Archive for the 'Comfort and Convenience' Category

Clothesline law nixed in North Carolina

July 15, 2009

North Carolina state representative Pricey Harrison has apparently visited Al Gore’s web site one too many times.

Rep. Harrison pushed a bill through the North Carolina House that would have prohibited local governments from banning clotheslines. Harrison claims,

“It’s been a real problem for folks who feel pretty adamantly they want to use clotheslines. It’s their small step that they can take toward global warming issue.”

Drying your clothes outdoors as way to slow the much-dreaded global warming is, of course, the brainchild of Al Gore and is recommended on the web site for An Inconvenient Truth.

Sadly for Pricey, the State Senate clotheslined her bill, the News-Record (Greensboro, NC) reported.

Pricey Harrison (with John Edwards) in happier times

Pricey Harrison (with John Edwards) in happier times

GE brings surveillance to life

July 10, 2009

General Electric and smart-grid start-up Tendril have agreed to develop “smart” appliances that work with the coming “smart” grid, reports Smart Grid Today (July 9).

The deal is pitched as allowing consumers to control their GE appliances via the Internet — but it probably also means that others would be able to monitor and control them as well, including hackers, local governments, local utilities, etc.

North Korea was recently blamed for wreaking havoc in U.S. government networks. We’re going to be really PO-ed if Kim Il Jung interferes with our thermostats and dishwashers. Of course, we won’t be any happier if Barack Obama does the same thing.

Waxman-Markey subsidizes ‘Shower Nazi’

June 29, 2009

A “Shower Nazi” may be coming your way courtesy of Waxman-Markey.

Section 217 of the bill provides for a “water efficient product incentive program” that would provide rebates, vouchers, direct installs and other forms of financial assistance for the installation of water-saving products.

During my radio interview last Friday with Bob Jamison (Kern Valley News, KNCQ 102.5 FM / Bakersfield, CA), Jamison, a motel owner, told me that he had been solicited by the seller of the “Shower Manager,” a water-saving device. Curious, I went to the Shower manager web site.

Here’s how the Shower Manager works:

The Shower Manager not only puts time limits on the shower, it also cuts the water flow when the time has expired. Our unique shower timer is a patented two-phase flow controller that permits a full-flow of water for a time period you select, (5, 8 or 11 minutes) and then restricts the water flow by two-thirds when that time limit expires. You set the full-flow Interval that best fits your lifestyle and lock it in using a special magnetic sensor.

Shower manager with full flow

Shower manager with full flow

Shower Manager with restricted flow

Shower Manager with restricted flow

Here’s a letter from an actual satisfied customer of Shower Manager that is posted on the product web site:

Your product is awesome! We have had it for two weeks now and it works like a charm! My kids call it the Shower Nazi… but with the savings on water, we’ll be able to reward them at the end of the month!
Thanks, Lisa J

So your tax dollars may soon be used to outfit homes, hotel/motel rooms, gyms, and country clubs across the country with the Shower Nazi.

Isn’t green great?

Waxman-Markey abolishes neighborhood solar panel limits

June 29, 2009

The Waxman-Markey bill abolishes neighborhood restrictions on solar panels. This provision was part of the “manager’s amendment” that was added to the bill at 3am the morning of the vote.

The bill directs the Department of Housing and Urban Development to issue rules prohibiting private covenants that restrict or prohibit the installation of solar energy systems.

So if your neighborhood has existing rules that prohibit residents from turning their manicured front yards into solar farms, Waxman-Markey abolishes them.

That such “restrictive covenants” are typically a matter of private contract apparently matters little in the coming green world.

UN green chief: Ban plastic bags

June 9, 2009

UN environmental chief Achim Steiner said yesterday that,

“Single use plastic bags which choke marine life, should be banned or phased out rapidly everywhere. There is simply zero justification for manufacturing them anymore, anywhere.”

The notion that plastic bags pose some special hazard to marine life, however is a myth. As reported in the Times (UK) on March 8, 2008,

Scientists and environmentalists have attacked a global campaign to ban plastic bags which they say is based on flawed science and exaggerated claims.

The widely stated accusation that the bags kill 100,000 animals and a million seabirds every year are false, experts have told The Times. They pose only a minimal threat to most marine species, including seals, whales, dolphins and seabirds…

Campaigners say that plastic bags pollute coastlines and waterways, killing or injuring birds and livestock on land and, in the oceans, destroying vast numbers of seabirds, seals, turtles and whales. However, The Times has established that there is no scientific evidence to show that the bags pose any direct threat to marine mammals…

Extreme greens: No 2nd child

April 20, 2009

From today’s highly recommended Washington Post article entitled “D.C. Area Families Take Green to the Extreme,”

For Iklé-Khalsa’s wife, his push for green living has affected a much bigger decision.

“I’m 40, so my clock is going boom! Boom! Boom! Sometimes, I just roll my eyes and go, ‘Come on, honey, think about who our child could be!’ ” said Mimi Iklé-Khalsa. But her husband says a second child could have too high an environmental cost. “We’ve had the discussion of, ‘If we have another biological child, it means we never fly,’ ” and do other things to offset the child’s carbon footprint, she said.

Planet Dog: Stay home, don’t travel

April 16, 2009

Dog supply purveyor Planet Dog issued a media release today touting its virtual trade show as a way for retailers to reduce their “carbon pawprint.”

Company president Stephanie Volo said,

“We’ve been working on ways to reduce our carbon pawprint and less travel is one solution. We’re making some of the industry’s most eco-friendly products and running our company with that same mentality.”

A few thoughts:

  • Since when is traveling a crime/sin? Many people enjoy travel.
  • What about all the people whose jobs depend on travel?
  • I guess Dog Planet doesn’t want to sell to many of its pet travel products.

Entomologist: ‘War’ on bedbugs needed

April 15, 2009

About the recent surge in bedbug infestation, Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank writes today that:

University of Kentucky entomologist Mike Potter called the bedbug nothing less than “the most difficult, challenging pest problem of our generation.” Tossing out phrases such as “doomsday scenario” and “perfect storm,” he ventured: “In my opinion, we are not going to get out of this thing” — the bedbug thing — until we “allow the pest-control industry to go to war.”

Bedbugs had been all but eradicated decades ago, panelist Potter explained, but thanks to increased travel, pesticide bans and resistance, we’ve “let bedbugs get back in the game”…

Potter, who boasted that he’s spent “the last three years of my life digging deep into the history of bedbug management,” offered a challenge: “I’d like to take anybody who thinks bedbugs is not a big deal, and we’ll sprinkle a few in their house and see what they think.”

But will the greens permit the pest control industry to “go to war” against the bedbug?

Green war against AC: ‘Deadly heat on elderly’

April 7, 2009

From the Herald Sun‘s Andrew Bolt:

The green jihad against airconditioners must stop. Too many elderly Australians have died already.

Victoria’s chief health officer, Dr John Carnie, this week said some 374 Victorians may have been killed by the January heat wave, most of them old.

In South Australia, the toll is estimated at 80.

Just how many died because power blackouts knocked out their airconditioning is not known. And I doubt either government will ever say.

But what we are told is that both states now have plans to cut off the airconditioning – or make it too costly for pensioners to use – just when the heat is at its most lethal and the lives of the elderly hang in the balance…

Barack Obama plans on installing 40 million air conditioning-killing smart meters across America. Will your utility turn off your AC just when you need it the most?

Read Steve Milloy’s new book Green Hell to find out how environmentalists plan to make your life a living hell and what you can do to stop them.

Ideal green vacation: Stay home, explore yourself

April 2, 2009

Today’s Ecologist carries a Paul Miles article musing about the environmental impact of travel. It’s an interesting voyage through the mind of green-think.

On space travel, Miles writes that its value lies in inspiring the wealthy to greater green actions:

Will high-spending amateur astronauts come back down to Earth ‘transformed’, inspired to save our fragile planet? Maybe a CEO will cancel a logging concession. Another will invest millions in carbon capture technology. A celebrity might donate all her wealth to environmental causes. If so, might not the benefits of space tourism outweigh the environmental costs? Or would it be better for the planet if these high-flying space cadets spent their $200,000 ticket money here on Earth? That can pay for a lot of good works.

On tourism, generally, Miles writes:

Tourism wreaks environmental and social havoc. Even in destinations where ecotourism is championed, damage ensues. A recent study by the University of California and the Wilderness Society showed that coyotes and bobcats were severely disturbed by the presence of ecotourists in their habitat. Elsewhere, in the name of tourism, fragile ecosystems are blatantly destroyed, invasive species deliberately introduced, scarce water supplies diverted to golf courses, beach access for local people curtailed, migrant workers treated as slaves, employees paid less than minimum wages and residents forcibly relocated to make way for tourism development. It is not too surprising when companies more concerned with luxury than social responsibility make mistakes, but when, for example, Wilderness Safaris, a company with a hitherto good record on social and environmental matters, goes ahead with a safari camp – complete with swimming pool – in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve, when nearby Basarwa (bushmen) are denied access to water, it seriously challenges the hypothesis that tourism is a force for good. ‘The [Botswana] government has the gall to tell the bushmen to make the 400km round-trip to collect water from outside the reserve when tourists will be showering and sipping their drinks nearby,’ says Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, which campaigned against the safari camp, due to open in December 2008. ‘Many tourists will stay away when they know the background.’

Finally, Miles suggests that tourism be replaced by exploring ourselves:

Perhaps underlying the whole debate is the biggest question of all: why do we travel? To ‘gain perspective on our place and size in the world,’ as Professor Bor says? Alain de Botton, author of The Art of Travel, thinks not. ‘The finest journeys are those that can be taken within our own minds, without leaving the house, indeed without straying far from the bedroom,’ he says. He quotes philosopher Blaise Pascal: ‘All of man’s unhappiness stems from his inability to stay alone in his room’. That was no doubt easier to do with the view of rural 17th-century France from his window, rather than grey, urban, overcrowded 21st-century Britain. But maybe examining the familiar anew broadens our horizons as much as visiting foreign climes. De Botton has led holiday tours of the M1 and Heathrow. It’s not quite the same as a fortnight on a quiet isle, but perhaps, before we plan our visit to outer space – or even the Outer Hebrides – we need to ask if what we’re really seeking is simply our inner selves.