Archive for May, 2011

A Clearer Guide for Greener Rides

Posted on May 26, 2011. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , |

The Federal Govt. unveiled new fuel economy window stickers this week for vehicles starting with the 2013 model year.  

Replacing the familiar MPG ratings are new labels which will include a greenhouse gas and a smog rating, comparing a vehicle’s emissions with those of all other vehicles. 

The new, more comprehensive labels take into account both pollution impacts and operating costs for all new vehicles.  The new labels will also include an estimated annual fuel cost based on 15,000 miles traveled at a fuel price of $3.70/gallon.

The EPA hopes that the new gallons-per-mile metric, combined with estimated fuel costs will provide consumers with more accurate measures of efficiency and expense than the traditional miles-per-gallon figure.   

Read the full article HERE

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A Doe, a Deer

Posted on May 26, 2011. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , |

 

Here at Clean Currents we are animal lovers.  Dogs, cats, hampsters, fish, you name it and at least one of our staffers have owned them.  And while nobody at Clean Currents has owned a white-tailed deer, we hold a special place in our hearts for Bambi.  

 

But we also recognize that eastern white-tailed deer have caused a fair share of consternation in our region – from collisions with vehicles, to nibbled-on gardens, and the spread of ticks.  

A recent story by WAMU environmental reporter Sabri Ben-Achour highlighted just how damaging our neighborhood deer can be to fragile ecosystems.  Back in 1990, scientists at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., enclosed 10 acres of forest with 8-foot high fences, locking deer out.  Twenty-one years later the difference between the ecosystem within the enclosure and the surrounding habitat is as clear as night and day.

Native flora and fauna species are flourishing within the enclosure, and the vegetative cover is markedly denser than outside of the enclosure, which is populated with mainly short grasses and mature trees with little in between. 

The results of the Smithsonian experiment were surprising – showing that deer allow invasive species to flourish by consuming less hardy native flora.  The presence of deer also led to a sharp decrease in the density and diversity of plants and animals … read the full story HERE

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Chicago Faces the Climate Challenge

Posted on May 25, 2011. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , |

While the rapture may not have come last weekend, there are cities across the globe that are not taking any chances.  As our Federal government continues to argue the very existence of climate change, cities like Chicago are integrating climate change preparedness into their long-term plans.   

Chicago may be known for its bitter winters and stiff wind, but climate scientists reported that if global carbon emissions continue apace, Chicago could expect a climate similar to that of Baton Rouge’s within seventy years.

The implications of such a dramatic climate shift in Chicago would be huge.  Climate modeling shows increased summer temperatures, increased precipitation, and more violent weather in general.

By implementing relatively inexpensive adaptive measures such as transforming paved surfaces and creating and expanding green corridors and roofs to prevent flooding and decrease heat-island effects, the city is positioning itself to avoid more costly climate disasters in the future.

Read the full article HERE

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The State of Wind in the U.S.

Posted on May 25, 2011. Filed under: Gary's Blog | Tags: , , , , , |

The State of Wind in the U.S.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is having its annual conference this week and the group put out its annual report on the state of wind. It provides some useful tidbits about how things are going in our effort to decarbonize our electricity grid.

Key Facts:

– Wind added more than 35 percent of all new generating capacity in America over the
past four years, more than coal and nuclear combined.

– The U.S. installed 5,116 MW of wind power capacity in 2010, posting 15% growth for the year.

– The entire U.S. wind fleet for utility-scale wind totals 40,181 MW of capacity, or 21% of the world’s installed wind power capacity.

– The entire U.S. wind fleet produced 2.3% of the nation’s electricity generation in 2010, enough to power 9 million homes and the equivalent electricity produced in the entire state of Louisiana, Kentucky, or Missouri.

– In 2010, there are now 38 states across the U.S. with utility-scale wind turbines, and there are wind industry jobs across all 50 states.

– There are over 400 manufacturing facilities across the U.S. supplying some of the 8,000 components in a wind turbine.

– The installed wind fleet will avoid nearly 24 billion gallons of water consumption annually.

– Over the past 10 years, wind energy has increased 16 times over in the U.S.

The news is not all good. According to the Report, 2010 was a difficult year for the wind industry. There was a 50% decline in wind installations between 2009 and 2010, which perpetuates the unsteady year-to-year wind energy trends attributed to the lack of long-term predictable federal policies. The uncertainty of national policies has resulted in the continuation of state targets driving wind installations in many parts of the country. Despite the down year, during 2010 the national wind industry did post double-digit growth and was responsible for 25% of the country’s new installed energy capacity. It benefited from strong support from the financial sector, with $11.1 billion in project debt and tax equity deals closed during the year. The2011 outlook for wind is better following a one-year extension of the 1603 investment tax credit program for renewable energy and because the industry entered 2011 with over 5,600 MW of electric power currently under construction, much more than the 2,750 MW under construction entering 2010.

The Report cites that the major impediment to significant wind industry growth is the inadequacy of the national electric grid, as many proposed wind projects cannot be deployed because there is insufficient transmission capacity to transmit their output. As wind power expands nationally, several factors will determine which regions will experience wind activity, including proximity to power demand, access to transmission, power prices, strength of wind resource, and policy.
As we know, wind is only one of the legs upon which a clean energy future will stand. We need more energy efficiency, solar, and other clean sources to continue their growth as well. Putting a price on carbon is the most sure-fire way to get things accelerated.

