I would like to go over the history of burning behavior so that everyone can see why it’s so primitive and why much of it is so unnecessary. Also to make a point that burning behavior has changed in many ways over the years to become better behavior sometimes and worse at others.

We Humans evolved from Hominids in and around the Rift Valley in Africa. Their precursors were little hamster like creatures. The hominids were all little upright primates about 4 feet tall. And even then we were engaged in BB because we eat. Eating involves oxidation, that is we inhale air, and eat food. Our Bodies convert that oxygen and food to energy and heat, so we have been little burners since the beginning. Fire is nothing but the rapid oxidation of combustible materials. So we literally burn calaroies. The hominids had several advantages over their domain that eventually led them to evolve into us, modern humans. They were smart, they could see over the savanna grasses. Only birds, really large mammals, and tree dwellers could really “see far”. They used simple wooden tools principally bowels, flat boards and sharp sticks. This was roughly 2-4 million years ago. They were also extremely agile and hunted in groups, behaviors held over from their days living in trees.

(photo removed)

(Today all Light Houses in the U.S. are solar powered)

I imagine that early on Hominids were real dangerous because nothing would have been afraid of them. I mean they would not have presented a profile that any beast would associate with danger. By hunting I must add, not what is conjured as a hunter today. Hunting for fruits and nuts and roots. What we now call gathering. But also hunting for grubs, ants, small fish, and whatever else they put in their mouths and seemed OK. I am sure they daily watched other animals eat each other as well. With their sharp sticks I am sure they thought about that and tried it. But uncooked meat is very difficult to digest and contains massive amounts of pathogens. So I am sure that those experiments ended in death. For those that lived in a fish infested environment, I am sure that they experimented with drying the fish (using the sun to “cook”) and eventually they tried that on animal parts. Still drying only gets you so far as does salting things to preserve them.

(photo removed)

(During the 1970’s and 80’s Father Verspieren preached the Solar Gospel to pump water in the Third World)

The Hominids and the early Humans would have seen fire too. Fires in the Savanna are real common. Lightening strikes and spontaneous combustion would have burned large area of grasslands every year. Animals would have been burned in those fires and the early folks would have tried to eat them. Cooked meat tastes real good because of the caramelized fats. That probably motivated them to try to “capture” fire by putting rocks around something left burning on the edge of a fire (the first fire circles). Once the fire was “trapped” they feed that fire with combustibles from around the area. NOW those lucky hominids had something REAL valuable. I am sure the word spread (dare I say) like wild fire throughout the tribes. The first controlled tribal fires are thought to have occurred around 1,400.000 years ago. Unfortunately fire and nomadic lifestyles lie in conflict. Unless you know how to independently start one they can be hard to transport. While farming is usually attributed to the Settling of the Human family into villages. My bet is that the first villages actually resulted from tribal people not wanting to abandon the fires that they had tended and used for many wonderful things.

(photo removed)

(Solar Panels cover an apartment building in Bremensm Germany)

Also, I’ll bet the quest for fire starting devices was that era’s technology race. What we do know is that by the time of the Neanderthals they were brilliant firestarters. They used flint and rock strikers or wood bow starters or water soaked grass chaf (in the hotter climates) to start fires and they transported fire with them in portable ember chambers. Surely by the time “modern humans” populated the North and South Americas 20,000 year ago from what is now France and Russia fire or Burning Behavior was an intricate part of human life. But all ready they were doing bad things with it. Tribes used purposely-set fires to attack other tribes and they used fire to clear forests for farming areas. Even more ominously for us today they used fire to burn people alive as sacrifices to their gods and as punishment for their rivals. Still there were only 50 or 60 million people on the planet at that point. How much harm could they do?

