This is the story of The Most Important Fish in the Sea.
You have been relying on a fish you have never heard of. When you eat chicken or turkey. When you eat BBQ. When you smell your cat’s fishy breath.
Over 1/3 of the fish caught off the Atlantic shore are Menhaden. I used to catch them at the beach in nets. They were known as “trash fish,” which we tossed back because they are so bony you can’t eat them. But they are caught in huge quantities for industrial-scale animal feed, fertilizer, and pet food.
As H. Bruce Franklin details in his pithy, colorful book, these fish were once so plentiful that they filtered the water of the Cheasapeake and lesser bays by feeding on plankton. They are the base of a massive food chain, which has been disrupted by factory ships seeking the cheapest protein to feed other industries. But populations are so depleted that only one factory fleet remains, operating out of Virginia.
If you have access to a chicken that eats bugs instead of feed, or a turkey that foraged, or see a cat actually catch a mouse and eat it, then you catch a glimpse of the world as it was for eons, before we figured out how to catch menhaden by hundreds of thousands of tons per year.
Posted in Books, Nature, Posts by Eddy, Water Policy, Wildlife Conservation
Tagged Books, h. bruce franklin, menhaden, Nature, Posts by Eddy, the most important fish in the sea, Water Policy, Wildlife Conservation
Some posts are worth repeating.
Does your dryer take forever to dry clothes? That is probably because there is lint stuck in the pipe.
No one ever actually cleans this stuff out. Except my dad, who said his dryer suddenly dried clothes in half the time after someone came to clean out the exhaust pipe. All across America, 100,000,000 dryers (exact scientific fact) are running about twice as long as necessary, burning up excess gas or coal, and their owners’ time and money.
So, I have a tool called the LintEater. It is a circular brush that attaches to a drill, with a few flexible extenders so you can send it up the pipe from the outside. I pulled a ton of lint out of my dryer exhaust pipe this weekend that had probably been gunking it up since 1995, when it was installed.
If you want to experience the same dusty bliss, either pay $30 for a LintEater, or just borrow mine.
Nao here. If you live in central Arkansas, don’t buy a LintEater. Just borrow ours. Leave a comment saying you’re interested, and I’ll email you the details.
Did you know that your car often gets 80, 90, or 100 miles per gallon (MPG)? At other times, it gets 2 or 3 MPG, depending on whether you are climbing a hill or coasting with a tailwind. If you drive a Toyota Prius, you see this info on the dashboard, which includes an instantaneous reading of the car’s gas mileage. But otherwise, you have no idea what your gas mileage is from minute to minute.
Enter the ScanGuage, a gadget that plugs into your dashboard and tells you your current gas mileage! (It also allows you to read the diagnosis codes when your “check engine” light comes on). A week ago my ScanGauge arrived in the mail ($159). Since then, I have been coasting, pulsing, and experimenting with how lightly I can use the accelerator to get from Point A to Point B. We’ll see if it pays for itself, but for now it is a good, if geeky video game. Of course, you have to watch the road, not just the gauge.
Posted in Energy Policy, Green Gadget, Low Impact Living, Posts by Eddy, Three R's, Transportation
Tagged Energy Policy, fuel efficiency, gas mileage, Green Gadget, hypermile, Low Impact Living, Posts by Eddy, reduce, scangauge, Three R's, Transportation
Some posts are worth repeating and updating.
Nothing is better in winter than a long, hot shower. Nothing is better, if you just have to shave, than shaving in the shower, so you don’t have to clean up stubble in the sink. But both of these things use up lots of energy, in the form of hot water. To the rescue comes the Gaiam’s Lowest Flow Showerhead. It is cheap – $12.00. It doesn’t leave you with nothing but cold mist, like some old low-flow showerheads I have experienced. And, you can hit a button that cuts flow to a trickle while you shave (or soap up). This is the easiest way to cut your gas bill this winter.
Nao here. I’m a girl, and it would take forever to wash my long hair with cold mist. We’ve had Gaiam’s low-flow showerhead for over a year, and we are loving it! Normal showerheads could use up to 20 gallons of water per minute with enough water pressure, with the average being around 5-10 gallons per minute (gpm). Most low-flow showerhead use around 2.5 gpm. Gaiam’s Lowest Flow Showerhead averages around 1.2 to 1.4 gallons of water per minute depending on your water pressure. And it has a button to cut the flow to a trickle while you soap up, saving even more water. So this winter, cut your gas bill as well as water bill with Gaiam’s Lowest Flow Showerhead.
For more information about Gaiam’s Lowest Flow Showerhead, visit their website, www.gaiam.com.
