If you’ve ever wanted to avoid contact with earthly critters or simply understand what it’s like to be a piece of fruit, the Treepee looks to be a pretty good way to do it. Just hang the tent from a sturdy tree, secure the corners, and you’ll be swaying pretty. From the description:
Four tethers, one on each corner, allow the Treepee to be secured for a less mobile ride. Bug nets on the windows allow air to circulate without letting any little critters in. The fabric is fire retardant, water repellent and PU Coated. The fabric has a UV protection factor of 50+. There are pockets on the inside for storage and a bag on a pulley which allows essential supplies to be hauled up into the ‘den’.
Want one? Start saving — the thrill of hovering will cost you about $600. But hey — at least you’ll be safe while your friends are carried away by fire ants.
Tankless water heaters always seemed to make a lot of sense to me. I mean, hot water on demand as opposed to hot water sitting and waiting — seems smart, right? Everytime I go away on vacation, I lower the temp on my water tank to conserve energy, but I know I’m in a small minority. Most people probably go along heating water even when they’re not home for extended periods of time.
Which is why I’m jazzed about GE’s new line of tankless water heaters. For those that don’t need tankless, the electric-hybird heater they’ve got waiting in the wings looks pretty sweet as well. According to the release, the gas tankless on-demand heaters will “save 25 percent in water heating costs on an annual energy bill in comparison to a standard 40-gallon gas tank.” Additionally, the unique design can help avoid up to 25 percent of CO2 emissions tied to water heating.
Even better, earlier today the U.S. Department of Energy created the first ENERGY STAR standard for water heaters. Ironically, water heating was the only major residential energy product that did not have an ES designation — even though it’s one of the largest energy consumers in the household.
Of course, not everyone has access to gas (and truly, for those of us building green homes, reducing the use of fossil fuels is probably on the short list) so GE is getting ready to launch an Electric-Hybrid water heater for next year. According to early tests, this hybrid would reduce typical water heating energy consumption by more than half. While the typical home might use 4800kwh/year, the GE model consumes only 2300kwh/year. Plus, it would retain the same footprint of standard water heaters allowing easy installation.
Energy for lighting is one of the main resource hogs around the world. Staring at an image of the earth at night, it doesn’t take much to see how dependent we are. The recent shift to the CFL bulb has helped ease the burden of paying for energy costs, but its role in the lighting world may only be a stepping stone to the next, great efficient successor: the LED.
LEDs (or Light-Emitting Diodes) will slowly become the lighting standard over the next decade. But light bulbs won’t be the only products to take advantage of their efficient properties. A variety called OLED (or Organic Light-Emitting Diode) are thin, organic materials sandwiched between two electrodes, which illuminate when an electrical charge is applied. This technology is behind all those cool flexible displays and electronic ink displays we’re always seeing. They’re so thin, that they could be applied to rooms as a type of wall paper to glow at the touch of a finger or when someone enters the room. Till now, the process of commercially manufacturing OLEDs has remained expensive. However, a recent breakthrough from GE hopes to lower the cost-barrier and show that OLED can be created “roll to roll”. From the article,
I’ve passed this treehouse before while stumbling online, but on my second time ’round I thought it was beautiful enough to pass a mention here on Groovy.
Located in wild, gorgeous British Columbia, this 15ft. tall platform home is built upon 7 trees. As one would expect, it also features some incredible design characteristics that look like something out of The Lord of the Rings; including carvings, 2 handmade spiral staircases, and rustic furniture. You’re even treated to a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains from the living room. All this, and it’s only $150/night with access to over 320 acres of hiking, fishing, and lake activities.
Interested? Jump on over to enjoy life in the trees. Your inner-kid will thank you.
We all know how down-right silly bottled water is. In today’s day and age, with some of the best municipal water infrastructures ever created, we still feel the urge to purchase and lug around “purified” water sourced from a luxurious aquifer, taken to a warehouse, bottled, and shipped to your grocery store. Meanwhile, that water fountain to you right is somehow frowned upon.
