As wildfires consume parts of California larger than some smaller states, everyone is talking about how we can prevent such disasters from getting going in the first place. One novel approach is to enlist goats. Not as firefighters—although their surefootedness and determination would probably serve them well in such situations
Some scientists point to sunspots and solar wind as having more impact on climate change than human industrial activity?
Sunspots are storms on the sun’s surface that are marked by intense magnetic activity and play host to solar flares
A typical mattress is a 23 cubic foot assembly of steel, wood, cotton and polyurethane foam. Given this wide range of materials, mattresses have typically been difficult to recycle—and still most municipal recycling facilities won’t offer to do it for you. But along with increasing public concerns about the environment—and a greater desire to recycle everything we can—has come a handful of private companies and nonprofit groups that want to make sure your old bed doesn’t end up in a landfill.
California case study: Communities
Doing Their Part to Fight Global Warming
Stopping global warming requires thinking in new ways about how we live, do business and interact with one other. While climate policy is finally at the forefront of national political discussions, its impact will have decidedly local and personal effects. Each of us is part of the solution and what we do at home and work affects us, our children, and communities around the world. Reversing the trend of rapid resource depletion and growing risks of a climate gone haywire requires engaging our families, neighbors, businesses and elected and appointed officials in ways that make our communities more sustainable.
Wood is a good renewable source of heat.
Gathering downed wood is excellent exercise for every family member.
A well-managed woodlot produces at least a cord of wood every year, renewing itself with Nature’s help.
Downed wood is an especially frugal heat source for those “shoulder seasons” as well as for adjunctively warming cold areas of the house.
Stick sizes make excellent kindling.
Each type of wood has its own personality combination: aroma, color, grain, hardness, density, moisture content, durability and heating value.
Technology has been developed for stoves and fireplace inserts to efficiently radiate maximum heat and meet clean air standards.
I just met a local resident who is working at establishing what he calls a “cordwood transfer project” to move downed wood to fixed- and low-income people who need wood for heat. This avoids landfilling and chipping (all fossil fuel yard machines are horrific polluters), which happened to many trees downed by storms this past year.
Would you please begin 2012 thinking about what you could do with wood to use less fossil fuel heat? Maybe chat about it with a few others? Cultivate a light-hearted beginner’s mind. (How much wood would a woodchuck cut if a woodchuck could cut wood?) Let’s have fun this year living more greenly. Thank You.
Whether sustainability is just a fleeting buzzword, or part of a major shift towards a new paradigm, the notion is one that permeates American society. The definition varies from person to person, as does the sincerity behind any effort to ‘go green’. Even so, we as a culture are reassessing our way of life, the steps we took to get here, and what steps to take as we continue to develop.
"For roughly the cost of the current systems (asphalt roads and fossil fuel burning electricity generation plants), the Solar Roadways can be implemented. No more Global Warming. No more power outages (roaming or otherwise). Safer driving conditions. Far less pollution. What are we waiting for?"
- Scott Brusaw
The concept of using road surfaces to generate clean solar power is actually already moving beyond the idea stage. Roads absorb heat from the sun every day and are usually free of sightline obstructions that could otherwise block the transmission of light rays. And if the roads built for cars and driving are partly to blame for global warming, why not make them part of the solution too?
Idaho-based company Solar Roadways is one of the trailblazers. Electrical engineer Scott Brusaw was inspired to start the company when he heard Caltech solar energy expert Nate Lewis suggest that covering just 1.7 percent of continental U.S. land surface with photovoltaic solar collectors could produce enough power to meet the nation's total energy demand.
Brusaw put two and two together when he realized that the interstate highway system already covers about that much of the nation's land surface, so he got to work designing a system that combines a durable and translucent glass road surface with photovoltaic solar collectors that could be wired directly into the electricity grid. Brusaw's innovative design would also heat the roads in winter, thus providing a important safety benefit.
With improvements in the efficiency of solar collectors in recent years, Brusaw believes his system, if implemented from coast-to-coast in place of the tarmac on existing highways, could produce enough energy to meet the entire world's electricity needs.
But skeptics wonder whether such an expensive high-tech road surface can stand up to the rigors of everyday use—from overloaded 18-wheelers putting extra stress on the highway to oil spills seeping into expensive electronic circuitry—without having to be replaced or repaired often. Brusaw acknowledges that his system still needs fine-tuning. Stay tuned to this developing new technology.
Brusaw's Rationale for Solar Roadways:
* 4.84 billion (12' by 12') Solar Road Panels would be required to replace the current asphalt road system, parking lots, and driveways in the 48 contiguous states. This is enough to provide three times more electricity than the United States used in 2003 and almost enough to supply the entire world.
* To produce a Solar Roadway Panel (not including assembly and installation) would cost approximately $5,000 for materials. Solar cell cost and efficiency is predicted to improve dramatically with thin film technologies in the next few years.
* Cost to build enough coal-fired power plants to provide a similar amount of electricity - approx. $14 trillion.
* The cost of Global Warming is unknown, but could reach 5% to 20% of global gross domestic product annually, according to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change.
For more information Contact Scott Brusaw http://www.solarroadways.com