Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On the Web, an Advanced Carbon Calculator for Personal Use

NY Times
May 15, 2007


A new Internet tool to help individuals and communities curb their role in adding global-warming carbon emissions will be announced today at a conference in New York of mayors from around the world, said a person who built the Web technology.

Many environmental groups offer simple carbon calculators on the Web, which allow people to figure the carbon dioxide production from daily routines like driving a car or lighting a house.

“But this is serious software, serious quantitative methods and social networking technology brought to the green world,” said Ron Dembo, the chief executive of Zerofootprint, a nonprofit group that provides information and services to combat global warming.

Mr. Dembo, a founder of an analytics software company and a former computer scientist at Yale University, said details of the Web service would be described today at the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit, by David Miller, the mayor of Toronto.

The Web service, called GoZero Footprint City Calculator, is a collaboration of Zerofootprint and Business Objects, a maker of business intelligence software. Bernard Liautaud, the chairman of Business Objects, said that his company had joined the project as an initial step in using its software to help people on the Web create a “collective intelligence” to address humanitarian issues.

On the interactive climate site, people will be able to enter data, see the carbon effect and how their carbon footprint compares with averages in their city and in cities worldwide. They will also be able to do what-if simulations, to see how changes in their activities affect carbon emissions. The anonymous data will be collected for analysis by climate change scientists and others.

A link to the new site, Mr. Dembo said, will be at the “initiatives” section of

“The idea,” he said, “is something that will address millions of people and is infinitely customizable to any culture or lifestyle.”

The top-down global warming policies of governments, Mr. Dembo said, like creating environmental regulations and product standards, are important. “But bottom-up is where we’re really going to make progress,” he said, “and this is a tool that can potentially enable a really massive carbon footprint reduction.”

The mayors’ summit is a four-day gathering that began yesterday with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as its host. It is partly sponsored by the Clinton Climate Initiative, a project led by former President Bill Clinton.

The meeting is the second mayors’ climate summit; the first took place two years ago in London. Cities, according to the organizers, are responsible for three-quarters of the world’s energy consumption, and have “a critical role to play in the reduction of carbon emissions and the reversal of dangerous climate change.”

Executive on a Mission: Saving the Planet

NY Times
May 22, 2007


VININGS, Ga. — What Ray Anderson calls his “conversion experience” occurred in the summer of 1994, when he was asked to give the sales force at Interface, the carpet tile company he founded, some talking points about the company’s approach to the environment.

“That’s simple,” Mr. Anderson recalls thinking. “We comply with the law.”

But as a sales tool, “compliance” lacked inspirational verve. So he started reading about environmental issues, and thinking about them, until pretty soon it hit him: “I was running a company that was plundering the earth,” he realized. “I thought, ‘Damn, some day people like me will be put in jail!’ ”

“It was a spear in the chest.”

So instead of environmental regulation, he devoted his speech to his newfound vision of polluted air, overflowing landfills, depleted aquifers and used-up resources. Only one institution was powerful enough and pervasive enough to turn these problems around, he told his colleagues, and it was the institution that was causing them in the first place: “Business. Industry. People like us. Us!”

He challenged his colleagues to set a deadline for Interface to become a “restorative enterprise,” a sustainable operation that takes nothing out of the earth that cannot be recycled or quickly regenerated, and that does no harm to the biosphere.

The deadline they ultimately set is 2020, and the idea has taken hold throughout the company. In a recent interview in his office here overlooking downtown Atlanta, Mr. Anderson said that through waste reduction, recycling, energy efficiency and other steps, Interface was “about 45 percent from where we were to where we want to be.”

Use of fossil fuels is down 45 percent (and net greenhouse gas production, by weight, is down 60 percent), he said, while sales are up 49 percent. Globally, the company’s carpet-making uses one-third the water it used to. The company’s worldwide contribution to landfills has been cut by 80 percent.

“He bet his entire company,” said Bob Fox, an architect who specializes in “green” buildings and who, like Mr. Anderson, is a member of the advisory board of the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment. “It worked out probably better even than he hoped. He has set the mark for every other corporation in this country.”

And in the process, Mr. Anderson has turned into perhaps the leading corporate evangelist for sustainability. He had a head start, he acknowledges, because he ran his company and controlled its voting stock. But he can make the case effectively, he said, because his Interface experience teaches that sustainability “doesn’t cost, it pays” — in customer loyalty, employee spirit and hard cash. He says Interface sustainability efforts have saved the company more than $336 million since 1995.

In fact, sustainability has been such a successful strategy that Interface established a consulting arm last year, to market its methods to other companies.

As befits an evangelist, Mr. Anderson, a trim 72-year-old, has taken his message on the road, preaching the sermon of sustainability in at least 115 speeches around the world last year alone.

Since last year, when he turned operating responsibilities over to Dan Hendrix, his successor as chief executive, selling sustainability has been “pretty much my full-time job,” Mr. Anderson said, and several people on the company payroll work more or less full time on it too, handling his schedule and fielding inquiries. “I think he was a typical corporate executive: the bottom line was everything,” said Eric Chivian, director of the Harvard Center. “He really did not think about the impact of his work.”

But today, Dr. Chivian said, Mr. Anderson is “a model of creative thinking about sustainable business practices.”

When Mr. Anderson began his crusade, there were those who thought it was quixotic, and some in the company worried that he was a bit too intense about it. Others thought carpet tiles — squares of nylon pile glued ubiquitously underfoot in offices, classrooms, hospitals, airports and elsewhere — were an unlikely focus for an effort to change the way business does business.

“Well, he won us all over,” said Jo Ann Bachman, one of Mr. Anderson’s assistants.

And for him, carpet tiles were an inspired choice.

For one thing, he is a carpet tile enthusiast. After a short stint at Procter & Gamble, Mr. Anderson, a Georgia native and 1956 graduate of Georgia Tech, was working in the carpet division of Callaway Mills when he discovered carpet tiles on a trip to England that he also describes in his book “Mid-Course Correction” (Chelsea Green, 1998).

