Tue, Feb 25, 2014
That’s usually not a big deal. But with our car, it may hold a lesson about when to invest in the latest green technology.
Our car is the all-electric 2012 Nissan LEAF, which we leased in August 2012 with the intent of buying when the 40-month lease expired.
But the time it has taken us to get to the 10,000-mile mark — nearly 18 months — shows that we’re not driving it enough. That may be the reason we return our LEAF to the Nissan dealer when the lease expires in 2015.
Driving less in a gasoline-powered car usually is good for the environment and your wallet.
You don’t have to buy as much gasoline and your car will last longer without the wear and tear.
But it’s not such a great thing when you buy a LEAF. The extra cost of the LEAF — about $12,000 compared to the cost of a Nissan Altima or $16,000 for a Sentra — means you’re essentially paying for your fuel up front. (A $7,500 federal tax rebate helps close the cost gap.)
You’re paying for the ability to plug in your car and buy cheaper electricity.
And that means that the less you drive the car, the premium cost of owning a LEAF is going to waste. We’re not losing money. Perhaps we just didn’t need to spend it in the first place.
I’ve learned that the best use of a LEAF is as a commuter vehicle — if I had to drive between 20 and 35 miles each way to work every day. I would avoid the gas station and you can plug in the car each night.
I’m guessing that I pay about $1 now for a full charge that will reliably take us about 75 miles.
We can’t drive the LEAF on longer trips, so we keep on driving our 9-year-old Nissan Xterra SUV, which has more than 93,000 miles on it.
We love the LEAF and think it’s a great car around town — and obviously it’s better for the environment compared to driving the Xterra.
So it’s not a done deal that we’ll get rid of the LEAF when the lease expires at the end of 2015.
But if we keep the LEAF, then we’ll have the added budget pressure of having to replace the Xterra a couple of years earlier because of the unanticipated miles we’re still putting on it as a second vehicle.
If you drive quite a bit each day, the LEAF may be the car for you. But if you don’t drive that much, then maybe think again.
(Photo and story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Floridaenvironments.com. Do not forward, copy or publish without permission, which can be obtained from email@example.com)Tweet
Thu, Dec 5, 2013
Just how permanent is “perpetual” — when it comes to conservation easements?
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in November touted the benefits of those landowner agreements not to develop as the Cabinet approved a deal to preserve 1,364 acres of a sod farm and cattle ranch in Polk County.
The benefits, Putnam said, include maintaining preserving green space and agricultural jobs at a fraction of the cost of the state buying the land and managing it.
Of the 2.4 million acres of conservation land purchased by the state since 1990, more than 425,000 acres is conservation easements.
They are called “perpetual” conservation easements. But are they really permanent?
The conservative National Center for Public Policy Research says the agreements could create problems for future generations if they really are permanent.
Changes in climate or scientific understanding may reduce the public benefit of some purchases. Surrounded by development, an “island” of conservation may no longer be as valuable when weighed against the need for, say, a hospital.
University of Virginia law professor Julia D. Mahoney wrote in a research paper that permanent conservation easements may create a legal mess for future generations. She argues that preservationists should rely on future generations to make wise land use decisions.
“Such an approach would compel today’s preservationists to abandon the illusion that they can save nature through calculated efforts to restrict the options of future generations,” she wrote. “Their descendants, however, might thank them.”
I’m not arguing against conservation easements or any other form of land purchase. I guess I’m just skeptical that some of the same political conservatives who favor them now won’t change their tunes in the future.
Remember that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is undergoing — at the behest of the Legislature — a review of more than 3,000 acres that are actually owned by the state. DEP is determining whether the land is still needed for conservation or whether it can be sold to buy new land.
What’s to stop the Legislature in the future from directing DEP to evaluate whether some conservation easements are no longer needed? What’s to stop any government from changing its mind?
“Nothing is forever,” says Stephen J. Small, a Massachusetts attorney who specializes in such landowner agreements not to develop their property.
“But people should go into these transactions assuming perpetual means perpetual,” he said.
And when it comes to perpetual I would add “until the political winds change.”
Story and photo copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Floridaenvironments.com. Do not copy or republish without permission, which can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org.Tweet
Fri, Jul 12, 2013
By BRUCE RITCHIE
Graphic designer Rick Kilby of Orlando visited Florida’s springs while growing up in Gainesville in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
But he says his study of them began a few years ago with a historic roadside attraction in St. Augustine — the kind of “tourist traps” he says most Floridians avoid.
Kilby is author of “Finding the Fountain of Youth: Ponce de Leon and Florida’s Magical Waters,” released in May by the University Press of Florida.
As a member of the Society for Commercial Archeology, which is devoted to saving buildings, artifacts, structures, signs and symbols of the 20th-century commercial landscape, Kilby said he started to realize that the places that Florida residents think of as tourist traps have historic value and are a snapshot of the past.
Kilby and his wife and family visited the Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archeological Park with its mannequins in 16th Century garb surrounding a pool of flowing water and rocks formed in the shape of a cross to simulate an actual spring.
“I fell in love with it,” Kilby said. “There is real high kitsch there. … I wondered how many places like this are around Florida that we ignore because they are out for the tourist dollar? But they are cool places.”
His book begins by exploring the “myth that won’t die”: Ponce de Leon’s search for the “Fountain of Youth, and how that myth became part of pop culture and Florida’s 20th century marketing and commercialism.
The book moves on to explore the development and marketing of Florida’s springs. If you are a nature lover, his book will take you places that perhaps you never would have considered going — past or present.
But his book also takes us from Ponce de Leon, the Weeki Wachee mermaids and other goofy attractions to the modern problems facing springs, including the clear, natural Silver Springs of his childhood.
They face threats from over-pumping and many have become choked by algae caused by nitrogen seeping into the groundwater from fertilizer, septic tanks and sewage treatment plans.
“When I started finding about the plight of springs, I couldn’t imagine the next generation growing up without having that resource,” Kilby said. “They are among the most precious treasures in the state. They are remarkably beautiful, probably more beautiful than anything in our state.”
“Finding the Fountain of Youth” will help Florida’s visitors and residents alike see another side to Florida’s springs — perhaps overly kitschy at times — and their need for protection.
“My goal is to create enough awareness that it becomes glaringly clear to the politicians that the public cares about this,” Kilby said.
Graphics reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Floridaenvironments.com. Please do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be requested from bruceBritchie@gmail.com