Jan 31, 2011

Compact fluorescents burning out faster than $548 millions in subsidies.

Wall street Journal - California's utilities are spending $548 million over seven years to subsidize consumer purchases of compact fluorescent lamps.  But the benefits are turning out to be less than expected ... as the bulbs are burning out faster than expected...

When PG&E began its 2006-2008 program, it figured the useful life of each bulb would be 9.4 years. Now, with experience, it has cut the estimate to 6.3 years, which limits the energy savings. Field tests show higher burnout rates in certain locations, such as bathrooms and in recessed lighting. Turning them on and off a lot also appears to impair longevity.

California utilities have used ratepayer funds to subsidize sales of more than 100 million of the bulbs since 2006, most of them made in China. (Rather than setting off a boom in the U.S. manufacture of replacement lights)

...Subsidized bulbs cost an average of $1.30 in California versus $4 for bulbs not carrying utility subsidies.

When it set up its bulb program in 2006, PG&E Corp. thought its customers would buy 53 million compact fluorescent bulbs by 2008. It allotted $92 million for rebates, the most of any utility in the state. Researchers hired by the California Public Utilities Commission concluded earlier this year that fewer bulbs were sold, fewer were screwed in, and saved 73% less energy than the 1.7 billion kilowatt hours projected by PG&E for the 2006-2008 program. Read more at Wall street Journal

Imagine how much of an impact this has on the ecological and "dust to dust" studies?
Economic lights going out in U.S...
These numbers account for the life of the bulb though, not the entire life cycle of the bulb. The question of whether we can be more lighting efficient by using compact fluorescent bulbs needs an in depth analysis of how much energy is required to make and recycle the bulb.

The dust-to-dust story - production
If you have a compact fluorescent light bulb, take a look at it. It's clearly more complex than your typical incandescent light bulb (your typical "in-efficient" bulb). The lamp tube of the CFL twirls in every-which direction, but there's also complexity underneath: Coating the inside of the tube is phosphor, floating around inside the tube is ~5mg of mercury vapour (not much compared to a typical mercury thermometer which has around 250mg).
There's even a 24 component microchip (officially called the ballast) in every single CFL bulb!

The dust-to-dust story – end of life
When your CFL dies, it's not recommended that you throw it out, this'll just increase the chances of the mercury getting out into the open. The mercury can be recycled or disposed of properly and there are specific CFL recycling programs in place. For incandescent, no guide lines, just throw it in the trash.

The tally
Although difficult to come across, I found a life-cycle study comparing CFL bulbs to incandescent bulbs, written by Dutch researchers from the Technical University of Denmark. The total energy input for the production of a CFL light bulb comes to 1.7kWh compared to 0.3kWh for a single incandescent light bulb. The inputs are summarized in the figure below.

Energy input required to manufacture a CFL bulb, and incandescent bulb and 8 incandescent bulbs (a CFL bulb should last 8 times longer than an incandescent bulb)

Here's a summary of the embodied energy in a light bulb (all numbers represent energy in kWh):

CFLIncandescent8 Incandescent bulbs
* This assumes the CFL bulb operates for 8000hrs and the incandescent bulb operates for 1000hrs
** This assumes that the energy required to recycle a CFL bulb is equal to its production

Bulb for bulb, the energy "efficient" kind requires 5.7 times more energy to make than the incandescent bulbs, BUT, they last 8 times longer (1000hrs lifetime for incandescent bulbs vs 8000hrs lifetime for a CFL). So for every 1 compact fluorescent bulb that is made, 8 incandescent bulbs are made.

During the operation phase, the CFL needs 120kWh over its lifetime, whereas 1 incandescent bulb needs 60kWh or 480kWh for 8 incandescent bulbs.

The study that I cited above neglects the recycling stage, so I assumed here that it takes as much energy to recycle a CFL bulb as it takes to produce, 1.7kWh whereas an incandescent bulb is simply thrown out, and I assign 0kWh to the recycling stage of the incandescent.
Advantage incandescent.

Is there a break even point anymore????

edison, light bulbs, light bulb ban

Although CFL bulbs are supposed to last 8 times longer than the typical incandescent bulb, more often than not (at least in my experience), they seem to burn out prematurely. Given that they take more energy to make, bulb-for-bulb, this got me thinking. How long does a CFL bulb need to be running for until it breaks even (energy wise) compared to an incandescent light bulb? The answer's is– 50hrs.
Break even point (energy wise) for a CFL bulb compared to an incandescent bulb. If the CFL bulb operates for 50hrs or more, then it will produce energy savings compared to the incandescent bulb.

Ever since I tore apart my old CFL bulb to find the microchip inside, I have been unconvinced that these bulbs provided any energy savings at all. Now I know that they do. Over their full lifetime, a compact fluorescent light bulb will consume 3.9 times less energy than an incandescent bulb. Although CFL's contain mercury themselves, their actual operation will introduce less mercury into the atmosphere than incandescent bulbs due to the fact that coal power plants spew out mercury. If your CFL bulb lasts longer than 50hrs, then they will indeed save energy over their entire lifecycle. CFL's, like many technologies, are ultimately only a stepping stone towards better, currently more expensive things, such as LED lighting, which promises to be even more efficient than CFLs.
Please read full from the Watt

All of these numbers are VERY sad considering the first CFL were produced in the U.S. decades ago

Are Modern homes firetraps?

http://www.townofkurebeach.org/images/Fire/FireSafety.jpgCanadian wire-service article claims that modern composite materials used in house construction drastically accelerates the pace of house-fires when compared with traditional solid wood and other materials.
What that means for firefighters is the amount of time they can safely be inside a house on fire has dropped from about 17 minutes to three minutes or less.

