January 2007

Member Alert

AAA Watch

Top Story


Washington Watch

In The News

Member Alert
It's Not That The Tow Truck Drivers Don't Like You

In Extreme Weather Conditions, Towers Often Only Respond To Police Calls

It's wintertime and that means black ice, snow storms, and ditches. Oh My! When severe weather hits, you may find yourself stranded along with 50 other people in your area. If this is the case the best option for you is to contact the police. In many areas, when severe weather hits, towing companies will only respond to police calls. In these situations the police department is your best option for a speedy recovery. Of course, we will reimburse you for that tow.
AAA Watch
Scaremongering Over The Intercounty Connector

A letter to the editor of the Washington Post
Director, Public and Government Affairs
AAA Mid-Atlantic

The proposition that the intercounty connector will sicken or kill children ["ICC Could Be Hazardous to Your Children's Health," Close to Home, Dec. 3] is an outrageous diatribe to scare people into opposing construction of this much-needed artery.

The article's premise is that car exhaust is unhealthy and therefore busy highways near schools and parks are dangerous to children's health.

While we need to be concerned about the impact of exhaust on children, realistically, large numbers of schools and parks locally and nationally have been built near major highways for decades, while life expectancy has increased. Complete Story.

Children Raised Near Busy Roads Have Poorer Lungs

by Catharine Paddock
Medical News Today

US scientists suggest that children who grow up near busy roads or highways with traffic pollution have poorer lung function and are more likely to suffer long term respiratory and heart-related health problems than those who live further away.

The study is published in the early online edition of the Lancet. Complete Story
Member Specials

Take A Walking Tour Of A Wolf Sanctuary With Wolf Haven

BWC Members Receive Discounts On Tours And Camping

Better World members receive $2 off each regular priced admission and $5 off the Howl-in Camping Package. Click here for more details on this member discount!

Wolf Haven International is a non profit organization dedicated to conservation of wolves since 1982. Through education, conservation and a sanctuary for displaced wolves, they work to protect their resident wolves, along with those in the wild. Tours of their sanctuary are available daily May through September with the last tour starting at 3pm. The sanctuary is closed in February and has limited hours for the rest of the year. For details of open hours check out their website at www.wolfhaven.org. Supporters can also help them care for the wolves that live in the sanctuary by 'adopting' or sponsoring one (or more) wolf or by becoming a member of Wolf Haven International.

This Atlas Won't Make You Shrug

BWC Members Receive a 10% Discount at the Dar Itrane Eco-Lodge in Morocco

There's nothing ho-hum about the high Atlas range in Morocco. The Dar Itrane eco-lodge offers guests breathtaking views of the range as well as and access to traditional Berber culture.

The lodge is built of adobe and other natural materials to promote and respect the building traditions of the Bougmez Valley, offering both authenticity and a high level of comfort. The lodge also boasts green building extras like solar energy, waste management, and water consumption management.

Click here to find out more about the Dar Itrane Eco-Lodge in Morocco.

Dar Itrane rates are noted in Euros. Calculate the US exchange rate here.

Related Links

The Dar Itrane discount was first featured in the January edition of TravelCool, BWC's monthly travel enewsletter, which you can sign up for now.

We Cannot Tell A Lie - This Is A Great Deal

Book With BWC And Save On Last-Minute President's Day Weekend Trips!

Mount Vernon. Monticello. Crawford? Wherever you want to spend President's Day weekend this year, Better World Club can get you a deal. Just click this link to score a great deal on a last-minute President's Day Weekend trip.
Top Story

Better World Club Selects DriveNeutral as Carbon Offset Partner

BWC to Expand Services to Help Members Offset Annual Driving, Flying, and More

Better World Club has offered carbon offsets through its TravelCool program for five years now. We were the first to do it in the roadside assistance industry, the travel industry, and the insurance industry. After achieving all these "firsts", most folks would be content to stay at home, watch TV, and become "one" with their couches. Not us, however. We tried, of course, but our spouses kicked us out of the house and sent us back to work.

So, forced to work, we decided to make our carbon offset program even better. To do this, we partnered with DriveNeutral, a nonprofit business entity within the Presidio School of Management in San Francisco.