Well, unfortunately, bottled water continues its evolution and manufacturers are coming up with more and more creative ways to make you “desire” the privilege to drink their products. Take for instance this latest “designer bottle” for Fine Japon. Here’s what they were looking for:
There are a myriad of solar cell phone chargers out there, but this is the first one I’ve found that actually encourages you to carry it around with you. I understand the frustration of a dead cell battery, but attaching something else to to your cell phone just seems cumbersome. Granted, you can charge this little device separately and then use it to power up, but eh. Looks like something that might catch on in Japan rather than the States. If this is your thing, it will be available February 9th.
I’ve got nothing against my bland square mattress — it gets the job done — but looking at this photo just makes sleep time seem that much cooler with the Float Bed. Of course, I live nowhere near the ocean, so this might look a little awkward in my house; but I digress.
The Float Bed comes to us from designer David Trubridge of New Zealand. His new company, Okooko, is an eco-friendly mattress and bedroom-furniture company. It’s a modern take on the traditional canopy bed — and is made of natural latex, bamboo and wool. From the product description,
“In exploring what sleep means to people, David came to the conclusion that beds needed to be more romantic, and more flexible in their design and application. The design elements drawn on in his concept come from the idea that the bed could be moved and used wherever required. The concept forms a cocooning space that gives a feeling of security and serves the purpose of sheltering sleep from the elements, creating a private sleep space within another space.”
Very cool — though as a kid, a couple cardboard boxes and a sheet would have created the same effect. As an adult, if you’d like to grab the Float Bed to recreate those memories, it will cost you $25,000. And it doesn’t even really float! Damnit!
When does a streetlight stop becoming something ordinary and turn into a self-sustaining work of art? Apparently, once it finds its way to Japan. Outside the Panasonic Center in Tokyo, one is greeted with several streetlights that incorporate both solar and wind energy systems. The design is called a ‘Seagull’ and takes advantage of light during the day to store energy for night; while producing electricity to push back into the grid thanks to the wind. The vertical turbine on this pole doesn’t appear to require too much wind to turn. No idea what the payback on this might be, but it’s certainly cool to see it in motion.
Got 14 minutes? With this new eco-friendly washing machine from Beko, you’ll be throwing some clean clothes up on the line pretty quick. Its latest release is a tricked-out, energy efficient marvel with a 14-minute wash cycle. The benefits for those that are energy-conscious are evident, but the technology inside this thing also calculates the exact amount of water required according to the type and quantity of the laundry. For those suffering through some intense droughts, this might be a wonderful option for conservation.
Beko has already received an eco-award for its energy efficiency. The only thing one hopes is that the models will be carried beyond the UK. Current price is a reasonable £349.
One the largest hurdles to people and businesses embracing solar energy is the cost. The panels themselves make up a great deal of total expense, but there are also additional components to consider to get that energy working with your home. The most common accessory to any good solar installation is the inverter. This piece of equipment converts the solar panel’s DC energy to AC. A new firm called Enphase Energy hopes to remove this cost and produce micro-inverters; so small that each panel will receive their own. From the article,
It doesn’t come in green, but Philips’ new 42-inch Eco TV is certainly sporting some earth-friendly credentials.
Announced at CES 2008, this television is packed with power-saving features; something a few of my off-grid friends might find interesting when considering their next (or first) television. From the article,
“Chief among them is the ability to dim the backlight–by up to five times peak brightness–in response to program material, much like the “local dimming” found on Samsung’s LED-based LN-T4681F. Dimming the backlight in darker scenes has the dual benefit of saving power and improving black-level performance, according to the company. The backlight can also be dimmed via a room lighting sensor, so in dark rooms it will use less power. There’s also traditional a “power-saving” mode that caps the peak light output.”
We’re not sure how great these speakers sound, but the environmental thought and design that went into them is certainly laudable.
They’re called Eco Speakers and are made from 100% recycled materials. They even fold flat — which is how they’re packaged. For $15, you can’t go terribly wrong — although since the company did not have any demo units out on the floor at CES, we might retract that statement.
We’re all for reuse and recycle, but Romain Jerome’s Titanic DNA Watch is borderline macabre/bizarre. Granted, we really dig the design — but taking actual steel from the titanic and incorporating it into a watch? From the release,
“The watches will have black dial faces thanks to lacquer paint, the ingredients of which consist of coal from the Titanic, while pieces of steel from the vessel will also be used in their creation.
