Well it looks like solar power has finally come of age and has passed it's troublesome adolescence of inefficiency and high costs. Researching the past few days on it's developments has been more than interesting, it's been a hoot. With innovators and internet collaborators people around the world are taking solar energy to a new level.
There is more than one option of just sticking a few Photovoltaic cells on your roof and getting a few watts energy into your home. People are now using it in a myriad of ways, providing hot water, for heating, for cooking, for cooling (yes, cooling??) and of course generating electric without using the PV cells.
The most useful site I found for the various uses of solar and of other renewable home built contraptions was called Instuctables. On the site is endless information on DIY projects in just about every category you can think of, many using recycled material as an added green bonus. One of the great ideas I came across which apparently came from Archimedes was the Solar Death Ray. Think childhood, magnifying glass, ants multiplied 100x. Check out www.solardeathray.com to see what ordinary house hold objects can be vaporized using a few mirrors and a sunny day.
The solar death rays use a parabolic mirror to concentrate the sun many times over, generating colossal temperatures up to 600C-700C. That heat can then go on to vaporize water, which the pressurized steam could run a turbine to generate energy. Or if the budget allows for, the installation of a Sterling engine, this uses difference in gas or liquid temperature in a closed loop to drive pistons which drives a generator. The possibilities seem almost endless.
More consumer products seem to be incorporating solar cells into their designs to be able to charge anywhere. One of my favorite innovations from the big nasty corporations is Samsung's new solar phone , a phone that charges itself AND it includes components recycled from plastic bottles. Seems that corporations have started to wake up to being a bit more responsible but this can only come about from consumer pressure and choice. Another product which I like the Idea of is the Solar bag. More and more manufactures seem to be sticking PV cells on the side of thier bags to recharge all manner of electronic gadgets, I even saw a designer bag/purse incorporating PV cells for the fashion conscious (but probably made in a sweat shop in Asia so I wouldn't buy it myself, plus I'm a guy).
The products themselves are more expensive than those without solar capacity, but I believe people will take better care of them, use the product longer thereby reducing material consumption. Win-win situation, you can have your cake and play your Gameboy Advance in the middle of the Sahara desert.
Really looking forward to getting to Israel and picking up a few mirrors from second hand stores, conducting some of my own experiments with the solar death ray.
Hmmm I wonder how long it takes to vaporize an oil executive??
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thedailygreen.com article feed
Reading from Treehugger.com today I find an article which gives me a lot of hope. First solar-hybrid power plant opens in Israel, the headline rung out. Cool, I may actually get to see this in operation as I will be leaving for Israel in 2 days. Double cool is that it incorporates a micro turbine system to enable it to produce electricity during the night as well as day. Using solar-thermal to drive the turbine when the sun is shining it switches to a burner mode capable of using bio-diesel,natural gas or bio-gas.
Whilst the power plant is relatively small scale, it uses efficient heliostats to track the Sun during the day to produce energy for 70 homes. Whilst this won't solve any energy crises overnight it does allow for population dispersion. The largest population centers are within coastal access and/or connected to rivers and estuaries. This is to allow easy access to shipping and water supplies and fishing stocks. Serving as a hub for manufacturing and industry but relying more and more on produce having to be transported to support this ''growth''.
We have now reached a technological level where we can and live in habitats which where previously difficult to establish. The Jews in Israel have been at this with their Kibbutz's for the past 60 years in the middle of some of the most harshest locations (nothing to do with the neighbors). Through some simple technologies like drip irrigation, solar condensers and other resourceful endeavors they have made sustainable community living a reality.
Could we possible see an exodus from the skyscrapers in the future with a return to the good life?
Reading an article from REUTERS news agency about how wealthy nations may undertake a CO2 market without including developing nations, in a bid to set an example. It's common knowledge that the Kyoto treaty failed mainly due America's pettiness in arguing that nations such as India and China are large emission producers and where not subject to parts of the agreement.
This was a very jaded argument as the facts portrayed by the government and the media where very scewed, whilst it is true the combined emissions of India and China are greater than the US the disparity lies in the population of the countries. The US has a population of around 300 million and India and China combined somewhere in the region of 2100-2300 million people. The US produces around 5900 million tons of CO2, Indo-China around 7300 million tons.
A little basic math tells you the average citizen of the US is responsible for almost 20 tons of CO2 per year. A citizen in China,5 tons of CO2 and an Indian is responsible for 1.7 tons of CO2. Now you would think that the ''Greatest'' country in the world could set an example to the rest of the world instead of trying to hinder development and protection of the environment.
What the figures don't take into account is the American corporations that are profiteering and polluting in the developing world. A corporation may be a heavier polluter as there are less environmental laws in the country they operate, exporting the countries resources and profit back to America and leaving the country in a much worst state. Resource poor and high emissions.
Maybe the new agreement will be productive in helping to usher in a new era of greenness but I'm a cynic. Any agreement needs to include all nations and heavy concessions need to be made by the wealthy nations. Not only are they the biggest polluters but have been for the past hundred years.
emission statistics from Wikipedia
I initially started hitchhiking due to the fact I was pretty much stranded in Toronto at Christmas with dwindling funds. I needed to get to my buddy's (Canadian for friend) in Calgary where a couch was waiting. One minor problem was that the fares for flights at that time of year where sky high, thinking the Greyhound bus would be more economical I checked their website. Again was shocked to see the price of fares at $300+ for a one way ticket, there was only one option left to me.
I did a little Google research on hitchhiking and found that Canada had a pretty good reputation, due to the small populous and large expanse of the country. My buddy told me I was mad as it was 2500km and the middle of winter but I really had no option, I had to do it. 4 days later and a collection of crazy incidents, from a 50km ride with a cop to wolf tracks in the snow and a night outdoors in a -25c survivor man style I arrived in Calgary.
Apart from the money I saved from the bus ticket I felt I had made a real accomplishment with my life. Hitchhiking turned out to be a pretty cool experience whilst meeting some interesting people along the way. People just paying back some Karma, a voice to listen to too stay awake or maybe out of pity, I don't know why any of them gave me A ride, but was damn grateful they did.
I'm leaving England again in a few days to check out the Kibbutz thing in Israel so I can learn about community farming practices. I was thinking of jumping on the plane but I read a post off Twitter saying ''taking a international flight can produce as much CO2 as a family home.''
I really don't want that on my conscience if there are other alternatives, so it's back to the road with the thumb. Thankfully I was able to dig out my camping gear out of storage, so this time I'll have some where to sleep better than the ditch by the road.
I checked out the amount of CO2 produced for the flight at
865 lbs of CO2 a flight from London to Tel Aviv will produce.
A guesstimate of the CO2 produced from hitching 200lbs of me and my backpack 4000km would be 200lbs or less, if anyone has a better idea I would love to know.
Off to pack some more stuff.
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As usual I was surfing around the net and listening to music for free on YouTube.com in a separate tab, cause I refuse to pay corporate media fat cat's bonuses and I noticed a headlined in the whats new section. Now it's not something I've taken notice of before but it did catch my eye.
Celebrate World Environment Day with Luc Besson's film premier.
Cool I thought to myself, a movie about the environment by a kick ass director. For those of you that don't know Luc Besson, he directed The Fifth Element starring Bruce Willis (yes he's wearing his white action vest). Also a lesser know title called Project B13 set in France's future ghettos.
Due to a slow connection speed coupled with the high quality video the movie would not buffer in my browser. Lucky for me my niece had downloaded Real player and a handy little box offering the option to download. Sweet, Left the computer downloading and went out to see some friends.
What I came back to was a wonderfully narrated story detailing the journey of Earth from it's birth, through adolescence and to the world we live in today. Stunning cinematography shot throughout the world from modern cities to Bedouin caravan's in the desert, the producers reached to all corners of the planet for it's locations.
The main premise of the movie is how us humans have affected within such a short a short space of time, our environment, biodiversity and the climate. It pushes an urgent message that change is happening and it will continue to do so with unknown result on a possibly unprecedented scale.
I've personally seen some of these locations on my travels and I can tell you it's heart wrenching, not only to see the current damage we're doing but the legacy we're leaving for out children. Global climate change is a local problem that will happen in the future by our actions of today, and that's why it's all to easy for people to dismiss it in the here and now.
I urge anyone reading this to watch this movie, I urge all that watch the movie to tell others to watch the movie. And lastly I urge you to THINK!!!!
Home can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/homeproject
and the official movie site is http://www.home-2009.com/us/index.html
Enjoy the movie.
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Well I'm fairly new to the internet and the whole idea of blogging and social networking is a bit of a mystery, so I decided to throw myself in and learn by doing. This blog is to share some ideas and knowledge I've gathered together in the old gray matter with a hope of it having a positive impact on the Earth.
A few years ago I had a professional job working way too many hours per week in an endless cycle of wants and consumption. Fueled by the corporate media I was trying to find happiness on page 47 of the latest Ikea catalog. Needless to say it wasn't there, facing a mid life crisis at 27 I gave away just about everything I owned and set of to find out what matters in the world.
Traveling opened my eyes to the world and fundamentally changed me as a person, I found out some amazing truths some of which have been buried by the modern world. I've seen the beauty in humanity and nature, from the tropical jungles in South America to the Rockies in Canada. It really is a wonderful world out there if only we choose to go out experience it.