Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I recently learned that as of January of this year, Berlin enacted an Environment Zone. Similarly to how London charges a congestion tax to drive in the center city, Berlin requires your car pass a particle emissions test. If your car has passed this test, you get a sticker and can drive in the environment zone, if you drive within the limits w/o a sticker you face a fine. It's really a concrete step in creating harsher pollution standards and helping the environment NOW. It puzzles me how Germany can be so strict and the US can't even get itself in line to make any changes now. Even the candidates are making pledges for the future to reduce 2050 emissions to 1990 levels. To me that says you can continue doing what you are doing but in 42 years you have to make some sort of improvements. Let's face it, that's what companies want to hear but it's not going to help the environment much. My favorite "Green" plan that I saw come out of the US to stop global warming involved builfing a shield piece by piece and sending it into the atmosphere. I read about this plan in an Aeronautical/aerospace magazine published in the US in 2007. I happened to be sitting next to a German gentleman who had an English magazine on the seat between us, as I was previously exposed to british and German strategies, I was intrigued to read about a US strategy on Global warming as a time where not all US political parties were even acknowledging the existance of Global warming but post-Al Gore. By the way, Europeans from France to Germany to Belgium LOVE Al Gore's movie! This is not the exact article I read but it descrribes a similar plan http://environment.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn11993&feedId=space_rss20'. The article I read also pointed out the economic factor behind building a shild.

So this shield business got me thinking of other REDICULOUS ways to stop global warming

  • leave your faucets on all day - wasting the water means we'll all be safe from melting polar ice caps and rising tides
  • ship corporate pollution to developing countries where they care more about jobs than the environment - oh wait, this is already being done
  • drive less, fly more, after all the airline industry only makes up about 3% of global emmissions, that not much only the same ammount as 2 countries (UK and Germany)!
  • use only mirrors in new construction, they will send the sunlight back into the atmosphere and save the earth

On a more serious note, some simple energy saving tips I picked up over the last year in Germany:

  • turn off lights when not in a room
  • do not use airconditioners and heat excessively, alter your clothing and activity and keep temperatures moderate
  • turn off all computers before leaving the office or going to bed
  • program better, aparently a lot of energy is wasted in programs that are longer than necessary
  • don't drive if you can walk or ride a bike
  • improve US Public transportation, no one uses it becasue it is unusable
  • insulate buildings better to conserve energy
  • Government regulations to cause energy companies to buy renewable energy will create an instant demand and then supply will come via solar panels and windmills

In doing these things, you will not only be helping the environment but hopefully you will see your energy bill drop.

I'm not trying to be preachy, I just feel like this is a serious issue and it's hard for me to see my country so far behind my adopted one and there's nothing I can do to change big business so why not start by suggesting small changes to my friends and family.

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