Yvan Arpa, Chief Executive of Romain Jerome, revealed that the number of watches made will be limited to 2,012, to coincide with the centenary anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, when it struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on April 14th 1912.”
We’re pretty sure these things are not going to be cheap; but if you can’t afford the Heart of the Ocean, this might be your next best bet.
It’s been a busy week for the happy smile, but Wal-Mart released a press release stating that they are going to start selling laundry detergent in concentrated amounts only.
From the article:
Wal-Mart expects to sell only concentrated detergent in all of its U.S.
stores by early May 2008 — more than 800 million units over the next three
years. The transition will occur in waves beginning in the Southern region
in October, extending to the North and Midwest by February and finishing in
East coast states in April 2008. (I assume this should be 2009 but it was like this in the article.)
Our friend Ruben Miller sent us an email on an alternative energy concept him and his wife submitted to the Metropolis’ Next Generation 2007 competition and we think it’s pretty cool. While the idea of harnessing human energy has been around for awhile, this one actually seems feasible. From the article,
“Imagine a nightclub where dancers generate the venue’s electricity just from the impact of their steps. With Redmond’s innovative flooring system, this vision of a human-powered energy source may be close to a reality. The floor tiles, cast in durable concrete and recycled glass, are fitted with piezoelectric brass-reinforced ceramic plates covered in nickel electrodes. With the impact of each footstep, a metal pointer inside the tile compresses the ceramic plate, generating an electric impulse. The resulting voltage activates four LED lights, visible through the glass surface, allowing energy-generating participants to see the power of their steps.”
This type of technology is intended for high-traffic areas; sidewalks, playgrounds, school hallways, etc. Obviously, you could do away with the LED lights and incorporate the idea into flooring that makes the whole thing less obvious. We love the concept, however, and hope Elizabeth and Ruben keep pushing to make it a reality.
I had a great idea forwarded to me by RubenMiller through StumbleUpon. Basically, it’s a shopping cart bike that adds to the already growing list of ways you can go bagless at the supermarket. In his own words,
“Here’s a scenario: Imagine riding up to the grocery with a shopping cart bike. You park your bike at a rack and unlatch the cart to wheel into the store. Without using any bags, you can pay, put the groceries back in your cart, hitch up to your bike and ride off!
Some years back, IDEO worked on a concept for a smart shopping cart. I wasn’t sure how practical it would really be. Somehow, I think this simpler variation is much more likely to make it past prototype phase and into real stores.
You might argue that multi-level dwellers couldn’t manage without bags, but for those who don’t have an elevator, a removable insert/basket could be built into the design.”
It’s a cool idea — perhaps not practical for all and a little unwieldy — but an interesting integration beyond the traditional bike basket. What do you think?
So you’ve got the backwoods hobbit house, the flexible solar panel for charging your laptop, and a wind-powered chimney for everything else. Problem is, you’re three acres away from the nearest wireless signal and you’d love to actually get some work done. Up until now, there weren’t many options — besides some homebrew kits — for making it all come together. Thankfully, a company called Meraki has introduced a $549 router/repeater kit powered by solar and capable of forming a WiFi mesh network with other units. Not only does this thing stand up to rain, snow, sleet, wind, hail, and direct sunlight, but it also optionally allows you to charge for people to access your network — including the ability to run ads and other clever marketing.
Right now San Francisco is currently the test market for these solar WiFi networks. Backed by Google, Meraki is making some serious waves in distributing wireless to the world. This innovation will be especially useful for setting up networks in developing countries a good distance away from electricity or network access. The solar kit will be available sometime in late 2007. Stay tuned.
I have a fascination with eco-friendly burial here on Groovy. Mainly because I’ve learned too much about the ‘traditional, modern’ methods and I’ve been scared shitless about what might be done to my body after I’ve passed. Seriously, if you take a look at some of our articles on the topic, you’ll agree that worms are a pleasant alternative to embalming.
One of the alternatives that’s championed and has grown in use here in the States is the use of cremation. Interestingly, of all the methods beyond conventional burial, this one is the least earth-friendly. First off, cremation uses an immense amount of energy to reduce your body to ash. Additionally, a great deal of mercury is released into the air from the process, mainly because of tooth fillings. In the UK alone, it is estimated that crematories contribute almost 16% of annual mercury emissions.
