combined; that's like putting everyone in the city of Buffalo, NY into an electric vehicle. Not insignificant, but still a very small piece of the American/Euro landscape.

Today, there are roughly 1.4 million electric vehicles in those two markets, or roughly the size of the U.S. city of San Diego. That's tremendous growth in only 5 years!! By the U.S. city comparison, it's a growth from our 81st sized city to our #8 largest city in only 5 years.

To be fair, a lot of this growth has been in Europe. Taking Norway's lead, Germany introduced incentives for electric vehicles in 2016 and, as a result, will double EV sales in 2017 vs 2016. If the trend continues, they will become the largest EV market in Europe in 2018. With a strong sales year, expectations are that Europe will sell about 310,000 EVs in 2017.

In the U.S., experts estimate 2017 sales of EVs to approach 225,000 vehicles which includes a slight decline due to Tesla's production woes for their new Model S. While that sales volume is lower than that of Europe, the U.S. remains the single biggest market for EVs with an estimated 780,000 EV vehicles on the road out of the Americas/European total of 1.4 million.

In 2013, I proved that an electric car can cross all types of terrain, is reliable and was a viable form of transportation with existing power supplies. The world is proving that electric is a viable form of transportation for daily living AND, most importantly, a piece of our sustainability needs!

Take a trip down the electric vehicle memory lane with Chargepoint:


An Answer My Friend.....Is Blowing in the Wind....

This past June, I took a cruise with my daughters to Europe. It was a trip around the Baltic Sea and we did 'sea' a lot of new sights there. One of the things that caught my eye was a number of very large wind turbine farms in the area around Copenhagen, Denmark. Being located in the sea, these large turbines didn't seem to bother anything and my assumption was that they undoubtedly were generating substantial energy for local residents. 

Well, it turns out that my observation was spot on....and much bigger than I knew.

In fact, it turns out Denmark was a pioneer in developing commercial wind power during the 1970s, and today a substantial share of the wind turbines around the world are produced by Danish manufacturers such as Vestas and Siemens Wind Power along with many component suppliers.

Wind power produced the equivalent of 42.1% of Denmark's total electricity consumption in 2015!!  In 2012 the Danish government adopted a plan to increase the share of electricity production from wind to 50% by 2020 and to 84% in 2035. Now that's commitment!

&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp; Wind Turbine Farm near &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;  &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; Middelgrundsfortet, Denmark   

               Wind Turbine Farm near           

            Middelgrundsfortet, Denmark


So why is Denmark a leader in this technology? It all goes back to concerns over global warming that arose in the 1980s.  Denmark found itself with relatively high carbon dioxide emissions per capita, primarily due to the coal-fired electrical power plants which became the norm after energy crises in 1973 and 1979. Renewable energy (energy that is not depleted when used) became the natural choice for Denmark to decrease both dependence on other countries for energy and global warming pollution. They set a target of cutting carbon emissions 22% by 2005 (from 1988 levels) and planning of wind power was deliberately streamlined by authorities in order to minimize hurdles. 

The result: Despite a mediocre average wind speed, Denmark has the highest proportion of wind power in the world! In 2015, Denmark produced 42% of its electricity usage from wind power.  In addition, they met their carbon emissions goals easily and reduced overall emissions substantially. And, they have created an industry that the world now looks to for wind power. 

So is it any surprise that there are a number of large off-shore and on-shore wind farms being built in Denmark as we speak? 

Denmark is proof again that there are alternatives to oil and gas AND a part of the solution to our Sustainability goals.  And it's starting. Here's a recent article on an off-shore wind farm success in in the U.S.:


And the Light Bulb Goes On !

Here's an article from the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) that ties directly to one of the 25 easy action ideas (in my book Kicking Gas & Taking Charge!) everyone can take to do their part for sustainability: converting to LED light bulbs. For example, did you know that a comparable LED light bulb to a 100 watt incandescent bulb uses about 80% LESS energy and lasts 15-20 times LONGER than the incandescent? That means you can save energy AND save money by making the switch!!  

I'm considering a Facebook challenge to see how many people I can get to commit to converting to LEDs. If you think that's a good idea, let me know in the Comments section below!!                       #sustainability    #LED   #energy          #lightbulbs      #KickingGas

Expert Blog Noah Horowitz

LED Lighting Could Save Developing Countries $40 Billion/yr.

November 14, 2017 Noah Horowitz

Developing and emerging economies could save $40 billion worth of electricity and prevent 320 million metric tonnes of carbon pollution annually simply by transitioning to LED lighting, according to estimates from United Nation’s Environment. Today speakers at a side event to the big international climate change conference (COP 23) occurring in Bonn, Germany, announced new model regulations that are designed to phase out inefficient incandescent light bulbs and establish minimum performance requirements for the LED bulbs to replace them in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Lighting represents roughly 15 percent of all worldwide electricity use and there are several billion sockets around the globe that still contain an incandescent light bulb. One of the best investments that developing and emerging economies can make is to switch from the inefficient incandescent light bulb, which is a technology that hasn’t changed much in the past 125 years, to super-efficient LED light bulbs. Unlike in Europe and the United States where these energy-guzzling bulbs are due to be phased out in mid-2018 and 2020, respectively, these old-fashioned bulbs will still be available for purchase in developing countries.



That’s a shame because today's LED bulbs are amazing products as they use 85 percent less energy to produce the same amount of light as the old incandescent did. Instead of using the old 60-watt incandescent bulb, one can switch to a 10-watt LED bulb. The energy-saving bulbs come in numerous shapes and light output levels, are dimmable, more shatter-resistant, and last up to 25 years under normal operation of three hours per day.

Model regulations for countries wanting to require the switch away from wasteful incandescents

The model regulation will soon be published by the United for Efficiency initiative, a public-private partnership led by UN Environment, for use by interested countries. It contains all the essential pieces: description of what to cover (product scope), definitions, test methods, minimum efficiency levels, and a set of common-sense minimum quality/performance requirements along with market surveillance that will help ensure consumers have a good experience (i.e., the bulb won’t fail prematurely) with LED bulbs. This model regulation will be provided to United for Efficiency partner countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In addition, countries that implement the regulation in a harmonized manner will reduce trade barriers and provide opportunities for sharing resources, such as testing facilities.

The model regulations are not only supported by leading environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), UN Environment, and various national governments, but also by leading lighting manufacturers.

The path forward is a bright one

One of the fastest and cheapest ways to deliver massive carbon savings and relief to stressed electricity grids commonly found in developing and emerging economies is to shift to energy-saving LED lighting. Let’s get as many countries as possible to adopt regulations that make this a reality. By adopting these regulations, we can be assured that developing and emerging countries don’t become the dumping grounds for incandescents and halogens, or poor-quality LED bulbs.

Unlike the shift to more efficient appliances and air conditioners which can take more than a decade for the existing stock to turn over, or for the switch to electric cars which will take even longer, installation of more energy efficient lighting can happen far more quickly as the old incandescent bulbs burn out within a year or two. 

Sustainability Starts with "U".... as in Underground !

When is a cave not a cave? Well, how about when it’s being used as a concert hall for musical performances?

That’s just one of the many adventures outlined in “Kicking Gas & Taking Charge!” a new book written by Duane Leffel who set a Guinness World Record in 2013 by driving a Nissan LEAF all-electric car (nicknamed “Green Lightning”) from Charleston, SC, to San Francisco, CA.

In the book, Duane describes driving his LEAF down into Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville, TN, along with his fellow Ride the Future Tour members who rode electric bicycles, scooters and a motorcycle. The group drove down into the cave to make a point—that electric vehicles are not harmful to the environment. And since the LEAF isn’t harmful to the cave’s ecological system, cavern administrators actually use a LEAF similar to Duane’s to drive performing musicians down to a subterranean stage called the Volcano Room.

The acoustics in the Volcano Room are so good that it hosts an ongoing concert series called “Bluegrass Underground” (https://bluegrassunderground.com), a 13-time Emmy award-winning show on PBS. Top-name performers including Vince Gill, Chris Stapleton and Lee Ann Womack have performed there in front of enthusiastic crowds reaching over 500 at a time.

“Driving ‘Green Lightning’ down into the caverns was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. It was such a unique experience,” says Duane. “Yet it was only one of a long list of interesting activities, challenges and people that we encountered during our trip across the country.”

Cumberland Caverns.jpg

“Green Lightning” takes the narrow path down to the Volcano Room at Cumberland Caverns in Tennessee.

