Posts Tagged ‘Sustainability’

By Harry {doc} Babad, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved. 


The materials I share in the articles that follow come from the various weekly science and environmental newsletters, as well as blogs to which I subscribe. I also acknowledge and cite items from public interest groups such as Greenpeace and the Union of Concerned Scientists, but only when they provide references I can check.

Article selection (my article – my choice} are obviously and admittedly biased by my training, experience and at rare times my emotional and philosophical intuitive views of what works and what will not… But if you have a topic I neglect, send me feedback and I’ll give it a shot.

Since my tidbits are only a partial look at the original article, click on through the provided link if you want more details, as well as other references on the same topic(s). Doc.

Titles, As Usual, in No Formal Order, The New Snippets

  • Power Equivalent of 1 Pellet of Uranium Fuel — A Teaser
  • Nothing in Washington DC Generates this much Energy
  • Did You Think Renewable Power Is Sustainable? Think again…
  • How Green is Your Real (or Fake) Christmas Tree? — You Might Be Surprised
  • Electric Cars Get Charged for Battle – The Tesla Sedan, Nissan Leaf, Toyota Electrical Vehicles Suite and the Chevy Volt… More to come!
  • The Apple iPad – Oh You of Little imagination faith in the creativity of the rest of us
  • Rice Husks Into Electricity — A Light in India
  • It’s all About Civility and Attitude – Questioning climate change vs. challenging nuclear power – A tidbit in passing.

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Power Equivalent of 1 Pellet of Uranium Fuel — A Teaser

Nothing in Washington DC

Generates This Much Energy

Reliable and Affordable Energy,

Nuclear Energy Institute, 2010;

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Did You Think Renewable Power Is Sustainable? Think again…
I ran across this article in my archive files, and found it refreshing relevant to todays discussion on energy sustainability.

“Sustainability” is a buzzword these days. It is a term used often and eagerly, especially by opponents of nuclear power and proponents of renewable alternatives. There is an assumption to there that if something is renewable it is also automatically sustainable. There is also an assumption that nuclear power is not sustainable. How surprised people get when they find out that the exact opposite is true…

Let’s take a step back and for once examine what we actually mean by the concept of sustainability. In this article, we will be focusing on sustainable power production.

According to Wikipedia, in part, sustainability (e.g., “maintain”, “support”, or “endure”) is the capacity to endure. There are two major ways of reducing negative human impact and enhancing ecosystem services. The first is environmental management; this approach is based largely on information gained from earth science, environmental science, and conservation biology. The second approach is management of human consumption of resources, which is based largely on information gained from economics.

Sustainability interfaces with economics through the social and ecological consequences of economic activity. Sustainability economics involves ecological economics where social, cultural, health-related and monetary/financial aspects are integrated. Moving towards sustainability is also a social challenge that entails international and national law, urban planning and transport, local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism. Ways of living more sustainably can take many forms from reorganizing living conditions (e.g., sustainable cities), reappraising economic sectors (green building, sustainable agriculture), using science to develop new technologies (green technologies, renewable energy), to adjustments in individual lifestyles that conserve natural resources.
See Wikipedia

Renewable energy is energy, which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished) at least over the lifetimes of human existence.
See Wikipedia

Sustainable energy is the provision of energy that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainable energy sources are most often regarded as including all renewable sources, such as plant matter, solar power, wind power, wave power, geothermal power and tidal power. It usually sometimes includes technologies that improve energy efficiency. Conventional fission power, as many believe it to be, is sometimes referred to as sustainable, but is controversial politically due to misinformation and concerns about peak uranium, radioactive waste disposal and the risks of disaster due to accident, terrorism, or natural disaster.
See Wikipedia

There seems to be a vague notion out there that something that is sustainable we can start using now and then keep using forever, or that something that is sustainable never consumes any resources. Well even by this faulty definition, renewables are not sustainable. This s because solar panels are not built from sunshine, nor are wind turbines built from a stiff afternoon breeze. You build them from consumable materials such as steel, copper, neodymium, gallium, arsenic, indium and other sometimes not too common materials. Also they have a finite life span after which they must be torn down and replaced. This means that solar and wind power does consume resources and in the end cannot be used forever.

But that is not the definition of sustainable, so let’s move on.

What is sustainability? — “Sustainable development” was defined by the Brundtland-commission report “Our common future“ in June 1987 as:

…Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Now let’s look at this idea more closely. Does it say anything about renewables, using the same things forever, or even that using fossil fuels would be a bad thing? No it does not. The report doesn’t even say we cannot deplete a resource.

For non-renewable resources, like fossil fuels and minerals, their use reduces the stock available for future generations. But this does not mean that such resources should not be used. However, general the rate of depletion should take into account the criticality of that resource, the availability of technologies for minimizing depletion, and the likelihood of substitutes being available. [E.g., oil /methane for petrochemical feedstock, not transportation.]

Sustainability Means — We have needs, and we must meet them. The future generations will also have needs, and we must not do anything that prevents them from getting these needs met. KISS, but alas politics and greed often defeats logic.

People talking about sustainable development often talk about the future. But what they keep forgetting is that development that does not tend to the needs of the present as well, is not sustainable. Sustainable development must meet both current and future needs, Posted February 14, 2009

Check out the link below and follow the author’s rationale on how sustainability could perhaps be applied to or real world choices. The author discusses the sustainability of wind and solar power, the use of biofuels, and nuclear power. Although written in 2009, passing events of strengthened the case for some of these alternatives and weakened other. At the very least in the presence of a level unsubsidized playing field where governments try to choose winner to support heir economic and political needs, recent energy saviors ‘the heroes of wind, solar and biofuel from corn’ have begun to look lightly tarnished.

From The “Nuclear Power/Yes Please” Blog, posted February 14, 2009.

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How Green is Your Real (or Fake) Christmas Tree? — You Might Be Surprised

Having just written the last check, a credit card bill, to cover our less than extravagant holiday season, coupled with four December-January birthdays, I feel both a bit green (around the gills) and nostalgic. Over the years, mostly because that what our kids wanted, we granted them a Chanukah bush. My lady who loves themed ornament enjoyed collecting, silver/white ornaments, or birds, Judeica, Japanese themed, and music… variations) over the years. We’d tried a live tree (it died) and an occasional several medium priced artificial tree (ugly and never reused) and unclipped noble fir trees (recycled to by the city). That’s why the following article caught my fancy.

When it comes to Christmas trees, Americans increasingly prefer plastic pines over the real thing. Sales of fake trees are expected to approach 13 million this year, a record, as quality improves and they get more convenient, with features like built-in lights and easy collapsibility. All told, well over 50 million artificial Christmas trees will grace living rooms and dens this season, according to the industry’s main trade group, compared to about 30 million real trees.

Kim Jones, who was shopping for a tree at a Target store in Brooklyn this week, was convinced that she was doing the planet a favor by buying a $200 fake balsam fir made in China instead of buying a carbon-sipping pine that had been cut down for one season’s revelry. “I’m very environmentally conscious,” Ms. Jones said. “I’ll keep it for 10 years, and that’s 10 trees that won’t be cut down.”

But Ms. Jones and the millions of others buying fake trees might not be doing the environment any favors. In the most definitive study of the perennial real vs. fake question, an environmental consulting firm in Montreal found that an artificial tree would have to be reused for more than 20 years to be greener than buying a fresh-cut tree annually. The calculations included greenhouse gas emissions, use of resources and human health impacts.

Yet the trade-offs are not immediately apparent to consumers and even some tree growers. “The natural tree is a better option,” said Jean-Sebastien Trudel, founder of the firm, Ellipsos, which released the independent, study last year.

The annual carbon emissions associated with using a real tree every year were just one-third of those created by an artificial tree over a typical six-year lifespan. Most fake trees also contain polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, which produces carcinogens during manufacturing and disposal. Ellipsos specifically studied the market for Christmas trees bought in Montreal and either grown in Quebec or manufactured in China. Mr. Trudel said the results would most likely differ for other cities and regions. Excessive driving by consumers to purchase real trees could tip the scales back in favor of artificial trees, at least in terms of carbon emissions. (…A part of the life cycle ‘costs’)

Over all, the study found that the environmental impact of real Christmas trees was quite small, and significantly less than that of artificial trees — a conclusion shared by environmental groups and some scientists. Click the link and read on.

“You’re not doing any harm by cutting down a Christmas tree,” said Clint Springer, a botanist and professor of biology at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “A lot of people think artificial is better because you’re preserving the life of a tree. But in this case, you’ve got a crop that’s being raised for just that purpose.”

Here in the Pacific Northwest, in our community, there’s a holiday tree lot in almost every strip mall, and an hours drive or less gets you to a ‘cut your own’ farm. In New York or other major urban area, the pro’s and cons are a bit more complex.

However both lover of natural and artificial tree both agree, said that neither kind of tree had much of an impact on the environment — “especially when compared to something that most of us do every day, like drive a car.” On that point, Mr. Trudel of Ellipsos agrees. “When you really consider it, if you exchange a couple of days of commuting by car with carpooling or riding a bicycle, you’ll completely overcompensate for whatever the impact of the tree is,” he said. “It’s not such a big deal. Enjoy your tree, whichever one you prefer.”

By John Collins Rudolf New York Times, December 2010

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Electric Cars Get Charged for Battle – The Tesla Sedan, Nissan Leaf, Toyota Electrical Vehicles Suite and the Chevy Volt… More to come!

Most of the drivers on the 101 Freeway in Marin County, Calif., on this foggy December morning are oblivious to the black snub-nosed car gliding along beside them. Every so often, however, someone does a double take, gives a thumbs-up, or snaps a cell phone picture, because the car in the next lane is one they’ve never seen before: a Nissan Leaf, the world’s first affordable, mass-produced electric vehicle, or EV. This particular Leaf happens to be No. 1: The very first sold anywhere. At the wheel is Olivier Chalouhi, who took delivery an hour before amid some impressive hoopla at a Nissan dealership in Petaluma. Now, driving south to San Francisco with Nissan (NSNAY) Americas Chairman Carlos Tavares riding shotgun, Chalouhi, a 31-year-oldWeb entrepreneur, is explaining how he came to be the first person to buy this car. His voice is soft but easy to hear from the backseat because, with no internal combustion engine, the Leaf (nationally about $25,000 after a $7,500 federal tax credit) is eerily quiet, almost as cocoon-like as Nissan’s $50,000-plus Infiniti M.

“It all started,” Chalouhi says, “when I saw an ad for the Chevy Volt.” The Volt, which started shipping to dealers in mid-December, is the Leaf’s chief competitor in the green-car sweepstakes. It runs for about 40 miles on an electric charge before a small gasoline engine kicks in to recharge the battery. That gives the Volt more than 350miles of range—unlike the Leaf, which runs for 60 to 100 miles, varying with weather and terrain and driving style, before needing a recharge that can take 30 minutes to 7hours, depending on the strength of the charger. The Volt’s gasoline engine makes it less attractive to some eco-minded consumers like Chalouhi. “In all the articles I read about the Volt, the Leaf was discussed as well,” he says. “As soon as I found out about he Leaf, I forgot about the Volt. The Volt wasn’t going to project the image I wanted. It has a tailpipe.”

The energy chain is more complicated than that—the electricity powering a Leaf mayor may not come from low-emission sources—but right now it’s time to enjoy the ride. Chalouhi turns off the highway and guns the car up a steep, winding road in the Marin Headlands overlooking San Francisco Bay. The Leaf is surprisingly agile and sure-footed; its electric motor has plenty of pep, and 600 pounds of laminated lithium-ion batteries below the floorboards help it hug the road. Chalouhi is having fun with the tight turns heading into the hills, where Nissan has stationed a media team to capture the moment with some suitably dramatic images. Alas, the Golden Gate Bridge is hiding behind the fog, making the glamour shot impossible, so Chalouhi guides the car back down toward the 101 while a product manager, Paul Hawson, briefs him on the next photo-op, at City Hall in San Francisco. “At the end of the ceremony,” Hawson says, “you and Mr. Tavares will go to the car and plug-in the charger together.”

Inside the green car community—the world of academics, analysts, policymakers, and environmentalists who spend their days worrying about transportation emissions—there’s also a lively debate about which kind of low-emissions car is greenest. The Leaf produces zero emissions, and according to numerous studies touted by Nissan, even if the electricity that powers it comes from a coal-fired plant, its carbon footprint is smaller than that of an average gasoline-powered car. If its electricity comes from solar, wind, hydro or nuclear power, then the Leaf is an unassailably zero-emission vehicle. And Nissan executives rightly point out that U.S. electric generation is getting cleaner. (A Volt’s true emissions are even harder to determine, since it can be driven in all-electric mode or with a gasoline assist.) For now, the heavy batteries that store the power in Leafs and Volts are still too expensive to be the most cost-effective option, according to a 2009 study by engineers at Carnegie-Mellon University. The study also found that plug-in EVs with 40 or more miles of all-electric range “do not offer the lowest lifetime cost in any scenario, although they could minimize greenhouse gas emissions.” Lighter plug-in hybrids with about 10 miles of all-electric range appear to offer the best mix of price, charging time, and efficiency, according to Jeremy Michalek, the Carnegie Mellon professor who led the study. Plug-ins of this sort (the Prius, due in 2012, will be one) work best for urban drivers who can charge every 20 miles or so, he says. All of these plug-in cars, of course, are far cleaner and cheaper to operate than what most Americans drive now. There’s more – click the link.

