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Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

Could Literacy Limit Growth?

08/09/2010 1 comment

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Evidently, Earth’s ecology continues to be impacted by the unbridled effects of Human consumption and population growth. Resulting in more people seeming willing to take some rather difficult stances on key issues. Especially ones that contribute to Humanity’s disproportionate impact upon our shared Environment. Specifically, our mushrooming need for food and fuel in a world that is already precariously overpopulated has become a hot topic again, and re-raises the specter of Population Control. A subject that everyone expects to be personally managed via contraceptive methods, rather than anything more Orwellian, of course. There is a game-changing factor that’s still being overlooked in this difficult question though; which is the very real correlation between Women’s Literacy or basic education, and drastically lowered birth rates!

As evidenced below (and elsewhere), raising Literacy rates for women, would seem to directly impact impact birth-rates, and then human population levels, and thus our total consumptions – Especially as third world populations clamor to achieve a more Western lifestyle and comparable rate of Consumption.

If you’re curious about the science behind this intuitive connection between literacy and lowered birthrates, here’s some hard info for you. If you’re already comfortable with the reasons for this correlation, then you might also consider why Literacy could be placed up at the forefront of efforts to reduce Global Warming…

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Copper Spurs New NanoTech Growth!

02/06/2010 2 comments

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” Copper Nanowires can now be ‘grown’ in bulk and then ‘printed’ on a surface to transparently conduct current! ”
– Benjamin Wiley, Duke Chemistry

Most people probably don’t realize that thin film solar panels and flat screen TV’s share alot in common, since they both rely heavily on the technologies of ‘thin-film dialectrics’ (TFD) to produce the substrates (electrode layers) that control either the emission or absorption of light. So obviously, any advances made in the manufacturing processes for these films could create both cost and technical efficiencies that would enable TFD’s to either consume less power, or generate more energy on an even cost basis for a given amount of light. This would be no small achievement if you consider the growing demand for efficient display screens, and the persistent cost barriers to all the solar panels that people are hoping to install in the very near Future.  The exciting Science News here is that new discoveries in copper-based ‘Nano Tech’ are offering the first cheaper and efficient alternatives to existing methods that we’ve seen in quite awhile, and could genuinely change the surface of playing field if Cu-based nanotech can continue to overcome the hurdles of establishing a brand new TFD process.

thin film solar array goes online in Arizona

Currently the status quo of TFD manufacturing is based in a predominance of electrode films made from Indium Tin Oxide (ITO), and this rather expensive method still has quite a few nagging drawbacks. First of all, ITO is pricey to process, it’s also brittle and thus fragile; so its production process remains highly inefficient; and it’s already an expensive technology that’s becoming even more costly because of the dual increases in market demand (scarcity) for both raw materials and the finished product. Currently the only alternatives we see on the horizon are coming from nano technology that uses either silver or carbon nano-tubes – which both remain highly cost prohibitive and difficult to produce. However a research team at Duke University have recently announced that they’ve perfected a method to grow nanowires from Copper, which promises to dramatically reduce not only the manufacturing demands for these thin films, but also allow for them to be much more flexible, durable, and cost efficient – Especially since copper is an abundant resource who’s price can’t be as easily cornered and manipulated by merchants and market forces…
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A Diesel Powered Future?

19/05/2010 1 comment

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Diesel Power was a revolution that still inspires new innovations even today.
Bridging the gap for Industry and Transportation as they seek out a sustainable Future.
Check the Green History of Diesel!

Rudolf Diesel's first Engine, 1897 - deutsches-museum.deUpon operating his first successful engine design back in 1897  Rudolph Diesel changed the world in ways that most people still don’t fully appreciate today. Especially now, as we begin the long process of moving out of the petroleum-powered era, we should pause to take lessons from visionaries like Tesla and Diesel, and consider how they harnessed natural forces and physical phenomena to revolutionize existing technologies, and enabled enormous leaps into the Future by allowing others to build upon the solid foundations that they laid. The venerable diesel engine was an innovation of the internal combustion engine that continues to be improved upon even today, with the new methods and materials that are offered by modern science.

Many of us associate diesel power with loud smelly trucks and buses, so it might come as a great surprise that Diesel technology is actually still being improved upon after all this time. In fact, in just the past few years we’re seeing a level of improvement to efficiency and emissions that are actually positioning diesel as a sustainable interim solution for our transportation needs…While other options continue to be researched for that quantum leap in technology that will slingshot both Industry and Society towards the next century. So If you’re ready to see how diesel power still holds a few tricks up it’s sleeve, then let’s start exploring, by looking at railway locomotives as our prime motivator!

BTW: If you’re curious about Rudolf Diesel’s sense of environmental and social responsibility, as it was well over a century ago…Just pop-open another window by clicking HERE for further insights.

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Hemp Diesel

17/05/2010 4 comments

A century ago, Diesel Power and Hemp Products
could have combined to side-track (eliminate?)
our dependencies on Oil and Forestry…
…Things could still come full circle!

CLICK HERE
to learn how Diesel can clean up it’s act,
and kick the big-oil habit!

In 1893, German inventor Rudolf Diesel published a paper entitled “The Theory and Construction of a Rational Heat Engine” which described a motor in which air is compressed by a piston to a very high pressure, causing a temperature spike where injected fuel is auto-ignited and efficiently burned in the expanding compression during the down-stroke. This basic concept results in a simple, safe, cool, highly efficient engine that could run on locally produced vegetable oils – and therefore level the playing field for those who otherwise couldn’t compete with the large steam-powered Industries and Shippers of the day.

Unfortunately, in the early 20th century big-banks and financiers were already exerting their powerful will, in support of their oil and forestry interests, and thus assuring the dominance of emerging petro-chemical industries. So instead of seeing how Diesel’s vision would have played out, we’ve had to wait until the combined and destructive effects of a Financial, Energy, and Environmental crisis, here the 21st century, could obviate the ideals and benefits that Rudolf Diesel had envisioned for Society, well over a century ago; when he built his first engines to be run on the same types of bio-fuels that we now have available today, and which could have cut coal and oil out of the picture from the very start.

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GRID2.0: Why Upgrade?

19/04/2010 1 comment


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Our various electrical grids have been built, rebuilt, and patched up in an ongoing process that began when electric power first began to be generated well over a century ago.  Of course plenty of new power plants and transmission towers have been patched into the existing infrastructure since those early days, and the costs of maintaining these have been paid for (repeatedly) by ratepayers who would presumably like to benefit from these fully amortized assets (at least for awhile) before incurring any new costs, or adding to already enormous public debts. So why exactly should anybody be bothered to consider the staggering expenses of undertaking a major upgrade of our various electrical grids at this particular point in history?

Most people are in fact much more interested in the development of newenergy (re)sources, rather than in understanding the boring details of delivering existing electricity into our homes and commercial spaces, so why worry about the distribution of power in a ‘smart’ electrical grid, when the old grid seems to be doing an adequate job ?

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Geo-Engineering: Laying Foundations

25/03/2010 1 comment

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Unlike BIO-Engineering, which seeks to apply pure Science via Technological processes to produce engineered results in Biological fields (from GM’d corn, to the materials of Orthpaedic hip-joint replacement hardware), GEO-Engineering seeks to take the same approach to producing engineered results for the entire Earth, in order to effect positive changes to our environment. Regrettably, the term Geo-Engineering seems to have been misappropriated and popularized as a description of Ecological or Environmental engineering applications on a global scale, even though the terms Enviro, Global, or ECO-Engineering would likely have been much more appropriate descriptors for this sort of work. Unfortunately for the real Geo-Engineers out there (who’ve been working long and hard on true Geological Engineering), the term GEO has already been co-opted by Environmentalists, adopted by the Media, and is now popularized to represent applied technological solutions to our most pressing issues around Climate Change. So thanks to prevailing trends in the Media, Geo-Engineering has effectively come to mean something else entirely to all of us who are not engineers.

Geo-Engineering has been categorical science since the Sixties (when it first became popular to believe that Technology could fix anything), and it seems to be finally coming into vogue after being brought to back to public attention by mainstream Media sources such as the New York Times. Geo-Engineering (as we currently accept the poorly named field) has become a notably complex endeavor that requires the collection, collation and application of knowledge from three VERY large areas of study:

* Scientific disciplines including Climatology, Biochemistry, Ecology, Meteorology and several subsets of Biology and Physics
* Engineering disciplines including aeronautical, naval, architectural, ballistics, propulsion, and materials Engineering.
* Regulatory/Management and other control disciplines such as business process and risk management, and realtime operational research…and of course an insanely complex and interdependent maze of International Politics, Regulations, Diplomacy, and Trade.

Before delving into these ridiculously broad categories of study, first, let’s just put away any indignant or ignorant self-righteousness about “playing God” with the environment. Instead, let’s simply admit that we’ve already been toying with our Ecology, and changing the Earths environment in countless ways for a long time now already.

Whether it’s by altering watersheds and aquifers, re-engineering entire drainage systems for irrigation or hydro power, or by clearcutting the heat and CO2 consuming capacity of entire forests, and let’s not forget the ongoing and always contentious issues behind enormous volumes of CO2 (and other more potent greenhouse gases) escaping into the atmosphere, as Humans we are already very deeply ensnared in the tricky game of Geo-Engineering. Thus the dire scenarios described as AGW, or “Anthropogenic” (man-made) Global Warming are directly attributed to Human activities, which nobody questions as being capable of changing an entire planet.

So since we’ve already been behaving like foolish Gods (or rather like some lesser being that has self-provisioned itself with Godlike dominion over nature according to some self-distorting Judeao-Christian fallacy) let’s then look at the risks of Geo-Engineering more realistically.

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THORIUM: A Tipping Point in History

02/03/2010 5 comments

– IMPACT REPORT –


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Thorium has somehow survived its early demise…

Now it stands poised to fuel a limitless Future if we can change the course of history  !

Thorium ModelThe nuclear debate continues to put forward large scale alternatives to fossil-fueled Society, but has never included a much better option, when it comes to managing the waste and risks. This tragedy is essentially the result of politics, not science, since there likely isn’t a more misunderstood and overlooked element on the Periodic Table than Thorium.

Despite its enormous potential to safely power both the developing world and our modern societies through the self-regulating energy production of the little known “Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor” (LFTR).  This long-mothballed reactor design is gaining great new attention in other parts of the world because it produces only small amounts radioactive waste (which fully decay in a few hundred years, rather than many thousands), offers no realistic potential for easy weaponization, and in fact enables the destruction of weapons grade materials. Thorium astoundingly still remains an elemental mystery to most people to this very day however. Mainly because it’s early and successful development in the U.S. was nixxed in favor of the Uranium-based weapons programs in the 50’s and 60’s.

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