Mar 25, 2008

Spring in Washington DC

The leaves are turning green, the flowers are blossoming, and the air is crisp with the smell of spring arriving. With spring at our doorsteps, we should be busy planning our outdoor activities. Although we lead very busy lifestyles in this day and age, it's important to take advantage of the changing seasons. The cold and dark winter has kept us locked up indoors for too long, feeling lazy and tired to do anything. Living in the Washington DC metro area especially gives one the opportunity to enjoy the spring and summer seasons to the utmost. Running on the W&OD trail, biking through Rock Creek Park, or simply walking through the city to enjoy the Cherry Blossom Festival are some of the many activities to enjoy here. Along with the locals, visitors in the nation's capitol have plenty to do as well. Tourist from all over the country come here to enjoy the celebrations of spring, take in the festive atmosphere, and of course learn about American history as told by the numerous landmarks and monuments. So when considering a spring fling, one should think about sipping coffee at the Sculpture Garden cafe, watching the flowers bloom at the National Botanical Garden, or simply walking down 1400 Pennsylvania Ave.

Mar 16, 2008

11th hour

This friday went to Georgetown University for a viewing of the documentary narrated - and in part written by Leonardo DiCaprio on the environment titled "The 11th Hour".

Jim Woolsey, former director of the CIA and Stephan McGuire, co-Producer of The 11th Hour and Betsy Taylor, co-founder of 1-Sky were there for a panel discussion, it was really nice to meet Jim Woolsey in person he has not only been doing a great deal of talking about the threat to our environment and the dangers of ignoring it, but has also been investing in many clean energy startups, in fact he has taken the best ideas that are already out there for reducing your carbon foot print and has implemented them in his own life, he drives a prius - which he turned in to a plugin - which he charges with the help of the solar pannels that power his house too.

Some quite interesting facts were brought to light at the event, and again one thing of interest was the fact that no body seems to be in favor of nuclear power, its micro power where ever you go.

The movie was good, it has a lot of interviews from Scientists and other folks currently involved with the green movement, I personally like what David Suzuki had to say, though if you are following some of the thought leaders on the subject of environment then you would realize that the movie itself had nothing new to add to whats already out there. Though it does help raise more awareness for the issue and Leonardo's charm would certainly help in that respect.

You can check out the trailer of the movie here

Mar 12, 2008

Amory Lovins, RMI and Defence Science board report

last night had the chance to hear Amory in person, he was the main speaker at an event in Washington DC (Arlington, VA actually), where he presented the 2008 Defense Science Board (DSB) report, he is a member of the DSB Energy Task Force, a civilian experts committee to advise DoD on energy.

My reason for being there was less for the report and more to meet Amory, for those not aware of how Amory or his research institute is different from the other environmental groups or individuals RMI is not in the business of telling Governments how to spend more money, instead they have been there telling businesses how to increase ROI (and Governments how to add more value to there services) by doing what they already do in a better way.

For me it was more of a pilgrimage. I have been closely following his Institutes research online, became an even bigger fan after going through Natural Capitalism and think they have done an admirable job at working with the field proven technologies in coming up with ground breaking energy efficiency solutions, the best thing about his approach towards the whole issue is his attention to the net value gained by increasing efficiency by design, this makes him not only a favorite amongst idealist but also a close friend of the business world.

As far as the RMIs stance on energy policy goes in his own words its pretty much the same as it was the first time (few years back) they came out with a report, though the consequences of not acting on the revised recommendations now are even more dire then earlier estimated.

Ed Begley is another guy who I really admire for his work towards increasing awareness for a smaller carbon foot print, he has been talking about conservation and energy efficiency for as long as RMI, though he is more on the receiving end of the design/technological advances that may happen as a result of research carried out by institutes such as RMI.

for those interested in RMIs solution for solving the looming energy crisis, its not nuclear power, in fact he thinks nuclear is the least cost effective of all non-carbon/low-carbon solutions, he is all about micro-power; wind mills/solar spread all across the world, distributed power supply is much more safer and smarter compared to grid based.

Mar 10, 2008

has it really hit the ceiling?

interesting news today, the latest assessment of scientists on climate changes is out, the looming environmental dooms day threat is still as eminent and present as it was during the Kyoto signing, the only thing different in the report is the time left for us to clean up our act, check out the news coverage here on washingtonpost.

Something related to the same issue was also reported in print here but this time its China, the sleeping giant is doing a pretty sloppy job when it comes to taking care of the air/water quality and noise pollution, the Olympics just around the corner the pressure on Beijing is mounting (no country wants its athletes coming back coughing blood) you can get an idea of what that story is all about here on nytimes.

Here is an excerpt:

"...Beijing has long ranked as one of the world’s most polluted cities. To win the Games, Beijing promised a “Green Olympics” and undertook environmental initiatives now considered models for the rest of the country. But greening Beijing has not meant slowing it down. Officials also have encouraged an astonishing urbanization boom that has made environmental gains seem modest, if not illusory.

Beijing is like an athlete trying to get into shape by walking on a treadmill yet eating double cheeseburgers at the same time. Polluting factories have been moved or closed. But auto emissions are rising as the city adds up to 1,200 new cars and trucks every day. Dirty, coal-burning furnaces have been replaced, lowering the city’s sulfur dioxide emissions. But fine-particle pollution has been exacerbated by a staggering citywide construction binge that shows no signs of letting up..."