Its Easy Being Green

     Gas prices havent stopped Americans from driving, but the media are more interested in those seeking solutions to moooving without gasoline. ABCs Claire Shipman covered a team of Western Washington University students who created a car powered by gas from cow manure. Not gasoline, mind you gas. On the May 29 Good Morning America, Kate Snow reported on the manure magic that takes methane from the cow product, eventually pumping it into the specially-designed car. But at just 15 miles per cow (per day), Snow noted there arent enough cows in the U.S. to power every vehicle.

     Meanwhile, The New York Times reported on May 30 that outdoor outfitter Timberland isnt as happy about cows natural processes. The company was concerned about its emissions and discovered its largest greenhouse gas problem was cows.

     As it turns out, the vast majority of the greenhouse gases associated with manufacturing leather comes from cows in the field, said Jeffrey B. Swartz, Timberlands president and CEO. Timberland is examining ways to change the feed for cows, the Times reported, because Americans are increasingly recognizing that the effects of carbon emissions on global warming are a serious problem.

And Forget the A.C.
     NBC held up Japan as the energy-saving champion on the May 29 Nightly News. Campbell Brown introduced the report: Americans might get some help in stretching their fuel dollars from overseas. In Japan, gasoline is already over $4 a gallon, and they have become champion energy misers.

     Reporter Mark Mullen detailed some interesting ways the Japanese supposedly save energy, including shutting off car engines at stoplights and washing clothes in bathwater. (It was unclear whether the bathwater was washing clothes or clothes water was used for bathing.) He also described a program called Cool Biz that had several companies keeping their office air conditioners at 82 degrees, allowing employees to forego ties for the summertime. That didnt stop a woman in one of the offices from fanning herself in the video clip because it was so hot. But the Japanese arent concerned about rising gas prices, Mullen said.

     According to the CIAs World Factbook, Japan slightly smaller than California is 10 times more densely populated than the United States. It has about 340 people per square kilometer, while the United States has about 32. So it should come as no surprise, but for different reasons than Mullen indicated, that Japanese consumers yearly use just half the energy Americans do. Japan has about 43 percent of the population of the United States not to mention its small landmass requires far less transportation output.

And Stay in the Driveway
     Back in the United States, the summer driving season began over the weekend. And the media worried: will gas prices keep travelers at home? Closer to home?

     Despite the record number of travelers for Memorial Day weekend, which The New York Times cited on May 27, just three days later the Times worriedly proclaimed that Holiday Travelers Hit the Road, but Scrimped a Bit. A gaggle of reporters across the country collaborated to find those who had cancelled trips and barbecued at home to save energy and money. A pair of friends in northern California stayed on a houseboat but used kayaks to avoid burning gas.

     However, as the article noted about halfway through, higher gas prices actually should not have that much of an effect. For an 800-mile round trip, for example, the cost of an additional dollar per gallon adds up to $40 for a vehicle that gets 20 miles a gallon. But because the price is so prominently displayed as people drive, jumps can have a big impact on consumers emotions.

     Of course, the article didnt explore the effects of media hype on consumers emotions.

... And Build a Green House
     Enamored with Al Gore and his carbon-emissions-bashing propaganda, the media just cant seem to get enough of stories about alternative energy possibilities, businesses and individuals who are going green.       Linda Hales May 31 Washington Post feature about the National Building Museums exhibit on eco-design pushed Gores movie in the first sentence. Hales said the movie provides the necessary urgent context for the exhibit. She continued with a scenario drawn directly from Gores film, followed by a note of whimsy: