11 December 2009

It's simple, Just don't give them the water!

Waukesha County is about to get approval to buy water from the City of Milwaukee.  Apparently Racine and Oak Creek are also willing to sell to Waukesha County but they are less desired due to the higher cost and logistics of piping the water.  If Milwaukee does not provide water than it fears that Oak Creek or Racine will and Milwaukee will lose a source of revenue.  Additionally Milwaukee wants conditions for public transit and affordable housing fulfilled.
Link to Daily Reporter article "Housing, Tansit at Center of Water Sale"

A brief history of this topic:
The area of Waukesha that needs water lies in the Mississippi River Watershed (all falling rain water and ground water naturally drains west to the Mississippi River and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico). Developers are having a difficult time developing subdivisions in the remaining farmland of Waukesha County because the ground water (future well water) is contaminated or can not be reached affordably by drilling new wells (excessively deep drilling). Also the public water supply for Waukesha County can not supply any more water for new residents.

Milwaukee water comes from Lake Michigan, the second largest freshwater lake in the world. The supply SEEMS limitless (it isn't). Rain water and ground water from Milwaukee and Racine county flow east to Lake Michigan and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean. Any water that is pulled from Lake Michigan needs to be returned to Lake Michigan in the form of treated waste water, lawn sprinklers, etc. Water sold to the western 2/3 of Waukesha County will not be entirely returned to Lake Michigan. Instead it will go to the Mississippi River. What seems like a small detail or unimportant piece of information is actually a significant imbalance in our ecological system.
The Continental Divide runs through Waukesha County. Many of you may never realize that the big hill you drive over on I-94 between Hwy 100 & Moreland Rd. exits is the Continental Divide. From the top of this divide (which divides the continent from north to south) rain water either drains west or east depending on which side you are on. It has done this for millions of years with minor exceptions where man has interfered. The Mississippi river depends on its supply of water. Lake Michigan does also. Lake Michigan, in the last fifteen years, has been slowly lowering in height. This problem has been already causing significant coastal erosion. It is believed that human over consumption is one of the causes.
A decision to sell Milwaukee, Oak Creek or Racine water to municipalities in Waukesha County is also a violation of the Great Lakes Treaty which says that all water sourced from the Great Lakes must be returned to them.
In addition, the water is primarily needed for residential and industrial development of existing farmlands and forests. Not providing this water may make these unnecessary developments not feasible. Providing the water will open up the "flood gates" of development and turn undeveloped land into housing subdivisions that are not planned properly and should not exist in exo-suburban conditions. STOP SUBURBAN SPRAWL NOW! Besides there may be a large percentage of existing residents that may want their rural life preserved. If Milwaukee won't provide them water maybe Oak Creek

10 December 2009

Diesel Electric Hybrid! Finally They are Planning for Them

At the LA Auto Show VW is showing their first diesel electric hybrid. The Up! Light is designed to get 70 mpg and is not a "plug in" electric car. It will produce its own electricity and drive off primarily a 2 cyl. turbo diesel engine. About a year ago both VW and Fiat discussed to the press that they would not consider diesel electric hybrids because the cost would be too high and they predicted that consumers would not purchase them. Apparently they have changed their minds, this includes Fiat also. Remember that the VW, Mercedes Benz and Fiat are the technology leaders in diesel production. Their engines can also be found in other manufacturers' cars (example: Fiat makes the diesel engines that power the Ford Fiesta and Focus).

LA Auto Show 2009 Volkswagen-Up-Lite Photo Courtesy Road & Track

I have proposed them for the last several years and could not understand why nobody was developing them for cars. We see diesel electric hybrids in operation for over fifty years - they are diesel locomotives that exclusively power our modern day trains. Something nice about diesel electric hybrid cars is that the fuel does not have be a petroleum product. They can run on biodiesel made from used fryer oil and at 70 mpg you won't need a lot of that. My proposed car is actually propelled by (proprietary information not to revealed) similar to train locomotives.

