Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Quote from Rob Hopkins, Founder of the Transition Movement

it feels like the world has gone from “there’s no problem” to saying “it’s too late” without the bit in the middle “maybe we can actually do something.

Read interview after his recent, probably once in a lifetime since he doesn't fly (carbon emissions), visit to the United States. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Best Plants for the End of the World

 Just starting my list.


MB001 Moringa: Natures Medicinal Cabinet
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moringa_oleifera -  Tree - superfood high in vitamin C, calcium, protein, oil,
Moringa may provide the boost in energy, nutrition and health you've been seeking. It's a remarkable tree whose leaves, pods and flowers have seven times the Vitamin C found in oranges, four times the Vitamin A of carrots, three times the iron of spinach, four times as much calcium as milk and three times the potassium of bananas. And its medicinal properties are no less impressive. Besides providing a natural energy boost, people also report their immune system strengthened, skin condition restored, blood pressure controlled, headaches and migraines handled, diabetes sugar level managed, inflammations and arthritis pains reduced, tumors restricted and ulcers healed. Excited laboratory researchers have already confirmed many of these results, and work is continuing.
Moringa also has a well-documented detoxifying effect. Universities around the world have studied Moringa's ability to purify water--attaching itself to harmful material and bacteria, and allowing them to be expelled as waste. The evidence points to this same process going on inside your body.


Hemp - high protein seeds

Other Uses

Hemp - Fiber. Fast growing, low water, low pest

Soap Nut Tree - for your laundry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapindus
There are two native varieties. 
Aztec Maxamillian Sunflower  - Rapidly produces a large hedge - Edible flowers, livestock forage,  http://www.bonanza.com/listings/Sunflower-Aztec-Maximilian-Tree-Seeds-EZ-Grow-Instant-Screeni-Hedge-Plant/117988305

Solar Antenna Printed onto Plastic at Pennies per Yard

 Another entry for my Things That Give Me Hope Pinterest Board.
A novel way to collect energy from the sun with a technology that could potentially cost pennies a yard, be imprinted on flexible materials and still draw energy after the sun has set.

The new approach, which garnered two 2007 Nano50 awards, uses a special manufacturing process to stamp tiny loops of conducting metal onto a sheet of plastic. Each "nanoantenna" is as wide as 1/25 the diameter of a human hair.

Because of their size, the nanoantennas absorb energy in the infrared part of the spectrum, just outside the range of what is visible to the eye. The sun radiates a lot of infrared energy, some of which is soaked up by the earth and later released as radiation for hours after sunset. Nanoantennas can take in energy from both sunlight and the earth's heat, with higher efficiency than conventional solar cells.

So far, the hold up is in converting the collected energy to usable electricity.
More info: https://inlportal.inl.gov/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1269&mode=2&featurestory=DA_101047

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Allan Savory: How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change with livestock!

The great herds of animals that roamed the earth were an essential part of the ecosystem.  Their removal for monocropping and/or our system of limiting their movements has increased desertification. This Ted talk illustrates how proper grazing of large herds restores land.  

Perhaps it's a good companion to the earlier post on grazing animals and growing grain in the same pasture using no till methods.  Especially in the parts of the world where they don't use giant machines to till, plant and harvest. 

See also this person's collection of articles on reversing climate change while meeting human needs that includes many of Allan Savory's articles. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1r1L5uMGs3AKFRYwOhBxamHkMNcA818qxmkbn3T4o6ig/pub

Thursday, February 28, 2013

MetroThermal Energy -- Parisian Building Taps Metro System as a Heat Source | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

See!  That's whatI'm talking about!

Parisian Building Taps Metro System as a Heat Source | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building:

'via Blog this'

Container mid-rise housing

NYC is Preparing Shipping Container Homes for Future Hurricanes and Disasters Sea Box NYC – Inhabitat New York City:

'via Blog this'

How about creating a hotel/motel like this? or small permanent housing. Some gaps between units for outdoor space would be nice.

Delhi University Students to Harness Wind Energy Produced by Metro Trains | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Delhi University Students to Harness Wind Energy Produced by Metro Trains | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building:

With wind turbines placed along the tunnels.  Just one example of many activities that produce energy we let go to waste. We should be collecting energy byproducts of all activity. at the very least, use it to help power that activity.

