Sunday, June 10, 2007

Geek-Green Thoughts...

With apologies to Kermit the Frog (video link), it's not easy being green.

Gasoline on the Radio

The other day I was driving home from work and listening as usual to NPR on the radio.

A story came on about the relationship of gasoline and pricing with American consumers.

The host and interviewee discuss why we watch it so closely.  

One thing I found interesting was the note that with rising food prices, food manufacturers can re-package many food items with slightly more or less product to keep the shelf price constant and us psychologically in bliss (unless you keep an eye on the unit price...but who does that?)  This struck home the other day when I came home with a box of Rice Krispies that looked just like the one I always get for Alvis.

Only when I put it on the pantry shelf, I noticed it was about 1/2 to 1 inch thinner now than it usually is.  Hmmm.  Tricky.

Unfortunately you can't do the same thing with gasoline.

Two more short NPR gasoline related stories of note:

Two local Houston refinery connections I found interesting:

Oil and Gas Related Blogs

Both of our fathers had (almost) life-long careers in the petro-chemical refining industry here in the Houston area.  Lavie's dad is now retired as is mine, although he has gone back to work doing consulting (contract) work for one of the major players again.  My brother has taken up the family business and continues the tradition.  I guess I am the black-sheep of the family.

So we grew up with all the oil and refining talk.  And I guess that makes us a tad-bit more knowledgeable about the industry than the usual consumer.  But I am still finding the whole thing maddening, especially when I listen to the business reports and it seems like each day has a new story about how now "x" event happened and that caused oil investors to drive the price of oil up...or so on.  I know it is more complicated than that, but it is so hard to sort out the hype from the fact in the markets nowadays.

Yesterday as I was waiting for my barber's chair to open up, I was reading a magazine that had some "Green Blog" links.

Some looked kinda tech-related so I keyed the URL's into my cell phone to check later.

This site's mission statement states

We all see the petroleum economy as the fundamental linchpin of our present democratic society. As cheap oil/energy/gas quietly fades into history, lives around the world will indeed change.

This real and tangible crisis of supply and demand is now inevitable. Whether the coming crisis arrives in six months or in four years, whether the crisis arrives in a slow, secular fashion or as a cataclysmic "shock," our purpose is the same: we are here to raise awareness of the reality of the current problem and to attempt to address the real issues that are often hidden by political pandering.

We are here to talk about ideas. We're all learning here about ourselves and from each other. No perspective will be punished as long as evidence and logic are present. We want to bring brain power to bear on all of these issues; we may not come up with a solution…but we can at least say we tried.

What can be expected to happen as this crisis develops and unfolds? Stick around, because that's the kind of stuff we're talking about.

It's got some interesting posts and articles. Worth checking out maybe.

Another interesting blog that offers consumers daily tips on how to help increase your fuel economy.  No wild miracle snake-oil-in-your-tank stuff here.

Just practical tips for the average Joe trying to get buy in the fueled times.

Great posts for the geeks and gear-heads interested in seeing how green vehicles may one day save our bacon and eggs.  The side-bar has great category/tag links for quick subject searching.

Green Living Blogs

"Are you an EcoGeek?

Science, technology gadgets seals. We're in a bit of an eco-mess, but we've got the brains to lick any problem. And that's why publishes up to ten stories daily about innovations that are saving the planet. And if that sounds interesting to you, then congratulations, you're an EcoGeek."

This was the other website I took down.

It has a great collection of posts on green technology and its integration into our society.  Not all the products are out yet, but it points to the (hopeful) shape of things to come in the near future.  Well worth bookmarking or feeding.

Another geek-green technology focused site.  Seems to have a focus on the "bigger-picture" perspective technology can play in helping improve our environment.

I like "big-picture" perspectives.

Interesting website that has a multi-faceted focus on green sustainability in our society.

Covering areas of fashion, food, film, interior design, travel, music and more throughout popular culture, they take the position that green can be good and have hip-style at the same time.

It's a nicely managed website.

The featured articles written here harken back to the days of "Walden Pond."

Great writing, interesting perspectives, and real green living.

Seems a bit more focused for the ladies...and I don't mean that in a disparaging way.

However, it has some great suggestions for green consumer alternatives to products.  The focus isn't just on price and convenience, but also on the company's values and impact. It's a fresh look.

Green Design (Architecture and Products)

Practical tips on how to recycle and re-task items for better home living. Some clever items in here!

I am really impressed by this site.

LOTS of architecture and design posts and material on taking a more eco-friendly approach to architecture and interior design elements.  Lots of quality posts here.  I'm adding this to my feed list.

Reporting and investigating the green design in architecture, interiors, furniture, products, fashion, materials and even graphics...this site helps show that green design can be purposeful, fun, and effective in today's consumer society. Another site I'm going to start feeding.

My own simple perspective

While I wouldn't consider myself a eco-green-environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination, I do try hard to keep an awareness of the impact my life makes in the world I get to live in for a few rotations of the earth around the sun.

Lavie and I make an effort to teach Alvis the same sensitivity and awareness of nature, the environment, and compassion for others as well.  We drive smaller cars, live in a much smaller home that fits our needs, pass on Alvis's "too-small-now" clothes to her little cousins to wear a few times more, stuff like that.

Obviously that's a constant challenge in our pop-consumer orientated society here in the States.

But we remain hopeful.

If nothing else, maintaining this perspective, with a few choice blogs will keep us in the loop.

And in the meantime...maybe I'll take up kayaking just in case the water rises too high here on the coast and I need to find a new way to commute into Houston.


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