I usually post here on Wednesday. Imagine the probability of Earth Day occurring on the same day! So today I offer a more optimistic view of the world then mine. Think: Global Warming.

http://aeon.co/magazine/science/why-extinction-is-not-the-problem/

 

Rethinking extinction

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The idea that we are edging up to a mass extinction is not just wrong – it’s a recipe for panic and paralysis

The way the public hears about conservation issues is nearly always in the mode of ‘[Beloved Animal] Threatened With Extinction’. That makes for electrifying headlines, but it misdirects concern. The loss of whole species is not the leading problem in conservation. The leading problem is the decline in wild animal populations, sometimes to a radical degree, often diminishing the health of whole ecosystems.

Viewing every conservation issue through the lens of extinction threat is simplistic and usually irrelevant. Worse, it introduces an emotional charge that makes the problem seem cosmic and overwhelming rather than local and solvable. It’s as if the entire field of human medicine were treated solely as a matter of death prevention. Every session with a doctor would begin: ‘Well, you’re dying. Let’s see if we can do anything to slow that down a little.’

Medicine is about health. So is conservation. And as with medicine, the trends for conservation in this century are looking bright. We are re-enriching some ecosystems we once depleted and slowing the depletion of others. Before I explain how we are doing that, let me spell out how exaggerated the focus on extinction has become and how it distorts the public perception of conservation.

Many now assume that we are in the midst of a human-caused ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’ to rival the one that killed off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. But we’re not. The five historic mass extinctions eliminated 70 per cent or more of all species in a relatively short time. That is not going on now. ‘If all currently threatened species were to go extinct in a few centuries and that rate continued,’ began a recent Nature magazine introduction to a survey of wildlife losses, ‘the sixth mass extinction could come in a couple of centuries or a few millennia.’

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Quick not: He favors Nuclear Power

Go there and read. More next week.

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This is a company that made a Billion dollars in revenue last year. But it wants to dig deeper into your pockets. I hope we all say no to this. Their threats to shut down nukes are hollow. Who would care if they did? Clinton Nuclear Power Plant sucks.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-exelon-com-ed-bill-met-0227-20150226-story.html

Exelon-backed bill seeks $2 more a month for nuclear plants

By Ray Long

Chicago Tribune
Critics of Exelon-backed legislation question why firm deserves consumer help.

Electricity users would have to dip into their pockets a little more to help cover costs of Exelon’s nuclear power plants under legislation unveiled Thursday that the influential corporation maintained would save jobs and keep service steady and reliable.

Exelon is backing the proposal because it could prop up what the company says are three money-losing nuclear plants that produce relatively clean energy compared with other sources of power.

Opponents question whether Exelon would get an unnecessary bailout when a trio of its other nuclear plants are in the black, and supporters of a separate bill prefer a broader approach that would build up renewable resources.

Where the state ends up on the issue will play out in the months ahead as the spring session unfolds, with companies like Exelon wielding clout at the Capitol through campaign contributions to lawmakers.

The Exelon legislation comes out of a joint report rolled out last month by multiple state agencies charged with examining the impact of closing nuclear plants and potential ways to keep them open.

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Go there and read. Better yet call your representatives. More next week.

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I don’t care if you are a Red State or a Blue State. Who could be opposed to something like this?

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/New-York-to-Build-Worlds-Most-Powerful-Smart-Energy-Lab

New York to Build World’s Most Powerful Smart Energy Lab

Superior computing power will help drive New York’s REV.

Katherine Tweed
March 26, 2015

The New York Power Authority and SUNY Polytechnic Institute will partner to build the world’s largest research and development facility focused on energy technology innovation.

New York State has goals of eliminating electricity peaks, enabling distributed energy resources and incorporating more large-scale renewables as part of its Reforming the Energy Vision proposal.

The yet-to-be-built facility, the Advanced Grid Innovation Laboratory for Energy (AGILe), will allow the New York Power Authority, distribution utilities and private companies to test everything from sensors on the grid and automation technology to novel power electronics and cybersecurity across the entire power grid.

“This is new and innovative and will allow New York state to lead the country in energy development, smart grid and other technologies and provide economic benefit to the state,”

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Go there and read. More next week.

