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Fri May 17th, 2013 at 09:15:03 PM EST
Simple solar principles
dark gets hot
clear keeps the wind out
insulation keeps heat in
heat can be stored and moved
and any window that sees sunlight
Tue Apr 30th, 2013 at 11:19:10 PM EST
Last year, one of the vendors at NESEA's Building Energy conference (http://www.nesea.org/buildingenergy/) gave away a keychain fob, a little two LED hand crank light. This year, another vendor gave away three LED solar keychain lights. A few weeks later, I got another solar LED light as a giveaway from the MIT Energy Initiative.
A little searching found where these promotional gifts are available in bulk:
1.61 @ per 5000 solar keychain lights
1.32@ per 5000 hand crank keychain lights
I wonder what happens when these cheap sweatshop trinkets meet the necessary invention of the bottom billion and a third, billion and a half people who do not yet have access to reliable electricity.
Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 11:57:39 PM EST
The failures of the environmental community have been
(a) giving up on a "no regrets" strategy that concentrates on all the things the majority can agree on whether or not they believe in "global warming"
(b) concentrating on legislative and regulatory action to the exclusion of grassroots empowerment through practical demonstrations of individual and community solutions
(c) not building a united front of organizations all pushing in the same direction at the same time and actually executing a common strategy long-term through a battery of complementary tactics short-term (the environmental community is notorious for not knowing the difference between strategy and tactics)
(d) motivating almost exclusively by fear and thereby building learned helplessness and despair rather than fostering individual and community competence
(e) focusing almost totally on a problem orientation rather than a solutions orientation
Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 09:24:39 PM EST
"Energy Critical Elements"
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
MIT, Building 6-120, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
Speaker: Robert Jaffe - Morningstar Professor of Science, Department of Physics
I will then turn to our recent report on "Energy Critical Elements: Securing Materials for Emerging Technologies", describing rare elements' roles in emerging technologies, constraints on availability, and government actions to avoid disruptive shortages.
Web site: http://student.mit.edu/searchiap/iap-9289af8f3b3c7818013b3d15ee340001.html
Open to: the general public
Sponsor(s): Physics IAP
For more information, contact: Denise Wahkor
Sat Jan 12th, 2013 at 05:51:00 PM EST
Reversing Global Warming while Meeting Human Needs: An Urgently Needed Land-Based Option
Friday, January 25, 2013
2:00 - 4:00 PM, ASEAN Auditorium
The Fletcher School, 160 Packard Avenue, Medford, MA
Reception to follow
RSVP at http://allansavory.eventbrite.com
Allan Savory, Rancher and Restoration Ecologist, Founder of the Savory Institute and originator of the Holistic Management approach to restoring grasslands, winner of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award, and finalist in the Virgin Earth Challenge
Presented by CIERP's Agriculture, Forests, and Biodiversity Program with the Friedman School's Agriculture, Food, and Environment Program and Planet-TECH Associates
Free and open to the public. Convened by the Agriculture, Forests, and Biodiversity Program of the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at Fletcher;
the Agriculture, Food, and Environment Program of Tufts' Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy; and Planet-TECH Associates.
First in a Series of "Creating the Future We Want" Events.
While governments posture and dither, a pragmatic practitioner and intellectual entrepreneur, Allan Savory,has been developing and demonstrating a powerful technique that can reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere immediately while reversing desertification and providing livelihoods and food for millions of people. His applied research based in Zimbabwe on the restoration of grasslands has now been replicated on millions of acres worldwide. The application of his methods has the potential to significantly reduce atmospheric carbon through an increase in plant growth and soil formation. This process begins immediately and involves no new technologies, only a shift to the Holistic Management practices for livestock that he has pioneered. Major organizations and institutions are now recognizing his work, but climate scientists and governments have yet to incorporate it into their analyses and policy prescriptions.
Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:43:27 AM EST
November 6, 2012, the MIT Center for Civic Media and Department of Urban Planning had a conversation on "Peer to Peer Politics" with Steven Johnson, author of Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked World moderated by Aaron Naparstek, visiting scholar at MIT's DUSP, and featuring Harvard Law School's Yochai Benkler, Susan Crawford, and Lawrence Lessig. Video of the event online.
To my mind, the discussion was less about the electoral politics we usually associate with that word and more about how peer-to-peer [P2P] networks are already being used among diverse populations for civic activities and many other things. When Susan Crawford, founder of OneWebDay, paraphrased Kevin Kelly by saying "The internet was built by love. It's a gift," (The Web Runs on Love, Not Greed), I thought of the idea and the story behind the title of the book You Can't Steal a Gift about jazz players Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Milt Hinton, and Nat King Cole by Gene Lees (Lincoln, NE: Univ of NE Press, 2001 ISBN 0-8032-8034-3):
Phil Woods: "I was in Birdland, stoned, as I often was in those days. Dizzy and Art Blakey kidnapped me. Took me home to Dizzy's and sat me down and said, 'What are you moaning about? Why don't you get your own band?'...
"I asked them if a white guy could make it, considering the music was a black invention. I was getting a lot of flak about stealing not only Bird's music but his wife and family as well [Woods was married to Chan, Charlie Parker's widow]... And Dizzy said, 'You can't steal a gift. Bird gave the world his music, and if you can hear it you can have it.'"
front-paged by afew
Sat Nov 3rd, 2012 at 04:44:35 PM EST
A group of people from the Occupy Wall Street movement is collaborating with the climate change advocacy group 350.org and a new online toolkit for disaster recovery, recovers.org, to organize a grassroots relief effort in New York City.
Occupy Sandy: http://occupywallst.org/article/occupy-sandy/
Boston TEDX talk by Recovers.org http://www.ted.com/talks/caitria_and_morgan_o_neill_how_to_step_up_in_the_face_of_disaster.html
The combination of the jobs and economic focus of Occupy with the climate change and energy transition ideas of 350.org along with the disaster recovery systems of Recovers.org is a model that can build resilience and preparedness quickly if continued. Add Solar IS Civil Defense, set the Maker Culture loose, and it just might shade over into Solar Swadeshi, Gandhian economics, a non-violent and restorative open source peer-to-peer economic system where we plan for 100% success for all humanity, to paraphrase R Buckminster Fuller.
Wed Oct 17th, 2012 at 04:07:58 PM EST
I recently spent some time studying the Nazis. My library had a copy of A Century of Wisdom: Lessons form the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the World's Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor by Caroline Stoessinger (NY: Spiegel & Grau, 2012 ISBN 978-0-8129-9281-6) and I picked it up. Reading it gave me an excuse to continue with two books on my reading list, Into That Darkness: From Mercy Killing to Mass Murder by Gitta Sereny (NY: McGraw-Hill, 1974 ISBN0-07-056290-3), an examination of Franz Stangl, the commandant of the Treblinka death camp, based upon hours of interviews with him in prison, and Crossing Hitler: The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand by Benjamin Carter Hett (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2008 ISBN 978-0-19-536988-5), the story of Hans Litten, the lawyer who subpoenaed Hitler and brought him to a German court in 1931.
These two particular passages from Sereny's interviews with Stangl reminded me of an incident in Sebastian Haffner's Defying Hitler, a posthumously published memoir finished in 1940 as Story of a German [Geschichte eines Deutschen] which explained to me something about bullies that I hadn't realized before.
Sun Oct 7th, 2012 at 01:14:05 PM EST
You can now estimate with great detail the solar electric potential of any roof in Cambridge, MA by just typing in an address on a webpage, the Cambridge Solar Tool
(http://cambridgema.gov/solar). For instance, the double triple decker in which I live has six apartments and a total roof area of 2,781 square feet. 1,136 of those sq ft have high PV (photovoltaic) potential. This could support an 18kW solar electric system providing 22,945 kWh per year, enough to power about a third of the electricity used by those six apartments, if each apartment uses the rough US average of around 11,000 kWh per year (my own annual electric use is around 1,600 kWh/yr).
