Just in case you needed another reason to care about the environment...turns out girls dig guys who dig environmental technology. According to a study done by GM (of all people) as part of this year's Challenge X competition:
- Close to nine in 10 women (88 percent) say they’d rather chat up someone with the latest fuel-efficient car versus the latest sports car.
- Eighty percent of American car buyers would find someone with the latest model fuel-efficient car more interesting to talk to at a party than someone with the latest model sports car.
- More than four out of 10 (45 percent) 18-43 year-olds say it’s a fashion faux-pas nowadays to have a car that is not green or environmentally friendly.
Little did we know...we've been fashionable all along! OK, maybe not me...I'm still tooling around in my old Sentra. No one seems to have told 80% of America that it's greener to keep driving your current car than to invest in a new one.
Nonetheless, it's good news. And when I buy my first new car (never) I'll be sure to let everyone know how green it is.
GM's Challenge X is a yearly competition between college students to make GM vehicles more efficient. Students from 17 universities are "re-engineering" Chevy Equinox's to make them more efficient and reduce their greenhouse impact while retaining consumer appeal. Solutions the students are putting together include alternative propulsion systems like fuel cells and hybrids, and alternative fuels like biodiesel and ethanol.
This year's winners, from Mississippi State, increased the fuel economy of the Equinox by almost 40% with a hybrid-electric bio-diesel engine.
Via Press Release
Everyone likes Fridays, but no one is happier that this week has almost ended than EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson. You know it's been a tough week when the best thing that happened to you is that a House committee decided to postpone a vote on whether to hold you in contempt.
The embattled EPA chief has discovered that while Congress may look the other way the first time that the White House is allowed to meddle in agency decision-making, it is not as patient after the second, third and fourth time that it happens.
Lucky for Johnson, he's really good at evading questions. We just wish we could have been a fly on the wall when President Bush directly overruled the EPA's top man on a policy decision.
In other EnviroWonk news from the past week:
Cross-posted from Envirowonk
In keeping with the amount of virtual ink this item deserves, we're going to try and keep this short. The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine held a press conference this morning to announce that 31,000 "scientists" have signed a petition rejecting claims of human-caused global warming.
According to OISM officials, the purpose of the Petition Project is to demonstrate that "the claim of 'settled science' and an overwhelming 'consensus' in favor of the hypothesis of human-caused global warming and consequent climate damage is wrong."
So what does it take to be included among the 31,000 "experts" on the petition? Well, according to the OISM criteria, any undergraduate science degree will do just fine. Bet you never thought that BS you earned 20 years ago made you a qualified climatologist. Congratulations!
OISM also wants to let you know that 9,021 of the signers hold PhDs. They don't specify what the doctorates are in, but they repeat that figure quite a bit, as if it means something. Since the group was nice enough to list all 31,000 signers, including the dead people, let's take a look at the qualifications of three randomly-selected "climate experts."
- W. Kline Bolton, M.D. is a professor of medicine and Nephrology Division Chief at the University of Virginia. Nephrology deals with the study of the function and diseases of the kidney.
- Zhonggang Zeng is one of the 9,000 with a PhD. He is a professor of mathematics at Northeastern Illinois University. His most recent publication is entitled "Computing multiple roots of inexact polynomials."
- Hub Hougland is a dentist in Muncie, Indiana. He was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame last year.
*note* initially we didn't realize this, but WIRED published a counterpoint / rebuttal of their own story written by World Changing's Alex Steffan alongside the article in question. He makes many (though not all) of our points for us. */note*
The June issue of WIRED Magazine just landed in my mailbox, and the cover story is going to be an interesting one for EcoGeeks.
I'd had a bit of a heads-up from WIRED that this was going to be a feature, though I didn't know it was going to get the cover. And I knew from the start that I'd have a good time picking the article apart. And now the time has come.