Article by Eric Pooley, Business Week, December 29, 2010

PS: Can or can’t live with a tailpipe? Chevy, Toyota, and Nissan offer different electric options
Check out Business Week, December 29, 2010.

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The Apple iPad – Oh You of Little imagination or faith in the creativity of the rest of us

When Apple released the iPad was both delighted and appalled. Delighted because the device seems to be a step in the direction of a portable computing tool I lusted for, but could justify. Appalled, because many of the reviews I read The reviews were, much to my concern focused on short comings of this Generation I device, and bespoke of how it would like not be of ‘real’ support to folks for who business is a living, rather than a hobby.

Now I do my serious work in an iMac, loaded with every tool I needs plus lots of tools I found interesting enough to review for MH Reports. I am at the keyboard for at least 6-8 hours a day, and although an iPad is no where complete enough to be a productivity tool, it does merit serious consideration (even w/o a mechanical keyboards) as an on-the-go note taking tool and a way to keep up with the reading/research/googling I do to feed both my curiosity and my articles. My only other potion, an Apple MacBook Air, is twice the cost that I can justify. Indeed iPad II vaporware and rumors not withstanding, a USB equipped iPhone (data transfer and printing) with a more robust version of iWorks, and a way to edit PDFs (iAcrobat) would come pretty close to meeting my needs.

Therefore I keep being delighted by what folks in the field, teachers mostly, but other social services types too, have done with the iPad, supported by our active and creative iApps developer community. I share a bit of that below.

Math That Moves: Schools Embrace the iPad

ROSLYN HEIGHTS, N.Y. — As students returned to class this week, some were carrying brand-new Apple iPads in their backpacks, given not by their parents but by their schools. A growing number of schools across the nation are embracing the iPad as the latest tool to teach Kafka in multimedia, history through “Jeopardy”-like games and math with step-by-step animation of complex problems.

As part of a pilot program, Roslyn High School on Long Island handed out 47 iPads on Dec. 20 to the students and teachers in two humanities classes. The school district hopes to provide iPads eventually to all 1,100 of its students.

The school paid $750 each, soon after they were introduced. The iPads cost $470-575 (Google-Shopping) a piece now. The Students can use them in class and at home during the school year.

They replace textbooks, allow students to correspond with teachers and turn in papers and homework assignments, and preserve a record of student work in digital portfolios.

6th grader with iPad at Pinnacle Peak Elementary School in Scottsdale, Ariz

“It allows us to extend the classroom beyond these four walls,” said Larry Reiff, an English teacher at Roslyn who now posts all his course materials online. Technological fads have come and gone in schools, and other experiments meant to rev up the educational experience for children raised on video games and YouTube have had mixed results. Educators, for instance, are still divided over whether initiatives to give every student a laptop have made a difference academically.

At a time when school districts are trying to get their budgets approved so they do not have to lay off teachers or cut programs, spending money on tablet computers may seem like an extravagance. And some parents and scholars have raised concerns that schools are rushing to invest in them before their educational value has been proved by research.

“There is very little evidence that kids learn more, faster or better by using these machines,” said Larry Cuban, a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, who believes that the money would be better spent to recruit, train and retain teachers. “IPads are marvelous tools to engage kids, but then the novelty wears off and you get into hard-core issues of teaching and learning.” Doc Sez, only if the software sucks, something true with games, textbooks, and other media.

But school leaders say the iPad is not just a cool new toy but rather a powerful and versatile tool with a multitude of applications, including thousands with educational uses. “If there isn’t an app that does something I need, there will be sooner or later,” said Mr. Reiff, who said he now used an application that includes all of Shakespeare’s plays. Educators also laud the iPad’s physical attributes, including its large touch screen (about 9.7 inches) and flat design, which allows students to maintain eye contact with their teachers. And students like its lightweight, which offers a relief from the heavy books that weigh down their backpacks.

There’s lot more examples, discussions on Apples support if iPads for schools, and even some cost data so check out the link.

I was interested to learn that, many school officials say they have been waiting for technology like the iPad. “It has brought individual technology into the classroom without changing the classroom atmosphere,” said Alex Curtis, headmaster of the private Morristown-Beard School in New Jersey, which bought 60 iPads for $36,000 and is considering providing iPads to all students next fall.

Daniel Brenner, the Roslyn superintendent, said the iPads would also save money in the long run by reducing printing and textbook costs; the estimated savings in the two-iPad classes are $7,200 a year. “It’s not about a cool application,” Dr. Brenner said. “We are talking about changing the way we do business in the classroom.”

Article by Winnie Hu, The New York Times, and published: January 4, 2011.

PS: I keep wondering about the overall costs effectives of a school using a discounted $600 per student. The discounted iPad contains (WAG) about $300 worth of parts along with lets say 3 x 5-6 iApps /per student (free or under $5.99) vs 5-6 $100/textbooks a day; who useful wear and tear life in weeks if not months. …And then again, iApps of are often updated free. Moving in the opposite direction, when updating (actually replacing) a book, not counting your related administrative replacement costs (committees), you get start fro scratch. My presumption — two to three iApps and a clever teacher per class and you can take the textbooks out of the picture. Alternatively get the publishers to issue their books electronically, with free updates… even the academic journals are tuning in. Oh, and case you haven’t heard, most authors of textbooks get less than 12% for their intellectual efforts, according to Wikipedia and other sources, as royalties. Do I hear a slurping sound?

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Rice husks into electricity — A New Light in India

When we hear the word innovation, we often think of new technologies or silver bullet solutions — like hydrogen fuel cells or a cure for cancer. To be sure, breakthroughs are vital: antibiotics and vaccines, for example, transformed global health. But as we’ve argued in Fixes, some of the greatest advances come from taking old ideas or technologies and making them accessible to millions of people who are underserved.

One area where this is desperately needed is access to electricity. In the age of the iPad, it’s easy to forget that roughly a quarter of the world’s population — about a billion and a half people (pdf) — still lack electricity. This isn’t just an inconvenience; it takes a severe toll on economic life, education and health. It’s estimated that two million people die prematurely each year as a result of pulmonary diseases caused by the indoor burning of fuels for cooking and light. Close to half are children who die of pneumonia.

In vast stretches of the developing world, after the sun sets, everything goes dark. In sub-Saharan Africa about 70 percent of the population lacks electricity. However, no country has more citizens living without power than India, where more than 400 million people, the vast majority of them villagers, have no electricity. The place that remains most in darkness is Bihar, India’s poorest state, which has more than 80 million people, 85 percent of whom live in households with no grid connection. Because Bihar has nowhere near the capacity to meet its current power demands, even those few with connections receive electricity sporadically and often at odd hours, like between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m., when it is of little use.

This is why I’m writing today about a small but fast-growing off-grid electricity company based in Bihar called Husk Power Systems. It has created a system to turn rice husks into electricity that is reliable, eco-friendly and affordable for families that can spend only $2 a month for power. The company has 65 power units that serve a total of 30,000 households and is currently installing new systems at the rate of two to three per week. What’s most interesting about Husk Power is how it has combined many incremental improvements that add up to something qualitatively new — with the potential for dramatic scale. The company expects to have 200 systems by the end of 2011, each serving a village or a small village cluster. Its plan is to ramp that up significantly, with the goal of having 2,014 units serving millions of clients by the end of 2014.

The article continues on about the history of Husk Power, and its founder Gyanesh Pandey, its founder and his three friends Manoj Sinha, Ratnesh Yadav and Charles W. Ransler. It shares the twists of fortunes that led Pandey back to India from the United states where he’d prospered to eventually found Husk Power. They had a few false starts,

Back in India, he and his friend Yadav, an entrepreneur, spent the next few years experimenting. They explored the possibility of producing organic solar cells. They tried growing a plant called jatropha, whose seeds can be used for biodiesel. Both proved impractical as businesses. They tested out solar lamps, but found their application limited. “In the back of my mind, I always thought there would be some high-tech solution that would solve the problem,” said Pandey.

One day he ran into a salesman who sold gasifiers —machines that burn organic materials in an oxygen restricted environment to produce biogas, which can be used to power an engine. There was nothing new about gasifiers; they had been around for decades. People sometimes burned rice husks in them to supplement diesel fuel, which was expensive. “But nobody had thought to use rice husks to run a whole power system,” explained Pandey.

In Bihar, poverty is extreme. Pretty much everything that can be used will be used — recycled or burned or fed to animals. Rice husks are the big exception. When rice is milled, the outside kernel, or husk, is discarded. Because the husk contains a lot of silica, it doesn’t burn well for cooking. A recent Greenpeace study (See reference)) reports that Bihar alone produces 1.8 billion kilograms of rice husk per year. Most of it ends up rotting in landfills and emitting methane, a greenhouse gas. Pandey and Yadav began bringing pieces together for an electric distribution system powered by the husks. They got a gasifier, a generator set, filtering, cleaning and cooling systems, piping and insulated wiring. They went through countless iterations to get the system working: adjusting valves and pressures, the gas-to-air ratios, the combustion temperature, the starting mechanism. In they end, they came up with a system that could burn 50 kilograms of rice husk per hour and produce 32 kilowatts of power, sufficient for about 500 village households. Click on for the rest of the story.

By David Bornstein The New York Times, January 10, 2011

Empowering Bihar, Case Studies Bridging the Energy Deficit and Driving Change, Green Peace-India, October 29, 2010.

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It’s all About Civility and Attitude – Questioning climate change vs challenging nuclear power – A tidbit in passing.

This clipping came to me via a multi-contributor thread on Social Media, an information exchange site for those interested in accurate reporting of news about energy, climate change and associated factors. Unlike my usual practice, I provide no references, it’s a by invitation only group with a serious purpose of informing and sharing information for focused on media truth-telling and political accuracy (both oxymoron these days). There’s no Shakespeare on the site – no sound and fury signifying nothing, and I’ve found some great leads to some of my tidbits discussed therein. The recent debate about the Arizona shooting remined  me of this clip so I decided to share it with you. Read Charles’ feedback and think about it! By the way, just in case you didn’t know; bullets kill, not incivility. By the way AGW means Anthropogenic (man-made) global warming.

From: Charles
Subject: Re: [SocialMedia] American Geophysical Union [AGU] sets up climate change expert panel for news media To: “Social Media
Date: Monday, November 15, 2010
I asked a simple question and apparently it hit a nerve. Apparently, anyone who questions human-caused global warming (AGW) is an “attack on science and scientists” and is inappropriate. Excuse me, but I thought scientists are to question theories and demand backup. As a curious scientist, over the past three years, I decided to investigate the evidence behind the AGW theory. I have found that there is no credible scientific evidence that carbon dioxide significantly affects the climate. Anyone who takes the time to look at this issue in depth will conclude the same thing.
When people question the safety of nuclear reactors, do we accuse them of attacking science? Of course not, we provide them with the evidence.
AGW is not a proven scientific theory. It is a political agenda supported by those who want to control the world’s economy. How is this relevant to an honest discussion of the pros and cons of nuclear power? It is highly relevant because there are nuclear power supporters who are using AGW to promote the use of nuclear energy. When AGW is eventually shown to have no basis, then the credibility of these nuclear advocates will suffer. It is important to support nuclear energy because it is clean, compact, and very safe. The fact that it emits no carbon dioxide is nice but it should be at the bottom of the list.

Doc Sez, AGW is irrelevant and a smokescreen, as I will share my views on the subject (as have many others), in a future article. That not withstanding, some of the questions that should/could be unemotionally answered are previewed below:

  • Is climate change that leads to warming of the earth real?
  • Even if transient, a decade to two, what are the uncontrolled effects.
  • Will it likely continue to trend upward for the next 10-50 years?
  • How will these changes impact both the developed and aspiring nations?
  • Can we do anything to soften these impacts?
  • What the credible risks of inaction?

I leave the ‘should we’ questions to politicians, the media, Joan Q Public and to theologians and ethicists. Counting angels on the heads of pins is not my thing.

Remember governments can always choose change global climate today. We have the tools — the method is already well known and has been studied in detail. — It’s called Nuclear Winter… but that ignores the risks, and ethics, doesn’t it?

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More to Read

Electric Car Information Blogs and More
Electric Vehicles — (Wikipedia)
EV Perspective —
Plugs and Cars Blog —
Plugin America —
Hybrid and Electric Car News —
Hybrid Car Blog —
Tesla Motors —
Toyota’s Advanced Vehicle Technology —
The Chevy Volt — and (Wikipedia)
The Nissan Leaf — and (Wikipedia)

Early Apple iPad Reviews

iPad vs. Everything Else by Harry McCracken, PC World, April 28, 2010;,195192/printable.html
Marketing Warfare: The iPad Battle, ROI HUNTERS Field Journal, Undated.
An iPad at the office: Can it work as a PC? By the InfoWorld Mobile Patrol Staff, August 17, 2010.
Dear Rabid Apple Fans: Your precious Mac club is being disbanded. Blame iPad. By Jason Perlow, ZDNET Tech Broiler, July 22, 2010.
Looking at the iPad From Two Angles by David Pogue, The New York Times, March 31, 2010.; and David Pogue’s Apple iPad FAQ’s, NY Times, April 1, 2010.
Life With The iPad: Enterprise Ready. By Fritz Nelson InformationWeek, April 24, 2010;jsessionid=0JDHCOMG0HI3NQE1GHPCKH4ATMY32JVN?articleID=224600123/
The iPad, Your Newest Workplace Productivity Enhancer, By Rich Jaroslovsky, Bloomberg Business Week, March 31, 2010.

