Superinsulation workshop

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I'm still catching up on events from the food-addiction summit over at, and tomorrow I'm leaving for another week away (I'll be blogging in a third place for that, and though I know it sounds beyond dorky, I can't say where). But I did want to get in this mention from Paul Eldrenkamp about an "insulation slam" that's being given by a handful of local contractors at 7:30 p.m. on May 14 at 3 Church St., Cambridge.

Markey at Tufts Saturday

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Congressman Ed Markey follows up his energy road show last Monday at MIT with an appearance tomorrow at Tufts. A school group, Environmental Consciousness Outreach, is hosting Earthfest: Focus the Nation from noon -4 p.m. on the Academic Quad. The event will include live music, free food, and speakers, including the directors of Environment America and Environment Massachusetts.

Carbon capture moves ahead in France

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A position I've held consistently, and don't expect to change anytime soon, is that coal is evil shit, albeit a necessary evil until the day we can be rid of it. 

The primary reason I — and practically every thinking person without a financial tie to its mining, transporting, and burning — oppose coal is that its burning spews vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and I don't believe there'll ever be a valid way around that.

What the alternative looks like

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Tom Friedman's column yesterday was filed from Costa Rica, perhaps the globe's best example of how to prosper without exploiting native resources.

You're no doubt familiar with Costa Rica's many wonders, both natural and governmental. In a country roughly the size of West Virginia, it has rainforest, an active volcano, and both Caribbean and Pacific shores. It has decades of stable, democratic leadership, a literacy rate above 90 percent, and protects more than a quarter of its land for conservation.

What's the alternative?

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A week ago Friday, David Frum was among the guests on Bill Maher's HBO show, and one of the topics they skirmished on was energy. Frum talked about how expensive wind and solar are, which he said precludes moving toward them.

Maher's response was right on: So what's the alternative? Business is great and we all die? Unfortunately, the conversation went elsewhere, and Frum never responded, but that's an answer I'd really like to hear from the other side.

Your mileage may vary; ours has

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My life with cars has been driven by a combination of bonehead purchases, lazy stewardship, and just plain bad luck. I've tried to improve with age, but I still feel snake-bitten. (The next-to-last car I bought was a VW Passat, based on the strong recommendation of Consumer Reports, but the car was an unreliable, high-cost, high-maintenance disappointment.)

Which brings me to our Prius, which we purchased about 22 months ago. I'm writing from our dealership, where I've come to try to learn why its mileage performance has substantially declined. I've just had my consult, and the news is not good. That is, there is no news, no mechanical flaw.

They'll probably just ruin it anyway

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The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M - Th 11p / 10c
The Ever Spending Story
Daily Show Full Episodes Economic Crisis Political Humor


One of this week's "Daily Show" outrage clip packages referenced duplicity in Congress, quoting solons (about 5 minutes in) complaining on how unfair some rule is and then showing how they defended the same rule years before, when their party ruled.

I didn't see it until after I read the summary of the Waxman/Markey climate bill introduced on Tuesday, but I think it helps explain, at least in a spiritual sense, why I haven't been able to muster much enthusiasm for what appears to be a very good starting point.

The bill has four sections, focusing on clean energy, energy efficiency, global climate change, and the transition away from current practices, and I like what it tries to accomplish, despite the sham funds for coal-related carbon capture and sequestration, which is just pouring money down a dry hole, as far as I'm concerned.

I know it's about pluralism, and understand that that money is going to buy the support of coal-state representatives. At least the nuclear lobby is less powerful, and less geo-centric, so they didn't need to pander to them, too; the bill doesn't even mention the word.

So why don't I love it? I think it's bullshit fatigue. 

Forging the philosophical and the practical

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It is emblematic of a larger condition that I've not reported before now on one of the most thought-provoking and valuable presentations from Building Energy '09, the annual conference of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association held earlier this month in Boston — the keynote by Marc Rosenbaum.

Rosenbaum's comments were literate and far-reaching, on one of this century's most vital issues — how do we maintain life as we know it as traditional fuels decline and the climate changes?

But I chose instead to focus first on the contentious LEED public forum of the night, and the release of recommendations by the state's Zero Net Energy Task Force just before he spoke. There's some argument to be made for the latter — actual news — but I judged both to be shinier that Rosenbaum's topic, deep-energy retrofitting.

I have my reasons, but still, you could say my actions reflect the general outlook: people are more attracted to the glitz and gadgets around energy issues than they are to the real best solutions — conservation and efficiency. I'm totally sold on them, without reservation, and still, I'm getting to that portion of the conference three weeks later. 


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