Monday, December 15, 2008
According to a joint report by the Department of Energy and the EPA (http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/page/co2_report/co2report.html#electric), the average carbon dioxide output for electricity generated in the US in 1999 was 1.341 lbs CO2/kWh.
With that information at hand I began to look for efficiency information for electric cars. I was unable to find anything official for lead-acid batteries, the type of batteries used with previously available electric cars (i.e. EV1 which was available in CA from 1996 to 1999). The unconfirmed information I found said that the batteries for the EV1 could hold 18.7 kWh of energy and go for about 75 miles on a charge. That works out to .3344 lbs of CO2 per mile.
The next car I looked at was the Chevy Volt, a car that can run on either full electric, full gas, or in a hybrid mode. The Volt uses next generation Lithium-Ion based batteries and is being rushed to market by GM with a target launch date of sometime in 2010. According to gm-volt.com, the Volt can go 40 miles on full electric using ~8 kWh of electric energy. That works out to approximately .2682 lbs of CO2 per mile for trips under 40 miles.
I found the numbers to be somewhat surprising. The new Volt, when it becomes available, will generate 58% less carbon dioxide than the average new gas-powered car does today. I expected that with our fossil-fuel dependent electric generation grid the reductions would not be as significant.
One thing for the environmentalists to keep in mind, however, is that a gas-powered car would only need to get 72 mpg to equal the carbon dioxide output of Volt in full electric mode. This is achievable with only incremental improvements in gas-electric hybrid technologies (the Prius is rated at 48 mpg today). Also, it is important to keep in mind that this rudimentary analysis fails to take into account the carbon dioxide output of the battery manufacturing and disposal process or the gas production and transportation processes.
For an entertaining look at anti-CO2 environmentalism taken out to its logical conclusion, see this article from Reason: http://www.reason.com/news/show/127418.html
I took this post from HERE: http://ionlyreadthearticles.blogspot.com/2008/08/electricity-vs-gasoline.html
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Executive Order Directing State Agencies to Plan for Sea Level Rise and Climate Impacts
Given the serious threat of sea level rise to California's water supply and coastal resources and the impact it would have on our state's economy, population, and natural resources, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger [Friday] issued an Executive Order (EO) S-13-08 to enhance the state's management of climate impacts from sea level rise, increased temperatures, shifting precipitation and extreme weather events.
"We have to adapt the way we work and plan in order to manage the impacts and challenges that California and our entire planet face from climate change," Governor Schwarzenegger said. "Given the serious threat of sea level rise to California's water supply, population and our economy, it's critically important that we make sure the state is prepared when heavy rains cause flooding and the potential for sea level rise increases in future years."
There are four key actions in the EO including:
(1) initiate California's first statewide climate change adaptation strategy that will assess the state's expected climate change impacts, identify where California is most vulnerable and recommend climate adaptation policies by early 2009;
(2) request the National Academy of Science establish an expert panel to report on sea level rise impacts in California to inform state planning and development efforts;
(3) issue interim guidance to state agencies for how to plan for sea level rise in designated coastal and floodplain areas for new projects; and
(4) initiate a report on critical existing and planned infrastructure projects vulnerable to sea level rise.
One key benefit that the EO will facilitate is California's first comprehensive climate adaptation strategy. This effort will improve coordination within state government and adapt the way work so that better planning can more effectively address climate impacts to human health, the environment, the state's water supply and the economy.
Another benefit from the EO includes providing consistency and clarity to state agencies on how to address sea level rise in current planning efforts, reducing time and resources unnecessarily spent on developing different policies using different scientific information.
The EO and its actions carry on the Governor's environmental leadership by continuing to address climate change adaptation in coordination with our climate change mitigation policies as outlined in AB 32. The states of Washington and Oregon, as well as Canada and Mexico, along with several global institutions have expressed interest in coordinating our climate change adaptation policies as outlined in this EO.
California's Energy Commission, the California Ocean Protection Council and Caltrans are conducting numerous scientific studies on the impact of climate change, including new sea level rise impact projections that are being used to develop the state's climate change adaptation strategy.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
1) not mentally able to understand the world needs as a whole
2) was mentally not able to at least surround himself with people that have that ability
3) He got un-lucky a few times.
Please don't tell me it was RIGHT to go into Irak, take that money (or 1/4 of it) and make your country independent of the oil he was so desperate to secure for the US there. We could be there by now.
Please don't tell me it was RIGHT to make Aids help in Africa depending on your faith.
Please don't tell me it was RIGHT to put pressure on the mortgage market to make the "American Dream" (house in the burbs with lawn and white picket fence) a reality for everyone, as in everyone.... eventhough the market was not able to give it to them.
Please don't tell me it was RIGHT to try and make every pension depend on the health of the stock market
Please don't tell me it was RIGHT by pushing back any diplomatic efforts with Korea and Iran and therefore let these situations get almost out of control
Please don't tell me it was RIGHT to be arrogant and proud about being an American. It is plain out luck or good fortune to have been borne in this country and does not entitle you in any way to look down on or be arrogant to anyone on this planet. We are all born equal. An American life is just as terrible to be lost as any other one on this planet.
Please don't tell me it was RIGHT to find legalization loopholes and use brute force methods to get to information from members of "The axis of evil" (called torture). If you look back at history and think and analyze, there are MUCH much better ways to get to information if you really want it. But it does take will, sophistication and the right mindset to get to it. These are much much more effective AND do not defacto now put a world wide legalization on torture for th next at least 50 years.
Please don't tell me it was RIGHT to lift the cover of a CIA agent, just because he disagrees with your shitty policies.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Germany’s Efficient Homes
by Nicole Pillen and Nana Doerrie
German energy agency, dena's, Efficient Homes project is tapping into substantial energy savings through the retrofits of existing buildings.
As energy prices on the world market rise and the debate on how to address climate change intensifies, energy-efficient home retrofits have become a vital issue in Germany. The residential building sector consumes the largest proportion of site energy used in Germany, and the lion’s share—about 75%—of this use is attributable to space heating. Consequently this share has to be reduced radically for overall energy consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to decline. Existing buildings are of particular importance. At present, older buildings use on average 225 kilowatt-hours per square meter (kWh/m2) (71,325 British thermal units per square foot (Btu/ft2)) annually—or 3 times the energy required to heat a new building. Yet despite rising energy prices, retrofit projects are still not fully exploiting potential energy savings. Currently, over half of the potential savings that are economically feasible remain untapped after a renovation.
To realize these potential savings, the German energy agency, dena, has initiated the Efficient Homes project. Launched in 2003, this project uses best practices to
* develop, test, and implement cost-effective low-energy standards for retrofits that are superior to the federal requirements for new buildings;
* publicize and improve innovative technologies for increasing the energy efficiency of existing buildings; and
* educate and encourage builders, designers, architects, and the general public to implement all economically feasible techniques for energy efficient retrofits of existing buildings.
Many educational efforts and promotional events have been held to publicize the project. These include workshops for architects, planners, and the housing industry, as well as special events for consumers. Remodeling guidelines have been developed for each of these different target groups. In addition, regional competence networks, which consist primarily of local energy agencies, have been created to increase awareness of efficient retrofitting techniques. The Federal Promotional Bank (KfW Förderbank) has also been doing its part to support project participants by offering low-interest loans and partial payments to reduce the costs of borrowing to finance these retrofits.
These efforts have paid off quite well. Since 2003 more than 140 buildings comprising 2,230 residential units have undergone energy-efficient retrofits (see Figure 1). The project includes every type of residential building—from single-family homes to an apartment building with 295 units, so renovation recommendations and best-practice case studies now exist for almost every residential building type. The buildings represent a mix of commercially and privately owned residences; 49% belong to housing cooperatives and commercial landlords, and 51% belong to private individuals. Of the latter, 24% are private landlords and 27% are owners of single-family and two-family homes.
In many cases, these retrofits employed highly innovative passive-house components, which, until recently, have been used almost exclusively in new buildings. A passive house is an ultra-low energy house that is built according to a rigorous energy standard: the building must not use more than 15 kWh/m2 per year (4,750 Btu/ft2 annually) in heating energy. This is usually achieved by employing superinsulation materials and special windows that combine triple-pane insulation glazing with air seals and specially developed thermally broken window frames, which reduce heat loss through the frame.
To appreciate the accomplishments of the Efficient Homes project, one must first understand the differences between German and U.S. building stock. Most buildings in Germany are not built out of wood; 86% of single-family and two-family homes are built out of concrete, concrete block, or brick, while only 14% are stick built. In the United States, 95% of single-family homes are stick built.
