Friday, December 19, 2014

FPL gets approval to charge customers for fracking investment... The Real Story.

FPL gets approval to charge customers for fracking investment | Tampa Bay Times:

I was astounded to here that FPL is getting into the Fracking business. There's this baloney about trying to save some money for their investors. FPL Customers pay, in advance, to drill Nat Gas wells in Alabama, and then reap some of the benefits of the wells, if any, in the form of low NatGas prices in the future.

It sounds too good to be true. And leaves you shaking your head as to why a publicly regulated power utility would wonder off the path into the woods looking for firewood and NatGas.

So the Fla PSC rubber stamped the deal. As they always do. (Although the PSC turned down a petition to pay for Federal Lobbying, an obvious red herring in the mix.)

Comes to find out that NextEra, the parent company of FPL, already has oil drilling interests... 

There are many reasons why a power company might want to get into the drilling business, but the one given seems like the very last on the list.

Water, maybe. Fracking takes huge amount of water, as does power generation.

Pipe lines. Power companies already have massive right-of-ways related to power lines. This seems like a perfect fit: run power through the line and gas through the ground.

The one I like best would be to capture the NatGas that is flared in oilfields, produce power and send the power off to the grid through wire. We currently flare half of all NatGas produced in the USA. Nobody really wants to talk about it, but probably more than half. (Better to flare it, then release the methane, but still a very ugly and wasteful business).

Here seems to be the answer: Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) through pipelines to markets, domestic and abroad. We in the US pay only bout 1/3 of what the rest of the world pays for NatGas. At about $3.50 per unit for us, and maybe $10-$12 for most other countries. Liquidification and shipping LNG is in the works on many fronts. Cheniere Energy, Inc.
(trading symbol LNG) is coming on board with export terminals with a vengeance. 

Imagine what it will look like when our mountains of NatGas start to look like mountains of dollars.

So what does this mean in the next era of power utilities? I don't really know. It should take some time to understand the maze and the interlinking parts. 

Here is discussion about Spectra Energy (drilling and such) and FPL and the pipeline in existence and/or planned. article. There's a pipeline through the Gulf...

So very interesting.

And, of course, it has to be mentioned: NatGas is far better than that other major fuel (not mentioning any names, like Coal), but it is still not a renewable resources. Non-sustainable, by any other name, is still a broken business model... It's just a mater of time.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Energy Efficiency & Renewables... Good signs for both.

In one recent edition of the New York Times, there were two very positive articles on energy efficiency and improving the cost/kwh of renewables.  The Monday, November 24, 2014, issue featured "Good News on Energy," by Ralph Cavanagh of theNatural Resources Defense Fund, and "Solar and Wind energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels," by Diane Cardwell,

From Cavanagh, peaked energy use occurred in the US in 2007 and has trended downward since with a small increase in 2013.  And, economic growth is increasing more rapidly than the growth in energy usage because technology is making energy sources more efficient.  The LED light bulb is a good example.  Improvements over the last 40 years have done more to meet US energy needs than the combined contributions of oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear power.

Electricity consumption has decreased since 2000 despite the introduction of new consumer electronics.  Moreover, oil consumption by homes, businesses and vehicles is down 12% since the peak in 2005.  June, 2013, began a 12-month period in which the combined usage of renewables exceeded hydroelectric power.  More than 12% of our energy supplied comes from renewables and that category is growing faster than the others.

In her article, Cardwell confirms that the cost of providing electricity from wind and solar has dropped significantly in the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.  Several utility companies in the Great Plains and Southwest where wind and sunlight are abundant have signed power purchase contracts, known as "power purchase agreements," for solar and wind at prices below that of natural gas.

According to Lazard, an investment banking firm, the cost of utility-scale solar energy is 5.6 cents/kwh with wind as low as 1.4 cents/kwh.  Without federal subsidies that are up for renewal by Congress in 2016, solar costs are about 7.2 cents/kwh and wind would be 3.7 cents/kwh.  Natural gas is at 6.1 cents/kwh on the low end and coal is at 6.6 cents.

Both renewables and fossils have limitations.  For renewables, the wind has to blow and the sun has to shine as electrical storage technology needs a break through.  For the fossils, there are regulations and costs due to carbon emissions pollution.  One can expect this hybridization of fossils and renewables to continue for a considerable period of time.
Minor edits: 12/17/2014.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

GreenBiz 2015 | GreenBiz Conferences, Feb 17-19, 2015

GreenBiz 2015 | GreenBiz Conferences, Feb 17-19, 2015:

This is a very cool Sustainability/GreenBiz forum lineup. In Phoenix, in February.

Listen to some of the big companies out there including Unilever, J&J, Target, Levi's, adidas,... I like some of the discussion on metrics and ROI from sustainability... Seems like such a good place to start.

Should be fun. Also, if you are associated with Gov or Edu or ?Org? you might be eligible for a 40% discount.

I might have to try to do it online. I didn't see any details about that. Obviously keynotes are easier to virtualize than breakout/work sessions.

Hope to see you all there.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

WMO Warns Lima Delegates 2014 May Be Hottest Year | Climate Central

WMO Warns Lima Delegates, 2014 ... Hottest Year in History!:-( | Climate Central:

Ouch, this is really really ugly, the data related to 2014 as the hottest year in modern history.

Double to the angst is the melt-off of the Antarctic.

Here's a discussion about both.

