The Transportation Dilemma

The Transportation Dilemma

By Jeremiah Knupp Hybrid versus standard. Incandescent versus compact florescent. Disposable versus cloth diapers…green choices can be daunting these days. Probably your single most important eco-decision of all is transportation. Driving ranks right up there with electricity as one of the top two causes of pollution that the average American contributes to the environment. But are buses or railways any better than automobiles? The true environmental impact of anything can only be understood through what is known as a “lifecycle assessment.” When applied to transportation, a lifecycle assessment takes into consideration factors like the pollution caused by manufacturing, maintenance and disposal of a vehicle, along with the pollution from refining, manufacturing, and consuming fuel. It also considers the impact of the infrastructure a particular form of transportation requires, like road, track or runway construction and maintenance and refueling stations. Luckily, there are professionals like Mikhail Chester who compute these things...
Trail Building for the Long Ride

Trail Building for the Long Ride

Fundamentals of Sustainable Singletrack Design Words and photos by Seth Lightcap From the coast to the Sierra crest, more terrain hungry mountain bikers are picking up shovels to improve old trails and create new classics each day. But if you want to build something that will stand the test of time and countless tires without degrading into an environmental nuisance, you’ll need to follow the principles of responsible, sustainable singletrack design. For help in assembling some essential guidelines for repairing and building trails, I’ve enlisted the expertise of several trail-building pros: Scott Linnenburger, director of field programs for the International Mountain Bike Association, and from Northstar-at-Tahoe, bike park manager Kyle Crezee and trail builder Kurt Gale. While these tips won’t answer every dirty question you may have about trail construction, they will steer you clear of the most common pitfalls that plague deteriorating trails. If you’re serious about laying down...
Still White as a Winter Moon?

Still White as a Winter Moon?

Despite a couple lean snow years, Shasta’s glaciers bucking global warming trends – so far Story and photo by Renee Casterline With its summit soaring 14,162 feet, Mount Shasta stands imposingly over the surrounding landscape, alone in its claim as the dominant peak of northern California. Unlike the highest peaks in the Sierra, Shasta has no peers on its flanks. It’s an absolute brooding, uncontested loner – a mountain “as lonely as God, and white as a winter moon,” as the poet Joaquin Miller memorably put it. It is this solitude, this unrivaled claim on your attention, that brings into sharp relief just how barren the usually white-cloaked mountain has looked this spring and summer. In mid-May, considered one of the prime climbing and skiing months, guides and rangers were bemoaning the summer-like conditions as the snow pack rapidly receded under the blowtorch of a week of 90-plus degree days....
The Last American Road Trip

The Last American Road Trip

Essay by Bruce Willey It begins when you can leave town, when you leave your common sense, your guilt and a large chunk of yourself behind. It could be four years of pent-up academic frustrations. It could be the many years at a job that fleeces your ability to connect to the sweet simmering world. It could be simply that you want to let the road show you the pace. To hell with schedules, unwanted phone calls, the incessant hassles of life. To be immersed in the vicissitudes of flux at just a tad above the speed limit is nothing short of being loyal to the human spirit. So your car or your pick-up truck is a little low in back with the tent, the sleeping bags, a Coleman stove and lantern, food, cooler, foam mattress, the beer and firewood. You will press on the accelerator and feel the precious...
High-Tech Hopes

High-Tech Hopes

Three Eco-Innovations that Could Save the World By Graham Averill In the midst of all false hype—and hope—surrounding corn ethanol and fuel cells, these three lesser-known innovations are gaining attention and research funding. Together, they represent some of the brightest opportunities for a green infrastructure, from the food we eat to the energy that powers our homes. Nanosolar Panels The trouble with solar right now is that it’s still too expensive. But not for long. The San Jose-based solar company Nanosolar has developed a low-cost, printable solar cell manufacturing process. Instead of the traditional solar panel, the Nanosolar product is a thin layer of photovoltaic film that converts light into energy. Powersheet solar cells cost one-tenth of conventional solar panels, can be produced at a much faster rate, and have proven to be just as efficient. Traditional solar panels require silicon, which is increasingly rare, expensive to ship, build, and...
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