Sunday, March 30, 2008

Earth Hour

So Earth Hour has come and gone. What did you do? Send your stories through our comment section.

The University of Saskatchewan, along with the City of Saskatoon, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, Meewasin Valley Authority, Road Map 2020, Saskatchewan Environmental Society, Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council, Saskatoon Health Region, and Saskatoon Public Schools is participating in Earth Hour 2008. The Center Mall in Saskatoon dimmed its outside lights.

Time magasine's critique of Earth Hour:

Because climate change is essentially a political problem, and the language of politics is symbolism. Just because an act is symbolic doesn't mean it empty. The only way to truly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to take the pressure off global warming, is an international regime that puts a cap and a price on climate pollution. And the only way that will happen is if politicians around the world become convinced that climate change is an issue that matters to people, one that will make them change the way they live, buy — and vote.

We risk green fatigue because, after all, what can we do about it? But this is the moment when we need to keep pushing in every way we can. The technologies that will help us decarbonize energy are developing, but they need a push — and that will only happen if we keep climate change near the top of our political agenda. Earth Hour, Earth Day, Earth Year — we'll need it all.,8599,1725947,00.html?cnn=yes

Monday, March 24, 2008

A message from Al Gore

Global warming is a problem of unprecedented magnitude and that's why we've launched the largest mobilization campaign ever. Actions by individuals like you will be the driving force behind this campaign and our ultimate victory. We're going to succeed, but I need your help today.
More than 850,000 people have already joined us, but if leaders in business and government are going to make stopping climate change a priority, we need you to urge your friends to get involved today:
We need to grow to 1,000,000 members by April so we can send a loud message that we want action now. That is why I need you to forward the email below to all of your friends and family right now and ask them to add their voice.
Thank you,
Al Gore

The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE: Yet another $10m prize to find the most fuel-efficient car

The X Prize Foundation - which helped kickstart commercial passenger space travel - is funding another $10m prize to find the most fuel-efficient car.

The Automotive X Prize, or rather the "Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE", aims to find a realistic super-efficient vehicle. It aims to find cars which actually just go into production, rather than just prototypes showcasing new technology. It also aims to offer a level playing field for both amateurs and manufacturers.

There are two categories; mainstream cars, with four wheels and room for four or more passengers, and alternative vehicles, which must carry two or more passengers but can have any number of wheels.

Both classes must achieve at least 100 miles per gallon or equivalent, give out less than 200 grammes per mile and satisfy US EPA Tier II, bin 5 standards. The production of the cars should also be equivalent to typical vehicles.

The vehicles should be reasonably priced too, assuming production of 10,000 a year, and should have features likely to attract the average consumer.

Some 66 teams have already paid $5,000 to register for the prize. Most entries are from the US although there are two from Northampton in the UK and one from Germany.

Entries are pretty varied - from electric three-wheelers that look like souped-up Sinclair C5s, to drive systems that can be retro-fitted to any medium-sized car. The Avion is a very lightweight and aerodynamic fibreglass body designed to be fitted with recycled engines and gearboxes.

All cars will have to run on either petrol, diesel, electricity, natural gas, bio-diesel and E85 - ethanol and petrol.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mercedes Benz says it will be the first to introduce European-style "AdBlue" clean diesel technology to US and Canadian consumers.

German motor titan Mercedes Benz's AdBlue technology involves fitting cars with a tank of special urine-like liquid, which is used to clean the exhaust emissions.

In a statement before Easter, the company said:

The diesel engine has proved an attractive alternative [for] the USA in times of increasing fuel prices and growing sensitivity to the issue of CO2 emissions. In the land of large minivans, pickups and SUVs, and the given driving conditions characterised by steady cruising speeds on the highways and enormous overland distances, the diesel is able to show its advantages particularly well.

At the same time, American legislation sets very strict emission standards for diesel-powered vehicles. This is why Mercedes-Benz introduced the E 320 BlueTEC with its in-house BlueTEC technology in America first, and is now including a variant of this BlueTEC technology with AdBlue injection in its cross-Atlantic range. This innovative drive technology enables these large and powerful SUVs to meet the limits imposed by the US ...

Diesel engines, especially turbocharged ones, are quite green in many ways compared to petrol jobs. They are economical of fuel, and hence can have low CO2 emissions - which saves money on taxes as well as on buying fuel. For instance, even quite muscular turbodiesel 4x4s can escape London Mayor Ken Livingstone's swingeing new taxes against "gas guzzling Chelsea tractors", and the carbon-banded road taxes ease as well. The teeny, super-economical VW Polo BlueMotion turbodiesel is the lowest-CO2 car registered in the UK at the moment, just qualifying for the new sub-100g/km zero road tax band.

But diesels do emit comparatively large amounts of nitrogen oxide, which is nasty. Many US states, led by California, are imposing tough new nitrogen-oxide standards on new vehicles, and even tougher regs are on the horizon in Europe. Hence several manufacturers have begun making diesels as clean as they can - usually using the word "blue" in the branding for some reason.

Thus there is BlueMotion, BlueTEC etc. Early models wearing these badges have used different measures including filters, catalysts, engine modifications and whatnot. This latest "AdBlue" move involves fitting a tank full of "aqueous urea solution" which is squirted into the "exhaust tract" in very small amounts. This converts the nitrous oxide into ammonia, which in turn gets broken down into harmless nitrogen and water in a following catalytic unit.

