Soap Box

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Posts Tagged ‘peak oil’

A Quick One While He’s Away

Posted by eemilla on September 16, 2010

So by the time anyone reads this it will likely be past the deadline (22 September 2010), but here goes.  My favorite cause is to whine about the lack of mass transit and multi modal infrastructure so if you too enjoy doing so (and if you don’t you really should), please take a moment to peruse the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization‘s Long Term Transportation Plan then take the survey.  Come on, at the very least browse the projects then take the survey!

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Oil spills and more roads

Posted by eemilla on June 19, 2010

From Governor Perdue’s weekly email:

North Carolina’s Response to the Gulf Oil Spill

Gov. Perdue on Tuesday joined officials from the N.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the U.S. Coast Guard to discuss the state’s ongoing preparations in the event oil were to reach North Carolina shores.  A briefing in Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh was held for state legislators and another session for local elected officials, local government managers and public safety officials from coastal counties.

Gov. Perdue stressed that experts, including the Coast Guard and U.S. Environment Protection Agency, believe there is only a remote chance that any oil will reach North Carolina shores.  If any oil were to reach North Carolina, the state is prepared.  North Carolina had a plan in place to deal with an oil spill long before the situation in the Gulf, and that plan is being updated to handle the current situation.  Gov. Perdue reminded participants that North Carolina beaches are clean and open for business this summer season.

“I believe North Carolina has the best emergency management team in the country. We have proven over and over we can handle whatever emergency comes our way,” said Perdue.  “No matter how small the chance that oil could reach North Carolina, my goal, as always, is for us to be prepared.”

Additionally, the N.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety has launched a web page dedicated to providing information and useful links regarding the Gulf oil spill.  The page is located at the department’s home page at www.nccrimecontrol.org and can be reached by clicking on the Gulf Oil Spill tab.

Support Grows for Mobility Fund

Broad-based and bipartisan support for Gov. Bev Perdue’s proposed Mobility Fund continues to grow across the state, as evidenced by the number of resolutions passed by local municipalities and other organizations. Twelve groups have already signed resolutions supporting the innovative transportation funding legislation, while four others are pending. They include the:

·         City of Goldsboro
·         City of Charlotte
·         City of Concord
·         City of High Point
·         Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization
·         Durham Transportation Advisory Committee
·         Greensboro Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Org. Transportation Adv. Comm.
·         NC Joint Regional Forum (League of Municipalities and the Assoc. of County Comm.)
·         Centralina Council of Governments (nine counties in the Mecklenburg area)
·         Cabarrus-Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization
·         North Carolina Regional Councils
·         North Carolina Turnpike Authority

The Carborro/Chapel Hill/Durham Metropolitan Planning Organization and the cities of Archdale, Rocky Mount and Thomasville have approved resolutions and expect to have them delivered soon.

The Mobility Fund was proposed by Gov. Perdue in her budget as a new way to finance projects of statewide or regional significance to help reduce congestion and improve mobility. It sets aside funding for priority projects, the first of which would be widening I-85 north of the Yadkin River bridge on the Davidson/Rowan County line.”

The fund is being considered by the General Assembly as part of the FY 2010 budget.

For more information about the Mobility Fund, visit www.ncdot.gov and click on “Governor’s Proposed Mobility Fund” under “Latest News.”

While North Carolina may have a disaster plan in the event the  oil or tar balls from BP’s spill heads our way, Governor Perdue doesn’t mention anything about offshore drilling off the North Carolina coast .  Many North Carolina residents still support offshore drilling, even after the BP fiasco.  However, Governor Perdue hasn’t issued a press release committing herself to any position either for or against.  In September 2009, she signed Executive Order 23 to study offshore energy (which to Governor’s Perdue’s credit does support wind energy), but since BP’s Gulf spill her press releases have been isolated to the response if any of the spill comes ashore in North Carolina.