Two-thirds of the residential buildings in Germany were built before 1978. The average rate for new developments has been 1% per year for the past several years. This means that existing buildings dominate Germany’s building stock. Approximately 35% of Germany’s residential buildings must be completely retrofitted now or within the next two decades, with another 28% of them needing to be completely rebuilt for the second time sometime in the next 20 years. Altogether, this means that roughly 50% of Germany’s older buildings will be retrofitted within the next 20 years. It is therefore essential to implement cost-effective low-energy retrofitting standards immediately. Otherwise the energy demand for space heating and domestic hot water cannot be significantly reduced.
Tightening Energy Standards
Until 2006 participants in the Efficient Homes project could choose to meet either of two energy standards—the Efficiency Standard or the Future Standard—both of which are related to the energy requirements for new buildings. The Efficiency Standard requires the energy consumption of a retrofitted building to be 30% less than that of a comparable new building. To meet the Future Standard, the energy consumption of a retrofitted building must be 50% less than that of a comparable new building. Starting in 2007, all participants in the Efficient Homes project have been obligated to meet the Future Standard. (For both standards, “energy consumption” refers to the primary energy demand of the building, which is defined as the energy embodied in natural resources—coal, crude oil, sunlight, uranium—that has not undergone any human-caused conversion or transformation. In the United States, this energy is referred to as source energy.)
These standards do not specify particular materials or technical installations that must be used. This is done to allow for innovative solutions to meet the standard. However, a ventilation system is required in every building. The project has already been such a success that the Efficiency Standard has been incorporated into the Federal Promotional Bank’s regular offers for energy-saving retrofits that are not part of the Efficient Homes project.
The Efficient Homes retrofit projects have proved that it is possible to reduce the energy consumption of old buildings significantly. These energy savings were achieved using only standard construction techniques. Before the retrofit, the average energy demand of these 140 buildings was 336 kWh/m2 (106,512 Btu/ft2) annually. After the retrofit, it was reduced to an average of 44 kWh/m2 (13,948 Btu/ft2) annually. This is far below the minimum requirement for comparable new buildings of 98kWh/m2 per year (31,066 Btu/ft2 annually). These results clearly demonstrate that energy-efficient methods of construction can reduce the energy demand of an existing building by an average of over 80% (see Figure 2).
The Oldest Low-Energy Building
The oldest building in the Efficient Homes project is quite old—344 years old, to be exact. This timber-framed building was built in the small village of Feuchtwangen, Bavaria, in 1663, just 15 years after the end of the Thirty Years’ War. It is a two-story single-family home. The retrofit was completed in summer 2007. The owner, Josef Buckel, said that he wanted to update the building, and he wanted to save energy and protect the environment.
What was done to modernize this house? The most important measure was the installation of superinsulation made of polystyrene to significantly reduce heat leakage through the walls, roof, and floor. A 4-inch (10-centimeter) thermal insulation composite system, with a U- value of 0.31 Watts per square meter times degrees Kelvin (W/m2K), was installed on the facade. The insulation on the roof is now 8 inches (20 centimeters) thick, with a U-value of 0.13 W/m2K. It was extremely important to identify and eliminate the building’s thermal bridges in order to achieve the best possible results. The casement windows were retrofitted with energy-efficient glazing. The energy for space heating and the provision of warm water is now supplied by three different sources: a geothermal pump, a solar-thermal collector, and a mechanical heat recovery ventilation system. Because the new insulation made the building more airtight, it was necessary to install a mechanical ventilation system to prevent condensation and mold.
The results of the retrofit are impressive. The building’s total primary energy supply (TPES) was reduced by 85%. Before the retrofit, the TPES was 572 kWh/m2 annually (181,324 Btu/ft2 annually). It is now just 36.5 kWh/m2 annually (11,570 Btu/ft2 annually), based on modeling of the newly retrofitted building. (These modeled savings will be checked against the actual energy consumption of the building. All project participants are required to report this data for the first two years following modernization.) Mr. Buckel can be proud; by retrofitting his home, he has made an enormous contribution to the overall reduction of greenhouse gases. According to dena’s calculations, his house now saves 39 metric tons of CO2 per year! And he profits directly, too, because the final or site energy—which he pays for—adds up to only 12 kWh/m2 per year (3,804 Btu/ft2 annually). Although the building is more than 300 years old, it is now more efficient than most new buildings in Germany, and Mr. Buckel needn’t worry about rising energy prices.
The Most Efficient Single-Family Home
The project’s most efficient single-family home is a two-story, 2,551 square foot (237 square meter) timber building, with an addition built from concrete. It was built 50 years ago on the banks of the beautiful Lake Bodensee, one of Europe’s biggest lakes in the south of Germany. When the house was originally built in the 1950s, no one was paying attention to energy efficiency. When it came time to retrofit, the current owner, Andreas Koch, wanted to reduce the building’s extremely high annual energy demand of 255 kWh/m2 annually (80,835 Btu/ft2 annually). Koch is an architect specializing in energy-efficient construction who works for the European Institute for Energy Research. His objective was to preserve the building’s typically ’50s style while significantly reducing its energy demand. He was extremely careful in choosing the measures he wanted to apply, so the building would still resemble the family house that he and his mother and sister had inherited from his grandparents.
What was done? Again insulation played a major role. A thermal insulation composite system made of polystyrene with a thickness of 12 inches (30 centimeters) and a U- value of 0.102 W/m2K was installed on the timber construction part of the building. New wooden cladding was installed over the polystyrene. A thermal insulation composite system was installed on the concrete addition as well, with the roof and basement getting 12 inches (30 centimeters) of polystyrene. The side of the house facing the lake underwent the most dramatic changes. The balcony was torn down and the windows were replaced with larger, highly efficient, three-pane thermal units.
The result is remarkable: a beautiful view of the lake and the mountains; brighter, more spacious rooms; and outstanding energy efficiency. You wouldn’t know that you were standing in front of a window if you were standing blindfolded just 12 inches away—proof of the windows’ superb thermal quality. The building is now extremely airtight, so much so that to ensure good air quality, a mechanical ventilation system had to be installed. But Mr. Koch is not wasting energy with his ventilation system. He chose a system that recovers 80% of the heat that would normally be lost while exhausting the indoor air.
The heating system was completely retrofitted as well. The old-fashioned oil heating was replaced by an innovative geothermal heat pump that uses brine and water to produce 7.8 kilowatts, enough to provide a constant supply/system temperature of 95ºF (35ºC). A 101 square foot (9.4 square meter) solar-thermal collector was also installed on the roof of Mr. Koch’s house. It is one of the new, efficient vacuum tube units, with an output of 3.75 kilowatts. The energy provided by the geothermal heat pump and the solar collector warm the water in a storage tank that is then distributed throughout the house for heating and domestic hot water. The solar collector supplies 51% of the energy needed to heat the domestic hot water, and 8% of the energy needed to heat the house.
To complete the energy-efficient heating system retrofit and to improve the residents’ comfort, Mr. Koch installed an underfloor radiant heating system. Instead of wasting energy by heating a room at ceiling height as some forced-air systems do, underfloor heating warms the air at floor level, and that warm air then rises through the living space, warming its occupants and losing heat as it rises. Very little energy is therefore wasted, and Mr. Koch’s rooms are heated in a way that makes them more comfortable—warm feet and a cool head, rather than cold feet and a hot head.
The result of all these changes is that the annual TPES of 255kWh/m2 annually (80,835 Btu/ft2 per yr) before the retrofit was reduced by 86% to just 34kWh/m2 annually (10,778 Btu/ft2 annually) after refurbishment. That’s a third of the regularized minimum requirement for a comparable new building, which would be 107 kWh/m2 annually. Like Mr. Buckel, Mr. Koch has become almost independent of rising energy prices. The building’s final or site energy demand is now calculated to be as little as 11kWh/m2 annually (3,487 Btu/ft2 annually). And Mr. Koch has done more than his share to protect the environment and the climate. With the improvements to the building, his home now emits 30 metric tons of CO2 less per year.
Success All Around
The Efficient Homes project has been a great success. By the middle of 2007, more than 1,300 owners had applied for the program and are now committed to highly energy-efficient retrofits. The two examples described above—the Buckel and Koch homes—show that these renovations are not miracles. Standard measures and technologies that are readily available in the marketplace were used to attain these exemplary energy standards.
Nicole Pillen is a project director and Nana Doerrie is a staffmember at dena.
For more information:
For more information on these projects, visit www.dena.de and www.zukunft-haus.info or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, October 24, 2008
The impulse to go “green” is spreading faster than morning glories. Organizations of all types are launching green campaigns—from London’s congestion charge on automobiles to Wal-Mart Stores’ push to sell organic foods. In almost every opinion poll on the subject, consumers say they are very concerned about climate change, and they connect the dots back to their own purchases, according to a 2007 McKinsey survey of 7,751 people in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Indeed, the poll shows that 87 percent of consumers worry about the environmental and social impact of the products they buy.
