How To Be Less Dependent On Gas

I hope that by now I’ve said something to get you at least thinking about trying to use less gas or maybe even determined to use less gas.

Our dependency on gas is just one more weakness that we need to get rid of. It makes us lazy because we walk less and sit more. It keeps separated from our environment because we always have our metal bubble protecting us from the weather, animals, people and the beauty of nature. And it just releases tons of carbon emissions.

The average American uses 500 gallons of gas each year. Compare that to our neighbor, Canada, whose citizens use an average of 310 gallons each year. I know we’re Americans and it’s our right to pollute the planet as much as possible because we ‘earned’ it and all that, but geez, these numbers just seem ridiculous. I also want to show you this lovely graphic, which quickly put it in perspective.

This is a graph showing how much gas we use compared to other countries

http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/a-picture-is-worth-gasoline-consumption-per-day-updated.html

No one is really saying it, but Sandy is probably the best indicator of our need to change. Some scientists are saying it’s too late. I’m thinking it probably is, but only because I know that everyone won’t change their habits in a day or even two and that’s what would have to happen. For now, I’ll just be satisfied for the small changes we can make.

Here is a list of 101 ways to use less gas. Everyone, every single one, of us can surely find something on this list.

It includes everything from fueling up in the mornings or evenings, when it’s cooler and the gas evaporates less, to planning all of your shopping to one trip, so you don’t go out a hundred times in one night.

I’ve decided that I am going to take the 2 mile challenge. According to the site, 40 percent of urban travel is two miles or life. I find that a lot of the time this is true. Usually, I ride to school every day, which is 2.5 miles, unless I have to go somewhere after school that isn’t within another mile from the house. I’m going to try to extend that to two. Wish me some strength if you ever find that you have a little extra.

GMO Kick: Part 2

Genetically Modified Organisms won’t feed the world because as I’ve pointed out, they’re killing the world. They’re creating superweeds and tumors, but killing insects, which we would absolutely have to have if we ever woke up and went back to our old ways, (find out why they’re important here) and they’re killing diversity in crops, animals and in the end they will be killing us in a way where it will be impossible to deny the reason behind it. And just for my own curiosity, I did a quick search to see what the trends were for some diseases and conditions. Autism, obesity, stillbirths, diabetes, depression are all things with growing numbers on or within a few years after 1990. It may be a coincidence, I didn’t spend too much time on it, just a quick glance at a few graphs, but it’s not a good sign. Sadly, there are people and it would seem that the majority of the people who even know about GMOs think that they’re helpful and it is what will save the world from dying of hunger. Africa seems like the poster child for world hunger, so I did some digging to see what they’re current situation is.There is a lot of conflicting statements In July 2011, there was this article and it says that most parts of Africa have resisted GMOs since the very beginning and Monsanto has been bullying them into trying them. Ethiopia tried to grow flour once, but refused to try it ever again. Ethiopia is accepting cotton, but with precaution we’re not seeing anywhere in America, and all other GMO products are illegal EVEN IN A CRISIS. The problem for them “is its unpredictability. There is no guarantee as to what is going to happen. What if it kills insects which are very important? Gene’s has evolutionary characteristics. So what if it changes the original characteristics permanently after years?” But even if they’re in one of the poorest countries in the world, they’re still pushing for the right to have to know what they’re eating. It’s amazing. This article goes on and on about how GMOs are not the solution to Africa’s problems. They know what GMOs have done to the farmers in India and what the health effects supposedly are.

I want to point out one more thing. I’ve struggled my whole life not to be this overly pessimistic, conspiracy theorist person that people always laugh at and gets called crazy. There were times when I heard someone say something about it being a conspiracy and I could actually see it being true. It seemed so black and white. Maybe I am crazy. I’ll let you decide, but this problem to me is black and white when I see who is and who is not eating this stuff.

