Wait, what was that last one?
In case you hadn’t noticed, the average price of gas jumped from $3.49 to $3.62 in the last month, and prices are expected to hover around $3.57 a gallon throughout the summer, just one penny below last year’s average.
Luckily, there are many things you can do to use less gas and keep rising prices from eating away at your budget, starting with properly maintaining your car. And after the brutal winter we had, you car may need it more than ever.
“Many motorists don’t realize that fuel consumption is directly related to auto care and has a significant impact on how much gas you use,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council, which organizes National Car Care Month every April. The organization has just published a free 60-page car care guide, which includes some great maintenance tips for maximizing fuel economy. Here are their recommendations:
1. Get a Tune-Up
Regular tune-ups, maintenance and having clean air filters will help you burn less gas, pollute less and prevent car trouble down the line. A proper tune-up can boost gas mileage by 4 percent. Changing a dirty filter can improve efficiency by 10 percent and using the oil specified for your car saves up to 2 percent. If a tune-up turns up a faulty oxygen sensor, you’ll save up to 40 percent by replacing it.
2. Check Your Tires
Tires that are not properly inflated add rolling resistance that makes the engine work harder to move the vehicle. Tires can lose pressure due to seasonal temperature changes so pressure should be checked at least monthly, including the spare. (Check your manual for optimal pressure.) Do this regularly, and you’ll save 3.3 percent.
3. Get an A/C Inspection
The A/C system should be inspected annually, during which a technician checks pressures to test operation, refrigerant charge and outlet temperatures.
4. Watch Gas Caps and Fill-Ups
Approximately 17 percent of the vehicles on the road have loose, damaged or missing gas caps, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year. Get yours checked, and when you fill up, avoid the urge to top off. It can release harmful vapors into the environment.
5. Questions to Ask Your Mechanic
Here’s what you need to ask your mechanic to make sure you’re getting maximum fuel economy:
• My car is getting lower gas mileage than normal. Does this mean there’s a problem?
• How often should my car have a tune-up?
• What components will you be inspecting and/or replacing as part of my tune-up?
• Are my tires properly inflated and is there enough tread for safe/effective performance?
On the Road
Besides keeping your tires properly inflated, there are several things you can do to maximize fuel economy between tune-ups:
6. Drive Green
Driving technique has a lot to do with your fuel economy. Avoid sudden starts and stops and go the speed limit. Jerky and aggressive driving decreases your miles per gallon (MPG) and increases wear and tear on your vehicle. Turn your car off instead of idling when you’ll be parked safely for more than 10 seconds. Also, drive wise and minimize unnecessary miles by doing errands in one trip, getting good directions and calling ahead.
7. Lighten the Load
Get your stuff out of your car and junk out of the trunk. This does not mean that you should not keep important emergency items such as a spare tire, flares and a first-aid kit. However, items that are not needed weigh the vehicle down—causing an increase in gas usage and unneeded wear and tear on a vehicle.
8. Keep Your Cool
Use the windows to help keep the car cool as much as possible when not on the highway. Park in the shade and use a reflective windshield shade when parked—it will take less gas to cool it off when you get back in.
April is National Car Care Month, and free vehicle inspections are happening all around the country. Find a free car care clinic or vehicle inspection event near you on the Car Care Council’s Event Finder to learn more about taking care of your car.
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A supervisor at the Department of Energy's Office of International Climate and Clean Energy told staff to stop using the phrases "climate change," "emissions reduction" and "Paris agreement" in any official written communications, according to POLITICO's sources.
Senior officials apparently told DOE climate office staff that the climate-related words would cause a "visceral reaction" with Energy Sec. Rick Perry, his immediate staff and the department's White House advisers.
While a department spokeswoman denied any official language ban in the climate office or in the department as a whole, POLITICO's sources said that there is a general sense among DOE employees that such hot-button terms should be avoided in favor of words like "jobs" and "infrastructure" in light of the Trump administration's anti-environmental agenda.
Environmental groups have balked at POLITICO's report. The Sierra Club noted that the DOE only just emerged from a storm of controversy regarding climate change after its staff purge during the transition period.
"What exactly is this office supposed to call itself now? The international C****** office?" Sierra Club Climate policy director Liz Perera said. "Ignoring the climate crisis will not make it go away, will not create jobs in the booming clean energy economy, and will not make our country great."
"Rick Perry lied to Congress about climate science to get a job at an agency he wanted to eliminate, and he has started things off with a blatant dereliction of duty. The only place the climate is not changing is in the minds of those in the Trump administration," Perera added.
The former Texas governor told Congress during his confirmation hearing that "science tells us that the climate is changing, and that human activity, in some manner, impacts that change." In a 2011 presidential debate, Perry famously forgot the name of the agency he would abolish.
Scientists have been seeing mysterious green ice spread across the Arctic floor since 2011. Upon further inspection, they realized it was blooming phytoplankton, a very rare occurrence in this harsh environment.
It was thought that this region was too dark for phytoplankton to bloom. The ice is usually so thick that it reflects incoming rays, starving out any possible photosynthesis. But, a team of researchers from Harvard University found that rising temperatures due to climate change are causing the ice to wear so thin that phytoplankton are thriving and majorly disrupting the food web.
"What we found was that we went from a state where there wasn't any potential for plankton blooms to massive regions of the Arctic being susceptible to these types of growth," Chris Horvat, lead author of the study and Harvard graduate student, said.
The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, concluded that as ice retreats, the sun is able to beat down on the open water, spawning huge phytoplankton blooms. The plumes attract fish, and the fish attract mammals, which ultimately attract indigenous hunters.
"The meter decline in sea ice thickness in the Arctic in the past 30 years has dramatically changed the ecology in that area," Horvat said. "All of a sudden, our entire idea about how this ecosystem works is different. The foundation of the Arctic food web is now growing at a different time and in places that are less accessible to animals that need oxygen."
Just 20 years ago, the ice was still thick enough that only 3 to 4 percent of it was susceptible to blooms. But, now, a staggering 30 percent of the ice is melting off in the summer months. This doesn't just affect phytoplankton, but larger mammals who need oxygen to survive. Habitat destruction at this level is unbeknownst to scientists and it will take further observations to monitor and measure the true impact on the ecosystem.
By C40 Cities
Fumiko Hayashi has been mayor of Yokohama since 2009 and is the first woman to hold the post. Her previous roles have included president of BMW Tokyo, president of Tokyo Nissan Auto Sales and chairperson and CEO of the Japanese supermarket chain Daiei.
In 2006, Forbes magazine named her 39th most powerful woman in the world, the highest rank for a Japanese woman. Ms. Hayashi is the president of Mayors Association of Designated Cities in Japan and also serves as the member of the Council for Gender Equality of the Cabinet Office of Japan. She has also written several books on management and workforce relationship.
C40 Cities had the chance to connect with Hayashi to learn more about her efforts:
Q. What has been your biggest climate or environmental achievement as mayor?
A. Yokohama has implemented urban development in cooperation with various stakeholders such as citizens, companies and other groups, overcome many environmental issues and promoted city development that harmonizes the environment and the economy. In dealing with climate change, we are promoting efforts that take advantage of our achievements in urban development up until now.
With regard to energy issues in particular, through the Yokohama Smart City Project, in collaboration with 34 major Japanese companies, we are aiming to realize an advanced, energy-circular city with systems aimed at optimizing the balance between energy supply and demand in existing urban areas such as by introducing the Home Energy Management System in 4,200 homes and improving the energy efficiency of commercial buildings. We were well-received at C40 and awarded the C40 Cities Award in the Clean Energy category in 2016. Behind this was the fact that ours are some of the world's leading large-scale projects in existing urban areas.