The irony comes in the next paragraph were the “mobility fund” is once again promoted; as I stated last week, I have no problem with the increase in vehicle registration fees, but the emphasis on where the funds will go is my problem.  Building more roads eases congestion for a few years, but as long as the population grows the decreased congestion will quickly return to its previous levels just across more roads.  I haven’t spent much time in Raleigh and its outward belts, but I did live in Atlanta for a year in which I witnessed eight lanes congested on I85 and I285 as well as the local roads (e.g. Ashford-Dunwoody, Peachtree, Hammond Dr, Roswell Rd) from 7 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 6 pm every weekday.  The long term solution is to decrease the number of single occupant vehicles.  Mass transit provides that option as well as providing jobs that cannot be exported.  I’d love for Buncombe County and the City of Asheville to support Governor Perdue’s Mobility Fund with the caveat that public transit receive priority over increasing the road supply.


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Governor Perdue has it wrong on mobility.

Posted by eemilla on June 14, 2010

Over a week ago, Governor Perdue spoke in favor of increasing car and light truck registration fees in order to fund highway improvement projects like widening congested road and other transportation projects.  Her emphasis is on expanding highways not reducing private passenger vehicles on the existing roads by increasing public transit, and frankly I am angry.  I don’t mind the proposed five dollar increase on my vehicle registration; I do mind public transit following widening roads as the goal of the mobility fund.  Many studies support her remarks about congestion crippling business and productivity, but many studies also support that widening and building new roads is a short term fix.

Please yell it from the roof tops that this is poor, short-sighted, backwards thinking policy.  Please, Governor Perdue, get on the bus (or better yet, the high speed rail connecting Asheville with Charlotte)!


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Strive Not to Drive 2010

Posted by eemilla on May 17, 2010

Although I don’t recall if last year’s Strive Not to Drive challenge began on a Saturday, I was perplexed by the decision to begin on a Saturday considering Sunday is the one day of the week that Asheville Transit does not run.  Are the organizers trying to encourage participants to think about options other than transit, or is their goal to highlight the absurdity of thinking of our transit as a viable alternative to a vehicle when its coverage (both in time and territory) is severely limited?  Regardless, I joined the pledge.

Sadly, I repeated last year’s mistake by oversleeping (Sunday nights at the Hanger rock!)  My plans are to walk to work tomorrow and Thursday; for Wednesday, I’ll forgo the car for both the morning and evening commutes, and on both Friday and Saturday, we will both forgo the car.  Last’s year event pushed me into more morning bus commutes; even though I feel ridiculous riding the bus for all of a mile, it saves me much sweat and allows me enough time to change into work attire before the office opens.

Wednesday night is our main issue; the last run from downtown to our bus stop is at 5:30.   Route 36 runs much later, but it stops about five miles short of our stop (I think I may have mentioned a few times about the lack of sidewalks especially south of I40).  While it is true we could bike it, my fitness level would render me a bit unsafe.  I understand that bus fares do not provide a significant source of revenue, but our household would be more than happy to pay more money for evening rides to help fund expanding service.

Get on the bus!

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Weekly Green Challenge (triple dose)

Posted by eemilla on November 4, 2009

Last week’s challenge was to give your car some loving, and below I’ve given couple of simple and obvious suggestions.  Check out the honor roll for more ideas.

With the time change and checking your smoke detectors’ batteries, you should also think about getting the car a tune up.  In addition to saving gas money, routine maintenance will either help you over the 200,000 mile threshold or help you get a better trade-in credit.  Of course keeping the air filter and oil changed is important, but also be sure to have the tires rotated and their pressure checked.  Proper tire inflation helps with their wear and your gas mileage.

Our household is into our sixty-second week of being a one car household!  With our one year milestone and our return from walking hilly San Francisco, we decided to park the car one day a week.  If you have public transit, use it!  Not only will it reduce your footprint, but you are also providing a good job to someone in your community and decreasing the congestion for someone else.

