Turning Wildlife Foes into Friends

One of the biggest challenges in protecting wildlife in many parts of the world is to eliminate activities that are profitable for some communities, such as hunting or poaching, and turn these same community members into protectors of the environment. A project in Cambodia is doing just that. Cambodia is home to the most important water bird habitat in Southeast Asia. The conservation project has all but eliminated poaching in the area and turned the community towards protecting these birds. How? Wildlife conservationists enlisted the poachers to work as rangers, making about $5.00 a day. This is significantly more than they made poaching. The poachers also have extensive knowledge of where to locate eggs and protect them, making them experts of the birds they are working to protect. Please read more about this fascinating and very successful project here.


People want cars that are bigger and go faster rather than cars that get better gas mileage

A depressing New York Times article points out how automobile technology that could be used for better gas mileage is instead usually used for making cars bigger and faster than cars in the past.

People say they want cars with great gas mileage, but that’s not where they are spending their money!

Did you know that a 2005 Toyota Camry is faster than a 1975 Firebird? Or that a Nissan Murano is faster than a 1965 Mustang? It’s true!

Indeed, Mark P. Mills, a physicist and energy expert, said that improvements in vehicle efficiency would not reduce consumption because without a significant rise in gasoline prices to encourage buyers to save fuel, most people would simply take advantage of the advances to demand bigger, faster vehicles.

Mr. DeCicco agreed. “What we’re really talking about here is the need to, through a combination of public policy and awareness, use the technologies at hand with a different set of priorities in mind,” he said. “Until we do that, all the invention in the world isn’t going to make a difference.”

EPA considers tougher rules for lawnmower emissions

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Did you know that a standard walk behind gasoline lawnmower puts out as much air pollution as 11 cars? And that a riding lawnmower puts out as much air pollution as 34 cars? The reason for this is that even though mowers have small engines, they don’t have sophisticated emissions systems like automobiles. The extra weight and expense of a really elegant emission control solution doesn’t really add up for a $200 to $2,000 product, according to manufacturers.

But the EPA is considering tightening the rules so that lawnmowers won’t pollute as much anymore, according to a new Wall Street Journal article.

Stick to a manually powered push, reel mower. Because gas mowers don’t just cause air pollution. They are also dangerous!

Pollution and noise aren’t the only drawbacks to the greater use of lawn equipment. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, hospitals saw 14,607 injuries from riding mowers in 2004, up from 9,001 in 2002. There was also an increase in injuries associated with walk-behind mowers: There were 3,485 in 2004, up from 2,450 in 2003.

Making Sense of Alternative Fuel Options

Here’s what a visit to the fuel pump may look like in 20 years:

“15-percent ethanol, 10-percent ethanol, E-85, Petro-diesel, Clean-diesel, Bio-diesel, Hydrogen, Natural Gas, 100% ethanol, battery-recharge, etc, etc….”

This article from the CSMonitor discusses the emerging alternative fuels industry and where it’s likely to turn in the near future.

“There are so many balls up in the air,” says Mayes. Consider: Biodiesel made from soy or other forms of biomass; cellulosic ethanol, derived from corn husks and other organic waste rather than corn; E85 ethanol that’s only 15 percent gasoline; even “petro” diesel that burns cleaner than the diesel used in the smoke-belching cars many Americans recall – and that is made cleaner still by exhaust-treatment technologies like DaimlerChrysler’s BlueTec, announced last month.

Indeed, things are a bit confusing right now, but it’s just a matter of time before the best options filter out through the masses and we can get on with our lives. The article, btw, also includes a sort of glossary of the popular alternative fuels being developed at this time.

It’s a fascinating experience to watch all these “new” technologies and innovations vie for the top dogs of the alt-fuel world. The article, however, also comes with this warning:

“There are always unintended consequences,” says Cogan. If demand for farmed biomass surges, for example, questions will arise: Should crops be expended as fuel or used to feed the world? “You just need to think ahead,” he says.


Rising energy prices make wind power cheaper in Texas, Colorado

An ENN article tells about how companies and individuals previously expected to pay a slight premium for clean wind power have ended up actually paying lower electric bills, thanks to the rise in cost of conventionally produced electricity.

So many people want to sign up for the wind energy option for Austin Energy that they don’t have the wind capacity to provide service, and they have to sign up new customers using a raffle system!

I am personally a Green Mountain Energy customer, by the way. That is the only green option available where I live.