Q. What are the key climate change and environmental challenges facing your city? What are you doing to address them?
A. Developing the city to be low-carbon and disaster-resilient. With 3.73 million citizens and more than 110,000 businesses, Yokohama is a major city and a major energy consumer. The key is solving issues and for this, not only the government but also the power of our citizens—which is the pride of Yokohama—and the technical expertise cultivated in the public and private sectors have become major strengths. As a "FutureCity," we will continue to work hand in hand with citizens and companies.
Q. Were there any women leaders who inspired you when you first entered politics?
A. A woman leader I was inspired by is Sadako Ogata, who helped provide humanitarian aid for many years as Japan's first UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Even as ethnic and religious conflict was intensifying, I was impressed with the way she visited these various locations and flexibly built new support frameworks through her strong leadership. I met her in person when she was serving as president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency and she was a wonderful woman with a strong will, heart-warming humanity and overflowing hospitality.
On the other hand and much regrettably, the participation of women in Japanese politics seriously lags behind. Even at present, it represents no more than 1.6 percent overall, with only 28 women leaders of local governments. Having women in leadership positions can help deepen men's understanding of working women and promote a society in which women can participate more. I view this as my mission, after having worked for more than 50 years in an androcentric structure and is why I took up politics.
Q. What obstacles do you think women leaders still face in delivering their agenda, including on climate change?
A. Being a woman will not be an obstacle in implementing the agenda. The strength of women lies in leadership that employs empathy and acceptance. Better results are produced by men and women taking advantage of each other's strengths, coming together and producing results in tandem. Therefore, I believe that women's ability to demonstrate their capabilities in all areas, including climate change countermeasures, will yield great results. Under the leadership of C40 Chair Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, we will deepen the unity of C40 member cities and continue to work to implement climate change countermeasures.
Q. What advice would you give to young women in Yokohama—or any other city—who are concerned about climate change and want to do something about it?
A. Climate change is a complicated and very difficult issue occurring on a global scale and is caused by a variety factors. It is critical to think about this global issue with a broad perspective but also in terms of what can we do in our own everyday lives and what is to be done in society as a whole—thinking together with numerous people and putting into practice what is initially possible. I expect much from today's young women.
The conservative and libertarian think tank has sent out 25,000 copies of the organization's book, Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming, and an accompanying 10-minute DVD to 25,000 science teachers this month, according to a Frontline report. The book argues that climate change is not settled science.
Katie Worth, who authored the Frontline report, called the effort a "massive propaganda campaign by the nation's leading climate change skeptical think tank."
The Heartland Institute, which has received funding from polluting industries such as Exxon and the Koch family, rejects the scientific community's widespread consensus that human activity causes climate change.
The organization plans to send the materials to another 25,000 teachers every two weeks until every public-school science teacher in the nation has a copy, Heartland president and CEO Joseph Bast said.
This means the book and DVD could end up in the mailboxes of more than 200,000 K-12 science teachers in the country. The campaign began in mid-March.
Frontline also published a cover letter of the materials from Lennie Jarratt, project manager of Heartland's Center for Transforming Education, who asks that the teacher "consider the possibility" that climate science is not settled.
The 2015 book is coauthored by Drs. Craig D. Idso, Robert M. Carter and S. Fred Singer, who have been heavily involved in the "debate" over global warming.
Here are some tidbits about the authors:
- According to DeSmog, Idso believes that "CO2 is not a pollutant" and is the chairman and former resident of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, which has a mission is to "separate reality from rhetoric in the emotionally-charged debate that swirls around the subject of carbon dioxide and global change."
- Carter, who passed away last year, was an Australian marine geologist and a paid climate change denier, SourceWatch noted. He once asserted that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has not found evidence that global warming was caused by human activity.
- Singer, a former space scientist and government scientific administrator, founded the Science & Environmental Policy Project in 1990, a 501(c)(3) "educational group" focusing on global warming denial, according to DeSmog. Idso and Singer helped develop the Heartland Institute's "Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change. Singer said in Jan. 2016 that "the real threat to humanity comes not from any (trivial) greenhouse warming but from cooling periods creating food shortages and famines."
