Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday Hope Blogging

An MIT study predicts great things for geothermal energy.

A comprehensive new MIT-led study of the potential for geothermal energy within the United States has found that mining the huge amounts of heat that reside as stored thermal energy in the Earth's hard rock crust could supply a substantial portion of the electricity the United States will need in the future, probably at competitive prices and with minimal environmental impact.
You can read the full report here.

It turns out that investing in preventative medicine saves money as well as lives:
A new study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) finds that polio vaccination in the United States has resulted in a net savings of over $180 billion, even without including the large, intangible benefits associated with avoided fear and suffering.
Behold the soul-annihilating horror of the Nanny State!

Apropos of saving money, WorldChanging discusses the PowerCost Monitor:
If you can see your pennies piling up on account of a light you left on in the bathroom, you can bet you'll remember to turn it off. It's the real-time feedback that's key. Reading a steep bill at the end of the month can't compare. It's also key not only to be able to know how many kWh -- but also how many dollars -- are burning away with your lightbulb.

Combining all these digits onto one little screen is the PowerCost Monitor from Blue Line Innovations, a Canadian start-up focused specifically on developing real-time energy feedback products for domestic energy consumers. According to their research, immediate feedback can result in 10-20% energy savings.
I'm pleased to learn about a new collaborative site called Howtopedia:
Howtopedia's building a wiki-style library of DIY recipes that promote sustainability by helping us all become a little more independent....

Howtopedia is teeming with entries about truly useful tools and low-tech innovations, many of which we've covered on Worldchanging in the context of appropriate development in rural non-industrialized areas, such as the Roundabout Pump, small-scale wind power, the pot-in-pot [desert] refrigerator, and the Rocket Stove. And it's not just hands-on projects, but also strategies and skills for things like improving one's entrepreneurial approach or activating one's community towards a common goal.
You can find a number of "low-tech innovations" on a wonderful site called Afrigadget, which compiles Africans' ingenious solutions to everyday problems.

I've expressed some skepticism here about hydrogen-powered cars, but hydrogen-powered lawnmowers seem comparatively feasible:
The researchers believe the first applications for their technology will be in smaller engines. Fuel cells are currently inefficient on such scales due to the need for fuel recycling and excess hydrogen in standard designs. The researchers' new design is closed, so 100 percent of the fuel is used and there is no need for a costly fuel recycling system.

"The system is ideal for small internal combustion engines that lack emissions controls and are highly polluting," said Benziger. "There is also no need for an extensive hydrogen distribution system for these small motors; the hydrogen could be supplied in returnable tanks such as the propane tanks used for gas grills."
California has banned perchloroethylene, a move I heartily support. The usual mob of Chicken Littles is predicting ruin for small dry cleaners. That's nonsense, by and large, but to the extent that it's true, it's quite possible to mitigate the effects (I took a tentative stab at the math and logistics here, and also described what I think is a sensible approach to phaseout).

California has also banned the purchase of electricity generated by coal-burning power plants:
The rules - aimed at reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases linked to global warming - could have a far-reaching effect on the energy market across the West.
Five hundred cosmetics manufacturers have agreed to stop using potentially unsafe ingredients in their products. Here's a list of signatories.

Congolese rebels have agreed to stop killing endangered gorillas:
[O]ne of Nkunda's commanders known as Colonel Makenga had met senior Congolese national park warden Paulin Ngobobo, and agreed a truce on gorilla killings.

"This is a very positive result. We weren't expecting to succeed given the overwhelming odds against," Wildlife Direct's statement quoted Ngobobo as saying.
A new species of rodent has been discovered in a Peruvian cloud-forest; it goes by the appealing name of Isothrix barbarabrownae:
The nocturnal, climbing rodent is beautiful yet strange looking, with long dense fur, a broad blocky head, and thickly furred tail. A blackish crest of fur on the crown, nape and shoulders add to its distinctive appearance.
Here's an illustration:

Another recently discovered creature, the chestnut-capped piha, has gained some protection thanks to efforts by the American Bird Conservancy and other groups:
"Thanks to the generous support of Conservation International, the IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, Robert Wilson, and Robert Giles, ABC has funded the purchase of an additional 1,310 acres, to be owned and managed by Colombian partner FundaciĆ³n ProAves," said George Fenwick, the ABC president....

In addition to the piha, the reserve also contains populations of many other rare and restricted birds, including the black tinamou (known from one other site in southern Colombia, and one in central Peru), sharpbill, Stiles' tapaculo, Parker's antbird, semi-collared hawk, red-bellied grackle, multicolored tanager, black-and-gold tanager, and a wintering population of the rapidly declining cerulean warbler – a migratory songbird that nests in North America.
The piha is known locally for its song, which you can listen to here.

Speaking of birdsong, here's an x-ray movie of a singing cardinal. It's a little unsettling, but not nearly as unsettling as the sounds of termite head-banging.

Next up, the University of Hawaii's Infrasound Laboratory offers a gallery of "sounds recorded by a variety of infrasound recording systems. Signal processing algorithms were used to make them audible and occasionally pleasant. Many of the sound files are complex, and superpose breaking waves, distant storms, aircraft, and volcanoes." For starters, here's Kilauea.