Posted in Energy Policy, Green Gadget, Low Impact Living, Posts by Eddy, Posts by Nao, Three R's, Water Conservation
Tagged energy conservation, Energy Policy, gaiam lowest flow showerhead, Green Gadget, Low Impact Living, low-flow showerhead, Posts by Eddy, Posts by Nao, reduce, Three R's, Water Conservation
This week, Entergy Arkansas, Inc., entered into the legal battle over state government approval for a sister utility company to build a new coal fired power plant in Hempstead County, Arkansas.
Entergy urged the Arkansas Supreme Court to overturn a unanimous Appeals Court decision that found that the state wrongly granted a permit for Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) to build the proposed John W. Turk power plant, which is now under construction. The Entergy Arkansas legal action came only weeks after Wayne Leonard, CEO of its parent company, came to Little Rock to urge action to reduce pollution linked to climate change.
With Entergy’s entry into the legal fight, each of the state’s three largest electric utilities, plus the state agency that granted the permit to build the Turk plant (the Arkansas Public Service Commission), are defending the issuance of the permit.
Entergy’s court filing does not address climate change or environmental issues related to burning coal. Rather, it argues that the Appeals Court mis-read a law enacted by the legislature in such a way that future power plant approvals will be more expensive, because preliminary work to approve transmission lines will be required, regardless of whether the associated future power plant is approved. Entergy noted that it projects a significant need to build or acquire new power plants of its own.
Entergy did not address the central issue that was raised during oral argument before the Appeals Court: that the legislature’s requirement that all issues related to a new power plant be heard in a “single proceeding” requires consideration in the same proceeding of not only transmission issues, but also the basic question of whether the electric power that will be produced by the plant is needed by the public. Such state laws generally attempt to prevent utility companies from charging customers to construct power plants that are not needed.
In the case of the SWEPCO Turk Plant, the state Public Service Commission decided in a separate proceeding prior to the public announcement that SWEPCO wanted to build the plant that SWEPCO had a near term need for the specific amount and type of power that would be provided by the plant. No members of the public participated in that proceeding on SWEPCO’s future power needs. Within a month after the state agency approved the need for the power, SWEPCO applied for a permit to build the plant, which was granted based on the prior power need determination. Power plant opponents argue that their right to challenge the company’s calculations of how much power it would need was violated by this process, because they had no notice that a power plant would be built nearby until the need for it was already decided.
During the time since approval of the permit, power demand has dropped significantly due to the nationwide recession. In addition , new federal policies may significantly change the economics of the plant. The Obama administration is launching programs to promote energy efficiency, potentially further reducing demand for electric power, and promoting environmental controls that may make the choice of a coal as a fuel source more expensive for the utility company.
Posted in Energy Policy, Environmental Education, Environmental Justice, Green Economy, Green Jobs, Local Green Scene, Nature, Posts by Eddy, Water Policy, Wildlife Conservation
Tagged aecc, arkansas court of appeals, arkansas electric cooperative corporation, arkansas public service commision, arkansas supreme court, clean energy, climate change, coal, Energy Policy, entergy arkansas, Environmental Education, Environmental Justice, Green Economy, Green Jobs, hempstead county, john w. turk plant, Local Green Scene, Nature, obama, renewable energy, southwestern electric power company. arkansas public service commission, swepco, Water Policy, wayne leonard, Wildlife Conservation
An online store called the Laundry Alternative sells a spin-based clothes dryer that cuts clothes drying time and energy use by about half.
It works like a salad spinner for clothes. Drop in about 1/3 of a load for two minutes and the spinner revs up much faster than your usual washing machine spin cycle. Out comes about 1.5 quarts of water that was left in your clothes (unless you already have a high-speed horizontal washer). Then, you can either hang your clothes or toss them in a regular dryer.
The spin dryer uses only as much energy as fifteen seconds of a regular dryer, but extracts about half the water. That means your clothes don’t erode into lint as fast either. It is especially great for slow-drying items like jeans and towels.
Cost is about $120, which is reportedly paid back in under two years from energy savings, if you normally use a dryer instead of hang-drying. Yes, a clothes line is better for the planet, but sometimes you want speed.
Note from Nao: I love our laundry spinner. We hang dry our clothes most of the time, but our spinner comes in very handy on rainy days when we can’t hang our clothes outside. It also comes in handy when we need to quickly dry large items such as bed sheets and blankets. After the spinner spins out the water left in our clothes, I use it to water my flower beds. It’s a win-win!
Posted in Energy Policy, Green Gadget, Green Home, Low Impact Living, Posts by Eddy, Three R's, Water Conservation
Tagged Energy Policy, Green Gadget, Green Home, greywater, laundry alternative, laundry spinner, Low Impact Living, Posts by Eddy, recycle, reduce, reuse, Three R's, Water Conservation