Earth Day Goal Update #6 – Effects of Winter and Other Topics

For Earth Day 2010, I made a pledge to eat better and have added periodic updates to define and refine the pledge, as well as update on progress. This is the latest one and involves several topics I’ve encountered since my last update.

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Canadian Navy Leaks Zero Emissions Eco-Submarine

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In a what might have been a staged accident today, the Canadian Navy left one of its submarines out to dry for all to see in Halifax Harbour. Naturally, this prompted natural questions of curiosity from the general public and media sources because military submarines aren’t usually put on display completely out of water. When asked, nobody in the Canadian Navy was willing to go on record to comment. However, a few Seaman not authorized to talk about the issue were willing to share this exclusive information in exchange for some real food.

Supposedly, what we had seen was a prototype of a new Canadian Navy Zero Emissions Submarine. That’s correct in what they said. Zero emissions!

A prototype of the Canadian Navy's Zero Emission Submarine

A prototype of the Canadian Navy's Zero Emission Submarine, Halifax Apr 06 2009 (click to enlarge)

The Zero Emission Submarine is something the Canadian Navy is extremely proud of because it will once and for all demonstrate the Canadian Navy submarine fleet’s technological supremacy over the Disney World submarine fleet.
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“Just one fart from Mickey Mouse produces an infinitely more CO2 and other greenhouse gases than this EcoSub ever will!” — the unnamed naval informant declared with glee before letting one go himself.
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However, the Disney World Submarine Fleet strongly disputed the claim of the Zero Emission Submarine to be false. Admiral Duck iTwittered yours truly during my run to get a wider angle photo of the platform on which the “EcoSub” rested to confirm their suspicion of how the EcoSub worked.

The mobile Dockwise ship platform on which the Canadian Navy EcoSub rested, Halifax Apr 06 2009 (click to enlarge)

The mobile Dockwise ship platform on which the Canadian Navy EcoSub rested, Halifax Apr 06 2009 (click to enlarge)

According to Disney World, the only way the Zero Emissions Submarine could be that way is because it is being transported by the Dockwise platform on which it is shown in the picture. That said, Disney did concede another possibility the EcoSub had zero emissions is because the sub actually can’t go anywhere on its own, though not missing the opportunity to point out its submarines actually go somewhere. Still, Disney said the implication this was a functional submarine with zero emissions was misleading, though it is envious of the Canadian Navy marketing machine.
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“We have internal sources within the Canadian Navy that tell us the exposure of the submarine was a real accident. We also believe a second submarine in the gap in the picture also fell overboard. Finally, we believe there was even a further gaffe in trying to cover up the accidental exposure, which failed when the Captain ordered the sub to dive and couldn’t figure out why it did not for over two hours. That the Canadian Navy were able to spin it into an environmental story with the concept of an EcoSub, without so much as lying one word, was brilliant! I don’t know if we could have come up with anything close to such a story, for all the marketing and spin that Disney is known for. We need to send in Jack Sparrow to do some head hunting there… in the non-violent, metaphorical sense, of course.”
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No matter which story you believe to be true, some combination thereof, or neither, there’s no doubting a Navy with as much negative press as it has had with the debacle of its submarine purchases could hardly afford to put its submarines on display like it did today, having to be carried away on another ship.

Cultivate Meadows Instead of Lawns, Which’s Mowing Produces 5% of America’s Greenhouse Gases

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The TED.com talk in the video below is mostly about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has devastated the bee population in recent years. However, it had one stunning environmental fact on the side that applied to many of us where we can do something about it

5% of America’s greenhouse gases (GHGs) are produced from mowing lawns!

MeadowNow, the speaker, Dennis vanEngelsdorp did not say “America”, but the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seems to back that up. The US EPA suggests 5-10%, but includes other gardening equipment with it. However, I think Dennis was just stating the process of releasing GHGs from within the grass in cutting it! Either way, America meeting its Kyoto Protocol targets might be made a lot easier with just a stop mowing your lawn campaign.

Think about that one!

To put the 5% into context, purely in terms of percentage share and not volume because I tend to have world figures rather than American figures:

That is, on a fraction of total share basis, lawn mowing in America contributes more to its GHG output than air travel does to the world output.  Why are we worried about flying when lawns are doing so much more climate damage???

So what does Dennis suggest to replace lawns with? Meadows or a field vegetated primarily by grass and other non-woody plants (grassland). In plainer terms, just let the grass and flowers, some of which you might consider weeds, grow. It’s a lot less maintenance, although you can still do some, and can help some wildlife thrive… not the least of which would be flowers and bees. And you know what? It’d also look a lot more natural, which brings me to the puzzling questions of why North Americans like their country cottages so much but work so hard and pour so much money to make their city homes look so artificial with useless biosystems like lawns?

I’ve never figured that one out. It’s a bit like being prejudiced towards brown people but always wanting to get tanned. I’ll write about that one some time soon! Paradox or hypocrisy?

Anyhow, the thought to make meadows instead of lawns is a great one. It is also just in time for preparation of spring and summer when people come outside again and start preparing our lawns. Lose your Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD) this year and work with Mother Nature for once, eh?

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.5