That's when flashover happens -- the moment when a room or building is fully engulfed in flames...

[Ottawa Fire spokesman Marc Messier] said unlike 30 years ago, when homes, furniture and appliances were made of solid wood and steel, modern day versions are made with glue, plastics and synthetic materials.

Such synthetics not only burn faster but produce carcinogenic emissions as they burn.

"One of the biggest examples is floor joists," said Messier, who himself dabbles in home renovations.

"They used to be 2x8s and 2x10s, and now we're looking at composite materials which for the most part are made of wood particles, mixed in with glue. They're cheaper, which is probably why the industry is using these products."

New homes burn faster (Boing2)

EPA to Ban Dow’s Sulfuryl Fluoride, a Common Insecticide and Food Fumigant.

http://media.onsugar.com/files/ons2/594/5943023/44_2009/02/pesticide01_1.jpgDavid Schaller - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to end the use of sulfuryl fluoride, an insecticide and food fumigant manufactured by Dow AgroSciences. The product, approved by EPA as an alternative to methyl bromide, is used on hundreds of food commodities. Citing concerns about children's health and noting their current overexposure to fluoride through tap water, EPA's decision is the second major federal action in three days to address the safety of fluoride for children. On January 7, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed to reduce its recommended maximum level of fluoride in tap water from 1.2 to 0.7 parts per million, a 42 percent decrease. Read more at EWG

Jan 30, 2011

“fossil fuels on demand.”... bacterium that produces liquid hydrocarbons

A brave new world of fossil fuels on demand or just another "hydrogen cold fusion hoax"?http://cdn.physorg.com/newman/gfx/news/hires/2-harnessingsu.jpg HTML clipboard
In September, a privately held and highly secretive U.S. biotech company named Joule Unlimited received a patent for "a proprietary organism" – a genetically engineered cyanobacterium that produces liquid hydrocarbons: diesel fuel, jet fuel and gasoline.

This breakthrough technology, the company says, will deliver renewable supplies of liquid fossil fuel almost anywhere on Earth, in essentially unlimited quantity and at an energy-cost equivalent of $30 (U.S.) a barrel of crude oil. It will deliver, the company says, "fossil fuels on demand."
Read full from GlobalMail

Another Washington climate czar down.

Here we go again...   just after Van Jones resigns White House position (GRIST)Energy Climate Czar Carol Browner vs US Pushes For 2 New Nuclear Reactors In Georgia [VIDEO]

Politico -  White House aides Monday were mum about what would happen to the Office of Energy and Climate Change, except to say that Browner, a former Senate staffer to Al Gore, believed energy issues would remain front and center for the president.

"Carol is confident that the mission of her office will remain critical to the president...who two years ago considered Browner the leader of a dream team on their issues said they were concerned about the latest shakeup on the eve of a State of the Union where the president is expected to move to the center.

"This does strike me as a quiet kill, so to speak," said a House Democratic aide who works on energy and environmental issues, including the 2009 cap-and-trade bill. "If there were a sacrificial lamb, it could have been on health care, financial issues, on a whole number of other things. But it's the climate czar that's going down.HTML clipboard

"I don't know the exact circumstances of it, but [by] the circumstantial evidence, I think the timing is frankly fairly frightening," the staffer added.HTML clipboard

The Obama administration is about to face a full assault from Hill Republicans and some moderate Democrats over the EPA's authority to regulate for greenhouse gases. Browner had experience dealing with an antagonistic GOP Congress while leading EPA under the Clinton administration. Environmentalists were hopeful she could have played the same role on Obama's team.

"She has been a tenacious advocate for a new clean energy future, and her articulate and strategic voice in the White House will be very missed," said Gene Karpinski, the president of the League of Conservation Voters. "We hope the administration continues to put a very strong person in this important position."

Haase - My hope is that our Administration selects a person who prioritizes people and our planet over politics... A "strong person would prove to our Administration that  we can save our economy, energy and environmental future by "fiscally proving sustainable energy is economically sustainable".

... when we want to make decades of energy efforts a reality and financially sustainable.... they will give me a call.

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
- Albert Einstein

France’s Solar Bubble - epic fail...

NationalReview -HTML clipboard Two years ago, the National Assembly adopted one of those solar "feed-in tariffs" — a cute misnomer for a mandate that forces utilities to buy expensive renewable electricity at ridiculously high prices. Flush with visions for the solar future, the legislature set the price at 546 euros per megawatt-hour, almost ten times the market price of 55 euros that customers pay for electricity from other sources. Electricitie de France (EDF), the national utility, was obligated to buy from all comers, covering the costs with a special levy on other customers. The result was an avalanche of expensive rooftop projects.

Whereas EDF had received only 7,100 applications a year for such connections before 2008, by last December it was fielding 3,000 per day. "We didn't see it coming," French lawmaker Francois-Michel Gonnog told Bloomberg News. "What is in the pipeline this year is unimaginable. Farmers were being told they could put panels on hangars and get rid of their cows." The government cut the price support twice last year but was finally forced to impose a three-month suspension in December. Now costing 1 billion euros per year, the program does not expire until 2017 and has put the utility in trouble. EDF's stock declined 20 percent last year, compared to only a 3.7 percent decline for the rest of Europe's Stoxx 600 Utilities Index.

The utility is now 57 billion euros in debt. Plans to upgrade its aging fleet of 53 nuclear reactors — which provide 75 percent of France's electricity — have been thrown into doubt.

Read full at NationalReview

Congressman Rand Paul proposed $500 Billion dollars in savings.

