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  Thursday, 17 May 2007

The Minister for Social Engineering, the Hon Ben Dover, announced today that the government would soon announce details of its child abuse credit trading programme. It is expected that under the plan those wishing to abuse children could purchase credits from individuals and organisations which care for and assist children. An official said: "it might work like this... a Plunket nurse could sell the credits accumulated over any financial year from the care of children to any individual or organisation without credit or with a shortage of credits to abuse children." The Ministry would be issuing a schedule of abuse, grading various activities and the number of credits required to carry them out under the scheme.

National's spokesperson on social engineering condemned the government's attempt to bring in the scheme and said under National child abuse would be regulated by individual hardworking New Zealand families. A Maori Party spokesperson said that gangs should be allowed to trade in the credits just like any other organisation. The Greens objected to the plan as being inferior to their own proposal to tax child abuse but said, nevertheless that they would support the government. Winston Peter's office said the Minister, presently touring refugee camps on the French Riviera could not be reached for comment.

(Written by my friend Ron Resnick as a letter to the editor of our local newspaper. Trying to get across the absurdity of carbon credit trading in 200 words or less is no easy task, let alone getting it printed. I think Ron nailed it with this and it's one of his best letter writing efforts to date.)

4:49:06 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 4 May 2007

Don't buy a smaller car. I know that sounds like something I wouldn't normally say. A greenie like me should be all for selling those SUV's and buying up electric hybrids as quick as they can build them, right? well. no.

I overhead a conversation today between a group of people admiring a shiny new car one of them had just bought. I was a nice compact, economical looking thing. The part of the conversation I overheard went something like this.

Admirer 1: "So you've traded down then?"
New car owner: "Oh no. I'm reducing my enviromental footprint."

I bit my lip and kept walking. Why didn't a shake their hand and say good on you? Well, because what they did probably had little or no effect on their "environmental footprint" at all. You've got to do the math. The whole equation from start to finish...

By the time a new SUV reaches it's proud new owner, it has already cost the planet about as much fossil fuels in the materials and manufacturing as it will consume in it's lifetime. The materials, the power for the assembly factory, the shipping of the parts and finished product, etc etc. Everything must be included in the equation. And here's the bad news. The enviromental cost of a brand new hybrid is not far removed from that of the SUV. Think about it; they are still made of the same materials, using the same manufacturing process, and they are still delivered on a truck.

So what has the person that sells their old SUV to by a nice new hybrid actually achieved for the planet? In reality they might as well just keep driving the SUV for the rest of it's life. Their "enviromental footprint" (I just love this feel-good buzzword) would remain the about the same.

If you want to make a difference by changing your mode of transport try a bicycle, public transport, or walk. Better yet, work on reducing your need to travel and stay at home. Buying a feel-good, technofix, economical, CAR is not part of the solution.

7:36:19 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 3 February 2007

Every Saturday morning my friend Ted loads up his Xtracycle and trailer and heads of to the Nelson Market. He runs a kites and juggling stall. Everything he needs for the stall goes on the bike & trailer.

Ted and his xtracycle roadtrain 2
There are no less than three folding tables on the wideloaders.

Ted and his xtracycle roadtrain
This side you can see the kite-stock tube (red), the gazeebo on the snapdeck (yellow), and a of course a trailer full of stock.

Teds kite and juggling stall.
Everything you see in this picture (excluding the customers) was transported by bike with zero emmissions. Well done Ted. This just goes to show that anyone who says they can't travel by bike because - insert favourite car-loving excuse here - probably just isn't willing to try. Sure, it would be easier for Ted to throw everything in a station wagon and drive to the market, but he chooses not to. Not because its cheaper, definately not because its easier (it ain't), and it's certainly is not quicker. He does it because it's the right thing to do, for us and our planet (oh...and its fun!). I long for the day this kind of action becomes mainstream.

This reminds me of what one of the Xtracycle inventers said in the video below... "It's not about making your life easier, its about making your life better."

This clip is from back in 2000 when the Xtracycle boys were first trying to spread the word about their idea. You've got to admire their tenacity (without which I wouldn't have had a chance to own my xtracycle). Thanks guys.

9:39:57 AM    Comment []

  Monday, 15 January 2007

"I want to show the world that if I can make it around the Earth without any emissions, then surely almost anyone can make it to work or school." - Tim Harvey

10:07:54 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 4 January 2007

Its happening all over the world. Cycling and the car-free lifestyle is back. After reading these two stories this morning I felt like I was part of something bigger as I jumped on my bike to ride off to work this morning...

Bicyclists winning a war of lanes in San Francisco

New German community models car-free living

...and check out this page of photos of those crazy europeans and their cargo bikes. Seriously it is incredible to me to see how the humble bicycle has been adapted to so many tasks. Photos curtosey of Cleverchimp who has just released the news that Clevercycles is now the first importer of Bakfiets (Dutch workbikes) in the US. I hope they catch on and I wish someone would bring them here to New Zealand... or better yet, start manufacturing them here! I'd have one in my bikeshed.

8:28:36 AM    Comment []

  Thursday, 23 November 2006

I absolutely love doing this sort of thing with my xtracycle. Why? Because it messes with peoples heads. Forces them to think outside the square their petrol driven minds are stuck inside. I needed some straw for mulch on my garden. It keeps the moisture in, stops the blackbirds from digging to deep and uprooting plants, breaks down to 'feed' the soil for next season, keeps the strawberries of the ground, and it just looks good too. Ted had some organic barley straw at his house which was on the way home, and I just happened to have my wideloader bars with me today. So we traded two bales of straw for twenty litres of worm juice (compost tea) from my worm farm, which I will be riding in with tomorrow morning. Boy, did I see some rubberneckers on the way home! Some did a double take as I rode by, others looked at me like cows in headlights, and a few were belly laughing.

