The Biggest Fight for Clean Water

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As many of your know, I am participating in the Dow Live Earth Run for Water on April 18 (image by chesbayprogram). It’s when I see things like the battle over the Chesapeake Clean Water Act that I feel compelled to participate. Dubbed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as the Biggest Fight for Clean Water the United States has seen, this Act seeks to turnaround decades of neglect.

As a long-term DC metro area resident (since ’92), I have had the great fortune of enjoying many visits to Annapolis and other parts of the Chesapeake. Watching the continued deterioration of the Bay’s environmental treasures has been a hard nut to swallow.

Perhaps the hardest part of it is the EPA’s obvious neglect, in spite of it being less than 20 miles from Washington, DC and all of government lands touching the Bay itself. It’s been clear that the federal, state and local governments concerned have failed to protect this precious resource.

That’s why it’s critical to support the Chesapeake Clean Water Act by donating, and more importantly, putting pressure on your elected representatives. The act adds crucial new protections and funds to ensure the rehabilitation and conservation of the Chesapeake Bay.

In addition to writing my Congressional representatives, when I Run for Water I will be doing so for the Bay. To make my point, I will wear a Blue Crab Tee during the run. The crab is the epitome of the Bay’s beauty, and all that we have to lose if we don’t turn back the tide of pollution.

Geoff Livingston is a regular contributor to the Live Earth blog.

Join Me for the @LiveEarth Run for Water

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Many of you know I volunteer as a weekly blog writer and social media advisor for Live Earth. But my commitment will go farther this Spring as I participate in the Live Earth Run for Water on April 18.

No small commitment from me, because though I am a gym rat and partake in cardio five times a week, I hate running. The environment is worth it, so no whining from me.

There are events throughout the country and the world, but the DC 6k will be a signature Run for Water event:

The 6k course, which is still being finalized, will be hosted by the National Harbor. If you haven’t been to the National Harbor yet, it offers stunning views of downtown Washington, D.C. and Old Town Alexandria (my neighborhood), and is just a 15-minute drive – or water taxi ride- to the heart of DC.

In fact, if you are one of my readers and you feel so compelled to run in the DC event, I’ll buy your first drink afterwards. So join me for the Live Earth Run for Water.

Geoff Livingston is a regular contributor to the Live Earth blog.

The Chevrolet Volt Rocks + Your Answers!

Earlier this week in Washington, DC, Jen Conner, John Taylor and I had the privilege of driving the Chevrolet Volt. We wanted to share our experience with this new technology-driven, plug-in electric car with Live Earth readers. Our primary goal was to find out if it would actually function as a day-to-day car. Here’s a little video on our findings:

In addition, we crowdsourced many questions from you, my readers. Tony Posawatz, vehicle line director for the Chevrolet Volt, joined us for our ride and took questions.

Here are the answers to some of your Qs. The back seat answer for Todd Jordan is in the main video above. Video for all of the transcribed answers below can be found here on YouTube.

Q from Jim Woods: I’ve always heard that hybrid/electric cars lacked the power for fast pick-up, especially on hills. True or false?

A: False. A vehicle like a Chevy Volt is an electric drive vehicle, not a hybrid vehicle. Electric drive provides you instantaneous torque The peak torque of the Chevy Volt is at 111 kilowatts, [or translated] it’s like a 250 horsepower V-6 engine.

Q from John Taylor: For someone who is not a car person, what does that mean?

A:: It’s the equivalent of a CTS, our entry level luxury sports car. [We then punched acceleration to prove it, and yes, it’s fast enough.]

Q from Marc Meyer: How is the sound system?

A: We’re not going to show it today, but in the future you will see a Bose premium sound system, very unusual for a compact or a small car to have it. It’s the first of its kind, the most energy efficient sound system. It actually recaptures the energy from the shaking of the speakers, and it has a lower electric consumption than our base system.

Q from John Taylor: Do you feel that the Chevy Volt is a great car that happens to be green, or is it green vehicle that just happens to be a great car?

A: Our engineers who worked on this car viewed it as let’s create a technological marvel. The technological marvel had a few goals: Displace petroleum and make the car able to be your everyday car. I think it’s a technology car first that does so many things well: It can be your primary car and green and fun. I don’t think any car [available] today has been able to do it.

Electric cars have been attempted to be delivered to the market for 100 years. Thomas Edison, Ferdinand Porsche, no one has been able to solve it, and they were smarter than my team is. But collaboratively we’ve made this thing happen, and I think this can be a mass market car.

Q from Rebecca Davis: What does it feel like?

A from Geoff while driving: It feels like a real car. I’ve driven a lot of cars, I’ve had some sportier cars like Audis and obviously, I ride motorcycles. This is a nice ride, it’s pretty tight, feels good, it’s got some gumption. It definitely feel like it’s got some horsepower under it’s hood, I like it a lot. It’s very nice.

Q from Roger Williams: How close to 230 mpg do you get from start to finish of your trip?