It was the early 1970s, he said, and “the office of the future was just then emerging,” with more and more electronic equipment fed by more and more wires running under the floors, as walls gave way to cubicles. Carpet tile allowed businesses to move equipment at will, and the tiles could be replaced individually as they wore out. “It just made so much sense,” he said.

So he put together the necessary financing and started Interface in 1973. Today, the company says it has about $1.1 billion in annual sales and 38 percent of the global market for carpet tiles.

But when it comes to the environment, he eventually realized, carpet “is a pretty abusive industry.”

Carpet makers use lots of petroleum and petroleum derivatives, both as components of synthetic carpet and to power its production. Dyeing carpet is water- and energy-intensive. And when people are finished with the carpet, “it goes into landfills where it lasts probably 20,000 years,” Mr. Anderson said. “Abusive.”

So he challenged his employees to find ways to turn all of that around. And he forestalled objections from his own stockholders, he said, by making the elimination of waste the first target. “We saved money from Day 1,” he said.

He acknowledges that some of the advances the company has made so far are relatively obvious and easy, and that some of its claimed progress relies on steps, like carbon credits, that are far from ideal. For example, the company pays to plant trees that, in theory, take up enough carbon to compensate for the greenhouse gas generated by airplane flights on company business.

“All you are really doing is inventorying the carbon for 200 years,” Mr. Anderson said of the company’s tree-planting efforts, which it subcontracts to a company in the carbon credit business. “It’s better than nothing, but it’s temporary.”

In the future, he said, progress will come “in a lot of little steps and a few very big ones.”

Developing recyclable nylon — “that’s a big step,” he said. (Whoever does it will get all his company’s business, he has said.) Substituting “carbohydrates” — using corn dextrose instead of petroleum — would be even bigger. Renewable energy at a reasonable price would be another big step. Transportation remains “a huge issue,” in spite of the carbon credits.

Even so, customers responded to the campaign, he said, noting that it was questions from customers that prompted the sales force to ask for his environmental views in the first place. “In the aggregate, our products are not costing any more,” he said, and customers do not seem to resist those that are more expensive. “Our profit margins are up, not down,” he said.

One key to the effort’s success, he said, was its comprehensive, across-the-board approach to the entire company. “If you begin with a company and say, ‘We are going to green this company by bolting on these green programs,’ you are going to end up with costs up, not down,” Mr. Anderson said. “We stepped back and said, Let’s look at the whole system.’ ”

The audiences for his speeches are changing, too, he said. In the beginning, he often found himself preaching to the choir, he said, but in the last five years, his audiences have more often been business groups.

“I always make the business case for sustainability,” he said. “It’s so compelling. Our costs are down, not up. Our products are the best they have ever been. Our people are motivated by a shared higher purpose — esprit de corps to die for. And the goodwill in the marketplace — it’s just been astonishing.”

Mr. Anderson, who has two grown daughters from a first marriage, commutes to his office in a Toyota Prius. He and his second wife, Pat, also have a home on 86 acres in the mountains near Highlands, N.C. It is off the grid, its landscaping designed to minimize environmental disruption.

And after an argument with the landlord, Interface’s office space here is now illuminated with low-energy, long-life light bulbs.

Mr. Anderson is also proud to say that as a member of an advisory council at Georgia Tech, he persuaded the institution to modify its mission statement to proclaim the goal of “working for a sustainable society.”

But there is a lot that even business cannot accomplish on its own, he said.

For example, he said, the tax code is “perverse,” in that it puts heavy taxes on good things, like income and capital, and leaves a lot of bad things, like energy use, relatively unscathed. And economists typically underestimate the true cost of doing business because they exclude “externalities,” like environmental damage from pollution.

If it were up to him, he said, he would reduce income taxes and raise the gasoline tax (with subsidies for the poor). But he conceded that the Clinton administration, which he served as co-chairman of the Council on Sustainable Development, could not get an energy tax through Congress.

“The country wasn’t ready for it,” Mr. Anderson said, adding that when the sustainability council had a cocktail party for members of Congress, only a handful of members showed up, some of them possibly drawn more by drinks than doctrine.

But since then, he said, environmental groups have been spreading the message. He gives them credit for the success of Al Gore’s global warming documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“Their work created a supersaturated solution,” he said in the language of chemistry. “Gore drops his crystal in it, and the whole thing precipitates.”

The movie was “fabulous,” he added. And would he support Mr. Gore for president? “Oh, in a heartbeat!”

Mr. Anderson’s schedule is only getting more hectic. He is on track to easily surpass last year’s speech-giving pace, he said, “and I don’t have to send an invitation, they just keep finding me.”

But the effort is worth it, he said, not just for the opportunities he has to spread his message, but for its business-building effect. His favorite audiences are “rich in potential customers,” he said, and among them the sustainability effort “has done more to lift the company’s image than all the advertising we have ever done.”

All of which makes him smile when he looks back on that sales meeting of 1994.

After the speech, he said, “I heard the whispers, ‘Has he gone round the bend?’ ” Mr. Anderson recalls proudly how he confessed at once that he had. “That’s my job,” he said. “To see what’s around the bend.”

Maine joins call for EPA to let states cut emissions

Portland Press Herald

Staff Writer

Maine's environmental commissioner and a prominent Maine car dealer joined officials from California and other states on Tuesday as they demanded federal permission for states to set their own limits on greenhouse gases from cars and trucks.

An auto industry official dismissed the states' approach as "counterproductive."

California needs a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out a fuel efficiency and emissions law that's more stringent than federal standards.

Maine is one of at least 11 other states that are ready to follow its lead, and it has already passed a similar law. But states can't enforce such laws unless California gets permission first.

"This is more important than any issue that EPA's going to have to face," California Attorney General Jerry Brown told an EPA air quality hearing board at a public hearing in Arlington, Va.

David Littell, commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, argued for the waiver on behalf of eight Northeast states that hope to enforce California-style standards.

