North by Northeast

Buying Bio Heat Home Heating Oil in Medford or near Boston
5 December, 2007, 11:19 am
Filed under: environment, Local | Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s that time of year again – it’s gotten cold, and the fuel oil is getting low. In previous years, I’ve bought from Burke Oil, in Chelsea, Mass but a call this morning confirmed that Burke will no longer deliver BioHeat to a residence. Not good, as last time I checked, they were the only company to deliver to Medford.

Good news though, Mass Energy, a non-profit consumer’s alliance now does deliver (or rather an associated dealer does) to Medford. I’ve signed up this morning ($20 fee to join), and hope to talk with the oil people soon. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I posted a request for alternative bioheat providers on Craigslist, but that was also before I called Burke, and learned they no longer deliver to residences.

Update: The Oil people who work with Mass Energy called. They only run a truck with BioHeat irregularly. As in rarely. I had to buy 100 Gallons (minimum delivery) of all-petroleum #2 home heating oil just to keep the house warm. However, going through Mass Energy saved me at least $0.10 per gallon. They had no idea when the next truck would roll with the BioHeat fuel. Also, their BioHeat deliveries are strongly tilted towards their automatic delivery customers, so being a will-call customer is difficult.

It looks as though I will sign up for auto-delivery for BioHeat soon.


Take your rack off!
28 February, 2007, 10:22 pm
Filed under: bike, car, environment

This is why I don’t use a roof rack, but an easily removed (and retrofitted to another car) rear rack:

Don’t leave an empty roof rack on your car
This can increase fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 10% due to wind resistance and the extra weight – removing it is a better idea.

Top 50 Things To Do To Stop Global Warming Get more tips there.

Mountain Bikers are conservationists
3 December, 2006, 10:21 pm
Filed under: bike, environment, outdoors

Hi. My name is Brian and I am a member of the Nature Conservancy and the New England Mountain Bike Association.

Recently, NPR had a story on this phenomenon, where mountain bikers like myself are being less lumped in with so-called “extreme” outdoors-people (see Dirt Bikes, snowmobilers, ATVs, jet-skis) and more so with human-powered outdoors-people, like hikers, kayakers, climbers. This is huge. This, along with new scientific evidence supporting the fact that the environmental impact of bikes is as little as hikers (careful PDF!), and sometimes less. The study showed MTB had significantly less impact than horses and motorized users. Plus, almost no mountain bikers are known to leave feces on the trail, like the equestrian contingent. 🙂

Now, this is what people like myself have believed for a long time. However, it’s important for land managers to note that there is a small contingent of mountain bikers who treat the land much the same as the motorized contingent. These people like to travel off-trail and try to build their skills with jumping and other natural-feature involved activities. I think there’s nothing inherently wrong with their activity since they’re still human-powered and they’re not polluting nor very noisy like a dirt back or ATV, and they simply can’t cause nearly the erosion. But they still can cause more damage than those who simply ride the trails. The best way to deal with this is to accommodate these people by designating areas for their use. This keeps them form digging deep into the forest and making their own areas. If you believe the mountain bike rags, this is happening all over the Northshore area of British Columbia, considered the birthplace of the hucking style known by many names, but free-ride is one of them.

Unsanctioned building of these areas in the wilderness is just a bad idea. Not just for the impact on the land, but these activities are simply dangerous. I think that the free-ride craze, although it’s not for me, is a lot better than a lot of things people could be doing, and thus should be supported by providing designated areas monitored by land managers and close to roads so the guys who land on their heads can be driven to the hospital.

The reason this study and future studies on the same topic excite me is the law of the land when it comes to wilderness designation. Currently, when an area is designated as wilderness “mechanical transport” is expressly prohibited. Right now, that’s read to mean “no bicycles.” If science can prove that the rubber on my tires has the same or less impact than the rubber on my hiking boots, that may open the lands up to bikes. And I think, given the size of wilderness tracts, that the mountain bike is the ideal vehicle with which to explore them. No noise, no pollution, long range, faster than foot, and low impact. Lower than domesticated animals, even.

With the International Mountain Bike Association‘s recent work along with the National Parks Service, we are that much closer to parity among nature lovers: equal access in areas that can take the traffic. IMBA is the leading voice in the mtb community for ecological responsibility.

IMBA has an action center where you can learn when to contact your legislators to voice your support for mountain bike access. Even if you don’t ride, if you care for land preservation, mountain bikers are great allies to have on your side. Help them to help yourself and the planet.

$10 a gallon
10 May, 2006, 9:55 pm
Filed under: environment, politics

He's right got it, right on the head.

Sure, 10 bucks a gallon would be extremely painful for a while. Citizens would wail. Commuters would scream and stomp and die. But then we would do what we always do. We would evolve. Adapt. Systems would quickly transform, habits would instantly shift.