But when it comes to actually buying green goods, words and deeds often part ways. No more than 33 percent of the consumers in our survey say they are ready to buy green products or have already done so. In a 2007 Chain Store Age survey of 822 US consumers, only 25 percent of them report having bought any green product other than organic foods or energy-efficient lighting. Indeed, most of the green goods on the market have tiny market shares. In 2006, green laundry detergents and household cleaners accounted for less than 2 percent of US sales in their categories. Hybrid cars, though trendy, made up little more than 2 percent of the US auto market in 2007, according to a report by J. D. Power and Associates.
Consumers in the United States and other developed countries have therefore done little to lighten their carbon footprint. Some of this lag between talking and walking could reflect insincerity, laziness, or posturing. But much more of it stems from the failure of businesses to educate consumers about the benefits of green products and to create and market compelling ones. A 2007 Climate Group study discovered that two-thirds of US and British consumers cannot name a single green brand. Similarly, the 2007 National Technology Readiness Survey of 1,025 US adults found that though more than two-thirds say they prefer to do business with environmentally responsible companies, almost half add that it is difficult to find green goods and services.
Corporations can reap a number of benefits by going green. Consider the success of compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), for example. In 2005, sales of CFLs accounted for less than 5 percent of the total lightbulb market. Only two years later—in 2007, the year the public woke up to the looming threat of climate change—they captured an estimated 20 percent of it, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Companies, such as GE, that sell CFLs have increased their revenues, enhanced their brands, and strengthened their competitive positions.
To realize the green market’s true potential, businesses must help consumers change their behavior by removing the hurdles between intentions and actions.
Breaking down the barriers
Our 2007 study of 7,751 consumers around the world identifies barriers to buying green at all five stages of the purchase process. In the first stage, awareness, consumers must be aware that a product exists before they can buy it, but many of them don’t know about the green choices in a number of categories. Next, consumers must believe that a product will get the job done. Many, however, think the quality of green products is lower than that of their more traditional, “browner” counterparts. Consumers must then decide whether or not a product lives up to its green reputation. Many are skeptical about environmental claims, partly because they distrust corporations and the media. Finally, in the fourth and fifth stages, consumers must decide if a product is worth the expense and the effort needed to purchase it—consumers often believe that green goods cost too much and are difficult to find. To increase sales of environmentally sensible products, companies must remove these five barriers—lack of awareness, negative perceptions, distrust, high prices, and low availability.
The importance of each barrier varies by product, industry, and geography. More than 90 percent of the consumers who participated in the McKinsey global survey know about CFLs, so there is no lack of awareness about them.1 Nonetheless, many think CFLs are too expensive and of dubious quality. Such concern about the price and quality of goods varies across regions and across product categories. For example, 14 percent of US consumers say they would pay a premium for green products in the retail sector, compared with 26 percent in Brazil. Seven percent of French consumers are willing to pay a premium for green products in the petroleum sector, compared with 26 percent in India.
Companies first need to figure out which customers would probably want which products and then examine how people in each market segment make their purchasing decisions. No matter which barriers prove most important for a given product, industry, and region, businesses must ultimately address barriers in all areas before consumers will change their behavior. In other words, companies have to move customers through every stage of the purchase process—from becoming aware of eco-friendly products to finding them.
Because consumers are largely unaware of green products, a business that sells them must see itself first as an educator, not a sales machine. Our study shows that more than one-third of the consumers who want to help mitigate climate change don’t really know how. The top three ways for them to reduce their own emissions are to drive more fuel-efficient cars, improve the insulation of their homes, and eat less beef (exhibit). Yet when we asked the consumers in our study to name the top three, they fingered recycling, energy-efficient appliances, and driving less. Few consumers knew how eco-friendly it is to shun beef.
Back to top
This lack of knowledge means that companies must explain not only their own products but also the larger issues of pollution, climate change, overfishing, and other environmental problems. Nonprofits and government agencies should also take up the cause of green education. Energy Star provides a model. This program, a joint effort launched by the EPA and the US Department of Energy in 1992, educates consumers about the way suitable products can cut energy use, save consumers money, and protect the environment. Every appliance that meets government energy-efficiency standards can carry the Energy Star label, which has gained widespread consumer recognition and trust. Because federal regulations mandate energy labels for certain kinds of equipment, almost half of the air conditioners sold in the United States during 2005 carried the Energy Star sticker. In the same year, nearly 30 percent of all US homes had energy-efficient refrigerators and washing machines, according to the Vermont Department of Public Service.
To cite another example: P&G’s Future Friendly campaign provides consumers with specific tips on how they can have a positive impact on the environment by making their homes more energy efficient, using less water, and reducing household waste. A number of environmental nonprofits, including the Waterwise Project, Waste Watch, Energy Saving Trust, and Global Cool, endorse this information. The campaign’s print, television, and online messages tell consumers not only what they can do to protect the environment but also how P&G’s energy-efficient products can help them do so. P&G benefits because it refreshes its brand, enhances its reputation, and protects its market share from new green competitors. The campaign didn’t pick up steam until 2007, so its impact on sales is not yet conclusive.
Build better products
Even when consumers can identify environmentally sound choices, the green label is sometimes the kiss of death. Certain green products—such as Toyota Motor’s Prius—have become status symbols, but many others have image problems. According to the 2007 GfK Roper Green Gauge study of more than 2,000 Americans, 61 percent believe that green goods perform less well than conventional ones. Indeed, that often used to be true: early hybrid cars had less power than nonhybrids, for example, and early CFLs couldn’t fit properly into most normal fixtures, were slow to turn on, and shined weakly once they did.
Consumers will not think better of green products until companies make them equal to, or better than, their conventional alternatives. It's no surprise: most people value performance, reliability, and durability much more than ecological soundness. Eventually, GE succeeded with CFLs, which have overcome their teething problems and now pay for themselves in five months (Wal-Mart committed itself to selling 100 million of them in 2007, thus helping to surmount another barrier—availability). Toyota dealt with early perceptions of the Prius by increasing its horsepower and mounting a campaign that promoted the car as “quick, roomy, and economical.”
Consumers doubt not only the quality but also the very greenness of green products, according to the GfK Roper survey. In this area, they trust scientists and environmental groups, not the government, the media, or businesses—and justifiably so. A 2007 study by TerraChoice Environmental Marketing examined 1,753 claims about green products and found all but one misleading or just plain false.
In the misleading category, some companies tout features that are actually mandated by law (for example, labeling products as free of CFCs, the ozone-eating propellants the US federal government banned almost three decades ago). Other companies mislead consumers by highlighting a single positive product feature while ignoring the negative ones. Paper and lumber products tout their recycled content, for example, without noting the air and water emissions of their manufacturing processes or the impact on global warming. In the just plain false category, a dishwasher detergent boasted of its environmental virtue in using 100 percent recycled paper—on its 100 percent plastic container.
To rebuild public trust, companies must come clean about the true environmental impact of their products and their attempts to reduce it, and many will need to address historical concerns about specific products or operations. Only then will consumers believe a company’s green claims. In 2005, GE launched its Ecomagination initiative with the broad objectives of meeting environmental goals such as clean water, renewable energy, and reduced emissions, as well as increasing its investment in sustainable technologies and its revenues from sustainable products, like lower-emission aircraft engines, efficient lighting, wind turbines, and water purification equipment. As part of the Ecomagination campaign, GE also undertook to make its own operations more environmentally sustainable. Since then, the company has managed to sustain positive growth for its portfolio of energy-efficient and environmentally advantageous products and services—with revenues forecast to rise 21 percent from 2007 to $17 billion in 2008—while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations, which are projected to be down by about 8 percent in 2008 from the 2004 baseline.
A consumer who gets past the sometimes checkered history of eco-friendly products may well encounter a fourth barrier: they often cost more. Indeed, price is the largest obstacle to purchases of green products, according to a 2007 survey of 3,600 consumers by the UK Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs. Close to half of the participants want a two-year return when they pay a premium for a product, yet 70 percent of green appliances (including energy-efficient televisions, washers, and dryers) take longer.
Companies must ensure that consumers understand the financial and environmental returns on their investment in green products, for they are more willing to try new ones—especially those that cost more—when they find it easy to track the savings. Sales of such products may also rise if their design stands out and signals their owners’ commitment to the environment.
The value of the Prius, for instance, goes well beyond traditional functionality. The car caught the attention of consumers because of its unique and contemporary style and its innovative dashboard, which, via an onboard computer, displays the various energy-efficient functions of the car. By enabling the driver to determine how much and what kind of energy the car is using at any given time, the dashboard communicates the vehicle’s energy efficiency, thereby broadcasting its environmental benefits. By contrast, Honda Motor’s Accord hybrid, which looked more conventional and did not toot its environmental horn, languished (and was eventually dropped, in 2008). In 2006, the Prius held 76 percent of the US hybrid market; the Accord hybrid, which functioned just as well, held only 12 percent.
Bring products to the people
Having decided to buy green products, many consumers encounter a last hurdle—finding them—either because manufacturers don’t keep up with demand or advertise where they can be bought, or because wholesalers and retailers don’t stock them or display them prominently. Biofuel enthusiasts, for example, must often drive out of their way to fill up. Many energy-conscious homeowners have no choice but to buy high-emission power because their local utilities don’t offer green energy. Many contractors don’t know where to buy green building materials. In 2007, we undertook an informal survey of 23 retailers in Chicago and in the San Francisco Bay area. Fewer than half sold green products other than organic foods and CFLs, and among the minority that did, only about 10 percent stocked more than one brand option.
Companies with successful green products ensure that they are available and easy to find. Wal-Mart and GE have promoted the fortunes of CFLs, for example, by making them easy to buy. Wal-Mart put the bulbs in the most coveted place in retailing—at eye level, on the top two or three shelves; an educational display from GE complements the attractive placement. Toyota communicates its determination to make the Prius widely available by running ads that say, “We’ve significantly increased production on the hard-to-find, easy-to-drive Toyota Prius.” According to AutoInsight, the company has increased its output of the cars by an average of 50 percent a year since 1999.
The green imperative
Businesses by themselves can’t lead consumers from intentions to actions; as the success of Energy Star shows, the government and nonprofits must often participate actively to achieve long-lasting changes in consumer behavior. Nevertheless, businesses should play a leading role in the green movement in order to shape their market opportunities and manage potential regulation of their industries.
Today, green products and services are only a niche market, but they are poised for strong growth. Already, 33 percent of consumers say they would pay a premium for green products, and 54 percent care about the environment and want to help mitigate climate change. Entry into the green market can also improve a company’s reputation, thereby increasing the value of its brands. Some 70 to 80 percent of the valuations of public companies in US and Western European stock markets depends on expectations of cash flows beyond the next three years. A company’s reputation strongly shapes those expectations, and corporate citizenship is its top driver, according to the Reputation Institute’s 2007 global survey. In short, green activity can raise the bottom line.
In addition, companies that have a strong position in the green market can protect their market share from competitors. More than 80 percent of 2,192 executives in a McKinsey Quarterly survey2 conducted in 2007 expect some form of climate change regulation within the next five years in countries where their companies operate. The most active businesses will try to shape these regulations and may even push for stricter ones that would disadvantage their less environmentally savvy competitors. Newcomers, in turn, can steal market share from established companies through appeals to the ever-growing legions of green consumers. Whole Foods Market, with double-digit sales growth in the essentially flat supermarket industry, is a powerful example of a new entrant that has used a green offering to win share not only in the green market but also in the premium segment.
Going green while staying competitive can be challenging, and companies may rightly ask whether cultivating green consumers is worth all the trouble. We believe that it is more than just worthwhile—it is imperative for success. Once businesses remove the obstacles that now make it hard for consumers to act on their environmental beliefs, sales of green products could explode. What’s more, a company that builds a reputation for eco-friendliness can do much more than increase its revenues. The better its reputation, the more talented the employees it can attract, the more loyalty it can inspire in its customers, and the more it can charge for its products.
About the Authors
Sheila Bonini is a consultant in McKinsey’s Silicon Valley office, and Jeremy Oppenheim is a director in the London office.
This article is adapted from “Cultivating the green consumer,” which appeared in the fall 2008 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of John Forsyth, Nadeem Sheikh, and Jessica Weisz.
Not that consumers know everything they should. Only half of the participants in this study know about carbon credits, a way for individuals or businesses to lighten their carbon footprint. Companies that sell these credits invest the money in renewable energy, reforestation, and other activities that reduce carbon emissions, thus offsetting those of the individuals or businesses purchasing the credits.
Monday, October 13, 2008
would measure only 95 miles on each side.
• People currently lacking access toclean drinking water: 1.2 billion.
• % of world’s households that must fetch water outside their homes: 67
• % increase in the world’s population by mid 21st century: 100
• % increase in the world’s drinking water supplies by mid 21st century: 0
• Amount of water Americans use every day: 340 billion gallons.
• Number of gallons of water needed to produce a car: 100,000
• Number of cars produced every year: 50 million.
• Amount of water annually required by a nuclear reactor: 1.9 cubic miles.
• Amount of water used by nuclear reactorsevery year: the equivalent of
one and a third Lake Eries.
Sources: Der Spiegel, May 25, 1992; and Annals of Earth, Vol. 8, Number 2, 1990; Ocean Arks International,
One Locust Street, Falmouth, MA 02540.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
conclusively demonstrates the financial, environmental, and other benefits of
using green technologies in schools. In fact, failure to invest in green technologies is not financially responsible for school systems; the study uses conservative accounting practices to show that investments in green technologies significantly reduce the life-cycle cost of operating school buildings. And the public benefits of green schools are even larger than those that work directly to the financial advantage of schools. These include reductions in water pollution, improved environmental quality, and increased productivity of learning in an improved school environment.”
LINK to the full document
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
And the paper to it:
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Everyone is green these days. Even the giant oil companies are flooding the airwaves with green marketing campaigns. It sounds promising and many positive things seem to be taking shape in response to the climate challenge. But, if you look closely, much of it is less than it seems.
For example, forestry is at the center of the climate change equation. Forests sequester enormous amounts of carbon. The larger the trees are in a forest, the more carbon is held per acre.
Since the early 1990's, a fast-growing "Sustainable forestry" worldwide movement has been making positive inroads. A handful of organizations now "certify" many millions of acres of forestland as "sustainably harvested". Standards vary, but, certification requires overall improvements in forestry practices away from the old "industrial models". Sustainable forestry is helping many forests around the world reverse degradation and in some cases rehabilitate deteriorated stands to a limited degree.
Unfortunately, if you study the numbers, its clear even the most stringent sustainable forestry standards will have only a modest impact in the climate change equation. Climate cooling carbon sequestration numbers are easy to calculate for any parcel of forestland. For example, in California's Redwood forest, several large forestland owners are certified sustainable. These sustainably harvested forests are harvested at approximately 20% of the standing timber volume per decade. An average quality young stand of Redwoods adds about 30 to 35% per decade in net new wood volume. As it ages, this rate of growth slows. If cut at 20% per decade, the young stand will add a modest amount of net volume for a few decades and then level out. The forest will then be maintained as a healthy and robust stand of trees of average size with few if any large or old trees.
If, on the other hand, the rate of cut is limited to 10% in any one decade, the forest will retain more than 3 times the wood volume per acre over the coming century than if "sustainably harvested" at 20% per decade. Forestland managed at this more conservative rate will grow ancient trees again over time and make a large contribution to global cooling. This is the central tenant in "Restoration Forestry".
We are Old-Growth Again Restoration Forestry. Our mission is to fully restore the volume and productivity of our forestlands and bring back the big trees. Parklands are lovely and necessary, but we can't turn all the forests of the world into parklands because the cost would be exorbitant. Restoration forestry allows you to cut conservatively while also bringing back the large ancient trees. In our 14th year, our forests are a testament to what can be accomplished. Your furniture purchases through the years fund the hard work.
To read more about our forestry practices, please go to:
As always, comments and questions are welcomed. Thank you for your continuing support.
For the woods, from the woods,
Forever Redwood from Old-Growth Again Restoration Forestry
33800 Annapolis Rd. Annapolis, CA 95412 866-332-2403/707-495-4955
Restoring logged forests back to Old-Growth Again. Forever Redwood furniture sales fund the restoration.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Topic: Why do I want to build a sustainable home.
Do you want to spend the time you spend indoors in a place 2-1000 times more toxic than outdoors in downtown LA?
Can we afford to take away the trees we love and need?
I say NO to both of these questions. I want to make my points clear to you in the following few minutes.
A few words to the actual problem followed by respective solutions.
Example 1: VOCs are bad for our bodies. We surround ourself with them all the time, voluntarily.
A new IKEA kitchen cabinet emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are considered toxic for humans. To give you an Idea of the magnitude of VOCs being produced and handed to us I want to use this example. The wood furniture industry uses 2X the amount of VOCs than the Automotive industry. We spend a lot more time in our homes than our car.
The paint we put on our walls contains VOCs. The EPA puts paint in the top 5 environmental hazards. Paint can make the air you breath toxic.
These VOCs are harmful to our bodies, the more we inhale them, the more likely we are to get sick, get allergies, feel weak, get cancer, …. and more.
The next point I am trying to make is about energy used to build a home.