Working with DriveNeutral will help BWC facilitate the development of needed expertise and innovation in the field of Sustainable Management. DN provides a clinic environment for Presidio students working toward an MBA in sustainable business. The lessons learned in this clinic environment are carried on by the students as they lead our transformation to a sustainable society.

Most retail offerers of carbon offset instruments finance projects traded on the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX). DN is the only company that does this exclusively. CCX has the most legally enforceable system of accountability, and the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) reviews each member's account annually for accuracy. In addition, every offset project must contract with a CCX approved third-party verifier who audits the projects where they take place, not just through the project's paper trail.

Even before partnering with DriveNeutral, Better World has been offering its members several carbon offset options:

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.

Now, thanks to our partnership with DriveNeutral, BWC members will be able to use handy carbon calculators embedded in our website to quickly and easily assess their carbon emissions and offset them right away.

Need To Get Out Of Town In A Hurry?

Try Our Spiffy New Booking Engine

BWC Joins The National Biodiesel Board's 'Biodiesel Alliance'

Apparently They'll Let Anyone In

Unlike Groucho Marx, BWC is more than happy to join a club that will have us as a member. The Biodiesel Alliance is a diverse coalition of organizations, agencies and businesses from across the nation who find common ground in their support for biodiesel fuel. Founded and managed by the National Biodiesel Board, the Biodiesel Alliance supports information sharing and opportunities to help advance the use of clean-burning, renewable biodiesel fuel that meets high industry standards. As a result, the Biodiesel Alliance is instrumental in helping others to recognize the benefits of biodiesel to human health, the environment, national energy security and the US economy.

Better World Club is listed as one of the Biodiesel Alliance's many Business/Corporate Members. Are you an individual or part of an organization that would like to join the Biodiesel Alliance? Click here to sign up!

Georgia On Our Mind – And In Our Fleet Program

BWC Partners With The Nature Conservancy In Georgia

BWC is proud to announce that we are now providing roadside assistance coverage to The Nature Conservancy's fleet in Georgia. The Nature Conservancy is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.

TNC has developed a strategic, science-based planning process, called Conservation by Design, which helps them identify the highest-priority placeslandscapes and seascapes that, if conserved, promise to ensure biodiversity over the long term.

Worldwide, there will be thousands of these precious places. Taken together, they form something extraordinary: a vision of conservation success and a roadmap for getting the Conservation Blueprint.

Lucky Number 79

Mother Nature to Star at the 79th Annual Academy Awards

And She Won't Be Wearing Fur

The year 2006 seemed to see an encouraging increase in awareness (dumbstruck fear?) of the far-reaching environmental problems presented by global warming. And as a result – despite a supporting cast of other nominees– the environment will shine at this year's Academy Awards, even if we couldn't find it a big enough dress to wear on the red carpet. Complete Story

Gas Saving Tips
Running Errands?

Add Fuel Efficiency To Your "Do" List

- Leave your car at home. Walking, riding a bicycle, and taking the bus are all more environmentally friendly options. A bicycle pannier is handy for carrying groceries home by bike.

- If you need to drive, you should plan your route ahead of time. The more efficient your route, the more fuel-efficient your trip will be.

- If you have multiple stops on your trip, you should try to make your first stop the most distant from your home. Doing this, your engine will warm up more quickly, making your car more fuel efficient for the rest of your trip.

- Unless you're trying to find a one-armed man while simultaneously avoiding Tommy Lee Jones, you should avoid backtracking on your route. Backtracking increases the distance you travel, causing you to burn more gas. Jumping off of dams is also a bad idea.

Special Announcements
The Fidelity Investments MS 150 Bike Tour to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Rhode Island Chapter

Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24

Join the movement! Participate in this year's Fidelity Investments MS 150 Bike Tour. This year's route begins at Cranston West High School. From there, you'll ride highlights of the best roads from the 2004-2006 routes including Providence, Little Compton and Westport to your overnight at Salve Regina University in Newport where evening festivities await. On Sunday, you'll traverse the Newport Bridge and continue along the coast through Wakefield and the surrounding areas, back to Cranston. Ride to end multiple sclerosis! Ride for a cure! Visit www.ms150ri.com for info.
Washington Watch
Bush Mentions Global Warming, Energy Independence in State of the Union Address

OK, Our Work Is Done! Let's Go Shopping!

Wait: Energy Independence Raised in Prior Addresses and Dependence Increases Each Year

We Might Have to Actually Do Something...

