Rose George opined in today’s New York Times that we should recycle urine.
IN the far reaches of Shaanxi Province in northern China, in an apple-producing village named Ganquanfang, I recently visited a house belonging to two cheery primary-school teachers, Zhang Min Shu and his wife, Wu Zhaoxian. Their house wasn’t exceptional — a spacious yard, several rooms — except for the bathroom. There, up a few steps on a tiled platform, sat a toilet unlike any I’d seen. Its pan was divided in two: solid waste went in the back, and the front compartment collected urine. The liquids and solids can, after a decent period of storage and composting, be applied to the fields as pathogen-free, expense-free fertilizer.
From being unsure of wanting a toilet near the house in the first place — which is why the bathroom is at the far end of their courtyard — the couple had become so delighted with it that they regretted not putting it next to the kitchen after all.
What does this have to do with you? Mr. Zhang and Ms. Wu’s weird toilet — known as a “urine diversion,” or NoMix (after a Swedish brand), toilet — may have things to teach us all.
Though George advocates urine diversion toilets, she acknowledges there could be a problem with them:
Then there’s the sitting problem: in most urine-diversion toilets, a man must empty his bladder sitting down. This wouldn’t be a problem in some countries — Germany recently introduced a toilet-seat alarm that admonishes standers to sit — but it has been in others. Professor Jenssen was flummoxed by one participant at a training workshop in Cuba who said firmly, “If a man sits, he is homosexual.”
First, the greens came for our 3.5 gallon flush toilets. Now they want our flush toilets. What’s next? Just hold it?
The Washington Post reported today that,
Utilities across the Washington region have sent out millions of notices to customers who have fallen behind on their gas and electric bills in the past year and are increasingly shutting off service as residents find that they cannot pay rising heating costs.
In addition to billing cycle issues, the Post attributed customer payment difficulties on deregulation:
Higher wholesale energy prices continue to push up electricity and natural gas costs, a result of deregulated markets in the District and Maryland. A typical monthly Pepco bill for District customers is $103.67 today, compared with $58.16 in 2004.
The fuller story is that Maryland had capped electricity rates until a few years ago when the caps expired and market forces — like supply pressures — pushed prices up.
Who’s against increasing supply? A year ago, the Post reported that it was the greens.
The New York Times reports this morning that,
… The country’s soft-tissue habit — call it the Charmin effect — has not escaped the notice of environmentalists, who are increasingly making toilet tissue manufacturers the targets of campaigns. Greenpeace on Monday for the first time issued a national guide for American consumers that rates toilet tissue brands on their environmental soundness. With the recession pushing the price for recycled paper down and Americans showing more willingness to repurpose everything from clothing to tires, environmental groups want more people to switch to recycled toilet tissue.
“No forest of any kind should be used to make toilet paper,” said Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist and waste expert with the Natural Resource Defense Council…
Environmental groups… are hoping that Americans will become as conscious of the environmental effects of their toilet tissue use as they are about light bulbs or other products.
Dr. Hershkowitz is pushing the high-profile groups he consults with, including Major League Baseball, to use only recycled toilet tissue. At the Academy Awards ceremony last Sunday, the gowns were designer originals but the toilet tissue at the Kodak Theater’s restrooms was 100 percent recycled…
Marcal, the oldest recycled-paper maker in the country, emerged from bankruptcy under new management last year with a plan to spend $30 million on what is says will be the first national campaign to advertise a toilet tissue’s environmental friendliness. Marcal’s new chief executive, Tim Spring, said the company had seen intense interest in the new product from chains like Walgreens. The company will introduce the new toilet tissue in April, around Earth Day…
“Our idea is that you don’t have to spend extra money to save the Earth,” [Mr. Spring] said. “And people want to know what happens to the paper they recycle. This will give them closure.”
“Closure” about toilet paper?
A week after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood floated the idea of taxing drivers by-the-mile-driven rather than by-the-gallon-of-gas-purchased and the White House’s near-immediate denial that such a tax was under consideration, a federal commission has recommended just such as tax.
In a report released today, the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission recommended that,
A federal funding system based on more direct forms of “user pay” charges, in the form of a charge for each mile driven (commonly referred to as a vehicle miles traveled or VMT fee system),
has emerged as the consensus choice for the future…
Commence the transition to a new, more direct user charge system as soon as possible and commit to deploying a comprehensive system by 2020…
Ensure that, once implemented, mileage-based fees and any other charges are set to meet the
designated federal share of national surface transportation investment needs, and index these rates to inflation.
Initiate an extensive public outreach effort to create a broad understanding of the current funding
problem, the proposed solution, the intended method of implementation, and the anticipated
impact on individual system users.
So the government plans on monitoring how much you drive and taxing you on that basis. Note that fuel efficient vehicles won’t save you from the tax.