(for those of you who are wondering where I am going with this? Patience. I cover like 4 million years in basically 2 pages! I hope to cover 20,000 more years in 2 more posts and then talk about what I really wanted to talk about which Isaac Asimov and Captain Kirk on Star Trek – really…)


More New Orleans

 “I wanted to write about this story when it broke in March but we were just setting up the website and I was up to my neck in the FREEZE Legislation which was just signed today!!! as Senate Bill 1592. Please see the Bulletin Board for the details. And I had not even tackled the Bulletin Board let alone this blog but since the last entry was about NOLA I thought I would go back and get it. I lived in NOLA for 12 years and I KNOW a Bruce Harris, so when I first saw the story I almost died, but its not my Bruce.”

Greening the Future of New Orleans

Residents in the Lower 9th Ward rebuild using donated solar systems from Sharp Solar.

by Stephen Lacey, Staff Writer

New Orleans, Louisiana []

Bruce Harris has a big smile on his face. Standing between his small FEMA trailer and peeling yellow house in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, he points to a new inverter attached to the worn clapboard.

“It’s great being a part of the reconstruction effort here — to be installing a solar system for someone who’s going to make great use of it.” 

Harris’ new 1.5-kilowatt (kW) system is one of ten donated to New Orleans residents by the Sharp Solar Energy Solutions Group (SESG) as part of the company’s customer conference, called “SOLA in NOLA.”

 “I also used to work at the Alliance For Affordable Energy, so this story is a double OH YAH for me.”

Namaste Solar and Solar Plexus are two of ten installation companies that have donated their time and labor to put solar systems on the houses of residents in the Lower 9th Ward who are rebuilding their lives after the flooding from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.The other companies participating in the effort include Borrego Solar, Direct Power and Water, Meridian Energy Systems, HelioPower, REgrid Power, Sharpe Solar Energy Systems, Solar Design Associates and Jersey Solar. The teams came down for Sharp’s annual customer conference two days early to install the systems.Sharp partnered with the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association, the Alliance for Affordable Energy, Williams Architects and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources to select the installation sites. Applicants for the systems were put in a lottery and selected at random.

 The immortal truth about this article is that no buildings should be built in this country without power generation installed. And I don’t care how small the building or for that matter how large. If we would have started doing this 30 years ago we would be done, Burning Down The House.

Low Burn Behavior Helps Rebuild New Orleans

ORLEANS (Reuters) – Calling Hurricane Katrina a “man-made disaster,” actor Brad Pitt said on Tuesday he remains committed to helping the city recover from the storm.Nearly two years after the August 29, 2005 hurricane, the “Ocean’s Thirteen” star said he was at times dismayed by the pace of recovery in New Orleans, where he and partner Angelina Jolie own an elegant townhouse in the historic French Quarter.

Pitt was in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood to tour an ecologically sustainable single-family home being built by Global Green USA, an environmental group he backs.

The actor praised the house in the Holy Cross area of the ward as a “small victory” for efforts to rebuild the city, but said, “it’s hard to find an overall victory when you see how slowly everything is still moving. And Katrina was a man-made disaster. This house is a man-made solution

Pitt believes this house can do away with power bills. The houses design is a result of a Pitt sponsored green design competition.

The house that Pitt toured, loosely modeled on the distinctive New Orleans “shotgun” style of long, narrow homes, will generate almost all its electricity from 28 roof-mounted solar panels, said Global Green USA president Matt Petersen.

Global Green hopes to use the house, which should be completed this fall, as a prototype for the neighborhood. Built not far from the banks of the Mississippi River and raised by three feet on concrete pilings, it is above sea level.

From the same Bog

New Orleans has already committed to energy efficiency as it continues to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The house Pitt toured was built above sea level, which may be a good idea given that levees have still not been fully repaired in the city. For more Green Building news, visit Earth 911’s Green Building archive.