Congressman Rand Paul of Tennessee has proposed a list of budget cuts that will total $500 Billion dollars in savings.
HTML clipboardAccording to the Congressional Budget Office, this will be the third year in a row in http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/11/02/senator_rand_paul_rep_ron_paul/md_horiz.jpgwhich the U.S. Government runs a budget deficit near – or greater-than $1 trillion (with 2011 Budget deficit to hit $1.48 trillion) These deficits are far greater than what is economically sustainable, and far outpaces the political duty to produce budgets that are economically responsible. The solution to the government's fiscal crisis needs to begin by cutting spending at the heart of the problem – right here, on Capitol Hill. This proposal would be to cut the Legislative Branch by 23 percent or $1.283 billion in FY 2011.

Consistent with many of the spending cuts included in this proposal, the Legislative Branch is taken back to FY2008
levels, and includes the elimination of an outdated agency, ... full report here

Jan 29, 2011

WasteCap Wisconsin News & Updates

Latest Recycling Results: tree
WasteCap Resource Solutions and its clients have diverted 445,574 tons of construction and demolition waste from landfills. That's 158 pounds per person in Wisconsin! The equivalent of  138,693 trees has been saved by recycling wood and cardboard. Currently, WasteCap's construction and demolition projects are achieving a 79.4%  average recycling rate.  
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  • Upcoming Training Events - Become an Accredited Professional in Construction Waste Recycling at WasteCap's full day training; eligible for LEED GBCI CEU hours. The program will teach you how to meet LEED criteria for construction waste management and run a successful, cost-effective recycling program. Click here for our 2011 schedule and more information.
  • 2011 Webinar Series - WasteCap is excited to announce the 2011 Webinar Schedule! We are still looking for additional sponsors and topics. To view the schedule and learn more click here.
  • Keeping Up With WasteCap Accreditation
  • Renewing Accreditation helps Marty Schillerstrom of JME Companies prepare to tackle bigger projects in 2011... read the full story
  • WasteCapTRACE - WasteCap's exclusive online tracking application for ongoing construction and demolition recycling documentation. To learn more, view a demo, and see pricing click here.
Read full WasteCap News & Updates

Four of every 10 rows of U.S. corn now go for fuel, not food.

HTML clipboardhttp://media.mcclatchydc.com/smedia/2008/04/16/17/908-20080416-ETHANOL.large.prod_affiliate.91.jpgWall Street Journal - The global economy is getting back on its feet, but so too is an old enemy: food inflation. The United Nations benchmark index hit a record high last month, raising fears of shortages and higher prices that will hit poor countries hardest. So why is the United States, one of the world's biggest agricultural exporters, devoting more and more of its corn crop to . . . ethanol?

HTML clipboardThe nearby chart, based on data from the Department of Agriculture, shows the remarkable trend over a decade. In 2001, only 7% of U.S. corn went for ethanol, or about 707 million bushels. By 2010, the ethanol share was 39.4%, or nearly five billion bushels out of total U.S. production of 12.45 billion bushels. Four of every 10 rows of corn now go to produce fuel for American cars or trucks, not food or feed. This trend is the deliberate result of policies designed to subsidize ethanol. Note the surge in the middle of the last decade when Congress began to legislate renewable fuel mandates and many states banned MTBE, which had competed with ethanol but ran afoul of the green and corn lobbies.
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Corn ethanol's downsides: High food prices, more pollution
"Okay, so the poor may starve. A small price to pay for Big Green to bring us more expensive, less efficient fuel—that uses a lot of oil to produce and deliver." ~Bob

OnGreen - Green Bulding Week In Review


Turbine-Free Wind Power Best 2010, 1913 or 1, 000ad?

How does this "innovative" bladeless wind technology beat  2,000 year old WindCatcher tech???https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEhF9RjJsmq6hUlIocT99FhCwaFVB6lKKEKkmW1uLcheeHhOO0-pyajeL87sNv7mM6xQyfUIq6ZEG7vJZJH4yGBALgkbsCM59T7OToDrMnnalFK4SYq7feSldpPlx7q3IiVzjhqbaA/s400/770px-Wind-Tower-and-Qanat-Cooling-1.jpg
"bladeless concepts could be a game changer in the next few years."  "Turbine-free wind power" was placed on the NY Times Magazine's annual Year in Ideas list with this video explaining the idea of a panel with several foam pads and piezoelectric connectors that harvest energy.  The panels wouldn't make much noise and could be installed on facades, roofs, and almost anywhere else. They could also generate energy at a low cost and lower wind speed ...press release.

Haase: While the utilization of Piezoelectric energy harvesting‎ has some great applications.... this is not one of them.
It is important to note that there are 100's of more viable ways to harvest wind power without the excess engineering materials and energy loss. 
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And bladeless wind in not innovative or a new concept.
solar-aero_QvfOT_69.jpgBladeless Wind so 1900's - A wind turbine that uses boundary layers instead of blades to generate power has been patented by Solar Aero, a New Hampshire based not-for-profit scientific research organization. Modeled on the 1913 Tesla steam turbine, the Fuller turbine is virtually silent and completely enclosed, which avoids many of the drawbacks of bladed turbines such as noise, radar interference, visual pollution and wildlife injuries...the turbine then provides considerable torque to accelerate the rotation of the central driveshaft, which is directly coupled to an alternator, typically located at the base of a tower, or alternatively co-located on a rooftop."