The period between April and September, according to NASA GISS was the hottest in 120 years. Most (?all?) of the months since April will set all time heat highs, as well.

Fortunately an El Nino weather pattern did not develop this year or the year-end temperatures would be even higher.

The consistent march of the oceans to higher temperature is doubly scary. It should take years, if not decades for rising temperatures to make a dent in the ocean temperatures. If the oceans are, on average 2 miles deep, it should take a long time for warming at the surface to permeate down to the depths.

Thermal expansion is scary. A 1 degree increase in surface temperatures, on average, should eventually result in about 2 feet of rise at the ocean surface due to thermal expansion as water gets warmer. This may take many years, but the increase is "baked in" if surface temperatures stay the same (or continue rising).

But doubly worrisome are the ice sheets in Antarctica (and Greenland and Iceland) which are ice sheets on top of land. The Arctic in the north is generally ice on top of water, so when the ice melts up there, as it is rapidly doing, it does not affect ocean levels (directly).

A study accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters found that the Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica is melting quickly and at an increasing rate. They found that the ice loss was equivalent to the volume of Mt Everest every 2 years.

The accepted draft of the article is here: paper...

Too bad. After seeing some encouraging studies that suggested that there might be a bit of a hiatus to the march of global warming, some of the more recent measures are not so good.


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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Just when the conditions looked promising for a significant movement to hybrids and EVs, a new roadblock (pun intended) appears.  This, at a time when prices are starting to inch down for the energy efficient vehicles, a necessary move needed for years, it fails to be effective.

This article from a recent issue to Time,, confirms drivers' attitudes and preferences for standard engines now that they are far more efficient than in prior years.  This, plus the benefit of sharply falling gas prices- gallon of regular unleaded is $2.89 here in southeast Florida and about $.15 less in Orlando.  Prices this low, thanks to major discoveries of oil here in the states, serve to maintain the status quo.

There is no mention in the article of the major reasons why even if hybrids/EVs were flying out of showrooms there would be little, if any, impact on trtansportation-related polllution.  First, there are 250 million cars and light trucks on our roads and hybrid/EVs are about 1% of that total.  Second, the average car is more than 9 years old and much less efficient than current models.  Third, pervasive traffic congestion wipes out any MPG gains.  Fourth, too many drivers go much too fast and speed reduces MPG.  A car going 70 MPH, just the speed limit on many highways, reduces MPG by about 21%.

The most effective, near term way to reduce emissions is to take cars off the roads in significant numbers.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

2014 could become the hottest year on record - CBS News

2014 could become the hottest year on record - CBS News:
We should start to find out soon if another El Nino is coming our way. That is the weather formation in the Pacific that changes and directs the worlds weather in a BIG way.

Apparently if El Nino forms, then this year will blast through all recorded records, and next year should be record setting as well. It offers up massive droughts in some areas and torrential rains in others.

With several consecutive months (May through September) setting monthly records, El Nino would really push the year over the top of the heat charts.

El Nino is a warming anomaly; La Nina, is a cooling anomaly. Check out this chart of each, showing the years when they existed as weak, moderate or strong events.  El Nino occurs every 3 to 7 years, But it seems to be happening with increased frequency.

But at several researchers are reducing the likelihood of the Big El Nino for this year, from very likely down to maybe 58%. So maybe we might be spared of 2014-2015 as epic climate change event.

Also look at this great graphics from NASA on temperature changes. Climate change and global warming certainly look real from here.

Read more about El Nino at Wikipedia.
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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Highlights from the new IPCC report. 10 charts.

The new IPCC report on Climate Change. It is a little bit of a long read...
The report spends some time on probabilities, including what "business as usual" looks. BAU gets ugly, and uglier, and ugliest.
Starting early, not later, seems to make sense...!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How Wolves change Rivers.

When They Brought These Wolves Into The Park, They Had No Idea This Would Happen

 YouTube Video.

When the government reintroduced Wolves back into the Yellow Stone area (National Park) they had no idea how it would work.

This is one of the most enlightening videos you will ever see related to biodiversity and good/natural/sustainable ecosystems. In this case, this is recreating a more sustainable ecosystem from the past...

... But we as a people have devoted our existence, to date, of changing the ecosystems were we live and operate. The costs of doing so, are great!:-(

Virtual Event Program | GreenBiz

Virtual Event Program | GreenBiz:

BIG VERGE conference starts today.

Put on by Green Biz.

Virtual if you want to have a baby footprint on a great meeting. The travel time is a little less than going to San Francisco (although you will miss the foods and sounds and local color).

This is a really interesting mix... Including some big companies and some disrupters.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The energy we (US) use, and don't!

WoW! This is the new energy charge for the US. Note that the new chart shows how much energy we waste as well as how much weed is! Far more goes to waste.
And 2013 was the first year that energy consumption was up, since 2010. One benefit of a recession is that you produce less of a carbon footprint, and get more efficient.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Green, But Mostly White: The Lack Of Diversity In Enviro Movement, 5 parts - JustMeans

Green, But Mostly White: The Lack Of Diversity In The Environmental Movement, Part 1 of 5—Future 500 | Justmeans:

There are 5 parts to this series. It's talking about who is evolved int the Environmental movement, and why there isn't more diversity. And why that is starting to change?

This is a very interesting 5 part series by several authors.

Part 1: by Danna Pfahl

Part 2: by Marvin Smith

Part 3: by Shilpi Chhatray

Part 4: by Brandon Steele

Part 5: by Nick Sorrentio

The last one, by Sorrentio, talks about engaging businesses to help address environmental issues. SustainZine has long promoted serious action by business (and all organizations) in areas where the payback is obvious and near-term. Conservation, as in reducing energy, improved logistics (so less shipping), and telecommuting (so no travel) are all areas that have rapid payback to business and to the environment. So not only area companies making money in doing this, they are helping out the environment in doing this. Plus, it can become a perpetuity of savings, if properly monitored and maintained.

This is something we call in the triple bottom-line business, a win-win-win... and a perpetuity of savings.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Sustainable Universities fall in two

Sustainable Universities falls into to two schools (note the pun).
1) Those that have greener campuses in terms of reduced usage of resources and renewable resources.
2) Those that teach sustainability programs academically.
Of course, doing both is entirely possible... and even highly synergistic.

Here's a few sources of Green campus and green(er) universities:
Plus there has been some rather interesting reports on the topic in August of 2014. So this list should be updated soon.

Keywords: Best Universities, Green Education, renewable energy, sustainability, sustainable education, sustainUcation 
First published on, here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Building a Business Plan: The basic components - YouTube

Building a Business Plan: The basic components - YouTube: "

Here's the basics about a business plan by yours truly, Dr. Elmer Hall, President of

Strategic Business Planning Company. We help develop the plans that every business needs(tm).


All, right. It doesn't have direct application to Sustainability... Except that we aim to encourage sustainable businesses in all the spellings of the word "sustainable". Businesses do need to be profitable. Look at the sustainable growth rate model in finance.

This is the basics of a business plan, but we modify a basic business plan to accommodate Intellectual Property protection (read sustainable competitive advantage). And we modify businesses with environmental foot prints to include, well, a sustainability plan.

#BusinessPlan #SustainabilityPlan #IPPlan
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Visuals of the planet changes

These visuals of the planet changes over the last 30 or 40 years are impressive, to say the least.
Here are some cool time lapse photography using satellite imagery over the last few decades.
Check out the Amazon!
Check out the glaciers!
Double ouch!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Clean Power Plan |, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times

Why I support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan |, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times:

This July 28, 2014 article by Lynn Ringenberg (Professor Emeritus at USF) discusses the horrible health and wellness impacts of burning coal.

"There is no such thing as clean coal."

The good news is that Natural Gas is so plentiful in the states and so very very cheap, that it is seriously supplanting coal in power plant production. NatGas is so plentiful and contain in oil, that 40% to 50% of all US NatGas produced is flared into the atmosphere as an oil byproduct.

Of course the EPA is pushing this conversion along to NatGas. In the absence of an energy policy in the USA, the EPA is the very last stop in this decision process as to produce power, short term and long.

But here is the BIG problem. As we cut back on energy and oil and coal usage in the USA, we move the coal power production to other countries. Our exports are way up. And other countries don't use the same cleaning technologies as we (scrubbers and such).

Here's a great discussion of our coal usage and export-imports at The Energy Collective by Meredith Fowlie on July 29, 2014.

No matter what you feel about the EPA stepping up and getting involved in coal power, greenhouse gas emissions, etc. The EPA is the last, and arguably the worst way to address energy policy, health issues from fossil fuel consumption and global warming.

Some would argue, the EPA actions are better than doing nothing at all.

The EPA is the wrench used to hammer the square nail. Coal has huge impact on health and wellness, so let's export all we've got. We take make the green, they take the black.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bill Gates's Favorite Business Book ... and then some ... WSJ

Bill Gates's Favorite Business Book - WSJ:

I was at the beach over the summer and the condo had a book by Bill Gates.

I started reading it and was intrigued. I thought I had read it before, but it was still very interesting. As I'm skimming through into the second chapter, it hit me like a metric ton of CO2. This book was more than 2 decades old, 1994, The Road Ahead. Knowing how it really ended, I skipped ahead to see what his forecasts were for the future of chipdom and computing. He was straight on in several cases.

The point is that reading classic business books is fascinating and it is retrospectical (if that were a word).

This WSJ article talks about the great business books from the perspective of the richest man in the world (as founder of Microsoft), turned most philanthropic man in the work (with the Gates Foundation). When he takes time to write about what he reads, you aught to take notice.

The great business books include, of course, Drucker, Porter, Peters, Senge, ...

Jim Collins G2G and BTL are, well, great!:-). Level five leaders, yeap. By chance, is still growing on me. (See references below.)

Most people will include Sun Tzu with the Art of War, and Machiavelli.

For production-type clients, I always buy them a copy of the NY Times best-selling novel, The Goal, so they can simply enjoy the experience of (accidentally) learning about
operations management. See the section on Business Fables (2011) in Wikipedia
for some of the coolest business novels to read as an MBA student. Eli Goldratt did a follow-on to The Goal (2001) that was actually the text book associated with the novel; it was called, Beyond the Goal (2004).

Speaking of novels and stories and fables, Who Moved My Cheese and Fish! are wonderful classics. 

If you were to add to the list of Great Business Books that are must reads for every business professional, and absolutely every MBA, what would it be?