Now, I’m looking from the point of view of the company and people who are trying to sell the stuff, so try not take what I’m saying the wrong way. The primary people who are buying GMOs are usually considered to be poor, unhealthy and considered a burden on the rest of the society. There are several articles I’ve read throughout my research for this post that suggest that elites are more knowledgeable about the difference between organic and non-organic then they’re letting on. Here are the links:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/food-politics-white-house_b_543798.html

http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/09/report-monsanto-man-mitt-romney-eats-organic

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/10/09/ge-food-supporters-insist-organic-foods.aspx

And then we have this: Up until 5:40 or so there isn’t a whole lot happening. They’re just chasing around Bill Gates, but after that is a little interesting. Also, the audio was a little hard for me to understand what they were saying, but they’re talking about the doomsday seedvault.  And definitely stick around till around 8 minutes. And then you can think about all that you know about Bill Gates and what he promotes and it might give you a bit of a different perspective.

Shell

Shell is planning to drill in the arctic. Maybe you already knew this and maybe you didn’t. Greenpeac partnered with Yes, Lab and set up Arctic Ready, a fake website similar to Shell’s, and came up with Let’s Go fake ad campaign to protest Shell drilling in the Alaskan seas.

Shell’s focus is primarly on Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, which has an estimated 26 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 130 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The site was set up about a month ago. I first saw an ‘ad’ about two weeks ago on another blog and it mentioned that it was a failed Shell campaign. That was a misconception because the site looks so similar to Shell’s website.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/18/shell-arctic-ready-hoax-greenpeace_n_1684222.html#slide=more239554

Greenpeace said that the campaign wasn’t very expensive compared some of the others they have put on. Arctic Ready was driven by supporters.

As part of the website, people were allowed to create their own ‘ads’. Some people were furious about being lied to, but even after the news got out that it was a hoax there were hundreds of ‘ads’ still being made.

I got this from part of an article on Forbes:

Kash: What about the backlash, those who see this as impersonation — and a violation of trademark law — rather than parody, such as those calling you villains?

Nichols: What is a hoax? The idea of a hoax is a group that says it’s something that it’s not. Shell saying it can safely drill in the Arctic and abide by clean air rules and environmental standards is a hoax. Shell is not doing that. Note the rig getting away from it. People wringing their hands over what is an obviously satirical campaign that rubs them the wrong way for a few seconds before they realize it’s fake pales in comparison with what Shell is doing, the hoax they’re perpetuating on the American public. It’s a creative campaign and we’re giving our supporters a voice to tell Shell what they think.

“Arctic Ready” is Shell’s motto. All we’ve done is take their facts and highlighted them. It’s identity correction. It’s important that you don’t lie. You take the facts and put them out without Shell’s spin. They’ve greenwashed their page. We’ve done the opposite. We took the language they used and flipped it. Instead of saying we’re environmentally friendly, we made it that Shell’s excited to do this crazy stuff in the Arctic. And I’m sure they are. We’re just heightening that part of it. It’s like in Spinal Tap where they turn the amp to 11.

My thoughts on this are that this is pretty genius; I especially like the ‘ad’ idea because everyone had a voice in it. I do wish that some where on the site it had said clearly that it was made by Greenpeace or not an official Shell site. That way they could just blame people for their own misconceptions. However, if you take a look around, you can see where Nichols was talking about taking Shell’s fluffy words and making them into the truth. When I first saw the site and didn’t yet know that it was a spoof, I kept thinking, ‘Gosh, it sure is weird that Shell is saying this. They must be really confident that America won’t care enough to make a difference.’ I was skeptical, but I thought that Shell probably knew enough about America’s love affair with cheap, convenient, available gas. Sadly, that actually seems to be the case because it still plans to drill and the most recent article I found, which is 5 days old, said they’re not even going to sue.

Recently, they have started shutting down Shell gas stations in the UK.

I think both of these things are great, but  I like when people stand up for what they believe. It’s something that rarely happens, so when it does, no matter what I usually like it. I like the gas station idea less because it’s forcing their beliefs on others, but if people would stop being so selfish, people wouldn’t need to take such drastic measures.

As far as the ad campagin goes, I think it’s awesome. You can look at the gallery here.  They had a contest winner, but you’re still welcome to make ads. There are 367 pages, last time I checked. I didn’t go through them all, but here are my favorites:

There isn’t a whole lot of hands on approaches for this problem, but the best thing you can do is stop buying gas from Shell. If it’s not them, it will probably be somebody else, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

There are several petitions going around. The decision isn’t up to Shell, but up to Obama and the EPA, so that’s who the petitions are addressed to. Here is a link to one, but there are several others.