The Commission’s report is available here.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed calling for more domestic oil drilling, BP CEO Tony Hayward observed,
… energy security can only be built on a solid foundation of free markets and free trade. Two-thirds of the world’s oil is traded across international borders. This huge and agile market makes it possible to respond quickly to supply disruptions, such as hurricanes or political unrest. Tariffs, heavy taxes, or restrictions on the free movement of petroleum products interfere with that process…
… America must stop looking to others for the oil it needs and actively develop its own hydrocarbon endowment. Even with the rapid growth of alternatives, fossil fuels will continue providing most of the energy Americans consume for decades into the future.
The search for new sources of domestic crude has been constrained by a lack of access to promising areas, notably the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Resource estimates for closed areas exceed 100 billion barrels of oil, with 30 billion recoverable with today’s technology and at today’s prices.
Opening up the OCS would enhance America’s energy security. Moreover, a new study by ICF International estimates that it could create as many as 76,000 new jobs and generate a total of nearly $1.4 trillion in new government revenue by 2030…
What a refreshing change from Lord John Browne who thought BP stood for “Beyond Petroleum.”
The Washington Post reported this morning that,
In his second reversal of a Bush administration decision, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday that he is scrapping leases for oil-shale development on federal land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
Salazar rescinded a lease offer made last month for research, development and demonstration projects that could have led to oil-shale exploration on 1.9 million acres in the three states.
It was the second time Salazar has reversed the Bush administration. He also halted the leasing of oil and gas drilling parcels near national parks in Utah this month.
At least the oil and gas producers had the courage to speak up:
“It’s part of a pattern of decisions by the secretary that are detrimental to all sources of domestic energy,” said Kathleen Sgamma, government affairs director for the Denver-based Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States.
In a media release, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar said,
“We need to push forward aggressively with research, development and demonstration of oil shale technologies to see if we can find a safe and economically viable way to unlock these resources on a commercial scale. The research, development, and demonstration leases we will offer can help answer critical questions about oil shale, including about the viability of emerging technologies on a commercial scale, how much water and power would be required, and what impact commercial development would have on land, water, wildlife, and communities.”
Despite the Obama administration’s apparent openness to drilling, rest assured that last bit about “impact” on “land, water, wildlife, and communities” is code for “Don’t worry fellow greens. We’ll make sure that oil shale never happens.”
The Center for Public Integrity reports that more than 770 organizations have hired an estimated 2,340 lobbyists who earned an estimated $90 million last year to influence the federal government on climate change legislation.
The Center’s website has a search form so you can see who’s lobbying for who and for how much.
No word on who, if anyone, will be lobbying on behalf of consumers and taxpayers.
To support the enactment of California’s global warming bill, Mary Nichols, the state’s top air regulator, embraced as “good-news-numbers” a cost-benefits analysis that predicted the law would create 100,000 jobs and increase per-capita income by $200 by 2020.
The New York Times reported this morning that, as it turns out, it is the critics who labeled the cost-benefit analysis as “unrealistic” who were correct:
In one withering review, Matthew E. Kahn of the University of California, Los Angeles said the analysis unconvincingly portrayed the law as “a riskless free lunch.” Another economist, Robert N. Stavins of Harvard, said the regulators were “systematically biased” in ways “that lead to potentially severe underestimates of costs.”
Now, with the recession deepening — unemployment in California is 9.3 percent — manufacturers like Mr. Repman say the recession will make carrying out the state’s plan, the first stage of which goes into effect in 2010, even more difficult and could make the economy worse.
The lesson? As the Times reported:
“We’re talking about a transformation of the way of life,” said Greg Freeman, an economist with the Los Angeles Economic Development Commission. “There’s going to be transitional costs. We can’t have the debate about whether the cost is worth paying unless we have a realistic idea of what the cost will be.”
Please help defend nationally syndicated columnist George Will from the greens… you made be defending your own right to question green orthodoxy!
Here’s the story. On Feb. 15, the Washington Post published Will’s column “Dark Green Doomsayers.”
Not surprisingly, green groups (Center for American Progress Action Fund, Media Matters and Friends of the Earth) have gone ballistic). They’re mounting an e-mail campaign to the Post‘s ombudsman alleging that,
- Will claimed that “according the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade.” This is false. In fact, the WMO recently stated that “global warming, mostly driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is continuing.”
- Will misleadingly conflated Arctic and global sea ice levels to leave readers with the false impression that global warming isn’t real. After Will’s column was published, the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center took issue with his use of their sea ice data, writing: “It is disturbing that the Washington Post would publish such information without first checking the facts.”
- Will repeats science deniers’ discredited assertion that a scientific consensus about a global “cooling” crisis existed in the 1970s.
