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.

'via Blog this'

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:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Skeptical Science on a Skeptical Scientist: Patrick Moore on climate change

Is there really a debate as to whether humans are contributing to Global Warming?

This will take you some time, so if you are looking for a couple quick sound-bites, skip this entire post, and absolutely, skip the videos.

Dr. Patrick Moore was recently pointed out to me as a qualified scientist and a active skeptic of Global Warming. Read about Moore on Wikipedia. He was an active founder of Greenpeace, but left the greenie organization when they become too radical. He thinks that Greenpeace has moved toward more social and anti-capitalistic agendas, not so much the protection of the environment that Greenpeace was founded on.

Now he is very skeptical of many things, especially the man-made contribution to global warming.

Moore has become a PR guy for some of the most criticized companies and industries by environmental groups. Working, and consulting for 'the enemy' is not at all a bad thing. Being in the economic engine side of energy production, metals, etc., can give people detailed insight into complete solutions to major issues. But this does not seem to be how Moore functions; his interviews and books seem to actually be an extension of his job as a PR guy. See the criticism at the end of his Wikipedia page.

(Wiki note: The Wikipedia entry seem mature, with about 700 edits, 21 over the last 30 days and the most recent edit today. No editorial complaints. Note that there are no articles outside links to this page, so Moore does not seem to be the indisputable expert he might lead us to believe.)

There are many interviews of Moore that seem rational and reasonable enough on the surface: Hannity Feb 2014, and Fox Business Network with Stuart Varney pushing his book, Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout. But, don't watch these videos unless you are willing to go look that the scientific breakdown of what Moore has to say. Point by point, issue by issue.

This is a blog by John Mason (2012, Aug 25).
Unpicking a Gish-Gallop: former Greenpeace figure Patrick Moore on climate change:

Mason takes on the details of an interview in which Moore lavishes on facts, figures, assumptions and conclusions. And Mason breaks it down point-by-point with the best facts that exist today. Mason gives some of the best, and most factual, address of the issues associated with "Global Warming" and those who would say their "ain't no such thing". And he did it all without "sensationalist scare tactics".

When you are done, ask yourself: Who was the most shrill and panic? Who presented the facts with the most facts? Who's probabilities are most probable, give the facts?

This SustainZine blog does not devote much time to the debate over "Global Warming". Life's too short. There is global warming. Moore and Mason agree on this. Humans contribute to global warming. Moore says only a little; Mason (and the IPCC scientists) say humans contribute a lot to global warming. One of the last skeptical climate scientist Richard Muller, said that there was global warming and that humans are a major cause. Blogs here. Muller's research was funded by the Koch brothers.

This blog, however, focuses on Sustainability. Sustainability is good. Activities and business models that are non-sustainable are broken models. (Hah, you thought I was going to say "Bad".). A steady move toward 100% sustainability is not only a good plan, it is a sane plan. (Hah, you thought I was going to use the words "insane not to do so...".)

So let's get past this foolish debate and have real people and real companies start making real progress toward sustainability. If businesses and communities and individuals take long enough to get started on serious efforts to become sustainable, then governments will (start to) take charge.

What probably scares people more than Global Warming itself, actually, is that Governments far and wide will jump into the mix to "fix" things.

We especially like efforts that will save money, save time, save resources and reduce our impact on the environment. Usually, we "don't need no government" for that. (Actually that, not entirely true, but subject of another story.)

Responsible vs. Irresponsible.
You choose?

'via Blog this'

Monday, March 10, 2014

Day Light Savings Time... And Energy Efficiency... and Sustainability

While you are are staying up late, thinking about saving time and saving money...
Give a look at the past blog post here on EE and DST and California's discussion about Daylight Savings Time.

This is the heart of sustainability: things that we can do right here, right now, to move toward more sustainability. Some of them might be only small changes, like adjusting the clock to start earlier in the day, when sun gets up earlier...

One other idea is to move to LED lights. If 10% of our utilites comes from lighting, and LEDs will save us about 70%.... That cuts about 7% of our electric production. if utilities are about 2.5% of our $16.15T GDP... That's $28B per year. Every year. As a perpetuity at 5% interest that would be a half trillion dollars ($565B). These are rough numbers, but the concept holds up nicely.

GDP Factor $16.15 T
$ Energy 2.50%  $   403.75 B
% Lights 10%  $     40.38 B
Savings 70%  $     28.26 B
Perpetuity 5%  $   565.25 B

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chris McKnett: The investment logic for sustainability | Talk Video | TED

Chris McKnett: The investment logic for sustainability | Talk Video | TED:

Chris McKnett gives a wonderful talk on investing and the idea that all investors should start looking at ESG (economic, social and governance). The economic is obvious, profits. Social is the impact to people in general, and governance is corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Generally the research shows that there is no downside to being socially (and environmentally) sustainable. But in the long term, some of these companies that are irresponsible can be expected to lag behind.

Chris implies that as an investor it could be (?is?) irresponsible to invest in companies that are and continue to be non-sustainable. The point is that the downside risk is dramatically increased for non-sustainable companies and those that don't aggressively plan related to their non-sustainable ways.

Maybe an example would be having a lumber-based business where you are chopping down the trees. A sustainable plan would be to replant at the rate of usage. At a minimum, you should find another country with too many trees, so you can get past the inevitable lumber crunch on the horizon...

One of the beauties of this talk is that it focuses on just the financials of the sustainability issue. If big institutional investors started seriously considering the sustainability of their investors, then it would become front and center to all investments everywhere.

The problem with non-sustainable business practices is that they always, always, have negative externalities associated with them. And we all bear the costs of their negligence.

'via Blog this'