This week’s challenge to have zero food waste is second nature for me, thanks to my mom’s super frugal habits.  Dinners’ leftovers became either lunch or a late night snack, and I carry on the tradition in our home.  If I don’t eat it, my husband will most likely throw it in a burrito wrapper with cheese to finish it off.  My biggest problem with food waste are those ingredients I buy to make special recipes then fail to incorporate into our weekly meal plans.  This week I have a portion of cream cheese left over from the super awesome peanut butter chocolate cake I made for our wedding anniversary, but other recipes include my favorite golden sesame tofu that leaves me with pineapple juice or the plethora of recipes that call for just egg whites or egg yolks.

Regarding the reclaimed or recycled challenge, I did go for Marcal’s Small Steps because it was half the cost of the Seventh Generation pack, and I don’t mind it (and my honey hasn’t complained yet either).  Thanks for your thoughts!

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Climate Change

Posted by eemilla on October 15, 2009

The facts supporting climate change have been widely reported across numerous media outlets; I wanted to post this to add one more blog to the list in support of making drastic changes to our lifestyles.

Climate change is just one of the many ills our society suffers because of our addiction with fossil fuels.  Looking for purportedly cheap coal, we send fellow citizens to work in coal mines; once the vein dies or becomes too expensive, we raze the mountains and dump the top into the surrounding valleys creating wastelands in lieu of forested habitats.  Those stream beds supply someone’s water somewhere in the chain are then filled with poisons and waste from the mining, and during rainy years like this one the fills can create huge landslides (which if it doesn’t kill you isn’t covered under a homeowner’s policy).

Our love of the automobile has lead us to build massive expanses of blacktop.  The power of the car has allowed us to move further and further from work and commercial centers which leads to more traffic congestion then demand for less congested roadways.  The fuel for these vehicles will not last forever, and even if it did, its exhaust is killing us.  Furthermore is the fuel worth the national security risk; what would the economy do if for whatever crazy reason OPEC decided to stick it to us tomorrow?  Public transportation was squashed by domestic automakers, and many people still argue public transportation will never be self-sustaining (thanks for a good jab, Doug Gibson!).  Funny how the sweetheart lease deals we make with big oil doesn’t impugn them.  However, as our population grows the stress on the current roadways will increase while the demand for housing increases, and no one wants to live near the noise and smell of major roadway.

Our food is tied closely to energy prices because almost everything Americans eat is soaked in oil starting from the time the seeds are delivered from Monsanto to their drive to your home in plastic bags in the back of your car.  If you are eating processed foods then you have even more oil on your hands not to mention the spare tire around your middle.

Even if our elected officials refuse to act, we can each do something small like grow some food, bring your own boxes and bags to the store, do without the car, or insulate your home.  These little things when compounded will help, but a phone call or email to elected officials can’t hurt.

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Forty-Five Weeks!

Posted by eemilla on July 9, 2009

We are at forty-five weeks with the one car household, and we are going strong.  We are now trying to decide how to celebrate the upcoming one year anniversary, and this week’s Change the World Wednesday Challenge from Small Footprints at Reduce Footprints is to park the car for twenty-four hours.  With our household, the car normally doesn’t get parked that long unless we are out of town.  My hope is that we can both use alternate means of transportation at least three times in the upcoming calendar week.  The humidity and no showers at work make this difficult, but if we ever hope to have a better public transportation system we have to use what we have and demand better.

Change The WorldButton

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Local Food Failure

Posted by eemilla on July 7, 2009

I thought the local food challenge was going to be easier, but alas I was not able to concoct a meal that was completely local without changing my shopping habits more than I was ready to.  I love Hickory Nut Gap Farm eggs, but I wanted to avoid animal protein for both its ecological repercussions and my changing diet.  I found locally fermented tempeh and locally milled flour, but they both cost more than three times their non local options.  The French Broad Food Coop did have some fava beans from either Jake’s Farm in Candler or Gladheart Farms in Asheville, along with local shiitakes from the Mushroom Co-op, Jake’s Farm’s romaine heads, and Gladheart’s local broccoli crowns.