"Maine has a vital interest in reducing global warming emissions from vehicular and other sources in our state," Littell said.

More frequent and intense storms, increased damage from coastal flooding, harm to the maple syrup and skiing industries and stress on fishing grounds, forests and coastal ecosystems are some of the potential effects in the region from unchecked climate change, he said.

Littell also told the panel that Maine supports California's threat to sue the EPA if the agency doesn't issue a decision on the waiver by October.

California filed its application more than a year ago and has accused the agency of stalling.

The EPA panel gave no indication of how the agency might be leaning or when it will issue a decision.

At issue is a California law that requires automakers to cut emissions by 25 percent from cars and light trucks and 18 percent from sport utility vehicles starting with the 2009 model year.

Because the emissions are tied directly to fuel use, the law works by setting stricter fuel efficiency standards than those set by the federal government. The states are demanding that average vehicles get about 40 miles per gallon by 2016.

Fuel efficiency standards typically are set at the federal level, but California has a unique status under the federal Clean Air Act that allows it to enact its own air pollution rules as long as it receives permission from the EPA. Other states can then choose to follow the federal or California standards.

The hearing on Tuesday included two dozen witnesses from around the country who support California's law. "You had state after state after state stand up and say to the EPA, 'Lead or get out of the way,' " said Steve Hinchman, an attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation in Brunswick who testified at the hearing.

Adam Lee, president of Lee Auto Malls, also spoke in support of the states' stricter standards.

Cleaner and more efficient technologies are affordable and already exist, despite what manufacturers say, Lee told the panel. While gas-electric hybrids sell immediately at list price, he said, "cars that get poor fuel economy and pollute more are not selling very well."

California and other states could get U.S. manufacturers on track, Lee said.

"I am afraid that if they don't pick up the pace, not only will global warming continue to get much worse, I will be stuck with a lot full of cars that no one will buy. Or even worse: This country will no longer have a domestic car industry," he said. "I think the auto industry needs to try a little harder and I don't think they will try any harder until enough states force them to."

A lone voice of opposition came from Steve Douglas of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Douglas contended that California had not proven that its rules would actually reduce global warming, and that a national approach...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Groups divided over wind power project

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel
Thursday, May 10, 2007

AUGUSTA -- There was mixed reaction from environmental groups Wednesday to a plan to scale back a controversial wind power project.

Maine Mountain Power proposed stripping 12 wind turbines on environmentally sensitive Redington Pond Range from the Redington Wind Farm application that was rejected in January in an unusual 6-1 vote in which the Land Use Regulation Commission went against the recommendation of its staff.

In a letter dated Wednesday, Maine Mountain Power asked the commission to reopen the record to reconsider the proposal with only the 18 wind turbines on nearby Black Nubble Mountain.

While the Black Nubble proposal met with the approval of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, other environmental organizations said the commission should render a final decision on the Redington project and consider the 18 turbines on Black Nubble as a new application.

The two-mountain Redington Wind Farm application was considered precedent-setting because it was just the second proposed in the Land Use Regulation Commission jurisdiction, which includes about half of Maine.

A prior wind energy project was approved by the commission but never built.

Maine has by far the most wind power potential in New England, where there is a growing market for green energy, but wind power projects are often controversial because they tend to be located in highly visible locations, including islands just off the coast or on mountain tops.

The Redington Wind Farm proposal attracted the ire of environmental groups because the turbines on Redington Pond Range came within a mile of the Appalachian Trail and because of its potential to affect the habitat of rare or endangered species.

Dennis Bailey, spokesman for Maine Mountain Power, said Wednesday that the new Black Nubble project is a compromise that preserves much of the benefits of the project -- the 18 turbines could produce about 54 megawatts of electricity at peak capacity -- while reducing environmental impacts.

Under the proposal, land on Redington Pond Range, a 4,000-foot mountain, would be protected, according to Maine Mountain Power's letter to the commission.

Last year, the Natural Resources Council of Maine had also proposed that Maine Mountain Power drop Redington from the project, but at that time the developers said that with the loss of those turbines, the project would no longer be financially viable.

Wednesday, Bailey said that at the time, that assessment was correct.

He said that even if the Black Nubble project is approved by the commission, it is not clear if Maine Mountain Power will be able to sell power from the site at a price that will provide a return for investors.

"There is nothing nailed down yet," he said, referring to contracts for the sale of power.

He said the developers are "going back to the drawing board" to find ways to cut project costs.

Pete Didisheim, director of advocacy at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said he believes the Black Nubble project should be considered.

"We think it strikes a much better balance on the important issues," said Didisheim.

The turbines on Black Nubble would still be visible from the Appalachian Trail, but he said eliminating Redington would remove the closest turbines.

Didisheim also said the new proposal calls for protecting a mountain top in the middle of a tract of roughly 35,000 roadless acres.

Any energy source involves tradeoffs, he said, but global warming illustrates that the current energy system -- dependent on power plants that burn coal and other fossil fuels -- is broken.

"Wind power is one of the technologies that needs to be part of our energy policy moving forward and for those policies to succeed, they need to translate into actual approved projects that are generating power," he said.

Not all environmental groups were ready to support the Black Nubble project, however.

Jody Jones, wildlife ecologist at Maine Audubon, said it is simply too late in the process for Maine Mountain Power to come forward with a new proposal.

"This process should not be subverted in the 11th hour," said Jones.

Even without the turbines on Redington Pond Range, the project is still located in a sensitive high mountain area and will set a standard for future projects, she said.

Commissioners voted to reject the staff recommendation to approve the project in January, but Jones said they have still not voted on a denial order.

When commissioners rejected the staff recommendation in January, they directed staff to come back to them with another recommendation, this one to deny the project.

That could come before the commission as early as June.

