Saturday, November 20, 2010

opportunivores in the house

Just heard the 'opportunivore' term in the new yorker this week. Expect it in Webster's some day soon. Then I thought: grad student Conor G. raising eyebrows by snagging neighborhood leaf bags on his street - brown gold for home compost - and grad student Meghan Salmon, who left our terrestrial biogeoscience seminar early so she could pedal on over to Somerville, to pick up chicken by-product scraps at a chicken processing facility so as to make her cat's food - and our IT Guru Larry Andrus, who uses old computer hard drives and bicycle wheels to make micro-wind turbines. Opportunivory = sustainability, baby!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Leaking pipes = lost energy, lost money, greenhouse warming, and dying trees

Massachusetts loses 8 billion cubic feet of natural gas each year through leaky pipes, according to leak sleuther Bob Ackley . To the current ratepayer, I calculate that this is about $100 million in money down the drain (or, up in smoke?) each and every year. Not to mention that the escaping methane (the main constituent of natural gas) is a powerful greenhouse gas. Or that it kills trees as it seeps into the root systems of trees, displacing the oxygen roots need to breath (and drying the root systems out too). Here is an example of a badly coupled human-natural system, the opposite of a smart neighborhood. It's not just a Massachusetts problem; its a national problem. Human networks conflicting with natural systems, and needlessly. We can fix this and produce a win-win-win (money, greenhouse gas, trees). Who do you think is paying the price for this lose-lose situation currently?

Bob Ackley (, who has been featured in local and national news, will speak about this issue to the BU Center for Energy and Environmental Studies on Wed. Dec 8, from noon-1pm. All are welcome, but for non-CEES/IREP/GE students, please RSVP with me at so we can make sure we have enough room!