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Going, Going Green (cont.)

Posted: Tuesday March 6, 2007 2:08PM; Updated: Sunday March 11, 2007 7:01PM
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By Alexander Wolff

Going, Going Green (cont.)
Courtesy of Hanson Dodge Creative
Coasting into the future
Obviously there is no greener vehicle than the bicycle. So, how do we encourage more people to ride more bicycles? Bicycle-parts manufacturer Shimano and design thinktank IDEO put their heads together to develop the "Coasting" -- a bike with no visible gears and no visible brakes. The streamlined cycle includes a three-speed derailleur contained within the rear hub that shifts automatically as the wheel's RPM changes. And the brake is the old coaster kind, controlled by the pedals. It couldn't be simpler, but will it drive people to give up their cars?

Meantime, an eco-consciousness is leeching ever so slowly into the jockosphere. You'd expect environmental awareness among extreme-sport athletes like the snowboarders and BMX riders who belong to the Action Sports Environmental Coalition, or from surfers whose vocation and avocation depend on the health of the seas. But less likely candidates are thinking globally and acting locally.

• Saints safety Steve Gleason runs his Dodge Ram pickup on processed vegetable oil -- biodiesel.

• NASCAR driver Ward Burton's foundation is pledged to habitat management, land conservation and environmental education in his home of Halifax County, Va.

• The Philadelphia Eagles may have some of the most discourteous followers in sports, but their management is a leader, having launched an environmental initiative replete with catchy slogans like Go Green and Time for Some Serious Trash Talk.

• Two years ago the men's lacrosse team at Middlebury College calculated its "carbon footprint" (the amount of global-warming carbon dioxide its daily activities generated) and raised money to purchase enough renewable-energy credits (investments in wind power) to offset those emissions. The team thereby became carbon-neutral -- a status also claimed by last summer's soccer World Cup in Germany, cycling's Team Clif Bar Midwest and the Vermont Frost Heaves, this writer's American Basketball Association team, which rides in a biodiesel-powered bus.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is working with the NBA and Major League Baseball to help their teams get greener. Scientists told the NFL that Super Bowl XLI would put one million pounds of carbon dioxide into the air -- not counting air travel to Miami -- so the league planted 3,000 trees around Florida in an attempt to pull at least that much of the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere.

By going green, motor sports could have the quickest impact on public awareness of the planet's fate. The Formula One circuit has already discovered hybrids and biofuels, and Indy cars are mixing ethanol into their fuel. NASCAR is poised to phase out leaded gasoline, a neurotoxin. (The Clean Air Act of 1970 included an exemption for race cars even as the public was barred from buying cars that ran on leaded gas.) It's only a short jump from a NASCAR driver with a raised consciousness to a NASCAR fan with the same.


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