Posts Tagged ‘nonrenewables’

When I first got to Washington to start my new job, I had to look all freshly scrubbed and nicely attired. And I was…except for my shoes. I walk with purpose, and my shoes look like I walk with purpose. To the outside observer they might also looked old and scuffed. But these were nice shoes (Nunn & Bush), so I certainly wasn’t going to throw them away. The only other option was to fix them. What they needed was to be re-stained (or dyed or whatever it’s called).

For about three seconds I considered doing it myself, then I pulled out my iphone and began to look for a cobbler. Yes, a cobbler. That word evokes images of an old Danish man dressed in a frock and hunched over a table, pounding tiny nails into the sole of a leather boot. As I typed cobbler into google maps, I wondered how far I would have to drive to find one.

There were three in downtown Everett. Apparently, people in Everett still take their shoes in to get repaired.

So I took my shoes in for their tanning (or dyeing or whatever) where I had to wait in line to get served. A line. At a cobbler’s. Who was neither old nor hunched. Nor Danish, for that matter. Bottom line: $25 bucks for both shoes. When I picked them up they looked like new. Which is a big savings compared to actually buying them new for $85 a pair.

This event got me to thinking (as pretty much every event does; it’s the philosopher in me): what if we applied the cobbler methodology to other things, like computers? First, let me explain what I mean by cobbler methodology. It’s simply this: just because something is old, worn, or even broken doesn’t necessitate throwing it away. It can be fixed, often to look and feel like new; sometimes it can even be made better than the original.

What if Apple took up this methodology? (I’m using them as an example for a few reasons: a) they’re super geekilicious; b) their new laptops are cut from a solid block of aluminum, making them very durable; c) they’re rapidly adopting green production methods). Instead of designing their computers to allow for minimal expansion, modification, or replacement, they could make them modular and significantly upgradable. Then, instead of buying a whole new laptop every time there’s an advance in, say, processor speeds, you just take it to your neighborhood Apple Store and have one of their icobblers swap out the processor for a new one. No need to waste all of those precious materials by tossing out the whole unit. Just adopt the cobbler methodology and extend the useful life of a resource-intensive product by years, maybe decades.

I realize that this is a return to the way that many computers (mostly PCs) used to be made. In fact, some still are made this way. The difference is the way in which it’s done. Formalize it; standardize it; coolifize it. Make a statement while making a positive change for our planet.

How’s that sound, Apple? You in?

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A carbon footprint is a way of measuring how much energy, Carbon Dioxide, CO2, we use to sustain ourselves. Average American household uses 53 tons of carbon each year. Average World use, 11 tons per household. I took the carbon test and our (2 people) carbon count was 15 tons. 15 tons of gas seems like a lot for 2 people. However, carbon is a naturally occurring substance. As a matter of fact it is a necessary element for life. Without it we would die for sure. So the trick here is balance. That is what Nature is all about. Balance. That is Mother Nature’s sole purpose in Life is to maintain balance and there is no stopping Her.

Things get out of whack and she reacts almost instantly to set things right. Less fruit on the trees in dry years, more fruit in wet years, more baby animals are born when things are good and food is abundant, less when things are lean and mean you know the drill. She does whatever she has to do to keep things balanced.

Before man started burning oil, coal, and gas roughly around the time of the Industrial Revolution in the 1700’s, everything was pretty much in sync. Oh, there was the occasional Krakatoa, ice age, melting of the ice caps, meteors crashing into the earth, forest fires from lighting strikes, but nothing as devastating as the sustained and constant abuse from the newest addition to the food chain, human beings. Naturally billions of tons of atmospheric CO2 are removed from the atmosphere by oceans and growing plants, and are emitted back into the atmosphere annually through this natural processes. When in balance the total carbon emissions and removals from the entire carbon cycle are roughly balanced. Before the Mechanical/Electrical/Transportation Age the demand on nonrenewable resources, the coal, oil and gases from the dead plants and dinosaurs buried in the earth, was pretty sustainable for everyone and everything.

One day Krakatoa erupted.



It put tons of extra stuff into the atmosphere. And then it stopped. For the next 5 or 10 years Nature worked it’s little hoofies to the quick getting everything cleaned up and back in sync. Humans on the other hand are an on-going-never-ending Krakatoa. We do not stop erupting. We do not allow for down time to regroup and replenish our resources. We are like the energizer bunny. We just keep using that nonrenewable energy like there was no tomorrow.

Unlike Mother Nature, who only uses what she needs and recycles everything, we humans just gobble up the resources without thinking about where our next meal is coming from. This is not going over real big with Mother Dearest. We use way more energy than we produce and that causes the balance of things to get all screwed up.  Things have to be balanced in order for them to work properly. And the worst part is that upsetting the balance just pisses Mom off. A pissed off Mom is never a good thing. She WILL get even and that is not always a pleasant thing.

In the past She pretty much looked to the 4 and 2 legged inhabitants as the source of her frustration with the imbalance. Remember that dinosaur thing? Then on the other hand plants, trees, vegetation in general seem to get it. They know what it means to be fair and equal. It is what they do. So She doesn’t pick on them so much and perhaps for good reason. They don’t piss her off nearly as much as humans who are always taking more than they need and giving back less than is required to maintain a balanced cycle. She does have a way of weeding out the gross polluters and currently all indicators of a malfunction in Her perfect world is pointing to us.

So, if I want to stay on Mother Nature’s good side my carbon footprint better start looking like  broccoli


or a sweet pea or, oh yes, a chicken. Chickens are great little eco factories. Food in food out. Pretty ‘eco’ nomical.  My 15 is going to come up on Her radar screen sooner or later. I could do a couple of things to get the number down. One thing, and not my first choice, is die. That pretty much forces me to stop using carbon and to start giving it back (decomposing is a great equalizer). Another way, and my favorite, is plant some plants. This would help offset at least some of the nonrenewable energy resources with some renewables. Planting a tree, preferably a female one, or anything green kicks the recycling thing into gear. This would explain why deforestation is such a big problem. The Rain forest is disappearing at the rate of 3,000 acres an hour. Without trees the ocean is working overtime processing the excess carbon we are burning and is just not able to keep up. The ocean can recycle but honestly it can’t do it alone. It takes both the photosynthesis of live plants and water to make things work right.    No wonder Nature gets pissed off.  She gives us all these great gifts air,water, sunshine, trees, plants, animals, (mosquitos and roaches not so great ) for free, and we destroy them without even thinking about it.

If you would like to see what your footprint looks like and what your true color is take the test.   http://www.nature.org/initiatives/climatechange/calculator/. If you come up smelling like a rose, then good for you. Now convince one other person to do the same. However, if you come up smelling like c—p, a stinky, gassy emitter, you may want to make some changes. This is really what being green means. We have to act more like a  tree or bush that creates renewable energy and less like a dead dinosaur that is stinking the place up with a lot of bad gas. Pee you.

I am pretty sure if we don’t do something about this carbon thing Mother Nature will do it for us. She has been very patient with us up until now. But that patience may be wearing thin. We have seen some pretty bizarre weather patterns of late. Could this be a warning of things to come? Whatever is happening all I know for sure is that Mom is at Her best when everything is Balanced. It is all about Balance.

Bill McKibben is on this Carbon thing and is doing his level best to get us back on track. He has an event scheduled in October. It is going to be a biggie. Read all about it. www.350.org

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