October link roundup

Relatively quick link roundup. I’ve been busy admiring the Republican party’s implosion and planning for a month of travel — I’ll be away for four of the next five weeks. If I wait much longer, though, some of these election-related links will be pointless.

  1. Jeffrey Ball in the WSJ notes some counter-intuitive findings from corporate carbon footprinting projects. Note that such analyses only consider the carbon impacts of products, not the whole ecological footprint. Major surprise: transportation is often not the biggest contributor to a product’s carbon footprint:
    – shipping shoes from China vs. making cowhide (or polyester)
    – powder detergent is lighter/easier to ship vs. the process energy of making liquid into powder
    – chilling beer at the store vs. trucking beer cross-country
    In all three cases, it turns out that manufacture (or storage, for beer) is still more carbon-intensive than transportation.
  2. How does “clean coal” work? Eric de Place from Sightline explains, in one word: unicorns!
  3. Compare: earlier this year, California advocates (Environment California) urged merely slowing VMT growth “by roughly half between 2008 and 2030” — getting existing residents to stop driving more after 2010 and getting new, post-2010 residents to drive 20% less (consistent with how people in TODs live, and thereby assuming that new population growth will be steered to TODs).

    The Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group, on the other hand (the formal state policy advisory board) actually goes much further in its land use/transportation recommendations, aiming for a 15% reduction in existing per-capita VMT — and explicitly adopting the “three-legged stool” metaphor (vehicle efficiency, low-carbon fuels, and less driving) from “Growing Cooler.”

  4. Arlington has proposed a “bike station” for an indoor/outdoor transit plaza site outside the Ballston metro. Shades of the Polish Triangle?
  5. It was bound to happen: the GOP’s post-Joe-the-Plumber hysteria over “redistributive” “socialism” have, well, socialists scratching their heads. Katherine Marsh asks Brian Moore, running for president on the Socialist ticket, about it at TNR, while the Trib’s Rex Huppke (forever “that bald guy Daley made fun of“) went and talked to honest-to-god people from CPUSA, DSA, and Brookings (!). Timothy Noah, in Slate, goes and resurrects, um, Teddy Roosevelt.

    The shocker? Redistribution isn’t particularly “socialist” (as if that were a bad thing), it’s what our current tax code does, and the Obama plan goes no further than to restore Clinton-era marginal tax rates — which still resulted in astonishing economic growth, although arguably growth was even better under the 160%-higher-than-today upper-income tax brackets of the Eisenhower years.

  6. Brian Vickers, a Carolina-born NASCAR star, becomes a car-free urbanite on weekends. Dave Caldwell in the Times: “It’s also near a subway stop. This stock car driver does not keep a car in New York, and he hates the city’s ultra-heavy traffic. He does own a sturdy black bicycle, which he has used to explore Manhattan from tip to tip. ‘This city is so big, with so many neighborhoods,’ he said, ‘and until you get here, you don’t really understand that.’ “
  7. HOPE VI: the play, coming soon.
  8. Via Crain’s, Foreign Policy has an actually useful and competently researched city ranking: the 2008 Global Cities Index.
  9. I was skeptical when I got a call regarding this feature, but Nara Schoenberg’s “Greenest Chicagoan” pick (Ken Dunn) makes sense — and is backed up by actual analysis. Of course, Ken’s greatest contribution to minimizing his ecological footprint isn’t through his personal choices, but in what he does for a living — keeping tons of waste out of landfills through reuse, compost, or recycling.
  10. James Kotecki discovers that he, too, is “Living in Fake America” after a McCain adviser says that NoVa is apparently not “real Virginia.” Sure, American anti-urbanism is as old as Jefferson and Thoreau, but it makes little sense for politicians to insult and alienate the 84% of Americans who live in metro areas. The Philly Daily News takes issue with Palin’s “we believe that the best of America is in these small towns… in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hardworking, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation” speech: “the culture war between small towns and big cities… isn’t a war you can win… [Ben Franklin] also said that we must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately. Think about that next time you dis our cities.”
  11. Michael Pollan’s latest Times Magazine slow-food polemic apparently reached its intended audience: presumed President-elect Barack Obama, who already has demonstrated an affinity for the locavore Rick Bayless’ food. (Bayless claims to raise most of his restaurant’s salad greens at his home, a few blocks from mine.) More heartening: Pollan’s critiques address the complex policy interlockings behind the food system (to name just one complex system), and the candidate (smart guy that he is) gets it!

2 thoughts on “October link roundup

  1. RE: liquid vs. powder detergent
    According to the WSJ article, it states multiple times that using a liquid detergent results in a lower carbon footprint. But then when it mentions the carbon-net-gain when washing with cold water, it says, “That’s as much of a reduction as you get from switching to liquid from powder.”

    One would infere from this last sentence that a carbon-footprint is to be reduced by using powder instead of liquid. This contradicts prior parts of this portion of their article.

    By the way you wrote on your initial post, you seem to believe the powder is of lower carbon-footprint, no? Or is powder a better product for lowing water consumption? I’ve found contradicting evidence on the liquid vs. powder on-line. Imagine that!


  2. The Journal says that the lowest possible carbon footprint comes from washing with liquid, in cold water. The carbon footprint wouldn’t consider the water usage. (Not to mention that liquid works better with cold water; sometimes the powder doesn’t dissolve properly in cold water.)

    I had suspected that the greater shipping weight of the liquid vs. the powder would’ve resulted in a larger carbon footprint, but I suppose that’s wrong. I’ll still use powder per some clothing-care guidelines; the fabric softeners added to liquid detergent don’t agree with waterproofing.

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