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In cities with Zipcar, many decide not to buy second car

By August 19, 2010

Enterprise columnist

SIGN OF THE TIMES: The headlines on the front page of the Sacramento newspaper on Aug. 11 highlighted Òbusiness as usualÓ news events; the regular chatter of political and cultural interest. A good example was ÒFans relate to big exit by flight attendant,Ó describing how websites and blogs were supporting the flight attendant who got fed up with uncooperative passengers, used the intercom on the plane to express his frustration, then activated the emergency slide to exit the airplane.

Other headlines concerned current political news: ÒObama signs jobs measureÓ and ÒGOP stalwart puts money on Brown.Ó Meanwhile, buried on Page 13, apparently of much less interest or importance to readers, was an article titled ÒHuge Arctic ice chunk on the move Ñ Ôyou canÕt stop it,Õ Ó headlining a story about a 100-square-mile chunk of ice that has broken off from a glacier in Greenland.

This is a huge piece of ice, too big to steer or stop; it will go where the ocean currents take it. The article says it contains enough fresh water to keep the Hudson River flowing for two years and points out that the ice ÒislandÓ (itÕs that big) is likely to join the polar bear as a visible symbol of climate change as it drifts south, potentially endangering, in an amazing irony, CanadaÕs offshore oil platforms.

RACE TO THE TOP: City officials recently announced a partnership with Zipcar to bring Davis residents the opportunity to participate in this program. This is one part of the cityÕs Climate Action Plan to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions.

In cities where the Zipcar program has been initiated, a significant number of people have either decided to not purchase a second car, or to go without a car altogether and just use the Zipcars when they need that form of transportation. This program reduces the number of Òvehicle miles traveledÓ in the community. A convenient approximation is that an average car emits about one pound of CO2 per mile driven so reducing vehicle miles traveled is a key element of reducing overall emissions.

The Zipcar program also enables residents to save money on purchasing, insuring, operating and repairing a vehicle. I hope one of the vehicles is a truck.

On the other side of the river, Sacramento County is participating in the ChargePoint America program to provide nearly 5,000 charging stations for electric vehicles in nine regions throughout the country. The program is partially paid for by federal stimulus funds and is intended to provide a charging infrastructure to coincide with the introduction into these regional markets of the Chevy Volt, the Ford Focus Electric and the smartfortwo electric drive vehicles.

Businesses and residents in the Sacramento region will be eligible to receive these charging stations, though it is not clear whether Davis Ñ or, for that matter, any city this side of the river Ñ is included in the ÒSacramento region.Ó

PARTY ON: Oct. 10 is going to be a busy day (and evening). Not only will Cool Davis, the citizens group set up to help the city engage the community in the implementation of its Climate Action Plan, be organizing activities at the VeteransÕ Memorial Center in support of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but the city of Davis, UC Davis and the Associated Students of UC Davis are planning the fifth annual NeighborsÕ Night Out.

Started in 2006 with 60 block parties (a block party can be a potluck, barbecue, ice cream social, etc.), by last year it had grown to 143 separate locations where neighbors gathered to get to know each other better.

In support of NeighborsÕ Night Out, Cool Davis is offering a short description of ÒHow to Hold a Zero Waste Event at Your Home.Ó This information also is of use to anyone who is organizing any kind of party any time of the year and wants to ÒgreenÓ the event.

The publication breaks a zero waste event down to Òbefore the eventÓ (using e-mail or word of mouth to invite guests and using local food and beverage products that use less packaging and are recyclable); Òduring the eventÓ (using reusable dishware and clearly labeled recycling and composting containers); and Òafter the eventÓ (composting and using reusable containers for leftovers).

To obtain a copy of the publication, go to the city website, http://www.cityofdavis.org, and click on ÒDavis SustainabilityÓ in the ÒQuick LinksÓ section and then on ÒWhat You Can DoÓ in the menu on the left side. Or, request a copy by e-mailing [email protected]

By the way, if you would like to be a party sponsor for NeighborsÕ Night Out, sign up at http://www.cityofdavis.org/neighbors. In any case, mark Oct. 10 on your calendar.

THANKS FOR THE CORRECTION: Thanks to John Whitehead, who pointed out in a letter to the editor errors in my article about the countyÕs new solar system at the jail. It appears I seriously under-reported the emission savings from the project and I appreciate the correction.

Ñ John Mott-Smith is a resident of Davis. This column is published on the first and third Thursdays of each month. Reach him at [email protected]

John Mott-Smith

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