The gist of the story is that, if we're going to take global warming seriously, we need to re-think environmentalism. And while I agree with the overarching theme, simply stated at the head of the article "The war on greenhouse gases is too important to be left to the environmentalists..." I'll just be taking their ten points of contention...and making my own additions.
- Live in Cities: TRUE
The pastoral life has significantly more carbon impact than city life. However, I will say that city dwellers in the U.S. tend to have larger carbon footprints because they're more likely to travel on frequent plane trips. So y'all city folk shouldn't feel too good about yourselves, until you can cut back on the flying.
- A/C is OK: meh
OK, yes, it takes less energy to cool a space than to heat it. But I'll bet WIRED magazine isn't going to ask everyone in the world to move to the equator. It's not as if people in cold climates have a choice about whether to heat their houses.
- Organics are not the Answer: True, but neither is non-organic.
WIRED is happy to point out that organic food creates more carbon per pound than non-organic. But they don't talk about huge areas of ocean that are dead due to agricultural runoff, or ecological effects of massive pesticide use. The real answer here is to decrease meat production and de-industrialize agriculture to increase yields through care, instead of through force.
- Farm the Forest: FALSE
To say that we're not harvesting enough timber in America is pure foolishness. Wood sequesters CO2, that's fantastic, and, yes, it does so faster when trees are younger. But the vast majority of forest in America is already managed as timber farms (especially where forests are most productive, in the southern half of the US)...so there's really nothing more we can do. To increase timber harvest in areas not currently being harvested would simply mean the destruction of the last few remaining pristine forests we have. The ecological implications far outweigh the carbon benefits.
- China is the Solution: TRUE, Absolutely
That's all we're going to say, to find out what WIRED (and I) believes, you'll have to buy the magazine.
- Accept Genetic Engineering
We're staying neutral on this one for now.
- Carbon trading doesn't work: FALSE
The only large-scale emissions trading scheme that we have to judge with (the American cap-and-trade system for sulfur dioxide and other emissions) has been a gigantic success. The cap has been met, lowered, met again, and then lowered again and met again. To say that a carbon cap-and-trade system won't work because Kyoto hasn't worked is, once again, foolish. Kyoto has no enforcement mechanism, and was, from the beginning, an extremely inadequate cap. All proposals on the table in the U.S. right now have two things Kyoto doesn't have. 1. Real, significant reduction targets and 2. TEETH.
- Embrace Nuclear Power
From day one, EcoGeek has remained neutral on nuclear. And that is where we remain.
- Used Cars, Not Hybrids: Only if you want a 1994 Geo Metro
WIRED's premise here presents a problem...the only choices are a 2008 Prius, a 1994 Geo Metro, or a 1997 Tercel. In this case...the obvious winner is the Geo, followed by the Tercel. Unfortunately, these aren't the choices. People buying a new car do not want a 1997 Tercel. It would certainly be better for the environment, but they'd like something with, y'know...a CD Player? And airbags maybe? Any car containing a nickel-based battery will have a large production footprint. But as we switch over to Li-ion, the environmental costs of creating a hybrid will drop dramatically.
- Prepare for the Worst: Absolutely, without a doubt, really frighteningly true.
The article is definitely worth reading...critically. And I appreciate the work that went into it, and we only really disagree on three points, which is nice.
The main point of contention between WIRED and EcoGeek is that there is more to our planet than the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. The cover kinda pisses me off. I mean..."Screw Spotted Owls"? For real guys, the amount of carbon that could be saved by cutting down the last refuges of the spotted owl is not going to make a dent. And the lack of mention of the success of previous cap-and-trade systems seems like a giant hole in the article as well.
But to say that global warming is the only environmental issue is foolishness. We have a whole planet to deal with here, and while it's nice to have a unifying issue, cutting down all the forests, and poisoning the land with petrochemicals is not going to increase our long-term sustainability.
I'm glad to hear that the massive problem of global warming is being taken up beyond environmentalism. But if we end up solving the climate crisis by destroying the planet, we're all going to feel pretty stupid.