If Bush Were Noah, When God Told Him the Flood Was Coming, He'd Have Bought Swim Trunks

President Bush let the American people know the desiribility of greater energy independence and that global climate change is a challenge in last week's State of the Union Address.

When discussing energy independence, he did focus on the important role of technology as having the potential to make America more independent. But then he said the following:

"We made a lot of progress, thanks to good policies here in Washington and the strong response of the market."

In fact, we have made virtually no progress. The U.S. is nearly twice as dependent on foreign sources of oil today than when President Richard Nixon first raised the issue in 1973. (Over 60% of our petroleum is imported.) This percentage has continued to increase throughout the Bush Administration. Complete Story

Energy Grants Back Plug-In Cars, Ethanol

By Sholnn Freeman
Washington Post Staff Writer

The Department of Energy announced this week $17 million in grants to support the development of battery technology for plug-in hybrid vehicles and ethanol, two areas in the energy debate where officials in Washington and Detroit are closely aligned.

The money will be offered as two grants, one for $14 million for the plug-in technology and the other for $3 million for ethanol. The money for battery development is intended to improve the technology's performance. The $3 million in ethanol grants will support engineering advances to improve how flex-fuel engines use the E85 blend. Complete Story

Better World Club has testified numerous times in support of Pay As You Drive Auto Insurance. Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) laid out the case recently:

If Environmentalists Cared About Global Warming ...They would all be pushing for pay as you drive auto insurance. I know that insurance isn't very cool or sexy, like some of the high-tech solutions for global warming. But pay as you drive insurance has the great advantage of being something that could in principle have a big impact beginning tomorrow, and it does not face massive political opposition. There is nothing else that comes close in terms of its potential impact on a short-term basis.

Just to restate the basics, currently people treat auto insurance as a fixed cost of driving. They pay pretty much the same for their insurance regardless of whether they drive 1000 miles or 20,000 miles. Complete Story

Dean Baker's blog, "Beat the Press," where he discusses the media's coverage of economic issues, can be found at the American Prospect's web site.

More Washington Watch in Driving Change:
- Pelosi Wants Ad Hoc Committee to Show Global Warming On Democratic Legislative Agenda
In The News
A Convenient Plug For BWC
Al Gore Loves Our Green Travel And Carbon Offsets

The book version of 'An Inconvenient Truth' contains all the stats and graphs that we've all grown to love from his lecture of the same name. As an added bonus, however, the book also includes information on how to fight global warming on a personal level.

Under the 'Reduce Air Travel' heading, Gore notes, "If you must fly, consider buying carbon offsets to compensate for the emissions caused by your air travel. For assistance in planning green travel and purchasing carbon offsets, visit our travel page.

EPA Considers Removing Ban on Lead

BWC Recognized for Pusing Ban's Removal

by Rose Hunt
Associated Content

Lead is now being reconsidered by the EPA for a drop in health standards. Lead is as poisonous as it was twenty-five years ago yet due to a ninety percent drop of lead in the air, the Battery Council International is arguing that the pollutant should be taken off the list of regulated pollutants. Lead is linked to death and birth defects, and is still tested in young children due to its harmful effects.

Originally in 1976, the ban on lead was asked for by the automobile manufacturers because the lead in gasoline damaged catalytic converters. Complete Story

Winter Road Must-Haves

by Consumer Reports

With the snow fast approaching, the last place you want to be is stuck in your car on the side of the road. Consumer Reports helps you prepare for winter's worst with these nine items--every driver should have in their vehicle. Complete Story

Do You Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is?




























BWC Alternative Fuel Report:

Just As A Single Red Balloon Floating Over The Paris Skyline Slowly Loses Helium, And Thus, Altitude

So Fuel Prices Continue To Slowly Drift Down...

Except For B20





























Nationwide, fuel price averages continue to drop. B99 Biodiesel, E85 Ethanol, Gasoline, and Diesel fell $0.08, $0.09, $0.07, and $0.05, respectively. B20 Biodiesel prices rose $0.01. B20 trend-bucking (is this a real word?) can be traced to jumps in average prices in the Northeast (+ $0.13) and Midwest (+ $0.08). The B99 blend is used less frequently during the winter months in these regions, due to gelling. Lower blends, like B20 are thus more commonly used. Greater demand for B20 has lead to a higher price in affected regions.

