What is Government’s Role?

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A sign stating it is law to not allow your car motor to idle while stopped

This sign is from the city of Vancouver in British Columbia and it’s purpose is to inform motorists that letting their cars idle is against the law and punishable by a fine of $50 to $100.

Vancouver’s “Motor Vehicle Noise and Emission Abatement By-Law No. 9344″ [PDF] went into effect in Spring of this year after being adopted in July, 2006.

Here are some details:

“2.7 A person must not cause or permit a motor vehicle to idle:
(a) for more than three consecutive minutes in a 60 minute period; or
(b) while unattended and unlocked.

The City’s stated goals for the bylaw are to:

  • protect air quality
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • reduce urban noise
  • reduce vehicle theft
  • save money on fuel.



The website Trans-Talk has details on how it’s been going, along with some good reference information other towns in Canada (and even some in the US) that have similar laws.

What do you think? Should we push to change our laws to force behaviors that are good for the environment? Or should government stay off our backs and allow people to do what they want?

Next Actions:

Green News Roundup

As part of writing this blog I follow a large number of other blogs and news sources — in fact I have over 100 of them in my RSS reader right now (thanks Google Reader!).

So, each week I’ll filter through them so you don’t have to and I’ll give you just the highlights -

(Also, if you blog on a topic that might be interesting to our readers, please leave a comment with your URL and I’ll add your site to the ones I follow – and if you’re nice I’ll add you to the blogroll on the site too!)

So here are highlights from the RSS Stream of News for July 31st, 2007:

Wherever it appears, factory farming has two notable effects. It threatens the environment, because of huge concentrations of animal manure and lax regulation. And it threatens local political control. Residents who want a say over whether and where factory farms, whose stench can be overwhelming, can be built find their voices drowned out by the industry’s cash and lobbying clout.

Farming Organic Produce Underground in Tokyo

Tree hugger brings us news on new twist on local food, an underground farm in Tokyo. It’s main purpose is to provide training for Japanese students interested in learning about farming.

It reminds me of the Winter I grew organic tomatoes in my basement under lights. I calculated that it cost me $25 a month for electricity, lights, soil, etc — but I had fresh, organic tomatoes all Winter.

For more info, see also this article: Tokyo: Underground High Tech Urban Organic Farming. There are a lots of pictures and it will give you a good idea of what it’s all about.

Here’s a layout of the underground farm:

And on the map above,

  • Room 1: Flower field. White LEDs are used. Plant cultivation by RGB LED. Metal halids spotlights are used.
  • Room 2: Herb field. Metal halids spotlights are used.
  • Room 3: Shelf rice field. Metal halids lamps and high-pressure sodium lamps are used. It explains that it is possible to do by three crops a year.
  • Room 4: Fruit/vegetable field. Cultivation of tomato by hydroponics. 3 wavelength, 5000 deg. K, High-frequency fluorescent lamp.
  • Room 5: Vegetable field. Metal halids spotlights are used.
  • Room 6: Seedling room. Lettuces are being grown with fluorescent lamps. 2xFour steps cultivation bed.

And check out these fresh, organic tomatoes:

Choices: Drive? or Bike?

This is the first post of an ongoing feature here at 21st Century Citizen. It’s called ‘Choices’ and it’s purpose is to present a simple, values-based choice and generate discussion.

It’s also intended to make you think a bit and examine the reasons why you make the choices you make. Here we go with our first installment.

[Note: I'm using pictures from flickr below -- clicking on them will take you to the image's page in Flickr.]

Choice: Drive? Or Bike?



Drive?



Or Bike?

This question may not be as simple as it seems.For example, if you have a long commute from your home and need to drive, well — you could use a bike if you changed jobs and worked closer to home.

So, then what if you could find a job close enough to home? Then would you use a bike?

If it seems impossible to get a job close to home, then how about a job where you work from home?

If you got a job where you worked from home, then you wouldn’t need to drive to commute. Then would you switch to using a bike?

I know it’s impossible for a lot of people to work from home — if you’re a Fireman or a Nurse, fires and sick people don’t usually come to you, so it’s impractical. But for many jobs, it would be possible. In fact, if gas were $10 a gallon, it might turn into a necessity — many people just wouldn’t be able to afford to drive to work and back.

Now what about buying groceries? Would you be willing to ride the bike to get food? Why not?

Again, for some it’s impractical — but maybe not as impractical as you’d think. For example, many people in large cities — like New York City — don’t own cars. They shop a little bit at a time or take a cab. You could do that on a bike in many towns.

In some cases, the roads may not be safe for bikes — for example, here in New Hampshire there aren’t bike lanes everywhere.

Also, for many of us the large grocery stores we shop at are too far to ride a bike.

But what if bike lanes were required by law on all busy roads? Would that make a difference? If so — then shouldn’t we be asking our local governments to adopt rules that require bike lanes? We don’t do this now because we’re used to driving cars.

And if more people road bikes, I’ll bet that local people would open stores up to serve them. Local stores used to be everywhere, in fact, until the big chains put them out of business. If there were local shoppers for them, they’d open back up. Probably pretty quickly too.

