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5 Cool Clean & Green Ideas You Don’t Hear Much About

[ Comments Off ]Posted on February 22, 2013 by admin in Clean & Green

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Maybe the infamous “they” aren’t suppressing the technology, maybe we’re just plain lazy and apathetic.

I was surprised a couple of years ago when the idea to transform America’s highways into a huge solar grid (we touched on it here) didn’t get a lot more buzz. Regardless of the short-term costs and technical obstacles, repaving America with solar collectors is the stuff of forward-thinking infrastructure rebuilding dreams that could re-shape the global economy. Maybe that’s part of the problem. If you were someone who had hundreds of billions invested in the allegedly limitless oil reserves around the globe, why would you want to change the revenue model? But there’s probably no huge conspiracy to suppress technology, we’re probably just not paying attention. Which is why you may not have heard in the last year about cool ideas like the project at Ohio State where they figured out a way to harness the energy of coal without burning it, capturing 99 percent of the carbon dioxide produced in the reaction. Or how MIT created a light source that cools its surrounding environment rather than heating it. Or the technology that may soon make spray on solar panels commercially viable. Or kinetic sidewalks that capture the energy from our footsteps and convert it to electricity.  I guess it’s no surprise that we don’t hear more about all this cool stuff; we are indeed pretty addicted to our fossil fuels. Even though it was Norway that came up with the clever idea of the poop-powered buses we talked about  a couple of years ago, they’re still pretty passionate about the more old-fashioned sort of logs. In fact they’ll watch 12-hour shows about them.

What The Frack Do You Care?

[ Comments Off ]Posted on January 18, 2013 by admin in Clean & Green

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Poor, poor fracking. It’s so misunderstood.

It’s amazing how many people still haven’t heard about fracking, or are only superficially aware of what it is. Especially since now you can actually see the results of it from orbit. Even in New York state – an area where public water resources are most likely to be devastated by the process, public sentiment is still split almost 50-50. And although the recent release of the film Promised Land (starring Matt Damon) offered hopes of bringing attention to the issue, its early performance at the box office suggests otherwise. And it probably won’t help that the cash-flush energy industry is pouring on the public relations spigot to buy ad time that screens before the movie, right in the theater. So if you have no idea what the frack hydraulic fracturing is, and don’t feel like sitting through energy industry propaganda followed by a Gus Van Sant film, a good place to start is probably the award-winning documentary Gasland. Nothing gets a point across like watching people’s tap water catch fire. Which is one of the many disturbing side effects of fracking. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of intelligent arguments in favor of fracking. Malcolm Gissen points out that poor fracking is just misunderstood. And Kevin D. Williamson points out that we need to face our frack hysteria. And then there’s the website, which points out that “the shale gas revolution is firing up an old-fashioned American industrial revival, breathing life into businesses”. The problem is, these intelligent people are basically shills. Malcolm Gissen says in that article that he considers himself an environmentalist, but his only significant pursuits for the last decade have been in investment counseling. And Kevin D. Williamson is a writer/editor with the National Review. He has a book on Amazon, and in the description it says the book will explain “how the ideology has spawned crushing poverty, devastating famines, and horrific wars. Lumbering from one crisis to the next, leaving a trail of economic devastation and environmental catastrophe…” Sounds like an anti-capitalist tree hugger rant, right? Well, it would, if the the book weren’t called “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism” . And that website referenced? As is so often the case these days, if something is really bad for you, there are plenty of front groups paid for by the people who don’t give a shit about anything but their bottom line to tell you that it’s not. And the breezy “green” design style of that site masks the fact that it’s operated by the “Competitive Enterprise Institute”, which which SourceWatch points out has long ties to tobacco disinformation campaigns and climate change denial. So as you ponder the cases presented by the experts on either side of the fracking debate, you might want to ponder the expert’s motivation. Who knows. Maybe the indictments and record $4.5 billion penalties in the gulf oil spill case have made energy exec’s hearts soften to the value of human life and a clean Earth. I mean, they have nothing to hide, right?

F-16s and Football

[ 2 Comments ]Posted on November 19, 2011 by admin in Clean & Green

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

The U of M jet fighter flyovers on football Saturdays are more fun than a clown on fire, and probably comparable in price, depending on the clown.

This is what football stadium
flyovers look like in other countries.

I live in a town that is home to one of the best college football teams in the country. Although I’m not a huge football fan, I still guess that’s kind of cool. Although sometimes I think the local university may have its priorities screwed up; whenever I look at the largest college football stadium in the country, I remember the time a few years ago when a friend of mine was tutoring one of the team’s star players, and he broke down crying in the second session, because he literally couldn’t read.

