Eric Kerby: Photography, Web Design, Programming

Archive for the 'Environment' Category

Thoughts while flying

February 23rd, 2009

I just arrived at Dulles airport outside of DC for a day trip to northern VA. While in the air over the late evening ground below, I was reminded how inefficiently we use light outdoors. A great deal of the illumination from parking lots, roads, houses, and businesses is partially directed upwards, never to serve its purpose of lighting up the ground. The waste is clearly seen with all the specular lights giving a show for jetsetters. The occasional parking lot or road does it right: the ground is visibly illuminated, but the source of the light is not visible from above. It seems to me that we could save a lot of energy by better directing all of a lamp's output downwards. Simple reflectors on top of lamps would handle this effectively. This would not only allow for lower output lamps, but less light pollution, fewer negative effects on wildlife, and much better stargazing! So, could someone get on this, please?

"We need to act now."

July 19th, 2008

On July 17th Al Gore delivered another speech in Washington, DC. This was one of his most direct, clear, and effective addresses to the American people. The message is simple: we cannot wait to fix the impact of humanity on the environment. His approach: push the lawmakers, corporations, and citizens of the United States to buck up and move to an all-renewable, electric economy within 10 years. As with my last Gore post, I'm including a video of his speech.  Watch the short version below, and if you really want to save our planet and our economy, watch the full version as well.  Below the video, you will find some quotations I found particularly useful or pertinent to the message.  Please take this seriously.

Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.

We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that's got to change.

When we send money to foreign countries to buy nearly 70 percent of the oil we use every day, they build new skyscrapers and we lose jobs. When we spend that money building solar arrays and windmills, we build competitive industries and gain jobs here at home.

To those who say the challenge is not politically viable: I suggest they go before the American people and try to defend the status quo. Then bear witness to the people's appetite for change.

I have long supported a sharp reduction in payroll taxes with the difference made up in CO2 taxes. We should tax what we burn, not what we earn.

It is only a truly dysfunctional system that would buy into the perverse logic that the short-term answer to high gasoline prices is drilling for more oil ten years from now in areas that should be protected.

So I ask you to join with me to call on every candidate, at every level, to accept this challenge – for America to be running on 100 percent zero-carbon electricity in 10 years. It's time for us to move beyond empty rhetoric. We need to act now.

We're committed to changing not just light bulbs, but laws. And laws will only change with leadership.

Our entire civilization depends upon us now embarking on a new journey of exploration and discovery. Our success depends on our willingness as a people to undertake this journey and to complete it within 10 years. Once again, we have an opportunity to take a giant leap for humankind.

Listen to Al Gore…I mean it

April 10th, 2008

A man who needs little introduction these days is Al Gore.  I have been following his more recent efforts to give the world a wake-up call on the climate crisis we face.  Recently he presented his latest set of slides and motivational words to an audience at a TED conference in Monterey, California.  Please, no matter what your attitude toward climate change, take a few minutes to watch the video I included with this post.

Go Native, Avoid Invasion

November 22nd, 2007

Many people have heard the concept of "native species" as it refers to the plants in their backyards or the wildlife around their homes. I don't think enough people realize, however, the devastating effects that non-native species can have. An article on "The 5 Worst Invasive Species in the World" by Environmental Graffiti reminded me how bad the problem can become. Luckily, considering native species seems to be more and more common in landscaping projects. Some scientists are also having great luck replacing corn-based ethanol with cellulosic ethanol produced from switchgrass, a native Prairie grass.

Discussing the environment

November 20th, 2007

As I said in a previous post, I want to post more often about environmental topics that I run across. To that end I have been following several eco-based blogs over the past few weeks. Quite often a story catches my eye, so in the future I'll try to post and comment on such items here. To get things started…at the beginning of November the U.S. Conference of Mayors held a summit on climate protection. Former President Bill Clinton gave an hour long keynote address highlighting work of his Foundation's "Clinton Climate Initiative" and showing our country's mayors that being "green" is good for business and the economy. He stressed that our cities need to work together on a local level to push sustainability and green practices as an example to the rest of the world (and to the US Federal government) that being green does not mean losing money. If you have the time (and Real Player installed…yuck), watch his address. I watched most of the speech and have to say that Clinton has not lost his touch for public speaking (of course he was good at RIT, too). I sincerely hope this makes a positive impact on the environmental considerations of our country's cities.