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50-Cent (carbon tax)

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 Okay, so maybe we’re not talking about rap music.

 But 50-cents is all one Congressman wants to curb the greenhouse gas problem.

U.S. Rep John Dingell is calling for a 50-cent-per-gallon increase in gasoline tax. The proposal could generate hundreds of billions of dollars per year. More importantly, it would cause Americans to think twice about large SUVs.

 But that’s not where the plan ends.

Dingell wants a $50 a ton tax on carbon released from burning coal, petroleum or natural gas.  Dingell also proposes a reduction on mortgage interests for smaller houses. This, he says, rewards those that live a lifestyle with less of a carbon footprint.

 And, did I mention Rep John Dingell is from Detroit, aka, the motor city?

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Well, Dingell claims the car industry won’t be completely crushed. He will exempt the tax for diesel, allowing automobile manufacturers to still capitalize on extra-large cars and trucks that would utilize the chepar diesel.

“I’m trying to have everybody understand that this is going to cost and that it’s going to have a measure of pain that you’re not going to like.”  -U.S. Rep John Dingell

 The positives?  Economists believe this is the easiest, most efficeint way to cut down on carbon and is much easier than the cap-and-trade system, which could be hard to implement.

And the negative side?  A tax on carbon would effect everything from heating your home in the winter to the cost of your electricity.  Simply put, Rep. Dingell could be a very unpopular man.

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Dingell also says that this is just a proposal and he anxiously waits for feedback on the plan.

(And believe me, he’ll be getting more than feedback on this.)

 

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Smart Car, Smart Idea.

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What happens when you cross an environmentally-friendly idea with a work of art? 

You get the Smart Car.

Created by Mercedes, the Smart Car already boasts a waiting list of 20,000, even though its not due to hit the U.S. market  until early 2008.  The SmartCar’s base price is expected to be about $12,000 with a fuel efficeincy of 40 miles per gallon. 

 It’s hard to imagine that just 5 years ago the Hummer H2 was the hot new car.

The big question is whether the Smart Car will catch on with Americans.  For urban living, the size is an obvious advantage. Not to mention, it’s energy efficeincy is a positive for anyone. But will it fit the lifestyles of most Americans? The Home Depot runs? The soccer team carpool? Certainly, the Smart Car isn’t for everyone.

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In Europe, interest in the Smart Car is diminishing and the company is losing billions of dollars. There’s no guaruntee that it will be a complete success here either.  But what if it is?

The Smart Car could be a ground-breaking asset to the “Go Green” movement.  It’s a solution to some of our most pressing environmental concerns.  An environmentally-friendly product that is infiltrating our daily lives. It  sends a message to the American people that going “green” is here and happening.

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Arctic Ice Melt Opens Northwest Passage

Vessels and ships now have a new, faster route from Asia to Europe.  Who’s to thank? Climate change!

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The Northwest Passage goes through northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland.  According to the European Space Agency, the passageway is now ice-free.  Before,  it had been virtually impassable, challenging sea captains and explorers for decades.  The ESA is unsure when the pass will officially be open, but it is sure to cause a dispute.

 Russia, Norway, Denmark, Canada and the United States have already began to fight for the territorial right to the Arctic.  Russia caused controversy last month when they sent two small submarines to secretly place their national flag underneath the North Pole. Why? A study has shown that as much as 25% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas could be within the region.  But don’t think it’s happening so fast.  Environmentalists claim that a potential oil spill in the region could be devestating for the local wildlife.

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Using the Northwest Passage would actually cut pollution. The ships would cut the distance of their trip, avoiding the standard Panama Canal route. But the reality of this situation is clear: arctic ice is melting at a rapid rate. The U.N. says that by the year 2070, all arctic ice will be completly gone.Is the arctic and the world ready for a major trade route?  We’ll see.

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Bottle This.

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Bottled water is going out of fashion, and for a good reason. 

More than 8 billion gallons of bottled water is consumed every year. It’s an industry that every year brings in about $11 billion. Considering the wet stuff falls free-of-charge from the sky, something just isn’t right.

Well, if not for the pathetic nature of paying money for something that comes free naturally, maybe considering what we’re doing to the environment might help.

 Nearly 90% of plastic water bottles are not recycled and head right to the landfill. It takes plastic anywhere from 400 to 1,000 years to decompose. More then 40 million barrels of oil is used to produce the plastic needed for the bottling.

“It would be like filling up a quarter of every bottle with oil.”

-Peter Gleick, water policy expert

So what about taste? And your health?

Since bottled water is less-regulated by the FDA than tap-water, in some cases, tap-water is actually safer than its bottled counterparts. According to a study, 25% of bottled water actually is tap water– sometimes further treated, sometimes not. Studies have shown there is no taste difference between the two.

The point is, bottled water doesn’t appear to be better for you, taste better and certainly not eco-friendly. And if you’re still drinking it, you’re out of the loop.

The mayor of San Francisco just banned all bottled water from city buildings.  Other cities, such as Salt Lake, are following suit. Many restaurants, many in New York City, have also capped their sale of bottled water.

So put down your Evian, your Fiji and your Dasani. This time, we’re heading to the tap.

 SOURCES: National Geographic News, MSNBC

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