October 2006

Member Alert

AAA Watch

Top Story


London Watch

In The News

Member Alert
Does Your Rental Car Need A Tow?

Conserve Your BWC Service Calls And Contact Them First For Roadside Assistance

by Kelly Ward, BWC VP of Membership Services

As a Better World Club member we will cover you in any vehicle. We cover the individual and not the car. So if your friend insists on driving (you knew it was a mistake) and now your stranded on the side of the road thanks to her flat tire, you can give us a call.

However, if you are driving a rental car, it is the responsibility of the driver to check with the rental company for roadside assistance first. Most rental car companies have roadside assistance packages that come with a standard rental agreement. If the rental car company cannot help than feel free to contact us. We do have a $50/$100 limit on services based on your membership level. Besides, why waste one of your four service calls on us when you can call them?
AAA Watch

Election Alert! California Voters To Determine Whether to Charge Oil Companies for Drilling Privileges

Of Course, You Would Let Chevron Drill in Your Backyard for Free

AAA Opposes California Proposition 87

Added to the ballot by a signature petitions, the goal of Proposition 87 is to reduce petroleum consumption by 25%, and increase research & development of alternative energy sources and technologies. It raises the R & D funding.by bringing California's royalties on oil drilling into line with that of other oil-producing states like Alaska and Texas. In other words, it is a proposition that a free-marketer should love... Complete Story.

Also, for those of you with friends in California, read our Driving Change report on Proposition 87 and send it on.

Member Specials

Enjoy 'Clean' Travel with BWC and AdventureSmith

BWC Members Receive a 5% Discount on All AdventureSmith Cruises

Traveling can be a dirty business. We're not just talking about the Byzantine bathroom rituals found in exotic locales or the occasional need to shoot a man while passing through Cicero. What truly makes travel a dirty business are the greenhouse gasses emitted through the burning of fossil fuels.

Jets, ships, cars, and hotels all emit carbon into the atmosphere, thus contributing to global warming. Travel accounts for over 30% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This creates a dilemma for the would-be tourist: how do you go out to see nature without helping to destroy it? The answer: AdventureSmith Explorations and Better World Club! Complete Story

Related Links

The AdventureSmith discount was first featured in the October edition of 'TravelCool', BWC's monthly travel enewsletter.

Click here to sign up for TravelCool!

People Other Than Our Moms Read Our Newsletters!

We featured the BWC "Bio-Beetle" discount in the July issue of TravelCool. The discount was then reprinted in the September issue of Kicking Asphalt, BWC's flagship eNewsletter... Complete Story.
Top Story
Think You Know More Than We Do? Prove It!

Better World Club Announces New Wiki: Now You Can Provide Information on the Hottest Auto/Travel Issues and Help Your Fellow Club Members

Greenerd Series, Part II

The Kicking Asphalt staff doesn't have much to do each day: just see that the Kicking Asphalt/Driving Change/TravelCool! eNewsletters go out as scheduled.

But even this is squeezing our golf, tennis, Narcotics Anonymous meetings. So, we're opening our doors to the public in an effort to shorten our work week, uh....maximize the knowledge available to all. BWC is now announcing a public wiki at http://betterworld.wikispaces.com

What's the idea? Well, judging by the response to last month's Prius review, we felt that the best way to disseminate the knowledge and experiences of our subscribers and members was to make it freely available and editable. We're asking you to add to this well of community knowledge by contributing knowledge or experiences of just about anything related to the improvement of our transportation situation.

Here's are some ideas:
  • Where do you find your biodiesel?

  • What luck have you had with a vegetable oil conversion kit?

  • What kind of gas mileage has you hybrid made?

  • What strategies do you use to maximize fuel mileage?

  • Or make an account and start your own page!

We know you're smart--a relatively high percentage of you have gone to graduate school. Wikis are new, fun, and useful, so click over to Better World Club wiki and share (not that we'd hop onto a bandwagon or anything.).

If your interested in contributing to these page, but are unsure about how to work the editors, you may want to check out this help page. One last thing to note: while Better World Club is ultimately responsible for this new wiki, it is not simply an extension of betterworldclub.com. Therefore, it is not a place to seek answers from BWC staff as to the status of your membership, or whether we really do like cyclists more, etc.

