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Archive for enero 2010

Jack Hidary and Bioneers Conference

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Every year, for the last twenty years, a group of thinkers have gotten together to discuss breakthrough solutions for our world. This year I went there in a 2010 Toyota Prius to learn and be inspired.
©2009 Isaac Hernández
Given that the UN Climate Change Conference is happening in Copenhagen December 7-18, much of the conversation was dedicated to the idea of reducing carbon emissions. Everybody seems to agree that we can reduce our emissions by 80% by 2020, with the technology we have available today. Thousands of experts are saying that waiting until 2050 to reduce our emissions by 80% is not enough, causing irreversible damage. Unfortunately the US government thinks it is. But the people at Bioneers don’t despair, instead they get into action, with many solutions, some of which I will share here in the following months.
As Ken Ausubel, co-founder of Bioneers, said, “if your kitchen is on fire, you don’t just sit there depressed. It’s time to grab for the extinguisher.” It’s a fact that we humans produce 70 million tons of CO2 every 24 hours. Changing the light bulbs to low energy fluorescents and remodeling our homes with energy efficient windows is part of the solution, but not enough. We need to let our leaders know that we want more. And sometimes we have to become the leaders.
Take Jack Hidary, for example, he wasn’t happy with the amount of CO2 put into the New York air by the 13,000 inefficient Ford Crown Victoria pullulating on its streets and avenues. So he helped form SmartTransportation.org, a coalition of health, civic, business and environmental organizations working together to improve our lives through innovative transport solutions. In just two years, their initiative has replaced 25% of the taxi fleet with more efficient hybrid vehicles. A hybrid taxi costs the same than a Crown Victoria and saves the driver about $5000 per year in gasoline. Even if the $2000 batteries have to be replaced after three years, it makes sense to drive a hybrid in the city, doing 30 miles per gallon instead of 10-12mpg for a Crown Vic.
Jack thinks that in two more years the full fleet of yellow cabs will be high efficiency vehicles. He didn’t stop there. He talked to dozens of executives about the pollution generated by their “black cars”, the Lincoln Town Car vehicles that sit in front of office buildings, idling. When Jack showed the executives photos of the cars emitting carbon dioxide, they agreed to replace their fleets with hybrids.
Mr. Hidary is happy with these results, but he wants more. “At the current ramp rates,” Jack says, “Green Vehicles won’t reach 5% of total US fleet before 2030. Even the Obama Administration’s goal of 1 million plug in hybrid electric vehicles by 2015 won’t represent more than .4% penetration.
Renewable energy for the creation of electricity in the US is in a similar situation, reaching less than 4% of the total, in a market dominated by coal burning, with 46% of the total. But Hidary thinks that it’s within our reach to change this very quickly. Thanks to social networks like Facebook, we’re becoming more connected, with many positive results.
Imagine that you’re driving your car and someone hits you from behind. You get out of the car ready to yell at the other driver. Imagine that there’s an application for your phone that allows you to see if you’re somehow connected to another person. This is something that will happen very soon, according to Jack Hidary.
So before you start screaming your lungs out, your iPhone buzzes and lets you know that the man who hit you has a common friend with you, and not only that, he’s also going to the same birthday party you’re going on Saturday. The relationship with that person suddenly transforms. You exchange phone numbers and look forward to seeing each other at the party. No need for police or insurance reports.
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” These are the words Chief Seattle said in 1854. They hold true now as much as ever.
This connectivity helps us communicate solutions much faster than ever. One solution that Hidary thinks is worth spreading is PACE, a system that started in Berkeley, California, from the hand of Cisco Debris and Dan Cayman, and is now in 15 states. What’s PACE? A great way of allowing everybody jump into the renewable energy bandwagon, permitting people install solar panels for very little, and ultimately allowing for the home owner to charge the batteries of their electric car at no extra cost to their pocket or the environment.
How does it work? PACE provides long term loans, payable over thirty years. The payments are tied to the property tax, so you just pay a little bit every month to wean yourself from coal, possibly the same that you would be paying for the old-fashioned electricity.
For $3500-4500 one can transform a Toyota Prius into a plug in version, thanks to Lithium-Ion kit made in China, with the installation made by 3prong power, which was present at the Bioneers Conference. The cheaper transformation allows only for 15 miles on fully electric mode, while the other doubles the range to 30 miles. Can you imagine if you could drive to work and then come home and charge the car with your solar panels?
“Yes, that’d be nice,” says a woman checking the Prius, “but if I live within 7 miles each way from my work, I think I rather take the bicycle.”
It’s true that the bicycle is still the most renewable energy available, but you cannot convince everybody to ride bicycles, that’s why every solution helps move us along towards the goal of reducing CO2 by 80% in 10 years.
Many people at the conference seemed to agree that China is in a privileged position to lead the world with renewable energy, given that your country doesn’t have as many political hurdles as the US and it’s already investing heavily in solar plants. There’s much to do still, but our children will appreciate the investment we do today or they’ll suffer if we don’t. Make sure you’re a part of this revolution. Just like Jack Hidary, be part of the action and the solution.