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Copyright Notice: Product and company names and logos in this review may be registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Some of the articles listed in this column are copyright protected – their use is both acknowledge and is limited to educational related purposes, which this column provides.

Sources & Credits: — Many of these items were found by way of the links in the newsletter NewsBridge of ‘articles of interest’ to the national labs library technical and regulatory agency users. NewsBridge is electronically published by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, in Richland WA. If using NewsBridge as a starting point, I follow the provided link to the source of the information and edit its content (mostly by shortening the details) for information for our readers. I also both follow any contained links, where appropriate, in the actual article, and provide you those references as well as those gleaned from a short trip to Google-land. Obviously if my source is a magazine or blog that the material I work with.

In addition, when duplicating materials that I cite, I do not fill the material with quotation makes, the only place I keep quotes intact is where the original article ‘quotes’ another source. Remember, when Doc sticks his two bits in, its in italics and usually indented.

In Closing

I’ll be posting articles for your comfort and anger in the next few months. I never respond to flaming, but will take time to provide evidence in the form of both primary technical and secondary {magazine articles} references for those who ask. However, most of you can reach out and Google such information for your selves.

Readers Please Note — Read about my paradigms views, prejudices and snarky attitudes here.

Furthermore, many of the technologies I share still have to prove that they are reliable, durable and scalable — and if you Google them in detail, you will find studies saying they are capable of being commercialized and often as many other studies that are more skeptical. I find it always appropriate, as I read to step back and WIIFT – No it’s not something new to smoke; just the compulsion to ask what’s in it for them. It’s okay to have a hidden agenda, but agenda’s too hidden discomfort me.

I know, perhaps even truly believe, is this. For green energy related items, if we put a simple price (tax) on carbon (greenhouse gases) and gave out no subsidies, these new technologies would have a better chance to blossom. With American ingenuity, Indian and Chinese too, thousands more ideas would come out of innovators’ garages. America still has the best innovation culture in the world. But we need better policies to nurture it, better infrastructure to enable it and more open doors to bring others here to try it.

Remember, conditions, both technical and geopolitical continuously change – So if you’ve made up your mind about either the best way to go, or about it’s all a conspiracy, move on to the next article in our blog. Today’s favorite is tomorrow unintended consequence. However, that’s better than sticking one’s head in the sand or believing in perpetual motion. Remember, there’s no free lunch and as a taxpayer and consumer you must always end up paying the piper!

May your world get greener and all creatures on Earth become healthier and more able to fulfill their function in this Gaia’s world.

Harry, aka doc_Babad


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By Harry Babad © Copyright 2010, All right Reserved


Read about my paradigms views, prejudices and snarky attitudes @:

The materials I share in the articles that follow come from the various weekly science and environmental newsletters to which I subscribe. When I have time, I also check a variety of energy related and environmental blogs. In addition, I subscribe to New York Times, Time Magazine, The Economist, Business Week, Wired, National Geographic, Smithsonian – all which I skim for articles of interest.

Some of what I chase is called out in publications by the libraries of the Pacific Northwest [NewsBridge], Sandia, Argonne and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, which are managed by the US Department of Energy. Other articles I found interesting come from technology feeds from the, Discover Magazine, various international energy and green advocacy groups as well as The American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS], from the American Nuclear Society [ANS] magazine Nuclear News is a source and for chemistry related news C&EN from the American Chemical Society [ACS].

Article selection (my article – my choice} are obviously and intentionally biased by my training, experience and at rare times my emotional and philosophical intuitive views of what works and what will not… But if you have a topic I neglect, send us feedback and I’ll give it a shot.

Remember, conditions, both technical and geopolitical continuously change – So if you’ve made up your mind about either the best way to go, or about its all a conspiracy, move on to the next article in our blog. Today’s favorite is tomorrow unintended consequences. However, that’s better than sticking one’s head in the sand or believing in perpetual motion. Remember, there’s no free lunch and you must always end up paying the piper!

Since my tid-bit are only a partial look at the original article, click on through if you want more details, as well as, often, added similar or related articles on the same topic(s).


Now, As Usual, in No Formal Order, a Bakers Dozen Snippets

——— A List of Their Titles ———

  • Will Electric Cars Destroy Your Neighborhood Power Grid? No, But…
  • How Algal Biofuels Lost a Decade in the Race to Replace Oil.
  • Ten Ideas To Save The Planet From Coal — Burying The CO2 Problem.
  • World’s Largest Working Hydroelectric Wave Energy Device Launched.
  • At Issue Sustainability — The Big Paradigm Shift — Four principles for the shift from a fossil fuel based society plus one from Doc.
  • FACTBOX: What is the Non-Proliferation Treaty?
  • U.S. Set To Fund More Stem Cell Study — New lines approved.
  • Five Key Cyber Security Areas for DHS to TackleGeneral Accountability Office [GAO] Advice.
  • The Carpal Tunnel Survival Guide — You know this but…
  • Highest rate of CO2 emissions growth since 1990 – Data 1990-2005
  • Dams Could Alter Local Weather, Cause More Rain
    {Emphasis added by me.}
  • Tessera Solar and Stirling Energy Systems Unveil World’s First Commercial-Scale Solar-Thermal Plant, The Suncatcher
  • Icy Crystals — Methane Hydrate — Heat Up

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Will Electric Cars Destroy Your Neighborhood Power Grid? No, But…

Over the next 12 months, carmakers will introduce several new plug-in electric vehicles. One question that’s frequently asked of–and many others too: Does recharging electric cars pose a threat to the electricity grid?

The 2010 Fisker Karma and the 2011 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrids, among other electric-drive vehicles, are scheduled to roll out next year. Without a range-extending engine, the 2012 Nissan Leaf electric car will be even more reliant on the grid. So it’s a reasonable question.

The answer, in short, is: No. The current power grids in the U.S. are more than capable of handling incremental demand from the small numbers of plug-in cars that will be sold over the next few years.

However, depending on were you live and how popular the electric cars prove to be, utilities in some areas will need to take a bit of longer-term planning action sooner than others.

It should be noted that in a two-volume report, Environmental Assessment of Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles, concluded that the gradual rollout of electric vehicles would impose a very small load on the grid. Since an electric car recharging equals the load of four or five plasma TV sets, overall demand won’t be notably affected.

By John Voelcker – Senior Editor, November 23rd, 2009

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How Algal Biofuels Lost a Decade in the Race to Replace Oil

For nearly 20 years, a government laboratory built a living, respiring library of carefully collected organisms in search of something that could grow quickly while producing something precious: oil.