So, what to do if you still want to speed the decay process along and become ashes to ashes before your friends at the local cemetery (who, will actually become soup)? A new technology called Resomation aims to produce the same result — but with water instead of flame.
Looking for a portable charger? The world of renewable energy has lately been flooded with gadgets of all kinds featuring solar panels and hand cranks offering you endless opportunities to stick it to the man and get your juice for free. Up until now, wind energy has been left out in the breeze. No longer.
Orange, the U.K.-based telecommunications firm, has announced plans to launch The Orange Mobile Wind Charger, a mini turbine that “latches on to the top of a tent and stores power in a separate “control box” that users can plug into when their mobiles need juice.”
No more excuses. No more waiting. No more waste. For the longest time, coffee shops across America have sidestepped the “recycle your cup” issue because there have been no eco-friendly alternatives. In conventional hot water cups, the inner surface is lined with a petroleum-based plastic (polyethylene) to prevent leaking. This process alone prevents the cups from being recycled or composted. Here’s an interesting little fact,
“In 2005, Americans used and discarded 14.4 billion disposable paper cups for hot beverages. If put end-to-end, those cups would circle the earth 55 times. Based on anticipated growth of specialty coffees, that number will grow to 23 billion by 2010—enough to circle the globe 88 times. Based on hot cup usage in 2005, the petrochemicals used in the manufacture of those cups could have heated 8,300 homes for one year.” Damn.
So, for the longest time, we’ve been waiting for someone to solve this egregious situation. Thankfully, the answer has come from International Paper and Green Mountain Coffee. Their 100% biodegradable hot beverage cup has just won the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s 2007 Sustainability Award. The “Ecotainer™ cup” has a liner made from corn instead of petrochemicals. In a blind trial test of more than 5 million cups, not one customer noticed anything “different” about the corn-based cups from the regular variety.
Standing more than 300 feet tall and 200 feet wide, the potential savior of climate change disaster looks more like a massive fly swatter than a high-tech carbon sequester. Designed by Klaus Lackner, a professor of Geophysics at Columbia University, this “synthetic tree” is designed to capture and store massive amounts of CO2 gas. Nearly 90,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year — roughly the amount emitted annually by 15,000 cars — could be captured by the structure. According to the July issue of Outside Magazine, “the 100-by-200-foot steel rectangles would have surfaces that soak up carbon dioxide — simulating photosynthesis — then exhale the C02 in a concentrated stream that would be stored in underground chambers.”
Pretty interesting idea — but if the structures run off fossil fuels, rather than renewable sources, they might end up having a limited impact. Still, if we follow predictions that the world only has a decade or so before climate change becomes unavoidable, than any idea should be followed through; no matter how bizarre. From a recent MSNBC article,
Today’s world of “choice” for what you can use to power your vehicle may in fact cost you lots of money. As one man found out in Charlotte, NC simply promoting your independence from oil can cost you thousands of dollars. From the article,
“Bob Teixeira decided it was time to take a stand against U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
So last fall the Charlotte musician and guitar instructor spent $1,200 to convert his 1981 diesel Mercedes to run on vegetable oil. He bought soybean oil in 5-gallon jugs at Costco, spending about 30 percent more than diesel would cost. His reward, from a state that heavily promotes alternative fuels: a $1,000 fine last month for not paying motor fuel taxes.
He’s been told to expect another $1,000 fine from the federal government. And to legally use veggie oil, state officials told him, he would have to first post a $2,500 bond.”
The electric car renaissance is barely spreading ink on the canvas and already plans are in motion to have a viable charging infrastructure in place. Earlier this week, Tesla Motors — the crew behind the highly anticipated 2008 Tesla Roadster — received a grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop a 16KW station that could be installed at hotel chains across the state. While the stations would be commercially based, we have no idea if they might also be autonomous through solar power; much like the stations Vectrix is planning on introducing in Europe.
Tesla also recently announced plans to form a new division that will sell batteries to other car manufacturers.
“The electric-car startup said it will initially provide advanced lithium-ion battery packs from the new Tesla Energy Group to Think, a Norwegian maker of electric cars. The deal is expected to bring Tesla $43 million over the next two years. The new division will also develop and make battery packs for Tesla’s two-seat roadster that is set to go into production this fall, and for a four-door sedan set to debut later this decade.”
