Thursday, April 26, 2007
Fuel Cells Cause Global Warming
In researching the many additional challenges associated with fuel cells the T-5 Group (a Think Tank) noted an issue with the way that Fuel Cells work. In the heat conversion process there seems to be a problem with the amount of heat they generate.
If the World is truly concerned with Global Warming then all those hydrogen cells will heat things up. In Urban areas this will exacerbate an already difficult situation with Urban Heat issues causing increased storm and weather intensities.
Consider the incredible challenge to minimize heat escaping on 10s of millions of Hydrogen Cell Vehicles on America's highways and in urban metro areas causing urban heat and the global warming concerns, as the number of Hydrogen Vehicles across the country increase over the next four decades.
All being true adds to the dilemma of "The Hydrogen Economy" (recommended reading list). It is also the case that in most of mankind's dilemmas we find the laws of unintended consequences. The fact that hydrogen cells puts out 400 to 1200 degrees of heat or more, which is a problem if all the vehicles are powered by hydrogen cell because of the greater heat footprint.
There for more work must be done to limit this heat down close to the ambient temperatures perhaps less, so they help cool things in the cities, which are already 5 - 10 degrees hotter due to all the concrete. This means more work and research is still needed.
This is not the only problem with Hydrogen Cells, merely one that few people are discussing. Perhaps no one wishes to make light of this problem because the Global Warming alarmists are indeed the same people promoting Hydrogen Cell Technologies. With new materials and ceramic coatings, it is feasible to limit the heat escaping to that of less that a regular car.
Labels: Fuel Cells Cause Global Warming
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
You Can't Be a Meat-Eating Environmentalist - Celebrate Earth Day by Going Vegan
A November 2006 United Nations report revealed that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Senior U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official Henning Steinfeld said that the meat industry is "one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems."
Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide together cause the vast majority of global warming. The livestock sector is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide and the single largest source of both methane and nitrous oxide emissions. In fact, according to the U.N., "the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential of CO2. Most of this comes from manure."
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago determined that switching to a vegan (pure vegetarian) diet is more effective in countering global warming than switching from a standard American car to a Toyota Prius. The researchers, Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin, found that American meat-eaters, on average, are responsible for nearly 1.5 tons more carbon dioxide per person per year than vegans simply because of their food choices.
The FAO report, "Livestock's Long Shadow—Environmental Issues and Options," indicates that animal agriculture is also a major source of land and water degradation. Livestock production accounts for 70 percent of all agricultural land and 30 percent of the land surface of the planet. The report states that "expansion of livestock production is a key factor in deforestation, especially in Latin America where the greatest amount of deforestation is occurring—70 percent of previous forested land in the Amazon is occupied by pastures, and feedcrops cover a large part of the remainder."
More than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to create cropland to grow grain to feed farmed animals, which are fed more than 70 percent of the corn, wheat, and other grains grown in the U.S.
The world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people—more than the entire human population on Earth. It would be much more efficient to feed this food directly to hungry, malnourished people. Approximately 1.4 billion people could be fed with the grain and soybeans fed to U.S. cattle alone.
Eating a vegan diet saves water as well. It takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, but only 25 gallons of water are needed to grow 1 pound of wheat. In fact, a vegan diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day. You save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you do by not showering for an entire year.
Animal agriculture not only wastes water but also pollutes our waterways. The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that factory farms pollute our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined. Animals raised for food produce approximately 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population—87,000 pounds per second. A Scripps Howard synopsis of a Senate Agricultural Committee report on farm pollution issued this warning about animal waste: "[I]t's untreated and unsanitary, bubbling with chemicals and diseased. … It goes onto the soil and into the water that many people will, ultimately, bathe in and wash their clothes with and drink. It is poisoning rivers and killing fish and making people sick. … Catastrophic cases of pollution, sickness, and death are occurring in areas where livestock operations are concentrated. … Every place where the animal factories have located, neighbors have complained of falling sick."
Nothing good comes from animal agriculture. Tasty and nutritious mock meats, nondairy milks, and egg alternatives can be produced without using a single animal. And by going vegan, you'll not only help the environment but also help protect your health and save animals' lives. Each vegetarian saves more than 100 animals every year. So respect your fellow earthlings this Earth Day—please see GoVeg.com // Meat and the Environment for more information and a free vegetarian starter kit.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The Military and Climate Change
The April 15th, 2007 Washington Post article called, "Military Sees Security Threat" by Juliet Eilperin adds fuel to my previous commentary on "Climate Change: Security or Aid." It is amazing that only a few short months ago no one in the Bush Administration was taking climate change very seriously and now The U.S. military is calling it a potential national security threat.