Expedia and Travelocity Announce Decision to Follow Better World Club's Lead and Offer Carbon Offsets

Unfortunately, Both Claim to Be First Instead of Second by 5 Years

How's This: Better World Club Announces Carbon Offset Program For Travel Customers – Beginning November 2000

Better World Club is proud to announce that we will become the first travel agency to offer carbon offsets to our customers…back in November 2000. The six-year-late announcement was necessitated by Expedia.com and Travelocity, when the two travel giants simultaneously claimed to be the first to offer this service on August 28th of 2006.

The average commercial domestic US airline flight releases more than 1,700 pounds of harmful greenhouse gases (like CO2) into our atmosphere per passenger. BWC pioneered the TravelCool! carbon offset program to help mitigate the damage air travel does to the environment and to fight global warming. BWC was certified by the Climate Neutral Network in November 2000, and credited as the first travel company in the world to offer this type of program to its customers.

A carbon offset is an investment into a project or action with the goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions. Offset projects come in many varieties and may include tree planting or reforestation, building retrofits (i.e. installing more efficient heating/cooling systems) or wind power projects. The common goal is to reduce fossil fuel usage, which in turn, eliminates harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Better World members can offset their carbon emissions in several different ways:

1.) Book a flight through Better World Travel – Members who book round-trip domestic US flights with a Better World Travel Agent will get a free carbon offset for their flight ($11 value).
2.) Book a flight through the Internet, another travel agency, or airline and send your tax-deductible donation to offset the CO2 emissions from your flight. ($11 for domestic flights or $22 international flights.)
3.) Purchase auto insurance through Better World Insurance – offset your car's first ton of greenhouse gas emissions free. ($11 value).
4.) Make a donation – For each $11 donation you will offset roughly one ton of CO2 emissions.

Better World Club would like to Welcome Austin CarShare as our newest Fleet Member. Carsharing is becoming increasingly popular in large cities where the car is one of several options for transportation. Carsharing is a great step towards cleaner air as it uses newer fuel-efficient cars. As a Fleet member the Austin Carshare member will have the assurance of having a roadside assistance company (Better World Club) with common goals.

Austin CarShare is a non-profit organization that has launched the first carsharing service in Texas. Carsharing is a service that allows members to reserve vehicles by the hour from locations throughout the community. Members reserve vehicles online or by phone and use an electronic member key to access they vehicle they reserve. There are no lines or paperwork.

Austin CarShare launched service in October 2006 with 3 cars and a pickup truck, joining over 20 North American cities with carsharing services. In addition to the cost savings of membership compared to car ownership, each carshare vehicle positively impacts the community by removing 12 cars from the road thus saving 4,000 gallons of gas and 21,000 fewer pounds of CO2 gas each year.

For more information, contact www.austincarshare.org or call (512) 448-4477.
Washington Watch
With Congress Out, Today's News Comes from London:

Britain Issues Report Calling for Aggressive Measures Against Global Warming

Even Considers a Carbon Tax

A Report that Al Gore Could Have Written...So They Hired Him

Based on reports by AP and the Times of London

Kicking Asphalt and Driving Change have highlighted proposals by conservative economists, such as Harvard's N. Gregory Manikow, that the smartest new tax would be an energy tax.

Well American conservative politicians don't agree. But apparently the British Left does. A report released by the the Labor Government on Monday concluded that the current pace of global warming will devastate the world economy on the scale of the world wars and the Great Depression.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair called for bold and decisive action, asserting that otherwise unabated climate change would eventually cost the world between 5 percent and 20 percent of global gross domestic product each year. Complete Story

Wait, There Is Breaking News from Washington:

Senators to Exxon: Stop the Denial--and Stop Funding Global Warming Doubters.

In a letter to ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson, Senators Olymbia Snowe (R-ME) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) ExxonMobil said that the Company should stop funding groups that have spread the idea that global warming is a myth and that try to influence policymakers to adopt that view.

The two senators called on ExxonMobil to "end any further financial assistance" to groups "whose public advocacy has contributed to the small but unfortunately effective climate change denial myth.". The Senators even got cute by asking ExxonMobil to "come clean about its past denial activities."

The Union of Concerned Scientists is reporting that ExxonMobil funded 29 climate change denial groups in 2004 alone. Complete Story

More Washington Watch in Driving Change:

- Environment: Do You Like Me? Circle ‘Yes' or ‘No'
In The News
Ask the Climate Expert
by Dr. Mark C. Trexler
October 2006

What Happens When I Click on "Fly Green" at Expedia.com or "Be a Hero, Go Zero" at Travelocity.com?
Q: What Happens When I Click on "Fly Green" at Expedia.com or "Be a Hero, Go Zero" at Travelocity.com?

A: There's been a lot of interest in this question. I received calls on the subject from the New York Times and National Public Radio within the space of 30 minutes one recent morning! Although the Better World Club first gave air travelers the opportunity to go carbon neutral for their flights more than five years ago, you know the subject has "arrived" when it shows up on Travelocity and Expedia! Complete Story

Defender Magazine: How to Act Cool

by Heidi Ridgley

Liz Cohen doesn't just drive to the office each monging. As a hospice-care social worker living in Princeton, New Jersey, her day is a constant commute from one patient's home to another. Driving up to 60 miles a week, Cohen knows she spews her share of climate-changing tailpipe emissions along the way. But she's found a way to offset her contribution to global warming: an automatic, tax deductible payment via her credit card each month to Carbonfund.org, a non-profit that invests in renewable energy projects.

Cohen and other Americans contribute nearly 25 percent of the world's global-warming emissions, even though the United States has only 4 percent of the world's population. Almsot half of those emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels to power our cars, trucks, planes, homes, and offices. While it's impossible to zero out our carbon emissions completely, by participating in programs such as those offered by Carbonfund.org or Better World Club, an environmentaly responsible travel and roadside assistance company, concerned citizens can reduce significantly their "carbon footprint".

Do You Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is?































BWC Alternative Fuel Report:

Fuel Prices ‘Didn't Go Changing, To Try And Please Us'

Rates Stay Stable Despite The Fact That ‘We Don't Love Them Just The Way They Are'

Nationally, pricing on our favorite alternative fuels, Biodiesel (B20) and Ethanol (E85) has remained fairly constant over the last two weeks. Gasoline prices dropped an average of $0.08, while Diesel remained the same.

Regionally, pricing has been a mixed bag. On the West Coast, B20 prices dropped $0.02, Gasoline dropped $0.11, Diesel dropped $0.07 and E85 remained the same. SOBs (Supporters of Biodiesel) in the Western states saw B20 prices plummet $0.22 two weeks ago. Sadly, prices have gone back up an average of $0.05. Western prices for E28, Gasoline, and Diesel also fell. In the Mid-West, B20 and Gasoline averages remained the same, while Diesel rates rose by $0.05. Mid-Western E28 prices soared $0.14, though E28 is still the cheapest Mid-Western fuel. Things are oddly quiet in the Northeast, with B20, E28, and Diesel prices remaining more or less the same. Gasoline prices dipped an average of $0.08. We're not conspiracy theorists, but it is interesting to note that in the South, B20 prices dropped an average of $0.02 while Diesel prices rose by an average of $0.02. E85 prices swooned like a Southern belle with a case of the vapors, dropping an average of $0.22. Southern Gasoline dropped by $0.05.

Ethanol 85 is either the least or most expensive automobile fuel, depending on the region, reflecting the importance of availability and its being offered most broadly in the Midwest.

Averaging Gasoline, Diesel, B20, and E28, Mid-Westerners enjoy the cheapest fuel prices, at $2.29 a gallon. We at BWC believe this is because Mid-Westerners are nice people who deserve cheap fuel. Conversely, West Coasters have the highest average fuel prices, at $2.80 a gallon. The reason for this can be found by ignoring market forces (local taxes, transportation costs, etc.) and instead looking to Eastern religion: Clearly, we on the West Coast must have been something really bad in a former life (oil executives, perhaps?).