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When I first saw this I thought it was from The Onion. But this for real.

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/532896/discarded-laptop-batteries-keep-the-lights-on/

Discarded Laptop Batteries Keep the Lights On

Millions of batteries discarded with computers have more than enough life to power home lighting for one year, researchers in India say.

Many of the estimated 50 million lithium-ion laptop batteries discarded every year could provide electricity storage sufficient to light homes in poor countries, researchers at IBM say.

In work being aired this week at a conference in San Jose, researchers at IBM Research India in Bangalore found that at least 70 percent of all discarded batteries have enough life left to power an LED light at least four hours a day for a year.

While it’s possible to combine LED lights with solar panels and rechargeable batteries (see “Innovators Under 35: Evans Wadongo”), using discarded batteries could make the approach far cheaper.

“The most costly component in these systems is often the battery,” says Vikas Chandan, a research scientist at the lab’s Smarter Energy Group, who led the project. “In this case, the most expensive part of your storage solution is coming from trash.”

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Go there and read more. More next week.

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How much longer can this comedy of errors go on? Nuclear Power – no way.

http://gizmodo.com/the-fukushima-cleanup-wasted-half-a-billion-dollars-on-1693324714

The Fukushima Cleanup Wasted Half a Billion Dollars on Bad Technology

23,716

6

Yesterday 11:30am

The cleanup of Fukushima’s leaking nuclear plant has been long, expensive, and plagued with problems. Now, the AP reports a government audit has found that more than a third of the budget for cleanup was wasted—totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.

The previous allegations of incompetence and straight-up lies that surround Tokyo Electric Power Co, or Tepco, the company responsible for the cleanup, might make you wonder if any of those millions were lost to corruption. But the Associated Press says that most of it was wasted because no one really knew how to clean up the site. The company spent millions on systems and machines that theoretically might have worked. But didn’t.

The Ice Wall That Wouldn’t Freeze

Let’s start with what AP calls “the unfrozen trench,” contaminated water leaks into these trenches—tunnels, really—that run alongside the plant, creating a major hazard. Tepco started injecting the water with coolants in an attempt to freeze it, creating an ice wall of sorts as Gizmodo reported. It didn’t work.

Tepco says “it has proved exceptionally difficult” to freeze the trenches completely, according to World Nuclear News. “Tepco subsidiary Tokyo Power Technology even threw in chunks of ice, but eventually had to pour in cement to seal the trench,” says the AP. The project cost $840,000, which is chump change compared to other items on the list.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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I saw this article on Digg.com a couple of weeks ago and tried to post it. When I went back to Digg to get the article and I could not find it, so I put up an older example. But then I put into Google “recent energy efficiency in the residential market” and there it was. So here it is.

http://news.discovery.com/tech/alternative-power-sources/water-house-slashes-energy-needs-150209.htm

 

‘Water-house’ Slashes Energy Needs

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As UN climate negotiators gather in Geneva this week, one Japan-inspired Hungarian inventor believes he has found a revolutionary and inexpensive way to construct buildings that could slash humanity’s energy needs.

And the magic ingredient for Matyas Gutai’s invention is simple: water. It was launched after a long process of testing and patenting and a decade of research and development at a Japanese university.

“Imagine a building without insulation, yet with a perfect indoor thermal balance, thanks to the properties of water,” the 34-year-old told AFP.

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Public Art Generates Renewable Energy, Beautifully

Play Video
While fossil fuel energy represents the most common class of power generation, solar power just made a big leap forward, hitting 46 percent efficiency.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Go there and read. More next week.

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Because we have been talking about residential energy savings. I felt the need to end on a generation note. I mean if you are making your own, isn’t that the ultimate energy savings?

 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/solar-power-sees-unprecedented-boom-in-u-s/

 

Solar Power Sees Unprecedented Boom in U.S.

Photovoltaics and solar thermal both enjoyed banner years, despite uncertainties

U.S. solar power grew by 6.2 gigawatts in 2014, a 30 percent increase over the previous year and representing nearly $18 billion in new investment, according to data released this morning by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research.