Most of the energy required to build a home is consumed during the production of the materials for the home. The sheet rock production, tree growing and lumber milling, transportation to the store and end consumer uses a lot of the energy. It is very important to select the right materials to build your house from. Let's take the Sheet rock example. Drywall production consumes almost 1% of all U.S. industrial energy consumption. One of the new products "EcoRock®" low-energy drywall uses virtually zero energy in their core, resulting in zero CO2 emissions production.
We need to choose the type of house construction wisely, need to choose the type of material we use to build our home whisely to minimize the energy that is consumed during its production.
Concrete frame constructions use 17% more energy than wood frame constructions.
We cannot grow forests fast enough to satisfy the housing construction market. One average US house (2300sq ft up from 1400sq ft 1970) requires 24 trees to grow for 34 years (0.5m trunk, 12m tall), we are building 1.8 million homes every year. ==> 43 Million trees a year for the US home construction alone.
Straw bale homes are almost entirely made from a farming byproduct and therefore much more energy saving ==> sustainable.
We need to give our children a world they have the chance to succeed in, live in and raise their children in. Using the energy we have wisely, using the resources we have responsibly is not an option, it is a must to be able to look our next generation straight in the eyes.
We do not allow torture in our prisons, why would we torture ourself by living in homes 2-1000 times more toxic than downtown LA?
Sustainable homes are not really an option, we must move our housing market into this direction.
Here are link to websites informing more about the subjects touched on in this presentation.
I also figure that 10,000 board feet could be obtained from two trees that are 51 inches across and 76 feet long, or 24 trees that are 17" across and 35' long, or 100 trees that are 8.5" wide and 20' long. It would take about 110 years to grow two of the large trees, 34 years to grow 24 of the mid-sized trees, and 17 years to grow 100 of the small trees. http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/newton/askasci/1995/environ/ENV144.HTM
1.8 milion homes built every year, since 30 years.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
He uses what I want to call responsible and working Forest management techniques.
Here is a link to the core techniques he applies to his own forest.
Each summer and fall the fire season explodes and the news is filled with stories of burning
homes and thousands of brave men and women fighting fires and risking
their lives protecting communities. It's a giant annual event and its getting worse. In July 2008, lightning storms ignited thousands of fires in California that burned for weeks. The losses and cost to contain them were staggering. The real calamity in all this is that it is mostly an avoidable disaster. It really doesn't have to be this way.
Forest fires are a vital and natural part of all western forests. The fires regenerate and balance countless biological processes. For example, some vegetation has been recorded as extinct in areas where fires were suppressed only to reappear after a fire!
The probability an average fire will grow to be a catastrophic fire is multiplied when forestlands are poorly managed. Most of the forests of the west today are young and overgrown. Hot, highly destructive fires feed on the excessive lower limbs, downed woody debris and the suppressed and dying trees of mostly young forests.
A labor-intensive program of thinning suppressed trees and lower limbs of standing trees combined with lopping and scattering the excessive woody debris lowers this dangerous fuel level. Lower fuel levels limit the opportunities for a normal fire to become a devouring dragon.
Thinning is central to the Restoration forestry we've been practicing since 1995. Thinning mimics many beneficial effects of mild fires and is a proven proactive solution to the growing fire catastrophies we have in the western United States. As our work grows over the years, we hope to make a significant contribution to fire hazard reduction in our neck of the woods.
To learn more about thinning, fire hazard reduction and basic restoration forestry practices that are applicable to forests anywhere, please visit our forest restoration page at: http://www.oldgrowthagain.com/
As always, we look forward to hearing from you. Call or email anytime.
Thank you for your continuing support,
Raul Hernandez, CEO
Forever Redwood from Old-Growth Again Restoration Forestry
33800 Annapolis Road Annapolis, CA 95412
Monday, August 11, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
And I have to say it is harder every day to have just that, a warm and cosy house to live and sleep in. Guys in our Washington congress shine with inaction again before the summer break. This country is in a major recession, a major energy crisis and our legislative branch goes out to enjoy the summer.
In a mid size company I used to work in, the executives took a 30% pay cut at times of crisis till the point in time that they dealt with the crisis and maneuvered the company successfully through the shallow waters.
What does our congress do, go on vacation. This is outrageous and irresponsible, shows the exact behavior we do not want to teach to all the people in the country; Lethargy.
We can generate our own energy and many people know it. It is just that we are held back by "it is not my problem to solve", OR "this is too big for me to start it", "I will upset my biggest $$ source by doing what is right and necessary.
Do not underestimate the American voters, do not think they are not smart enough to understand. They are and they vote; they might just vote you out of a job if you don't act and act decisively and fast.
Thanks for your time
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The Pennsylvania-based lumber dealer announces that 26 stores will provide the wood to meet LEED and NAHB Green Standards.
by Robb Crocker
It is happening all around, people go green, and companies respond.
Monday, July 28, 2008
EMBODIED WATER OF COMMON FOODS
1 cup of lettuce > 11 litres
1 orange (100g) > 50 litres
1 apple (100g) > 70 litres
1 glass beer (250 ml) > 75 litres
1 glass wine (125 ml) > 120 litres
1 coffee (125 ml) > 140 litres
1 bag of potato crisps (200g) > 185 litres
1 glass milk (200 ml) > 200 litres
1 steak (230g) > 4660 litres
1 kilo of rice > 3400 litres
1 kilo of beef > 16 000 litres
They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. --- (Andy Warhol)
Money is like manure, it's not worth a thing unless it's spread around encouraging young things to grow. --- (Thornton Wilder)
Really good photos are here: http://www.sprinklaphotos.com/
Friday, July 25, 2008
THE WALLET TALKS LOUD AND CLEAR.
Car wash LINK
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Images taken from: http://www.faz.net
Diving into the crowd.
Communication made in Germany
Artwork in the German Kanzler's office. Can you imagine that in our president's office......
Obama supporter in Berlin
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
This is a new Sustainability meet I found out about just today. I like it much more than the ones I have been to so far as it has the tiniest bit of a structure, hence allowing the meeting/gathering to be a lot more productive, informative and fun.
Let's see if we can set one up like that in the South Bay.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Even better is to not use the paper or print the paper on both sides. Use double sided printing on 50 pages and save one pound of CO2 to be released to the atmosphere. THAT"S easy!!
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Barack Obama wears a FLAG PIN at all times. Even in the shower.
A tape exists of Michelle Obama saying the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE at a conference on PATRIOTISM.
Every weekend, Barack and Michelle take their daughters HUNTING.
Barack Obama is a PATRIOTIC AMERICAN. He has one HAND over his HEART at all times. He occasionally switches when one arm gets tired, which is almost never because he is STRONG.
Barack Obama has the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE tattooed on his stomach. It's upside-down, so he can read it while doing sit-ups.
There's only one artist on Barack Obama's iPod: FRANCIS SCOTT KEY.
Barack Obama is a DEVOUT CHRISTIAN. His favorite book is the BIBLE, which he has memorized. His name means HE WHO LOVES JESUS in the ancient language of Aramaic. He is PROUD that Jesus was an American.
Barack Obama goes to church every morning. He goes to church every afternoon. He goes to church every evening. He is IN CHURCH RIGHT NOW.
Barack Obama's new airplane includes a conference room, a kitchen, and a MEGACHURCH.
Barack Obama's skin is the color of AMERICAN SOIL.
Barack Obama buys AMERICAN STUFF. He owns a FORD, a BASEBALL TEAM, and a COMPUTER HE BUILT HIMSELF FROM AMERICAN PARTS. He travels mostly by FORKLIFT.
Barack Obama says that Americans cling to GUNS and RELIGION because they are AWESOME.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Website with lots of good info and hints:
I really have not much to add to this than to say, Watch it and then think about it.
Peace on earth
taking place from July 15 - 17 at the Moscone Center in San
Francisco. This event will focus on photovoltaics, solar thermal
technology, and solar architecture.
More than 10,000 people are expected to attend this event and over 200 companies are expected to participate in the exhibit hall.
A related Intersolar Europe 2008 conference recently took place in
Germany and featured more than 1,000 exhibitors and 52,000 visitors
from 140 countries.
For more information --
* Intersolar North America 2008 - home page
Taken from the "greenjoblist" Yahoo group.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
The Northern California Chapter is the one I will join to learn more about LEED and how to get certified. http://www.usgbc-ncc.org/
Friday, June 27, 2008
Idaho fishing trip
We left Thursday 10am and drove pretty much all day except for lunch and gas breaks, till 11.30pm. Sleeping in Twin Falls,
The next day was only 1-2 hours to sun valley where we found out details about the area. Too much water in most of the rivers, except the Silver Creek. Equipped with propper flys we headed down and started to fish too late but I think around 11am. It was very hot up to 90-95 and very little wind. Discovering the area and finding out good spots and finding out again that I cannot really cast well.