(I still don't get why the fukishima nuclear power plant required  electricity from the outside grid.  It was a power plant.  And as long as the rods were hot enough to be dangerous, they were hot enough to turn a turbine and produce power.  Why would you do it any other way?)

'via Blog this'

Friday, February 22, 2013

Raising Sheep and Grain in the Same Field

Pasture Cropping: A Regenerative Solution from Down Under | Solutions:

Since the late 1990s, Australian farmer Colin Seis has been successfully planting a cereal crop into perennial pasture on his sheep farm during the dormant period using no-till drilling, a method that uses a drill to sow seeds instead of the traditional plow. He calls it pasture cropping and he gains two crops this way from one parcel of land—a cereal crop for food or forage and wool or lamb meat from his pastures—which means its potential for feeding the world in a sustainable manner is significant.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New Spin on Concentrated PV - V3Solar's CoolSpin produces electricity at $.08/kw

An even better solar innovation that's supposed to be available in the second quarter of this year. “Using specialized lensing and a [1 meter] rotating, conical shape, the Spin Cell can concentrate the sunlight 30X onto one sun mono PV with no heat degradation. This increases the Power Density while lowering the Total Cost of Ownership and Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), which is estimated to be $.08/kWh for the Spin Cell" This makes a very efficient cell (24%) at a fraction of the cost per kw and uses only 5% of PV of a flat panel to produce the same amount of power. They are also more efficient at all sun angles, meaning all day and all year. And in an earlier estimate from an article last May, the ROI was estimated to be less than 4 years. "The heat generated by the concentrated lens does not have enough time to transfer to the PV as it cycles out of the sunlight into the shade allowing the next piece of standard PV to go through exactly the same process, again, and again, and again. Constant cooling through dynamic spin creates higher power generation and longer life of the PV." V3Solar already has over 4 GW of requests for orders, which includes the U. S. Army. To put that into perspective, the US currently has about 7 GW of installed solar power capacity. (the 8¢/kWh figure is LCOE; and the BOM cost is 59 cents/Wp, including racking, tracking, and the inverter.) Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/01/24/v3solar-spin-cell-cones-cheap-solar/#l2Aqm7BhqTHEUtzL.99 This article has some very cool images of the cones mounted on light poles and other artsy installations: http://cleantechnica.com/2012/05/03/solarphasec-solar-power-meets-art/

Monday, February 4, 2013

Wave Energy - One of the many ways the Earth generates power without burning something.

The ocean produces a tremendous amount of power 24-7. Wave energy is frequently captured with buoys that rock with the waves, and also involve a great deal of steel. This is one that uses a long, rubber, under water tube called the Anaconda: As waves push against the tube, a surge of water forms and is pushed all the way to the back of the tube where it hits a turbine. http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/giant-rubber-snake-anaconda-could-bring-cost-of-wave-power-down.html

More advances in Solar Cells

Silicon based solar panels use holographic foil that concentrates sunling to increase efficiency of panels and reduce amount of silicon needed. And the printing onto glass method reduces production costs. The system can achieve 28 percent efficiency, much higher than the average 17 efficiency of currently used solar panels. The holographic foil is printed on the cover glass and filters the only the desirable wavelengths of the light. The sunlight is then concentrated on the solar cells, preventing significant energy losses. This concentration reduces the amount of silicon needed by up to 90%. The printing process, modules can be cheaply duplicated. Read more: New Solar Module Uses Holographic Foil to Create Cheaper, More Efficient Panels | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building The most efficient solar panels created have a 43% efficiency, but use technology that is too expensive to be feasible. http://inhabitat.com/australian-scientists-develop-worlds-most-efficient-solar-cell/ At least as of '09 when that article was written. They use a special silicon cell optimized to harness light at the red and near-infrared end of the light spectrum, combined with four other cells made from gallium, indium, phosphorous and arsenic. Read more: Australian Scientists Develop World’s Most Efficient Solar Cell | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building And here's another advance: Black solar cells that reduce reflectivity. Apparently the reflection of the sun's rays is one of the issues reducing effecency of PV panels.

Cow Power manure digesters produce biogas.

Vermont Green Mountain power company puts manure digesters at Dairy farms to produce green energy from the biomass, reduce waste problem, etc. More about Cow Power from Green Mountain Power: http://www.greenmountainpower.com/renewable/cow/how-it-works/ Cow Power in British Columbia: http://www.cowpowerbc.com/cowpower-and-leed

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Earliest Blooms Recorded in U.S. Due to Global WarmingArticle: Plants still able to cope with rising temperatures, study finds. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/01/130116-spring-earlier-global-warming-plants-trees-blooming-science?utm_campaign=Content&utm_content=link_tw20130118news-flowerblooms&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter In 2010 and 2012. I know I missed blackberry season. Just about the normal time for blackberries, I asked a few people if they'd seen any and I was told I'd missed them. In 2011, it was big news in Wisconsin and Minnesota that the cold tolerance zones had been adjusted for the warmer weather and they could plant some non native things they hadn't been able to before. But there wasn't much talk about how this isn't necessarily a good thing. It means new species invade. It means old species die out in that area. And some species might not get the cold period they need so they know when it's warming up and time to sprout or bloom.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Minnesota drinking water is contaminated with nitrates from agricultural fertilizer. http://www.startribune.com/local/184570171.html?refer=y Chemical fertilizers also harm wildlife throughout our waterways by boosting oxygen removing algae growth in lakes, rivers, ponds, streams and even the ocean near mouths of rivers. Check out the Gulf Coast Deadzone. Note: your phosphate filled laundry and other soaps don't help. Use less or find alternatives.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Eco-Insanity - supposedly new eco products that have existed for centuries or that people just don't need

Peopletowels!  Get this. They are reusable cloth towels!  Machine washable and they last for years!  As if we hadn't had such a thing for centuries.  And they began with a  design contest at inhabitat.com!

What are PeopleTowels?
People Towels are the newest concept in sustainability, and the latest in eco-chic fashion. An on-the-go, sustainable alternative to paper towels in public facilities, these reusable personal hand towels are made of a patent-pending fabric that’s 100% certified organic Fair Trade cotton.  The light-weight fabric is absorbent, yet dries quickly.

PeopleTowels are printed with eco-friendly dyes, and come in a variety of designs to appeal to different tastes and styles.  Convenient hangtags even allow you to clip or loop your PeopleTowels to your backpack, belt buckle or purse.

PeopleTowels are machine washable and will last for years. The towels will soften and fade slightly after repeated washings.  You may see slight variations in the towels.  

Reusable PeopleTowels are a small sustainable lifestyle change that everyonecan do to reduce their carbon footprint. Read more about the environmental benefits of PeopleTowels here.

Their mission statement: PeopleTowels’ mission is to empower ordinary people and socially responsible companies to contribute to a sustainable environment by replacing paper towels with reusable PeopleTowels.

Is this a joke?  People buy these?  I have more reusable cloth towels than I can use and they are all hand me downs or resale.  And they all last for years.  That's eco-chic. 

My Garden--Eating Well Can Be Cheap

Filled with greens, onions and herbs.  And right now, strawberries, but they will be moved soon to make room for leeks.  Soon, I'll have to post a picture of my verticle Strawberry planter sitting in one of the few other tiny patches of sunlight.
Picture of my garden filled with acne and disease fighting greens, onions, herbs and leeks
It's a small raised bed at the very edge of my front yard, the only spot that gets enough sun year round in my home that faces entirely the wrong directions at angles to the sun. That's the neighbor's driveway. Built this past October with the help from Transition Houston in a program they call a Permablitz--the group spends one day doing various permaculture and sustainable projects around your home.

A raised bed garden like this can be trouble free for years if you follow a few simple tips. You don't even have to remove sod. Just put down many layers of newspaper or one layer of corrugated cardboard right on top of your lawn.    Then put down your cinder blocks, timbers or whatever you are going to use. Fill with good soil. Plant. Run a soaker or drip hose around your plants.

Many food producing plants are quite attractive and there's no reason not to include them in your landscape.  Greens, sweet potatoes, pea and bean vines and blueberry bushes are some examples of truly lovely plants. Tomatoes can be made more atractive if you use nice trellises to support them. Put flowers here and there to pretty up the space.  Marigolds repel many pests. Nasturtiums are edible.

I've yet to eat much from this garden though, as I get more fruits, greens and other veggies than I can eat for free each week in exchange for 2 hours volunteer work at a community supported farming and organic coop.