But my favorite was inspired by ancient Persia
A new wind-power machine has been inspired by a centuries-old idea: Persian "wind catchers." 
Windation Energy Systems,  wind appliance that looks more or less like the modern heating and cooling equipment you see on flat corporate building rooftops. 
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There's a 8-by-8-foot frame around a 10-foot-high cylinder. Wind blows in the top and is directed to the bottom where the wind turns a turbine to make up to 5 kilowatts of electricity. A single unit wouldn't generate enough power for an entire office building but could offset a significant portion, the company says. 

Windation CEO and founder, Mark Sheikhrezai, who is originally from Iran, said he was inspired by ancient Persian buildings that use air currents and reservoirs of water to cool buildings. Using differences in air pressure, these wind catcher buildings create a steady flow of air without any mechanical devices. Although Windation's wind appliance does draw air from the top like these buildings, Sheikhrezai said he used his expertise in centrifuges and rotors to manipulate the movement of the wind to generate electricity...the biggest advantages of Windation's appliance is its shape and ease of installation. Since all moving parts are contained,

Haase - I would suggest students and "innovators" read up on the major source of U.S. building energy costs (heating & cooling) and then apply the most basic, realistic and cost affective approachs to lower those costs. (passive heating & cooling). Then utilize the most modern controls to gain the most efficient from them...

And prove that just simple 100 or 2,000 year old ideas could reduce U.S. building energy costs by 10%... without the danger to birds, bats or people.

Honor to late ocean energy visionary Matthew R. Simmons

A generous donation from the family of the late Matthew R. Simmons, the founder and chairman of the Ocean Energy Institute, along with all the gifts from friends and colleagues given to OEI in his memory, will create opportunities for the University of Maine to further the OEI objectives rooted in his visionary perspectives on the vast potential of ocean resources to provide clean energy options.

UM will establish a Matthew R. Simmons Ocean Energy Initiative Fund in its development office to pick up the OEI mantle and support work that will advance ocean energy research and development, education, commercialization and outreach efforts.

The Ocean Energy Institute itself will cease operations Jan. 31.

OEI will close its Rockland offices and will transfer all its assets, including Matthew Simmons' library of works, to UM's AEWC Advanced Structures and Composites Center, which is home to UM's research and development activity in deep-water offshore wind.

"We will continue to forge ahead with Matt's vision to create ocean energy opportunities for our state, nation and world," said Habib Dagher, director of the UM center and the DeepCwind Consortium.

"Matt was a wonderful friend, a brilliant businessman and a great leader with whom we shared a common vision. We are particularly thankful to the Simmons family for entrusting us to carry on Matt's legacy."

Among its accomplishments since 2007, the Ocean Energy Institute was instrumental in identifying the vast potential for offshore wind energy in the Gulf of Maine and in advocating for its development and use for the benefit of the people of Maine. Read full at Bangor Daily News.

Carbon-Fluoride Batteries Busted or Brilliant?

Is CFX (now, Contour Energy Systems) more of the same?

In 2008, Yazami and Grubbs raised funds to commercialize the carbon-fluoride battery technology from venture capital firms, including CMEA Capital and Harris & Harris. They founded CFX Battery, a start-up company based in Azsua, Calif. Only a few months after being founded, Frost & Sullivan gave CFX Battery the "North American Emerging Company of the Year" award for 2008. HTML clipboardhttp://www.greentechmedia.com/content/images/articles/flourine-battery.jpg

"The difference between CFX Battery and other start-up battery companies/alternative energy storage developers is that CFX advanced an established battery chemistry into a primary and rechargeable power system that offers cost, performance, and safety benefits in a single solution," said Sara Bradford, an analyst with Frost & Sullivan, in a pre-release announcing the award. "CFX Battery is able to provide a truly disruptive battery chemistry with the ability to be highly flexible in both the manufacturing process as well as user requirements."

Three years later, CFX Battery has been reorganized into Contour Energy Systems and the world is still waiting for the promised "revolution" in the field of energy storage. Other start-up companies like Texas-based EEStor have also claimed to crack the energy-storage code and failed – at least to date – to corroborate those claims by pushing compelling products and applications into the marketplace.

It would be strange if this were the case. Let's hope it isn't.

Read more at forbes

Jan 28, 2011

U.S. Green Building Council Welcomes New Board Directors

http://www.usgbc.org/Docs/Archive/Embedded_Images/Docs8569.jpgHDM - The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has announced the newly elected officers and new directors to its 2011 Board of Directors. USGBC's membership elected the following individuals to serve as directors: 

  • Elizabeth J. Heider, Skanska, filling the Constructor of Buildings seat 
  • Kirsten Ritchie, Gensler, filling the Green Building Educator seat 
  • Walter Cuculic, Green Your Home Consulting, filling the Home Builder seat 
  • Elizabeth Whalen, CalAg, filling the Product Manufacturer Executive seat 
  • Ann Archino Howe, Sustainable Design Studio, filling the Site Designer seat 
  • Dennis Maloskey, PA Governor's Green Government Council, filling the State and Local Government Employee seat.
In addition, the Board named the following directors to fill appointed seats:
  • Carlton Brown, Full Spectrum, filling the Green Affordable Housing seat 
  • Majora Carter, Majora Carter Group, filling the Sustainable Communities seat.

Additionally, the Board elected Heider as chair-elect and Punit Jain, Cannon Design, as secretary. Other officers are 2011 Chair Mark MacCracken, CALMAC, and Anthony Bernheim, AECOM, as treasurer. Tim Cole, Forbo, is now immediate past chair. USGBC President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi is an ex official member of the Board. 

USGBC has a 20-member board that includes elected and appointed positions. Elected positions serve terms of three years. Appointed positions serve two-year terms.