Reference (some)

Business fable.
(2011, August 3). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved
15:02, August 12, 2011, from
Collins J., & Porras, J. (1994). Built to last. New York, NY: Harper Business.
Collins, J. (2001). Good
to great.
New York, NY: HarperCollins.
J. (2005). Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve.
(cover story). Harvard Business Review,
(7/8), 136-146.
J. (2012). Effective Management. Leadership
, 29(4), 3.
J., & Hansen, M.T. (2011). Great by choice: Uncertainty, chaos, and
luck--Why some thrive despite them all. New York, NY: HarperBusiness.
Goldratt, E. M.(2001). Beyond the Goal: Eliyahu Goldratt
speaks on the theory of constraints (Your Coach in a Box). Audiobook.
Goldratt, E. M. and Cox, J. (2004). The goal: A process of ongoing improvement.  Great Barrington, MA: North River Press.
Johnson, S., & Blanchard, K., (1998). Who moved my cheese?: An a-mazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life. New York, NY: Penguin Group.
Lundin, S. C., Paul,
H., & Christensen, J. (2009). Fish!: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and
Improve Results. [Kindle Edition] Hyperion.

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Can jaw-dropping visuals on CO2. BIG smokes vs. BIG OIL |

Can jaw-dropping visuals change the climate conversation? |

This week in the news we wave the merger of BIG tobacco. Lorillard Brands if getting bought out by Reynolds; that is, the Newport brands are getting married to a camel. This will make a formidable competitor to Altria's Marlboro man. (I still love the genius of changing your name from  Philip Morris USA to "Altria", it makes the company sound so Alteristic!:-)

So these are products, when used as directed will either kill you, or cause you to die younger... i.e., kill you.

The big difference between pollution into the atmosphere is that it is generally not the smoker (and their family it seems with 2nd hand-me-downs) that dies, it is everyone in the vicinity, down wind, and down stream.

The problems with burning fossil fuels, in addition to any other pollution that pollute in the traditional science, they create vast amounts more Carbon Dioxide (CO2) for the atmosphere than what the earth systems have become accustomed to dealing with. If 60% goes into the oceans, that causes increased acidification; what remains in the atmosphere, hangs around for about 100 years -- a deadly experiment that we are just beginning to see the effects of.

At least with tobacco, people enter into the deadly agreement under their own free will. The externalities of the well documented costs in life, income and economic product is largely offset by massive taxes. And it is really other countries that have fast increases in smoking while we in the USA have a rapidly dwindling market. (You could say that the market is dying off, if you wanted to add pun to death and sickness.) Although, electronic cigs are growing rapidly.

But, the BIG producers of fossil fuels, have it rather sweet. They tap a natural resource, like an oil reservoir, pump it dry, sell into energy markets and have no responsibility as to the costs of the use of their products. The jaw dropping visuals from the main article here, show the billions (with a B) of tonnes of CO2 created from/by the BIGgest oil producing companies.

The oil company pays some taxes to the country where it permanently depleted a natural resource. That seems only fair. The health costs of burning coal, direct pollution, are huge but generally not covered by the companies the produce and use it. Countries have taxes on transport fuel, to offset some of the costs of the vehicles. But nobody really pays the costs of the CO2 externalities. Or at least very little is done in that directly.

So the two, or three, questions for government: Should government shut down BIG tobacco? Or tax it more? Or allow it to move closer to a duopoly where they can keep raising prices to consumers and have them pay through the nose?

And the questions for government: Should government shut down BIG tobacco? Or tax it more? Or move to cap-n-trade? Or subsidize renewables?

The one that seems to work best, and economists all like best, is a direct tax. The tax increases need to gradually escalate, at least at the rate of inflation. This, of course is political suicide. So the tax is out, and no addressable solution is in.

This is a supply and demand world. In fossil fuels you have the BIG consumers, namely China and the USA, and the BIG producer companies. Both are to blame if what they sell/buy kills people. Right?

The sinful problems associated with the dirty companies go on.. and they keep getting BIGger.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Garbage-patch tale as flimsy as a single-use plastic bag - SFGate

Garbage-patch tale as flimsy as a single-use plastic bag - SFGate:

So the GREAT Pacific Garbage Patch is not real... Or maybe not nearly as big as originally expected.

Saunders does a great job of attaching the myth behind the original reports of "the size of Texas" and such.

Great sources of info included.

But now I'm really worried. The amount of plastic floating in the oceans amount to only (right, only) 7,000 to 35,000 Tons. But we know the amount of plastic produced each year, the % that gets recycle, the % that goes into a landfill and the paltry % that gets repurposed. That leaves a LOT of tons of plastic each year that go into the environment. If we estimate the amount that goes out the water systems into the oceans you get a LOT of plastics into the oceans. There's a lot of large pieces but the small stuff is mysteriously missing.

There's bit of a mystery working that is well discussed here at the SFGate with four possible theories by Leslie Baehr. None of them look good. The plastic found represent only about 1% of the plastic pollution in the ocean according to one of the researchers C√≥zar said. More could be hiding below the surface. 
"Indeed, the quantity of plastic floating in the ocean and its final destination are still unknown," the researchers concluded.
It may take hundreds or thousands of years for plastic to degrade. In the warm ocean with lots of sunlight, maybe only 1 year. See here on degrading and the short artgument as to whether plastics ever really biodegrade (although the degrade to smaller bits of the same).  Here's a nice little biodegadable table by the NH for the National Park Service, talking about 20 years for plastic bags and 450 for plastic bottles to biodegrade.
All that plastic is going somewhere. I was actually happier knowing where it was going... into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Now we don't know, what we don't know. That's worrisome! 

