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Posts Tagged ‘environmentalism’

Wind Power: Invisible Emissions

25/02/2011 6 comments

Wind Turbine Madness by Gogh - R J Stephens Any body who’s ever felt the approach of a train before they even heard it, or who’s heard the distant rumble of thunder (from lightning they can’t even see), can easily grasp how the persistent power of low-frequency energy/sound can travel for surprisingly long distances. This physical fact is at the root of a growing issue with Wind Power. Unfortunately, this is also an unpopular subject for discussion because it invokes images of hypochondria, psychosomatic symptoms and other prejudices about mental health, as well as the worst kind of self-serving NIMBYism.

More importantly, many us who seek clean, renewable energy options are often all too eager to dismiss any rational discussions around issues that might seem critical of wind power, in our zeal to follow a more direct path towards self-actualized sustainability.

Yet those are still aren’t valid reasons to avoid addressing the realities of wind-generated power, while searching for better solutions as a result. Even amidst the  rush to ‘Green’ Ontario’s power grid through the the most politically expedient, yet possibly short-sighted methods possible, there are still issues that need to be addressed. At the very least, the results of pushing ahead with green plans at all costs will surely become more clear in hindsight.

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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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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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Diesel’s Vision

18/05/2010 2 comments

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At one time, Diesel power was poised as an alternative to big Coal and Oil…
Today it could once again bridge the sustainability gap, offering Industry and Transportation the time to find its renewable power for the Future.
Learn More Here

Paris World Exhibition 1900At the World’s Fair of 1900 in Paris France, Rudolph Diesel demonstrated the virtues of his new pressure-ignited “rational heat motor”  which came to bear his name to the world then, and has done so to the present day. We’ve come to also know Rudolf Diesel as an eminent mechanical and thermal engineer, a multi-lingual and knowledgeable patron of the Arts, and not least of all a highly progressive Social Theorist. Although his legacy is inestimable, his rise to fame was as quick as it was brief…and leaves us with some unanswered questions about how Diesel’s vision may have offered us a different world than the one ruled by Oil and Big Banks.

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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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