The estimated savings per year for such a PV system are $9,081. The total cost is $101,720. With the Federal tax credit of $30,516 and a MA state tax credit of $1,000, the final cost to the owner would be $70,204. In addition, the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) of 27¢/kWh could produce $6,212 per year (at least that's my reading of the MA SREC program, but I could be wrong). Such an investment would pay for itself in about 8 years with a return on investment (ROI) of 12.93%, a better return than gold (10.19%) or the stock market (Dow Jones average: 5.50%). The solar electricity would replace other fuels that now spew 12 tons per year of carbon into the atmosphere.
If the owner did not want to put any money down, they could opt for a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), buying electricity from a third party which owns, installs, maintains, insures, and monitors a PV system on the roof of our double triple decker at a long term, generally 20 years, fixed and lower cost than what is paid now for power.
Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 06:21:23 PM EST
A few months ago, some people in Cambridge, MA were inspired by the example of Todmorden in the UK between Leeds and Manchester, a town that decided to grow as much of its food as possible within the town limits.
Since we started meeting, some of us have begun mapping the Cambridge local food system which already exists. It includes farmers' markets every day of the week from Memorial Day to Thanksgiving, the local growing season, and one winter market on Saturday mornings. There are City Sprouts (http://www.citysprouts.org/) gardens in every one of the 12 public middle schools, 15 community gardens including those at Harvard and Leslie Universities, and at least three restaurants with rooftop or container gardens. Local organizations include Pick a Pocket Garden (http://pickapocketgarden.org/) which is planting and maintaining public plantings of ornamentals, a yogurt-making coop, and the League of Urban Canners who will harvest and process fruit from neighborhood trees and bushes into preserves, with the owners getting 10% of the product.
The Cambridge Todmorden group may have access to three different sites for public gardens but we haven't turned any soil over yet, although we certainly plan to in the near future.
A few schools, community plots, and restaurants will not grow any appreciable percentage of the food in Cambridge, MA but it is a start. There is a local food system. We are learning how to grow it.
Wed Aug 29th, 2012 at 10:32:35 PM EST
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center has released their 2012 Massachusetts Clean Industry Report (http://www.masscec.com/index.cfm/cdid/13913/pid/11150)
There are 4,995 clean energy firms and 71,523 clean energy jobs in the Commonwealth, 1.7% of all employment in the state, with employment in the clean energy sector up 11.2% from 2011 compared with a 1.2% growth rate for all industries.
Employers are also optimistic about their future prospects, anticipating 12.4% growth over the coming 12 months.
From 2007 to 2011, there has been a thirty-fold increase in installed solar megawatts and a 108% growth in electric energy savings from energy efficiency.
Hat tip to http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/report-71523-green-jobs-for-massachusetts/
Sat Aug 4th, 2012 at 10:39:06 PM EST
"If you are not for zero waste, how much waste are you for?"
We need to become a zero emissions culture. We need to stop taking massive amounts of waste for granted and learn to become much more resource conservative and conserving. The biosphere can no longer support our wastrel ways.
People on first hearing this idea may think it is impossible but it's not. Zero emissions is a natural adaptation of the quality control goal of zero defects on a production line, a goal approached through continuous improvement over time. We need to institute zero emissions within basic ecological design principles where
waste equals food
we use only available solar income
love all the children
[This is architect Bill McDonough's formulation. A more complete list of ecological design principles is available from John Todd, one of the founders of New Alchemy Institute and a pioneering developer of ecological waste treatment systems (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/09/17/902951/-Sidestepping-the-Impasse-Zero-Emissions-to-Ecologic
If we are to live in an ecological system without destroying it, zero emissions thinking is going to have to pervade our economic system. Of necessity. We have to learn how to think in systems, as part of a system. (And remember our own ignorance as Gödel taught us with his incompleteness theorems.) Here are some of the resources available and some of the companies who are actually making strides toward zero emissions and clean production.
Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 07:37:25 PM EST
The Fisherville Mill Canal on the Blackstone River in Grafton, MA has been contaminated for decades by #6 fuel oil in its waters. John Todd Ecological Design (http://toddecological.com/) with the participation of the town of Grafton, USEPA, MA DEP, MA Audubon Society, Blackstone Headwaters Coalition, Clark University, Brown University, US National Park Service, Fisherville Redevelopment Corporation, Fungi Perfecti Inc, and others began a bioremediation project cleaning the water with natural processes on May 27, 2012. This approach to remediation includes
microbial, fungal, plant and animal biodiversity supported by engineered habitats for the ecosystems. Ecological design uses biodiversity in lieu of high-energy mechanical and chemical systems.
Oil contaminated water from the bottom of the canal is pumped through tubes filled with gravel for filtration into the greenhouse to be sprayed on fungal mycellium beds and then flows into a series of six aquatic cells, large transparent tanks filled with water, each comprising a different highly diverse aquatic ecological system. From the greenhouse, the water is pumped to an artificial floating marsh-like system known as a restorer, with plants that grow above the surface of the canal and root systems that extend below the water, providing habitat for a variety of micro-organisms which remove contaminants from the water in the canal. The greenhouse treats five hundred gallons of water per day, five hundred gallons full of diverse and beneficial life is pumped back into the canal each day. John guesstimates that the restorer filters about 100,000 gallons of water per day. This whole system is an eco-machine, a working ecological chemostat.
Tests show there has been a 75% reduction in petroleum contaminants in the treated water since the beginning of the project on May 27, 2012, according to the initial results which came in on July 17, 2012 from samples taken on June 15, 2012.
"The purpose of this project is to prove the efficacy of natural systems to remove complex contaminents from the Fisherville Mill Canal."
The hope is it will also improve water quality downstream.
Wed Jul 4th, 2012 at 12:16:07 PM EST
I've posted this before but it might have more relevance now that over a million people lost power around Washington DC and other emergencies and disasters have put many power lines in jeopardy. Besides, it's a practical exercise in freedom and, to me, an apt celebration of Independence.
Wed May 9th, 2012 at 10:43:01 PM EST
Went to a talk on March 19, 2012 by Dr Joel Schwarz about a recent UNEP report on Short Lived Climate Forcers:
Integrated Assessment of Black carbon and Tropospheric Ozone and Near Term Climate Protection and Clean Air Benefits
Summary for Decision Makers
The report focuses on three SCLF [short lived climate forcers] - black carbon, tropospheric ozone and methane [an ozone precursor*] - because reducing them will provide significant benefits through improved air quality and a slowing of near-term climate change.
Black carbon and tropospheric (10 - 20 km above ground) ozone are resident in the atmosphere for a few days to three weeks (3-8 days for carbon, up to 4-18 days for ozone). Methane has an atmospheric lifetime of 12 years, ± 3 years.
"Full implementation" of all the identified measures could reduce future global warming by "0.5˚C (within a range of 0.2-0.7˚C)". If implemented by 2030, this tactic might halve the potential increase in global temperature projected for 2050. "The rate of regional temperature increase would also be reduced" wherever they are put into practice.
These measures "could avoid 2.4 million premature deaths (within a range of 0.7-4.6 million) and the loss of 52 million tonnes (within a range of 30-140 million tonnes), 1-4 per cent, of the global production of maize, rice, soybean and wheat each year." Benefits will be felt immediately "in or close to the regions" where black carbon, methane, and tropospheric ozone are reduced. The potential for emissions reductions, climate, health, and economic benefits are highest in Asia but gains can also be realized in Africa, Latin America, and wherever these measures are put into practice.
A few emission reduction measures "targeting black carbon and ozone precursors could immediately begin to protect climate, public health, water and food security, and ecosystems. Measures include the recovery of methane from coal, oil and gas extraction and transport, methane capture in waste management, use of clean-burning stoves for residential cooking, diesel particulate filters for vehicles and the banning of field burning of agricultural waste."
All these benefits can be obtained with existing technology but require significant strategic investment and institutional arrangements to make them widespread, part of general and every day use.
*Ozone is not directly emitted. It is a secondary pollutant that is formed in the troposphere by sunlight-driven chemical reactions involving carbon monoxide (CO), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), methane (CH4), and nitrogen oxides (NO ). Ozone in the troposphere is the third most human-emitted greenhouse gas, after CO2 and methane. Ozone formation increases as temperature rises.
Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 08:40:21 PM EST
Solar IS Civil Defense - what we are all supposed to have on hand in case of emergency - flashlight, cell phone, radio, extra set of batteries - can be powered by a few square inches of solar electric panel. Add a hand crank or bicycle generator and you have a reliable source of survival level electricity, day or night, by sunlight or muscle power.
This is also entry level electrical power for the 1.5 billion people around the world who do not yet have access to electricity. Civil defense at home and economic development abroad can be combined in a "buy one, give one" program like the Bogolight (http://www.bogolight.com) which is a solar LED light and AA battery charger.
Solar IS Civil Defense and could be much more.
I wish the mainline environmental groups had been broadcasting practical material like this for the last twenty years or so instead of devoting almost all their advertising to scaring us about climate change.
Originally published at http://solarray.blogspot.com/2012/04/solar-is-civil-defense-what-we-are-all.html
Wed Apr 4th, 2012 at 11:44:26 PM EST
Scientists Track Radioactive Iodine in New Hampshire from Japan Nuclear Reactor Meltdown
Testing in New Hampshire's Mink Brook watershed during March through May 2011 resulted in calculating radioactive iodine deposition in the soil at a total amount around 6,000 atoms per square meter. Dartmouth research associate Joshua Landis commented that "at these levels, it is unlikely that this is going to cause measurable health consequences." The amount in stream sediments was double the amount in soil but should be reduced by river and stream dilution.
This radiactive waste from Fukushima consists of iodine-131, "highly radioactive, acutely toxic" with a half-life of about 8 days, and iodine-29, less radioactive but with a half-life of 15.7 million years. "Due to its long half-life and continued release from ongoing nuclear energy production, [iodine-129] is perpetually accumulating in the environment and poses a growing radiological risk," the authors of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences report point out. A nuclear reactor produces 3 parts iodine-131 to one part iodine-129. "Once the iodine-131 decays, you lose your ability to track the migration of either isotope."
hat tip clamshellalliance.org
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has created a prototype "Super-wide Angle Compton Camera" capable of creating images of gamma ray-emitting radioactive particles. This equipment is based on the gamma ray-observing sensor technology to be added to the next X-ray observation satellite, ASTRO-H. It is expected to be able to create visual images of radioactive particles that have collected at high altitudes such as building roofs where it is difficult to conduct measurements with existing survey meters. Taking advantage of its wide vision (180-degree) capability as well as its ability to distinguish gamma rays from nuclides, it can create images of Cesium 137 (Cs-137) and Cesium 134 (Cs-134) that have widely dispersed on the ground and residential houses. (Attachment-1)
On February 11, 2012, JAXA, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) conducted a field test of the dose measurement and imaging survey using the "Super-wide Angle Compton Camera" at Kusano area of Iitate village in Fukushima Prefecture. The results yielded the successful image capturing of the dispersed radio-cesium over a much broader area and to a higher degree of accuracy in comparison with existing gamma cameras. (Attachment-2)
hat tip treehugger.com
We need a zero emissions society and culture, especially where such long-lived pollutants are concerned.
Sidestepping the Impasse: Zero Emissions to Ecological Design
Wed Feb 29th, 2012 at 10:23:46 PM EST
On Monday January 30th, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) held a public meeting at Suffolk University, halfway between the State House and City Hall, to change the Boston zoning laws to allow for agriculture throughout the city, making it easier for local residents to grow and sell fresh, healthy, foods in Boston and the greater Boston Metropolitan Area. Nearly 300 people attended. Boston currently has about 150 community gardens serving 3000 gardeners, the highest per capita of any US city. Now the city is trying to figure out how to change zoning to increase urban agriculture beyond gardening and household use into businesses and economic development.