Comically, the greens allege that,
Unfortunately, the Washington Post has a pattern of printing demonstrably false assertions from science deniers. Post editors’ refusal to stand up for the truth strengthens the hand of polluting industries while irreparable harm is caused to our planet and its people.
The greens are demanding that,
the Washington Post correct demonstrably false statements in George Will’s column.
But Will’s statements are not false.
- Will is correct about there being no warming since 1998 — e.g., check out this graph.
- Will is correct about sea ice — it is higher today than 30 years ago.
- As to a “consensus” 30 years ago on a looming ice-age, Will merely cited a number of major media that reported on the disaster-that-never-happened. Nevertheless, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report warning of a coming ice age in 1975, stating “A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale… because the global patterns of food production and population that have evolved are implicitly dependent on the climate of the present century.” [Source: Newsweek – April 28, 1975 “The Cooling World“]. NASA warned of human caused coming ‘ice age’ in 1971. The Washington Post reported on July 9, 1971 that, “The world could be as little as 50 or 60 years away from a disastrous new ice age, a leading atmospheric scientist predicts.” NASA scientist S.I. Rasool, a colleague of James Hansen, made the predictions. The 1971 article continues: “In the next 50 years” — or by 2021 — fossil-fuel dust injected by man into the atmosphere “could screen out so much sunlight that the average temperature could drop by six degrees,” resulting in a buildup of “new glaciers that could eventually cover huge areas.” If sustained over “several years, five to 10,” or so Mr. Rasool est imated, “such a temperature decrease could be sufficient to trigger an ice age.” [Thanks to Marc Morano for the excerpts.]
Moreover, the Washington Post can hardly be considered as giving significant voice to climate skepticism. Other than the odd syndicated columns from Will, Charles Krauthammer, Robert Samuelson and perhaps a few others, the Post is a bastion of strident global warming alarmism.
What you need to do:
E-mail Washington Post ombudsman Andy Alexander at email@example.com and defend George Will’s right to dissent from global warming orthodoxy!
From a Feb. 24 University of Calgary media release:
Richard Hawkins, Canada Research Chair in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, says there is no evidence that information technologies necessarily reduce our environmental footprint…
“It was once assumed that there was little or no material dimension to information technology, thus, it should be clean with minimal environmental impact… However, we are finding that reality is much more complicated.”
Firstly, Hawkins notes that digital technologies require a lot of energy to manufacture and eventually they create a huge pile of ‘electronic junk’, much of it highly toxic. They also use a lot of energy to
run. Some estimates are that they use up roughly the same amount of energy as the world’s air transport system.
Far from denying these environmental implications, Hawkins points out that many IT producers are gearing up to produce ‘greener IT’, using the environmental footprint as a marketing tool. “But probably most of the negative environmental impacts occur in the form of completely unintended, second and third order effects,” he says. “These ‘rebound’ effects may not be mitigated by inventing ‘greener’ IT products and, indeed, may be intensified by such changes.”
Rebounds occur when the use of IT contributes to or reinforces an increase in other activities that already have environmental effects.
“For example, technologies such as cell phones actually help us to become hyper-mobile,” he says. “We didn’t adopt the mobile phone so we could drive and talk on the phone, we adopted it because we were already driving so much. Creating a greener cell phone won’t reduce the impact of increased mobility. The real question is what amount of mobility is sustainable?”
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think-tank, has issued a new report concluding that global warming policies
…will significantly raise the price of fossil-fuel energy products — from home energy and gasoline to food and other goods and services with significant energy inputs… They will… cut into consumers’ budgets…
For the 60 million Americans in the bottom quintile of income (about $15,000 annually for a family of three), the CBPP says that
even a modest 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would cost them an average of $750 a year in higher energy-related prices that result from the emissions cap.
The CBPP recommends that these families receive tax rebates to compensate them for the effects of higher energy prices.
Read the full CBPP report…
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the following to Larry Kudlow on CNBC’s Kudlow Report tonight:
First of all, let me be clear about the importation [by the U.S.] of oil sands oil. Regardless of what any legislature does, the United States will be importing this oil because there is absolutely no doubt that if you look at the supply-and-demand pattern into the future, the United States is going to need Canadian oil. It is the one secure, growing market-based source of energy that the United States has. There will be no choice but to import this oil…
… any policy [to stop the importation of oil sands oil] is completely unrealistic if you look at American needs for energy and where Americans can get the supply at a reasonable price… we will do what we can to reduce the carbon footprint. But there should be no illusion that economic reality will hit those environmental policies pretty hard when one goes to implement them…
BTW, Larry Kudlow is an endorser of Steve Milloy’s upcoming book, Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them.
Among many topics, Green Hell discusses how tar sands oil is a key means of providing affordable and secure energy and avoiding an environmentalist-induced oil/gasoline crunch.
Canadian PM Stephen Harper on tar sands oil (CNBC, Kudlow Report, at about 5:51 into clip)