October 2008

Monthly Archive

Ecotopia #6: California Proposition 7

Posted by on 21 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

In this program, we discuss California’s Prop 7, which would mandate that utilities obtain 20% of their power from renewable resources by 2010, 40% by 2020, and 50% by 2025. Representing Yes On Seven is Donald Aitken, formerly Chair of Environmental Sciences at San Jose State. Speaking against the proposition is Jan Smutny-Jones Executive Director of the Independent Energy Producers Association.

Listen online now!

Proposition 7:

  • Requires utilities, including government-owned utilities, to generate 20% of their power from renewable energy by 2010.
  • Raises requirement for utilities to 40% by 2020 and 50% by 2025.
  • Imposes penalties  for noncompliance.
  • Fast-tracks approval for new renewable energy plants.Requires utilities to sign longer contracts (20 year minimum) to procure renewable energy.
  • Creates account to purchase rights-of-way and facilities for the transmission of renewable energy. 

ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF PROP 7 (from the California Voter’s Guide):


  • 7 is a balanced solution that will reduce the rising costs of energy, and limit the dangers of global warming, including increased wildfires, water shortages, threats to endangered species, and illnesses from heat induced pollution.
  • Make California the world leader in clean power technology. Help create over 370,000 new high wage jobs.·         
  • If the utilities fail to meet renewable energy standards, utilities are prohibited from passing on penalty costs to consumers.·         
  • Proposition 7’s shift to solar and clean energy is guaranteed to never add more than 3% per year to our electrical bills.
  • Prop. 7 is a flawed measure that will:
    • NOT achieve its stated goals and will actually disrupt renewable power development.
    • Shut small renewable energy companies out of California’s market.
    • Unnecessarily increase electric bills and taxpayer costs by hundreds of millions of dollars, without achieving its stated goals.
    • Create market conditions that could lead to another energy crisis.
  • Proposition 7 allows power providers to always charge 10% above the market price of power, stifling competition for renewable power.


  • California Voter Information Guide (delivered by mail, call 1-800-345-8683)   Online http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov/
  • Yes: www.Yeson7.net             No:  www.NoProp7.com

Ecotopia #5 Biomass and Biofuels October 14, 2007

Posted by on 14 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

In this program, we interview Greg Melville, author of Greasy Rider, a nonfiction account of his trip across America in a fry-oil fueled 1985 Mercedes Benz stationwagon. Then we speak with Thor Bailey, president of Ag-Biomass, a northern California organization that is seeking to help farmers make better use of the biomass on their lands.

 Listen online now!



  • International Herald Tribune.  In a report released this summer, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (a consortium of mostly EU countries, plus Japan, Australia, and the U.S) concluded that government support of biofuel production in OECD countries was hugely expensive and “had a limited impact on reducing greenhouse gases and improving energy security.” http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/10/07/healthscience/fuel.php


  • From Science Daily comes a report  on “Discovering Drugs, Biofuels In Tropical Seas,”  (Oct. 7, 2008) — The National Institutes of Health has awarded $4 million to a group of Philippine and American scientists to aid in the discovery of new biofuels technology from marine mollusks for development in the Philippines. Shipworms, the marine equivalent of termites and the scourge of wooden structures in estuarine and marine habitats worldwide, are the focus. A relative of the clam, the shipwworm hosts bacteria inside its gills that produce enzymes to help them digest wood and may prove useful for converting cellulosic biomass into biofuels. Cellulosic ethanol can be produced from cheap and abundant sources such as agricultural residue, fast-growing prairie grasses, lumber mill waste, and even municipal garbage. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081007073930.htm


  • From Mother Jones comes an intensive investigation of the possibilities for U.S. energy independence.  Paul Roberts, author of The End of Oil, call the notion of energy independence a “populist charade masquerading as energy strategy?” He argues that “energy independence” is primarily being used as a political trick by ethanol cheerleaders, electric utilities pushing coal and nuclear, and supporters of drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. He notes that it’s taken nearly eight years for hybrid cars to reach three percent of the new car market. Despite all the talk about other wonder car solutions—including clean diesel, cellulosic ethanol, plug-in hybrids, hypercars and hydrogen vehicles—those technologies have not even entered the market. If we fully acknowledge that these solutions will take a lot of time to roll out, then we’ll realize that we need to completely redefine the problem. Roberts writes:“Even if we had good alternatives ready to deploy—a fleet of superefficient cars, say, or refineries churning out gobs of cheap hydrogen for fuel cells—we’d need decades, and great volumes of energy, including oil, to replace all the cars, pipelines, refineries, and other bits of the old oil infrastructure.”  http://www.hybridcars.com/oil-dependence/energy-independence-charade.html


  • From the British newspaper The Sun and the Kicking Tires blog comes a discussion of whether or not Mercedes Benz might produce a fossil-free fleet of cars by 2015.  The Sun reported that a top engineer for Mercedes-Benz said the company could ditch petroleum-fuel vehicles entirely by the year 2015. Blogger Stephen Markely says the story is somewhat  misleading because the engineer, Herbert Kohler, actually said that he saw alternative fuel and electric vehicles becoming dominant in urban areas by 2015. Markely observes that  the story was meant to highlight the rapid progress Mercedes hopes to make in shedding petroleum as the primary fuel for its cars. Ranging from Smart electric city cars to the Mercedes-Benz-branded hydrogen fuel-cell F600 Hygenius, the German automaker is trying to get a jump on the expanding market of alternatives to gas and diesel.  Still, it’s one thing to invest in fuel-efficient technology and another to say that in seven years an automaker will only manufacture cars that don’t need a drop of gasoline. But if a car company were to add more expensive, fuel-saving technology, it would help if its buyers were already used to spending luxury-car money at the dealership. (Merc Plan Fuel Seven Year Ditch (The Sun) Posted by Stephen Markley on July 2, 2008 in Hybrids/Alternative Fuels, Mercedes  http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2008/07/can-mercedes-be.html )