  • Ann Archino Howe, Sustainable Design Studio, Site Designer seat
  • Maria Atkinson, Lend Lease Corporation, International seat (appointed)
  • Carlton Brown, Full Spectrum Development, Green Affordable Housing seat (appointed)
  • Majora Carter, Majora Carter Group, Sustainable Community Leader seat (appointed) 
  • Walter Cuculic, Green Your Home Consulting, Home Builder seat
  • John Dalzell, Boston Redevelopment Authority, Urban/Regional Planner seat (appointed)
  • Nathan Gauthier, Jones Lang LaSalle, Educators (K-12/Post Secondary) seat
  • Elizabeth J. Heider, Skanska, Constructor of Buildings seat (chair-elect) 
  • Mark MacCracken, CALMAC, Energy Services seat (chair) 
  • Dennis Maloskey, Pennsylvania Governor's Green Government Council, State & Local Government Employee seat
  • Michael McCally, Clinical Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Health/Health Care seat (appointed)
  • Kirsten Ritchie, Gensler, Green Building Educator seat
  • Thomas Scarola, Tishman Speyer, Developer/Real Estate Services seat 
  • Lisa Shpritz, Bank of America, Finance, Surety & Corporate Real Estate seat 
  • Allan Skodowski, Transwestern, Building Management & Operations seat 
  • Elizabeth Whalen, CalAg LLC, Product Manufacturer Executive seat
See more news by HDM

Green Use of Brownfields Video Town Hall Discussion

The topic of the discussion is green use of brownfields. Financial Resources Guide for RR

Redeveloping a brownfield - a property that has contamination or is thought to be contaminated - can revitalize a neighborhood. Whether used for greenspace, housing, or retail development, a redeveloped property can provide new social and economic opportunities for a community. More and more, neighborhoods are looking for ways to reuse properties that yield both environmental and social benefits. EPA is doing everything we can to provide information about green reuse options such as urban gardens and parks. In addition, EPA is promoting cleanup methods that remove contamination while minimizing the impact on the environment.

EPA wants to know what redevelopment options have worked or you think could work for communities. Has a community near you promoted green reuse of a brownfields site? Have they cleaned up a brownfeilds site in a green way? What can EPA do to help?

Join and watch at EPA.gov

Without Education, all investments in the future become futile...

The Rise and Rise of the Cognitive Elite...
the number of people who get rich by singing or kicking a ball is tiny compared with the number who become wealthy or influential through brainpower.

"As technology advances, the rewards to cleverness increase...,raising the demand for those sharp enough to make sense of it. In 1991 the average wage for a male American worker with a bachelor's degree was 2.5 times that of a high-school drop-out; now the ratio is 3. Cognitive skills are at a premium, and they are unevenly distributed."

Parents who graduated from university are far more likely than non-graduates to raise children who also earn degrees. This is true in all countries.

Saving the world???
The cost of higher education has contributed to plummeting birth rates among pushy parents in other rich countries, too. Greens may rejoice at anything that curbs population growth, but the implications of these trends are troubling. Demography makes it harder for people who start at the bottom of the ladder to climb up it.

And that has political consequences.  -Economist

Volkswagen 313 MPG For 2013 - Yep a diesel...

http://fp.images.autos.msn.com/Media/425x255/e5/e531259428eb4fc7a4da5a37d087b438.jpg"Volkswagen just unveiled a new car at the Qatar Motor Show that gets an astounding 100km for less than a liter of diesel fuel – that's the equivalent of 313 miles per gallon!

The XL1 concept car is an upgraded version of the VW L1 vehicle, and it features an ultra-efficient diesel engine in addition to an electric motor that is powered by a lithium-ion battery.

The vehicle is currently slated to enter production in 2013 and is expected to cost approximately $29,500."
Autoblog calls it 261 mpg, which isn't too shabby, either. At less than a thousand pounds empty, I hope this comes with a really good bike lock. - SlashDot

Buy Local Works! Well dahhh..

New Rules  (via TPR) - For the fourth year in a row, a national survey of independent businesses has found that those in communities with an active "buy local" campaign have experienced markedly stronger revenue growth compared to those located in areas without such a campaign.

The survey  found that those in places with a "buy local" initiative reported revenue growth of 5.6% on average in 2010, compared to 2.1% for those elsewhere.

"Buy local" campaigns run by Independent Business Alliances and Local First groups are now underway in about 140 cities nationwide.

Almost half reported that the campaign had brought new customers to their business and 55% said it had made existing customers more loyal. More than two-thirds said local media coverage of independent businesses had increased and 51% said that local government officials were now more aware and supportive of the needs of independent businesses.

Read full report here

Chinas insatiable appetite for U.S. food crops

"Today's sale of 2.74 million tons of U.S. soybeans to China is the single largest daily soybean sale since USDA began issuing daily sales reports in 1977" - Grainnet

California May Close Some State Parks and Eliminate Public Libraries

Those cuts amount to around $30-50 million???

California is about $19 billion in the red and issuing IOUs for only the second time since the Great Depression.

Sacramento Bee After spending a century building the nation's largest and most majestic state park system, Californians are poised to do something unprecedented: Retreat from that legacy and start closing parks.

Years of budget cuts in the California State Parks system have resulted in widespread reductions in park hours, crumbling facilities and reduced staffing. But in the past few years, lawmakers have rejected widespread closures proposed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Now, however, the climate has changed. Gov. Jerry Brown's budget requires another $22 million in cuts to the parks budget – a pittance compared with the $25 billion state budget deficit, but a number that even strong parks supporters say is unlikely to be achieved without shuttering parks.

 Los Angeles Times New California Gov. Jerry Brown, facing tremendous budget problems, has proposed a statewide budget that eliminates state spending on public libraries entirely. Those cuts amount to around $30 million.