Wikipedia of the Great_Pacific_garbage_patch and the 
National Geographic on the Pacific Garbage Patch.
Marine Debris at NOAA.
Youtube from Oprah's show where she did an EarthDay on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Several years ago (upload is 2011). Before this new study, obviously.
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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Efforts Grow to Take the Sting Out of the Bee Die-Off - WSJ

Efforts Grow to Take the Sting Out of the Bee Die-Off - WSJ:

Generally, the topics discussed here aim to look at the sustainability of trends or activities. CCD is worrisome on many levels of sustainability.

This is an interesting update on the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) of bee hives world wide.

Look at the ugly research related to the mix of pesticides and fungicides that seem to cause the demise of bee hives. (See prior SustainZine blog on this.)

It is interesting that the consumer seems largely unaware of this very, very serious problem. To mix he metaphors, bees are the canary in the coal mine of world agriculture. Those things that will kill the bees, may also kill the rest of us over time... assuming that the demise of the world's pollinators does not wipe out the food supply first.

There are so very many issues related to mono-cultures. That is the miles and miles of a single crop. Without diversity, massive amounts of pesticides, fertilizers, fungicides, etc. are needed. When something does get through the defense barrier they can get out of control quickly. The weevil in the cotton, the greening in the oranges, the pollinators in the almonds. Amphibians like frogs are interesting to watch, they can be totally wiped out based on what is happening with the water, with the land, or both. The death of the piglet litters?

Golf courses and row crops are a biological wasteland. It takes a lot to keep one croup growing in an area, and all the others out.

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Nordic Poles Boost Artery-Disease Patients' Walking - WSJ

Nordic Poles Boost Artery-Disease Patients' Walking - WSJ:

Lots of studies show that simply getting up and about several times a week can be really, really good for you.

This is pretty cool. The use of Nordic poles significantly helped patents go longer... Okay, that's pretty obvious...

BUT it also worked the body 23% harder than normal walking.

The prob with walking (and running) is that you don't really work the upper body, so it might be aerobic but not a full-body exercise.

Pretty cool.

PLUS it can be great training for your upcoming Snow Ski adventures!

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Shhh!!! Don't tell anyone it is healthy(er). With low(er) Salt.

Food Makers' Secret Ingredient: Less Salt

Thanks. But it is too bad it has to be a secret.

It is interesting how taistless and healthy seems to be synonimous to many people.

In the meanwhile, there is so much salt in things like soup, that even then "low salt" soups are 25 to 50% of US Daily recommended. And they are still not edible for those of us who have adjusted our salt pallet. You find yourself drinking gallons of water (or, worse, sodas) for the rest of the day.

Oh and Campbells slips in High Fructos sugar into all of the tomato soups we own as about the second ingredient. What is with that? Tomatoes are already sweet.

Enriched flower.

Of the Three Deadly White foods, sugar, salt and white flower, Campbells tomato soups seemed to have all three in the top 5 ingredients. Tomatos weren't even the first ingredient in the regular tomato, paste was second!

Now we'll see about donating these soups... And being even more careful with our food shopping.

Friday, June 13, 2014

BioLite BaseCamp Stove | Turn Fire into Electricity by BioLite. Saving lives, one stove at a time. Kickstarter Funded project.

Repost from IPzine...
BioLite BaseCamp Stove | Turn Fire into Electricity by BioLite — Kickstarter:

I love it. But only 62 hours to get in on the KickStarter offer. They are at twice goal with $800k+ and 3,000 backers.

Yes, it was DARK in Miami, when Hurricane Andrew came through South Miami/Homestead on August 24, 1992. Well, afterwards really. It would be weeks before most of us would get power. So bar-b-q grilling was the norm. That was not quite as much fun after a week or two without baths and without air conditioning. Little or no ice and warm drinks. Muggy and humid.

You did want to cook, obviously, but all the heat from the grill was the last thing we needed.

But a really cool cooking stove popped up in New York. A tiny stove the burned wood (or charcoal) and produced focused head for cooking. No need to cook the cook too.

This technology works wonders in countries where there is little or no electricity, and wood is often scarce, and the smoke from open cooking causes some of the world's worst health issues (probably only exceeded by water/sanitation).
You gotta see how far the technology has come. This is a BIG stove, relatively, that generates electricity (USB power) and has battery. It has an internal fan, to fan the fire so it can produce some serious heat possibilities -- especially given the ability to focus the flame.

This version comes with an LED light so you can see what's cooking at night.

As they say, this is the first version of the BaseCamp that is crowd designed. When you jump in on the crowd funding at KickStarter (BaseCamp) you will get a free carrying case.

You also get the warm-fuzzy feeling of knowing that this technology will save millions and millions of lives in energy starved countries.

All very very cool.

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Our planet is at a point of crisis - Leonard Pitts - Newsday

Our planet is at a point of crisis - Leonard Pitts - Newsday:

Leonard Pitts is going to get some hate mail out of this article. But, sadly, its all true.

The only are that could be clarified a bit is the 97% of scientist agree. I think the agreement is that there is global warming, it drops way off to 80% or so of those scientists who believe that humans are primarily the cause.

The controversy is well discussed in Wikipedia's Global Warming Controversy.

The idea that taking action now is not even thinkable because it would destroy the economy, jobs, etc., etc., is not a sound one. That was the argument against doing anything related to auto emissions and mileage standards.

Fortunately coal is a good place for government intervention. The costs of coal in health and safety are massively higher than the $.04 per KWH from the past. Although we do a better job of cleaning coal, that doesn't help if we ship it all off to China and India where they burn it without the same scrubbers that we use. Also, there's the dirty little secret of coal: coal ash!. See our discussion here on: Pain in the ash!

As well, coal produces huge amounts of CO2 emissions: twice the pollution and emission of oil or nat gas.

Hey, here's an idea. We are flaring about 50% of the nat gas produced in the USA, why not pipe it to power plants and use the fuel for "free". Or, why not build small power plants near the frank wells and run the power lines to the grid... and have power for "free".

We, at SBP, like projects that save emissions and save money and save the environment. Things like Energy Efficiency (EE) and telecommuting... Projects that will save trillions of dollars every 3 years, en perpetuity. Projects that are -- I hate to say it -- "no brainer" decisions. Projects that require no government "help".

Sadly, these projects are hard areas to gain traction.
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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Invest Yourself - Roaches, Never Just One

Free Investment Newsletter | Invest Yourself:

I really like what they (Robert B. Rinearsay on the currency. That all seems very very
true.  The currencies in the world are
all crap. The best may be Japan and they can’t keep the Yen low enough to be a 
competitive exporter so it is wreaking havoc on their economy…

The Yankee Dollar is a piece of crap. But we are less crappy then the
Yuan or the Euro.  We are the best house
in a slum-blighted neighborhood. 

You can only have all the currencies in the world artificially low for
so long. Especially if all the effects are compounding, year over year. I
really do think that real assets, like land and gold, will slingshot into the
stratosphere sometime rather soon, say 1 to 3 years.

But the same thing that they complain about, the talking heads at CNN,
they did themselves. Go look at any of the databases, since recorded history,
on any of the measures you chose, and you will see that the global warming is
very real, and accelerating. It also 
coincides well with populations explosion and industrialization.  And it is a compounding effect. Panicking certainly doesn't make
sense, but ignoring facts and data supporting global warming means the “hoax”
is on you.

Give a look at:
(Real science and no crap, discussing the real facts and actual data about
Climate Change & Global Warming. It is very real by every measure that is
Want to know about Sustainability, look at my book ( created
from live Wikipedia links on Sustainability. The Intro is by Elmer Hall and created the
dynamic links to carefully selected Wikipedia articles (pages). The pages in
this book represent the best, most current and most accurate single source of
information related to sustainability and climate change in the world.

Sustainability. The world currencies are not!... 
Ever growing greenhouse gas emissions,  sustainable we are not.

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt - ... Implications

Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt -


Studies published in the journals Science (here) and Geophysical Research Letters  (here) magazine find that the antarctic is melting, probably at a very very fast pace. The terms "beyond the point of no return" and "unstoppable" are used to describe the collapse of this glacial area in Antarctica. How long it will take is harder to predict.

This really scares the bejeebers  out of everyone. Let me summarize a few reasons why this is bothersome:
* It seems that arctic (north) should be shrinking a little and the antarctic (south) should be expanding if there were no human factors influencing such. So the shrinking/melt-off in the south would/should have to overcome this tilting effect of the earth, and then some. (This "effect" is something for people far smarter than I to explain.)
* The north pole is now becoming more navigable, longer in the summer as the ice sheets melt off. China, for example is planning to navigate through a north passage for 3 months a year and avoid bringing oil from Russia through the Suez Canal, essentially cutting the trip in half (and maybe making twice 6-months worth of oil runs.
* The melt off in the north pole is not as worrisome in terms of direct ocean level rise because much of the ice is over water, so the conversion from ice in the north pole to water is not a big deal related to ocean rise (although the resulting warming of the oceans from more heat absorption and less glacial reflection definitely is).
* The antarctic is mostly over land. The melting of the Antarctic glaciers results directly into a rise in the sea levels.
* Combine that with apparent acceleration effect, as the glaciers melt, they move faster and faster, accelerating the depletion process.
* Thermal expansion. As ocean and land become exposed by the melting ice sheets, the ocean, land and air all become warmer. In the case of the oceans, water expands. If the average dept of the oceans are 2 miles, the oceans levels should rise at about 2 feet for every increase in (water) temperature of 1 degree Centigrade.

At this rate, the best case by the IPCC of 2 degrees C increase in global warming has got to be very unlikely. The worst case scenarios of business as usual (BAU) of 3 to 4 degrees or more seem to be the most likely... The 4 degree increase would result in about 9 feet (or 3 yards) increase in sea levels.

That means that by the end of the century, water-front cities will have new waterfront. Venus and New York will be new shapes and sizes. The Florida Keys will be less than half their current size.

Some of us would argue that Business as Usual is not working so well, especially if you care much about your grand kids and great grand kids.

Keywords: Antarctica, Arctic, business as usual, glaciers, Global Warming, IPCC, North Pole, sea levels, thermal expansion,

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Monday, April 14, 2014

ABCs: Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths, and it's really bad news : TreeHugger

Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths, and it's really bad news : TreeHugger:

The ABCs of colony collapse among Bees appears to be really, really ugly. Well, it has been ugly, but know we know a little more about it, vs. being mainly in the dark.