To see a virtual tour or the house use the link below:

Weird Bird Friday (on Saturday)

I went to Mason City to see my sister Joann who lives in Dothan Alabama whom I had not seen for awhile so I did not get to post a Weird Bird on Friday. So as a tribute to fellow blogger, canoeist, and all round camper John Martin and his better half Susan Kay I post my birds today. His blog is

One of the reasons I want people to burn less is not for people but for our fellow companions on this planet, the flora and the fauna. Cate and I have numerous butterfly and bird attractors on our spralling spread. So I wanted to show you all our little flitters and flyers. Unfortunately:


There were no golden finches on the finch feeder,


no barn swallows on their nest,


 and no humming birds on their feeder!!

In fact the closest birds I could find were these little starlings up on the pole at the corner of our property.


 Which of course you can not see because its a “point and shoot” digital fricking camera that I still can’t seem to get the hang of. So what gives? And then I saw the problem.


Where the heck is Billy Bob (John and Susans beloved frisby chasing dog) when you need him?

But I did get a shot that shows that birds indeed land on electrical wires and live unlike the last weird bird.


2 doves (errr actually pigeons) sitting on a wire. Ahhh isn’t love grand.

That Story from the State Fair

When Cate and I were at the State Fair (see State Fair 1) we
visited Conservation World to see the Celebrating the 
Environment Tent, which was a new (to me) environmental 
displaythat included Springfield Based groups. While 
there I was shown a Lexus hybrid car and told a pretty cool
story about how it came to be there. I did not have time to
 get the details and forgot to take pictures so I was waiting
 until I could get accurate info before I posted it.
First: The CAR
It is a Lexus Hybrid, 4 Door Sedan/Coupe which costs $61 K, 
and was provided by Lexus of Peoria. At the high end of its 
gasoline performance it gets 28 miles to the gallon, not
bad for a sports car. The car runs on electricity at low
speeds and gas at high speeds. (see
The car was offered to them courtesy of Wally Miles, Sales
Manager, at Lexus of Peoria, 7301 N. Allen Rd, Peoria, IL 61614.
But then there is the obvious ????. Peoria? 
Catherine O'Connor told me that she called every car dealer in
Springfield to see if they would loan her a car. They all said 
no!(boo hissssss) So she took a creative leap and called dealers
in other cities. When she got a hold of Wally Miles
whom she had NOT MET before, he said he would get her a car! She
said that what she did not know until later was that Mr. Miles
had to BUY the car because there is a waiting list!! He had the
car delivered to her by courier and again, he had only spoken 
to her on the telephone…a $60,000 car. WHOA.
The thank you letter from the Sierra Club in part reads:
"Thank you so much for generously supplying a new Lexus 
hybrid vehicle for the 'Celebrating the Environment' display
at the 2008 Illinois State Fair.  We are proud that the Sierra
Club has teamed up with a coalition of local environmental 
groups and community leaders to help raise awareness of the 
biggest single step that American consumers can take to curb
global warming and help reduce their dependence on 
non-renewable fuel sources." 

Anybody want to buy a car? CALL Wally! Thank you Mr. Miles.

From Darfur to Dick Cheney

“According to Amanda Levy at the Springfieldbase newspaper the State Journal Register: You can help stop the BURNING in Darfur and save lives too”…(

Among other steps, he said, people can check whether their mutual funds support the Sudanese government and they can chip in to buy solar cookers for refugees.

The Springfield Jewish Community Relations Council and the Never Again! Save Darfur Coalition hosted the event, which was designed to promote the sale of such cookers for refugees in Darfur and Chad.

At least 3.5 million people have been displaced since the genocide broke out in Darfur in 2003.

Solar cookers were on display Monday and information was provided on how to purchase them as part of the Solar Cooker Project, which is sponsored by Jewish World Watch. The initiative aims to give the cookers to refugees in the Iridimi and Touloum camps in Chad.

Lindy Seltzer, founder of the Never Again! Save Darfur Coalition, said most refugees are female, because most boys and men have been killed in village attacks.

Seltzer described the cookers as ingenious and simple to use. Though she didn’t have exact figures, Seltzer said many of those attending Monday night wrote checks to provide cookers. 

What they don’t say is when the woman go out to look for wood for a fire they are raped and maimed…yikes!

