Yvon Rocks

In case you didn't know, Yvon Chouinard is the man.

... Because he just won the inaugural award of OutDoor Celebrity of the Year. The jurors said he is renown for his “visionary business strategy and high degree of environmental awareness.� Stating he is “an outstanding figure above all because of his contributions to environmental protection.� Yvon is best known as the founder and owner of Patagonia, an outdoor clothing company, with over $240 million USD in annual sales. Yvon committed his company to only using organic cotton 10 years ago, even when there was no reliable supply. They had to built the infrastructure to obtain the fabrics they needed. He was also the first to convert his line of fleece jackets to using recycled PET bottles as feedstock. ...

Back when I was just coming out of college with a degree I had already pegged as useless to me, one job I thought I wanted a lot was doing anything for Black Diamond. Sometimes I still kind of wish I could work for them...

Barak Obama on Energy

I wish I had more time to ponder/discuss this speech, but I'll just post the link right now...

This isn't to lay the blame for our energy problems entirely at the feet of our President. This is an issue that politicians from both parties clamor about when gas prices are the headline of the month, only to fall back into a trance of inaction once things calm down. And so we all need to get serious here. Automakers need to get serious about shifting their technology to greater fuel-efficiency, consumers need to get serious about buying hybrid cars, and Washington needs to get serious about working together to find a real solution to our energy crisis.

Such a solution is not only possible, it's already being implemented in other places around the world. Countries like Japan are creating jobs and slowing oil consumption by churning out and buying millions of fuel-efficient cars. Brazil, a nation that once relied on foreign countries to import 80% of its crude oil, will now be entirely self-sufficient in a few years thanks to its investment in biofuels.

I like the things I hear coming from Barak Obama. A lot.

Nalgene, You're the Devil

The good fellows at the yoga college dropped some new and not-so-new knowledge on me last night about Nalgene water bottles: First the bit I'd heard before: Nalgene Water Bottles May Be Hazardous to Your Health

Recent studies have shown that polycarbonate plastics, including the kind used in popular Nalgene water bottles, may leach one of their constituent chemicals into water. The chemical in question, bisphenol-A, has been shown to cause chromosomal disorders and endocrine disruption and to have adverse effects on prostate development and tumors, breast tissue development, and sperm count -- in rodents.

Of course, the truth of the matter is that you're not that likely to actually be harmed by your Nalgene bottle.

But what about those rodents? Aparently, the Nalge Company started out making laboratory equipment. It also seems that some of that laboratory equipment is geared towards torturing fluffy little bunnies. This discovery led to the earnest kids at the University of Colorado to organize a boycott. Nalge Nunc International's reply boils down to "Yeah, so?":

There is nothing short of controlled animal research that can prove the safety and efficacy of a drug or surgical procedure. Without animal research, there would be no polio vaccine, no heart by-pass surgery, no chemotherapy and no insulin. Without animal research, we will never be able to cure AIDS, multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer's.

And actually, I agree -- Science isn't always pretty. As long as the human race isn't willing to just sit back and take what comes at us, we're going to do a lot of ugly things to advance the race.

But that doesn't mean I'm going to buy another Nalgene bottle, either. I suppose I might just try a SIGG. At least they are recyclable and... stuff.

Nantucket NIMBYs

Being a big fan of alternative energy sources, I'm excited to hear about the possibility of two offshore wind farms near Long Island and Nantucket.

The two projects, one south of Long Island, in New York, and one in Massachusetts' Nantucket Sound, are currently moving through the complicated process of securing permits from various agencies, and both could be turning out juice in a few years. Offshore wind farms -- row after row of massive wind turbines sprouting from the sea miles from land -- have become a relatively common source of commercial electrical power in Europe, but these would be the first in this country.

But of course, the yachting set on Nantucket have to bring the "not in my backyard" attitude, claiming environmental impact, but ultimately seeming mostly worried about their million dollar views:

She said that about half the fish that commercial fisherman catch in Nantucket Sound come from the area where Cape Wind wants to install windmills. In addition, she said that a commercial wind farm would mar the pristine ocean views, dragging down both tourism and local property values. She cited a study conducted by The Beacon Hill Institute that concluded that total property values in the area would fall by $1.35 billion. "If you have a direct view, the value of your home would go down," she said. The wind farm "would be highly visible. It would change the tranquility of the horizon markedly."

What a crock. The pros of offshore windfarming far outweigh any potential cons in my opinion.