In addition to B20, prices for E85 also rose in both the Northeast and Midwest. Prices dropped or stayed the same in other regions.

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 (stamp collecting, waging a never-ending crusade against the forces of evil, etc.) or you can feed your fetish by checking out BWC's previous Alternative Fuel Report, ‘Fuel Prices Are Actually Kind Of Low' as published in the January issue of ‘Driving Change'.

The Toyota CamryBWC High-Mileage Review:

The Toyota Camry Hybrid

Yet More Evidence That Green Is The New Black

Global warming mentioned during a State of the Union address? Major corporations lobbying the government to impose caps on carbon emissions? Al Gore nominated for an Oscar? Recognition of climate change has hit the mainstream. Another example of this trend is Toyota's decision to offer a hybrid version of the Camry, the best-selling car in America.

The Camry hybrid is a great car for "everyday American drivers". You get the benefit of good gas mileage (39 mpg average) and cleaner emissions (80% fewer smog-forming emissions compared to the non-hybrid Camry), but the body styling is so similar to the original that you can keep your environmentalism hush-hush. In other words, this car will play in Peoria.

Like the Prius, the Camry hybrid is powered by Toyota's "Hybrid Synergy Drive". The Hybrid Synergy Drive System consists of power sources that are complementary and produce a combined 187 horsepower. The Camry's 2.4 liter engine (as compared to the Prius' 1.4 liter engine) makes the Camry faster. Its mileage is not as good as the Prius, but the hybrid Camry is far more efficient than most mid-sized sedans.

Overall, we like the Camry. It's certainly not the sexiest car in the world (that would be the Tesla electric roadster), but it's roomy, comfortable, reliable, and most importantly, helping to further usher hybrid technology into the mainstream. And hey, the Camry Hybrid was voted 2007 Car of the Year in the Family Sedan category by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). That's gotta count for something, right?


Are you the kind of person who likes movies about gladiators? No? Well, are you the kind of person who would only want to read certain sections of this long review? If so, you're in luck, because you can cut directly to the sections that interest you most using the handy section shortcuts below:

Section shortcuts:

Begin At The Beginning. Hybrid Electric Vehicles Defined
Quick Stats
Things People Like About The Camry Hybrid
Things People Don't Like About The Camry Hybrid
What's The Deal With The Batteries? The Shocking Truth: Battery Lifespan And Disposal
Recall Info
Long List Of Standard Features

Two Steps Forward

The Detroit Auto Show: Where Did the Green Go?

By Joel Makower

What to make of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, from which I've just returned?

The event -- the world's largest auto show -- fills every nook and cranny of the COBO Center's 2.4 million square feet of exhibition space. It's a car lover's dream -- the latest and shiniest new models and concept cars, up close and personal, the scene augmented by testosterone-pounding music and flashing lights. Attractive women stand vapidly around sporty and luxury models, just in case the vehicles themselves aren't titillating enough.

But where was the green? This year, environmentally minded vehicles and innovations seemed few and far between. The well-choreographed and elaborately staged press events focused far more on horsepower and high-technology than on hybrids and hydrogen. "Muscle" was probably the show's most exercised buzzword. Complete Story.

Crash Test Dummies

by Joan Claybrook
The New York Times

IN early January, parents were shocked to read about findings by Consumer Reports that 10 of 12 infant car seats had failed most "disastrously" in simulated 38 miles per hour side-impact crash tests. Many parents were infuriated. These seats can be expensive, and parents rely on them to protect their most precious cargo.

Consumer Reports, which accepts neither advertising nor industry or government financing, is read by consumers with reverence. Manufacturers and retailers track its conclusions knowing they can affect sales. But this time, the magazine committed a whopper of a mistake that jeopardizes its well-earned credibility. Within two weeks after publishing its results, it rightly announced it was withdrawing its report because of problems with the tests. Because of what is widely assumed to be an engineering miscalculation, the tests were conducted to replicate a 70 m.p.h. car crash nearly double what the magazine had claimed.

How the testing mistake was made is instructive not only for Consumer Reports but for everyone who cares about public safety. Complete Story.

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

- The Tree Farmer In The Dell: Computer Company Offers Carbon Offsets
- Ready To Take The Ultra-Low Carbon Car Challenge?


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