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Written by Isaac Hernandez

enero 4, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Publicado en hybrid

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REIKIsoluciones para el Año Nuevo

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Al Volante de la Vida
Ahora que se nos pasó la resaca del año nuevo, es hora de ponerse a trabajar por un año mejor, tanto al volante como fuera de él. Nos servirá para vivir más tiempo y más felices.
©2010 Isaac Hernández
Todo puede comenzar al volante, porque pasamos muchas horas al día sentados dentro del carro. Según Tom Vanderbilt, autor de Traffic, Why We Drive The Way We Do (And What It Says About Us), el estadounidense medio pasa 438 horas al año viajando en carro.
Quizás usted no crea en las resoluciones de año nuevo que se olvidan a la semana de hacerlas. Es normal sentirnos confrontados cuando hacemos una promesa muy grande y acabar abandonándola con una excusa: “En realidad no quería hacer eso”.
El Reiki, una práctica originaria de China y evolucionó en Japón, que se basa en cinco principios que comienzan con “Kyo dake wa” (Sólo por hoy en japonés), puede enseñarnos a enfocarnos en las metas del día a día en lugar de en algo que parezca imposible. Aplicaremos estos cinco principios al volante, para manejar y manejarnos mejor.
Sólo por hoy no me preocuparé. Descansaré bien por la noche para así poder enfocarme mejor en el manejo. Hoy no ahogaré mis penas con alcohol o drogas que puedan poner en peligro esa misma vida o la de los demás. En estos tiempos de crisis es fácil preocuparse, pero lo mejor es ocuparse, aunque sólo sea por hoy. Si no estoy preocupado tendré más facilidad de estar presente al volante, atento a todo lo que me rodea, abierto a nuevos caminos que se abren.
Sólo por hoy no me enfadaré. Me olvidaré del “road rage”. Respiraré profundo y me tranquilizaré, canalizando esa energía en algo positivo. Seré cortés, dejando espacio a los demás carros, cediendo el paso a quien lo necesite (incluyendo a los peatones). No causaré accidentes. Utilizaré los intermitentes, prenderé las luces para que me vean en cuanto esté a punto de ponerse el sol y quitaré las luces largas cuando haya un carro frente a mí para no cegar a su conductor.
Sólo por hoy honraré a mis padres y maestros. Mis padres me dieron vida. Los aceptaré como son, y como no son. No discutiré al volante. Estaré relajado. Respetaré las normas de tráfico y las opiniones de los demás, aunque no esté de acuerdo. Estaré dispuesto a aprender todos los días de mis maestros, y de los niños. Mi hijo me dijo una vez algo así: “Si tu te enfadas con otro conductor, manejarás peor, y eso hará que otro conductor se enfade contigo, y otro se enfadará con él… No te enfades.”
Sólo por hoy me ganaré mi sustento honradamente. Me aplicaré en mi trabajo. No me distraeré mandando mensajes de texto o hablando por el teléfono móvil mientras manejo. Llevaré puesto el cinturón de seguridad. Me enfocaré en mi crecimiento sostenible. Pondré lo mejor de mi mismo, amando lo que hago, aunque sólo sea conducir entre el tráfico al trabajo, agradecido en tener destino y trabajo.
Sólo por hoy mostraré gratitud por todo lo que me rodea. Manifestaré mi agradecimiento con los otros conductores, con mis padres, y con el mundo, por las oportunidades que me ha dado, por el carro que puedo manejar. Agradeceré el poder vivir en este mundo, circulando por estas carreteras, recordando que soy parte del atasco. Lo que le pasa a uno nos pasa a todos.
Feliz Año Nuevo.