With all the frightening news over bee losses throughout the world, it appears that one tiny minor piece of information was overlooked: the losses are occurring in colonies besieged with chemicals and artificial additives. Organic bees are fairing quite nicely, thank you. From the article,
“‘I’m on an organic beekeeping list of about 1,000 people, mostly Americans, and no one in the organic beekeeping world, including commercial beekeepers, is reporting colony collapse on this list,’ said Sharon Labchuck. ‘The problem with the big commercial guys is that they put pesticides in their hives to fumigate for varroa mites, and they feed antibiotics to the bees. They also haul the hives by truck all over the place to make more money with pollination services, which stresses the colonies.’”
The Vectrix shareholder report for April 2007 just dropped into my lap. Besides some beautiful eye candy, the document lays out some important milestones reached by the company; as well as future developments underway for the vehicle line. Here are some of the highlights:
>>Financially, Vectrix has firmed things up by appointing HSBC to undertake a strategic review which could lead to a flotation. Such a move could would see the company valued at up to 200m. Yee Haw. Additionally, the big V might put itself up for sale to attract a larger company or interested private party. We’ll keep our ears open on this one.
>>Besides its launch in the EU late last Fall, Vectrix now poised to push the new all-electric bikes in the UK (indeed, they launched yesterday) and in the U.S. by the end of June. Over 2,100 customer reservations in the U.S. alone are waiting to be fulfilled. The first 700 scooters allocated for the American market will see a roll out in major U.S. cities so as to increase visibility of the product. Look for the bikes in Seattle, Austin, Portland, San Francisco, Newport, and other locales. By the end of 2007, there will be up to 50 official Vectrix dealers in 8 countries (Italy, Spain, England, Portugal, Switzerland, Greece, Australia, and USA). Plans are already underway to expand distribution to Japan, France, Germany, and Israel.
Community Solutions recently issued a report about modifications necessary to our transportation infrastructure in a future world where we experience declining oil supplies. (Community Solutions, if you aren’t familiar with them, is the group that created the documentary “The Power of Community: How Cuba survived Peak Oil”) They are proposing a system they are calling the Smart Jitney, which is essentially a souped up ride share program designed to reduce the amount of cars on our roads. And I have to say, I like it. I like it a lot.
I recently read through a report by Alliance Bernstein about the future of automobiles where they placed all the marbles for our future transportation needs in the plugged in hybrid basket. Essentially making quite a few difficult, and risky, assumptions that we will be able to sequester power plant emissions (unproven), generate clean energy for our homes and cars (not at the levels we are generating now), and create a new infrastructure built around a totally new type of car (to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars). In short, they are making some huge leaps there to support their given choice for transportation.
Even though it’s April 16th and there’s 16 inches of snow on the ground here in Ithaca, NY, I’d like to think that I might have a use for these innovative products sometime soon. That is, if I can even get my hands on them.
First up is a “Professional Solar Garden Shower System” called the Solar Fizz. This portable showering unit uses reflector tubes to capture solar energy and heat water to 70+ degrees Celsius. Each tube can hold 15 liters — with a complete system capable of providing hot water for an entire family. Each of the units displayed on the website is claimed to be portable; but even the 15 liter version might be a little unwieldy if you plan on roughing it somewhere. The only problem is that the technology is limited to a few countries in Europe and Asia. They’re looking for distributors in North America; no any of you eco-entrepreneurs out there — have a look! Outdoor showers are the bomb-diggity — especially pollution-free, hot showers.
With the job title of “Design Futurist”, it is hard to not be intrigued by New York’s Natalia Allen. In 2005 (just a year after she graduated from Parsons School of Design), Natalia founded an influential (self-titled) consultancy company, where she specializes in the emerging areas of design and marketing for global clients, such as Quiksilver, Donna Karan-LVMH, Dupont, Philips and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her creative designs and network are considered an essential catalyst between companies with a shared interest in the future of fashion. Her work has received a score of distinctions including the Calvin Klein, Nylon Magazine and Ducati Design Awards, also the coveted Designer of the Year Award, a title she shares with Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, and Badgley Mischka.
As the tipping point of green living looms on the horizon, I had a chat with Natalia about her unique work and how technology and eco-style will factor in to the future of fashion.