Do you have an unnatural interest in fuel prices? Are you a fan of tables filled with important-looking numbers? If so, we recommend finding a healthier hobby (phrenology, safety dancing, etc.) or you can feed your fetish by checking out BWC's previous Alternative Fuel Report, ‘Ethanol Prices Plummet!' as published in the October issue of Driving Change.

The Congenial Honda CivicBWC High-Mileage Review

There She Is, The Honda Civic...

If high mileage cars competed in the ‘Miss America' pageant instead of young women, the Honda Civic would win ‘Miss Congeniality'. We say this not because the Civic doesn't look good in a bathing suit (It doesn't. It's a car.), or because it doesn't wish for world peace. We say this because the Civic doesn't have the sexy high-tech appeal the hybrids have, but it's a great car and everyone likes it.

Though the Civic is quite congenial (like BWC's members), it is not flawless (unlike BWC's members). Interestingly, though, most of the negative feedback we've seen on the Civic is somewhat general (lack of storage, power, etc.). The lack of specific complaints (drink holder blocks gear shift, car explodes if it slows below 50 mph, etc.) would seem to indicate that the engineers at Honda have done a good job over the years of eliminating design flaws. It can be argued that these more general complaints stem from the fact that the drivers are critiquing a fuel-efficient compact car (which normally wouldn't have a lot of storage or power).

This review is long, like our memory here at BWC (That's right, we haven't forgotten what you did to us in second grade, Paul Ribbing of Reno, NV!). If you want to cut directly to the sections that interest you most, we won't hold it against you (Unlike our grudge with a certain guy from Reno).

If you have one of these vehicles, you should add some of your opinions on these topics to our new wiki site! Just visit our Civic opinions page. Or if you feel you can make this article better, you can edit it on our wiki.

Section shortcuts:

Things People Like About The Civic
Things People Don't Like About The Civic
Quick EPA Stats
Some of The Features (2007 DX Model Specific)
Recall Info
Not-So-Quick Stats (2007 Model Specific)

Alternative Fuels Rule the Airwaves…well, YouTube Anyway

E-85 Road Trip Soundtrack Encourages America to "Kick that Filthy Habit"

Better World Club does NOT know hip-hop (or hip-pop, or any of the musical sub-genres under which the subject at hand might be classified). But we suspect that crew members of the Kick the Oil Habit Road Trip won't mind that we feign an air of familiarity to review their alternative fuel anthem "Kick the Filthy Habit", a D'Genetics production recorded to mark the arrival of the crew in Las Vegas.

Not knowing hip-hop – yes, the veil of familiarity has dropped already; and yes we knew you knew it would – it's difficult to comment on beats or lyrical structure, so let's just get down to content. "Kick the Filthy Habit" asks Americans to do just that. MC Escher (road trip participant Mark Pike's rap alias) pulls no punches in criticizing excessive consumption of fossil fuels, scoffing at drivers who are "burning up ozone like they're getting their dose on," no doubt in reference to President Bush's ‘oil addiction' speech of January 2006, which, incidentally, is sampled throughout the track. This comes as no surprise, however, given that the cross-country road trip, taken entirely on E-85 (a mixture of 85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline), was a side project of Kick the Oil Habit, which is itself a side project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund dedicated to increasing the availability of alternative fuels. So, organizationally at least, we know that Escher's choice of motifs is sound, because if there is one thing we know about hip-hop it's that there are lots of side projects. Represent.

To find out more about Kick the Oil Habit or to submit an electronic request to energy company executives to increase the number of fuel stations offering cleaner-burning, generally less expensive E-85, go to www.kicktheoilhabit.org. To track the progress of the road trip, well, you can't because it's over, but video highlights are available on www.youtube.com. Oh, and for the record, this writer agrees: "if I were a dinosaur I'd be a thesaurus, if I were a car I'd be a flex-fuel Taurus."

More "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" in Driving Change:

Hertz So Good? Hertz Announces Its 'Green Collection'
OScar Is AWesome - Hey, Greenerds! Here's A Chance To Get Your "Tech-Groove On" And Help Design A Car


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