In the morning a nice local guy who gave us some data points and gave us some flys that where actually resembling the ones in the air.
We went down to the Preserve area of the Creek and checked out the area there.
Good fishing spots. Not as exposed in parts.
Sunday we went to the Preserve as well. We got some bites and catches as we learned more about the area and all.
Monday June 23rd we where here at the Silver creek camping spot all day. Starting at 10-10.30am Francois took his favourite position and I was looking to find mine. I found a spot where there where lots and lots of Sardine size Trout. And I cauget 3 in a row without even trying. So ambitios these little guys.... Had to change location as they where really not helping me fishing bigger ones. One swallowed the whole Fly and I really struglled to keep it alive during hook removal. I ruined the fly but I got it out and the little one swam off in no time.
I scared off a duck family and mom-duck was very upset with me. She had bluish type wind "elbows" and kept paddling in and out of the river, away and towards the rest of the family. She was really small. Maybe she was not the Mom after all.
I saw a deer drinking right from the creek and when she noticed me she had to come a little close and head over to the fields with elegant and big tall jumps.
Going the usual route up to Belevue and Hailey for lunch. Hayley has 3 flyshops. That is a lot for a small sittle town like that. Went to the Sun Valley Brew company for lunch and had an EXCELLENT "white cloud" brown ale with a neatly complex taste. Buying more flys and other necceseties and we where back to our site. This time for a real real treat. Early afternoon was nothing special, did get no nibbles or bites. BUT then we staid a little longer and the scenery changed. At about 7.30pm the whole river was toped with insects. I have never seen anything like this. What started with a few PMDs hatching and flying about, ended up being a feast for all the fish in the river. More brown winged (similar to PMDs) came out then they where joined by something like a giant Mayfly. I was in the middle of the river at that time and it looked simply awesome adn amazing. Where ever you looked, all FULL with flys. The fish of course went NUTS on this and had a feast like I have never seen one before. Fish where jumping everywhere, single, double or triple formation. Incredible. I had so many nibbles from the small fish I could not get to the bigger ones I really wanted. The fly hits the water within 1-2 seconds it was taken under by at least 2 small fish in a row, drowning the fly. The supply and demand situation shifted a litlle. Soooo many Flies and still the same large amount of fish. It was hard to make our flys count...... I had one bite at that time but apparently set the hook too hard and the line broke right at the tipped knot. 6x is really small for this kind of fish, but I don't think there is another way to catch them. They are sooooo spooky!!
Francois got several bigish ones in the afternoon and decided not to keep them because of a lack of ice here at camp. BUMMER but it would have been a waste.
Tuesday 10.30am I am frustrated as nothing seems to work for me. I lost 2 PMDs and 2 of the green little ones, no nibble no bite an did not see any interest or response in what I did.
The Fish where feeding a lot more starting 9.30am. I was out at 8.30am and lots of PMD on the river, but barely any interest in them or our flys. In the afternoon we where waiting for another scenario like yesterday but it did not quiet work out to be as "crowded" as yesterday. We where better equipped with brown drake flys and I actually caught 2 decent sice fish. I only kept one and fryed it right there on the parking lot. GOOD ONE.
We did a finishing session at the Preserve and it was lucrative with several sardine size catches and 3 big hook ups, lost them through line break and escape from the hook I placed. But I also landed one...... I learned how to fish a straight flow, shallow creek. Look where you will place the fly, go back upstream and let it run down. Sweet
Home in one day, through the haze in Nevada that was most likely caused by all the fires in Northern California. Got back at 2am after 14 hours of trip, 11 1/2 hours of driving. Passat did well with 29 MpG.
Monday, June 16, 2008
I just today read that it does not really matter. I read up on this page http://www.transportenvironment.org/docs/Publications/2007/2007-09_progress_voluntary_commitment_2006.pdf
and this is what it comes down to:
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important greenhouse gas. Emissions of CO2 are directly linked
to fuel consumption. Burning a kg of petrol, diesel, kerosene and the like in a car, van, lorry, aircraft
or ship leads to approximately 3.15 kg of CO2 emissions.
==> a good liter of gasoline (about 1.1l) when burnt will produce about 3kg of CO2. Whether it is burnt in a Hummer or in a Prius. A liter of Gas is a liter Gas, burnt is burnt, gone is gone.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
I read this in the Economist and found it inspiring enough to post it here:
WHEN Roland Fryer was about 15, a friend asked him what he would be doing when he was 30. He said he would probably be dead. It was a reasonable prediction. At the time, he was hanging out with a gang and selling drugs on the side. Young black men in that line of work seldom live long. But Mr Fryer survived. At 30, he won tenure as an economics professor at Harvard. That was four months ago.
Mr Fryer's parents split up when he was very young. His father was a maths teacher who went off the rails: young Roland once had to borrow money to bail him out of jail. His great-aunt and great-uncle ran a crack business: young Roland would watch them cook cocaine powder into rocks of crack in a frying pan in the kitchen. Several of his relatives went to prison. But Mr Fryer backed away from a life of crime and won a sports scholarship to the University of Texas. He found he enjoyed studying, and was rather good at it. By the time he was 25, the president of Harvard was hectoring him to join the faculty.
Mr Fryer now applies his supple mind to the touchy, tangled issue of racial inequality. Why are African-Americans so much less prosperous than whites? Why do so many black children flounder in school? Why do so many young black men languish behind bars? Why are stories like Mr Fryer's considered so surprising? ......
More here: http://www.economist.com/world/na/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11326407
Friday, April 18, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Death Toll at 4,000
Six of the Fallen, in Words They Sent Home
Article Tools Sponsored By
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ and ANDREW W. LEHREN
Published: March 25, 2008
By the time Specialist Jerry Ryen King decided to write about his experiences in Iraq, the teenage paratrooper had more to share than most other soldiers.
In two operations to clear the outskirts of the village of Turki in the deadly Diyala Province, Specialist King and the rest of the Fifth Squadron faced days of firefights, grenade attacks and land mines. Well-trained insurgents had burrowed deep into muddy canals, a throwback to the trenches of World War I. As the fighting wore on, B-1 bombers and F-16s were called in to drop a series of powerful bombs.
Once the area was clear of insurgents, the squadron, part of the 82nd Airborne Division, uncovered hidden caches of weapons.
Two months later, Specialist King, a handsome former honors student and double-sport athlete from Georgia, sat down at his computer. In informal but powerful prose, he began a journal.
After 232 long, desolate, morose, but somewhat days of tranquility into deployment, I’ve decided that I should start writing some of the things I experienced here in Iraq. I have to say that the events that I have encountered here have changed my outlook on life...
The most recent mission started out as a 24-36 hour air-assault sniper mission in a known al-Qaida stronghold just north of Baghdad. We landed a few hours before daybreak and as soon as I got off the helicopter my night vision broke, I was surrounded by the sound of artillery rounds, people screaming in Arabic, automatic weapons, and the terrain didn’t look anything like what we were briefed. I knew it was going to be a bad day and a half.
Jerry Ryen King, journal entry, March 7, 2007
A month later, Specialist King was sitting inside his combat outpost, an abandoned school in Sadah, when suicide bombers exploded two dump trucks just outside the building. The school partly collapsed, killing Specialist King on April 23, 2007, along with eight other soldiers, and making the blast one of the most lethal for Americans fighting in Iraq.
In that instant, Specialist King became one of 4,000 service members and Defense Department civilians to die in the Iraq war — a milestone that was reached late Sunday, five years since the war began in March 2003. The last four members of that group, like the majority of the most recent 1,000 to die, were killed by an improvised explosive device, known as an I.E.D. They died at 10 p.m. Sunday on a patrol in Baghdad, military officials said; their names have not yet been released.
The next day we cleared an area that made me feel as if I were in Vietnam. Honestly, it was one of the scariest times of my life. At one point I was in water up to my waist and heard an AK fire in my direction. But all in all the day was going pretty good, no one was hurt, I got to shoot a few rounds, toss a grenade, and we were walking to where the helicopter was supposed to pick us up.
Jerry Ryen King, journal entry, March 7, 2007
The year 2007 would prove to be especially hard on American service members; more of them died last year than in any other since the war began. Many of those deaths came in the midst of the 30,000-troop buildup known as “the surge,” the linchpin of President Bush’s strategy to tamp down widespread violence between Islamic Sunnis and Shiites, much of it in Baghdad. In April, May and June alone, 331 American service members died, making it the war’s deadliest three-month period.
But by fall, the strategy, bolstered by new alliances with Sunni tribal chiefs and a decision by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr to order his militia to stop fighting, appeared to be paying off as the country entered a period of relative calm. Military casualties and Iraqi civilian deaths fell, and the October-December period produced the fewest casualties of any three months of the war. The past month, though, has seen an uptick in killings and explosions, particularly suicide bombings. The violence has traveled north to Mosul, where the group calling itself Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia remains strong.