But now that collection has largely been lost. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientists found and isolated around 3,000 species algae from construction ditches, seasonal desert ponds and briny mashes across the country in a major bioprospecting effort to find the best organisms to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into fuel for cars.

Despite meager funding, the Aquatic Species Program initiated under President Jimmy Carter, laid the scientific foundation for making diesel-like fuel from the fat that microscopic algae accumulate in their cells. Fifty-one varieties were carefully characterized as potential high-value strains, but fewer than half of those remain.

“Just when they started to succeed is when the plug got pulled,” said phycologist Jeff Johansen of John Carroll University, who collected algal strains for the program in the 1980s. “We were growing them in ponds and we were going to grow enough to have them made into a diesel fuel.” The program was part of the huge investment that Jimmy Carter made into alternative energy in the late 1970s. All kinds of research avenues were explored, but when the funding shriveled during later years, knowledge, experts and know-how were lost. The setback highlights the problems created by inconsistent funding for energy research.

Now, President Obama has trumpeted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus package, as the largest increase in scientific research funding in history. Scientists roundly applauded the billions of dollars that went into energy research, development and deployment. But what about when the stimulus money runs out in two years?

“One caution is that much of this has been funded with the stimulus package,” said Ernie Moniz at a Google-hosted panel on energy in late November. “So, we’re going to have to see what happens after these next two years, because what we need is not a drop, but a further increase in R&D commensurate with the task at hand.” And that’s exactly what didn’t happen in the last big energy R&D push. A discussion of algae comes back can be found on the linked site.

Alas, reinventing the wheel is an old bureaucratic fall back position since records are never really kept when a project is closed down by a lack of funding.

By Alexis Madrigal, Wired — December 29, 2009

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Ten Ideas To Save The Planet From Coal — Burying The CO2 Problem

It may be expensive but with coal demand expected to soar by 2030 capturing and storing carbon emissions is as vital as ever. The UK’s top scientists tell us why.

What idea policy or technology holds the greatest promise for tackling climate change? That was the question the UK’s Channel 4 News posed to the scientific community over the past few weeks.

Among a number of scientists the verdict was unanimous – carbon capture and storage must work. 

 The Department of Energy and Climate Change predicts that by 2030 global coal demand will rise by 70 per cent.

But where and when coal burns carbon is emitted. And these emissions must be stored long term in order to combat our changing climate. 

”In the immediate future, I believe that the greatest promise is offered by technologies related to Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS),” Dr. Andrew Yool from Ocean Modeling and Forecasting told Channel 4 News.

“In principle, these will allow technological societies to retrofit existing infrastructure while continuing to use fossil fuel resources without exacerbating either climate change or ocean acidification.

CCS is a means of capturing carbon emissions from source (fossil fuel power plants) and storing it away from the atmosphere under ground. 

Long term storage of CO2 is not only expensive but it is also a relatively new concept. 

Last year operations began at the world’s first ever coal-fired power plant with facilities to capture and store its own emissions. It was built as an extension of the Schwarze Pumpe plant in Germany; the mini power station is a pilot for CCS.

More on the technical specifics of the CCS concept check out both the link and at Wikipedia []

However efforts to do so in the US have been met with all sorts of bureaucratic stumbling blocks.

For other UK potential solutions to climate change check out the link below. Some are technical but many related to institutional, societal and attitude changes. These are always a harder task of course, unless misbehaving cost you personally – yes comes out of your pocket.

Channel 4 News, UK November 2009

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World’s Largest Working Hydroelectric Wave Energy Device Launched

Queen’s University Belfast has helped the global wave energy industry take a major stride forward with the launch of the world’s largest working hydroelectric wave energy device by Aquamarine Power Ltd.

Known as Oyster, the device has been officially launched by Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond MP, MSP at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.

It is currently the world’s only hydroelectric wave energy device producing power and is now producing power by pumping high-pressure water to its onshore hydroelectric turbine. This will be fed into the National Grid to power homes in Orkney and beyond. A farm of 20 Oysters would provide enough energy to power 9,000 three bedroom family homes.

Professor Trevor Whittaker from Queen’s School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, the principal investigator, said: “The concept of Oyster came about through research in our wave-tank facility at Queen’s. The launch of Oyster is both a major landmark in terms of carbon-free sustainable energy production and a proud day for Queen’s University Belfast, which already has a reputation as being one of the leading wave-power research groups in the world. In fact Oyster is the third prototype demonstration wave power project, which the team at Queen’s has instigated in the past 20 years.

“Devices such as these have the power to revolutionize the world’s energy industry, at a small scale, and help combat climate change. Doc sez if it is cost effective w/o subsidies, no mater what the scale, every KWh helps, especially if it prevents more CO2 from being released in the generation of electricity.

The Product and Design Development Web Page, November 30, 2009

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At Issue Sustainability — The Big Paradigm Shift — Four principles for the shift from a fossil fuel based society

I’ll keep one this short to raise you temptation level. Needless to say I agree with Jim Lane about the pitfalls of not recognizing the problems created by global warming and energy shortfalls.

In the 2010 Dodgen Lecture at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences, and in the Q&A that followed, I described four principles that must be observed in order to successfully complete the transition away from a fossil-fuel based society.

  1. The Right To Clean, Affordable Energy:
  2. Energy Must Be Consumed Within The Radius That It Is Produced: NIMBY be dammed
  3. An Energy Finance System Must Permit Individuals To Participate:
  4. Energy Must Be Recognized As A Special Class Of Investment:

The Missing Paradigm Change

  1. If its subsidized, it’s not paying for its self, and is likely be a long term looser. [Doc]

More at, some of which I agree with.

Article by Jim Lane, Editor, Biofuels Digest, February 2, 2010.’Sustainable+energy

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FACTBOX: What is the Non-Proliferation Treaty?

The objective of the treaty, which took effect in 1970, is to halt the spread of nuclear weapons-making capability, guarantee the right of all members to develop nuclear energy for peaceful ends and — for the original five nuclear weapons powers — to phase out their arsenals. Here are some key facts about the Non-Proliferation Treaty. An addition description can be found in he Wikipedia article on the same subject.

It’s been in the news lately usually making headlines but with any detail what the treaty is all about, whether discussed as part of President Obama’s new initiative, Israel’s lack of membership in the treaty organization, or the recalcitrant behavior if the Iranian government. So link-in!

Reuters News, Mon Nov 30, 2009


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U.S. Set To Fund More Stem Cell Study — New lines approved

The Obama administration has begun approving new lines of human embryonic stem cells that are eligible for federally funded experiments, opening the way for millions of taxpayer dollars to be used to conduct research that was put off-limits by President George W. Bush.

Launching a dramatic expansion of government support for one of the most promising but most contentious fields of biomedical research, the National Institutes of Health on Wednesday authorized the first 13 lines of cells under the administration’s policy and was poised to approve 20 more Friday.