Although I did not complete the challenge as I wanted to, I did try fava beans for the first time.  I love them (even if you have to twice shuck them), and I devoured my fava shiitake dish (garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil being the non local interlopers).  The next step is to either commit to a CSA share, more homegrown food, or to tailgate market shopping.  Last year we did so well with all our victory garden herbs, arugula, kale, and tomatoes, but we completely dropped the ball for this year.

Congratulations to Small Footprints at Reduce Footprints for once again challenging me to see past my own greenwashing.

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Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Posted by eemilla on June 24, 2009

Last week’s Change the World Wednesday challenge from Reduce Footprints really got me thinking about how many plastic bags I use without even noticing them.  I hate getting them at the store but only at the checkout line; when I’m in the produce or bulk section I think about how much I need to get reusable bags, especially for the mushrooms, but week after week I use one or two new bags.  I do save and reuse the old ones, but those thin produce bags tear if you look at them wrong so I usually only get one or two uses.  I do better with the zip top sandwich bags that I put herbs in, and for the heavy bulk (rice, beans, tofu, etc) I bring some plastic storage containers.

Single use bags are just plain bad.  Americans waste about 12 million barrels of oil annually in the production of plastic bags, and if you use paper, we harvest about 14 million trees each year.  Aside from being a waste of a valuable, finite resource, plastic bags are here to stay.  Like the bag scene in American Beauty, they float and fly and land in trees and in the water.  Once in water they can resemble prey causing some obvious issues for the unlucky predator.  Even if the bags don’t retain their original shape, once they get into the water they flock; the Northern Pacific Garbage Patch is bigger than Texas.  To help protect their seascapes, several coastal North Carolina counties are thinking of joining the growing global ban (as reported on Morning Edition last week or so).  A few of the local green grocers (Earth Fare, French Broad Food Coop, and with Greenlife leading the way) began to charge for plastic bags this year, and even if the stores didn’t want to charge, couldn’t they give a credit like Earth Fare used to that the shopper can donate to a charity (which both decreases single use bag usage and gets the company a tax deduction).

Paper at least breaks down when thrown away, and all of our textbook covers were repurposed grocery bags.  However, paper still wastes plenty of resources.  Some of those trees may be old growth stands while others could be from GMO tree plantations, but either way a whole bunch of trees go down.   The GMO trees for paper production are being selected for less lignin which makes them easier to process.  The issue is that lignin makes trees strong (literally it fills the spaces between the cells’ walls), and it also helps the tree conduct water efficiently (sounds like a recipe for more less efficient water usage and increased pesticides).  On the carbon side, it also plays an important role in carbon sequestration.  Even if you recycle your bags a great deal of energy is used to do so (in both transporting and processing).

My organic cotton bags have another one up on plastic and paper: they hold pounds more.  Two bags can easily handle a week’s worth of groceries (I usually keep the delicates, like bread & fruit, in their own bag).  On the downside, baggers at the Ingles are so used to flimsy plastic bags that might hold ten pounds, I bag my own groceries which saves Ingles on labor costs (I avoid the stupid robo-checkouts) as they will invariably use half the bag then resort to plastic.

This weekend I will make or buy some reusable bags for my bulk items so I cut the plastic bags out all together.

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Weekly Green Challenge (aka Change the World Wednesday)

Posted by eemilla on June 18, 2009

Small Footprints over at Reduce Footprints has targeted one of my numerous pet peeves with this week’s Change the World Wednesday Challenge; a more informative (and ranty!) post is forthcoming on why the question shouldn’t be paper or plastic at the check out line.  Our household will be striving to remember to bring the reusable bags to every trip to the store.  Hope you’ll do the same!

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