Friday, May 29, 2009

Low Rolling Resistance Tires

When it's time to replace our tires, how many of us think about rolling resistance? Although the average car with low rolling resistance (LRR) tires would use 6% less gasoline (see this report by Green Seal) and produce 630 lbs. less greenhouse gases per year, tire makers are not required to label tires with their rolling resistance, according to The California Energy Commission will soon require tire manufacturers to make tire fuel efficiency information available to consumers, however.

Most new cars come with LRR tires, which help car manufacturers meet Federal fuel economy standards, but often original tire models are hard to find. Neither the local nor the national Honda office could (or would?) tell me what kind of tires our Civic hybrid had originally. Looking for replacement tires that would maximize gas mileage, I ran across the Green Seal report on LRR tires and was able to find some that a local shop could order. Keeping the tires pumped up makes a big difference, too. Our mileage varies by as much as 7 mpg depending on tire pressure.

By December '09, California expects to have minimum efficiency standards for tires sold in California. Let's ask our Congressional reps to require these standards nationwide! We could keep nearly 110 billion pounds (55 million tons) of carbon dioxide out of the air each year if every car and light truck in the US had LRR tires. Comment with your fuel efficiency and other carbon-cutting stories!
Stay cool,

Wikipedia has an article on LRR tires with links to more information. Check out the US Dept. of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's page on LRR tires.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Stop Junk Mail

Here's an easy way to save yourself some hassle and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. Tonic MailStopper claims to stop up to 90% of your junk mail in 90 days. They work with over 6500 direct marketers to stop catalogs, credit card offers, and other mail you don't want. You'll save the energy and resources required to make and transport junk mail, as well as the time and energy you spend to recycle it or throw it out. This is a global warming action double whammy, since trees absorb carbon dioxide that causes global warming. Another site to look at is 41 Pounds, which claims to get rid of 80 to 95 percent of your junk mail for $41 for five years. You can also take the do-it-yourself approach for free by following the steps at or

I've just signed up for MailStopper. After you sign up, you enter organizations and catalog companies you no longer want to receive mail from in your online account. This allows you to receive mail from the ones you want, but requires work on your part. They also contact many direct marketers on your behalf to stop that mail directly. Some marketers require your signature to stop sending you mail, so MailStopper will send you postcards to sign and return. I'll let you know in 90 days if my mail has significantly decreased. Click here to check out MailStopper and sign up if you like.

Let me know how any of these or other carbon-footprint-reducing ideas work for you!
Stay cool,

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tell EPA What You Think!

You may have heard that the EPA published proposed findings in April that increasing levels of greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health and welfare and that vehicle engines contribute to these greenhouse gases and hence to the threat of climate change. This step enables the EPA and/or other agencies to join many other nations in regulating greenhouse gases and taking steps to rein in global warming. Greenhouse gas-producing industries will doubtless submit many negative comments on this finding, despite the fact that it is merely re-stating established facts (see the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), so it's important that as many people as possible submit comments in support of these findings. To submit a comment, start by clicking here. Read the page and click on Instructions for Submitting Written Comments (PDF). Read the instructions, but instead of going to, click here, and under Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, click on Send a Comment or Submission. This will probably save you time and frustration finding the correct findings to comment on, especially if you've never used the site before. Note that they recommend you include your name and contact info, but if you do, they will be published along with the comments, so either make sure that's okay with you, or don't include your personal info. Real people read these comments, so say why this is important to you. I've included my comment in the next post below, in case it's helpful.

The weather around Santa Fe has turned warm, so I've been riding my bike home from work a couple of times a week. It's about 9 miles, but it's mostly downhill on the way home, so I take my bike on the bus in the morning and ride home in the evening. I've seen a lot more people biking in the last couple of weeks than I ever have before! Send me your ideas for reducing our carbon footprints, and
Stay cool,

My comments on EPA's Greenhouse Gas Findings

See my next entry, above, for how to submit your comment on EPA's proposed findings that greenhouse gases pose a threat to human health and welfare and that vehicle engines contribute to greenhouse gases (I know, these things seem obvious, but this is an important step in the process). I post this in the hope that it's helpful to someone wishing to submit their own comment. Of course, use your own words.

My name is Bonney Hughes. I am representing myself and my family. I have an M.S. in Environmental Toxicology from Cornell University. I have a blog,, that explores issues related to greenhouse gases, global warming, and citizen action. You may contact me through this blog.

As I'm sure you know, the vast majority of climate scientists agree that current and projected concentrations of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations, and that human activity is increasing the concentrations of these gases. There is
now abundant evidence to support these two statements, summarized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; in The Hot Topic, by Gabrielle Walker and Sir David King; and in Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert, to name a few. Public health and welfare are and will be threatened by the effects of increases in greenhouse gases such as: increasing likelihood of stronger hurricanes; less snowfall and more variable rainfall resulting in more drought in some areas and more flooding in others (or a combination in some areas); more heat waves; rising sea levels; increasing rates of species extinction.

It is obvious that motor vehicle engines contribute to the atmospheric concentrations of these key greenhouse gases and hence to the threat of climate change. Motor vehicle engines produce these gases, these gases are very long-lasting in the atmosphere, and there were 244 million motor vehicles registered in the US in 2006 ( Since these gases emanate from a huge array of sources, and action by a minority of individuals or companies will not only be ineffective, but put these individuals and companies at a disadvantage in many cases, it is vital that the EPA and other branches of the US government take action to reduce greenhouse gases and ensure that organizations and individuals do so as well.

I strongly support EPA's Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings because they are true and because they represent a first step in this vital direction. I urge EPA and other branches of the US government to take all effective steps to slow and reduce the production of greenhouse gases to reach the goal of 350 ppm CO2 equivalents with all possible speed.

Friday, May 1, 2009

We air what we eat

There are many reasons to eat locally grown foods: to support local agriculture, buy the freshest food, and reduce energy use and greenhouse gases associated with food transportation, among others. But two researchers have recently shown that the average American can reduce greenhouse gas emissions even more by eating less red meat and dairy.

Christopher Weber and Scott Matthews of Carnegie Mellon did a comprehensive analysis of the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by various aspects of food production and transport for the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Although food travels long distances, 83% of the greenhouse gases associated with food are emitted during its production. Each dollar spent on red meat and dairy products, because of the amount of grain and land required to produce them and the amount of methane cows produce, results in about 2 1/2 to 3 times more greenhouse gases than each dollar spent on chicken, fish, eggs, cereals, and other foods. Because of these facts, skipping dairy and/or meat one day a week would have the same impact as buying all your food locally. So in addition to buying as much locally-grown food as possible, reducing our red meat and dairy consumption can have a big effect on our carbon footprint. There are many variables in this equation, including whether your beef is grass-fed or grain-fed (grass-fed has less impact due to fossil fuel use in grain production) and whether you eat meat or dairy at all, but these values hold true in general for the US population (and almost surely for other nations as well). Whether or not you eat meat or dairy, reducing your consumption of produce that's traveled a long distance, which is usually true of out of season produce, can reduce carbon emissions significantly. For a good summary of the article, see The Daily Score blog here.