If Brown's budget is passed as is, it will eliminate state funding for the Public Library Foundation, Transaction Based Reimbursement and the California Library Literacy and English Acquisition Service. Public libraries across the state also receive funding from other sources.

What goes next?

Focus of a clean energy future

"...that means making sure that all of our kids are getting the best education possible -– not only because we need to give every child a chance to fulfill her God-given potential, but because we need to make sure American workers can go to head-to-head with workers in any country on Earth.  We've got to be more productive, more capable, more skilled than any workers on Earth."  President Obama's Speech in Manitowoc, Wisconsin

Jan 27, 2011

Great Urban Ecology Volunteer Opportunity in Milwaukee!

The Milwaukee Urban Ecology Center in Need of Receptionist Volunteers for three shifts:
  • Tuesday afternoons, 1-4 PM
  • Thursday afternoons, 1-4 PM
  • Friday afternoons, 1-5 PM
Contact Mike if interested at:
Michael Larson
Visitor Services Coordinator
Urban Ecology Center
1500 E. Park Place Milwaukee , WI 53211
mlarson (at) urbanecologycenter.org

DOE - Energy Innovation Summit

Connect with America's Brightest Innovators Februay 28 – March 2, 2011, Washington, D.C.

Join more than 1,800 energy leaders to explore how global energy challenges are directing research and investment priorities and driving American innovation. Space is filling up fast—register and book your room now!

Catalyzing Energy Breakthroughs for a Secure American Future

Just a few choice topics:
  • "The Energy-Water Nexus" and "Natural Gas Conversion to Liquid Fuels".
  • "Venture Capital Funding: Prospecting in a Constrained Environment"
  •  "Technology Launch: From Universities and National Labs to the Marketplace"
  •  "The Role of the Government in Energy R&D"
  • Re-Inventing American Energy Manufacturing
  • Applied Biotechnology for Transportation Fuels
  • Green Electricity Network Integration (GENIUS GRID)
  • What might the "Future Grid" look like?
  • Technology Town Halls
  • Many cellulosic and advanced biofuels technologies,
  • Nuclear power; coal with carbon capture and sequestration;
  • Energy Storage Other than pumped storage hydropower
  • Electric Vehicles: Moving Beyond Early Adopters
  • Development Of Ultra-high Specific Energy Rechargeable Lithium-Air Batteries Based On Protected Lithium Metal Electrodes,
  • Semi-Solid Rechargeable Power Sources- Flexible, High Performance Storage for Vehicles at Ultra-Low Cost
  • Solid-State All Inorganic Rechargeable Lithium Batteries, Planar Energy Devices, Inc.
  • Biofuels from CO2 Using Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria in a Reverse Microbial Fuel Cell, Columbia University
And my personal favorite - Driving towards Zero Waste: Efficiency as the Path to Business Profitability

"Building Strategic Partnerships" i.e. jobs
In developing new energy technologies, partnering with a large industry player can provide access to the capital, knowledge, and resources necessary to succeed in scaling up and reaching the marketplace. Recently, large corporations are becoming increasingly active in investing, partnering with, and acquiring new energy technologies. This panel will focus on how small businesses can engage with large corporations and what mechanisms (e.g., joint ventures, joint development agreements, licensing agreements, equity investments, distribution partnerships) have proven successful.

Big Keynotes by
  • Steven Chu, Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Arun Majumdar, Director, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy

Check out the full program Schedule here!

Chances are... Cancer is the real threat

Misc. inspiration

Wisconsin $1.8 billion wind turbine future

About $500 million in investment in renewable energy over the next two years could be at risk if lawmakers approve Gov. Scott Walker's wind turbine siting bill.

The bill, praised by some as a strong defense of property rights, would erect the biggest hurdle to wind farm development in the nation, industry leaders said Friday.
"This will be the biggest regulatory barrier in terms of setbacks in the country," said Denise Bode, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association, based in Washington, D.C. "You're adding a new regulatory barrier and putting a 'closed for business' sign on Wisconsin for wind development."
Walker's bill, proposed as part of a regulatory reform package, would mandate minimum setbacks of 1,800 feet between a wind turbine and the nearest property line. That compares with a setback of 1,250 feet from a neighboring residence approved by the Public Service Commission in a rule adopted last year and set to take effect this year.

"The real issue is, if you were siting wind turbines in the kinds of places where they belong - like the wheat fields of North Dakota - then Walker's provision wouldn't affect you at all," said Welch, a former legislator who is spokesman for the Coalition for Wisconsin Environmental Stewardship.

During his campaign for governor last year, Walker vowed to streamline Wisconsin's regulatory system to be more business-friendly and sympathetic to property owners.

In a meeting with the editorial board of the Journal Sentinel on Wednesday, Walker said he's heard a lot of worries about siting wind farms.

"There is a fair amount of concern from individual residents in these areas where you see an abundance of wind farms being put up," Walker said. "This is about giving them more control in that process - something they felt was lacking by the previous legislation and by the PSC's regulations."

But Walker's proposal is so strict it would stall development across the state, said Michael Vickerman, executive director of Renew Wisconsin, an advocacy group that has tracked the growth of the state's renewable sector.

A total of $1.8 billion in investment may be at stake if every wind farm now in the planning stage in the state is halted. About $500 million of that investment is at risk over the next two years from projects poised to start construction, he said.

"There are very few locations in the entire Badger State that could overcome such extreme constraints," Vickerman said. "You can count the locations on the fingers of one hand."