Worldwide Shift from Incandescents to Compact Fluorescents Could Close 270 Coal-Fired Power Plants

Earth Policy Institute

May 9, 2007

Lester R. Brown

On February 20, 2007, Australia announced it would phase out the sale of inefficient incandescent light bulbs by 2010, replacing them with highly efficient compact fluorescent bulbs that use one fourth as much electricity. If the rest of the world joins Australia in this simple step to sharply cut carbon emissions, the worldwide drop in electricity use would permit the closing of more than 270 coal-fired (500 megawatt) power plants. For the United States, this bulb switch would facilitate shutting down 80 coal-fired plants.

The good news is that the world may be approaching a social tipping point in this shift to efficient light bulbs. On April 25, 2007, just two months after Australia’s announcement, the Canadian government announced it would phase out sales of incandescents by 2012. Mounting concerns about climate change are driving the bulb replacement movement.

In mid-March, a U.S. coalition of environmental groups--including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Alliance to Save Energy, the American Coalition for an Energy-Efficient Economy, and the Earth Day Network--along with Philips Lighting launched an initiative to shift to the more-efficient bulbs in all of the country’s estimated 4 billion sockets by 2016.

In California, the most populous state, Assemblyman Lloyd Levine is proposing that his state phase out the sale of incandescent light bulbs by 2012, four years ahead of the coalition’s deadline. Levine calls his proposed law the “How Many Legislators Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb Act.” On the East Coast, the New Jersey legislature is on the verge of requiring state government buildings to replace all incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents by 2010 as part of a broader statewide effort to promote the shift to more-efficient lighting.

The European Union, now numbering 27 countries, announced in March 2007 that it plans to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020. Part of this cut will be achieved by replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. In the United Kingdom, a nongovernmental group called Ban the Bulb has been vigorously pushing for a ban on incandescents since early 2006. Further east, Moscow is urging residents to switch to compact fluorescents. In New Zealand, Climate Change Minister, David Parker, has announced that his country may take similar measures to those adopted by Australia.

In April, Greenpeace urged the government of India to ban incandescents in order to cut carbon emissions. Since roughly 640 million of the 650 million bulbs sold each year in this fast-growing economy are incandescents, the potential for cutting carbon emissions, reducing air pollution, and saving consumers money is huge.

At the industry level, Philips, the world’s largest lighting manufacturer, has announced plans to discontinue marketing incandescents in Europe and the United States by 2016. More broadly, the European Lamp Companies Federation (the bulb manufacturers’ trade association) is supporting a rise in EU lighting efficiency standards that would lead to a phase-out of incandescent bulbs. (See data at

At the commercial level, Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, announced a marketing campaign in November 2006 to boost its sales of compact fluorescents to 100 million by the end of 2007, more than doubling its annual sales. In the U.K., Currys, Britain’s largest electrical retail chain, has announced that it will discontinue selling incandescent light bulbs.

Switching light bulbs is an easy way of realizing large immediate gains in energy efficiency. A study for the U.S. government calculated that the gasoline equivalent of the energy saved over the lifetime of one 24 watt compact fluorescent bulb is sufficient to drive a Prius from New York to San Francisco. While a worldwide phase out of the inefficient incandescents would reduce world electricity use by more than 3 percent, shifting to more-efficient street lighting and replacing older fluorescent tubes with newer, more-efficient ones might double this reduction in power use.

Although highly efficient compact fluorescent bulbs have been around for a generation, they have until recently been on the fringe, used only by environmentally-minded consumers and typically sold in hardware stores, but not in supermarkets. One reason consumers lacked interest was that the new bulbs can cost five times as much as incandescents. Only the more knowledgeable consumers knew that an incandescent bulb uses only one fourth as much electricity, lasts 10 times as long, and easily saves $50 during its lifetime.

One disadvantage of compact fluorescents is that each bulb contains a small amount of mercury, roughly one fifth the amount in a watch battery. This mercury is only a small fraction of that released into the atmosphere by the additional coal burned to power an incandescent. Mercury released by coal-fired power plants is the principal reason why 44 of the 50 states in the United States have issued mercury intake advisories limiting the consumption of fish from freshwater streams and lakes. Nonetheless, worn-out compact fluorescents, watch batteries, and other items that contain mercury still need to be recycled properly. Fortunately, this is possible, whereas the mercury spewing from coal smokestacks blankets the countryside, ending up in the water and food supply.

Shifting to the highly efficient bulbs sharply reduces monthly electricity bills and cuts carbon emissions, since each standard (13 watt) compact fluorescent over its lifetime reduces coal use by more than 210 pounds. Such a shift also substantially reduces air pollution, making it obviously attractive for fast-growing economies plagued with bad air like China and India.

In the United States, an ingenious website called (the name derives from the time it takes to change a light bulb), provides a running tally of compact fluorescents sold nationwide since January 1, 2007. As of early May, it totaled nearly 37 million bulbs, yielding a reduction in carbon emissions comparable to taking 260,000 cars off the road. Sponsored by Yahoo! and Neilson, the site also provides data on how many dollars are being saved and how much less coal is burned. Data are available on the website for each state, providing a convenient way of monitoring local progress in replacing incandescents.

The challenge for each of us, of course, is to shift to compact fluorescents in our own homes if we have not already. But far more important, we need to contact our elected representatives at the city, provincial, or state level and at the national level to introduce legislation to raise lighting efficiency standards, in effect phasing out inefficient incandescent light bulbs. Few things can cut carbon emissions faster than this simple step.

In a world facing almost daily new evidence of global warming and its consequences, there is a need for a quick decisive victory in the effort to cut carbon emissions and stabilize climate. If we can engineer a rapid phase-out of incandescent light bulbs it would provide just such a victory, generating momentum for even greater advances in climate stabilization.

Commentary ­ Dannel Malloy ­ Report on threats of warming provides further evidence that action needed

The recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] report underscores the serious nature of the threat of global warming, as well as the imperative for immediate action. The report provides some of the most powerful scientific evidence to date of the extent of human caused global warming. As the science behind global warming becomes clearer, the need for practical solutions is more important than ever. No matter how dire the predictions, we know how to solve the problem and Stamford is leading the way in implementing solutions.

Stamford and other cities across the country have pioneered sensible climate protection solutions in the U.S. with remarkable results. More than 350 of my fellow mayors and I have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. By doing so, we have committed our cities to meet the Kyoto Protocol target of a 7-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels by 2012. In fact, Stamford has already reduced emissions that contribute to global warming by 20 percent and taken action that saves the city more than $1.1 million in energy costs.

The City of Stamford began working on energy efficiency measures in 1998 through a Rebuild America grant for an Energy Engineer. The following is a list of actions the city has taken to address energy efficiency:

* Stamford is one of few cities across the country with a dedicated position within the Engineering Bureau that is responsible for energy, fuel efficiency, and emissions reductions.

* In August of 2002, the Stamford Public Schools worked with the Engineering Bureau to implement energy conservation measures in our public schools. The most significant measures were the installation of a centralized energy management system and lighting improvements with occupancy sensor control.

* To date, the city has reduced emissions by over 5,000 tons of equivalent carbon dioxide, and received $1,908,867 in incentives and grants through Connecticut Light & Power.

* The city made a natural progression towards clean energy with the installation of 48 solar-powered path lights in Kosciusko Park in 2002, and 66 solar panels on the roof of the Katrina Mygatt Recycling Center in 2004.

* During 2003 and 2004, the city completed a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and Local Action Plan.

* In March of 2005, the board of representatives approved a resolution to join the 20 percent by 2010 Campaign. This resolution commits the city to have 20 percent of its energy supply come from clean, renewable energy sources by 2010, and to create a clean energy task force to define a strategy to meet the goal.

* In June of 2005, Clean Air-Cool Planet recognized the comprehensiveness of our Local Action Plan by presenting us with a 2005 Climate Champion Award at its Global Warming Solutions 2005 conference.

* In October 2005, Clean Air-Cool Planet worked with the City on a High Performance Development conference, which gathered key developers, property managers, architects, planners, municipal decision makers, and investors to build awareness and interest in "green" development.

* Construction for a new 105,850-square-foot environmental inter-district magnet school, which will serve 660 students from pre-k through eighth grade, will begin in the fall of 2007. The school has been designed to meet LEED [Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design] silver certification. The design includes a green roof, solar photovoltaic panels, a wind turbine and weather station, air conditioning with ice storage, and interior day-lighting controls.

* The recent approval of $2 million Clean Renewable Energy Bonds will provide the financial support to install two major solar systems – one on the roof of Rippowam Middle School, and the other on the roof of the highway department. Both installations are planned for the spring of 2008.

* Future actions outlined by the local action plan include adding hybrid vehicles to the city fleet, developing a green buildings policy, completing a major wastewater residuals to energy power plant, alleviating traffic congestion through the Urban Transitway project, encouraging smart growth, a residential challenge outreach program, and more.

The City of Stamford has worked hard to do our part to establish a healthier community. We have positioned ourselves as an environmental leader and we continue to strive to meet all the goals outlined in our Local Action Plan. Since we all breathe the same air, and since we bear the responsibility for preserving our precious resources, it is our hope that by sharing tried and true techniques we can help bolster the efforts of other communities throughout the country in their environmental initiatives.

Dannel Malloy is mayor f Stamford.

As gas prices rise, more turn to 2 wheels

Kennebec Journal

Friday, May 11, 2007

OAKLAND -- Paul Denis is a bike guy who works in a bike shop, so it's hardly surprising that he commutes to work using pedal power.

But Denis, who works at Mathieu's Cycle & Fitness Store on Main Street, said the rise in gas prices is driving more people to go the non-motorized route.

"I wouldn't say it is huge," Denis said, "but I would say people have definitely done it. No question."

Denis said in some cases people come in to buy a new bike for commuting purposes, while others bring in the ones they have for a tune-up or more elaborate upgrade.

David Auclair of Auclair Cycle & Ski in Augusta is seeing the same trend at his shop. And he is convinced that this trend is only beginning to build.

"The more people that ride, the more it gets around that it is a good thing to do," he said.

But others in the business have yet to see a significant conversion to commuting by 10-speed.

"Most of us are willing to suck it up and pay the money to drive," said Stephen Nass of Kennebec Bike & Ski in Hallowell. "(Commuting by bike) is not the American mentality, which is sad to say but true."

Nass said one of the chief reasons people drive motor vehicles is that road systems in the United States generally are not constructed with bike travel in mind.

In fact, he said, areas that are more accommodating to bicycle traffic tend to have more bike commuters.

Jeff Miller, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, said he hears complaints about gas prices every day.

But he doesn't see pain at the pump convincing people to trade in their Toyota for a Trek.

On the other hand, he does think gas prices influence biking habits.

"I hear people saying that (bicycling) is good, healthy, fun, and I'm going to save some money doing it," he said, "so, absolutely, it is a factor for people."

Like Nass, however, Miller said giving up the car habit is not easy.

"I think that unless there is another big (gas price) shock like there was two years ago," he said, "that people tend to be slow at changing their habits."

Denis and Auclair said the trick is to get people to experience the joys of cycling.

People who become bike commuters to save money, Denis said, soon realize this.

"After a while it isn't about the money," he said. "It's about the fitness and the clearing of the head."

Denis has a seven-mile commute from his home in Fairfield. But when he goes home in the evening, he said, he often takes a longer route, so he can enjoy the pleasures of self-powered travel.

Auclair said Denis is hardly alone in enjoying his two-wheel commute.

"People love that bike ride," he said. "It is something to look forward to both in the morning and at the end of the work day."

Auclair said those contemplating a switch to bike commuting need to consider safety.

That means investing in a bicycle helmet, rear-view mirror, flashing red rear light and a front light that can serve both as a headlight and a flashing light, he said.

Nass of Kennebec Bike said wheel fenders are a wise investment to protect against spray from wet roads.

Both Auclair and Nass also said using pannier bags to store clothes and equipment -- some are even designed to carry laptops -- makes for a safer, more convenient commute, too.

Most important of all, Auclair said, is making sure your bike is in good condition and suitable for a daily commute. He said this might entail investing in better tires and certainly calls for getting a safety check.

Colin Hickey -- 861-9205

Climate Panel Reaches Consensus on the Need to Reduce Harmful Emissions

New York Times
May 4, 2007


The world needs to divert substantially from today’s main energy sources within a few decades to limit centuries of rising temperatures and seas driven by the buildup of heat-trapping emissions in the air, the top body studying climate change has concluded.

In an all-night session capping four days of talks in Bangkok, economists, scientists and government officials from more than 100 countries agreed early today on the last sections of a report outlining ways to limit such emissions, led by carbon dioxide, an unavoidable byproduct of burning coal and oil.

The final report, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said prompt slowing of emissions could set the stage later in the century for stabilization of the concentration of carbon dioxide, which, at 380 parts per million now, has risen more than a third since the start of the industrial revolution and could easily double from the preindustrial level within decades.

The report, which awaits only formal adoption this afternoon, concluded that significant progress toward that goal could be made in the next 25 years with known technologies and policy shifts, but would still need to be followed by a century-long transition to new energy sources that come with no climate impacts.

Several authors, while declining to discuss specific results before the report was formally adopted, said its message was clear.

“We can no longer make the excuse that we need to wait for more science, or the excuse that we need to wait for more technologies and policy knowledge,” said Adil Najam, an author of one chapter and an associate professor of international negotiation at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. “To me the big message is that we now have both and we do not need to wait any longer.”

The report also made clear the risks of delay, noting that emissions of greenhouse gases have risen 70 percent since 1970 and could rise an additional 90 percent by 2030 if nothing is done.

Carbon dioxide is particularly important not only because so much is produced each year — about 25 billion tons — but because much of it persists in the atmosphere, building like unpaid credit card debt.

To stop the rise, report authors said, countries would need to expand adoption of existing policies that can cut emissions — like a fuel tax or the binding limits set by the Kyoto Protocol — while also increasing research seeking new energy options. This work would include pushing for advances in solar and nuclear power.

The meeting ended just after dawn today in Bangkok with several authors of the report saying that there had been relatively little last-minute fighting with government officials over details. China had resisted language that implied big cuts would have to be made in fast-growing developing countries, which will soon surpass rich countries as the dominant source of greenhouse gases.

According to several authors, the final version estimates that bringing global carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 to levels measured in 2000 would require a cost on released carbon dioxide of $50 to $100 a ton, roughly on a par — in terms of fossil fuel prices — of an additional 25 cents to 50 cents for a gallon of gasoline.

The report projects that this shift might cause a small blunting of global economic activity, resulting in an overall reduction of perhaps one-tenth of a percentage point per year through 2100 in the world’s total economic activity, the authors said.

Some of the experts and government officials involved in the final discussions said in telephone interviews and in e-mail messages that the costs could be substantially greater than that.

But a variety of participants, including some from the United States, said in interviews that it was hard to argue against such an investment, given the potential costs of inaction.

William Moomaw, a lead author of a chapter on energy options and a professor of international environmental policy at Tufts University, said that he saw evidence that big cuts could happen.

“Here in the early years of the 21st century, we’re looking for an energy revolution that’s as comprehensive as the one that occurred at the beginning of the 20th century when we went from gaslight and horse-drawn carriages to light bulbs and automobiles,” Dr. Moomaw said. “In 1905, only 3 percent of homes had electricity. Right now, 3 percent is about the same range as the amount of renewable energy we have today. None of us can predict the future any more than we could in 1905, but that suggests to me it may not be impossible to make that kind of revolution again.”

Wind-powered ski area earns award

Portland Press Herald
Thursday, May 3, 2007


Shawnee Peak Ski Area has been recognized for its heroics.
The Bridgton-based business recently received a Red Cross Real Hero award for environmental service and outreach.

"We got the award for purchasing 100 percent wind power last year," said owner Chet Homer. The entire ski area is now powered by wind, he said.

The awards are given to individuals or groups who have acted as heroes in the service of others. The awards were formally presented on April 12.

"I was flattered," Homer said of receiving the award. "It's part of our long-term plan to make the business more environmentally or energy efficient," he said.
Shawnee Peak switched to wind power in September, Homer said. The decision was inspired by his and his staff's "concern about oil dependency," he said.

"Since I'm the sole owner, I didn't have to go to a committee to make the decision," he said, which made transition to wind power quick and easy.

"Ski resorts enjoy the outdoors," Homer said. "It behooves us all to try and be at the forefront of the opportunity to encourage renewable energy sources."

Essentially, the ski area runs on wind power that is generated in other parts of the country. "There are no savings," Homer said. "You end up paying 5 to 10 percent more, but you're supporting alternative energy."

The response has been "outstanding," said Homer. One weekend this winter at Shawnee Peak, Homer met a family from Connecticut and asked if they had a home nearby. They responded, as Homer recalled, "No, we came skiing because we saw you were an area that was 100 percent wind powered and we wanted to drive up and check you out and support your decision."

The decision to go with wind power has spread beyond the mountain. Homer now powers his own home with wind energy. "Several of our employees do the same thing," he said. "We're very proud of the fact that we did that."

Looking ahead, Homer said he'd like to make his business even more energy efficient. "I think energy efficiency and a lack of a dependence on oil is always on the forefront of our decision-making," he said. "Energy is a big part of our operating costs -- we're always looking for ways to reduce energy."

For Homer, the investment is not just in renewable resources, but in future generations of skiers. "I want people to still be skiing and experiencing the outside and knowing that there's a difference between winter and summer," he said.

News Assistant Isaac Kestenbaum can be contacted at 791-6308 or at:


Earth Policy Institute
Plan B 2.0 Book Byte
For Immediate Release
May 1, 2007

Lester R. Brown

As I was being driven through Tel Aviv from my hotel to a conference center a few years ago, I could not help but note the overwhelming presence of cars and parking lots. Tel Aviv, expanding from a small settlement a half-century ago to a city of some 3 million today, evolved during the automobile era. It occurred to me that the ratio of parks to parking lots may be the best single indicator of the livability of a city--whether a city is designed for people or for cars.

The world’s cities are in trouble. In Mexico City, Tehran, Bangkok, Shanghai, and hundreds of other cities, the quality of daily life is deteriorating. Breathing the air in some cities is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes per day. In the United States, the number of hours commuters spend sitting in traffic going nowhere climbs higher each year.

In response to these conditions, we are seeing the emergence of a new urbanism. One of the most remarkable modern urban transformations has occurred in Bogotá, Colombia, where Enrique Peñalosa served as Mayor for three years, beginning in 1998. When he took office he did not ask how life could be improved for the 30 percent who owned cars; he wanted to know what could be done for the 70 percent--the majority--who did not own cars.

Peñalosa realized that a city that is a pleasant environment for children and the elderly would work for everyone. In just a few years, he transformed the quality of urban life with his vision of a city designed for people. Under his leadership, the city banned the parking of cars on sidewalks, created or renovated 1,200 parks, introduced a highly successful bus-based rapid transit system, built hundreds of kilometers of bicycle paths and pedestrian streets, reduced rush hour traffic by 40 percent, planted 100,000 trees, and involved local citizens directly in the improvement of their neighborhoods. In doing this, he created a sense of civic pride among the city’s 8 million residents, making the streets of Bogotá in strife-torn Colombia safer than those in Washington, D.C.

Enrique Peñalosa observes that “high quality public pedestrian space in general and parks in particular are evidence of a true democracy at work.” He further observes: “Parks and public space are also important to a democratic society because they are the only places where people meet as equals.…In a city, parks are as essential to the physical and emotional health of a city as the water supply.” He notes this is not obvious from most city budgets, where parks are deemed a luxury. By contrast, “roads, the public space for cars, receive infinitely more resources and less budget cuts than parks, the public space for children. Why,” he asks, “are the public spaces for cars deemed more important than the public spaces for children?”

Now government planners everywhere are experimenting, seeking ways to design cities for people not cars. Cars promise mobility, and they provide it in a largely rural setting. But in an urbanizing world there is an inherent conflict between the automobile and the city. After a point, as their numbers multiply, automobiles provide not mobility but immobility. Congestion also takes a direct economic toll in rising costs in time and gasoline. And urban air pollution, often from automobiles, claims millions of lives.

Another cost of cities that are devoted to cars is a psychological one, a deprivation of contact with the natural world--an “asphalt complex.” There is a growing body of evidence that there is an innate human need for contact with nature. Both ecologists and psychologists have been aware of this for some time. Ecologists, led by Harvard University biologist E.O. Wilson, have formulated the “biophilia hypothesis,” which argues that those who are deprived of contact with nature suffer psychologically and that this deprivation leads to a measurable decline in well-being.

Throughout the modern era, budget allocations for transportation in most countries--and in the United States, in particular--have been heavily biased toward the construction and maintenance of highways and streets. Creating more livable cities and the mobility that people desire depends on reallocating budgets to emphasize the development of rail- or bus-based public transport and bicycle support facilities.

The exciting news is that there are signs of change, daily indications of an interest in redesigning cities for people, not for cars. One encouraging trend comes from the United States. Public transit ridership nationwide rising by 2.1 percent a year since 1996 indicates that people are gradually abandoning their cars for buses, subways, and light rail. Rising gasoline prices are encouraging still more commuters to abandon their cars and take the bus or subway or get on a bicycle.

When Beijing decided to promote an automobile-centered transportation system, a group of eminent scientists in China protested. They pointed out that the country does not have enough land to accommodate the automobile and to feed its people. What is true for China is also true for India and dozens of other densely populated developing countries.
Some cities are far better at planning their growth than others. They plan transport systems that provide mobility, clean air, and exercise--a sharp contrast to cities that offer congestion, unhealthy air, and little opportunity for exercise. When 95 percent of a city’s workers depend on the automobile for commuting, as in Atlanta, Georgia, the city is in trouble.

By contrast, in Amsterdam only 40 percent of workers commute by car; 35 percent bike or walk, while 25 percent use public transit. Copenhagen’s commuting patterns are almost identical to Amsterdam’s. In Paris, just under half of commuters rely on cars. Even though these European cities are older, with narrow streets, they have far less congestion than Atlanta.

Not surprisingly, car-dependent cities have more congestion and less mobility than those that offer a wider range of commuting options. The very vehicle whose great promise was personal mobility is in fact virtually immobilizing entire urban populations, making it difficult for rich and poor alike to move about.

Existing long-term transportation strategies in many developing countries assume that everyone will one day be able to own a car. Unfortunately, given the constraints of land available for cars, not to mention those imposed by oil reserves, this is simply not realistic. These countries will provide more mobility if they support public transportation and the bicycle.


Earth Policy Institute
Plan B 2.0 Book Byte
For Immediate Release
April 17, 2007

Lester R. Brown

Mobilizing to save civilization means restructuring the economy, restoring the economy’s natural support systems, eradicating poverty, and stabilizing population. We have the technologies, economic instruments, and financial resources to do this. The United States has the resources to lead this effort. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University’s Earth Institute sums it up well: “The tragic irony of this moment is that the rich countries are so rich and the poor so poor that a few added tenths of one percent of GNP from the rich ones ramped up over the coming decades could do what was never before possible in human history: ensure that the basic needs of health and education are met for all impoverished children in this world. How many more tragedies will we suffer in this country before we wake up to our capacity to help make the world a safer and more prosperous place not only through military might, but through the gift of life itself?”

It is not possible to put a precise price tag on the changes needed to move our twenty-first century civilization off the overshoot-and-collapse path and onto a path that will sustain economic progress. What we can do, however, is provide some rough estimates of the scale of effort needed.