So — what do you choose here? Don’t mke the choice you think is ‘appropriate’, tell the truth. And tell us what would have to change to make you use a bike — maybe if we talk about the reasons why we don’t use bikes, it will give us ideas as to what we need to change so more people do.

And if you use a bike now, then tell us how you do it and how practical it is. What problems do you run into? What works well?

Feel free to comment. And thanks for reading!

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Seacoast EatLocal Blog reviews video on food supply

Here’s a wonderful post from Seacoast Eat Local, wonderful, very-local blog located in the Seacoast area of Southern, NH.

They blogged today about a youtube video that very simply lays out the story of our food supply and some of the issues surrounding it. For example, did you know that the process of growing, processing and shipping food where it’s grown to your door consumes about 17% of the energy used in the United States?

This short video takes just a few minutes to watch – and it’s simple message will stick with you.

Another great part of their site is their wiki page. It’s a collection of local food information for their local area. It’s a great example of how local communities can gather and share knowledge about local food optoins in their area.

This video was published by ‘Video Nation’, the video arm of ‘The Nation’ magazine. For background on ‘The Nation’, see this article in Wikipedia which provides information on this publisher.

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Still Life With Produce

Still Life With Produce, originally uploaded by shawn schreiner.

More local food shots today. It’s almost August and we’re at just about the peak of gardening and local produce season. The tomatoes this time of year are about the best food on earth (if you ask me!).

This week, make an effort to buy some local food. Look for a sign at your local store, or find a farmer’s market nearby.

If you’re at the store, ask someone in the produce department if they have locally grown produce. They may have it, but not have it marked.

Let them know you’re interested in it and they’ll remember — and it may make it easier for local farmers the next time they try to sell their goods to that store.

If you don’t know where to buy locally grown food, try searching localharvest.org – they have databases of local growers and community supported agriculture (CSA) farms.

Eating local will taste better because the food is fresher. It will also make your soul feel better because of the good your doing for the planet and your community.

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8 Great Global Warming Podcast Episodes / Series

I’ve been looking for Podcasts that discuss Global Warming and that aren’t a waste of time. After doing all my research, here is a set of podcasts that I believe are the best around.

Please leave a comment here on this post if you have other favorites to add — or if you disagree about one of the podcasts linked here.

1. Global Warming podcast from PRI’s “The World”

Special Tech Podcast #146 [MP3]

This is a podcast from the radio show The World.

The World is a well known radio program from Public Radio International. Here is the description from their program guide:

“A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change looks at the impacts of global warming. This podcast explores how climate change is affecting our world: from Africa, to South America, to Europe. And what global warming could mean in your neck of the woods.”

2. Are Americans ready to believe in global warming?

Continue reading

Oh, and Happy Birthday to…

Treehugger!

From their site:

Before the month is out I just wanted to slip in a hearty ‘Three Cheers’, ‘for-you’re-all-jolly-good-fellows’ type greeting for little ole TreeHugger. Yep, we’ve successful navigated through the Terrible Twos and moved right on, without even celebrating our momentous Third Birthday. The other day we ranked 20th out of some 75,000,000 other blogs, so guess we can take that as our pressie. Thanks to you, our loyal readers, for coming to the never-ending party. Bring your friends, we’ve still got plenty of optimism in the fridge. In the partying words of our founder, Graham Hill, RKNRL!

Happy Birthday and here’s hoping for many more! Great site, and great work!

Go out and have some organic ice cream and cake – and don’t blow out the candles, use their light to clean up by so you don’t have to turn the lights on!

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Car passing gas? Recycle those fumes!

At Green Options today they’re passing along a story from Engadget on the ‘Greenbox’ — an aftermarket deice for cars that claims to capture most of the greenhouse gases from cars to keep them out of the atmosphere.

The idea is that you’d attach the ‘greenbox’ to your car and it would capture the gases as you drive — then you’d replace the greenbox with a new one once it was full. The trapped gases would then extracted from the greenbox and used as an ingredient in making biofuels.

According to a Reuter’s article:

Dubbed “Greenbox”, the technology developed by organic chemist Derek Palmer and engineers Ian Houston and John Jones could, they say, be used for cars, buses, lorries and eventually buildings and heavy industry, including power plants. “We’ve managed to develop a way to successfully capture a majority of the emissions from the dirtiest motor we could find,” Palmer, who has consulted for organizations including the World Health Organisation and GlaxoSmithKline, told Reuters.

“The carbon dioxide, held in its safe, inert state, can be handled, transported and released into a controlled environment with ease and a minimal amount of energy required,” Houston said at a demonstration using a diesel-powered generator at a certified UK Ministry of Transportation emissions test centre.More than 130 tests carried out over two years at several testing centers have, the three say, yielded a capture rate between 85 and 95 percent.

Here’s a graphic to illustrate in more detail:

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Earth 911 reminds us…

That in the Summer it’s important to check your sprinkler for leaks. According a post this afternoon:

A broken sprinkler can waste thousands of gallons of water, not to mention bring you a hefty water bill.

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