This current research seems to find that a combination of pesticides and fungicides reduces the immune system of bees.

This story summarizing the research is just filled with horrible little nuggets. On average the bee pollen they studied had 9 different special ingredients in the pollen cocktails taken live from California.

Worse, much of the pollen comes from the "wild", not harvest crops.

However, finally knowing more about the cause will help hugely in addressing this critical issue (for diversity and food crops).

Remedies of better use and control of pesticides/fungicides seems obvious. But organic methods should help a little or a LOT.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Coming to a Couch Near You: A New Wave of Telecommuting

Coming to a Couch Near You: A New Wave of Telecommuting:

Very cool discussion about Telecommuting. And Traffic. 

I just saw stats on the worst commutes in America. (several different ways to slice n dice it). One stat was the average person spends a bout a week per year (38 hours) in traffic. I have no idea where Mr Average lives, cause the rest of us used to ring up that many commuting hours in 2 to 4 weeks. An hour to work each way will clock you in at 40 hours within a given month. 

But don't move to DC or LA or SF or hour time in traffic meter will max out!

Before the recession there were 4 or 5 Metros in Florida that were in the top 10 for worst commutes in the USofA. Now all I find (2011) is Miami with #22 and Tampa with 39.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

13 of 14 warmest years on record occurred in 21st century – UN | Environment

13 of 14 warmest years on record occurred in 21st century – UN | Environment |

Ouch. As you look at the clock, you will see that we are only 14 years into the 21st Century. Yet we have 13 of the hottest 14 years in recorded history.

You do have to take the whole of the earth into account, obviously, not just the USA, where we were ?fortunate? enough to have a exceptionally cold and blizzardy Winter. (Polar Vortex is now in our daily vernacular.)

If you are interested in the science go here to look at the 11 or 12 major indicators (based on several data sources each) that would indicate global warming.

If you want a composite graphic that shows the robustness of the evidence, go here. There are several data sources overlaid in each graphic. Note that the stratosphere is decreasing (cooler), that is consistent with a depletion of the ozone layer.

The recent UN report talks about the trends in costs associated with climate effects, like typhoons. A draft report talks about $1.45T costs associated with climate change over the next decade. (See here

The costs are expected to reach $70 to $100B per year for adaptation by 2050. (See here:

NASA has lots of interesting graphics, including time-series that will show the world temperature changes over the last couple hundred years. (Or just recently if you want since 1970).(The science visualization study at NASA is awesome, no mater what your interests: or if you want to draw your own graphs based on the underlying data, go here:

As we come up on Earth Day ( or EarthDay in Wikipedia) the impacts of business as usual (BAS) really revolves around whether you think something should be done to be much more sustainable NOW!, in decades or in centuries to come.

The degree of urgency really depends on how much you believe in global warming, and how fast you think that warming may take place.

Look at the graphs and make your own call on this.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Car Costs a Lot More Than You Think -

Mercedes or Ford, a Car Costs a Lot More Than You Think -

Here's the breakdown of a car expenses is about $9,000 per year: Pretty Car Chart illustration
  1. 39% is depreciation
  2. 35% is associated with the miles driven: fuel, oil, tires, etc.
That's 3/4 of the cost of a car, if you are only driving 15,000 per year.

Insurance, finance charges and tag/taxes are about 10% each.

Time is not included here, but it should be if commuting is the reason for all of the 15,000 miles traveled.

A car may cost a lot more than you think, but it also cost a LOT more than WSJ thinks it costs.


We know that the full cost (savings really) of someone telecommuting is more like $30,000 per year. That's the company (some $23k savings/year), to the individual and to the community (more roads). That's before introducing the concept of cost of an employee's (leisure) time.

* SustainZine blogs on Telecommuting

* SustainZine blogs on Workshift

* Transportation Humor, kinda.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

World Water Day Quiz?


World water day slipped by without a splash! 

Check the blog here on the topic: World Water Day 2014 blog post.

Most people don't realize the Nexus of water and energy.

Most people don't realize the Nexus of water and energy and plastics.
Most people don't realize the Nexus of water and energy and paper.
Most people don't realize the Nexus of water and energy and trash.
Most people don't realize the Nexus of water and energy and clothes (say cotton pants).
Most people don't realize the Nexus of water and energy and food... (virtual water).

Quick quiz:
  1. How much of the earth's water is available fresh water (like rivers, streams and fresh lakes)?
  2. What percentage of the bottled water we drink is from a municipal water source (i.e., fine Miami tap-water)?
  3. How many gallons of water (typically) does it take to power a light bulb per year (in the US, based on 12 hrs per day, 60w incandescent)?
  4. How many gallons of water does it take to make a serving of cereal? of beef? of cotton clothes?
  5. How many gallons of water does the average (per capita) American use per day? All things considered, how much water per day?
Go here to find most of the answers to these questions: 

Key: Out of about 100% correct, where do you stand?