“As a companion piece::

How to donate solar cookers

To purchase solar cookers for Darfuri women in refugee camps. download a donation form at

Area contributors are asked to put “Springfield Solar Cooker Project” in the memo of their checks so the funds raised locally may be calculated.

According to Jewish World Watch, solar cookers offer many benefits to refugees:

  • They reduce need for frequent firewood collecting, decreases the risk of violence toward women and girls.
  • Two solar cookers can save one ton of wood each year.
  • There is no need to tend a fire, so women are free to do other tasks.
  • Manufacture of the solar cookers provides income for female refugees.
  • The breakdown for donations is:
  • $30 buys two stoves for one family
  • $150 buys 10 stoves for five families
  • $300 buys 20 stoves for 10 families
  • $900 buys 60 stoves for 30 families
  • $2,700 buys 180 stoves for 90 families
  • “On another note even Nicholas Kristof is willing to admit that Dick Cheney and the BURNING crowd are full of crap.”

    Conservation a technology deal, not a sacrifice deal

    Conservation a technology deal, not a sacrifice deal

    Published Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    Saving energy doesn’t have to mean shivering in the dark. Dick Cheney once scoffed that energy conservation can be a “personal virtue” but is no basis for an energy policy.Growing evidence suggests he had it exactly wrong.

    Concern about greenhouse gases and reliance on imported oil usually leads to a focus on the supply side of the energy equation, particularly exotic sources such as wind, solar, waves and hydrogen. The coolest car in history is a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle I once drove on a GM test track: It could go 100 miles per hour and nothing came out the exhaust but water vapor.

    Cheney’s image seems to be of a dour stoic shivering in a cardigan in a frigid home, squinting under a dim light bulb, showering under a tiny trickle of (barely) solar-heated water, and then bicycling to work in the rain. If that’s the alternative, then many of us might be willing to see the oceans rise, whatever happens to Florida.

    “Of course what we can do is BURN LESS” 

    But new research has shown that improvements in energy efficiency often pay for themselves, actually leaving us better off.

    “This is not a sacrifice deal,” Daniel Yergin, head of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, says of conservation. “This is a technology deal. After all, we’re twice as energy efficient now as we were in the 1970s, and at the same time our economy has more than doubled.”

    James Woolsey, an energy expert and former director of the CIA, puts it this way: “People have radically overestimated the sacrifice and dramatically underestimated the opportunity.”

    McKinsey & Co., the business consulting company, suggests embracing energy-saving measures that pay for themselves with at least a 10 percent rate of return. McKinsey says that if this approach – at no cost to economic growth – were put into effect worldwide, by 2020 the annual savings would be 1.5 times the current U.S. annual energy consumption.

    McKinsey Global Institute put out a 290-page book in May detailing the steps necessary. These include better insulation and high-efficiency heating in new homes; low-energy light bulbs; high-efficiency appliances; and higher fuel economy standards for vehicles. To drive a mile in the U.S. typically takes 37 percent more gas than in Europe.

    “The sheer waste of it all, when other countries have shown another path, is incredible,” notes Diana Farrell of McKinsey Global Institute. “The opportunities here are tremendous.”

    Besides the Ruling Elite who else does he blame? 

    I can’t help feeling that we in the news media are part of the reason that steps to battle climate change aren’t on top of the national agenda. We’re good at covering things that happen on any one day – like a tornado or hurricane – but weak at covering complex trends, like climate change. And we tend to cover disputes by having a dutiful quote from each side, without always explaining where the scientific consensus lies.

    Climate skeptics say that we don’t know how serious climate change will be, and they’re right. But isn’t it prudent to address threats even when we’re unsure of them? We don’t expect to be caught in a fire, but we still believe in fire escapes and fire departments.

    Suppose we had political leaders who snorted that fires are nothing new, that the science of firefighting is unclear, and that we can’t impose a burden on business by establishing fire departments – while brightly adding that citizens can extinguish fires on their own out of “personal virtue.”