There are "plug-in" electric cars proposed by some car manufacturers (and a few currently available) but these are usually a worse environmental choice than a car with really low fuel consumption. The reason for that is the majority of electricity available in the U.S. is produced from coal or gas. The quantity of noxious emissions created by the electricity generated to charge the batteries for an electric car is larger than the quantity of emissions from the average gas powered car (for coal or gas sourced electricity). Unless the "plug-in" electric car gets its electricity from a safe renewable source (i.e. solar, wind, hydro electric), there is a negative environmental impact. The only good point is the emissions of the plug-in car are zero, but the power plant will be spewing a higher quantity of emissions.

So, before buying an electric only car or an electric hybrid car, really research the information including where that electricity does come form to power that plug-in electric car that you may consider. Also research the batteries.

02 December 2009

Correction - Big Ed

Correction - The now former GM CEO Fritz Henderson is not "Big Ed the Texan" who publicly proclaimed he knows nothing about cars - that is Ed "Big Ed" Whitaker. Big Ed IS the Chairman of the Board of GM and now the interim CEO. Big Ed is the former CEO of AT&T whom is responsible for the current organization of it. Fritz Henderson was a life long GM employee/executive whom apparently could not shake off his GM family and atmosphere fast enough to satisfy the Board. Just a note, I read a recent story saying that AT&T has earned the status of having possibly the worst customer service this year (of any service providing company - not just phone). Big Ed was instrumental in setting up the current AT&T corporate hierarchy - that was listed as his greatest achievement to date.

Why do I update people on the status of GM? This is supposed to be a blog about architecture, urban community and environmentally friendly living. As one of the largest manufacturers of automobiles and other transportation vehicles, GM has probably the worst environmental track record of any its competitors. It has to be ordered by federal and state governments to clean up its act. It is now marketing itself as "green friendly" (see green washing definition) because it is trendy. Its lobbyists fight all types of governmental laws aimed at improving fuel economy, reducing emissions and increasing public transportation. If GM were truly concerned it would quickly address these issues and prove that it can exceed any proposed government regulations instead of fighting them. The choice, eight months ago, to hire Fritz Henderson as CEO and Big Ed the Texan as Chairman were amongst those bad GM decisions - no matter who made the decisions. GM and a few other large corporations are fighting against ideals that are important in this blog.

01 December 2009

GM CEO Ousted by GM Board at Monthly Meeting

Whitacre is interim replacement
Jamie LaReau
Automotive News
December 1, 2009 - 4:50 pm ET
UPDATED: 12/1/09 6:20 p.m.

Link to Automotive News Updated Article

DETROIT -- General Motors Co's board of directors ousted CEO Fritz Henderson after eight months, saying it wanted to chart a new course as the biggest U.S. automaker pushes ahead with its restructuring.

Frtiz "Big Ed" Henderson Resigns as CEO of General Motors!

Newsflash!!! Frtiz "Big Ed" Henderson resigns as CEO of General Motors! The man who publicly announced he doesn't know anything about cars has resigned during a GM Board meeting. Apparently after a few months of being GM's CEO he still doesn't know anything about cars. I am sure GM's press department has a better and "more appropriate" way of announcing this.
Link to Automotive News Alert Article

GM CEO Fritz "Big Ed" Henderson Resigns

Newsflash!!!  Frtiz "Big Ed" Henderson resigns as CEO of General Motors!  The man who publicly announced he doesn't know anything about cars has resigned during a GM Board meeting.  Apparently after a few months of being GM's CEO he still doesn't know anything about cars.  I am sure GM's press department has a better and "more appropriate" way of announcing this.

Link to Automotive News Alert Article

Definition: Greenwashing

Greenwashing (green whitewash) is the practice of companies disingenuously spinning their products and policies as environmentally friendly, such as by presenting cost cuts as reductions in use of resources.[1] It is a deceptive use of green PR or green marketing. The term green sheen has similarly been used to describe organizations that attempt to show that they are adopting practices beneficial to the environment.[2]

Definition of "Greenwash/Greenwashing" from Wikepedia

Link to site: Greenwashing Index, evaluate and news