Monday, February 8, 2016

There's no business like snow business

Here's today's Editorial from the Daily News, in which we answer questions spurred by recent snowfalls. Earth to Philly readers may especially enjoy the last question.

There's no business like snow business


Here's today's Editorial from the Daily News, in which we answer questions spurred by recent snowfalls. Earth to Philly readers may especially enjoy the last question.

City's got the White Stuff

THE EDITORIAL BOARD had a snow day yesterday, and asked Dr. Crystal Flake, adjunct professor of snow science and associate board member, to answer some of the metaphysical questions prompted by the recent record-setting snow. Such as:

I don't get why so many people run out and buy shovels when it storms. Did everyone lose his shovel from last year? Did the shovels break?

One theory: The run on shovels is the male version of the snow-induced milk-and-bread-buying impulse, but many dispute this. We talked with Brian at Fisher's Ace hardware in Drexel Hill, who sold a whopping 300 shovels just between the two storms last week, and asked why it is that so many people need shovels with each storm.

"I've been wondering about this for years," he said. "I've had the same shovel for eight years. I don't know what people are doing with them."

How exactly does salt melt ice?

Dr. Flake has been told repeatedly to not rely solely on the Internet for research, especially in a town full of scientists, but alas, they all had Presidents Day off, so we must content ourselves with the following from General Chemistry online: Salt applied to ice and snow begins to dissolve, thereby diluting the frozen water and raising its temperature to above the freezing point. Salt molecules disrupt the equilibrium of water molecules, making water harder to freeze. Other substances, like sugar, also do the trick.

Where is the city bringing all the snow it plows? Why not just dump it into the river?

The city isn't dumping snow in the river because plowed snow is full of salt, oil, grease and litter, and that raises environmental concerns. The city is hesitant to broadcast the whereabouts of its dumping grounds, not because of some weird conspiracy, but for fear that it would encourage contractors to dump their snow in the same place. We managed to wheedle the location of one of the lots out of one employee: it's at 9th and Poplar.

Where does the airport put its snow?

Last week, Philadelphia International Airport ran seven diesel-fuel-powered melters that sit over or near a drain and can melt 250 tons of snow an hour. (They say that a 2-foot snowfall equals 166,000 tons of snow.) And 400 employees work on snow removal during an event like last week's. Each year, airports around the country compete for the Balchen/Post award sponsored by the Northeast chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives for outstanding performance in snow removal.

What's the right price to pay to have someone shovel my walk?

We checked with business owners to see how much they were shelling out for shoveling. Ken Weinstein, owner of the Trolley Car Diner, says the average price of clearing the sidewalk of storefront is about $100. What's right for a residential address depends on the depth of the snow and the total space, but shoveling the walk of a standard rowhouse shouldn't cost more than $25.

Don't these monster storms prove that global warming and climate change are myths?

This cogent explanation comes from Weather Underground, a blog by meteorologist Dr. Jeff Masters: "Record-breaking snowstorms are not an indication that global warming is not occurring. In fact, we can expect there may be more heavy snowstorms in regions where it is cold enough to snow, due to the extra moisture [that] global warming has added to the atmosphere . . . As the climate warms, evaporation of moisture from the oceans increases, resulting in more water vapor in the air. This extra moisture will tend to produce heavier snowstorms. *

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About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to

Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.

Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.

Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.

Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.

Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...

Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.

Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.

Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.

In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man

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