A report released on April 16th by 11 retired generals says that "global warming presents a significant national security challenges to the United States." According to the Post, the report says that global warming could destabilize "vulnerable states in Africa and Asia and drive a flood of migrants to richer countries." The Post confirmed that "the military has begun studying possible future impacts of global warming with new intensity."
The report notes that poorer states will find it increasingly difficult to meet their basic needs. Of specific note was the fact that 40% of the world population gets at least 50% of drinking water from glaciers which are now rapidly drying up. The inability of governments to protect and provide for its citizens will make such places as "ripe for turmoil, extremism and terrorism." Vice Admiral Richard Truly was quoted as saying, "It's going to happen to every country and every person in the whole world at the same time."
What is interesting is that only a few short months ago the Bush Administration was still denying that climate change was even a reality. And yet, there are reports coming from the military that have been under way for a while that are warning that climate change could impact national security. There is little doubt that other developed nations are also reaching their own conclusions regarding the destabilizing effects of global warning.
This again raises the specter of military control in dealing with social issues. When terrorism erupted we saw our rights dwindle under the Patriot Act. And, while I supported some of its provisions, its implementation has left much to be desired. We are all familiar with the concerns over the privacy of our mail, phone calls and emails and the abuse by the FBI and CIA. To deal with the migration issue we used the umbrella of terrorism once again and now we have the start of our own Berlin Wall. If climate change is considered in light of terrorism, will the military will once again be in the forefront of shaping our policies? What rights and privileges will we use to combat rising sea levels, droughts and food shortages?
Can we avoid this growth in military dominance by taking a more active and urgent role is helping other countries cope with global warming? Wouldn't it make sense to start now and work with the at risk countries to help them plan for possible disaster? We are walking a very thin line in allowing the military to place all social issues in the context of terrorism. While there is certainly a place for the military with regards to dealing with "real" terrorists threats, I am not sure that the best way to deal with our climate crisis is the militarization of the problem. How many more rights are we willing to sacrifice under the guise of security? If we do not take a more humanitarian position on these issues what will happen to our values as a nation? We need to think hard and fast here because Mother Nature has run out of patience.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Need and Want
Since the beginning of time on earth man has been "acquiring". It began with basic "need," progressively advancing to further and greater "needs", and as it all evolved into something resembling what we now call our civilisation, the need has become – now more than ever - "wanting", as the basics of our "needs" have long since been met.
Beginning with the things needed and evolved into the things wanted we heavily draw on the supplies that make the manufacture of our "wants" possible, and with it begin to deplete our earth of its natural resources (some of which are already running out) – like oil for our machines and engines, wood for our furniture and the production of paper, petrol for our cars and soon, maybe, gas for our cooking etc, leaving ourselves eventually destitute of that which we really need for the purpose of our very existence and survival.
Do we really need all the things we squander of the earths' supplies? Do we need to chop down trees (which incidentally cleanse from carbon dioxide and supply us with oxygen for the air we breathe) for so many wasteful "creations" like endless fencing and wood chips for our garden beds? Do we need so many metal containers, and gadgets for so many different purposes? Do we need so much oil for the machinery that produces these "unnecessaries," and its by-products: petrol for the cars that take us to the destinations, where other transport of greater economy, – namely buses, trains, trams would suffice? The list of waste is endless! Such is the result of our "need" to "want"!
The more money available the greater the thirst for want! The old is readily discarded for the new, and the more each new one is satisfied, the more the need for another, new "want".
In the end, the gratification for each "want" no longer satisfies; the senses of appreciation of the wanted thing become dulled and the further acquisition of new things become the need to obey an urge that has become a habit.
What about making it a habitual urge to "save" our future by saving our resources through less buying, using and wasting?
How about "wanting" to save our planet.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Australian Politicians At Loggerheads Over Climate Change Policies
I am amazed how the Howard Government continues it's stoic stance on the refusal to participate or comply with the Kyoto Protocol. Using economic driven reasons for this, is fast becoming a paper thin mask, for what the real purpose of this is, and that is to retain political power, with promises of economic reforms for Climate Control, which have come too late and too little.
As an Australian citizen I am embarrassed by the slamming Australia received in the International arena at the recent UN meetings in Europe. Australia needs to make a much tougher and more immediate target to bring the reduction of our Greenhouse Gas Emissions down to an acceptable level. Rudd and Garret however, have taken a tough stance against this Governments inaction and seem to be making it their main political drive, coming up to the Federal Elections. Whilst we all realize that these changes cannot occur overnight and will in fact, take a great deal of forward economic planning, I am of the opinion that most Australian citizens are so concerned about the effects of Climate Change, that most people I have spoken to about this topic,are not concerned about the personal cost to themselves. If it means that we all give another dollar or two in taxes for this specific purpose, then so be it! After all, we are all acutely aware of the effects Climate Change is having in our country and it seems it is getting worse every year.
How long are we going to wait? Many of our generation, baby boomer era, are of the opinion that it won't be our problem to worry about, because we won't be here anyway. I'm appalled by this attitude, as well. What of our children and humanity's future in general?What price will they pay for our greed and apathy? Where will our food come from if our major River Systems are not managed immediately to address the rising salt tables and drying up of our most productive produce regions?
Not to mention either, the rising sea levels, which seem to be increasing faster than previously forecast. The Ice caps are melting at a pretty phenomenal rate. What will happen to our beloved coastline and in particular, our beloved Gold Coast? Surely there must be sufficient economic cause there to drive the political engines into action with regard to the possible loss of so much Tourist based revenue?
I attended the first ever Greenhouse Conference held in Sydney in 1988. That was almost twenty years ago now. The scary thing is that some of the scientific predictions forecast back then, to start occurring by 2050, are starting to happen now! It's exponential and a run away train, but panic will not solve the issues, only action. Australian Politicians need to form a united front on the entire issue, pull together and stop using it as a political point scoring agenda.
We are on the brink of a mass extinction event. Do we really want to be one of the species counted among them?
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Portable Solar Energy Power Stations
Portable solar energy power stations may sound, to some, like a dream. They can think of many places where portable solar would be useful, such as the RV they love to take camping, or the boat they use for long fishing trips. They cannot imagine, though, that portable solar energy power stations actually do exist.
Portable solar energy power stations have many practical uses, which we will discuss later, but what is portable solar power?
Description of Portable Solar Power
Portable solar power is energy generated from sunlight, the generator being of a size and form that can be moved readily from place to place.
Most portable solar power units use photovoltaic panels (PV panels) in one way or another. Some are amazingly small, and can be carried in a pocket, while others must be moved on a flat-bed trailer or truck.
Examples of Portable Solar Power
You may already be using portable solar power without realizing it. The following are examples of different sizes and styles of portable solar power.
1. Pocket calculators have been using portable solar power for years. Expose the calculator to sunlight, and it stores solar power for use. You can then carry this solar power into a field or up a mountain track.
2. Garden lights, or lights around a swimming pool now use portable solar power. If you want to rearrange your lights, or you decide to carry one as a flashlight, the portable solar power goes with you.
3. A multipurpose portable solar power unit is the fold-out solar panel that can be carried in a case the size of your day planner. Wherever you take it, you can open the panel to charge your cell phone battery, GPS, or other similar "gadget" you carry.
4. "Powerfilm" products are paper-thin PV panels – further examples of portable solar power. These products can be easily carried to charge almost all Lithium, NiCad or NiMH batteries. You can recharge batteries for boom boxes at the beach or while camping. You can recharge your digital camera or camcorder while on a hike. As long as you have sunlight, you have portable solar power.
5. Flexible PV panels, rugged and durable, give portable solar power for hikers and campers. This portable solar power can be rolled up like a sleeping bag, and then set up anywhere. You can drop it, step on it, dampen it while crossing a stream – and it will still give you power.
6. Larger portable solar energy power stations can consist of one or more photovoltaic panels (PV panels), simple wiring for the input jack, and a battery – sometimes referred to as a power pack. A commercially-produced portable solar power unit like this may also include a small fluorescent light, and a connection to your vehicle's cigarette lighter plug.
Examples of Innovative Portable Solar Power
Portable solar energy can, as we said, be carried with you. It can provide electrical energy when you travel to a remote third world village on business. It can provide military units with necessary electrical energy while they are on the move. It can power a small heater in a winter camping tent, or provide a reading light for campers. It is valuable and convenient.
As our demand for that value and convenience increases, portable solar power is becoming more innovative. Portable solar power is being added to clothing and backpacks. It is being added to handbags. You need never worry about cell phones, laptops or other electronics going dead again. Portable solar power is yours to use, anywhere, free.
Did you know about these products? Some are experimental, but others area on the market.
1. If you want "lady-like" portable solar power, you might choose the "Power Purse" as a lovely accessory. This purse is more than an accessory, though. It can power up small electronics. Designed by Joe Hynek in a handbag competition, this little black bag is covered with laminated portable solar power panels. It has a short plastic handle, and can easily be carried anywhere. Imagine the possibilities.
