Archive for the 'Sustainability' category

Toyota ad illustrates why it’s hard to change environmental impact of anything

September 22, 2009 9:21 am

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Sorry about the bad scan quality (it’s from today’s newspaper – yes, dead trees, and yes, I still read newspapers). It says:

80% of Toyotas sold in the last 20 years are still on the road today.

Is it any wonder that it’s hard to make any kind of change on environmental impact? Not just for cars. Think, for example, about the inefficient lighting systems installed in millions of old houses (that aren’t well insulated, have old, inefficient furnaces/air conditioners, etc.). Things like these have a habit of lasting long and they weren’t designed with environmental impact in mind.

With information like this, it’s harder and harder to stay optimistic, wouldn’t you say?

Today is World Water Day

March 22, 2009 2:32 pm

How much water do you use?

Check out how you can help make sure that our dwindling water reserves last longer:

Check out Good’s post on the topic as well (some provoking videos in there).

New website launched on the topic of Simple Living

August 7, 2007 10:34 pm

This is pretty exciting to me. I just got an email from Carol Holst, editor of the forthcoming book “Get Satisfied: How Twenty People Like You Found The Satisfaction Of Enough”, about the companion website that just launched.

This is a great resource for people who are finding themselves dissatisfied with the life they lead and who wonder if there is more to life that living paycheck to paycheck and chasing after the latest new shiny object. Without resorting to religion, that is.

If that resonates just a tiny bit with you, head over to and look around. I think you’ll like what you find.

The enemy of progress on environmental issues

April 15, 2007 7:39 pm

I was surprised at a headline in the newspaper the other day: California (or was it just the San Francisco Bay Area) is officially in a drought this year. Strange, when just last year there was more than enough water to go around. We are being asked to save 10% of our usual water consumption this year.

One way to accomplish this is installing low-flow shower heads and installing drip irrigation systems instead of the sprinkler systems that are so ubiquitous around here. That got me thinking about how we can contribute to saving 10% of our water consumption. We already have low-flow shower heads installed. So the only thing to do extra there is turning off the water while soaping up, which should be doable.

But what about the watering system? We’re renting the house we live in, like so many people here in this hyper-priced area. We could ask our landlord to upgrade the system, but why should he? There’s not really anything in it for him. We pay the water bill, not he. It would only cause hassles. And cost him money. You can imagine how this plays out for other areas where it would be a good idea to improve the house to lessen your impact on the environment. Double-paned windows, attic and wall insulation, light fixtures that allow for energy efficient lighting to be installed (our house has the first two already, luckily). Usually there is no reason whatsoever for someone to make these improvements to a rental house.

This line of reasoning extends to a lot of other areas as well. Think about what we consider a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (and global warming) – cars. There are millions and millions of cars on the streets that spew out tons and tons of carbon-dioxide, but work just fine, thank you. Ours does (so far, knock on wood.) There is no incentive for people to suddenly sell their old car and buy a new one. And imagine what would happen if everyone wanted to do that at the same time, owing to some miracle. Due to the enormous supply of cars, the price you could get for your old car would plummet. That would make it even less attractive, even if everyone had a change of consciousness suddenly.

All if this leads me to believe that one of the large problems that has to be solved politically to work on environmental issues is how to deal with the “installed base” (to use a software development term.) I have no idea how to do that without using taxation. It’s not like you can just push down an update over the Internet. And I know very well that talking about taxes in the U.S. is almost the same as committing political suicide. So if you are concerned about issues like this and have some bright ideas that don’t involve taxes, let’s hear them!