  • 5% right? Low average. You probably should know a little more about our earth systems.
  • 10% right? About average. You probably should know a little more about our earth systems.
  • 20% right? Above average. Pretty good! You probably should know a little more about our earth systems.
  • 30% right? You read too much or you are a closet environmentalist.
  • 40% right? Genius and a full fledged environmentalist. You probably should be blogging about sustainability issues.
  • 50% or more right? No... You cheated! You looked up the answers and were actually lucky enough to find sources that were accurate/right!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

World Water Day 2014 -- March 22

Welcome to the World Water Day of 2014: This year’s theme is Water & Energy.
By the Way: Earth Day is coming in a month, April 22!!!
Look for Seminar information.
See the 2011 SustainZine post related to World Water Day. Some info is borrowed here.
World Water Day
The 44th World Water Day (March 22, 2014):
  World Water Day can easily flooded past us without most of us hearing a drop about it.!:-(  And why is that, you may be wondering? Or not… The problem with this, and most things sustainability related, is where to start.  And how do we put the critical sustainability issue of water onto our daily radar screen.

Water, Water, Everywhere…
  Water, so critical to life can be devastating in its absence. It can be devastating in abundance. Australia, plagued with decades of drought, finally got rain in 2011: it had an area flooded the size of Germany and France combined!  This was followed in February with Cyclone Yasi in the northeast. (A cyclone is the Pacific version of a hurricane… and, yes, they went through the alphabet to get to Y.) We know a lot about hurricanes for two years starting in 2004 giving us in Florida 3 or 4 per year including Katrina that also hit New Orleans.
  Then in the Winter of 2013-2014 we got snow, and more snow (let’s call that a polar vortex). In the meantime Europe (England) got drowned in rain.
But the quiet pain associated with water is very easily preventable with very little money. More than 1 billion of our world’s 6.9B population have inadequate drinking water with an additional 1B having inadequate sanitation. The result is that more than 3.5 million people die each year because of easily preventable water-related diseases (World Health Organization at  Approximately half of the world’s hospital beds are taken by water and hygiene-related diseases (  [This should be updated, it has improved since 2011.]

The Nexus of Energy with Water, Paper, Plastic and Transportation.
  Few people realize how much water it takes to produce energy. How much water to power a light bulb, for example? To power a 60 watt bulb 12 hours per day for a year? How about 3,000 to 6,000, depending on the power source, it could be more or less. See here.
  The water doesn't go away, per se. Water might be taken in upstream, used to produce steam and power turbines and then released downstream.  Give a look at the Nexus sections in the outline on the last page of Climate Changes and Sustainability, a WikiBook:

Power and the Nexus of Energy, Water, Paper, Plastic, etc. are discussed in Wikipdedia:

World Water Day
  World Water Day was initiated to try to solve health and wellness problems around the world where people have poor water and sanitation. The UN has a 10 year program to attempt to overcome the pain and death associated with inadequate water by 2015. Progress has been made, but it is slow.
WATER STATS: Most of the earth’s surface (70%+) is water. Yet only about 2.5% is freshwater. (The salt in oceans and some lakes make it unusable for drinking, agriculture, etc. without expensive desalinization processing.) Of the world’s freshwater 68.7% is in ice caps and glaciers, 30.1% is underground, ~1% is other, and barely 0.3% is fresh surface water! That’s about 0.009% of our total is fresh surface water. Freshwater is lakes (87%), swamps (11%) and rivers (2%). So as we divert and consume the fresh water available to us – taking from rivers and aquifers – the impacts become ever greater as rivers dry and ancient aquifers are depleted.
This year the theme is Water & Energy. Most people don’t realize the Nexus of Water and Energy.

The Water Bubble and Water Wars
  The water bubble may be coming faster than we originally thought... Water sources, especially the invisible underwater aquifers are being depleted.  This will show in increased prices for water, water shortages and food shortages/prices (Marks, 2009). “We're fast draining the fresh water resources our farms rely on, warns Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute” (George, 2011). Our own Ogallala Aquifer in the high plans of the US (underground aquifer from Texas through Wyoming) will be depleted in about 25 years. (See

  Water wars and water conflicts are expected to increase dramatically. Counties (and states) that are at the headwaters of rivers can take all the water and leave nothing for the cities, farmers and fishermen below. 
  Worst case, and a horrible example, is the Aral Sea. What used to be the world’s 4th largest lake is now mostly dry, highly salty and toxically polluted. Russia has been consuming the water that would have run downstream (and through) the former USSR state of Kazakhstan. (See and the following news video: at Russia Today.)
  The truth of the matter is... that water matters!  …
  Even in Florida where we are surrounded by H2O.

What can we do?
  Basically, we need to become more informed about the sustainability impact of all we say and do. We need to become more informed consumers of water. Maybe compute our water footprint. Please fill out the H2O Footprint calculator. We need to start conserving more water, more energy and more resource. (Recycling actually saves huge amounts of energy and water.)
 1)      Compute your water footprint (and take actions to reduce it):
a.       H2O Footprint: (Water footprint calculator.)
c.       Water footprint of food, products, etc.:

2)      The average American uses 2,000 gallons per day, more than twice the global average when all things are considered. (Most of the statistics will show only about 1,000 gpd, but they don’t include food, energy, etc.)
3)      For Florida-centric details & water-saving tips, please visit: and
4)      References and links below.
Look for information about Earth Day 2014 coming up on Tuesday April 22.

Thanks for listening, reading, and thinking about sustainability.

Let’s be good stewards of our God-given resources: water and more.

Some References
George, L. (2011, Feb. 2) Earth economist: The food bubble is about to burst . New Scientist. Retrieved from:
Marks, S. J. (2009). Aqua shock: The water crisis in America. NY, NY: Bloomberg Press.
Some Links:
·         Official site: