Jan 30, 2009
One of Intel's focuses for eco-technology is increasing our ability to harvest free energy sources from the sun to kinetic energy. This also includes RF energy harvesting from sources like WiFi, cell phone towers and TV signals.
Intel has just let loose details on a technique for harvesting ambient RF energy. The researchers powered a wall-mounted household weather station with an LCD screen using a TV antenna pointed at a local TV station.
The Intel researchers aimed a TV antenna at a TV station 4 km away, and harvested enough energy to power a mini weather meter. The technology used for this technique is an extension of that used in off-the-shelf RFID tags in which the tag reader supplies power to the otherwise unpowered ID tag.
With gadgets becoming more and more energy efficient, the idea of using RF energy harvesting to power them is closer to reality...though it will be quite awhile before we have gadgets on the market powered through this method.
Details about the experiment:
The Intel Researchers set up a TV antenna on a balcony with line of sight to the KING-TV tower 4.1 km away. The TV station broadcasts on channel 48 between 674 and 680 MHz with an effective radiation power (ERP) of 960 Kw. The TV antenna used was a UHF log periodic with 5 dBi gain connected to a 4 stage charge pump power harvesting circuit of the same design as that found in an RFID tag. Across an 8 KOhm load the team measured 0.7V, corresponding to 60 microwatts of power harvested. That was enough to drive a thermometer/hygrometer and its LCD display, which is normally powered, by a 1.5 volt AAA battery.
Intel is also focused on energy harvesting from indoor and outdoor ambient light, waste heat from both systems and human bodies, mechanical and kinetic energy. The company feels that by developing technologies that utilize a hybrid power architecture - including alternative energy, better power delivery, better power management and an adaptive system - the use of electronics can be cheaper and lighter on the planet. With that in mind on all their eco-technology research, Intel is working hard to be a leader in better ways to run systems. We're pretty excited to see what more they roll out in the near future.
The sell-off has helped trigger a collapse in the price of carbon, making it cheaper to burn high-carbon fossil fuels and leading to a fall in the number of clean energy projects. The moves were seized on by environmentalists and other critics who have previously criticized the European Union's ETS for delivering more windfall profits for business than climate change.
Jan 29, 2009
Jan 28, 2009
Jan 27, 2009
Mercury was found in nearly fifty percent of tested samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup According to an article published in the scientific journal, Environmental Health.
A separate study detected mercury in nearly one third of fifty-five popular brand name foods and beverages where HFCS is the first or second highest labeled ingredient.
According to David Wallinga, M.D., from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy,
"Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered."
The Impossible Wind Turbine Design That Just Might Work
Adam Fuller has dedicated his life and his life savings to disproving the wind industry's claim that vertical turbines are ineffective. Last week, I had a chance to talk to the Racine, Wisconsin inventor about his 12 foot diameter, 36 foot tall patent-pending wind turbine.
Yes, population is the core problem that, unless confronted and dealt with, will render all solutions to all other problems irrelevant.
1. Global wars ... over food, water and energy
Five years ago Fortune reported on "The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare." Yes, from inside our military comes a warning of "the mother of all national security issues." As "the planet's carrying capacity shrinks, an ancient pattern reemerges: the eruption of desperate all-out wars over food, water, and energy supplies." But ask yourself: What if nations prioritized population control policies to minimize growth and reduce demand?
Will it work? In the latest Foreign Policy magazine, environmental economist Bill McKibben, author of "The End of Nature," warns: "It might already be too late ... to save the planet from a climate catastrophe." The International Energy Agency's answer is more supply to feed exploding demand: The world must spend "$45 trillion to build 1,400 nuclear power plants and vastly expand wind power" in order to "halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050." Their supply-side obsession assumes three billion more people. But what if we focused on cutting demand by stabilizing world population at 6 billion?
Experts warn that "The Age of Oil" is over. Soon the marginal cost of extracting a barrel will equal the sale price. We are on the downside of the bell curve. Special interests like Exxon-Mobil and the Saudis disagree.
But check sites like LifeAftertheOilCrash.com: "Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon. This is not the wacky proclamation of a doomsday cult, apocalypse bible prophecy sect, or conspiracy theory society. Rather, it is the scientific conclusion of the best paid, most widely respected geologists, physicists, bankers and investors in the world. These are rational, professional, conservative individuals who are absolutely terrified by a phenomenon known as global 'peak oil.'" Warning: We're near the tipping point: Stabilize population or self-destruct.
Wall Street, Washington and Corporate America hustle the myth that we must become "energy independent." History suggests narrow special-interest lobbyists will dull the "political will to act" till we pass the point of no return. Our population will grow from 300 million to 400 million by 2050, but the rest of the world will add another 3 billion, with all demanding more economic resources to meet burgeoning demands for energy, food and water. If the world's population isn't addressed, we'll be outnumbered and outgunned.
Economic equations stumble on bogus data. Last spring political historian Kevin Phillips wrote a brilliant Harper's article "Numbers Racket" warning us that "the economy is worse than we know." Politicians use "deceptive statistics" to sell "Americans that the U.S. economy is stronger, fairer, more productive, more dominant, and richer with opportunity than it really is. The corruption has tainted the very measures that most shape public perception of the economy."
Jan 26, 2009
Jan 25, 2009
"Toxic Chinese drywall" used in cheap homebuilding industry is causing serious health problems, destroying TVs and computers, corroding metal, pipes, electrical wiring and jewelry.
We do business with China...but not Cuba??? Give me a break. If you go out to eat, and every time you go to the same place, and the food tastes crappy, would you not go somewhere else?
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Environmentalists claimed on Friday that a new era regarding coal-fired power plants had arrived with the Obama administration after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency turned back South Dakota's approval of a big coal-fired power plant in that state because of pollution concerns.
"EPA is signaling that it is back to enforcing long-standing legal requirements fairly and consistently nationwide," said Bruce Nilles, head of the Sierra Club's effort to stop coal power plants.
We have a journey ahead of us that will be harder than we can imagine today for many among us. At least, you don't have to do it on your own. Look around you, get closer to the people around you, seek out those who need help now or will need it in the future. The nuclear family is no more, and neither is their abode, the McMansion. People need people.
Jan 24, 2009
By Meg Kissinger of the Journal Sentinel
The Government Accounting Office is out with a scathing indictment of the Bush era's treatment of toxic chemicals. The report takes on the very issues that we have been writing about for more than a year in our series "Chemical Fallout."
The report slams the Environmental Protection Agency, saying it does not have sufficient information to adequately protect the public from chemicals that may pose substantial health risks. The government watchdog identifies chemical safety as one of three areas in need of a major overhaul -- including the nation's financial system and oversight of medical products. Read more about it later today on JSOnline and in Saturday's Journal Sentinel.
Jan 23, 2009
When they say the 'EIA, EPA, MIT or Haase is wrong', we have to start asking who it is they are protecting...
I think it is VERY clear that we can save our economy in less than three years and provide millions of jobs by investing in a sustainable economy that will continue to add trillions to our GDP. However, most 'media marketed renewable energy programs look like another ethanol or ponzi scheme.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Climate Security Act will cost American taxpayers $1.21 trillion during the 2009 – 2018 period and impose mandates on the private sector that would exceed $90 billion per year during the 2012-2016 period. CBO states that while covered facilities would be responsible for these initial costs, the bulk would be passed onto consumers in the form of higher prices for energy and energy-intensive goods and services and cost nearly 4 million jobs in 2015, growing on a year-by-year basis to more than 7 million jobs 2050.
The overall cost of the bill to the average household of 2.6 persons will exceed $2,300 annually in 2015, which approximates the amount households now spend annually on healthcare.
The economy will suffer from large year-over-year losses in GDP through 2050 because of the high costs of compliance in the early years and the limited availability of zero carbon technologies throughout the economy in the later years when caps require near-zero emissions. By 2050, GDP losses accumulate to $5.3 trillion (present value 2007$).
The analysis states that the impacts will be felt especially by the poor, who spend more of their income on energy and other goods than other income brackets. By 2020, higher energy prices mean that low income families (with average incomes less than $18,500) will spend between 19% and 22% of their income on energy under L/W compared to a projected 17% without L/W. Others on fixed incomes, such as the elderly will also suffer disproportionately.
More information on this scheme and the economic impacts of S. 2191, are summarized below (from IER):
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) core analysis of the economic impacts of Lieberman-Warner “assumes, among other things, that key low-emissions technologies – including nuclear and coal with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) – are developed and deployed in a timeframe consistent with the bill’s emissions reduction requirements without encountering any major obstacles, even with rapidly growing use on a very large scale.
Even with this assumption, EIA concludes that S. 2191 “increases the cost of using energy, which reduces real economic output, reduces purchasing power, and lowers aggregate demand for goods and services.“ Specifically, EIA estimates that S. 2191 will result in a $76 - $723 increase in average annual household energy bills (excluding transportation costs) and a $444 billion to $1.3 trillion loss gross domestic product by 2030.
EIA also notes that the “potential for and the timing of the development, commercialization, and deployment of low-emissions electricity generating technologies such as nuclear power, coal with CCS, and dispatchable renewable power is a major determinant of the energy and economic impacts of S. 2191. The absence of these technologies is estimated to significantly increase compliance costs.”
The U.S. Environmental protection Agency (EPA) analysis of the economic impacts of Lieberman-Warner assumes that carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is deployable at scale across the entire U.S. electricity sector, and that there is a 150 percent increase in U.S. nuclear power generation by 2050. The EPA analysis also assumes that the U.S. complies with the Kyoto Protocol, which it currently does not.
Based on those assumptions, EPA concludes that Warner-Lieberman would result in annual reductions of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) ranging from $238 billion to $983 billion in 2030, and from roughly $1 trillion to more than $2.8 trillion in 2050; gasoline prices would increase by $0.53 per gallon in 2030 to $1.40 per gallon in 2050; and electricity prices are projected to increase 44 percent in 2030 and 26 percent in 2050.
Based on these assumptions, the S. 2191 will result in $1.7 trillion to $4.8 trillion in losses to gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030, annual job losses ranging from 500,000 to 1,000,000, and an increase of $467 per household each year for natural gas and electricity.
The Heritage Foundation also conducted an analysis of the economic impacts of S. 2191 on the 50 states, which is available here.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change examined several Congressional proposals to limit carbon emissions using their Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model. For S.2191, MIT found that, by 2020, S.2191 will lower expected GDP by nearly 1% (range of estimates is -.69% - -.78) or by between $136 billion and $154 billion. They also found that cap and trade proposals “imply large-scale changes in the U.S. energy system. For example, even with strong growth in wind, solar and other renewable sources the required removal of CO2 emissions from the electric sector would require on the order of 500 new no- or low-carbon power plants to be built by 2050. If all of these were nuclear power plants that would be a six-fold increase from the 100 now in place.”
Haase note: This analysis also includes a breakdown of S. 2191’s impacts on the 50 states, which can be found by visiting IER’s Cost of Climate Change Policies Map.
The MIT analysis can be found here.
The executive summary of EIA’s analysis is available here.
The complete CBO cost estimate is available here.
The EPA analysis is available here.
The CRA International study is available here.
Ladies and gentlemen, did you know that when the Roman Empire finally collapsed, large parts of Europe had been deforested. Acres of forestland had been cleared for farmland and to provide firewood. Wood and food were essential, to maintain the Roman Empire. To meet their short term needs, the Romans overexploited their prime energy resource. They did not think about the consequences for later generations. So the demise of a seemingly invincible civilization was partially due to the unsustainable use of their prime energy resource. The question is, are we going to be any wiser?
What the Romans were experiencing, we would now describe as peak wood. Reaching a point of maximum production after which it enters terminal decline. We are now facing a century of at least four undesirable peaks, peak oil, peak gas, peak coal and peak uranium. Mountaineers may be proud to conquer peaks, but there is no reason whatsoever for us to be proud. We can, however, change the course of history. The technologies we need are there.
On a global level, the sun and the deserts present us with major opportunity. We know all energy resources originate from one source, one masdar, nuclear fusion from the surface of the sun. Arab traders sailed the Indian Ocean, long before Europeans ventured into these regions. The same winds Columbus used were there, generated by the sun's heat to make his historic journeys. My wife and I traveled to this beautiful city by plane, with fossil energy generated millions of years ago by that same sun. If it were up to the sun we would have no energy problems at all. Every 30 minutes the earth absorbs enough light to meet the energy needs for one year. Every 30 minutes, if only we could harvest it. To do so we need the world's deserts. Many regard deserts as a barren and hostile environment. In fact, they are a precious source of life, which we should embrace and protect for the common good.
The point is, if we don’t treat energy as a long term investment, we will end up paying much higher bills. But we mustn’t wait until solar energy plants and cross border grids are available for sustainable energy supplies. We need to invest at the local level too. Technologies for local production of sustainable energy are readily available for both electricity and local cooling. These technologies can be applied without a large infrastructure, making them more promising than existing examples. There are three examples I would like to share with you today, two designed in the Netherlands and a third a joint venture between Canadian and Spanish scientists and entrepreneurs.
The first is the green greenhouse, a new generation of greenhouses that produces not only plants and food but also clean electricity, heating and cooling. One transformed, greenhouse can provide sufficient energy for 200 homes. The green greenhouses produce biogas for electricity generation and uses the CO2 thus generated to stimulate the growth of plants. This process also produces water of drinking quality.
The second example is vacuum sewerage for toilet and kitchen disposal. The sewage is used locally for the production of biogas. The pipelines are only half the size of the normal pipelines, giving higher flexibility for construction. Both CO2 emissions and water use are reduced by 50%. No larger infrastructure is required and developing regions are presented with the opportunity to obtain much better water conditions.
The third example is the production of clean energy by a new, completely closed system of garbage gasification in small units. 99.8% of the total garbage supply is re-used or converted, producing 80% more biogas then it uses. No water is wasted during the process. On the contrary, water is one of the products.
What makes all these technologies interesting is that they contribute to the solution of the energy problem and also help in other areas. They help us reduce water scarcity and get rid of excess waste, and present new economic opportunities in developing regions. Contrary to general belief, they are no more costly than the traditional polluting production processes. In fact, they result in substantial savings. The payback time, in green greenhouses for example, is only three years.
So, ladies and gentleman, we know the technologies are there, for both global and local solutions. We need the political will and the right approach to investment for a fundamental transition toward a new energy system. We owe it to our children and to future generations. Investments in sustainable solutions make our communities healthier, our planet cleaner, our economy stronger, and our future brighter.
Let us look beyond the current financial and economic crisis and build the foundations of a sustainable future. As a result of this crisis, billions of dollars of public spending are needed to build better economies and generate economic growth. If we spend wisely in sustainable solutions, these investments will also contribute towards rescuing our planet.
On the Web Clean, Responsible Energy for Wisconsin's Economy: www.wicrewe.com
Jan 22, 2009
A new advisory firm launched on Monday seeks to boost carbon emissions trading in sub-Saharan Africa and raise the continent's lagging profile in the $120 billion global carbon market.
CarbonStream Africa, a joint venture between South African state-owned CEF Carbon SA (Pty) and Nordic company GreenStream Network Plc, offers advisory services for firms seeking to trade greenhouse gas offsets in Africa under the Kyoto Protocol.
"Africa is really lagging behind, but I really believe it has the strongest potential," said Deven Pillay, CEO of CEF's carbon trading arm and chairman of CarbonStream Africa.
"It's where we need investment...the ingredients are there."
Under the United Nations' Clean Development Mechanism, companies can invest in clean energy projects in poorer countries like South Africa, and in return get offset credits which can be used toward emissions goals or sold for profit.
But with only 28 of the more than 1,300 projects registered so far by the U.N., Africa accounts for a little more than two percent of the global CDM market.
"Africa is the most politically correct region in which to develop CDM projects and we want to be there," said GreenStream's Arne Jakobsen at CarbonStream Africa's London launch.
The CDM market has been hit hard by the global recession, with offset prices trading below 10 euros ($12.98) a metric ton for the first time ever on Monday.
Pillay said CarbonStream Africa has a team of five CDM experts, who can also advise on the voluntary emissions markets.
"I'd like to see projects in Africa, by Africans, for Africans," he added.
Given poor government regulation, many of the cleaning products available on the market contain “everyday” carcinogens such as formaldehyde, nitrobenzene, methylene chloride, and napthelene, as well as reproductive toxins and hormone disruptors. Not to mention other ingredients that cause liver, kidney and brain damage, allergies and asthma. I really am a happy person–not your basic Eeyore type, but toxic cleaning products seriously get my goat.
But there are a host of products, other than those used for basic cleaning, that often contain carcinogenics. This list, from Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic (New Society Publishers, 2007) by Liz Armstrong et al, cautions against ten household products, in addition to cleaners, that you should avoid having in your house.
1. Air fresheners: Often contain napthelene and formaldehyde. Try zeolite or natural fragrances from essential oils. For more information, see Easy Greening: Air Fresheners.
2. Art supplies: Epoxy and rubber cement glues, acrylic paints and solvents, and permanent markers often contain carcinogens. For more information, see Arts and Crafts: Make it Safe.
3. Automotive supplies: Most are toxic. Keep them safely away from the house and dispose of at a hazardous waste disposal center.
4. Candles: Avoid artificially scented parafin candles that produce combustion by-products, including soot. Beeswax only, with cotton wicks. For more on beeswax candles, see The Brilliant Beeswax Candle.
5. Carpet and upholstery shampoos: Use only wet-clean, natural ingredients. For DIY carpet cleaning, see How to Remove Stains and Pet Odors from Carpets.
6. Dry-cleaning: Choose clothes that don’t need perchlorethylene to clean them. Ask for the wet-cleaning option at you local cleaners, or seek dry-cleaners that use liquid C)2 or citrus juice cleaners. For more information, see Healthy and Green Dry Cleaning.
7. Flea, tick and lice control: Avoid lindane-based pesticides. FOrm more information, see Natural Flea and Tick Contol.
8. Paints and varnishes: Always chose low- or no-VOC finsihes. For more information, see Is Your Paint Making You Sick?
9. Household pesticides: Go natural. Make a Sugar Ant Hotel.
10. Microwaves: Never microwave or heat food in a plastic container. For more information about the dangers of food and plastic, see Kitchen Plastic: Easy Greening.
Ontario Power Generation, said it wants to find out if there’s enough biomass in the province for it to convert several of its coal-fired generating units in Ontario so they can burn 100 per cent biomass instead of coal. They also want to get a sense of how it would be collected and delivered and how much all that would cost. To assist the effort, the Ministry of Natural Resources put out its own call for interest to see what companies would be interested in harvesting biofibre — tree branches and tops, diseased and fire-damaged trees, etc. — from sustainably managed crown forests.
Jan 21, 2009
Researchers in America found chemicals in wards run by nurses which could irritate the lungs including cleansers and antiseptics used on patients' skin, chemicals used in the sterilization of equipment and all purpose cleaners such as bleach.
However, his state's budget crisis is now so severe that some reports claim the government will run out of money next month - a scenario that prompted Schwarzenegger to write to President-Elect Obama earlier this month, asking him to "Waive or greatly streamline National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) requirements consistent with our statutory proposals to modify the California Environment Quality Act (CEQA) for transportation projects".
The move was seized upon by green groups as evidence that the Governor was seeking to roll back important environmental protections in an attempt to accelerate state capital investment projects.
Speaking at press conference this week, Schwarzenegger said that the relaxation of the environmental rules was needed to helkp tackle rising unemployment. "It’s about jobs, jobs, jobs," he said. "That's why I've been adamant about easing environmental regulations and other red tape in order to get the infrastructure going, to get infrastructure projects moving as quickly as possible."
The Governor, currently locked in a stalemate with his legislature over his proposed budget, urged Democrat legislators to compromise and approve the budget despite the push to water down environmental rules.
The request for Obama to waive the National Environmental Protection Act is not the first instance of Schwarzenegger seeking to streamline planning rules to water down environmental inspections. At the end of September, he signed bill SB 375, introducing rules to help plan suburban communities that produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, but also exempting home construction projects from the California Environmental Quality Act.
Schwarzenegger has traditionally been an ally of environmental groups, but his complaints about the economic effect of delays to infrastructural projects have been mounting recently.
California's unemployment rate was at 8.4 per cent in November, and is estimated to reach nine per cent.
1.used to treat cardiovascular disease, 2.an herbicide banned in the European Union (still used in the US) has been implicated in the decline of fish stocks and in changes in animal behaviour, 3.a mood-stabilising drug used to treat bipolar disorder, 4.an oestrogen hormone blamed for causing gender-bending changes in fish, 5.an anti-cholesterol drug, 6.a tranquiliser used in psychiatric treatment, 7.a painkiller and anti-inflammatory linked to increases in asthma incidence, 8.an anticonvulsant used to treat epilepsy, 9.an antibiotic used against the “Strep” bacteria, 10.a reducing agent used in molecular biology, 11.an antibiotic
Christian Daughton of the EPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory says that neither this nor other recent water assessments give cause for health concern. “But several point to the potential for risk - especially for the fetus and those with severely compromised health.”
The new waste-to-energy conversion system can process at least two tons of trash daily, the company claims, turning post-consumer waste into electricity and gas heat. The four-stage waste processor takes in paper, plastic, food, wood and agricultural materials, converts the waste stream into fuel pallets, and breaks them down into generator-bound Producer Gas. IST says that GEM is also carbon negative and powers itself with the clean energy it produces, supplying users with a self-sustaining alternative energy source. "This model can save businesses, institutions and municipalities hundreds of thousands of dollars annually," said Stu Haber, president and CEO of IST Energy.