The letter directs teachers to visit Izzit.org to access an online guide to using the DVD. Izzit.org is a "right-wing advocacy organization" that provides free educational videos to U.S. educators and homeschoolers.
The National Center for Science Education, an Oakland, California nonprofit that monitors climate change education in classrooms criticized the mailing campaign.
"It's not science, but it's dressed up to look like science," NCSE executive director Ann Reid told Frontline. "It's clearly intended to confuse teachers."
Climatologist Michael Mann also tweeted that the Heartland Institute is trying to "indoctrinate children with climate denial propaganda."
Bast, Heartland's president, said that some teachers have appreciated the information and even asked for a Heartland speaker to visit a class.
However, many science teachers have not welcomed the campaign.
As Frontline wrote:
Lori Baker, a sixth-grade science teacher at North Putnam Middle School in Roachdale, Indiana, found the package in her school mailbox and was dismayed by its contents. "I read quite a bit of the book, actually, and it was extremely frustrating. It's an attempt to sound science literate, but there's very little actual data," she said.
Baker pointed to the first paragraph of the foreword, written by Marita Noon, executive director of Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy, a nonprofit and lobbying group that advocates for the use of fossil fuels. In it, Noon writes that Obama's description of climate change as the greatest threat facing mankind is "laughable" at a time when "ISIS is beheading innocent people."
"That as a foreword to something claiming to be scientific is pretty shocking," said Baker.
A coalition is suing the Trump administration this week over an order opening tens of thousands of acres of public lands to the coal industry. Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke's order lifting a moratorium on federal coal leasing comes a day after President Trump's executive order rolling back protections for public health, climate and the environment.
The pause in leasing was ordered last year under the Obama administration to allow time to reform the federal program to protect the climate and American taxpayers. In just the first stage of that review, completed this January, the Interior Department found that coal mining fouls the air, pollutes streams and destroys wildlife habitat on public land. More than one-tenth of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the pollution driving climate change, come from federal coal.
In addition to studying these impacts, the Interior Department previously committed to evaluate options for improving returns to taxpayers before resuming leasing. Internal Interior Department and independent Government Accountability Office audits have recently concluded that the current leasing system shortchanges taxpayers while subsidizing coal mining. The Trump administration's decision to resume federal coal leasing will lock in these subsidies—in addition to harmful environmental impacts—before they are fully studied.
"The Trump administration has basically announced a fire sale to revive the coal industry," said Art Hayes, a southeastern Montana rancher who lives downstream from the Decker and Spring Creek mines, which both have pending lease applications that will move forward when the moratorium is lifted. "But in the process, they are leaving us ranchers that rely on clean water and a healthy climate in the dust. Putting business before people is just wrong."
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by Earthjustice on behalf of a coalition of local, regional and national groups working to protect public lands, air and water quality and the health of the planet, including: Citizens for Clean Energy, Montana Environmental Information Center, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardians and Defenders of Wildlife. The Northern Cheyenne Tribe is also suing to challenge the decision.
"No one voted to pollute our public lands, air or drinking water in the last election, yet the Trump administration is doing the bidding of powerful polluters as nearly its first order of business," said Earthjustice attorney Jenny Harbine, who is leading the effort to challenge the president's actions. "Our legal system remains an important backstop against the abuses of power we've witnessed over the course of the past two months. That's why we're going to court to defend our public lands, clean air and water and a healthy climate for all."
When the moratorium was put in place, the Interior Department estimated then-current federal leases produced enough coal to supply the country's needs for 20 years. Further, Goldman Sachs analysts last year issued a report concluding that the "decline in long-term demand [for coal] appears to be irreversible."
Coal mined from public lands contributes more than 40 percent of the U.S.' coal and approximately 10 percent of its greenhouse gas pollution. Coal mining and combustion also impose heavy air-quality and public-health costs through emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and mercury. Scientists have called on the U.S. to stop new coal leasing to help prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.
"Trump has upended a public process intended to stop taxpayer losses on coal mined from our public lands," said Bill Corcoran, Western regional campaign director for Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. "Today's irrational action does nothing to reverse the coal industry's market-driven decline. This isn't putting Americans first, this is putting corporate polluters first."