Carthage Underground, a gallery featured at Underground Ozarks, comprises over 100 photos taken during the exploration of an abandoned quarry in Carthage, Missouri.

Also from the Ozarks, a haunting collection of Photographs from the Arkansas State Prison 1915-1937.

Last, via BLDGBLOG, a breathtaking series of wideangle photos by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, entitled Turkey Cinemascope.

(Photo at top via Museum of the History of Science, Ghent.)


juniper pearl said...

i didn't make it through more than one second of that termite noise. it's the auditory equivalent of moving a plate in your sink and uncovering a layer of maggots--but i suppose you did warn me. kind of. maybe.

Anonymous said...


In order to insure energy and economic independence as well as better economic growth without being blackmailed by foreign countries, our country, the United States of America’s Utilization of Energy sources must change.
"Energy drives our entire economy." We must protect it. "Let's face it, without energy the whole economy and economic society we have set up would come to a halt. So you want to have control over such an important resource that you need for your society and your economy." The American way of life is not negotiable.
Our continued dependence on fossil fuels could and will lead to catastrophic consequences.

The federal, state and local government should implement a mandatory renewable energy installation program for residential and commercial property on new construction and remodeling projects with the use of energy efficient material, mechanical systems, appliances, lighting, etc. The source of energy must by renewable energy such as Solar-Photovoltaic, Geothermal, Wind, Biofuels, Ocean-Tidal, etc. including utilizing water from lakes, rivers and oceans to circulate in cooling towers to produce air conditioning and the utilization of proper landscaping to reduce energy consumption. (Sales tax on renewable energy products should be reduced or eliminated)

The implementation of mandatory renewable energy could be done on a gradual scale over the next 10 years. At the end of the 10 year period all construction and energy use in the structures throughout the United States must be 100% powered by renewable energy. (This can be done by amending building code)

In addition, the governments must impose laws, rules and regulations whereby the utility companies must comply with a fair “NET METERING” (the buying of excess generation from the consumer at market price), including the promotion of research and production of “renewable energy technology” with various long term incentives and grants. The various foundations in existence should be used to contribute to this cause.

A mandatory time table should also be established for the automobile industry to gradually produce an automobile powered by renewable energy. The American automobile industry is surely capable of accomplishing this task. As an inducement to buy hybrid automobiles (sales tax should be reduced or eliminated on American manufactured automobiles).

This is a way to expedite our energy independence and economic growth. (This will also create a substantial amount of new jobs). It will take maximum effort and a relentless pursuit of the private, commercial and industrial government sectors commitment to renewable energy – energy generation (wind, solar, hydro, biofuels, geothermal, energy storage (fuel cells, advance batteries), energy infrastructure (management, transmission) and energy efficiency (lighting, sensors, automation, conservation) (rainwater harvesting, water conservation) (energy and natural resources conservation) in order to achieve our energy independence.

"To succeed, you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality."

Jay Draiman, Energy Consultant
Northridge, CA. 91325
Jan. 28, 2007

P.S. I have a very deep belief in America's capabilities. Within the next 10 years we can accomplish our energy independence, if we as a nation truly set our goals to accomplish this.
I happen to believe that we can do it. In another crisis--the one in 1942--President Franklin D. Roosevelt said this country would build 60,000 [50,000] military aircraft. By 1943, production in that program had reached 125,000 aircraft annually. They did it then. We can do it now.
The American people resilience and determination to retain the way of life is unconquerable and we as a nation will succeed in this endeavor of Energy Independence.

Solar energy is the source of all energy on the earth (excepting volcanic geothermal). Wind, wave and fossil fuels all get their energy from the sun. Fossil fuels are only a battery which will eventually run out. The sooner we can exploit all forms of Solar energy (cost effectively or not against dubiously cheap FFs) the better off we will all be. If the battery runs out first, the survivors will all be living like in the 18th century again.

Every new home built should come with a solar package. A 1.5 kW per bedroom is a good rule of thumb. The formula 1.5 X's 5 hrs per day X's 30 days will produce about 225 kWh per bedroom monthly. This peak production period will offset 17 to 2

4 cents per kWh with a potential of $160 per month or about $60,000 over the 30-year mortgage period for a three-bedroom home. It is economically feasible at the current energy price and the interest portion of the loan is deductible. Why not?

Title 24 has been mandated forcing developers to build energy efficient homes. Their bull-headedness put them in that position and now they see that Title 24 works with little added cost. Solar should also be mandated and if the developer designs a home that solar is impossible to do then they should pay an equivalent mitigation fee allowing others to put solar on in place of their negligence. (Installation should be paid “performance based”)

Installation of renewable energy and its performance should be paid to the installer and manufacturer based on "performance based" (that means they are held accountable for the performance of the product - that includes the automobile industry). This will gain the trust and confidence of the end-user to proceed with such a project; it will also prove to the public that it is a viable avenue of energy conservation.

Installing renewable energy system on your home or business increases the value of the property and provides a marketing advantage.

Nations of the world should unite and join together in a cohesive effort to develop and implement MANDATORY RENEWABLE ENERGY for the sake of humankind and future generations.

Jay Draiman
Northridge, CA 91325

Phila said...


You may want to consider getting a blog. It's free, last time i checked.