Spotted: DC Resident Philippe Cousteau in Gulf Oil Spill

Rad. Philippe is down in the gulf. The reports are coming out very heroic and being blasted over CNN and the major news sites.

Here is one CNN report:

Philippe Cousteau Jr, the grandson of famous marine biologist, Jacques Cousteau, recently scuba dived into an area of the Gulf that was affected by the spill and said it was an “absolute nightmare”.

Cousteau also said that a chemical dispersant being used to absorb the oil isn’t working as it should be.

“We were about 15 to 20 feet down and it was dispersed into smaller and smaller particles throughout the water column in these billowing clouds that were just circling us, encompassing us in this toxic soup,” Cousteau told CNN.

“It was very, very alarming.”

Cousteau also wrote on his blog that his grandfather, Jacque would have been “horrified” by the spill.

A quick glance over to Philippe’s blog shows that he is indeed on-site and writing about it:

…as the oil penetrates the vegetation it kills it and leaves bare soil to be washed away, which will decimate this once vital and productive eco-system. “We are seeing birds covered in oil during the height of nesting season and tar is washing up on the beaches,” they explained. There was real concern in their voices, people who have grown up here and who are now watching the entire ecosystem and economic bases of the community fall apart before their eyes.

Finally, a video that looks like CNN reporter Sam Champion bogarted Philippe. Reporting all the same stuff as Philippe but doing so in the first person and even showing himself diving in the water (they do eventually talk about Philippe). Hmmm, who do you think is the real diver here?

Cash For Clunkers – A Review

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With all the hubub about ‘Cash for Clunkers‘ right now, I decided to look into what is going on from A Clean Life point of view.

First, a little about the program:

Take to a dealer any car not older than 25 years that gets less than 18 miles per gallon. Buy a new car that gets 4 or 10 miles per gallon more than your old one and the dealer will give you $3,500 or $4,500 (respectively).

Example: take in a 1998 Ford Explorer, currently the most commonly traded in clunker car type, that gets 14 mpg in the city for a 2009 Ford Focus, currently the most commonly purchased new car type, which gets 24 mpg in the city.

Since the program began on July 1, 2009, “the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that as of Saturday afternoon (August 1, 2009) 80,500 cars, averaging 15.8 miles per gallon, had been traded in for cars averaging 25.4 miles per gallon.” (from Washington Post)

The recent spate of news about the program is due to its apparent success. Congress had approved 1 billion for the program which was supposed to last until November 1, 2009. Instead the money is almost gone and reports are coming out that “U.S. auto sales rose to their highest levels of the year in July.” (from the same WaPo article).

Finally, just to round it out, the top new cars being sold are: (1) Ford Focus, (2) Toyota Corolla, (3) Honda Civic, (4) Toyota Prius, and (5) Toyota Camry. (Bloomberg, top cars purchased are foreign)

The Environment – Recycling

My first question in looking at this is the recycling program since we are scrapping old cars. What happens to all that metal, glass, rubber, and more. I can’t find any information on this.

There are reports that scrappers across the country are taking all the parts they can and reselling them (reuse!). Then putting in anywhere from “$700 to $1,200 to remove a car’s fluids, mercury switches, and Freon.” (CS Monitor)

But, according to the CNN video report included below, the rest is cubed into fist size metal chunks and then sold overseas.

This is annoying. We are exporting our trash and our raw materials overseas, just to be bought back once they recycle it for us. This sounds like a program not well thought through.

How hard would it have been to put in some incentives for recycling this material?

Support the recycling industry and create some green jobs in the process?

The Environment – Oil

I’m gonna take a holistic view on this one. Anything we can do to reduce our oil needs is of paramount importance. Not only does this help get us out of the pockets of world evil doers it also lessens our ‘oil addiction’. Our oil addiction runs so deep that we even use 19% of our imports on our food.

Getting us all less dependent on oil, making less trips to gas stations, and spurring demand for technology that can gives us greater than 20 mpg is fantastic (cash for clunkers requires the new car purchased to have at least 22 mpg).

I fully support this program for this aspect alone. With our current state of affairs where our technology and environmental needs so far behind it would be way to easy to say this falls short. Many are doing just that and clamoring for even more stringent needs.

That is good and needed, but I do recognize the chicken/egg problem here. We have to start somewhere, which is better than not starting at all.

CNN Clip on Clash for Clunkers