The new power systems, comprising tens of thousands of photovoltaic (PV) arrays for homes, schools, businesses and utilities, as well as a handful of large concentrated solar power facilities in places like the Mojave Desert, raised the United States’ profile as one of the world’s leading adopters of solar power, officials said.

But the future for U.S. solar isn’t without its bumps.

New installations of nonresidential solar panels, while accounting for more than 1 GW of power, shrank by 6 percent year over year, a condition caused by a variety of factors “ranging from tight economics to difficulty financing small commercial installations,” GTM analysts said in their latest “U.S. Solar Market Insight Report.”

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Go there and bask. More next week.

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So see if you can follow me on this. Some people see “space travel” as a way to get off this planet. But why would you want to do that? It is a perfectly good planet. I think it is because everyone knows deep down that the way we are treating this planet may ultimately cause its demise. That is why I am ultimately an environmentalist; because I do not believe we can get off this planet. So we humans better change our ways. Why do I believe there will be no space travel for humans. The radiation levels of outer space are too great, the distances too far, and the physical demands too great. Thus I believe in saving energy and creating green energy because I believe it is the only way for our planet to survive. Yet people dream.

http://phys.org/news/2015-03-breakthrough-energy-harvesting-power-life.html

Breakthrough in energy harvesting could power life on Mars

Martian colonists could use an innovative new technique to harvest energy from carbon dioxide thanks to research pioneered at Northumbria University, Newcastle.  The technique, which has been proven for the first time by researchers at Northumbria, has been published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

The research proposes a new kind of engine for producing energy based on the Leidenfrost effect – a phenomenon which happens when a liquid comes into near contact with a surface much hotter than its boiling point. This effect is commonly seen in the way water appears to skitter across the surface of a hot pan, but it also applies to solid carbon dioxide, commonly known as dry ice. Blocks of dry ice are able to levitate above hot surfaces protected by a barrier of evaporated gas vapour. Northumbria’s research proposes using the vapour created by this effect to power an engine. This is the first time the Leidenfrost effect has been adapted as a way of harvesting energy.

The technique has exciting implications for working in extreme and alien environments, such as , where it could be used to make long-term exploration and colonisation sustainable by using naturally occurring solid as a resource rather than a waste product. If this could be realized, then future missions to Mars, such as those in the news recently, may not need to be ‘one-way’ after all.

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Go there and fulfill your fantasy. More next week.

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We Americans created sprawl and with it a massive amount of energy consumption. Could this be one of the answers?

http://www.businessinsider.com/nyc-micro-apartments-under-construction-2015-2

New York City’s first ‘micro apartments’ are coming this spring — here’s what they’ll look like

In 2013, a project called My Micro NY won a design competition for the New York’s first “micro apartments” sponsored by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Intended to create affordable housing for singles in New York City, those promised prefabricated affordable units are finally being assembled in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and will be unveiled this spring in Manhattan’s Kips Bay, according to The New York Times.

The city’s first “micro” building will have 55 rental apartments, all ranging from 260- to 360-square-feet with big windows, ample storage space, and Juliet balconies.

Because the architects believed amenities are important to micro-unit dwellers, the building will also have a public meeting space, café, and common rooftop garden for residents, as well as a laundry room, residential storage space, a bike room, and fitness space.

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Go there and read a little (chuckle). More next week.

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My sister-in-law Mari Whitney and her  husband Dick installed a house sized unit at their house in Mason City and it saves them a bunch of money. But the payback is loooong.

 

https://www.centralilfoodbank.org/

https://www.centralilfoodbank.org/documents/AnnualReportFinalPDFWeb.pdf

The Foodbank Goes Green
One of the first 50 wells being drilled in October2014.
This fall work began on an estimated $850,000 geothermal
project that will help cut utility costs at the Foodbank’s 56,000 square
foot facility. The geothermal projectwill help heat and cool a portion of
the building.
50 wells were dug 200 feet deep in the open lawn on the east
side of the Foodbank’s Cook Street location to install a closed loop
geothermal heating and cooling system in the ground.
The system will use the earth as a heat source in the winter and
a heat sink in the summer, resulting in significantly lower energy
consumption.

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Go there and read the whole site. Look around. More next week.

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