Everything changed in a matter of 15 minutes... About the time I was opening my MRE (meal ready to eat) I heard an explosion. Everyone started running towards the sound of the explosion. Apparently a suicide bomber had blown himself up killing four soldiers from my squadron and injuring another. Our 36 hour mission turned into another air-assault into a totally different city, the clearing of it, and 5 more days. We did find over 100 RPG’s, IED making materials, insurgents implacing IED’s, artillery rounds, a sniper rifle, and sort of like a terrorist training book and cd’s.
Jerry Ryen King, journal entry, March 7, 2007
Unlike the soldiers of some previous wars, who were only occasionally able to send letters back home to loved ones, many of those who died left behind an extraordinary electronic testimony describing in detail the labor, the fears and the banality of serving in Iraq.
In excerpts published here from journals, blogs and e-mail, six soldiers who died in the most recent group of 1,000 mostly skim the alarming particulars of combat, a kindness shown their relatives and close friends. Instead, they plunge readily into the mundane, but no less important rhythms of home. They fire off comments about holiday celebrations, impending weddings, credit card bills, school antics and the creeping anxiety of family members who are coping with one deployment too many.
At other moments, the service members describe the humor of daily life down range, as they call it. Hurriedly, with little time to worry about spelling or grammar, they riff on the chaos around them and reveal moments of fear. As casualties climb and the violence intensifies, so does their urge to share their grief and foreboding.
A Last Goodbye
Hey beautiful well we were on blackout again, we lost yet some more soldiers. I cant wait to get out of this place and return to you where i belong. I dont know how much more of this place i can take. i try to be hard and brave for my guys but i dont know how long i can keep that up you know. its like everytime we go out, any little bump or sounds freaks me out. maybe im jus stressin is all. hopefully ill get over it....
you know, you never think that anything is or can happen to you, at first you feel invincible, but then little by little things start to wear on you...
well im sure well be able to save a couple of bucks if you stay with your mom....and at the same time you can help her with some of the bills for the time being. it doesnt bother me. as long as you guys are content is all that matters. I love and miss you guys like crazy. I know i miss both of you too. at times id like to even just spend 1 minute out of this nightmare just to hold and kiss you guys to make it seem a little bit easier. im sure he will like whatever you get him for xmas, and i know that as he gets older he’ll understand how things work. well things here always seem to be......uhm whats the word.....interesting i guess you can say. you never know whats gonna happen and thats the worst part. do me a favor though, when you go to my sisters or moms or wherever you see my family let them know that i love them very much..ok? well i better get going, i have a lot of stuff to do. but hopefully ill get to hear from you pretty soon.*muah* and hugs. tell mijo im proud of him too!
your other half
Juan Campos, e-mail message to his wife,
Dec. 12, 2006
When Staff Sgt. Juan Campos, 27, flew from Baghdad to Texas for two weeks last year, there was more on his mind than rest and relaxation. He visited his father’s grave, which he had never seen. He spent time with his grandparents and touched base with the rest of his rambling, extended family.
The day he was scheduled to return to war, Sergeant Campos and his wife went out dancing and drinking all evening with friends. Calm and reserved by nature, Sergeant Campos could out-salsa and out-hip-hop most anyone on the dance floor. At the airport, his wife, Jamie Campos, who had grown used to the upheaval of deployment, surprised herself.
“I cried and I have never ever cried before,” said Mrs. Campos, 26, who has a 9-year-old son, Andre. “It was just really, really weird. He knew, and I kind of knew. It felt different.”
“We both felt that it was the last goodbye,” she said.
Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2006
The life of an infantryman is never safe..how do I know, well I live it every day.
I lost a good friend of mine just two days ago to an enemy sniper. The worst feeling in the world is having lost one of your own and not being able to fight back. The more I go on patrol, the more alert I tend to be, but regardless of the situation here in Iraq is that we are never safe. No matter the countermeasures we take to prevent any attacks. They seem to seep through the cracks. Every day a soldier is lost or wounded by enemy attacks. I for one would like to make it home to my family one day. Pray for us and keep us in your thoughts...for an infantryman’s life is never safe.
Juan Campos, Myspace blog
Sergeant Campos, a member of the First Battalion, 26th Infantry, Charlie Company out of Germany, was one of thousands of infantrymen assigned to stabilize Baghdad and the surrounding areas last year during the troop buildup. Troops were sent deep into insurgent neighborhoods, where they lived in small outposts, patrolled on foot, cleared houses, mingled with Iraqis and rebuilt the infrastructure.
The extra 30,000 service members — 160,000 in all — were deployed to Iraq to help quell the runaway violence that threatened large-scale civil war. Most soldiers spent 15 months in Iraq, a length of time that military commanders have said is unsustainable. Many had fought in the war at least once. A few had been in Iraq multiple times.
My only goals are to make it out of this place alive and return you guys and make you as happy as I can.
Juan Campos, e-mail message to his wife
Dec. 15, 2006
But to Sergeant Campos and the rest of Charlie Company in Adhamiya, a north Baghdad stronghold for Sunni insurgents, the buildup seemed oddly invisible. The men patrolled almost every day, sometimes 16 to 18 hours a day for months, often in 120-degree weather. Exhaustion was too kind a word for their fatigue.
More than 150 soldiers lived in a two-story house with portable toilets, no air-conditioning and temperamental showers. Sleep came only a few hours at a time. The fighting was vicious. Adhamiya was such a magnet for sectarian bloodletting that the military built a wall around it to contain the violence.
“They walled us in and left us there,” Staff Sgt. Robin Johnson, 28, said of the 110 men in Charlie Company. “We were a family. I would die for these guys before I die for my own blood brother.”
On patrol, sniper fire rang out so routinely that soldiers in Sergeant Campos’s platoon seldom stood still for more than four seconds. They scoured rooftops for Iraqi children who lobbed grenades at American soldiers for a handful of cash. Roadside bombs burst from inside drainage pipes, impossible to detect from the street. The bombs grew larger by the month.
Last year, these powerful improvised explosive devices were responsible for a majority of American fatalities, a new milestone. The bombs also killed multiple soldiers more often than in the past, a testament to their potency.
“It was the most horrible thing you could possibly imagine,” Sergeant Johnson said. “As soon as you left the gate, you could die at any second. If you went out for a day and you weren’t attacked, it was confusing.”
Charlie Company soldiers found a steady stream of Iraqis killed by insurgents for money or revenge. Some had their faces wiped clean by acid. Others were missing their heads or limbs.
‘It Could Have Been Me’
to tell the story of iraq is a hard one.
Ryan Wood, Myspace blog
Sgt. Ryan M. Wood, 22, a gifted artist, prolific writer and a sly romantic from Oklahoma, was also one of the bluntest soldiers inside Charlie Company.
it is fighting extreme boredom with the lingering thought in the forefront of your mind that any minute on this patrol could be my last endeavour, only highlighted by times of such extreme terror and an adrenaline rush that no drug can touch. what [expletive] circumstances thinking “that should’ve been me” or “it could’ve been me”. wondering it that pile of trash will suddenly explode killing you or worse one of your beloved comrads..only backed by the past thoughts and experiences of really losing friends of yours and not feeling completely hopeless that it was all for nothing because all in all, you know the final outcome of this war. it is walking on that thin line between sanity and insanity. that feeling of total abandonment by a government and a country you used to love because politics are fighting this war......and its a losing battle....and we’re the ones ultimently paying the price.
Ryan Wood, Myspace blog, Adhamiya
For the soldiers in Iraq, reconciling Adhamiya with America was not always easy. One place was buried in garbage and gore and hopelessness. The other seemed unmoored from the war, fixated on the minutia of daily life and the hiccups of the famous. The media was content to indulge.
What the Hell America??
“What the hell happened?” any intelligent American might ask themselves throughout their day. While the ignorant, dragging themselves to thier closed off cubicle, contemplate the simple things in life such as “fast food tonight?” or “I wonder what motivated Brittany Spears to shave her unsightly, mishaped domepiece?”
To the simpleton, this news might appear “devastating.” I assume not everyone thinks this way, but from my little corner of the earth, Iraq, a spot in the world a majority of Americans could’nt point out on the map, it certainly appears so. ... To all Americans I have but one phrase that helps me throughout my day of constant dangers and ever present death around the corner, “WHO THE [expletive] CARES!” Wow America, we have truly become a nation of self-absorbed retards. ... This world has serious problems and it’s time for America to start addressing them.
Ryan Wood, Myspace blog, May 26, 2007
The somberness of the job was hard to shake off. But, day to day, there was no more reliable antidote than Pfc. Daniel J. Agami, a South Floridian with biceps the size of cantaloupes, and Pfc. Ryan J. Hill, a self-described hellion who loved his “momma” and hailed from what he called the “felony flats” of Oregon. Funny men in the best sense of the word, the two provided a valuable and essential commodity in a war zone.
