Friday, July 17, 2015

Environmental protection: walking the talk

Today we're just going to do a quick report on our personal efforts to be less polluting. Almost three years ago we replaced our quarter of a century old, inefficient, fuel-oil burning furnace with a brand new 96 or 98% efficient furnace the burns natural gas. I believe that lowered our carbon footprints from a couple of perspectives, both in terms of efficiency and relative cleanliness of the fuel source.

Yesterday we finally got around to having the 60 or so gallons of residual fuel and sludge pumped out and had the oil tank removed and the hole back-filled. Now we're not going to have a rusted-through tank leaking oil into the groundwater. I can now say, with a clear conscience, to those who complain about the cost of environmental protection: "yeah, I know, but it's worth every cent. There is no planet B that we can move to when we've finished crapping up our only home." Here's most of what the removal looked like.

uncovering the oil tank
uncovering the oil tank
Photo by J. Harrington

digging it out
digging it out
Photo by J. Harrington

pumping residuals
pumping residuals
Photo by J. Harrington

it's out
it's out
Photo by J. Harrington

hauling it off
hauling it off
Photo by J. Harrington

where the tank came from
where the tank came from
Photo by J. Harrington

back-filled hole
back-filled hole
Photo by J. Harrington

Replacing the fuel source meant no more running out to buy ten gallons of diesel fuel to hold us until the February oil delivery arrived. If we ever look at adding photovoltaics, we'd want to at least check into the possibility of electric heat, but that's a much bigger project than we can take on right now. To be effective we'd probably need to bring the house up to passive house levels of insulation. Remember how everything is related to everything else? We're trying to follow the old saying about eating an elephant "one bite at a time." The budget still needs to digest yesterday's bite and the costs of photovoltaics keep looking better.

Filling Station

By Elizabeth Bishop 
Oh, but it is dirty!
—this little filling station,
oil-soaked, oil-permeated
to a disturbing, over-all
black translucency.
Be careful with that match!

Father wears a dirty,
oil-soaked monkey suit
that cuts him under the arms,
and several quick and saucy
and greasy sons assist him
(it’s a family filling station),
all quite thoroughly dirty.

Do they live in the station?
It has a cement porch
behind the pumps, and on it
a set of crushed and grease-
impregnated wickerwork;
on the wicker sofa
a dirty dog, quite comfy.

Some comic books provide
the only note of color—
of certain color. They lie
upon a big dim doily
draping a taboret
(part of the set), beside
a big hirsute begonia.

Why the extraneous plant?
Why the taboret?
Why, oh why, the doily?
(Embroidered in daisy stitch
with marguerites, I think,
and heavy with gray crochet.)

Somebody embroidered the doily.
Somebody waters the plant,
or oils it, maybe. Somebody
arranges the rows of cans
so that they softly say:
esso—so—so—so
to high-strung automobiles.
Somebody loves us all.


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