Category Archives: Al Gore

Space junk: Time for Earth to clear out the attic


We’re seeing promotions for the environment everywhere, as Al Gore’s missive and childhood asthma and melting ice seem to be sinking in. The real futurists have looked to space as an exit, in case we burn out our planet (like dusty Mars) and have to move somewhere else (hey, Venus is cooling down).

But now, the European Space Agency notes the Earth is getting ringed in junk — all those little rockets we’ve put up that burn and fragment and float around at millions of miles an hour. By 2112, ESA says the 6,000+ satellites we’ve launched in orbit since the 1950s should continue to collide with each other to create a haze of debri like the ring above. Anyone trying to get through may blow up as whizzing space metal punctures the rocket life support systems.

Whoops. Don’t you hate it when you paint yourself into a corner?

(Via Gizmodo.)

Saving the Earth, one candy bar at a time


NPR gives us hope today that there is something we can do to save the planet from carbon-gloomed warming … eat more chocolate. Joao Tavares, the cocoa farmer above, has figured out how to grow chocolate under the canopy of old rain forests, making money while preserving giant trees that absorb carbon emissions.

With the U.N. issuing its most dire report on the Earth’s future Saturday, this week will be a case study in how different media and political outlets respond. The NY Times trumpeted the U.N. report in a headline Saturday. WSJ buries the news on A4 today under the obscure headline, “Setting New Carbon Standards,” but with an interesting take on a hard question, who will pay to clean up the planet? WSJ’s editorial board is silent on the issue, which we bet means they’re cranking away to unleash a real humdinger tomorrow. Greenpeace misses the boat, failing to update its web site or press releases and instead gives us old critiques on the whaling industry and Exxon. Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth blog shows the looming disaster of not keeping a blog current, pitching the DVD with an old post from September 15, 2006. Geez, Al, whatever our politics, aren’t you missing an opportunity here?

Whatever. Maybe sea levels really won’t rise 40 feet, because we’re going to eat more chocolate.

Bulb burnout: The trouble with mnemonic URLs


So it’s Thursday night, kids are in bed, we’re watching the science channel and along comes the most brilliant Philips light bulb commercial we’ve ever seen. The screen fills with blue-and-white melting icebergs, then a young baby boy floating precariously on a shard of frozen H2O, and just when we expect Al Gore to nasally intone the world is ending, a warm narrator’s voice implores us to save the future by buying a Philips CFL bulb. The web site URL flashes on the screen.

We’re smitten. Yes, those old incandescent bulbs are wasteful. CFL bulbs — which look like spiral ice cream cones — burn 80% less electricity, and have come down in price from $25 a pop to a buck fifty. If every home in the U.S. swapped out just one light bulb, we’d save enough electricity to power 500,000 homes. Even Jeffrey Immelt is pitching this stuff, and he ought to know, he works 100 hours a week selling GE aircraft engines. We must join this cause!

So we march to the computer, start to punch in the URL … and dammit, we can’t remember it. The web site name sure was catchy. Something like www.lightupthefuture.com or www.savechildrenonicefloes.com or www.philipsprofitsfromyourguilt.com. Arg! Help! Somewhere, a baby boy on an ice shard is drowning. We could save the world, if only offline-online response mechanisms weren’t so difficult to remember.