Written by Isaac Hernandez

enero 1, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Publicado en automovil

New Year REIKIsolutions

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It’s as good a time as ever to start working for a better year or a better decade, at the wheel of an automobile or at the wheel of life. A little thought may help us live longer and happier.
©2009 Isaac Hernández
I’m writing from the last day of 2009 in California, already 2010 in China. Right now we in Santa Barbara are getting ready to receive the new year of the Roman calendar, while in Beijing most people are
already sleeping after the celebration. By the time these words have been translated to Mandarin and printed, the Year of the Tiger will also be imminent. It’s a perfect time to make New Year’s resolutions.
Perhaps you don’t believe in resolutions, which can have a tendency to get forgotten a week after they’re declared. It’s a normal thing to feel confronted by a big promise, and end up abandoning it with an
excuse: “I didn’t really want to do that”.
Perhaps you don’t believe in Reiki, the energy practice of LING QI, which began in China, and is used for healing. Whether you believe in it or not, there are five Reiki principles that, in Japanese, begin with the words “Kyo dake wa” (Just for today). I’ve discovered that they can be very practical for New Year’s resolutions. These three
words can inspire us to focus on our goals day by day, instead of looking at larger, yearly, seemingly impossible goals.
Given that Americans spend an average of 438 hours a year in a car, according to Tom Vanderbilt (www.tomvanderbilt.com), author of Traffic, Why We Drive The Way We Do (And What It Says About Us), the
car will be the vehicle for my resolutions.
Think about it. 438 hours per year adds up to 1.2 hours per day. I know people that spend more time than that daily behind the wheel. Nevertheless, if the average person spends that much time in a car, by
the time I’m 70 years old, I’d have spent over 30,000 hours on wheels! And judging by how long I’m taking to write these words, I’ll spend another 30,000 hours writing about driving! This seems like a ridiculous amount of one’s lifetime to spend in traffic, trying to get somewhere. For this year, I will focus on being happy where I am,
instead of trying to get somewhere, hurrying, fighting to get through. But wait, I’m forgetting about the Reiki principles: Just for today I will focus on being happy where I am. So I have adapted the Reiki
principles to the automobile, whose intention is to allow for small daily measures of peace that add up to a longer, happier life.
Just for today I won’t worry. I’ll get plenty of rest before I drive so that I can focus better and be present at the wheel, enjoying every second of it. Today I won’t drink alcohol or do drugs before driving, putting my life and those of others in danger. Rather than worry, I will focus at the wheel, even if it’s just for today. When I’m not
worried, I can be in the moment, aware of all the surroundings, and open to new experiences, willing to take the road less traveled.
Just for today I won’t get upset. I’ll intentionally let go of any “road rage”. I’ll breathe deeply, redirecting this energy into something positive. I’ll be polite, allowing space for the other cars, and yielding to others (including pedestrians). I won’t cause accidents. I’ll use the turning signals. I’ll turn on my headlights before sunset so that other people can see my car, not just when I need to see. I’ll use my high beams when I need them, and will switch
to low beams when there’s traffic coming the other way so as to avoid blinding other drivers.
Just for today I will honor my parents and teachers. My parents gave me life. I will accept them as they are, and as they aren’t. I won’t argue (especially not at the wheel). I will relax. I’ll respect the traffic laws, and the opinions of others, even if I don’t agree. I’ll be ready to learn every day, from my teachers, and from children. My son once said to me, “If you get angry at another driver, you’ll drive worse, and that will make another driver get mad at you, and another driver will be angry at him, and you’ll create a lot of upset drivers.
Just don’t get angry.”
Just for today I will earn a living honestly. I’ll apply myself to my work. I won’t get distracted sending text messages or speaking on the mobile phone while I drive. I’ll wear the seatbelt. I will make a living sustainably, using only what I need, turning off the lights when I’m not in the room. I’ll consider walking, riding my bicycle or
taking public transportation before driving, to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases and to keep the Earth a living space for future generations. I’ll give the best of myself, loving what I do; even the simple things like walking or driving, feeling fortunate that I have legs and a place to go to.
Just for today I will be grateful for everything that surrounds me. I’ll express my gratitude to other drivers, to my parents, my children, to the whole world, for the opportunities that are given to me, for the opportunities that are coming my way, for the old and reliable Honda Civic that was given to me by my father-in-law (thank you, Bud). I will be grateful for all that I have and all I don’t have, for the oceans that provide rain, for the air that lets me breath. I will be thankful for being able to live in the world, circulating these roads, remembering that I am part of the traffic jam. Whatever happens to me happens to everyone. We’re all connected.
Happy New Year!
PS. A Chinese proverb says, “To know the road ahead, ask those coming back”. You’re arriving to the Year of the Tiger before me. Could you please tell me how the year is? 😉 My email: isaacarts@gmail.com
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Written by Isaac Hernandez

enero 1, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Publicado en automovil

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