Monday, August 11, 2008

Something Looks Smoggy........

So the Olympics are here and it has basically taken over the news for the past 2 weeks. All the rivalries (US vs China), the Opening Ceremony (which was off the damn chain), Visas being revoked, how much money was spent on all this, and of course the environment.

If you haven't heard China, Beijing specifically, has a very bad Smog problem. If you watch the Olympics during the day (around about 12am-3am our time) you can actually see the Smog hanging over Bob Costas' head like a thick piece of white construction paper. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) expressed concern for the athletes competing in outdoor games (marathon, cycling, etc) just 1 week before the opening ceremony took place. And, in the picture seen around the world, some of the athletes showed up in Beijing with personal protective equipment (re: breathing masks).

I think the thing that gets me the most about all this is that the IOC and the Chinese government knew 5 years ago, when the Olympics were awarded to Beijing, how bad the air was.

Beijing is in the middle of an industrial revolution. Imagine the Olympics being held in Pittsburgh, PA in 1890! Well, that's Beijing. The city is in the process of expanding its technological reach in the world. To do so it has to expand its industries by increasing energy production and relying heavily on coal (because it's cheap, available in large quantities, and is easy to convert to electricity). To boot, more and more people want in on this "industrial boom", so more people are moving to Beijing.

Now Beijing knows this is a problem so to prepare for its world neighbors visit, they did a couple things. They moved some of it's heaviest polluting factories out of the city or shut them down completely; they told people they could only drive on certain days of the week; they came up with a "rain maker" which sends nitrogen up into the atmosphere (via a rocket luncher) to help seed clouds with rain to help sweep the smog away; they made people buy reusable bags at the grocery store to reduce the amount of waste that goes to their landfills; and they planted some trees.

This is all fine and dandy for the Olympics, but folks none of this is sustainable (except the trees). Once the Olympics leave, factories and people will be back to business as usual and the smog will probably get worst. So I guess you have to wonder, how much of this is really about the environment or is this just putting lip stick on a pig? The pig is still Smog and this pig ain't going nowhere! Now, where's that lipstick??

Brown Tip:

Plant a Tree!

Trees not only provide shade and make things look a little nicer, they also produce oxygen and absorb pollution from the air. Don't believe me? Go to the middle of DC (I'd say Pennsylvania and 12th) at about 5pm (during rush hour) and try to breathe on a hot and humid day. You'll be wishing for a tree!!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Over The Water

A couple months back my toilet started to run. Now I'm no plumber but I knew it probably needed a new ball or chain for the inside of the tank. So I did what any good wife would do and ask my husband to fix it.

After a couple of Heathcliff Huxtable fixes, the hubby and I went to home depot and got a new flapper part for the tank. We thought this would solve the problem. Unfortunately, it didn't and the toilet continued to run. About a month after the initial discovery we got our water bill............

Our bill was about $185, a whole $130 more than usual. Needless to say we needed to did a little more research. We found out the ball and lever both needed to be replaced and we did that expeditiously. We just got a newest bill and we are back down to $50!!!

Brown Tip:
Get Out Your Tool Belt!

We all waste water but when it starts touching our pockets, then it's a big problem. I'd encourage all of you to take a look at your toilets, kinda leaky faucets, and drippy pipes and fix them! More than likely its a really easy and quick fix that can save you some money. Most of all though, since we are brown thumbs and this is really about the environment, it can save some couple hundred gallons of water.