Presumably the more obvious choice of "Golden" as a colour to represent this technology was deemed unsuitable. Too blue, perhaps. AdBlue is already used on large buses and trucks in Europe.

As a prelude to showering the US consumer with blue-green goodness, Mercedes showed off its new BlueTEC ML320 sports-utility Chelsea tractor at the recent New York auto show in March. Its 28-litre tank of golden AdBlue is said to be enough to go 28,000km, seemingly, so Mercedes don't expect that customers will need to top it up themselves. This will be done by technicians during routine servicing.

Sadly this is not a very clean diesel. Mercedes Benz are using chemical technology to eliminate produced gases that exceed the govt standards. It is a clean emissions vehicle, not a clean diesel as they proclaim.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Canada's hope for the future

" The X Prize Foundation, best known for its competitions promoting space flights, is offering $10 million to the teams that can produce the most production-ready vehicles that get 100 miles per gallon or more.

British Columbia-based Fuelvapor Technologies is among the competitors. Vice President Todd Pratt said the six-person company, which has funding from 47 shareholders, has spent more than two years developing its car. The car has three wheels and two seats and has the aerodynamic design of a jet cockpit. It is gas powered but saves fuel through a proprietary technology that replaces traditional fuel injection. The car currently gets 92 miles per gallon, Pratt said, but the company thinks a hybrid version could achieve up to 400 miles per gallon. "It's kind of like the X Prize was designed for us," Pratt said. "We're just six guys who are really passionate about doing something different."
Accomplishments to date include:
92 mpg US (2.56 L/100km)
0-60 in 5 seconds
1.7 G’s cornering ability

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wind Turbine for Urban Dwellers

This wind turbine for urbane areas won Ben Storan a BSI sustainability award in the UK. Great design for the prairie urban folk.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Adaptation to Climate Change in the Canadian Plains

RCE has announced an important meeting for prairie people. Earlier on this blog, I discussed the idea that global warming meant good times for frigid Saskatchewan.

Adaptation to Climate Change in the Canadian Plains
April 22, 2008
Travelodge Hotel, Regina SK

The semi-arid Palliser Triangle in the southern portion of the Prairie provinces is second only to the Arctic in terms of its vulnerability to climate change in Canada. While public awareness about climate change is becoming mainstream, this unique patch of land seems to get lost in the discussions. Public policy to address adaptation to climate change will be a critical element in determining our success or failure as human societies. As such, this symposium will present information and analysis on adaptation to climate change in a policy-relevant and accessible manner for a Saskatchewan audience.

Program Speakers Include:

Elaine Wheaton
Climatology, University of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Research Council

John Drexhage
Director, Climate Change and Energy, International Institute for Sustainable Development

Barry Smit
Professor, Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change Department of Geography, University of Guelph

Carmen Dybwad
President, Energy Council Canada

Dave Sauchyn
Professor of Geography, Research Coordinator for the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative and PARC/Manitoba Hydro Research Professor

Registration required, visit SIPP website for fees, full program and registration form:

Contact SIPP at or (306) 585-5869
Registration deadline April 16, 2008

This event is sponsored by:
PARC, Canadian Plains Research Centre, Institutional Adaptation to Climate Change Project (IACC), University of Regina, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, and The Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Craik Film Festival Eat Local Challenge

Another notice from RCE SASK

The Earth Day Film Festival in Craik this April 25 - 27, 2008 has taken the Eat Local challenge.

Following last weeks successful event at the Eco-Centre (Coming Home for Dinner with Amy Jo Ehman and the Craik Sustainable Living Project) it was decided we would provide local food for 3 meals during the film festival. Both lunches on Saturday and Sunday (2 pm), plus the Saturday evening meal (6pm) will be locally procurred food, organic if possible.

And, to follow that theme, our Sunday afternoon workshop (2pm) is Eating Local, Going Organic - idealism vs. reality

Besides that, the festival is coming along nicely. Many excellent folks and organizations are supporting it, including, but not limited to Flo’s Bar and Grill, BlackSmith Computers, J & B Ackland Auto Service, Jim and Jacquie Nodge, Bonsai Faery Soap Co., Green Party of Saskatchewan, Solar Freedom International, Craik Hardware, Saskatchewan Environmental Society, Saskatchewan Eco Network, Stillwater Farms, S.O.D. Food Miles Campaign…

If you have any questions or suggestions, do drop us a line 306-734-5160 or email kelly(at)

Community Supported Agriculture

A message from RCE SASK

Come out to learn more about Community Supported Agriculture in Saskatoon. Meet Keith Neu and the members of his community supported farm for a potluck on Friday March 14th at 6pm at Circle Drive Alliance Church. An informational/sign up meeting will follow so invite anybody interested. Bring a main course, dessert, or side dish. Coffee, tea and juice will be provided. Everyone is welcome to attend!

Keith Neu's Community Supported Farm (CSF) provides food for 30 families in Saskatoon, Regina, and surrounding area. Members of the CSF divert some of their grocery money every month in return for grains, garden produce, beef, chicken, and eggs the year around. We are investing in the future and will eventually support 150 families with all of the above as well as fruit, honey, pork and just about anything that can be raised in Hudson Bay SK.