Education is important too. Research this problem and why it’s such a big deal. Tell your friends and anyone else who will listen. Let’s GO!

Deforestation: Part 2

Yesterday I talked about the causes of deforestation and gave the some background on the problem. Today I’ll be writing about the consequences of it and tomorrow I’ll talk about the solutions.

Among the obvious consequences of deforestation is the loss of living space, not for us obviously, but for animals, the unspoken fors. Seventy percent of the Earth’s land animals and plants reside in forests. But the harm doesn’t stop there. Rain forests help generate rainfall in drought-prone countries elsewhere. Studies have shown that destruction of rain forests in such West African countries as Nigeria, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire may have caused two decades of droughts in the interior of Africa, with attendant hardship and famine.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/eye/deforestation/effect.html

Deforestation also drives climate change. Forest soils are moist, but without protection from sun-blocking tree cover they quickly dry out. Trees also help perpetuate the water cycle by returning water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without trees to fill these roles, many former forest lands can quickly become barren deserts.

Removing trees deprives the forest of portions of its canopy, which blocks the sun’s rays during the day and holds in heat at night. This disruption leads to more extreme temperatures swings that can be harmful to plants and animals.

Deforestation may have catastrophic global effects as well. Trees are natural consumers of carbon dioxide—one of the greenhouse gases whose buildup in the atmosphere contributes to global warming. Destruction of trees not only removes these “carbon sinks,” but tree burning and decomposition pump into the atmosphere even more carbon dioxide, along with methane, another major greenhouse gas.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/eye/deforestation/effect.html

Fewer forests means larger amounts of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere—and increased speed and severity of global warming.

There seems to be a catch to this though. Temperatures data were collected from a network of specialized weather stations in forests ranging from Florida to Manitoba and compared results with nearby stations situated in open grassy areas that were used as a proxy for deforested land.

The climate cooling benefits of forests and trees are added as you get closer to the tropics or going north.

Researchers calculated that north of Minnesota, or above 45 degrees latitude, deforestation was associated with an average temperature decrease of 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

On the other hand, deforestation south of North Carolina, or below 35 degrees latitude, appeared to cause warming. Statistically insignificant cooling occurred between these two latitudes

Surface temperatures in open, nonforested, high-latitude areas were cooler because these surfaces reflected the sun’s rays, while nearby forested areas absorbed the sun’s heat. At night, without the albedo effect, open land continued to cool faster than forests, which force warm turbulent air from aloft to the ground.

Deforestation in the boreal region, north of 45 degrees latitude, results in a net cooling effect. While cutting down trees releases carbon into the atmosphere, it also increases an area’s reflection of sunlight (its albedo).

http://www.futurity.org/earth-environment/deforestations-effects-location-location/

Deforestation and forest degradation are both a cause and a result of climate change. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and use it to grow, but when they decay or burn, carbon dioxide is released again. Decaying plants also produce methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide.

So deforestation and forest degradation are doubly damaging, because greenhouse gases are released (e.g. through forest fires, or using the cut trees as firewood), while at the same time the number of carbon dioxide absorbing trees are reduced. Thirty percent of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere over the past 150 years is thought to come from deforestation, but this is a small amount compared to what is still stored in forests. The Canadian and Russian boreal forests alone hold 40 percent of the world’s carbon stocks.

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/climate-change/science/deforestation/

Soil erosion, while a natural process, accelerates with deforestation. Trees and plants act as a natural barrier to slow water as it runs off the land. Roots bind the soil and prevent it from washing away. The absence of vegetation causes the topsoil to erode more quickly. It’s difficult for plants to grow in the less nutritious soil that remains.

Because trees release water vapor into the atmosphere, fewer trees means less rain, which disrupts the water table (or groundwater level). A lowered water table can be devastating for farmers who can’t keep crops alive in such dry soil.

On the other hand, deforestation can also cause flooding. Coastal vegetation lessens the impact of waves and winds associated with a storm surge. Without this vegetation, coastal villages are susceptible to damaging floods. The 2008 cyclone in Mayanmar proved this fact to catastrophic effect. Scientists believe that the removal of coastal mangrove forests over the past decade caused the cyclone to hit with much more force.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/deforestation2.htm