But that’s not what I really want to talk about. I want to talk about jet fighters. For at least the last two years, the university has commissioned US military jet flyovers for games. I guess it’s really invigorating to have these thunderous machines of destruction fly over the stadium at halftime. That must be why the Israeli military does nightly machbusting flyovers of Palestine. They just want to INVIGORATE the families and children that live there. But what does all this invigoration COST, I wondered. So I did a little research. It appears that a conservative estimate of the operating cost per hour of an F-16 (the jets in question) is about $3,000-$5,000 (source, PDF). So today, when those four jets “invigorate” the entire town, the base cost could easily be about $12,000-$20,000.

This made me curious about two other things. The first was, how far could a typical gas-guzzling SUV drive on the amount of fuel these jets consume? There is of course no scientific source for this kind of comparison, but we did our best. GM cleverly doesn’t have to rate the mileage of its H2 Hummer because of its GVWR, but if you average the figures here, you come up with exactly 10 miles per gallon. Likewise with the F-16′s fuel consumption, the figures are highly technical, not broadly advertised, and are influenced by things like altitude, airspeed, and whether or not the craft is in afterburner mode or not. The range of consumption though is 55,000-90,000lb/hour, so we averaged that to 72,500. One pound of standard F-16 fuel is about 6.85 gallons, so in an hour, the jet could use 10,583 gallons. That of course means the fuel the F-16 uses in one hour could take a Hummer 105,830 miles, which is about five times around the Earth, or half way to the moon. Your choice. Your results with the Toyota Prius will be a little different, you’d be able to go 582,065 miles, so you could go to the moon and BACK, and still have enough gas to drive around the Earth almost six times.

The second question was WHO THE HELL PAYS for this? We have an inquiry in with the university, and local news sources say it’s all part of a “military appreciation event”, which includes a pregame tailgate for Michigan “Gold Star” families, university staff, and student veterans. But we suspect in the end it’s your tax dollars.

Things Are Gettin’ Greener On The Server Farm

[ Comments Off ]Posted on October 26, 2011 by admin in Clean & Green

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Did you know that two Google searches generate as much CO2 as boiling water on your stovetop? Big tech companies are finally taking bigger steps toward addressing their data center’s environmental impact, which often rivals that of entire cities.

A couple of years ago, we talked about your Facebook Footprint, pointing out that two Google searches produce the same amount of CO2 as boiling water on your stovetop, and that Facebook has a carbon footprint equal to half of New York City. So have things changed much? You’d like to think that the brightest minds at innovative companies like Google would have a solid forward vision as they build the massive data centers that power the things that you do every day on the web, but do they? Well, it’s hard to tell. In spite of the fact that large tech companies like Google and Facebook don’t think YOU deserve much privacy, they treat information about their data centers like state secrets. None of the major tech firms in a Greenpeace roundup fared especially well, primarily because of a lack of transparency on the part of the companies in question. But it appears big tech firms are finally making SOME kind of effort. AMD and HP are partnering to explore the potential of solar-only distributed data centers. After considerable pressure, Facebook installed solar panels at their Oregon operation earlier this year, and suggesting maybe there’s some kind of financial sense to the idea (although this is a common argument against green energy) even Standard & Poors is getting in on the action. And Apple – in spite of being such an innovative company when it comes to devices and the revenue streams attached to them, is one of the late joiners in the game. For more comprehensive roundups if you’re interested, check out this special report from or this one from EcoFriend  .

P-Harmony Pairs Lonely Politicians & Lovelorn Lobbyists

[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 27, 2011 by admin in Clean & Green

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Finally, politicians who are bored with casually screwing their constituents can find deeper, more rewarding relationships through online dating.

Are you a love-starved DC lobbyist, looking for some hot freshman action? Or maybe a stimulation junky politician, who already has a hot trophy wife and portrait-perfect kids, but would love to get in bed and talk dirt with a well-oiled energy lobbyist who wants to “drill baby drill”? Well, thanks to the internet and sophisticated tools refined through decades of computerized dating, you no longer need spend all that extra time wining and dining the politician who will take any position you like, or the lobbyist to lubricate your dreams of power. Because now there’s P-Harmony. To be honest, I’m not sure I always care for Greenpeace’s methods or agendas, and I’ve seen so many virals that I think I’ve contracted  a permanent infection, but I still enjoyed the recent Greenpeace parody dating service campaign “Polluter Harmony”. Especially when they took a particularly witty swipe at a congressman from my home state. When the lobbyist in the video below asks P-Harmony’s Chief Harmonologist if he has an in with the “Kŏchs”, he says “It’s Kōch, and yes, I swing with them all the time”. See more P-Harmony member profiles here . Video below.

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