A major natural gas leak caused parts of Providence, Rhode Island to shut down Wednesday night.
The leak, which shut down Interstate 195 and city streets for several hours, was caused by a ruptured high-pressure gas line near a National Grid take station plant at Franklin Square around 8:15 p.m.
Local witnesses reported "a loud sound of rushing air" and "a faint smell of natural gas" coming from the Allens Ave. plant.
According to The Providence Journal, a dramatic scene unfolded in the area:
"The break in the underground pipe caused havoc for a large portion of Wednesday night. Frustrated motorists were forced to take detours off a jammed Route 195 and National Grid workers scrambled to shut down the gas, which was escaping with such force that witnesses said it sounded like a jet engine. The roar continued for several hours."
Emergency vehicles swarmed the scene and nearby businesses had to evacuate.
Providence Public Commissioner Steven Pare described the leak as "highly explosive" and said "we have to keep any ignition source away from this leak" at around 9:35 p.m.
There were no reported injuries and the leak has been contained. Interstate 195 reopened around 11 p.m. and the affected streets reopened around 5 a.m. Thursday.
Officials said during a news conference that mechanical equipment failure lead to the leak.
Danielle Williamson, a spokeswoman for National Grid, told Rhode Island Public Radio that roughly 50 customers lost service and technicians have been fixing the leak since early Thursday morning.
Williamson explained that restoring gas takes longer than restoring electricity because "technicians have to go to from home to home, business to business and relight appliances that go into the homes or businesses."
National Grid is trying to determine what exactly caused the leak, Williamson added.
By Harvey Wasserman and Tim Judson
Elon Musk's SolarCity is completing the construction of its "Buffalo Billion" Gigafactory for photovoltaic (PV) cells near the Niagara River in Buffalo, New York. It will soon put 500 New Yorkers to work inside the 1.2 million-square-foot facility with another 700 nearby, ramping up to nearly 3,000 over the next few years.
The production of some 10,000 solar panels per day will put thousands of New Yorkers to work doing the installations. The panels will produce electricity cheaper, cleaner, more safely and more reliably than any fossil or nuclear source of power, including fracked gas, thus fueling a bright industrial future for the state.
With a little common sense from the governor, upstate New York could have many more of these massive factories, create many thousands of good, stable, high-paying jobs and solve its energy problems along the way.
All he has to do is shift over the absurd, wrong-headed $7.6 billion hand-out he now wants to give the Illinois-based Exelon Corporation for continuing to run four extremely old and dangerous nuclear reactors.
Those four reactors employ a total of about 2,100 people. They came online in 1969, 1970, 1975 and 1988 respectively. Aside from being dangerously decrepit, they run the risk of early shutdown because of general mechanical deterioration, rising maintenance costs, a shortage of replacement parts and the likelihood of major component failures.
At some point all operating reactors will also face escalated safety standards certain to result from the next Fukushima-like disaster, an ever-more likely reality as the global nuke fleet ages and deteriorates. Because the nuclear industry is failing throughout the U.S. and Europe, there is an ever-narrowing pool of workers qualified to keep the plants going. Because the electricity they produce is so expensive, they will drain a huge pool of resources from a state-wide economy in desperate need of industrial rebirth.
By contrast, SolarCity's solar panel plant will be productive for decades. It's called the Gigafactory because it will produce a gigawatt's (1 million kilowatts) worth of solar panels every year, about the same as a nuclear reactor. (Depending on climate and sunlight, PV capacity produces electricity equivalent from about a half to a third of the capacity from an atomic reactor, assuming the reactor doesn't blow up, melt down or shut for other reasons).
The cells produced at "Buffalo Billion" will spread throughout New York and the nation, revolutionizing our energy system. The energy those cells will produce will create far more jobs than subsidized nukes and would emit no greenhouse gases. The nukes they'd replace currently emit billions of gallons of hot wastewater annually, a major contributor to climate chaos.
