Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday Hope Blogging

Via Gristmill, the BBC has an interesting article on energy harvesting:

The possibilities of this new sustainable energy source need not stop there as vibrations are created everywhere that people and transport are - railway stations, airports, roads and public thoroughfares.

We are applying and testing our ideas practically within a building project within the next year, including a sprung floor fitted with heel-strike generations to harvest the energy from people walking across it. This power output will then be wired back to provide the lighting within that building.
There's some talk of satellite monitoring as a basis for early-warning systems for floods and landslides:
Using NASA's advanced Earth-observing satellites, scientists have discovered a new opportunity to build early detection systems that might protect thousands from floods and landslides. This potential breakthrough in disaster monitoring and warning links satellite observations of soil type, vegetation and land slope with observations of rainfall, rivers and topography.
Meanwhile, the European Space Agency has created a fascinating fire map of the world:
The ATSR World Fire Atlas (WFA) – the first multi-year global fire atlas ever developed – provides data approximately six hours after acquisition and represents an important scientific resource because fire is a major agent of environmental change.
India has banned a cattle drug that was killing vultures. And underwater grasses are making a comeback in the Chesapeake Bay. The "Four Sisters" - four enormous smokestacks off Cawthra Road in Mississauga, Ontario - are being demolished (news which makes me oddly wistful). And Brazil has created a buffer zone around its coral reefs:
The Abrolhos region, located off the coastal town of Caravelas in the far south of Bahia, northeast Brazil, is home to mangrove forests and restinga (a uniquely Brazilian ecosystem of sparsely vegetated sand ridges) and a complex of small islands, coral and algal reefs. Its natural resources directly support more than 100,000 people.
Here's an interesting example of biomimesis:
A desert beetle that wrings water from fog has inspired scientists to create a nanomaterial that literally plucks moisture from the air.
The story of the week, however, is surely Bacterial Hydrogen Production from Confectionary Waste:
As well as energy and environmental benefits, the technique could provide the confectionery industry (and potentially other foodstuff manufacturers) with a useful outlet for waste generated by their manufacturing processes. Much of this waste is currently disposed of in landfill sites.
Last, for my pal Steven, here's encouraging news of a trend towards deconsumption:
During the real-estate boom of the last decade, it seemed like there was no such thing as too big a home. Today, many Americans—and their local governments—are reconsidering that notion. Lawmakers in DeKalb County, Ga., passed a bill that allows residents to veto construction of new “megahouses.” In Marin County, Calif., would-be owners of new homes larger than 4,000 square feet must get approval from local authorities.

Pitkin County, Colo. (which includes Aspen), is now considering a 15,000-square-foot cap on home size. Already, houses larger than 5,000 square feet must include a source of renewable energy (such as solar panels) or pay a fee to support local renewable-energy projects. Interim legislation passed last February in Austin, Tex., restricts the size of new homes on existing residential lots: The homes must be no larger than 2,500 square feet, or less than 20% larger than the home that was removed, or no more than 40% as large as the lot. In April, a six-month moratorium was placed on construction of houses larger than 2,000 square feet in historic districts of Delray Beach, Fla.
Now, friends, you have two choices. You can perforate the synthetic contexts that amplify interstitial drosscapes, by means of the Landscape Urbanism Bullshit Generator. Or you can indulge your penchant for antiquarian escapism with Pub Signs of the Midlands and Dime Store Novels. Choose wisely!

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