Monday, March 7, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green

Kermit 'Goes Green' for the Ford Escape Hybrid in 2006
 There's been a huge push for the American Public to 'Go Green' from 'Environmentally Aware' folks and political types across America.  Why?  Because to many of these people, concerns of the Environment have replaced religion in their life.  I may be 'desperately clinging to my guns and religion' (thanks Mr. Obama), but I think there is a louder (yet  significantly smaller) chorus of people out there clinging to their Blu Ray copies of "An Inconvenient Truth" and their dog-eared copies of "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson.  

If you weren't aware, Rachel was instrumental in getting DDT outlawed as a pesticide.  She was concerned about protecting wildlife, baby eagles, egrets, etc.  But, the fallout from DDT bans yielded other Inconvenient Truths of their own.

Consider this:  "Thanks principally to DDT, in the years after World War II malaria was eradicated in the U.S. and sharply curtailed in many tropical countries. Venezuela recorded eight million cases of malaria in 1943; by 1958 that number was down to eight hundred. The World Health Organization estimates that DDT saved 50 to 100 million lives during this period, and that's just counting malaria prevention.

In recent years, however, the disease has staged a comeback. Globally it quadrupled during the 1990s, and it's even reappeared sporadically in the United States. The resurgence of malaria is due to a variety of factors, including changes in land use and possibly climate, and some experts say the phasing out of DDT is one of them."  Source:  Cecil Adams - The Straight Dope 

Well, at least the eagles made a comeback! 

Using the same scientific reasoning path as Ms. Carson...  Perhaps eagles CAUSE Malaria?!?! 

Hmm, I wonder?

I'm sorry, I've digressed once again.  Back to the subject at hand.

Congress has passed legislation making it illegal to buy incandescent light bulbs and replacing them with the Environmentally 'Spooky' compact fluorescent bulbs.  They don't light up quickly (especially when they're cold), they're bad for your eyes,  they cost more than traditional bulbs, and they don't last as long as advertised, but, seriously, would you expect any less from a recommendation from your Congress?


DISCLAIMER:  Just as a reminder, if you ever break one of THESE bulbs (which are almost exclusively made in China because their too environmentally destructive to manufacture HERE) please follow the following simple steps outlined below, courtesy of YOUR EPA:
  1. Before cleanup 
    • Have people and pets leave the room.
    • Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment. 
    • Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.
    • Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb.
  1. During cleanup
    • Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.
    • Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.
  1. After cleanup
    • Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of properly. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
    • If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.
For the more-detailed instruction list (and even 'Spookier' Mercury debridement solutions) click the following:  "Mercury"  - It's NOT just in Tuna Anymore!

My favorite line found in these expanded instructions?  "Consider not using CFLs in lamps that can be easily knocked over, in unprotected light fixtures, or in lamps that are incompatible with the spiral or folded shape of many CFLs."

I was encouraged to have an excuse NOT to use CFLs until I realized that it will be illegal to purchase ANY incandescent bulb after 2014.  Gee, thanks Congress! 

[REMINDER TO SELF:  Hit the Lowe's now for 'real' light bulbs before they're all gone - the 100 Watters are already illegal]

Besides replacing all the working bulbs in your home for with ones filled with a poisonous gas, what else is new on the 'Green Front'???

Well, there are several automotive solutions which are going to set the world on FIRE with their Eco-Friendliness Quotients (EFQ's - I just made this up, but it sounds official, doesn't it?). 

And HERE they are!!!

The 2011 Chevy Volt gets 230 Miles per Gallon!
The Chevrolet Volt!  Your tax dollars at work...
As advertised above, the Chevrolet Volt gets a whopping 230 MPG! 

Just look at the window stick and you'll know that it's true:
Yes, this is the Actual EPA Required Window Sticker for Fuel Economy
I am pleased to report that the Chevrolet Volt gets somewhere between 230 and 37 Miles Per Gallon (when actually running on a 'Gallon' of gas). 

Isn't THAT impressive!?!?!

And, how does the Chevrolet Volt rate when ranked in 12 'Greenest Vehicles of 2011' competition? 

The Volt has an extremely strong ranking of, um, 'last'.

Well, surely other car companies are jumping into the 'Green Fray'.  How are they doing? 

Let's look at the Nissan Leaf.  It's ALL electric (it never met an outlet it didn't like) AND it receives a 'Green Rating' of 54!  That IS impressive, isn't it?!?!
The 2011 Nissan Leaf
These are two of the cars that the Obama Administration wants you to buy. 

You'll even get tax rebates to do so!

A couple of flies in the ointment, though:

1.  The Chevrolet Volt has an average MSRP of over $40,000

2.  The Nissan Leaf has an MSRP of over $32,000

By comparison, a 'Loaded Up' Ford Fiesta SFE (Number 7 on the above list of Greenest Vehicles) will run you just about $15,500 but, sorry, no tax rebate from Uncle Sam.  But, selling at about HALF the cost of the 'Greenest Vehicles' mentioned above I'm thinking that the $16 to $24 THOUSAND dollars you'll save over the other two options will buy a lot of gas for you over the next few years.

So, have American citizens embraced the new 'Green Techology' to move their families around?  Of course they have!!!

Let's take a look at the sales numbers for this year alone!!!

                                     January US Sales          February US Sales
Chevrolet Volt                   321                                     281
Nissan Leaf                          87                                       67 

Holy Moly, these two US Government Endorsed vehicles have sold almost 800 vehicles year to date (combined)!!!

Without tax incentives, glitzy advertising, and fawning media coverage, Ford has sold 6,270 units in February, 2011 of the new Fiesta. 

Huh, it would appear to the un-trained eye that Ford Motor Company might just be doing something right here - WITHOUT the active participation of the US government?  How could THAT be???

I guess that perhaps car guys / gals should probably build, market, and survey their prospective customers to see what drivers want vs. allowing the government to mandate which cars they build. 

Well, at least for now, before Congress starts outlawing cars like they did with Thomas Edison's best work... 

A word to the wise:  You might want to buy your Ford Fiesta now (before Congress outlaws it).  I just hope they leave the headlights alone...  I'd hate to be sitting in my car in Central New York waiting ten minutes for the bulbs to warm up.

I offer the following song in condolence to the folks at Chevrolet, Nissan, and the US Senate:   

Have a nice week folks, I'll leave my incandescent lights on for ya.
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