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Virtual crossover October 7, 2008

Second Life signifies a virtual world where avatars can fly and anything can be created with the click of a mouse. It represents a platform, a virtual space, where like-minded people can gather to share ideas. Dr. Leslie Jarmon of UT’s Division of Instructional Innovation Assessment says that the co-presence of an avatar psychologically creates better connections than mere email or internet postings. The three-dimensional element adds another level of connectivity that stretches beyond a web cam or a teleconference, she says.

Companies are starting to take advantage of this co-presence and have recognized this platform as a way to save themselves money. IBM, for example, holds most of their administrative meetings and has their business center located  virtually on Second Life. This saves them the transportation cost of having to fly management to a central location for conferences and other meetings.

Second Life offers companies a way to host meetings virtually, saving on transportation costs and airline emissions.

Second Life offers companies a way to host meetings virtually, saving on transportation costs and airline emissions.

What does this have to do with the environment? Airplanes are huge emitters of the toxic wastes that pollute our atmosphere. Second Life is offering companies, and people, a way to cut their transportation costs by allowing people to meet virtually, which both saves them money and reduces carbon emissions!

US Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts illustrated this point at the 2007 UN Conference on Climate Change in Bali. Markey is the head of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, and instead of flying to Bali, he chose a more virtual representation as a Second Life avatar, proving to the conference that actions can speak louder than words.

According to the Carbon Footprint Calculator, Markey’s flight from Boston to Bali would have released 7,448 lbs of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This number helps to legitimize the use of virtual representation as part of future solutions to solving our current climate crisis.


Future Volt September 16, 2008

Filed under: Technology,Transportation — Katie @ 12:34 pm
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General Motors released the production model of its plug-in electric car in Detroit this morning.  They call it – The Chevy Volt

The Chevy Volt runs on a lithium battery for up to 40 miles.
The Chevy Volt runs on a lithium battery for up to 40 miles.

 – and it came out in honor of GM’s 100th anniversary.


According to www.chevrolet.com, the Chevy Volt is a series hybrid that runs on a lithium battery.  The cool thing is that once you get it in your garage, you should be able to use a regular household plug that’ll fully charge your car in about six hours.  What this does to your electric bill, I cannot say, but what a zero-emissions vehicle can do for the environment?  Lordy!  


The site says 75% of Americans live within 20 miles of their job site, meaning they should be able to make it to work and back without emitting anything.  Should someone need to drive further, there’s also a three-cylinder gas engine that can recharge the battery and gives the driver another 600 miles.  The car can run on both gasoline and ethanol, and in that situation, it gets up to 50 mpg.


Chevrolet is finishing up testing of lithium batteries under different circumstances, so the Chevy Volt should be available to the public by 2010. 


Yellow Bikes September 8, 2008

Filed under: Transportation — Katie @ 7:16 pm
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People have been yapping about gas prices as reason to find alternate forms of transportation for months, but the Yellow Bike Project offers more than a sustainable means of travel around the city of Austin.


The organization is built around a do-it-yourself concept, and if anyone shows up expecting someone to fix their bike for them, they’re mistaken.  In addition to fixing up old bikes and selling them to the public dirt cheap (the average cost of one of their bikes ranges from $30 to $50 – even if you check out a pawn shop, you’ll have to double the latter price), YBP also shows people how to take care of their own equipment.  People can work on a trade basis – help around the shop for a bit, earn parts to fix your bike.  No money exchanges hands, and more importantly, you now have a carbon-free means of travel that keeps you in shape and doesn’t require at least $30 of fuel each week.

Mateo Scoggins has been working with the program for about a year, and he thinks students have no excuse not to ride a bicycle on a regular basis.  “They don’t have to commute super far, so bikes are perfect,” he said.  “There’s no excuse to own a car.  Plus, if you ride a bike when you’re a student, you’re more likely to do it for the rest of your life too.”