Ted had a wee test ride around Neale Park before I left.

Stopped at the Hira store. Now where am I gonna put the milk and bread!?

(ps. I apoligise for the quality of the pictures. They were taken on my phone since my dead camera has not been replaced yet.)

7:19:54 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 22 November 2006

About a year ago I was musing that if I cycled to work twice a week, and stayed in town, near to work, in my campervan one day a week, saving a trip home, I could almost half the amount of driving I do. Thinking back today I realised that setting that goal, and acting on it, has taken me much further... and quite naturally so. Since then, and especailly over the last 3 or 4 months (since I got my Xtracycle) I have virtually eliminated driving altogether. I used to make the 50km drive to work and back every weekday. Thats 250km a week, or about 1000km a month. Since August I have averaged about 2 drives a month; about 100km worth. A 90% reduction! And without being to smug about it... it was no great sacrifice, in fact it was almost easy. Not to mention the other positive spinoffs, like way better health and fitness, less stress, lots of money saved (I think I'm addicted to endorfins though). And thats just the benefits for me. However marginal, there are benefits for our planet too.

Speaking of benefits for the planet... try this for one day, you never know where it might lead you.

Buy nothing day is this Friday.

This year's Buy Nothing Day has a special poignancy. Never before have our emerging environmental crises been planted so firmly on the lips of the policymakers and the general public. Rather than screaming from the fringes, high-profile economists and scientists are sounding the warnings in respected journals and the halls of parliament -- warnings that our oceans are dying, that the ice shelves are melting, and that we are setting ourselves up for the most massive and widest-ranging market failure the world has ever seen.

All of this points to a profound need for a shift in the way we see things. Recycling, protecting our waterways, driving hybrid cars -- all the old environmental imperatives -- are great, but it's becoming obvious that they don't address the core problem: we have to change our lifestyles, we have to change our culture, and we have to consume smarter and consume less.

This is the message of this year's Buy Nothing Day, and there are only a few days left to get that message out onto the streets. From the quietly sublime to the crazily anarchic, the ways in which you can mark BND are only limited by the imperative not to spend. Strut your stuff as if the fate of whole planet is resting in your hands, because even if each of us only does one small things to contribute, 96,847 small things sure add up!

At the BND campaign headquarters - that's - we've already featured upcoming actions in Japan, the UK, Canada, and the USA, with more to come from all over the world, including Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Hungary, Spain and Sweden. You can also download posters and other resources, as well as connect with activists in your own little corner of the globe.

Remember: Make a scene. Make people laugh. Make them think. If you have to, make them angry. Just get out there.


I'm planning on a Buy Nothing Christmas too (and that's not as grouchy as it sounds).

9:37:13 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 6 November 2006

You've heard of aquaculture (or fish farming) and you've heard of hydroponics (growing plants in liquid instead of soil). If you marry the two, you get aquaponics; an intergrated system that reuses water in a continuous cycle to produce an abundance of food. Some claim it is possible with this system to produce food for up to 300 families on an average urban lot.

The idea involves using nutrient rich efffluent from a fish tank to feed hydroponics plants which in turn clean the water to be returned to the tank. There is almost no water loss during the whole cycle making the system virtually drought proof.

I read about this type of system for the first time last week when I found this document on my web travels. Although fascinating, a picture is worth a thousand words, and today I found a short video of an aquaponics system up and running (very succesfully). It is of the Ecocity farm. Could this be the way of the future for our presently fossil fuel dependant food supply? I think it shows very strong promise for the cities of the future.

8:56:21 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 9 October 2006

(Thanks A & P)

10:39:34 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 2 September 2006

With all the 'extra' commuting I've been doing on by bike since I got my xtracycle, I decided I deserved to be comfortable. I never realised what a poor fit my old bike was until I upgraded to a frame that actually fits me. My old green machine feels awkward and cramped compared to my new Bauer Hardline Xtracycle conversion. My credit card lies seriously wounded but it was worth it, and since I'm not forking out for desil, tyres, road tax, etc it will pay for itself in time.

One feature that really makes a difference, apart from the large spacious frame, is the seat post suspension. Rear suspension is always a comprimise as it soaks up some of the riders effort every pedal stroke and prevents a fraction of the power from getting to the ground. The seat post suspension gives me comfort without the sacrifice. It just soaks up those ruts and bumps that are common on the shoulder of the road.

Adjustable handlebars positions are also a good idea. I've also fitted an airhorn. It is delicously evil fun. At 115 decibel it s louder than your average truck and is a great way to let other road users that you're coming (or that they have just cut you off). And the best thing about it is it's rechargable. The bottle mounted of the front carrier rack can be pumped up to 80 psi with and ordinary bike pump which gives me around 70 half-second blasts before it needs refilling.

The first task for my new xtracycle setup, was to cart away my old bike....

(btw... I have to mention the fantastic service I got at the Stoke Cycle Center. I have used the services of several other local bike shops recently, but this is a business that really remembers the meaning of the word 'service'. Not only did they fit my Xtracycle at no cost, but the put my old bike back together, and tuned it. They transfered all my accessories like airhorn, carriers, bags and lights too. The new bike came with a service contract that gives me free servicing of my bike for the entire time I own it. And what's more, they remember your name. Highly recomend them to any locals buying a bike or looking for good bike servicing.)

10:40:16 AM    Comment []

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