For the ‘green’ newbie

I’m relatively new to the “green” movement, and while I hear greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, I don’t really understand exactly what’s happening. For novices out there like me, will you please explain?

Gladly. Al Gore gives an excellent elementary description of greenhouse gases and their contribution to global warming in his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, so go out and rent the DVD sometime. In a nutshell, greenhouse gases are part of our atmosphere. Some occur naturally and others are the result of human activity, such as burning fossil fuels (coal and petroleum), which releases tiny particles, called particulate matter, and pollutes the atmospheric layer—the thin, fragile shell that stabilizes the Earth’s temperature. This pollution causes the very composition of our atmospheric layer to change and thicken, trapping the sun’s heat and unnaturally warming the planet.

A Green Days reader responds to recent Ask A Treehugger’s “Flower power shower” question and response:

“I read with some interest the question that pertained to the significant amount of water wasted while waiting for hot water to actually reach a shower head. There is an ingenious, inexpensive solution for this problem that has been sold over the Web for several years and, better yet, was designed right here in Sacramento.

“The product is called the Chilipepper, and works by quickly pumping hot water from your heater to the sink/shower fixture desired when a demand switch is pressed (or a remote X10 activates the unit). This ensures that hot water is quickly available, but only when needed, so you don’t have to use energy to heat water the rest of the day. The true genius of the device however, is that as it pumps hot water up to the sink/shower head, it returns the unused cold water that was in the pipes back through the cold water line. It solves a very common problem without wasting any water whatsoever.

“The Chilipepper has been in use for several years, though there are other systems that deliver hot water to taps, they either don’t recycle the cold water or they provide hot water continuously, using large amounts of energy to heat water unnecessarily. And they generally cost much more than the Chilipepper’s $179. Check out for more information.”