“This is the first down payment on what is going to be a much longer list that will empower the scientific community to explore the potential of embryonic stem cell research,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins. “Today’s announcement is the first wave.”

An additional 76 stem cell lines are waiting vetting, and researchers have indicated that they plan to submit at least 254 more for approval.

The NIH has already authorized 31 grants worth about $21 million for research on human embryonic stem cells, money that was contingent on new lines passing government muster. The grants are for a variety of research, including work aimed at developing cells that could be used to treat diseases of the heart and nervous system.

But opponents of the research, who argued that the work is not only unethical but also unnecessary, because of the availability of adult stem cells, condemned the announcement and other more recently identified alternatives.

The article goes on to discuss both <1> Opponents Views, including the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the background of, and <2> information about the new NIH guidelines.

Doc Sez: That so far the data about the usefulness and efficacy of stems cells not derived from embryos has been disappointing. In addition much the rest of the world is more concerned about curing present day ills that in ‘saving’ unwanted embryos that will be destroyed.

In addition I believe the new golden rule should apply – Do unto others what they would do unto them selves. That means any one objecting to the use of therapies based on embryonic stems cell should not use them – put you life where your mouth is.
For information on the New NIH Guidelines for Obtaining the Cells see:

Article by Rob Stein, Washington Post Staff Writer, December 3, 2009

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Five Key Cyber Security Areas for DHS to Tackle — GAO Advice Presented at Senate Hearing on Post 9/11 Security

Five key cyber security challenges the Department of Homeland Security should tackle were outlined in testimony delivered Wednesday at a hearing on post-9/11 transportation challenges.

The only witnesses at a Senate Commerce Science and Transportation hearing on post-9/11 transportation challenges Wednesday was Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, but the managing director for homeland security and justice at the Government Accountability Office delivered a written statement for the record that outlined five key cyber security challenges the Department of Homeland Security should tackle.

According to the statement prepared by Cathleen Berrick, the five key cyber security areas include:

  • Bolstering cyber analysis and warning capabilities;
  • Completing actions identified during cyber exercises;
  • Improving cyber security of infrastructure control systems;
  • Strengthening DHS’s ability to help recover from Internet disruptions; and
  • Addressing cybercrime

Berrick said DHS has made progress in strengthening cyber security, such as addressing some lessons learned from a cyber attack exercise, but further actions are warranted. “DHS has since developed and implemented certain capabilities to satisfy aspects of its responsibilities,” she said, “but it has not fully implemented GAO’s recommendations and, thus, more action is needed to address the risk to critical cyber security infrastructure.” To read Ms. Berrick register and then check:

Article by Eric Chabrow, Executive Editor,, December 2, 2009

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The Carpal Tunnel Survival Guide

My index finger went completely numb. You could poke it and I wouldn’t feel a thing. That was the flashing red neon sign telling me something was wrong. The culprit: laptops. My esteemed partner in crime, Patrick Miller, recently wrote about what bugs him about laptops. Now it’s my turn, but I want to share a personal tale with you. Along the way, I’ll tell you how to avoid the same mistakes I made.

Carpal Tunnel: A Loathe Story — Carpal tunnel syndrome and RSI–the bane of the modern computer user–hit home for me because I spent too much time using poorly placed touch pads and seriously scrunched keyboards. But I’ve gleaned a thing or two about ergonomics as a result. My misery is your chance to learn.

Go on; hold your hand near a laptop’s touchpad and mouse buttons. Every time you start tapping out a document on the bus, at the coffee shop, or on that flight to the big meeting you’re likely forcing your hands into uncomfortable positions. As my doc told me the other day: “Don’t buy a laptop based only upon what you plan to do with it. First and foremost, make sure that it conforms to your body’s needs–not the other way around.”

Dr. Thomas M. Marsella, MD, with the Occupational Health Services department of the Physician Foundation at California Pacific Medical Center has a couple other suggestions.

The advice Related Topics

  • Take Breaks – There’s even freeware to help
  • Do Some Stretches – The examples
    Stretch 1: Evil Genius.
    Stretch 2: Hands Down.
    Stretch 3: Double Chin.

I know, you know all about this, but do you practice healthy computer ergonometrics or do you just hope your wrists are stronger then those other wimps?

Also check out 9 Things I Hate About Laptops By Patrick Miller, PC World, November 17, 2009.

Darren Gladstone, PC World, Dec 2, 2009

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Highest rate of CO2 emissions growth since 1990

According the article posted in, CO2 emissions rates have been increasing worldwide since 2009 and had reached all-time highs in 2005.  The reported information was derived from emissions data from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC).

Alas I did not have time to check the data against the information available from with the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information site,  [] or the Oakridge data, but can see no reason, a priori, to dispute it. The article is simply a compilation of data, in tabular forms, and draws no conclusions or posits no future actions. That is left to the users of such data including regulatory agencies, and to concerned with international climate change.

I’ve reproduced the summary findings, and added information about the United States below, for your convenience.

  • Between 1990 and 2005 Vietnam had the highest rate of emissions growth among countries that emitted more than 100 million tons of CO2 in any year during the past three decades.
  • Vietnam’s emissions from fossil fuel use, cement manufacturing, and gas flaring increased 376 percent from 5.8 million metric tons of carbon to 27.8 million tons between 1990 and 2005. Malaysia ranked second with a 224 percent increase.
  • China topped the rankings in terms of total carbon emissions growth over the period. China’s carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion, cement manufacturing, and gas flaring increased by 875.7 million tons of carbon to 1.53 billion tons of carbon (5.62 billion tons CO2) in 2005. Most of the increase came from coal burning, which accounted for 1.116 billion tons of the country’s carbon emissions in 2005. China’s emissions have since climbed by another 25 percent to 1.923 billion tons of carbon in 2008, according to preliminary figures from CDIAC.
  • The United States had the second highest growth rate in carbon emissions and released the third highest amount of carbon dioxide.
  • The biggest drop in emissions between 2000 and 2005 came in Germany, which reduced carbon emissions by 6.4 million tons of carbon or 3 percent of its total emissions.
  • Belgium had the greatest rate of reduction at 7 percent over the period.

Also Check Out NASA: Last Decade Was Warmest on Record, January 2, 2010,

Article posted on December 4, 2009

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Dams Could Alter Local Weather, Cause More Rain

Note: I found this article informative, especially when it may be just another example of the Laws of Unintended Consequences that plague our decision making. []. Although the Wikipedia article focuses on the social science, as we should by now be aware, the physical sciences are no exceptions to it applicability But let’s not stick our heads in the sand, we’re sure to lose them. along with the rest of our bodies.

As if America’s aging dams were not in enough trouble already, new research suggests that their reservoirs could be increasing the intensity of extreme rainstorms in their immediate vicinities.

That’s a problem because the dams were designed for the climate that existed in the area before they were built. If by virtue of their creation, they increase the chance that an extreme weather event will exceed the dams’ capacity, they could be less safe than previously thought.

“What if the dam itself, its reservoir, could have accelerated or intensified the heavy rainfall patterns?” said Faisal Hossain, a hydrologist at Tennessee Tech University, who has co-authored a paper and editorial on the topic accepted for publication in Natural Hazards Review and Water Resources Research, respectively.

There is strong evidence that a standing body of water, like a lake, can alter precipitation patterns, Hossain said. Increasing the amount of liquid water in a region increases the amount of evaporation in a region, too. That water vapor will eventually condense and fall as precipitation. So, it’s logical to think that a dam’s reservoir could have the same impact. And dams allow irrigation, which can transform the land in the area, possibly leading to local climactic impacts.

Marshall Shepherd, a research meteorologist at the University of Georgia, called the findings “interesting and plausible” in an e-mail to “The literature contains many examples of how extreme land use changes alter precipitation patterns,” wrote Shepherd, whose own work focuses on climactic changes induced by cities.

Shepherd would like to see more detailed analysis of the mechanics behind how a dam could change local precipitation.

There’s a bit more summary information in the article, but alas no detailed references – that’s a string I would have pulled.

Also check out a related article Old American Dams Quietly Become a Multibillion-Dollar Threat By Alexis Madrigal Wired Magazine, August 25, 2009

The image in this article is the result of a busted gate in the Folsom Dam in Northern California let water pour through in 1995. AP/Bob Galbraith. See Wikipedia –

Read More —

This article is by Alexis Madrigal, Wired Magazine, December 3, 2009.

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Tessera Solar and Stirling Energy Systems Unveil World’s First Commercial-Scale Solar-Thermal Suncatcher Plant

Only four months after breaking ground, Tessera Solar and Stirling Energy Systems (SES) showcased the highly anticipated Maricopa Solar power plant at a special event for key partners, stakeholders and media. Maricopa Solar is the first commercial project for the SunCatcher™ concentrating solar power technology designed and manufactured by SES. Joining in the celebration were Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and officials from Sun River Power [SRP], local and state government, the U.S. Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, utility customers, suppliers and the international energy group NTR plc, Tessera Solar and SES’s majority shareholder.

“Maricopa Solar represents a genuine breakthrough in solar energy and demonstrates that Dish Stirling engine based solar power is now ready for commercial deployment in the US and around the world. With this milestone now behind us we look forward to breaking ground on our initial 1,500 megawatts of projects in California and Texas later this year.”

Maricopa Solar is comprised of 60 SunCatcher dishes and will provide 1.5 megawatts of renewable energy to SRP customers in Greater Phoenix, Arizona.

“Through partnerships such as Maricopa Solar, we will be able to learn a great deal about this emerging solar technology while helping to create green jobs, economic development opportunities and clean energy for SRP and our customers, said SRP Associate General Manager Richard Hayslip. “The Maricopa Solar project is just one example of SRP’s commitment to building a renewable energy portfolio that is beneficial to our environment and customers.”

The innovative and highly-efficient SES SunCatcher is a 25-kilowatt solar power system which uses a 38-foot, mirrored parabolic dish combined with an automatic tracking system to collect and focus the sun’s energy onto a Stirling engine to convert the solar thermal energy into grid-quality electricity.

“The SunCatcher represents the next generation of grid-quality solar power technology providing clean, reliable and cost-effective solar power to address global climate change and reduce our planet’s carbon emissions,” said Steve Cowman, Stirling Energy Systems CEO.

SunCatcher has a number of advantages including the highest solar-to-grid electric efficiency, zero water use for power production, a modular and scalable design, low capital cost, and minimal land disturbance. SunCatcher was designed and developed in America, through a public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. The SunCatchers unveiled at the Maricopa Solar facility were manufactured and assembled in North America, mostly in Michigan by automotive suppliers.

January 25, 2010, No By-line

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Icy Crystals — Methane Hydrate — Heat Up

A Houston engineer says he’s developed a technology that can economically extract energy on a large scale from an untapped — and vast — source.

The material, the source of the potential natural gas fuel is methane hydrate aka methane clathrate, the presumed culprit in several of British Petroleum’s problems in the Gulf, this time as a potentially extractable natural resource. Doc Sez: Did you know that oil drilling rigs flare off this valuable resource – for shame.

Vast deposits of methane, trapped in ice-like crystals under Alaska’s frozen tundra and beneath ocean floors worldwide, could play an important role in the nation’s energy future.

But after more than two decades of study, major oil companies and governments are still trying to crack the code to large-scale extraction of these energy rich substances called gas hydrates.

Wickrema Singhe, a Houston-based engineer and project consultant to some of the world’s biggest oil companies, has wrestled with the same problem. And recently, he’s developed a technology he believes could provide at least part of the answer.

The technology involves using low-energy microwaves to melt the icy structures and unlock the gas, in contrast to leading industry methods that Singhe says use far more energy or are too costly for commercial production.

The concept has attracted interest from oil companies including BP and Chevron Corp., as well as Japanese oil and gas firms.

He hasn’t found a taker yet, but he fervently believes in the concept and is pitching for universities including Texas A&M to do more testing.

“I’m fairly confident I’ll find a way to get to the next step,” Singhe said.

Gas hydrates are ice-like solids that trap gas molecules inside. They are found in high-pressure, low-temperature environments, like seabeds and beneath frozen ground. The most common gas found in them is methane, the chief component of natural gas. That’s why they’re often called methane hydrates.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that methane hydrates may contain more energy than the entire world’s fossil fuels combined. As such, methane hydrates could represent a “global paradigm shift in energy supply,” Ray Boswell, manager for methane hydrate research and development programs at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, told a U.S. congressional committee in July. There’s more check it out.

Article by Brett Clanton, 
 The Houston Chronicle, Jan. 23, 2010

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Copyright Notice: Product and company names and logos in this review may be registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Some of the articles listed in this column are copyright protected – their use is both acknowledge and is limited to educational related purposes, which this column provides.

Sources & Credits: — Most of these items were found in the newsletter NewsBridge of ‘articles of interest’ to the libraries technical and regulatory agency users. It is electronically published by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, in Richland WA.  I then followed the provided link to the source of the information and edited the content (abstracted) the information for our readers.

In Closing

I’ll be posting articles for you comfort and anger in the next few months. I never respond to flaming, but will take time to provide evidence in the form of both primary technical and secondary {magazine articles} references for those who ask. However, most of you can reach out and Google such information for your selves.

May your world get greener and all creatures on Earth become healthier and able to fulfill their function in this Gaia’s world.

Harry, aka doc_Babad


Previous Greening Columns