Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hot Tip for Businesses: Waste Reduction and Financial Savings in One

This may not be the sexiest of topics, but I think it's really worth sharing. Over the past few weeks I've learned a lot about the merits (and challenges) of reusable packaging and shipping containers for businesses. It's largely a B2B matter, so there's not a lot of cultural cachet in making the switch. But moving from disposable to reusable shipping containers is almost guaranteed to not only keep large quantities of wood, cardboard, plastic, and other waste out of the landfill, but also to save the business equally significant amounts of money on a regular basis once those materials no longer need to be constantly replenished. Here's my story in the East Bay Express about reusable packaging and's efforts to promote it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Going Carless

Well, the human-powered explorer (that's, um, me) has gone carless. After minimal deliberation, I sold my trusty 1994 Honda Prelude this past weekend. Got some extra money in my pocket and a $3,500 liability off the street. Didn't really need it, anyway; in six years I put fewer than 25,000 miles on the odometer. That, and the fact that our new place is three blocks from the MacArthur BART station. And that I bike to work every day (and just about everywhere else, now that I reside in the flats).
It's wonderful getting around by bike and by foot. I'm addicted. Hence the blog. This is the theme that binds my passions for running, hiking, backpacking, and biking. It's also a symbol of my philosophy toward man's ideal relationship with his environment, whether urban, suburban, or rural. Human-powered exploration allows us to interact with nature and other people. It provides health and exercise benefits. And it makes transportation less a chore than an experience in and of itself.
Without a car, I'll be doing even more human-powered exploring. I can't wait. And I'll report back about the best of it, so stay tuned.

From the Mercury News: Oakland Solar Firm Scores Huge Federal Loan

"Oakland solar firm secures $1.4 billion loan"
BrightSource Energy Inc. on Monday landed preliminary approval for a $1.37 billion loan guarantee from the federal government to help finance construction of a big solar energy complex in the Mojave Desert.
"This is a major milestone in getting this project built," said Keely Wachs, a spokesman for BrightSource Energy.
Oakland-based BrightSource has been seeking state and federal approval for the solar project that would rise in the desert in the Ivanpah Valley.
Read more:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

From the Chron: Fishing Ban on Alameda Creek to Save Steelhead Trout

"2-year fishing ban to save Alameda Creek trout"
The steelhead trout have pretty much vanished from Alameda Creek, so state officials decided it was time to ban fishing.
Sport fishing will be closed for at least two years starting March 1 downstream from the San Antonio, Calaveras and Del Valle reservoirs, which typically supply about 15 percent of San Francisco's water supply.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chevron Won't Meet Environmental Groups in the Middle

Last year, a coalition of environmental groups sued to stop Chevron's planned expansion and upgrade of its Richmond plant due to an insufficient environmental impact report. The judge ruled on their side and the massive construction project has been in limbo ever since. Chevron even threatened to downsize or leave Richmond altogether, stirring concern that the city's tax base and employment figures would be impacted by the dispute. In recent months, the environmental groups have made repeated efforts to reach a resolution with Chevron, but the oil company has been unwilling to negotiate, instead deferring to the court of appeals process it initiated last summer.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Unlikely High-School Students Spend a Summer with Biofuels

This piece in California magazine has been out for a few months, but better late than never.... It's an uplifiting look at a program that took place last summer at the state-of-the-art Joint BioEnergy Institute in Emeryville. Six Bay Area high school students who came from diverse backgrounds and families with little to no college experience were chosen to spend forty hours a week learning about biofuels. They spent a lot of that time in the lab conducting an experiment designed to identify and evaluate enzymes that could be used to break down plant matter for use in biofuels. It was great to meet the kids and see them present their work to their parents at the final presentation back in August. Amazing that it's already been that long. Wonder what they're up to now ... 

A Good Sign for Salmon in the San Joaquin

Good news for salmon in the San Joaquin River, historically home to one of the state's biggest runs. The Chronicle reported today that a series of water releases from Friant Dam outside Fresno into a long-dry section of the San Joaquin began last week and will continue throughout the year. It's part of an initial series of tests designed to return native chinook to the river by 2012. The thing that strikes me is the lengths we -- that is, environmentalists, farmers, fisherman, and public agencies in cohort -- are finally willing to go to save this important species. But with the state's salmon population in such dire straits, will the efforts be too little too late?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

From Indybay: Steelhead Slowly Returning to the Mokelumne

"Mokelumne River Steelhead Run Increases In Recent Years"
The numbers of steelhead returning to the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery in recent years don’t compare to those at Nimbus, Feather and Coleman fish hatcheries, but they are a vast improvement over many years when no adult steelhead returned to the facility.
Read more: