Monday, October 27, 2008

Two "other" greenhouse gases worry scientists

With almost all of the attention pertaining to greenhouse gases focused on man-made CO2, some other contributors to global warming are often forgotten.

The amount of two other gases—methane and nitrogen trifluoride, which come primarily from decaying ancient plant life and flat-panel screen technology, respectively—in the atmosphere is on the rise as well.

Of these two, methane, which makes up roughly one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, is the one that concerns scientists the most. Methane is released into the air from decaying plants, coal mines, landfills, and a few other sources. At the heart of this issue is the methane (from ancient plants) trapped in the permafrost and ocean floor of the arctic regions of the earth. As these regions warm, this methane will likely be released, hastening the warming of the earth.

For more, click here for an Associated Press article on the study.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Top 5 retro fuel-efficient cars

Sticking with the theme of fuel-efficient cars, Popular Mechanics has an article on the five most fuel-efficient cars from the last 40 years. The article includes a history of the models, pictures, fuel-efficiency numbers, and other interesting information.

Also on Popular Mechanics Web site is a test drive article/video of the new electric Mini Cooper. This latest model can go about 200 miles on a fully charged battery and takes about six to eight hours to charge. More importantly, it costs a much more affordable $50,000, compared with a few years ago when an all-electric car would have run in excess of six figures.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The 10 most fuel-efficient cars for 2009 has a slide show today with details of the 10 most fuel-efficient cars and SUVs of the 2009 class. The slide show provides the cost, city/highway fuel economy, CO2 emission rate, and air pollution score of each car or SUV as well as some additional information. Click here to see it.

In related news, the 2009 Toyota Prius, which was the most fuel-efficient car on the list, may include an option for built-in solar panels, according to Toyota officials. More info and pictures of the 2009 model is here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

MBTA to expand Wi-Fi on commuter rail system

The MBTA's Board of Directors has unanimously approved a plan to expand Wi-Fi service to all lines of its commuter rail system.

The MBTA started a pilot program in January, when it equipped several coaches on the Worcester line with Wi-Fi. Because of the positive feedback from that program, the board authorized $1.39 million to install Wi-Fi equipment on 258 coaches on the various lines of the commuter rail system.

The plan calls for every trip on every line of the commute rail to have at least one Wi-Fi-ready coach. Installation of the equipment is scheduled to begin in December, with the service being installed on about 30 coaches per month until the project is completed.

After this round of Wi-Fi equipment is installed and in use, MBTA officials will evaluate whether to equip the rest of the coaches with the service.

For more information on the MBTA and its services, click here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Global warming endangers tropical plants and animals

University of Connecticut scientists conducting research in Costa Rica have come to the conclusion that global warming endangers many lowland plant and animal species in the tropics.

While many people are concerned about the effect of global warming on the polar regions, even more harm may be done to the environment around the tropical regions of the planet, the researchers said.

The researchers said that because the tropics are already so hot, many of the species there are living at the maximum temperature at which it is possible for them to survive.

For more information, check out this story on

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Save money on taxes in 2009 while going green

The Daily Green provides an interesting list of six ways to save more than $12,000 on your 2009 taxes by going green. This list includes several tax break incentives for purchasing green technology.

Click here for the article.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Aerodynamic car averages 113 miles per gallon

Two car designers in Oregon have built an aerodynamic car that averaged 113 miles per gallon on a trip from the Canada-Washington border to the Washington-Oregon border, breaking the world record for fuel efficiency in a car.

For more information on this feat, click here.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Minuteman Bikeway inducted into hall of fame

Local officials and bicyclists celebrated the Minuteman Bikeway's induction into the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Rail-Trail Hall of Fame with a rolling celebration on Sunday, Oct. 7, that began with an event at the Alewife Station. After the event, a group of bicyclists rode the length of trail, with stops in Arlington, Lexington and Bedford.

The 11-mile trail, which used to be a rail line for trains, is now a path for bicyclists and walkers that runs from Cambridge to Bedford.

"We are all very excited about the award," said Joey Glushko, Arlington Department of Planning and Community Development liaison to the Arlington Bike Committee. “ [The trail] has a great atmosphere, is used by every age group, and is wonderfully accessible."

The trail is one of the most popular in New England, attracting an estimated two million visitors a year. The trail is maintained by the four communities it passes through. The trail was not only created with recreation in mind but also with the goal of reducing automobile traffic in the area as the trail serves as a convenient bicycling and walking route from the Alewife Station to other communities in the area.

The Minuteman Bikeway is the fifth of 25 trails that will be inducted into the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. Since announcing in June that the Minuteman Bikeway would be inducted into the Hall of Fame, the RTC has chosen its sixth and seventh inductees, a trail in Illinois and a trail in Wisconsin. The RTC will inductee 18 more trails into the Hall of Fame between now and the end of 2011.

The path is open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. year round. For more information on the Minuteman Bikeway, visit the trail's web site.

Monday, October 6, 2008

How green are you?

The Daily Green Green has a fun quiz for you to learn just how green you are (as well as how green you actually want to be). Click here to take the quiz.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Big changes can come in small packages

A study released today suggests that Americans consumers have direct or indirect control of 65 percent of the country's greenhouse gas emissions. To name two examples: Passenger vehicles make up 17 percent of the country's emissions, and residential homes make up another 17 percent.

While we often blame large corporations for their disinterest in the global warming problem, individuals can have a major impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our country by doing little things. Taking transit whenever possible, finding a co-worker to carpool with, and walking or riding a bicycle on short trips are a few simple things you can do that add up. In fact, for those of you reading whose company is one of our clients, your company offers you a number of incentives and/or benefits to encourage you to do something besides drive alone to work.

As this article points out, when gas prices shot up, Americans started driving less, which had a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions. If Americans put their mind to it, then we can have a major effect on these emissions—one person or one trip at a time.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

An all-electric family car?

Tesla Motors is developing plans for an affordable all-electric car that it hopes to release sometime in the coming years. Telsa is primarily known for making all-electric luxury sports cars (which are well out of the average buyer's price range), so news that it intends to begin work on a "family" vehicle that will cost between $20,000 and $30,000 is interesting.

After the technology is developed for the family cars, the company also hopes to use the technology to build minivans, coupes, and light pickup trucks to be used in commercial fleets. But, creating the affordable technology necessary to manufacture these family cars (and later the commercial fleet vehicles) won't be easy. Tesla will have to partner with other automakers as well as auto parts manufactures to get this done. Here's hoping that the companies involved have the flexibility and the desire to make it happen.

I've always enjoyed the thought of an electric car, but both the price and efficiency of current models have left a lot to be desired. As the technology advances, the efficiency does as well, making these cars more and more viable as replacements for traditional automobiles. All that's left now is an automaker coming up with the ability to mass produce and market these in a way that makes them affordable to the average buyer. I'll be cheering Tesla on with mild optimism as they work toward this.

For more information, click here for a news story from CNET on the Tesla announcement.