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Climate Ride Finale

Posted on May 19, 2011. Filed under: Climate Ride |

We made it! The entire group of 140 Climate Riders completed the over 300 mile bike trek from New York City to Washington DC and we still had energy to burn after the final leg.

Day 5 was WET! We rode through down-pouring rain as we entered Maryland. At least it was warm and let up after awhile. We were all so pumped to get to DC that nothing could phase us at this point.

Seeing all the familiar road signs in MD was exciting because I knew just how close we were getting. We had lunch in Silver Spring, then blasted down the Capitol Crescent Trail to Georgetown where we all gathered to do our victory ride to Capitol Hill.

Our huge group was ringing our bike bells and yelling “we ride for the climate!” as we made our made our way down Constitution Avenue. It was a truly incredible thing to be a part of. After hearing from a few climate champions in Congress and lots of photos, it was already time to pack up and head our separate ways. I am going to miss this group of riders immensely. This experience has charged me up in so many ways!

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Day 4 Was Hills Galore

Posted on May 16, 2011. Filed under: Climate Ride |

What crazy hills today! We definitely all have sore quad tonight after climbing the biggest hills many of us have ever attempted. Luckily the rain held off for us and it was a gorgeous ride. I found a few great people to ride with which helped ease the mental intensity of getting up those inclines. We had a great picnic lunch- think Hidden Valley Ranch commercial- and are now staying at an amazing outdoor education camp. We need lots of rest now since tomorrow is the longest leg of the ride, plus we’ll need energy for the big rally. Hope you can join us in DC in the afternoon!

Below are some pictures from today. The theme was bike to work day so a few dressed in work clothes!

Join us for our rally on Capitol Hill at 4pm (tomorrow-Tuesday) http://www.climateridelive.org/live/2011/5/4/join-the-brita-climate-ride-finale-may-17-bike-rally-at-the.html

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175 Mile Point of the Climate Ride

Posted on May 16, 2011. Filed under: Climate Ride |

Today we hit the halfway point of ride and then some. It was an epic ride for sure as we experienced a little bit of everything along the 68.4 mile treck.

This morning we had an early breakfast and headed out in a light rain which persisted for a couple hours. With all the hills we kept warm so the cool drizzle wasn’t as unpleasant as I had expected. Then we wound our way through a foggy forested area which made me feel like we were in Fern Gully. Others said this is how they picture Middle Earth from Lord of the Rings. Our first water stop was a bakery in a quaint little village overlooking a rocky creek. We enjoyed fresh croissants before moving on.

I rode with a spunky, energized group who kept me motivated with their singing and chanting up hills. But alas, I fell behind and stayed on my own for the remainder of the morning. The next few hours were a tour of Amish County and endless farmlands. Passed many smelly cow pastures, some traditional horse drawn carriages, even goats and ponies! Unfortunately there were no appropriate bathroom stops for a long stretch so I ended up intruding in a church during their Sunday service because I needed to go so badly!

We had a quick picnic lunch but saved room for our ice cream break just 10 more miles down the road. It was nice to have a group to ride with again. We even pretended to race one another as a group of Amish children cheered us up a hill. Just as the sun came out nice and strong, we arrived at the creamery – which was definitely a highlight of my day 🙂 The Strawberry Climate Ride Sundae was the special of the day just for us. This sweet stop with the addition of the sun and knowing we were closing in on the end of the day did wonders for everyone’s spirits. We were all laughing and having a fine ol’ time together.

The last leg took us on steep climbs in a country setting. Kip the photographer was following my group (via car) for awhile and pepping us up with music and encouraging goofy pics. I rode part of the last mile with a local. He is a truck driver and avid cyclist (a combo I previously considered unlikely). He admired what we were doing and wished us all the best.

The greatest award after arriving at camp was riding the zip line! We all had a blast taking turns and watching one another. A few people took bunks indoors and others chose to camp. After dinner and the speakers we were all pretty beat and many have already been in bed for an hour. I’m going to hit the sack now too. Very proud of myself and the entire group for what we’ve accomplished so far. This is a truly amazing journey we’re taking together.

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Strawberry Climate Sundaes in Amish Country

Posted on May 15, 2011. Filed under: Climate Ride |

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Surging on to Valley Forge

Posted on May 14, 2011. Filed under: Climate Ride |

Phew- today’s hills made for a much more challenging day than yesterday! My bike chains also caused some difficulty, but the volunteer mechanic was able to help me out very easily. FYI if your chain is ever jammed, just try flipping the bike upside-down and let gravity work it’s magic.

While I managed to beat the rain, apparently a number of riders did get stuck in a down pour – and we’re in for more tomorrow. Tonight we are being rewarded with dorm rooms! Soft beds and private bathrooms has definitely made everyone happy 🙂

Here are some photos from Day 2: Princeton, NJ to Valley Forge, PA

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Camping at Princeton

Posted on May 14, 2011. Filed under: Climate Ride |

Climate Ride update: one day and 45 miles down, four days and 255 miles to go 🙂

First of all I must say how impressed I am with the Climate Ride team for putting on such a well organized bike tour. The planning and execution of this event is impeccable. If you have ever considered embarking on a long bike ride but are still unsure about it, let me recommend participating in a Climate Ride. From the well marked path and directions to the food, luggage handling, and even a speaker series – this amazing team has thought of it all! Every rider is treated very well and it makes this challenge so much easier to take on.

Today has been simply amazing. I’m so glad to be part of this and that it has only gotten started! Already I making new friends and finding more cycling ability in me than I even knew I had!

Looking forward to what tomorrow holds.
-Kristin

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