Generating controversy
Wind farm development in Wisconsin has generated more controversy than in other states because the areas most suitable for wind turbines are more densely populated than rural expanses of Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas.

Read more from Lee Bergquist and Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel

Jan 26, 2011

California to Redraft its Green Chemistry Regulations

Bowing to pressure from various environmental groups, California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) will rewrite the green chemistry regulations that were supposed to go into effect Jan. 1, 2011. DTSC has intentionally missed that deadline and will soon begin another round of drafting.

As reported in early December, in the third draft (November 2010) of the California Safer Consumer Product Alternatives Regulations, DTSC significantly narrowed the scope of the proposed regulations due to budget constraints. Had that most recent draft become the final regulations, most of our industry's products would not have been included in the first five years of the program.

In September, DTSC released the official draft of its Safer Consumer Product Alternative Regulation, which stages a key component of the state's 2008 Green Chemistry Initiative law to create a system to regulate chemicals in consumer products. The first (unofficial) draft of these "Green Chemistry" Regulations was released to the public in June 2010. ACA and its California Paint Council have been actively monitoring the development of the regulations and have submitted extensive comments at each stage of the regulatory process.

The potential impact of these regulations on the paint and coatings industry and consumer product manufacturers in general cannot be overstated: the regulations include a very broad definition of the term "consumer product" that is intended to capture more products than the federal definition that is regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Many products will be captured by these regulations and may have to be reformulated if intended for sale in the state of California.
  Read on at Paint.org

PPG Publishes New Brochure for Sustainable Building Design

PPG Industries has published EcoLogical Solutions(SM), a brochure highlighting the company's architectural glass, coatings and paint products for the green building industry. The company says that the latest edition of the brochure, which was last published in 2006, features innovative and new products.

James Bogdan, PPG manager for sustainability marketing initiatives, said the brochure is part of PPG's ongoing efforts to provide architects with green building solutions. "The principles and practices of green building are always changing. PPG's technology and product offering constantly evolve in concert with the demands of the market."

To order a copy of EcoLogical Solutions, visit www.ppgideascapes.com via piant.org

Wisconsin Passes Tort Reform Legislation to be Signed by Governor

The bill is the first piece of legislation to pass both houses in Governor Walker's Special Session focusing on jobs, and at this writing, was awaiting the Governor's signature.

The legislative package signals the following reforms:

  • http://buzz.greatfxbusinesscards.com/images/tort-reform.jpgProduct Liability - Provisions of this bill will assist small and large businesses by requiring proof of a "reasonable alternative design" in an alleged defective design of a product, moving Wisconsin away from the broad "consumer expectation" test. By adopting this provision, Wisconsin will join 46 other states.
  • Expert Opinion (Daubert) - Wisconsin will join more than 30 other states and the entire federal court system by adopting the Daubert standards for cases tried in Wisconsin courts. This common sense provision affects both parties in a case by limiting testimony of experts and evidence to that which is based on sufficient facts or data and is the product of reliable principles and methods.
  • Risk Contribution (Thomas v. Mallet) - This provision overturns the Wisconsin Supreme Court's 2005 decision, Thomas v. Mallet, where the court adopted the flawed "risk contribution" theory in cases involving lead-based paint. Wisconsin is the only state in the country to have adopted this theory. The court's decision led the Wall Street Journal to pen an editorial describing Wisconsin's litigation climate as "Alabama North." (August 9, 2005)
  • Caps on Punitive Damages - The Senate and Assembly amended the bill to keep in place existing law for determining punitive damages but then set a cap on punitive damages at $200,000 or two times compensatory damages, whichever is greater.
  • Quality Improvement Act - The Quality Improvement Act updates the outdated health care peer review statute, encouraging medical providers to work together to improve the quality and efficiency of care. The bill addresses specific court decisions that have discouraged this type of work. The bill also makes consistent the administrative and criminal codes for abuse and neglect.
  • Frivolous Lawsuits - A party may be liable for costs and fees for bringing a lawsuit or claim that is done solely for the purpose of harassing or maliciously injuring another party.
  • Caps on Noneconomic Damages for Long-term Health Care Providers - Places limits on noneconomic damages for long-term care providers ($750,000).

"Gov. Walker's initiative to give the state a much needed economic boost quickly by acting to restore fundamental, sound legal principles recognized by most progressive states, to its civil justice system, especially affecting products' manufacturers, sends a very positive message," said Tom Graves, ACA's Vice President & General Counsel. Read more at ACA

CPSC to Open Office in China

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on Jan. 12 announced that it will establish its first office outside the United States in China, in a bid to reduce the amount of dangerous products reaching the American market. More

Facebook and Twitter The Pathological Problem

Twitter and Facebook don't connect people – they isolate them from reality...

Guardian The way in which people frantically communicate online via Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging can be seen as a form of modern madness, according to a leading American sociologist.

"A behaviour that has become typical may still express the problems that once caused us to see it as pathological," MIT professor Sherry Turkle writes in her new book, Alone Together, which is leading an attack on the information age.

Turkle's book, published in the UK next month, has caused a sensation in America, which is usually more obsessed with the merits of social networking. She appeared last week on Stephen Colbert's late-night comedy show, The Colbert Report. When Turkle said she had been at funerals where people checked their iPhones, Colbert quipped: "We all say goodbye in our own way."

Turkle's thesis is simple: technology is threatening to dominate our lives and make us less human. Under the illusion of allowing us to communicate better, it is actually isolating us from real human interactions in a cyber-reality that is a poor imitation of the real world.

Social networking under fresh attack as tide of cyber-scepticism sweeps US

The list of attacks on social media is a long one and comes from all corners of academia and popular culture. A recent bestseller in the US, The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, suggested that use of the internet was altering the way we think to make us less capable of digesting large and complex amounts of information, such as books and magazine articles. The book was based on an essay that Carr wrote in the Atlantic magazine.

demotivational posters - FACEBOOK

It was just as emphatic and was headlined: Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Another strand of thought in the field of cyber-scepticism is found in The Net Delusion, by Evgeny Morozov. He argues that social media has bred a generation of "slacktivists". It has made people lazy and enshrined the illusion that clicking a mouse is a form of activism equal to real world donations of money and time.

Other books include The Dumbest Generation by Emory University professor Mark Bauerlein – in which he claims "the intellectual future of the US looks dim"– and We Have Met the Enemy by Daniel Akst, which describes the problems of self-control in the modern world, of which the proliferation of communication tools is a key component.

Turkle's book, however, has sparked the most debate so far. It is a cri de coeur for putting down the BlackBerry, ignoring Facebook and shunning Twitter. "We have invented inspiring and enhancing technologies, yet we have allowed them to diminish us," she writes... the social media generation, suggesting that Facebook was created by people who failed to fit in with the real world.

Is this creating the uncivil culture that has no empathy? 
Fellow critics point to numerous incidents to back up their argument. Recently, media coverage of the death in Brighton of Simone Back focused on a suicide note she had posted on Facebook that was seen by many of her 1,048 "friends" on the site. Yet none called for help – instead they traded insults with each other on her Facebook wall. Read on at Guardian

How a Wisconsin Nature Center is Leading by Example

Aldo Leopold is considered by many to be the father of wildlife ecology.

Now, thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Wisconsin nature center that bears his name will be at the forefront in demonstrating the latest energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies to thousands of visitors every year.

The Aldo Leopold Nature Center (ALNC), located near Madison, Wisconsin is using a $500,000 sub-grant from the State of Wisconsin's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant to support the building, equipping and staffing of a LEED-certified, energy self sufficient educational facility. This new facility will double environmental teaching capacity to 60,000 students per year and increase usable space by 11,161 square feet.

"The facility's expanded focus will be on how we can, all together, take meaningful, sustainable, and effective, and positive action for the benefit of all future generations," said President and Executive Director Kathe Crowley Conn. "We intend a positive, proactive, and inclusive 'teaching and learning' collaboration with dozens of key partners and are very proud to have the support of the U.S. Department of Energy." - See More Department of Energy Updates

'Population Bomb' or ‘Humanity on a Tightrope’

What does family mean to you? Paul Ehrlich made his mark as a world famous environmentalist with the publication of The Population Bomb in 1968. Ehrlich now believes that our very survival may depend on expanding our capacity for empathy and our understanding of the human family.

Listen to NPR Guest today from "Here On Earth"
  • Paul R. Ehrlich Bing Professor of Population Studies and president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Standford University; co-author Humanity on a Tightrope
"Humanity on a Tightrope : Thoughts on Empathy, Family and Big Changes for a Viable Future" makes a valiant attempt at addressing these formidable world issues from an interesting, but maybe too idealistic, point of view.

"Humanity on a Tightrope," to be released on Nov. 16, is a rich book that delves into the root of the world's most pressing problems: the lack of empathy in mankind. The whole book revolves around this central idea of how we human beings as a whole global family should develop more empathy toward each other to ensure a sustainable future.

The authors are familiar faces on campus. Paul Ehrlich is the Bing Professor of Population Studies and a senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, and psychologist Robert Evan Ornstein Ph.D. '68 is a former Stanford human biology professor. Together, they present the pressing situation in which the world is in now: bleak and bloody history, tension between religious groups and a general indifference or even strong antagonism toward "them," people who are not part of "us."

... Even Ehrlich and Ornstein, the authors themselves, freely admit that "we're discussing what is required to reach sustainability, not what will be easy or even possible."

There are, then, two ways of interpreting the book. Either you can see the book as pervaded with the sense of hopelessness, since even when the most cheerful human empathy experiment results are illustrated, we are reminded that humans are still so far away from stopping global warming, from maintaining world peace or from addressing extreme wealth inequality. Or, you can view the book as an outline of the best way of living, the happiest way of living, because we might just have been suppressing our natural sense of empathy for others all along in the capitalist society. Maybe, if we do have more empathy for others, we will be happier.

However, the decision is ultimately up to the reader. With a smart pun of humanity teetering on the tightrope just as the tightrope performer, Ehrlich and Ornstein showcase their beliefs in the super-power of empathy – that it can save humanity and save the world we live in.

Ehrlich's critics claim that he made other predictions that did not come to pass in addition to his prediction of massive starvation of the 1970s and 1980s... and hopefully his bleakness of what are world has become will pass as well.
Ehrlich's response - In a 2004 Grist Magazine interview,[10] Ehrlich acknowledged some specific predictions he had made, in the years around the time the Population Bomb was published, that had not come to pass. However, as to a number of his fundamental ideas and assertions he maintained that facts and science proved them correct.
In answer to the question: "Were your predictions in The Population Bomb right?", Ehrlich responded:
Anne and I have always followed U.N. population projections as modified by the Population Reference Bureau -- so we never made "predictions," even though idiots think we have. When I wrote The Population Bomb in 1968, there were 3.5 billion people. Since then we've added another 2.8 billion -- many more than the total population (2 billion) when I was born in 1932. If that's not a population explosion, what is? My basic claims (and those of the many scientific colleagues who reviewed my work) were that population growth was a major problem. Fifty-eight academies of science said that same thing in 1994, as did the world scientists' warning to humanity in the same year. My view has become depressingly mainline!