    Why, we would think those leaders were nuts.

    And its not just Energy Policy that Cheney lies about!

    Changing Behavior

    Friends, Family and sometimes even a stranger on the street will ask me why I am always talking about Burning Behavior or using examples of people that I claim are burning their stuff up. Well, one, its because they are. And two if you consciously THINK about a behavior before you do it you can stop it or you can say to yourself yes I need to do this now but maybe not tomorrow if I plan ahead. For instance everytime I get in my car I think, Do I need to start this car? Lots of time I don’t even put the key in the ignition. I get out and go do something else. Why?

    Well I run this thought experiment through  my head. Imagine if you will, that your tail pipe of your car has a real long flexible plastic hose on it. Imagine that the hose goes through a hole in your window (the pipe is seal so nothing can come back out the window) and lays on your living room flour. All the carbon soot, exhaust gases, unspent gasoline, and water coming from your car engine goes directly in your house. Say you do 20 or 30 miles of driving. What do you think your living room would look like when you got home. Do you think you could even go in and LIVE? It would be a mess. Even after you “aired the place out” that new car smell would probably linger for days.

    The point being that if you think about it like that you drive less, and if everyone drove less the Earth would be a better place. Think about every burning behaior you do and quit one. Its easy.

    Illinois State Fair Day 2

    The 2nd day at the Illinois State Fair we got involved in an exciting chase that put a very bad guy in jail.


     We were at the Illinois Electric Council tent to see their advertised energy efficiency demonstration put on by some very nice ladies.


    When we were distracted by the high voltage over head wire display put on by Live Line Demos’ main guy Kyle Finley,


     When all of a sudden the mad Energy Hog Broke onto the scene.


    (who is played by actual nice guy – Justin Lex)

    We enlisted the help of good guys Molson and Lee, who when not being super heroes are radio personalities.


    And a chase throught the fairgrounds ensued. We wanted to catch the hog and put him out of business. For more about this infamous criminal see: .


    He tried to hide in the Dairy Pavilion. But we followed in hot pursuit, pausing only to find, the airplane and many other secrets in this years beloved Butter Cow. But then heroes Molson and Lee called their friend in the K-9 squad.


    They cornered him and put him where he belongs.


    All in all the Fair was fun this year and there were more energy exhibits then ever before. Heck we had nothing better to do while waiting around for the Governor to sign the Rate Relief Bill…Oops that’s for the Bulletin Board.

    The State Fair and Energy Efficiency

    This is conservation?

    This is conservation?

    There were lots of Energy Displays demonstrating LOW Burn Behavior on display at the Illinois State Fair this year. Though it was kinda disheartening to see this at the bottom of the hill at Conservation World.


    This is Conservation!


    This is Conservation!




    These are pictures from the Sangamon Valley Group chapter of the Sierra Club. The first is an actual working solar photovoltaic panel courtesy of CWLP’s Bob Croteau of the Energy Services Department. They had a brand new hybrid car, the amazing story of which will be on another blog entry. The tent was womened by Catherine O’Connor and Diana Lopez under extreme heat and humidity. Thank You!


    DECO Administrator John Marley tells a fireman how to quit burning up his own stuff.


    They had a blower door test and all manner of ways to plug holes in your home envelop…I had hoped we would be past this stage by now but apparently people are still trying to heat and cool the outdoors. Close the barn door people.


    This guy is the real deal. This is Steve Cox and his company is selling the new Skystream 3.7 kilowatt personal wind turbine at Way to go Steve and family! More on them later too…




    And finaly as a tribute to my good friend John Martin, an avid environmentalist, whose blog – thedrunkablog – that chronicles all things Denver, is linked on CES’ blog. Weird Bird Friday, a tradition I may not be able to uphold. Sorry Susan Kay. From a Display by the Illinois Electricity Council concerning high voltage powerline saftey. Yes it is a dead bird. Not merely resting.



    Next Time State Fair 2 and the hunt for the Energy Hog.