2. But a purse is not always appropriate. If you're stuck in the middle of nowhere, in a field, you might be happy to have the "Juice Bag" backpack on your shoulders. A Juice Bag is a worldwide patented portable solar power backpack. Flexible ballistic nylon solar panels make it lighter than solar bags with stiff glass solar panels. Take off your Juice Bag when you need to recharge items such as cameras, cell phones, or GPS units. It generates electricity in both direct and indirect sunlight.
3. Portable solar power is also available in a cozy jacket with multiple pockets. Hikers, military personnel, and travelers can fill the pockets with cell phone, GPS, laptop, camera, and other electronic devices. Then slip the 3 ounce portable solar power panel into a special holder on the back of the jacket, and you can generate energy for your electronics.
Portable solar energy power stations make use of these ideas and more. They may be large enough to generate sufficient electrical power for a small village, or small enough to be carried by a child. Whichever it is, portable solar power is definitely "on the go" in many places and in many ways.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
High Power Laser Pointers And Non Lethal Deterrent - Saving Military And Civilian Lives
US and coalition military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are employing high power laser pointers as means of non lethal deterrent and saving lives. High power laser pointers though are a new form of technology and are not yet standard military issue. Due to their immense value in combat situations, military personnel and their families are regularly buying high power laser pointers at their own expense.
Sergeant Maiolo of the OIF 3 is one of many military personal who privately purchased a high power laser pointer.
"I am deployed at Baghdad in OIF 3. I recently showed this laser product to the platoon leader and both of us came up with many possible uses for this military device.... This is a great alternative to tracer fire to direct troops or a great way to paint a target; also a great intimidation to our enemies overseas...We were thinking of ordering one for each platoon in our company. " Sgt. David Maiolo
In a recent response to the value of laser pointers as means of non lethal deterrent and saving lives, the US army Rapid Equipping Force (REF) at Fort Belvoir Va has expedited the shipment of 2000 laser pointers to soldiers in Baghdad, Iraq.
In terms of their use, a common dilemma often faced by soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan is how to warn/deter suspicious or aggressively driven vehicles that are approaching their checkpoint or convoy operations with out using potentially lethal force. This is particularly a problem during night operations when identification is more difficult. Laser pointers have been especially useful in this regard as a means of non lethal deterrent.
"The system was very effective in stopping oncoming traffic and personnel," – Spec. Loren active duty Iraq
The use of laser pointers in combat zones is not just limited to fixed positions and vehicles. Military personnel out on patrol or in the field have also used laser pointers as a non lethal means of deterrent. This use is clearly illustrated from a soldiers records of a Baghdad night patrol on Route Michigan.
"Hey!" the lieutenant shouted, shining a green laser pointer at a group of men, walking into the road from an alley 50-75 yards away. They scattered."
The importance of laser pointers in saving lives is also acknowledged by the Department of Defence (DOF). "When you consider the alternative which is a bullet, I honestly believe we can use [lasers]; we can use them effectively. We can use them in ways that don't necessarily even, quote, unquote, "light up" the individual, but provide a marker so individuals realize they are approaching a danger point. And we will do everything possible to inform the Iraqi people of their use, so when they see them, they react appropriately." – Lieutenant General (LTG) Pete Chiarelli
These high powered laser pointers are commercially available and are normally purchased by military personnel and their families online. In situations when lives are at stake, it is essential for the laser pointer to be effective. An effective laser pointer should be high power (at least 75mW), high quality components and have out standing beam specifications. Lives could easily be lost if poor quality, low power shoddy laser pointers were used.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Packaging "Greenwash" - Saving The Environment
Wow, have I been flooded with a host of new "green" packaging innovations. Everyone is jumping on the environmentalist's green band wagon. I am constantly asked if environmental sustainability is a flash in the pan. If this is any indication, the recent Sustainable Packaging Forum was sold out with attendees looking for the latest packaging news in saving the environment.
I have joked before that packaging is the true cause of "global warming." But seriously, what is the reality? What is the real truth behind companies touting green packaging for the benefit of society? Environmental issues are a hot topic right now, so people are climbing aboard. Global warming topics are on the news daily and people are looking for scapegoats as to its cause. Companies such as Wal-Mart are driving manufacturers to consider more environmentally friendly options in their packaging materials. In fact, they just unveiled their packaging scorecard to continue their commitment of reducing packaging across its global supply chain by 5 percent by 2013.
The packaging industry is often chastised for having unfriendly environmental policies. I'm not here to debate this point, but I do want to talk about using environmental issues in a positive and realistic manner.
Let's take the word "green" as an example. Obviously, we think of the color first.
But what about the variations of the definition that relate to packaging? How green is your packaging world?
• Green could mean less damage to the environment.