Members of the Ride the Future Tour and their guide pose with their vehicles in the Volcano Room.

Members of the Ride the Future Tour and their guide pose with their vehicles in the Volcano Room.

Other places the tour visited included the Lookout Mountain Incline Railroad, the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. But the tour also visited a number of organizations that were focused on various aspects of sustainability, including Terrapin Brewery (Athens, GA), Southface Energy (Atlanta), Heifer International (Little Rock), the Grand Canyon National Park Service and Las Vegas Cyclery. Each of these locations had its own unique contribution to sustainability efforts.

“I started the tour wanting to do something for my kids to ensure the world was as beautiful as I’ve experienced it,” says Duane. “But I learned a lot during the tour and, after doing a little insightful research, decided to write a book about my experience and encourage everyone to get more personally involved in sustainability.”

After relating all the ups and downs of his once-in-a-lifetime adventure with behind-the-scenes reality and humor, Duane dedicates the final chapter of his book to explaining why everyone should care about sustainability, offering 25 achievable actions anyone can take to do their part to accelerate the sustainability movement.

Says Duane, “I’ve never been a ‘tree-hugger’ or activist on environmental issues, but when you consider that the US represents less than 5 percent of the world’s population but consumes 18 percent of all energy and natural resource usage globally, it certainly motivates me to take action as a responsible citizen. In other words, sustainability starts with me and you, and simple things like recycling and electric vehicles can help us rebalance the equation. ”

If you’d like to learn more about Duane’s story, “Kicking Gas & Taking Charge!” is available online at Barnes & Noble bookstores and on Amazon. If you order it at Duane’s website kickinggasandtakingcharge.com, he’ll sign and personalize it for you and ship it to you free (use promo code “kickoff”).

“Kicking Gas & Taking Charge!” releases January 1, 2018.

#sustainability  #electricvehicles  #Cumberlandcaverns   #zeroemissions   #NissanLEAF

Recycle Regret?

Here is an example that goes to the heart of my website and one of the major topics in my book Kicking Gas & Taking Charge!  I can't explain it any better than this article does.


Why does it happen?  Here's my belief:

         * Lack of U.S. and community focus

                > Cities don't make recycling a priority or make it convenient

                > People don't take recycling seriously and make it a habit

                     (remember: Sustainable is maintainable if the habits are retainable)

                 > There's still plenty of visible land available to bury our waste

                     (irrespective of the future environmental damage or cleanup required)

That's it. Focus. Are there other factors?  Yes, setting up a recycle process, costs, etc. But the only one that really matters is Focus by the public.

The world population is growing at an unbelievable rate. Energy use is growing at an ALARMING rate. Yet we only recycle 30% of our waste here in the U.S. 

We can do better America. And it's time we do. 


Momentum in the Electric Car World !!

General Motors just announced that they are making plans to convert to an all-electric vehicle line-up by 2023!  This is a huge step for the company and the industry in the U.S.

If this direction holds up, there will be dramatic changes in the auto world as we know it...from the types of service work done (no more oil and filter changes for example) to the types of service stations you go to to "re-fuel". Vehicles will not only have cleaner emissions, they will also be far more efficient in energy usage!

It's still early.....but this is a major announcement in automotive history!  Here are some of the details from GM:



What do you think about GM's announcement??  Add your comments.

China may be finally taking cleaner air seriously

China, the U.S. and Europe are by far the largest consumers of energy and thus natural resources in the world. China is also the largest automotive market in the world with sales topping 28 million vehicles last year. However, air pollution has become a huge problem, especially in the large cities. So the government of China has been incentivizing companies to produce electric vehicles as a partial solution. This includes subsidies for new companies, incentives to current auto companies and even permission for foreign companies to form joint ventures with Chinese firms to develop electric models and increase supply.

Recently, there have been reports that the Chinese government is preparing legislation that will include a deadline for the sale of all internal combustion engines.  If true, this could be a major push for the electric vehicle world. China would certainly take a leadership role in this technology and likely push other continents, like North America and Europe to follow in some capacity. 

China's actual ability to make such a conversion from fossil fuel vehicles is debatable as their current demand for vehicles exceeds supply, so ramping up production to such levels seems difficult at best. Nevertheless, it would be a welcome sign to environmentalists worldwide and a certain boost to the electric vehicle world!

You can learn more at the following link....