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Archive for the ‘SCIENCE & TECH’ Category

Saving the World…One Spoof at a Time!

11/05/2011 1 comment

Coal Cares PeabodyThis was a good one…The merry pranksters behind the CoalCares.org  site not only had the moxy to add a ™ symbol to their site name, they even had the bravado to use the (genuinely) registered trademark of Peabody Energy as well. Not only were they content to spoof the coal industry’s attempts at better Community Relations, they even linked directly back to Peabody Energy for maximum effect and traceability!

In its shameless contempt for the world’s largest private-sector coal company, this spoof site represents itself as a branding initiative intended to reach out to American youngsters with asthma and to help them “keep their heads high in the face of those who would treat them with less than full dignity”. For kids who have no choice but to use an inhaler, Coal Cares™ lets them inhale with pride!

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The Risks of Power

07/01/2011 Leave a comment

Everyone knows that great power demands great responsibility. Nothing demonstrates the truth of that saying more than the enormous risks behind nuclear energy. Consider that even less than a century ago it would have seemed like pure fantasy for mere humans to manipulate matter at the atomic level, much less release the awesome power of those nuclear bonds.

It’s no wonder then that the exact nature of this science would still baffle even the most tech-savvy among us. Even less surprising that it seems like a frightening and destructive threat to anyone who is unable (or perhaps just unwilling) to see past the complexities that surrounds nuclear science. For those with an anti-nuclear agenda to advance, therein lies the great power to confound and deceive, rather then grow and develop. It’s the manipulative fear that remains the greatest point of leverage in the nuclear debate.

Of course, the public image of nuclear energy has been forever tainted by one of it’s most infamous applications. As the terrible force behind the most devastating weapons ever devised by Mankind, nuclear power has to live down its military upbringing through an uphill PR battle to present safe, civilian nuclear energy. A source of power that offers a clean alternative to the toxic destruction of fossil-fueled energy that goes on all around us every moment of every day…Seemingly with a full and acceptable sanction of both the Press and the Public as somehow less dangerous than the potential risks and imagined dangers of nuclear energy.

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MetroLinx Maps a Sustainable Air Rail Link

06/01/2011 Leave a comment

For anybody who hasn’t been following all the Big Moves being mapped out by the Ontario Governments public transit planning arm called Metrolinx, the projected Air Rail Link (ARL) is a bold initiative to finally connect Toronto’s Union Station with Pearson International Airport via a dedicated express train…All in time for the 2015 Pan American Games.

The objective behind the Air Rail Link is to ensure reliable travel times between the downtown core and the countries largest airport, while taking millions of car trips off the GTA’s already congested roadways in the process. The big challenge is to lay groundwork for a rail system that will be ‘Futureproof”, while still assuring that it can be up and running inside of the incredibly tight timeline for a project of this size.

Beyond the obvious need for re-establishing political unity and effective cost-controls at a time of enormous bureaucratic upheave in Toronto’s transit landscape (Thanks again, Rob Ford) the next biggest requirements for this project are the logistical challenges of assuring not just an environmentally responsible solution, but also a beneficial one that will set standards for clean transit systems for many decades to come…So what stands in the way of this progress?

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LEEDing up to a Green Building Bubble

17/11/2010 Leave a comment

 

LEED Housing BubbleIt’s no secret that an enormous amount of energy has been getting wasted for decades on grossly inefficient building designs, and their heating cooling systems in residential homes, but most especially so in commercial buildings. Yet both politicians and the mainstream media have been eager to promote the many new standards and initiatives that have sprung up to change this historical trend in these times of energy austerity, and ecological awareness. So it’s been unsettling to many of the professionals within the many related fields that seek to build more efficient structures to hear growing rumors that LEED building registrations were down this year. yet today those rumors have been substantiated, and the other shoe has dropped…

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Last Call for Carbon Credits

16/11/2010 Leave a comment

Carbon Cap and Trade SchemeIt would seem that the ‘commodification of carbon’ is now well and truly in its final throes, and that the remediation efforts against of Climate Change will need to seek out a better method of self-correcting via the various (Consumer?) Markets. The death knell for carbon trading in North America is the significant, yet curiously under-publicized news that The Chicago Climate Exchange (Inc.) will close down its cap-and-trade market by the end of the year, as announced by spokeswoman Brook McLaughlin via CNN.

What’s curious is that hardly anybody else, out there in the more Mainstream Media, is so much as batting an eye – let alone packaging this news (and it’s deeper implications) for easy public consumption.  It seems that this letdown in the domestic trading of carbon credits is primarily due to political and public opinion shifts in the U.S. resulting in the failures of last years disappointingly de-clawed U.S. Clean Air Act.

The decision also coincided with a significant Republican victory and the loss of Democratic Control in the US House of Representatives. However, if you look abit deeper, we can all see that the Carbon Cap and Trade concept was indeed flawed at a much deeper level…and that this failure might also betray some underlying motivations for this financial scheme to begin with!

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BioChar: Locking in the Heat

03/11/2010 3 comments

Charcoal Farm BBQ BioCharFor most people, the only thing that farming and barbecuing might have in common is where the supply produced by one, meets the market demands of the other on the supermarket shelf. In a day and age where instant gratification trumps tradition, Farmers long ago turned their fields into sterile sponges that they must now constantly fertilize with man-made nitrogen and phosphates. Meanwhile back on the homestead, the fast-firing convenience of gas powered BBQ grills have largely displaced charcoal as the heat of choice for backyard barbecue. Yet charcoal might soon make an enormous comeback in ways that propane and petrochemical fertilizers could never touch, and which will have an enormous impact on farming practices that once relied on the natural biodiversity of soil to sustain healthy crops. This renaissance of ancient agricultural methods will not only enrich our largely depleted farm fields, but also serve to use currently wasted BioMass to sequester carbon and thus combat global warming….by turning it into BioChar.

The trick to this ecologically brilliant shortcut is to simply prepare charcoal at a higher temperature to produce BioChar in an environmentally beneficial process that will far surpass it’s popular role as the perfect heat for traditional barbecue. This old-fashioned soil enrichment method might not only break the petrochemical fertilizer addictions of industrial farming methods, but also serve to naturally capture and store carbon in a stable state that could benefit our environment for centuries to come. If you think that there are still lessons to be learned from the Past, here’s a peek at a Future that can be carbon fixed by BioChar

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Recycling Power From Old Industries

02/11/2010 2 comments

As a world supplier of primary resources like lumber and oil, Canadians were once stereotyped a “hewers of wood” working in a pristine green wilderness of fresh water and never-ending forests. Nowadays, thanks to the Eco-PR efforts of organizations like Greenpeace, Canada has gained more notoriety for oilsands that are widely regarded as a filthy and enormously wasteful source of fossil-fuel energy. A source of fuel who’s extraction is made economically feasible only by high price of crude oil yet without factoring in the environmental impact and future cleanup costs down the line. So much for “Green” stereotypes.

Forestry and Agriculture, on the other hand, are still a clearly green and renewable resources that are poised to turn into major sources of power production via the alluring prospects of widespread BioMass generation methods. No longer will we simply see crops and trees as a source of food for cities, construction materials and wooden poles for transmitting power along roadways, but rather as sources of feedstock for secondary green industries that can use otherwise wasted bio-mass to actually generate power for those very same hydro lines.

Big Oil

The question is, what stands in the way of displacing coal and natural gas from our current power supply, and how will bio-mass be different than burning any other fuel for electricity?

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