As a child, did you ever use a magnifying glass to barbeque ants? Sizzle flies? Burn leaves? Don’t worry, we won’t tell. Someone who may fall into this category has found an ingenious way to harness the sun’s power to make jewelry. No, not using the latest thin-film solar innovation. No, they’ve what appears to be a giant magnifying glass, capable of melting glass into a pliable state, suitable for making quite lovely jewelry. You can see the process here and the resulting jewelry here. According to the site,
The 3000¬∞ F heat is so intense that it can melt not only glass but metal and even rock!
It sounds like the makings of a potential James Bond villain tool, but thankfully, they’ve chosen it for much more benign, beautiful purposes. Ants everywhere will be relieved. Seeing this got me wondering about other innovative ways to make use of the sun’s energy. And this is what I’ve found:
Do you ever wonder, is my garbage can the problem or am I? Say you had to go without your canister of the wasted and undesirables, what would you do without one? It would be fair to say that for most Americans the answer would be panic!! The average Jack and Jill trashes 4.5 pounds of stuff every day, just imagine how quickly the heaps of garbage would pile up. Minus the increasing trend to recyle our waste nationally and add up the junk from our country’s 1654 landfills and you still get roughly 133 million tons each year. That figure is equivalent to the dismantiling and disposing of the Empire State Building every day. The waste footprint for people includes far more than the landfill space they contribute to.
At the GreenXchange conference last Tuesday, Tadashi Maeda, the Director General of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), remarked, “Japan is the world leader in efficient use of resources, even though we import most of it.” How do they do it? Japan doesn’t implement a carbon tax or have a carbon market. They rely entirely on voluntary agreements with local governments, markets, and civil society to reduce carbon output.
U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii of Fresno ruled on Wednesday the California has the right to regulate tail pipe emissions of greenhouse gases.
As most here probably know, California was the first state to legislate greenhouse gas emissions from cars, a law that has been modeled in similar form by 16 other states across the country. In September Vermont federal judge William Sessions III rejected automakers assertion that a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions wasn’t doable or that federal laws held sway over state rules.
In April the US Supreme Court ruled that, contrary to claims from the Bush administration, the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases.
Despite the ruling yesterday, the California law can’t be enforced without a waiver from the EPA allowing the state emission requirements to exceed federal standards. Something California has been waiting for now for two years.
The state has filed suit against the EPA to force it to act, which administrator Steven Johnson says it will do by the end of the year.
The road has been cleared, and the only obstacle now rests in Washington.
The mainstream media doesn’t seem to understand the potential magnitude of changes currently underway in the sensitive international monetary balance. On December 8th Iran decided to no longer accept the US dollar in exchange for its oil. Since the mainstream media did not cover it either, you may not remember that this was one of the last actions of any international significance done by Saddam Hussein before he once again caught the attention of the US (and incidentally, it is one of the first things to be undone after Baghdad fell). It looks like Iran is switching to the Euro rather than the basket of currencies that OPEC is considering in the wake of the US dollar’s recent weakness. An exodus from the dollar would effectively mark the end of the Bretton Woods agreement under which the US currency was established as the currency of oil and therefore international banking.
Yesterday, the GreenXchange Global Marketplace Conference in Los Angeles brought together influential players to discuss how to meet our current environmental challenges. TriplePundit was there to get the scoop.
Though harvesting wind energy with a kite or a sail is ancient technology, it is enjoying something of high-tech renaissance. Examples include the vision of Makani Power to harvest high altitude wind energy and English architectural firm Chetwood Associates’ design to “dam the wind” in a mountain gorge near Lake Ladoga in Northern Russia.
You may recognize the basic shape of a spinnaker sail in the Chetwood design, considered both an efficient means of capturing wind as well as an aesthetically pleasing structure designed to be “much less of a blot on this beautiful and unblemished landscape…” according to Laurie Chetwood, principal architect for the project. Attached to the sail is, of course, a turbine and power conduits to convert and transfer the wind energy.
If the project is approved, the wind dam will measure about 25 meters high by 75 meters wide (82 feet by 246 feet), at a cost of $5 million.
This leads me to think of my brother-in-law, a wildlife biologist in the business of assessing the damage to bird populations from wind power installations in Northern and Central California. I invite his comment on this design, as I do the for other biologists and experts in the field. What is the potential consequence of such a large, if elegant, “wind dam”?
According to the base case reference scenario built into the US Energy Information Administration’s International Energy Outlook 2006, worldwide electricity demand is expected to grow at a healthy average 2% per annum pace between 2000 and 2030 – increasing from 400 to more than 700 quadrillion BTUs per year. The majority of increasing demand will be in industrializing countries where more than 80% of the world’s population will live by 2030. Africa, for instance, currently accounts for only 1.4% of global carbon emissions, but foreign investment has been pouring into countries across the continent. Demand for increasingly costly natural resources is a primary driver, but there is a definite and growing focus on environmental health and sustainable development on the part of both governments and business organizations. Leading IT companies like IBM are playing an important role in such efforts. IBM has appointed executives, such as Maureen J. Baird, to lead a “Big Green” drive across the organization’s far flung operations. “IBM is uniquely positioned to work in all industries and all sectors bringing thought leadership and industry best practices,” according to Baird, IBM South Africa’s Business Development, Winback & Solutions Executive.
Take a look at this pile of waste. This is my foyer last week piled high with brand new yellow pages wrapped in plastic bags. It almost makes me sad, in a nostalgic sort of way to witness the demise of such a venerable icon as the phone book, but let’s be realistic here – no one in my building is going to pick one up. Well, almost no one. The fact is, these days, a phone book is only useful for propping up your chair. There are certainly some folks who insist on having one, but in the internet age, there is simply little use for these giant pieces of newsprint (to say nothing of the plastic bags). As a shareholder in AT&T, I’m equally disappointed that the company continues to shell out god-only-knows how much money each year printing and distributing these things. The phone book should be an option for customers who specifically request it, not an unwanted tome thumped on your doorstep.
Treasure Island, the man-made lump made up of 20 million cubic yards of sea floor soil sandwiched between 287,000 tons of rock and finally glazed over with 50,000 yards of loam. The island was created for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition and then claimed as a Naval base until it was decommissioned 11 years ago. Since that time the city of San Francisco has been mulling over a re-facing and studying how to redevelop the bleak landscape on the horizon. Following some-odd 300 meetings among officials, engineers, architects and the public, a plan has emerged and it is a bright green one. The task is to create a 13,500-person inhabited “urban oasis” consisting of the latest technology and natural systems that is expected to leave the slightest footprint on Earth! In 2009, Treasure Island will begin the initial phases of construction and the little known city will suddenly blossom as a hot-bed and laboratory of “green” development. The latest in water conservation, energy efficiency, waste management and low-impact living will be implemented. The goal: to create the most ecological city in the world, a shining example of what the future holds.
If you haven’t seen this video, take a peek. It’s not “new” news to those of us who’ve been following the issue for a while, but it’s a great, simple argument to pass around. The one thing I’d add to it is that taking action on climate change may actually be a boon to the economy, not a detriment, unless you’re stuck in the fossil fuel business and are unwilling to change! The author of this great series of videos remains un-named, though deserves great credit. His “index” of many more videos can be seen here. If you know his name, please leave it in the comments!
When hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast it not only uprooted and killed citizens, but it also killed millions of trees. In fact, Tulane University researchers estimated the number at 320 million. Not only does this loss decrease the amount of CO2 sequestered from the atmosphere, but the trees will actually contribute greenhouse gases to the atmosphere as they decay. I will examine just how big this problem is and explore some possible solutions.
I was just browsing YouTube videos without the intention of finding one to post here at TriplePundit, but as I listened to Larry it seemed to me this was the perfect place for it (it’s worth 20 minutes of your time).
Grasscrete, the green alternative to standard concrete surfaces for parking lots, driveways, and access roads for vehicles or fire trucks. The benefit to Grasscrete for businesses and developers is that it drains at about the same rate as would an ordinary lawn in the same location. The presence of concrete has little effect on the drainage; the soil and the slope are the controlling factors which makes it beneficial for erosion control as well. The idea is a simple one, the surface area of Grasscrete is 47% concrete and 53% holes (to be filled with Grass). Grasscrete is a pervious reinforced concrete structure for all types of areas that require traffic, either foot or wheel. Grass will generally spread and cover much of the concrete in areas not subject to regular vehicle traffic. Holes may also be filled or covered with crushed stone, seashells, and a wide variety of other drainable materials in cases where grass is not desired.
San Francisco: Dec 11 Building Health Forum More than 300 of the world’s preeminent experts and thought leaders pioneering the healthy buildings and healthy communities movement. Register here.
San Francisco: Jan 21 – Jan 22 Sustainable Food Summit Explore new horizons for eco-labels and sustainability in the food industry by discussing key industry issues. TriplePundit reader discount of 30%. Register here.
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