• Green could imply producing packaging from renewable resources.
• Green could entail designing products for environmental sustainability.
• Green could connote the use of less material and recyclable and degradable materials.
So "green" can be maximized for branding purposes in a host of different ways. If you have a "green" packaging product what ways are you capitalizing on the current media exposure? (In addition to sending out a press announcement.) Here are a few points to consider:
• Did you support or promote participation in any Earth Day activities?
• Do you belong to one of the many organizations that support "green" and the environment?
• Did you orchestrate your new packaging introduction to coincide with Earth Day or other environmental events?
• Have you submitted your green product to the numerous packaging associations that offer opportunities for environmental awards?
• Have you submitted your package to any of the non packaging related organizations that have "environmental" awards?
• Do you have a plan in place for your staff to understand and utilize in order to build your "green" brand?
• Do your employees believe in being "green?" (This is a very important buy in.)
• Have you looked at any websites such as treehugger.com (great site with lots about packaging) to see what they are doing?
Sure it seems a bit far fetched but Treehugger lives in the blogosphere world and we all know how important blogging is to the media. Try a quick GOOGLE search for "green packaging." Yes, there are a few products listed but what is more important is what is NOT there. A huge area of untapped marketing potential is available for increasing the visibility for your packaging products.
No matter how unusual or "out there" the opportunity seems do not under estimate who will see and read about your "green" brand. The branding hot spots I want you to think about are:
(1) Is your "green" packaging product is a flash in the pan?
(2) Has there been serious brand integration of the "green" message throughout your company?
(3) Are you using your "green" message in all the promotion, literature and media exposure?
The reality begs this question. Are you packaging "greenwash" to capitalize on a current media trend or are you saving the environment with "true" environmentally friendly packaging?
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Giant Squid Is Evidence Of Trouble To Come
Al Gore didn't mention the giant squid during his appearance at the Academy Awards, but he certainly could have. Experts say that the rare colossal squid recently caught by a New Zealand fishing party may not be unusual in coming years. Thanks to rising temperatures, squid and octopuses are gradually becoming larger.
The experts interviewed by reporters were practically jovial about this. The upside of global warming, some suggested, is that we could soon be enjoying meaty calamari rings as large as tractor tires.
One expert on cephalopods even offered this fascinating insight: "They taste great."
While some scientists cracked jokes—"Calamari, anyone?"—I wasn't laughing. Aside from my very real concerns about global warming, reading about an animal who fought for his life for two hours—two hours!—before finally succumbing to exhaustion didn't strike me as very funny. New Zealand Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said that the squid was "almost dead when it reached the surface"—who wouldn't be after struggling for so long?—and was hauled on board the fishing vessel, then frozen in the ship's hull. After that, the squid was taken back to New Zealand to be poked and prodded by researchers.
Now that the "joke" has run its course, we must face facts. As commercial fishing vessels go further and further out to the deeper parts of the ocean—because they have overfished coastal waters—we will see many once-elusive animals like the colossal squid entangled in their nets and lines. This is no reason for celebration.
Commercial fishing is decimating our ocean ecosystems. Ninety percent of large fish populations have been exterminated in the past 50 years, and a recent report estimates that by the year 2048, our oceans will have been completely overfished. Many fish—thousands upon thousands of fish—as well as sea turtles, birds, seals and squid, are caught by "mistake," entangled in nets or hooked by long-lines. Scientists recently found that nearly 1,000 marine mammals—dolphins, whales and porpoises—are killed every single day after being caught in fishing nets. Most of these dead and dying animals will be thrown back into the ocean after the nets are pulled up and the catch is sorted.
To make matters worse, all marine animals, including fish, suffer horribly when they are impaled on hooks or cut open by the thin mesh of a net.
One of my colleagues at PETA witnessed this firsthand when she went out on a commercial gill netter for a television documentary. On gill netters, every fish caught is entangled in the net, and the fish are pulled aboard one by one as the net is reeled in. My colleague watched as fish after fish was torn out of the tangled net, their bodies sliced to ribbons.
These wounded fish were roughly tossed into a metal bin. Some were still thrashing, some were too tired to move; many were vomiting up their guts, their eyes bulging from the pressure change. After a few minutes, their gill arches were slit and they were thrown into the next bin, where they twitched and gasped, slowly bleeding to death.
None of this is necessary. Leaving fish (and other animals) off our plates is the most humane choice—and the best way to help replenish the world's fragile oceans. It is the only way to ensure that spectacular animals like the colossal squid, surely one of the most mysterious beings of the deep ocean, are spared the indignity of being violently hauled out of their watery homes and turned into the butt of cheap jokes.