In the US, Republican contender John McCain has suggested that the US lift the moratorium on off-shore oil production to ease the current fuel ‘crisis’ and current President and lover of oil companies George W has jumped on the bandwagon. Both of them contend that opening local oil production is the only feasible solution, one that the Democrats constantly block in Congress. Hmm… sounds like the start of a new, engineered crisis for the Republicans to use to make the Democrats look bad and win the election to me. Last time it was the ‘War on Terror’ (TM), this time it will be ‘The Worsening Fuel Crisis’ (TM).
Of course the Democrats will always face an uphill struggle in oil addicted America, in their efforts to convine normal folk that cutting back on gas consumption is a good thing. Do we really think that someone who buys a Hummer would believe converting it to run on fuel cells or vegetable oil is a good idea? Unlikely. Maybe the real question is in whether or not the current administration has been using their connections in the oil industry to slow down oil production and engineer this crisis themselves, while lining their pockets with additional dollars in the process. A nice little bonus on your way out of the White House, certainly more lucrative than writing an autobiography.
Floating out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is a patch of garbage the size of Texas. Mostly consisting of plastics that will never bio-degrade, the valiant crew of the good ship Vice Magazine head out there to report on what’s really happening.
When I was diving in Australia off the Queensland coast, we all sort of lived in fear/awe of the Irukandji jellyfish – tiny, transparent jellyfish whose venom can kill purely from the extreme pain it inflicts. Worrying stuff indeed. Luckily, jellyfish stings find it hard to get through any sort of material so in our wetsuits we were relatively safe.
Now its seems more of us will be at risk from swarms of these jellyfish as they migrate around the world in search of food. In a new film, cinematographers trace the path of these surprisingly intelligent and well defended animals as they head away from their traditional areas and foray for new food sources. Beautiful but unnerving, this is one film everyone who dives (and swims) should probably watch.
Happy 7th July ’07 everyone! I’m a big fan of 7 related randomness, as it is part of my favourite number, but not so much as some folks who believe that getting married today is especially fortuitous.
In other daily news – the Live Earth concerts have already kicked off in Sydney, where it’s been Saturday for so long it’s almost Sunday already. These concerts, instigated by Al Gore (he who should have been President), will happen around the world until the end of the day. Exciting news for the environment everywhere.
Oh, and it’s also the 100th anniversary of Robert A Heinlein’s birth.
Apparently Greenpoint, and increasing areas of hipster gentrified Brooklyn, is sitting on top of a huge bubble of toxic oil spill that’s been known about since the 70s! Hmm… I guess since this is pretty much exactly underneath my Brooklyn apartment I should be worried, but then maybe my landlord is using the oil to provide cheap heating. Another fine mess from Exxon Mobile (allegedly).
Folks in London should head down to Trafalgar Square to see what it’s like all green and grassy. The few photos I’ve seen look amazing, it totally changes the way the square works and just makes me think that more public places need grass. Other than the fact it’ll be a mud bath within a few days of course as soon as it rains. I love this current push for all things green, makes a nice change from fighting ‘terror’ – or creating it by scaring everyone into thinking we’re all going to die any minute.
In related London land news – a squatter has been granted the right to stay on his little piece of Hampstead Heath. Harry Hallowes has lived on this piece of land, estimated worth Â£2m (that’s ~$4m at current crappy exchange rates), for 20 years now and so has gained squatters rights of ownership on it. This strikes me as a classically English resolution to the problem. Nice to see that his plot didn’t accidentally burn down, like happens over here with some landlord’s properties on a regular basis…
Just found another carbon footprint site – this one calculated my personal emissions as 18.6 tonnes of carbon, so not far off the other day’s 19! This site was better for flights, in that you can actually put in where you flew, but doesn’t take into account the concept of public transport or just the overall emissions of being in New York and the infrastructure that exists. Either way my carbon footprint is a bit fat…
Recently the concept of the ‘carbon footprint’ has been getting a whole pile of press in the UK, and even a little bit over here. The concept is simple, your carbon footprint is the equivalent weight of carbon you use living your life and using fuel sources that impact the environment. So I had a go at calculating my Carbon Footprint for last year – this came in at around 19,000kg!
My figure of 19,000kg bizarrely is the average figure for people in the US. The UK average is 11,500kg. Compare these to 11,000kg average for all industrial nations, and a world wide average of only 4,000kg. The US isn’t doing so well in there, and neither am I. So how can I do better?
Well for me, as a public transport using New Yorker, my biggest impact is flights. I’ve been flying a lot back and forth to Montreal this last year and also quite a few times back to the UK. These account for 11,000kg of my total! Otherwise I’d be well below the US and UK averages. So as a Brit living away from his family, what am I to do? Well the simple answer, other than stop flying so much, is carbon off-setting, which is where you pay to have trees planted that use up the carbon and produce oxygen. Given that an average tree consumes 730kg of carbon in its life, and the goal is to have only 4,000kg of emissions a year, that means I should be planting 21 trees this year alone to offset my costs. Phew! I can spend some money and feel better about things, that’s good. Does it actually work? Who knows, but more trees can’t be a bad thing.
The other interesting question for me is – how can I make my trips between New York & Montreal more carbon efficient? I mean there’s no way I can get back to the UK without flying, so that’s a given, but I can either fly or drive up to Montreal. Strangely enough, even though a flight to Montreal only takes an hour, with customs and check in it almost takes the same time door to door to drive as to fly. The downside of this is I don’t have a car here, so I have to hire one. Now I just need to find an accurate calculator that can tell me the difference between a 700 mile round trip in an economy hire car, and a 55 minute flight in a small jet plane.