Category Archives: Environment

Ooh, Chemicals, Bad! (Slim, eHarmony and a Rant)

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Slim and I are logging some early evening deck time chowing down on barbecued steaks from ‘What The Cat Dragged In’, our local artisan butcher shop, and sipping a balls forward red, having already polished off a growler of craft IPA – slightly over-hopped with a hint of camel’s breath.

It’s hot. Rivulets of sweat trickle down Slim’s face forming a damp half-moon at the neck of his white tee shirt which carries the message “IT’S NOT IMPORTANT”. I’m telling him about how I spread moth balls all around the base of the shed at the end of the garden in a vain attempt to deter the two skunks who have set up home underneath it.

(rivulets,

Romulus,

amulets)

“Napthalene” Slim announces “is the chemical name for moth balls. I was out on an eHarmony date last night and I mentioned to the lady I was having dinner with that I used to work in the chemical industry….”

Slim on eHarmony, this is news to me. I wonder what his profile is like, what hobbies has he listed? I know he doesn’t kayak or go for long walks on the beach at sunset, his main interests outside of poetry are Premier League soccer and playing bass in a Clash tribute band (not coming to a venue anywhere near anybody, soon). Plus, he hasn’t dated anyone in years and his wardrobe consists of faded jeans and white tee shirts that are too small for him and usually carry some nihilist, dystopian message.

“What did you list as your hobbies on your eHarmony profile?” I interrupt, to his annoyance.

“Cooking, now let me get on with my story. As I said I mentioned to the lady I was having dinner with that I used to work in the chemical industry and she grimaced and said:  ‘Ooh, chemicals, bad!’ So I told her that at least 50% of what she was wearing was synthetic material made from petroleum by products; that behind the walls of the restaurant that we were sitting in were miles of electrical wire covered in plastic insulating material made from petroleum byproducts; that the phone she keeps checking contains plastics, not to mention lithium, probably mined using child labour in Africa; that the toilet seats  that we plonk our over-privileged arses on are made from plastic; that all these materials are products of the chemical industry and are manufactured in some shit hole of a town far from our blissed out home; that we are not going back to an agrarian society, we are too soft and distracted, the work is too hard and we would be bored out of our fucking skulls; that we have to regulate industry, not get rid of it and how we can we possibly move forward if we don’t understand where we stand, or sit”.

“What was her response?” I asked.

“She said that she was going to the washroom to plonk her over privileged arse on a plastic toilet seat, and she never came back.”

The sun drops behind the ridge of the house

convection currents go crazy in the trees,

the moth balls smell like halitosis

on the warm neurotic breeze.

 

Slimverse for Earth Day

IMG_1034 (2)

What Can I Say

to leave no

footprint we

must fly but

never land.

On Hearing that Justin Trudeau had approved the Kinder Morgan Pipeline

there are 3

certainties

death, taxes,

corrosion.

The Stack (remix)

And what a

beautiful

plume we have

here, Nigel,

 

a plume with

time on its

hands, look at

it loping

 

across the

sky like a

giant Chinese

dragon, let’s

 

hail a cab

to find the

plume’s end, where

the last wisps

 

of vapor

drift upwards

and a blue

mist hangs, yes,

 

there it is

in the sky

to the west

stalking the

 

cars in the

parking lot

outside the

big box mall

 

while the sun

bawls and the

sky gets all

indignant.

 ***

Jeffrey Toobin – He’s not romantic about carbon byproducts

In a recent interview in the New York Times Book Review, Jeffrey Toobin (author of ‘American Heiress’), when asked the question “How do you organize your books,” replied that ‘he was romantic about reading not about carbon byproducts’. He apparently does most of his reading for pleasure on an iPad.

This statement bothered me for a couple of reasons.  A byproduct is “an incidental or secondary product made in the manufacture or synthesis of something else”, a book is not a byproduct of anything, it is produced using paper which contains carbon, but it is a product in itself unlike carbon which is an element and not a product.

But more than the semantics, there was something else.  There was a sanctimonious whiff to the statement, a hint of greener than thou, a suggestion of the moral high ground, an implication that Jeffrey is a greater friend of the environment than all you Luddite book lovers out there (myself included). So, I set out to try and determine whether reading a book on an Ipad is greener than reading an actual book.

Strike one against the IPad is that it consumes energy every time a page is read, whereas a book once it is produced consumes no further energy (for the purpose of this discussion let’s assume that the energy or power required is generated by the combustion of fossil fuel and therefore energy consumption or the need for energy results in the generation of carbon dioxide). How much energy does it consume? To find out I used my iPad to google the question, which proves that I am not adverse to using technology (I just like books).  It turns out, it can all be explained using light bulbs. It takes 1 kWh to power an iPhone for a year, that’s the equivalent of powering a 100 watt incandescent light bulb for 10 hours. The iPad consumes about 11 times that or the equivalent of the energy consumed by a 100 watt incandescent light bulb in 110 hours. Of course, not all that iPad time is spent reading a book, so in the end, relatively speaking, it is not a lot of energy; but for the purpose of establishing  greenness , a small amount is still too much. In the end, using an iPad to read indirectly results in a finite amount of carbon dioxide being released to the atmosphere; whereas the act of reading a book results in zero carbon dioxide emissions.

When it comes to recyclability, the moral high ground gets more slippery. Martin LaMonica of CNET’s Green Tech says only about 10% of US electronics get recycled and, according to Greenpeace not always properly, whereas paper is more likely to be recycled. Plus you can loan that book to a friend or donate it to your public library.

There are additional energy implications, all that data has to be stored. According to Greenpeace, data storage centers are the single largest driver of new electricity demand worldwide.

This is all, of course, just to make the point that it’s called the “moral high ground” because it is difficult to attain and to say to all you book lovers out there keep on reading those paper books with a clear conscience.

By the way, by all accounts Jeffrey Toobin is one hell of a writer.

To end, a slimverse:

What Can I Say

to leave no

footprint we

must fly but

never land.

 

Note: The following articles were used in the making of this post – http://content.usatoday.com/communities/greenhouse/post/2010/01/is-apples-recyclable-chemical-free-ipad-really-green-/1

http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2013/09/07/how-much-energy-does-your-iphone-and-other-devices-use-and-what-to-do-about-it/