How did you first become interested in fashion?
There was something slightly obscene yet engaging about the title of this post, so I had to re-use it. Chews Wise, written by Samuel Fromartz, the author of “Organic, Inc“, has a very interesting post up about how transparency is beginning to show up in the grocery store:
Dole revealed a shape of things to come in the food market – Transparency! – by allowing customers to see where their bananas come from.
Visit its Dole Organic web site and punch in the number on your banana SKU sticker. (Not the SKU code, which is 94011 for organic bananas but a three-number code that identifies the farm.) The web site shows you where this code is located.
After a week of being sick with a nasty sinus cold, I’m happy to be back on my green fashion beat. This week’s question comes from Chris: How about some choices for blue jeans? Fair Trade – Organic?
Well, we have stumbled upon my favorite subject: denim. I’m one of those folks that can’t have too many pairs of jeans. Of course, these days, I do not buy any denim that isn’t eco-friendly, whether it be made of sustainable materials, fair trade/sweatshop free, or vintage.
When it comes to “green” denim choices, there are more than just a few! Researching companies for this post, I easily complied a list of over 30 brands; some just for men and others are ladies’ only. So, without furthur ado, here is that list:
Imagine if to go wireless, mobile phones companies made you purchase a kit to install your own tower for $8k, and then shipped you a box of minuscule widgets and a soldering gun that you have to somehow assemble into a Razor. I’m pretty sure the market density of cell phones would be about as weak as that of PV, because that is the marketing strategy that Solar Energy is currently operating under.
Now imagine you could sign a contract, and have clean, green solar energy installed at your home by professionals and pay a nominal monthly fee based on your usage with no initial outlay. Tempted? The Citizenre Corporation is counting on it. What they are offering is the chance for average Americans to have the privilege of a Solar Array on their roof. According to their website it will be as simple as having one of their technicians do a site assessment, the signing of a 1,5,or 25 year forward rental agreement (FRA) and a safety deposit of $500 (reasonable for $25k in equipment!). At the signing of the agreement you will lock in your current cost per KwH and pay Citizenre that amount for any watts their equipment sends into your home thru an interconnected inverter. For anyone who is remotely Eco Aware this is Earth Shattering. But that elation is followed immediately by “where’s the catch?”. Talk to a REnU rep and they answer simply “there is none!”. Hmmm.
Wow, here’s another West Coast only first! In Santa Rosa, CA (just north of San Francisco) there is a company that makes pots for your plants, flowers, herbs, and such out of sustainable crops, mainly grain husks. They’re called EcoForms.
Now from what I understand, such a product already exists in Canada, the UK, and Australia. EcoForms is the first here in the US (but correct me if I’m wrong). They are a husband wife team who run an organic nursery called Sweetwater Nursery. Like most things borne out of necessity; they wanted an alternative to the plastic pots. They had already converted their greenhouses to solar power and their trucks to biofuels, but the plastic containers for their organic plants just seems contradictory, hence an idea was borne!
They are designed to last 5 years in all climates. and come in a variety of earthy colors and different sizes. If you decide to discard it into a landfill, it will breakdown into a nutrient-rich organic matter with a PH value of 7.0. You can find them at Whole Foods or contact them directly for wholesale orders, or custom designs.
Tell all your green thumb friends,
I recently overheard Albert Bates of The Farm make mention of using strawbale walls in greenhouses. Typically strawbale construction treats the straw walls with a lime and clay plaster to create a breathable, weather and bug resistant barrier. If not the bales rot. However when the bales begin to breakdown the process gives off heat. Mr. Bates leaves the strawbale greenhouse walls untreated so that they will decompose over the winter and give off heat to keep the plants warm. The following spring the partially decomposed walls are used to mulch the garden. I scaled down the idea a bit and built myself a strawbale cold frame. Here’s how to do it.
Jeffery Brown throws out a challenge to the main stream media.
“Who among you is going to have the courage to step forward and “break” the story that the lifeblood of the world economy–net oil export capacity–is now declining?”
Mr. Brown says, “I estimate that oil exports from the top 10 net oil exporters are probably now falling at a double digit annual rate.”