A: It all depends. If you drive 10 to 20 miles a day, 30 miles day; if you get more than one plug in, you may get even better than that. We’re not advertising anything. The 230 was really an identification of the potential this car has, and it’s different than a conventional car. More news will come on tha., but the more plug-ins you have, the more electric miles you get.

Q from John Taylor: Talk to me about the larger approach GM has with green.

A:Well, if you look at the Chevy portfolio, we’ve used the language of gas-friendly to gas-free, so we probably have more choices for folks. The Volt is really about choice… Look at what the Volt offers you, the opportunity to use E-85 as your extended range fuel, regular gasoline, plugging it in at 120 volt in your garage, 240 volt with a special system… Chevy offers hybrids from Silverados to Tahoes, and we have more ethanol vehicles than anyone else. So I think the future is one of choice and a blended set of solutions.

Q from Andy Sternberg: Do you see any opportunities to recharge along the way?

A: One of the things we’ve announced here are start-up regions. So we’re hoping that now that someone knows [these] cars are coming, infrastructure will be put in place. And the beautiful thing is there’s some interesting fast charging technology. If people are willing to invest the monies, the Volt can literally be charged up in 10-15 minutes with one of these fast chargers. In a normal situation with 120 volt eight hours while you’re sleeping, 240 volt, three hours.

Follow up Q from Geoff: How will that impact carbon emissions with an electrical charge versus an actual gas charge?

A: The electric grid is getting greener and greener all the time. Depending on the source of the energy — and they have their own standards they have to meet — we think the battery the Volt has right smack in the center of the car, if this car is plugged in and people want to use solar and wind energy, I’ll gladly collect it in this battery and give you a green ride all the way through.

Geoff Livingston is a regular contributor to the Live Earth blog.

Crowdsourcing My Chevrolet Volt Test Drive

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On Tuesday, I will test drive the new Chevrolet Volt, the highly talked about electric vehicle that will be released this year. In addition to its place as on of GM’s cornerstones of the future, the Volt is supposed to be an incredible emissions saver, delivering 40 miles on a full charge. 75% of Americans drive less than 40 miles everyday. The car then uses it’s gas engine to deliver a hybrid performance.

What better way to test drive the car than to crowdsource it with your input? In partnership with the Live Earth blog, the test drive will be filmed by John Taylor using a flip camera. Let us know what you’d like us to find out for you. We’ll post the film on Thursday.

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Geoff Livingston is a regular contributor to the Live Earth blog.

Avatar Brings the Environmental Message to the Masses

The run-away smash hit Avatar has changed the paradigms of special effects and 3D filmmaking. James Cameron’s script, while not critically acclaimed, has also achieved another notable achievement: Delivering a strong environmental message to the masses.

Cameron admitted in a Filmcast Interview that one of his primary goals was to push the climate change cause:

…if a film is successful and becomes a part of the zeitgeist, and there’s a feeling its good to believe this way, and its good to have a sense of responsibility, than people will still rail against it, but maybe it does create a little bit of movement. Our culture evolves through all of its various influences. And major films, major TV shows, celebrities, whatever.. If you hear it enough times, it does start to generate an interest.

Kudos to Cameron for doing his part to raise the issue. With more of us beating the drum, societal responses will hasten, and we can rise to meet the challenge of climate change.

I’m not going to play spoiler, but if you have an opportunity to catch Avatar, do so. And bring that friend who says, “Yeah, it’s an issue, but…”

Geoff Livingston is a regular contributor to the Live Earth blog.

Introducing the Greenversation iPhone App

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As part of my participation in the AppMakr launch, I was given the opportunity to create my own iPhone application! The resulting application is the Greenversation app, which gathers the latest posts from my favorite environmental information resources. You can download the Greenversation app from the iTunes store now.

I originally compiled the list for a Live Earth/Blog Action day post last fall. The ten resources listed in the post are:

1) My primary volunteer organization, Live Earth‘s site.

2) EcoFriend, a very cool green tech blog.

3)350, bringing awareness to the #350, which represents the number of parts per million, the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

4) Joe Romm’s Climate Progress blog.

5) Triple Pundit gives eco-intel and encourages social entreneurship.

6) NPR’s Environment Podcast.

7) Mashable’s list of green tweeple.

8) Environmental Defense Fund.

9) Grist offers more, from sustainable food to politics.

10) Didn’t get enough geekery with EcoFriend? Check out the green technologies featured on ecogeek.

As I mentioned in my original AppMakr post, by no means does this replace a full-on application developed with a specific organizational purpose. But it is an extremely cost effective way to make sure your brand’s content is easily accessible to iPhone users without redeveloping everything for the platform.

For those of you that are wondering, Greenversation is not the name of our new company. Yes, it’s more than me; there are three of us. However, you will see some additional, personal environmental activism under the Greenversation moniker. Next up is a Greenversation project I am launching with List of Change Co-founder Shannon Whitley.

Geoff Livingston is a regular contributor to the Live Earth blog.