10 ways to be green

Guest Column
The Saint Petersburg Times
June 1, 2007, June 12, 2007, July 11, 2007
Print Version
Finally, the late-night shows have stopped making fun of Sheryl Crow’s call for
banning too much use of toilet paper. She suggested using only one square per
bathroom visit. I say do not give Sheryl a hard time as she is blessed - she needs
only one square.  The rest of us think that mega rolls and jumbo packs of tissue
paper are the best things invented since sliced bread.

All this is part of the conservation of energy fad.  Let me make something clear -
conservation of energy does not work unless it is pricey to be otherwise or if the
government mandates it.  

Waste of energy is a sign of prosperity. Show me a country with low energy use
per capita, I will show you a poor country.

No matter how much we conserve, our energy demand is only going to go up. As
an example, look at the new scientific field of nanotechnology where you want to
manipulate a material molecule by molecule. Imagine how much energy that
would consume on a per unit volume basis.

But since we are all on the conservation of energy bandwagon and every one is
coming up with ten ways to be more green (I wore a green shirt yesterday), here
is my list – some serious and some tongue-in-cheek.

  1. Stop circling. Are you a driver who circles around a parking lot to find the
    nearest spot to your final destination. We should start issuing anti-green
    tickets to these drivers. You will be able to make a killing at USF where
    students are always circling around to find a place close to their classroom.
  2. Take cold showers.  All teenagers should be required to take cold
    showers. Unwanted teenage pregnancy will decrease, and we will have
    less little ones graded right out their womb with their Apgar and carbon
    footprint scores.
  3. Impose Gas Guzzling Tax: There should be a minimum allowable weight of
    driver to weight of the vehicle ratio. A 100 lb driver in a 8000 lb SUV is just
    plain wrong on so many levels.  An annual tax based on this ratio should
    be imposed - lower the ratio, higher the taxes.  
  4. Use CFL bulbs.  Yes, those compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) are ugly. But
    these lamps for 13W of power give you an equivalent light of an 100W
    incandescent lamp. However, remember that the bulbs have as much as
    5mg of mercury. If the bulb breaks in your home, good luck with your home
    insurance company willing to pay for the cleanup. Five years from now,
    when people start disposing the burnt out CFLs improperly, mercury
    pollution in your ground water would become an issue.
  5. Use wind energy. Well, I am not talking about the wind energy of teenage
    boys and middle-aged men. The cows have us beaten in that area;
    livestock create more greenhouse gas effect than all the cars running in
    the world. I am talking about windmills.  Before any environmental club
    member shows his card to me, I have this to say - modern windmills are
    quieter and every year cats kill more birds than windmills do.
  6. Stop drinking bottled water. You are getting clean water, even cleaner in
    many cases, from your tap. All the energy spent in bottling, transporting,
    and recycling is unnecessary. "Because it's not bottled in Cleveland" was a
    recent catch phrase of a bottling company.  Cleveland municipal officials
    found 6.3 micro grams of arsenic in the bottling company’s water while
    Cleveland water had no measurable arsenic. If you are still unconvinced
    about the safety of your tap water, buy your next refrigerator with a filter
    or get a portable filter pitcher.
  7. Lose weight. In his article, Time For Something Lighter: Obesity,
    Transportation and Energy Use, Steve Polzin of CUTR at USF writes that
    more than 50% of American adults are overweight, and if they lose just 20
    lbs each, we will annually save half a billion gallons of gas – a small dent in
    our yearly 150 billion gallons of gas consumption.
  8. Adopt locally. Just calculate the amount of energy you are spending in
    adopting a kid from Africa and China. The kid’s carbon footprint increases
    several folds as soon as he is in your arms.
  9. Turn off vampire devices. Even when not in use, rechargers and plugged-
    in TVs, CDs and VCRs consume energy. Put them on outlet strips so that
    you can turn them off at night or when not in use.
  10. Have a clothesline. All HOAs reading this are clenching their teeth, getting
    on their knees and giving a primal cry of despair as if I have killed their
    firstborn. God gave us the sun – nature’s own clothes dryer. We not only
    save the energy, but clothes last longer, maintain their colors, and get

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