25 April 2008

Water Footprint

If you want to move beyond your carbon footprint and worry about a whole new thing, check out your water footprint.

A glass of beer and an apple both have about the same impact: 75 and 70 liters of water, respectively (that's a little more than a quart, in case I have a reader in the US). Double that, at 140 liters, for a cup of coffee. Does that mean I should switch my morning coffee to a glass of beer? No, better off switching to a cup of tea at 30 liters per cup.

A kilogram (2.2 pounds) of chicken requires 3900 liters in comparison to 200 liters for an egg, but that kilo of chicken will fill more bellies; a kilogram of soybeans requires 1800 liters of water, so in terms of water footprint alone it seems we're better off getting our protein from the eggs.

Compare that to a pound of beef at 15,500 liters per kilogram, and it looks like switching one hamburger a week to an omelet, a basket of chicken wings, or a General Tso's bean curd has pretty decent impact.

One Lightbulb at a A Time

At the UK's The Guardian, you can make a weekly pledge about relatively simple things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.

Ideas that individuals can adopt right now, without investing in any household supplies or hardware: stop buying farmed flowers, stop using bottled water (refill the last bottle you bought at the water fountain until you get around to buying a Sigg), eat less meat, re-use plastic bags.

At the next level: replace one short-haul flight with a train journey, get a low-flow shower head, compost kitchen and garden waste.

The site will give you a little graph showing how much carbon you're saving with each pledge; it ought to be satisfying to watch the little green bar grow.

20 April 2008

Reduce Junk Mail

They try hard to talk you out of it with threats about all the potential savings you'll miss if you opt out of junk mail, but you can sign up here:


They also try to make you sign up with a credit card, or print out a page that has to be mailed with a check for a dollar, but if you just keep clicking on "continue," you eventually reach a page that tells you you've successfully opted out of receiving all unsolicited mail.

The link comes from an article in the New York Times. Let me know if it works for you.

16 April 2008

Spend Like Its 1999

Estimated cost of the war in Iraq, including health care for all the injured veterans: at least a trillion dollars, perhaps as much as three trillion. That's 3,000,000,000,000 reasons our economy is spiraling into what looks to be a deep and enduring recession. That's the International Monetary Fund calling this "the largest financial shock since the Great Depression," though you wouldn't know that if you only read US media.

But now you can spend that money, in a game intended to raise awareness of the costs of this war in comparison to other things the US government could be funding. Universal health care, say, or improved schools, or development of alternative energy sources.

08 April 2008

Secrecy and Democracy do not mix

Letter to New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on his back-room tactics to stall NYC Mayor Bloomberg's proposal for congestion pricing in lower Manhattan:


Mr. Silver:

Your refusal to bring Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan to the Assembly floor so that New York's lawmakers are forced to make a vote for or against the proposal rather than hiding behind claims of "strong opposition" is unconscionable. These are our elected representatives and our legal process must be transparent, not hidden in closed meetings whose outcome is left unreported.

I am outraged.


Heide Estes

02 April 2008

If You'd Asked Me In 1998...

Thomas the Train sticker as a bookmark in Beowulf? No.
Vegetarian dog food? No
Dog food on the floor of the car? No, and no.

01 April 2008

Congestion Pricing for Manhattan

City Council has approved Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan, under which drivers would pay $8 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays.

This is good. Reduced congestion will speed trips for buses and taxis, and the revenue raised by the plan will pay for additional bus and subway services.

Next, the proposal goes to Albany, where Sheldon Silver has been non-committal about whether he will support the plan. If you're reading this, please write him a letter or make a phone call:

250 Broadway
Suite 2307
New York, NY 10007

or send him an email via this link: http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?ad=064&sh=con.