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February 27, 2017

Ocean Microplastic and Your Car

It used to be that the best facial scrub is a home-made facial scrub with ingredients that come out of your pantry, like sugar, sunflower or coconut oil, and some antiseptic like a drop or two of tea tree oil, lavender oil or that "Thieves" blend: everything biodegradable, nothing toxic.


Photo by Inkwina

That way, when you flush it down the sink, you don't contribute to ocean plastic which is so bad for marine life (and the people who like to eat it), because your nice home-made facial scrub doesn't contain plastic microbeads.

But now you can forget about all that. Because industrial facial scrub containing microbeads are now banned, thank goodness. So now you only need to be mindful of glitter in your makeup, and not driving too much.

Wait. What's driving got to do with microplastic?

February 23, 2017

Fuel efficiency rules, hated by carmakers, are the car owner's friend

Now that the White House has turned into a stable of climate change deniers, those who facilitate climate change are trying to grab hold of their oily and sooty coat tails.

The new head of the EPA, who has famously sued the EPA numerous times at the behest of fossil fuel interests, has barely had time to settle into his new office before a chorus of carmakers rises up asking him to get rid of the fuel efficiency standards known as CAFE.

But CAFE is our friend.

Under CAFE rules, American drivers of gasoline cars can count on saving $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel between 2011 and 2025, the lifetime of the rule. On the other hand, the auto industry would have lost $ 0.2 trillion because they are forced to sell you the car that better fits your needs rather than the oversized one they want you to buy that nets them higher profits.

Carmakers don't care that you and I can save $1.7 trillion dollars. They do care that they can boost their profits by any amount. So they will do their best to get rid of the CAFE standards. And it's up to us to uphold those standards: for 1.7 trillion reasons plus the big one: the round, green and blue one that we all call home.


Photo by Mark Buckawicki

This is why I say we're being ripped off at the pump.

February 19, 2017

Vision Zero

Have you operated your wrecking ball lately?

What, you think you have nothing to do with wrecking balls? Let me elaborate: A wrecking ball is a steel object that uses the kinetic energy of its motion to inflict damage. It can weigh anywhere between 1,000 and 12,000 pounds. And it has the capability to make entire buildings come down.

Okay, so mine happens to have four wheels, and I don't operate it by swinging it from a crane: instead, I send it hurtling down the road. With myself inside. Often with a child or two on its back seat. Although it's on the whole a very useful thing, my car does embody the damage potential of a medium-sized wrecking ball.


And there's no damage like loss of life. In the United States, more than 40,000 people died in traffic 2016. It is an astonishing number, and even larger than the annual deaths caused by guns, which itself is tragically high.

January 15, 2017

Unprecedented

Innovative design is, by definition, unprecedented. Think of the iPhone. Think of Uber. Think of the Kübelwagen.

The what?


Photo Bundesarchiv, N 1603 Bild-192 / Horst Grund / CC-BY-SA 3.0