Environment Forum

Bike commuting = less CO2 + cost savings + good mood

I wish I could report that “environmental reasons” were behind my decision to start commuting by bike. But the real motivation was much simpler: I’m a cheapskate and biking saves money.

Yet three years and some 24,000 kilometres after switching from the train to the bike, I’ve discovered a number of useful fringe benefits beyond being frugal and reducing greenhouse gas: the daily exercise from the 40-km round trip each day puts me in a good mood, makes me healthier, liberates me from the hassles of semi-reliable train timetables and makes me a bit lighter as well.

No matter how lousy or stressful or full of irritations the work day might have been, by the time I’ve arrived home on the western fringe of Berlin from the city centre after an almost always enjoyable 50-minute bike ride, I feel transformed back into a happy human being. It’s magic.

Rain is a pain. And strong headwinds can be annoying. But even if I get soaked I still usually arrive home with a smile on my face — unperturbed even if some @&%?”$! motorist nearly ran me off the road. In the morning on the way to work, the bike ride often transforms my sleepy head into one spinning with ideas.

I got the idea, for instance, for this feature (click here) on the way to work one morning while backed up behind more than 40 other bikers at a traffic light. Peter Kupisz, the friendly lawyer quoted in the story, told me he thrives on the feeling of the wind blowing in his face. “On some days it feels sort of like I’m galloping on a horse through the middle of the city,” he said. I know exactly what he means.

California ports’ emissions plan: Full steam ahead!

Today, Reuters ran a story about the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports’ aggressive plan to slash pollutants — mostly exhaust from diesel engines — that have harmed air quality and contributed to health concerns in the local communities.  In implementing the plan, the ports have butted heads with some of the industries that they do business with, such as shippers, railroads and truckers.

Nevertheless, the plan is moving full steam ahead, so to speak.

During the course of reporting this story, we visited both ports to get an up-close view of some of the measures they are taking. The two videos below demonstrate two of those efforts, one at each port.

The first, from the Port of Long Beach, shows a technology to cap and collect emissions from a ship’s engines using a 2,500-pound “bonnet” made by Advanced Cleanup Technologies Inc. The bonnet is lifted about 150 feet in the air to collect the exhaust from the ship’s auxiliary engines, which is then vaccuumed into a treatment system to remove the pollutants. The video first shows the bonnet affixed to the top of the ship, and later shows it being removed, allowing the dirty black smoke to escape into the atmosphere.

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