To fund the needed restructuring of the energy economy, we rely on shifting subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy. For meeting our social goals, the additional external funding needed to achieve universal primary education in the more than 80 developing countries that require help is conservatively estimated by the World Bank at $12 billion per year. Funding for an adult literacy program based largely on volunteers will take an estimated additional $4 billion annually. Providing for the most basic health care in developing countries is estimated at $33 billion by the World Health Organization. The additional funding needed to provide reproductive health care and family planning services to all women in developing countries is less than $7 billion a year.

Closing the condom gap by providing the additional 9.5 billion condoms needed to control the spread of HIV in the developing world and Eastern Europe requires $2 billion—$285 million for condoms and $1.7 billion for AIDS prevention education and condom distribution. The cost of extending school lunch programs to the 44 poorest countries is $6 billion. An estimated $4 billion per year would cover the cost of assistance to preschool children and pregnant women in these countries. Altogether, the cost of reaching basic social goals comes to $68 billion a year.

A poverty eradication effort that is not accompanied by an earth restoration effort is doomed to fail. Reforesting the earth will cost $6 billion annually. Protecting and restoring rangeland will require $9 billion, restoring fisheries will cost $13 billion, and stabilizing water tables will require $10 billion annually. The most costly activities, protecting biological diversity at $31 billion and conserving soil on cropland at $24 billion, account for over half of the earth restoration annual outlay. All told, these efforts will cost an estimated $93 billion of additional expenditures per year.

Plan B Budget: Additional Annual Expenditures Needed to
Meet Social Goals and to Restore the Earth
Funding Goal

Basic Social Goals
$12 billion Universal primary education
$4 billion Eradication of adult illiteracy
$6 billion School lunch programs for 44 poorest countries
$4 billion Assistance to preschool children and pregnant women in 44 poorest countries
$7 billion Reproductive health and family planning
$33 billion Universal basic health care
$2 billion Closing the condom gap

$68 billion Total

Earth Restoration Goals
$6 billion Reforesting the earth
$24 billion Protecting topsoil on cropland
$9 billion Restoring rangelands
$13 billion Restoring fisheries
$31 billion Protecting biological diversity
$10 billion Stabilizing water tables

$93 billion Total

$161 billion GRAND TOTAL

Combining social goals and earth restoration components into a Plan B budget yields an additional annual expenditure of $161 billion, roughly one third of the current U.S. military budget or one sixth of the global military budget.

Unfortunately, the United States continues to focus on building an ever-stronger military, largely ignoring the threats posed by continuing environmental deterioration, poverty, and population growth. Its proposed defense budget for 2006, including $50 billion for the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, brings the U.S. projected military expenditure to $492 billion. Other North Atlantic Treaty Organization members spend $209 billion a year on the military. Russia spends about $65 billion, and China, $56 billion. U.S. military spending is now roughly equal to that of all other countries combined. As the late Eugene Carroll, Jr., a retired admiral, astutely observed, “For forty-five years of the Cold War we were in an arms race with the Soviet Union. Now it appears we are in an arms race with ourselves.”

Comparison of Military Budgets by Country and for the World with Plan B Budget
Budget Country

$492 billion United States
$65 billion Russia
$56 billion China
$49 billion United Kingdom
$45 billion Japan
$40 billion France
$30 billion Germany
$19 billion Saudi Arabia
$19 billion India
$18 billion Italy
$142 billion All other

$975 billion World Military Expenditure
$161 billion Plan B Budget
Note: The U.S. number is the budget estimate for FY2006 (including $50 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan); Russia and China data are for 2003.

It is decision time. Like earlier civilizations that got into environmental trouble, we can decide to stay with business as usual and watch our modern economy decline and eventually collapse, or we can consciously move onto a new path, one that will sustain economic progress. In this situation, no action is actually a decision to stay on the decline-and-collapse path.

It is hard to find the words to convey the gravity of our situation and the momentous nature of the decision we are about to make. How can we convey the urgency of this moment in history? Will tomorrow be too late? Do enough of us care deeply enough to turn the tide now?

Will someone somewhere one day erect a tombstone for our civilization? If so, how will it read? It cannot say we did not understand. We do understand. It cannot say we did not have the resources. We do have the resources. It can only say we were too slow to respond to the forces undermining our civilization. Time ran out.

No one can argue today that we do not have the resources to eradicate poverty, stabilize population, and protect the earth’s natural resource base. We can get rid of hunger, illiteracy, disease, and poverty, and we can restore the earth’s soils, forests, and fisheries. Shifting one sixth of the world military budget to the Plan B budget would be more than adequate to move the world onto a path that would sustain progress. We can build a global community where the basic needs of all the earth’s people are satisfied—a world that will allow us to think of ourselves as civilized.

This economic restructuring depends on tax restructuring, on getting the market to be ecologically honest. The benchmark of political leadership in all countries will be whether or not leaders succeed in restructuring the tax system as, for example, Germany and Sweden have are doing. This is the key to restructuring the energy economy—both to stabilize climate and to make the transition to the post-petroleum world.

As we look at the environmentally destructive trends that are undermining our future, the world is desperately in need of visible evidence that we can indeed turn things around at the global level. Fortunately, the steps to reverse destructive trends or to initiate constructive new trends are often mutually reinforcing or win-win solutions. For example, efficiency gains that reduce oil use also reduce carbon emissions and air pollution. Steps to eradicate poverty simultaneously help eradicate hunger and stabilize population. Reforestation fixes carbon, increases aquifer recharge, and reduces soil erosion. Once we get enough trends headed in the right direction, they will often reinforce each other.

It is easy to spend hundreds of billions in response to terrorist threats, but the reality is that the resources needed to disrupt a modern economy are small, and a U.S. Department of Homeland Security, however heavily funded, provides only minimal protection from suicidal terrorists. The challenge is not to provide a high-tech military response to terrorism, but to build a global society that is environmentally sustainable and equitable—one that restores hope for everyone. Such an effort would more effectively undermine the support for terrorism than any increase in military expenditures, than any new weapons systems, however advanced.