Their mother jokes — the kind that begin, “your mother is so...” — were legendary, culminating in a Myspace joke-off. It ended abruptly after an enough-is-enough phone call from Private Hill’s mother, who ranked No. 1 on his list of heroes in Myspace. Private Agami proclaimed victory.
About a month later...I went to my room and my mattress was missing and all my close were being worn by other people. I couldn’t figure it out so I knew right off the bat to go to Hill. I saw him walking down the hall wearing five of my winter jackets. He sold half my wardrobe right off his back to people in our company and my mattress was in someone else’s room. So then I had go to around and buy all my stuff back. (Now I think he won).
Daniel J. Agami, Charlie Company. Eulogy sent via e-mail message to his mother, Jan. 29, 2007
To keep their spirits up, combat soldiers learned to appreciate the incongruities of war in Iraq. Jokes scrawled inside a Port-o-Potty quickly made the rounds. Situational humor, from goofy to macabre, proved plentiful.
A really girly guy who was a cheerleader in high school, got knocked down and nearly hurt by the wind of the helicopter. Listening to Dickson recite what was in every single MRE was pretty funny. A cow charged and nearly trampled one of my friends when we were raiding a compound. And lastly, I thought that it was pretty comical that I shot at a guy a long ways out but missed and later after taking his house and using it as a patrol base he offered me Chai and rice.
Jerry Ryen King, Diyala Province
Even a trip to the dentist, with its fringe benefits, is cause for amusement in a war zone.
Last Sat. I had two of my wisdom teeth pulled. After taking double the prescribe percocot and morphine pills that the doctor gave me for the pain I decided to catch a flight back to my FOB (forward operation base). It was the coolest Blackhawk ride I’ve had, I was absolutely ripped and I talked the pilots into leaving the doors open. We had four more guys die a couple days ago. They hit an IED, it killed everyone in the humvee.. It’s starting to get a little scary. We made it our first six months with just two deaths and that was plenty. But now just in the past two and a half weeks we’ve had nine more guys get killed, and over 50 wounded. I’m just hoping that I can make it the 75 more days or so that we have left of combat operations before we start packing.
Jerry Ryen King, journal entry, April 11, 2007
Among the guys in Charlie Company, Private Agami, 25, was one of the boldest and most resilient. He was the kind of guy who joined an endurance ski contest on a whim. He came in fourth. He had never skied in his life.
Private Agami had time for everyone, and everyone had time for him. Affectionately called G.I. Jew, he held his religion up to the light. He used it to build tolerance among the troops and shatter stereotypes; few in his unit had ever met a Jew. He flew the Israeli flag over his cot in Adhamiya. He painted the words Hebrew Hammer onto his rifle. He even managed to keep kosher, a feat that required a steady diet of protein shakes and cereal.
Commander Mom, I cant wait to come home and when I do, dont worry ill have allot to say to the congregation. Dont worry about my mental stage either, we all receive counseling and help from doctors when something like this happens. I am a strong individual physically and mentally and if there is one thing the army teaches you, it is how to deal with death. Everyday that passes it gets easier and easier. I miss you guys very much and I love you!
Daniel Agami, e-mail message to his mother,
Oct. 28, 2006
It did not get easier.
I try not to cry. I have never cried this much my entire life. two great men got taken from us way too soon. i wonder why it was them in not me. I sit here right now wondering why did they go to the gates of heaven n not me. I try everynight count my blessing that I made it another day but why are we in this hell over here? why? i cant stop askin why?
Ryan Hill, Myspace blog, Nov. 1, 2006.
Private Hill was riding in a Humvee on Jan. 20, 2007, when an I.E.D. buried in the middle of the road detonated under his seat, killing him instantly.
Sergeant Campos was riding in a Humvee on May 14, 2007, two weeks after returning from Texas, when it hit an I.E.D. The bomb lifted the Humvee five feet off the ground and engulfed it in flames. “That’s when we just left hope at the door,” Sergeant Johnson said. Severely burned over 80 percent of his body, Sergeant Campos lived two weeks. He died June 1. Another soldier, Pfc. Nicholas S. Hartge, 20, of Indiana, died in the same attack.
Private Agami was driving a Bradley fighting vehicle on June 21, 2007, when it hit an I.E.D. The explosion flipped the 30-ton vehicle, which also carried Sergeant Wood. Both men were killed, along with three other soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter.
“Obviously, it came to a point, you didn’t care anymore if it got better,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremy S. Rausch, 31, one of Sergeant Campos’s best friends in Charlie Company. “You didn’t care about the people because they didn’t care about themselves. We had already lost enough people that we just thought, you know, ‘why?’ ”
During their time in Adhamiya, the soldiers of Charlie Company caught more than two dozen high-value targets, found nearly 50 weapons caches, detained innumerable insurgents and won countless combat awards. They lost 14 men. Their mission was hailed a success.
Just in Case
Texan to the core, enamored of the military, Specialist Daniel E. Gomez, 21, an Army combat medic in the division’s Alpha Company, relied on his books, his iPod and an Xbox to distract him from the swirl.
strange but this place where we are at is unreal almost. I hope I come back mentally in shape. lol.
Daniel Gomez, Myspace blog, Sept. 9, 2006
He took pride in being the guy who tended to wounded soldiers under fire, patching them up to help them survive.
As the violence intensified, Specialist Gomez set aside thoughts of a free Iraq or a safer America and, like generations of soldiers before him, simply started fighting for the soldier next to him.
A few days ago I realized why I am here in Baghdad dealing with all the gunfire, the rocket attacks, the IEDs, the car bombs, the death. I have only been here going on a month and a half. Already I have seen what war really is... but officially its called “full spectrum operations.” No I don’t down Bush, he is my CinC, and I think he is doing an good job with what Clinton left him. I don’t debate why we are involved in Iraq. I just know why I am here. It is not for the smiling Iraqi kids, or the even the feeling of wearing the uniform ( it feels damn good though :) . I am here for the soldier on patrol with me.
But why are you there in the states. Why are you having that nice dinner, watching TV, going out on dates...
Daniel Gomez, e-mail to friends and family.
Sept. 27, 2006
And then Specialist Gomez fell in love. An e-mail flirtation with Katy Broom, his sister’s close friend, gradually led to a cyberexchange of guarded promises about the future. Headed home for a rest break in May, the tentativeness lifted and they began to rely on each other to get through the day. The two joked about “the best sex we never had.”
...this R&R there is someone new in my life. Exactly what she is too me, and what I am to her is uncertain, but its not really important at the moment. Just the thought that I could spent a second of my life with her, before I have to come back here makes everything worth it.
Daniel Gomez, Myspace blog, May 9, 2007
Rest and relaxation in Georgia went better than expected. He fell in love with the love of his life all over again, this time in person. The couple shared one kiss during his leave.
“He was everything I expected and more,” said Ms. Broom, 20, who spent one week and two days with him. “It was kind of surreal when we met. It’s almost like a perfect love and war story.”
Not many soldiers leave behind a just-in-case letter. Specialist Gomez did. He handed Ms. Broom an envelope at the airport with the words, “Don’t read unless something happens to me.”
On July 18, 2007, two months after his leave, Specialist Gomez died in Adhamiya when the Bradley fighting vehicle he was in struck a roadside bomb. The explosion and flames also killed three other soldiers.
Ms. Broom waited three days after she got word to open the letter. She sat alone in the couple’s favorite spot, her apartment balcony.
“I was very thankful that he wrote it,” she said of the letter. “I have opened and closed it so many times, I’m surprised it hasn’t fallen apart.”
Hey baby. If you’re reading this, then something has happen to me and I am sorry. I promised you I would come back to you, but I guess it was a promise I could not keep. You know I never believe in writing “death letters.” I knew if I left one for my folks it would scare them. Then I met you. We were supposed to meet, darling. I needed someone to make me smile, someone that was an old romantic like I was. I was going through a very rough time in Iraq and I was startin to doubt my mental state. Then one day after a patrol, I go to my facebook and there you were...
I can’t stop crying while I writing this letter, but I have to talk to you one last time, because maybe the last time I heard your voice I did not know it would be the last time I heard your voice....
I Love You. Go be happy, go raise a family. Teach your kids right from wrong, and have faith, darling. I think I knew I loved you even before I met. I love you, Katy. * Kiss * Goodbye
- Tall energetic positive thinker who does not take himself too serious.Outdoor enthusiast, curious about most everything.I take lots of pictures, consider myself a Green Guy, Energy Saver with a positive outlook on life.Favorite Quote:The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it,but that it is too low and we reach it.- Michelangelo