Should the money Gov. Cuomo has earmarked for those old Exelon nukes be shifted to solar, New York's economy would be revolutionized.
The template for such a plan has already been established by Pacific Gas & Electric at California's last two reactors. Surrounded by earthquake faults at an oceanfront site nine miles west of San Luis Obispo, the Diablo Canyon nukes are being phased out in an agreement between the state, the utility, environmental, labor and local government groups.
Pacific Gas & Electric has admitted that the power Diablo produces can be replaced with 100 percent renewables. The company has also agreed to retain the plant's 1,200 workers through the phase-out and retrain them for jobs in the renewables industry at when the plant shuts down. Surrounding communities will also be compensated for lost tax revenues.
Gov. Cuomo should take heed. The $7.6 billion he's earmarked for these four upstate nukes comes with a price tag of $3.64 million per retained job. But in the solar/efficiency field, the state is producing jobs manufacturing clean energy technology with far better long-term prospects for just $148,000 per job.
Rather than having all the jobs in the nuclear basket, that $7.6 billion could also help fund a diversity of facilities that have an actual future in a global economy experiencing a revolutionary green transformation.
SolarCity's Gigafactory in Buffalo will cost the state about $750 million to build. SolarCity is investing another $900 million for manufacturing equipment and build-out.
At full capacity, the PV Gigafactory and its local suppliers will employ 2,900 workers, almost 40 percent more than all four old nukes combined. It will support about 2,000 more jobs statewide. Thus the SolarCity facility will account for about 5,000 jobs—close to three times as many as at the four old reactors. Its cheaper, more reliable energy will fuel a far healthier economy, free of the worry of catastrophic melt-downs and explosions.
Right now some 8,000 New Yorkers work in the solar installation business. They are too often installing imported panels because China has made a huge investment in its PV export business. Panels made in Buffalo will keep that money in New York.
Tesla is now pouring thousands of high-efficiency batteries out of its $3.5 billion state-of-the-art facility in Nevada. By mid-2017, it will employ 1,700 workers and about 6,500 when the plant is running at full capacity in 2020. Such a factory could easily be built in New York, again at a fraction the cost of Cuomo's nuke bailouts.
Worldwide, nuke power is in an advanced state of collapse. Westinghouse, the proud purveyor of the first electricity to come from Niagara Falls, has been bankrupted by its failed nuke construction projects and may take Toshiba down with it.
Those uninsurable old upstate nukes, three of them nearly a half-century old, could do the same to New York. The choice being made here is between a failed technology in the process of collapse or a 21st Century industry in the process of remaking the world.
If Gov. Cuomo wants to take New York forward, instead of locking it into a failed radioactive past, he'll follow California's lead. A small fraction of that $7.6 billion could retain and retrain the workers at those four upstate nukes and compensate the local communities and help them rebuild their economies and tax bases. As the results from a 2015 report by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service and Alliance for Green Economy show, supporting reactor communities and workers should cost far less than any bailouts.
The rest of those billions can then create tens of thousands of solid, state-of-the-art jobs producing cheap, clean, safe green energy components in factories and installation sites sure to guarantee New York state a modern, competitive industrial future.
It's an easy choice, Gov. Cuomo. Fund four dying nukes with 1,100 jobs or a prosperous Solartopian future for New York state with tens of thousands of permanent positions in a a booming sustainable economy.
"I went vegan after watching documentaries like 'Before the Flood' and 'Cowspiracy,'" Erin said, but she questioned conflicting reports on the amount of global emissions caused by animal agriculture.
Nye explained that it can be difficult to peg the exact amount of greenhouse gases that come from cows, sheep and goats. However, he said that as the human population has surged along with the number of animals raised for food, "it's very reasonable that we're creating a tremendous amount of extra methane that wouldn't otherwise be there in the atmosphere, and that is causing global warming and climate change to happen more rapidly than [it] would otherwise."
Nye said that his diet "is becoming increasingly vegetarian," and might soon be following her lead.
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