  • Greg Melville is a freelance journalist who’s written for such publications as Men’s Journal, Outside, the Wall Street Journal, and National Geographic Adventure. His book, Greasy Rider, is about his cross country trip in a 1985  Mercedes diesel stationwagon converted to burn recycled vegetable oil.  Along the way, his traveling companion and old college friend, Iggy, challenges him to do additional research on sustainability, including finding out whether Al Gore’s home is truly green and how farmers can make money harvesting wind.  It is published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill,


  • Thor Bailey is president of the Ag Biomass Council is a California-based nonprofit dedicated to expanding the biomass industry by improving public policy through environmental mitigation and compliance at the grassroots level. Their website says: The focus of the Ag Biomass Council is to provide a means for the California farming community to improve upon the current method of production in managing a sustainable operation. This includes  converting agricultural waste into high-value soil amendment, reducing the volume of material in landfills, improving air and water quality and producing renewable, carbon neutral energy. he Ag Biomass council is online at http://www.agbiocouncil.org/,




·         Department of Energy–Exploring Ways to Use Biomass Energy.   “Ever since humans started burning wood or other organic matter to keep warm and to cook food, we’ve been using biomass energy, or bioenergy. Today we can also use biomass to fuel vehicles, generate electricity, and develop biobased products.” Good set of web links to:  BiofuelsFuel your vehicle with ethanol or biodiesel.  BiopowerBuy clean electricity generated from biomass. (Includes a discussion of animal methane as well as a map of bioresources.) BioproductsUse products, like plastics, made from biomass. (including: antifreeze, plastics, glues, artificial sweeteners, and gel for toothpaste). Bioheating:Alternative ways to heat and cool your house.  http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/renewable_energy/biomass/index.cfm/mytopic=50001


·         Compost Guide – Composting Fundamentals  Includes numerous vegan recipes for after you finish growing food from your composting system. Introduction to Composting, How to Compost, What to Compos, What NOT to compost, Composing Bins and Systems, Compsoting Resources, Compositing Demonstration Sites, and Contributing Your Own Article on Composting.  http://vegweb.com/composting/





1.Big Yellow Taxi  2:17       Joni Mitchell Ladies Of The Canyon       Pop

2.Route 66 3:03        Natalie Cole  Unforgettable: With Love    R&B/Soul

3.Route 66 7:14        The Brian Setzer Orchestra           The Ultimate Collection      Rock

4.Route 66 3:31        The Cheetah Girls   Route 66 – Single     Pop

5. Route 66 3:05       Buckwheat Zydeco  Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire          Country

6.  Route 66  2:59    Beegie Adair Martini Lounge         Jazz

7.Weave Me the Sunshine            4:28    Peter, Paul And Mary          The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary         Folk






Ecotopia #4: Sustainability Leadership (September 30, 2008)

Posted by on 01 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

In this program, we interview Sean Brown and Kelly Munson of Butte College about Butte’s extraordinary campus-wide sustainability efforts. We offer definitions of “sustainability,” review recent world news on the topic, and conclude with some suggestions for do-it-yourself sustainability. 

Listen to the show online now!

Our web resources for this program are listed below.



 EPA: “sustainable” = social and environmental practices that protect and enhance the human and natural resources needed by future generations to enjoy a quality of life equal to or greater than our own. www.epa.gov/epaoswer/education/quest/gloss1a.htm

Indiana University School of Health: Sustainability includes the likelihood of a strategy to continue over a period of time, especially after specific funding ends. (our italics)  www.drugs.indiana.edu


 From the BBC:  EU backs off on biofuels for road transport.   http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7610396.stm

 From People and Planet.net:  Ecuadoran government is aiming to make the Galápagos Islands fossil-fuel free by 2015.  http://www.peopleandplanet.net/doc.php?id=3223

 Also from People and planet dot net:  Essay by Janet Sawi on the potential for sustainable energy.  http://www.peopleandplanet.net/doc.php?id=522&section=7

 From Science Daily:  A plot of land on the campus of Auburn University shows that 110 years of sustainable farming practices can produce similar cotton crops to those using other methods.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080929123945.htm


 From The Journal of Record: California community college creates sustainable campus. http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/SUS.2008.9947 


 This Way to Sustainability IV: November 6-9 at Chico State. Hosted by Chico State and Butte College.  http://www.csuchico.edu/sustainablefuture/events/2008conference/

GLOBAL FOOTPRINT NETWORK.  http://www.footprintnetwork.org/


DAILY ECOTIPS  http://http://www.dailyecotips.com/


Sustainability at home from Victoria, Australia

COOL SCHOOLS  Sierra Magazine, September-October 2008.
Today the quad, tomorrow the world! Students and faculty at colleges large and small focus their brainpower on solving the global climate crisis.


1. Big Yellow Taxi (LP Version)     2:15  Joni Mitchell    Ladies Of The Canyon

2. Clear Blue Skies (LP Version)   3:07    Crosby, Still, Nash & Young           American Dream

3. Death Of Mother Nature Suite (Album Version)          7:54    Kansas           Kansas          

4. You Can’t Always Get What You Want            7:29    The Rolling Stones  Let It Bleed   

5. Doctor My Eyes (LP Version)     3:20    Jackson Browne       Jackson Browne

6. Weave Me the Sunshine            4:28    Peter, Paul And Mary        The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary