Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Indulge me - I offset my carbon

One of the amazing things about the Academy of Sciences, which James and I visited on our daylong fifth-and-sixth-anniversary celebration, is how hard they're pushing a climate change message. You couldn't turn around in the joint without another reminder - and the Morrison Planetarium was no exception. Even when the subject was ostensibly outer space, they hammered home the point that we are making the planet uninhabitable. I don't know whether I was more impressed by the degree to which they stayed on message, or bummed out by it.

In any case it was a good kick in the pants for me to offset the carbon I'm going to spew into the atmosphere with my next four months of flying - short of your own personal nuclear waste spill, the very worst thing you can do to the environment is to get on an airplane. One of the reasons I have postponed doing this is that there are so many offset schemes out there I couldn't find the time to research and decide among them. So I chose an offset outfit the way I often choose elected officials or positions on ballot propositions - I consulted the experts, in this case the Sierra Club, which recommended a business called NativeEnergy. According to NativeEnergy, here's the damage I'm about to do between tomorrow and May 7:

TOTAL: 7.441 tons
CO2 from flying 18,216.44 miles

From San Francisco, CA to Frankfurt, Germany
5,681.49 miles

From Frankfurt, Germany to Paris, France
297.27 miles

From Paris, France to Riva, Latvia
965.54 miles

From Riga, Latvia to Tel Aviv, Israel
1,795.31 miles

From Tel Aviv, Israel to Madrid
2,203.67 miles

From Madrid to Chicago, IL
4,182.93 miles

From chicago, IL to Nashville, TN
398.28 miles

From Nashville, TN to Cincinnati, OH
238.21 miles

From Cincinnati, OH to Cleveland, OH
223.05 miles

From Cleveland, OH to Las Vegas, NV
1,831.18 miles

From Las Vegas, NV to Oakland, CA
399.5 miles

Total cost - 50% efficiency and 50% biomass - $112.

I understand the argument that I'm paying what amounts to an "indulgence," but the fact remains that not taking this paying residency or visiting my sister and meeting my newborn niece or not taking the Ohio gig aren't options I'm able to consider. From one perspective I could argue that two weeks in Tennessee are optional, but in fact that trip prevents me from flying back to the west coast and then round-trip to Ohio for the Oberlin screening May 5th. In any case, I'm glad to be no longer doing absolutely nothing to ameliorate my impact.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

more ways to help with the oil spill

From Baykeeper:

One Week After
the Oil Spill

oily beach

A week has passed since the devastating container ship crash that dumped 58,000 gallons of toxic bunker fuel into our beloved Bay. Thousands of us have banded together to push the cleanup agencies to let us help strip gunk from our shorelines, hold the polluters responsible, and make sure that something like this never happens again. San Francisco Baykeeper has been leading the way by patrolling our waters and coastlines, watchdogging the agencies, mobilizing volunteers, organizing safety trainings, and testifying in front of our elected officials. Your outpouring of community support and concern has been vital to our efforts. Thank you very much!

Volunteer Trainings and Shoreline Cleanups
Thanks to the pressure we've been putting on the cleanup agencies, and to the grassroots cleanups of Kill the Spill, we've finally got a few more training opportunities for you. Participating in these trainings is the only way to legally help out with beach cleanups. Please attend! No pre-registration is required, but show up early because space is limited.

San Francisco
Disaster Service Worker Volunteer Certification
Saturday, November 17
County Fair Building
9th Ave. & Lincoln Ave. in Golden Gate Park
One training at 8am - 12pm
ne training at 1pm - 5pm

The City of San Francisco will be leading daily cleanups for trained workers. Call 311 to find out where to go or visit http://www.sfgov.org/site/sf311_index.asp?id=70813.

Disaster Service Worker Volunteer Certification
Saturday, November 17
Berkeley Senior Center at 1900 Sixth St.
8am - 12pm

For cleanup schedules, visit www.cityofberkeley.info

Half Moon Bay
Disaster Service Worker Volunteer Certification
Thursday, November 15
IDES Hall, Main Street
5pm - 9pm

For more info, visit smcalert.info

Many unofficial cleanups, which are not endorsed by Baykeeper, are being organized here http://sfoilspill.blogspot.com/ and here http://www.obviously.com/tech_tips/oil_spill_volunteer_instructions.html.

Hearing on the Oil Spill
Thursday, November 15
10 am – 10 pm
Emeryville City Council Chambers, 2nd Floor
1333 Park Avenue
Emeryville, CA

Baykeeper will testify in front of Assemblywoman Loni Hancock and Members of the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources.

Oil Spill Response Fundraisers
Doc's Clock
Proceeds from select beer sales and donations accepted.
Friday, November 16
6 pm - 2 am
2575 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Email us at volunteer@baykeeper.org if you want to sponsor a fundraiser!

Please continue to contact friends to sign up for volunteer alerts or to make a donation to support San Francisco Baykeeper’s efforts out on the water to respond to this crisis.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Oil spill volunteer update

This from Baykeeper:

Baykeeper Supporters
To the Rescue!

Thank you for your support in response to Wednesday's oil spill. We appreciate the outpouring of offers to help and we'll keep you updated on opportunities as they arise. It'll take all of us working together to clean up our precious Bay after this oil spill's destructive wake.

While we are heartened by the overwhelming interest in getting involved in a clean up, a word of caution: chemicals in oil can impair breathing and may lead to long-term health affects. If you are not properly trained in oil spill clean up and rescue, please stay away from polluted beaches and stay out of the water to keep yourself and your families safe.

As of Friday evening, the first opportunity to volunteer is for those interested in attending a public workshop. The Department of Fish and Game’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response is holding the following informational wildlife care trainings.

November 10, 9:30 - 11:30 PM
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
99 Grove Street, San Francisco
(415) 974-4060

November 10, 1:30 - 3:30 PM
Harbor Master Richmond Marina
1340 Marina Way South, Richmond
(510) 236-1013

November 10, 5-7 PM
Headlands Institute
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Building 1033, Sausalito
(415) 332-5771

Additional volunteer opportunities will likely emerge in the upcoming days and weeks. We will let you know as soon as we have further information from our partners including the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. Consider forwarding this message to your friends and ask them to sign up on our website to show their support. You can also help out by making a donation to sustain Baykeeper's work to hold the responsible parties accountable in cleaning up this spill. Your contributions will help us respond to this crisis.

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Friday, November 9, 2007

San Francisco Bay oil spill--how to help

I wept when I read the news about the fuel spill, 58,000 gallons into San Francisco Bay, which has threatened hundreds of thousands of birds, closed our beaches and reached the Farallon Islands and the Sonoma County line.

I wanted to know if there was any way to volunteer or donate to help in the clean-up. Here's what I've found so far:

I sent these guys $100, far more than fiscal responsibility dictates in my case. But they do great work and will be on this case for years.

--Coastal Commission (http://www.coastal.ca.gov/oilspill/ospndx.html)

--San Francisco Oiled Wildlife Care & Education Center (http://www.ibrrc.org/contact.html)

The volunteer numbers for these groups are consistently busy, but keep trying...

--Let your elected officials know you're pissed.

This accident was preventable, and, as the Chronicle reports, the response was inexcusably slow.

Democrat Boxer, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said in a statement that she was "very troubled by the Coast Guard's delay in delivering accurate information to the public and the city of San Francisco. ... Many questions remain as to why it took an entire day to determine the gravity of this spill."

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom promised that the city would take legal action against whoever is responsible for the spill and expressed irritation that his office, like many, learned the true scope of the spill after 9 p.m.


State Pilot Commission records show that Capt. John Cota, who was in charge of navigating the Cosco Busan when it hit the bridge, has been involved in a number of ship-handling incidents and was reprimanded last year for errors in judgment when he ran a ship aground near Antioch.

Cota, 59, is a master mariner, and veteran of 26 years as a ship pilot. He was involved in four "incidents" over the past 14 years and on several other occasions was "counseled" for perceived mistakes in ship handling.

The Chronicle broke out a separate story on this guy's spotty record.

Contact California's US senators and Gov. Schwarzenegger and tell them we need tighter restrictions on fuel vessels, the companies running them and the people operating them, that come in and out of San Francisco Bay.

Contact Mayor Newsom and let him know you support his efforts to bring the perpetrators of this tragedy to justice and to do whatever is in his power to prevent this from happening again.

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