Mayor Menino, the newly appointed chair of the food policy task force for the US Conference of Mayors, opened the meeting and the keynote address was given by Will Allen, Founder and CEO of Growing Power Inc. (http://www.growingpower.org), non-profit based in Milwaukee, WI which also does work in Chicago, Detroit, Ghana, and around the world. Growing Power addresses social justice and food access issues through building local agriculture and farm-based businesses and Mr. Allen won the 2008 McArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant for his work on urban farming and sustainable food production. Growing Power has grown an underutilized 2-acre lot into a farm that produces enough produce, eggs, honey, fish and other meats to feed more than 10,000 local residents and employs more than 100 people on 20 farms, 13 farmstands, and a year round CSA.
They start by growing soil through composting to replace the existing contaminated urban soils and continue with growing worms, mushrooms, sprouts, which alone provide from $5 to $50 worth of production per square foot, and fish in integrated urban agricultural systems. There are seven different levels of production in their greenhouses, some of which are heated by compost. At their main farm, a quarter of their electricity comes from solar electric panels and 70% of their hot water is solar heated. They also have an anaerobic digester for methane production and electricity.
Growing Power also provides hand's on education and summer jobs for children planting flowers by sidewalks and corners, a measure which actually reduces crime. Green Power also has community kitchens for food preservation and processing. They are now building a five story vertical farm at their national headquarters and planning for 15 regional centers.
Will Allen said that, since food "is the one thing we have in common," the good food movement "starts with everybody working together" and if you don't have a sustainable food system, you won't have a sustainable city.
Video of the entire proceedings at the meeting, including the presentation by Mr. Will Allen: http://www.cityofboston.gov/cable/video_library.asp?id=2444
The minutes of that meeting, the recommendations by the group, maps of greater Boston food resources, and information about the ongoing urban agriculture planning meetings the city is holding:
Tue Jan 24th, 2012 at 11:26:23 PM EST
A Facebook group called Upgrade Democracy (http://www.facebook.com/groups/upgradedemocracy) is collecting a list of
teams/organizations working on technology-powered solutions to the systemic problems of governance/group decision-making.
They want help in expanding the list but
Please don't add projects that simply use technology to slightly enhance our current political system (e.g. electronic petitions). We're upgrading the democratic operating system, not tweaking the interface. ;)
Teams / Organizations Working to Upgrade Democracy
By Frank Grove, Ben Woosley and 5 others in Upgrade Democracy Community
Circle Voting http://www.circlevoting.com
Deliberative Democracy (Stanford) http://cdd.stanford.edu/
Dynamic Democracy (US) http://upgradedemocracy.org
Open Assembly http://openassembly.org
Personal Democracy Forum http://personaldemocracy.com/
Participant Labs http://participantlabs.com/
Seasteading Institute http://seasteading.org
Village Votes http://villagevotes.com/wiki/Village_Votes
Fri Nov 25th, 2011 at 07:08:05 PM EST
My sister sent my a link to a New Yorker article on the history of Occupy Wall Street:
It focuses on Kalle Lasn and Micah White of AdBusters, the organization that made the initial call for an occupation of Wall Street. They are both interesting characters with ideas not usually voiced in the major media. I do wish a little more time had been spent looking at David Graeber, the anarchist theorist who helped convene the first GA on the first day but you can read about him at
For all this history, what I find lacking is the larger context, that Occupy is part of a world-wide movement against corporate globalism and for person-to-person globalism that started with Mohammed Bouazizi setting himself on fire in Tunisia and continuing from there to Egypt, Libya, Yemen but also Spain, Greece, Macedonia, Brazil, Mexico, the UK.... In fact, the US movement is rather late to the party and is missing a real chance by not expressing forcefully their/our solidarity with the demonstrators now being brutalized in Tahrir Square. That would complete the circle, confuse the politicians and pundits, and make visible the global nature of this movement at last.
by DoDo - May 25
by DoDo - May 23
by Nomad - May 10
by JakeS - May 15
by gmoke - May 17
by DoDo - May 25
by DoDo - May 23
by gmoke - May 17
by JakeS - May 15
by DoDo - May 12
by Nomad - May 10
by marco - May 7
by afew - May 3
by ceebs - May 2
by gmoke - Apr 30