He’s an independent petroleum geologist from Dallas by the way; not one of them economists that thinks you can put dollar bills in your gas tank and drive to work. I once told two smart friends of mine, an engineer and a medical student, that physics trumps economics and they said I didn’t understand how the world works. I don’t. But I do think that as oil is physically less available “laws” of economics are going to spin on their heads. Just a little prediction for you this afternoon. Here’s one more. It will be obvious that we’ve peaked in oil production by the end of 2006. It’ll take a few more years, two maybe, for the most optimistic of oil cheerleaders to admit so (read up on the history of the peak in production in the U.S. – 1971). Then, suddenly everyone will be saying, “Yeah, of course we’ve peaked. That’s what oil fields do- Duh!” But by then the scurry to find the next source of fuel for our mobile lifestyles and our transportation dependent economy will be on in full force. My favorite are the news headlines that read, “How Will We Fuel The Cars of Tomorrow?”, or, “Is Ethanol The Answer?” No ethanol isn’t the answer. It’s only suggested as a part of the solution because Iowa is the first stop on the road to the White House. It seems very few people are stopping to consider ways of living that require less driving. Supply-side solutions will not solve the problem of the declining rate of petroleum production.
They most likely control your cell phone, have used the talents of Darth Vader to promote their image, and now are harnessing the power of fuel cells to control their destiny. Yes, I’m speaking of Verizon Communications–who recently completed their first year of using Fuel Cell technology at their Garden City facility on Long Island. From the article,
“Verizon’s Garden City project is unique because it uses fuel cells as its primary source of energy. Seven fuel cells generate power for a 292,000-square-foot facility that provides telephone and data services to some 35,000 customers on Long Island. And it’s connected to the commercial power grid as backup. This is a complete paradigm shift for a company that traditionally uses diesel-fueled generators as backups to the commercial grid.”
A recent article on the illegality of selling raw milk caught my eye.
“Arlie Stutzman was busted in a rare sting when an undercover agent bought raw milk from the Amish dairy farmer in an unlabeled container.”
On the surface it would seem that the government agency responsible for this sting has way too much time on its hands. Further investigation into unpasteurized milk reveals that it can carry harmful bacteria. It is also true however that the pasteurization of milk does has negative effects that are seldom discussed in the press.
The pasteurization of milk:
Cell phones are cool and all–but most people simply shove them in a drawer–or worse–chuck ‘em when they’re finished. In fact, almost 130 million surplus cellphones are created each year in America–weighing in at clost to 65,000 tons! Well, TerraPass has some up with a unique way of solving this problem by partnering up with RIPMobile. From the press release, “RIPMobile recycles used cell phones and PDAs. They also happen to be leaders in their industry for environmental best practices. Unlike many recyclers, RIPMobile will accept any used cell phone, regardless of economic value. They’ll even pay your postage. RIPMobile handles all materials according to EPA standards and in compliance with the stringent requirements of the Basel Action Network.” The great thing about this new partnership is that TerraPass will pay you in gift certificates for your old phones. So, if you’ve been delaying off-setting your SUV with some carbon credits, now’s your chance to kill two birds with one stone! Almost every phone will net you some type of value–from a lowly old Motorola for $2 to a new RAZR for $75. (My expired Samsung came in at $32–not too shabby!). Check it out at TerraPass and–while your’re there–get that car taken care of!
Think picking the color of your new car is tough? Try picking a car that will still be road-worthy 20 years from now and use the latest and greatest in alternative fuel technology. Well, Volvo–the leader in ‘inherited’ vehicles–is solving that problem with a concept car that runs on FIVE different fuels. “The Volvo Multi-Fuel is a five-cylinder, 2.0-litre prototype car (200 bhp) that runs on five different fuels; hythane (10% hydrogen and 90% methane), biomethane, natural gas (CNG), bioethanol E85 (85% bioethanol and 15% petrol) and petrol.” This feature effectively allows you to run your car on any fuel source, anywhere in the world. “The idea is to make use of the fuels that are produced locally, says Mats Mor’n. This means that less fuel needs to be transported between continents, and you can fill up the car on the fuel that is available wherever you are.” Excellent idea and wonderful ‘transition’ vehicle towards whatever fuel becomes the standard down the road. Let’s hope this vehicle becomes a reality one day. Your unborn children one day heading to college will thank you for this fully functional “hand-me-down”!