Coffee Printer

Dost our eco-imaginations know no limits? Ladies and germs… the RITI Coffee Printer

In addition to ridding the printing process of the ink cartridge (its most environmentally un-friendly throw-out), the RITI printer also requires a bit of human action to get things going, which eliminates the need for any really significant power source. This last part of the idea seems a bit impractical, but after all that coffee you are drinking, maybe you need some exercise to burn off your excess energy!? Not a coffee drinker? No worries, it works just as well with tea.

Thanks, Amy.

Happy New Year

Metamorfossi

“You Americans need to step out of yourselves, we like you people,” George White Eye* insisted, his own focus lit wide, wider than the small room in which I lay. I cannot respond with his fingers inside my mouth. “You understand what I say?”

More…

Appreciation appreciation – thanks for the memories

Whoever thought home prices would continue to rise forever, please raise your hand(s), we’re doing a head count and just need a round figure. Really, though, not to flog a deceased equine but sprawl-building was our last great industry/swindle and its grand finale is the soft focus of much consternation among the hoi polloi. Soft because we’re not really focussing on it much beyond the mortgage meltdown and the bailouts being processed at the top, not seeing how it might be woven into other problems and the fulcrum for the great transition to come.

There is a profound over-capacity of housing; speculation about how and when the housing market, meaning the building of far-flung subdivisions, will ‘bounce back’ is absurd. Its. Not. Going. To.

Sure we’re rather not think or speak about this kind of unpleasantness, and our remarkable powers of disassociation have been noted. But it doesn’t change the fact of so many people out of work: in the construction industry, real estate, banking, even sandwich flipping and all the tag-along support industries related to building, selling and living in suburbs. These folks will have to find something else to make. Whatever it is, it will be green in that it will be made and sold close to their homes, using materials that have been recycled likely several times and will be made by some post-industrial process that i s carbon neutral – so we should begin imagining what some of the things it might be.

This is a Test

When I was a kid, there was probably everyday – and likely precipitated by the specter of nuclear attack (which seems almost surreal now) – 30 seconds of test pattern with a C flat hum on the tv, probably between some favorite shows. You would just get accustomed to waiting it out, then the voice over would come on and say: “This has been a test of the emergency broadcast system. Had this been an actual emergency, you would have been caught practically unaware as you have have become so complacent about the test that…” Well, it didn’t say that. But it could have.

This drop in gas prices is a similar though much more poignant test of our ability to comprehend the circumstances in which we find ourselves, vis-a-vis dwindling energy reserves. I mean, I don’t know what else to call it besides stupid. Actually, I can think of a few things.

“We’re in remission right now,” said Marvin E. Odum, the vice president for exploration and production for Royal Dutch Shell in the Americas. But once the economy picks up, he said, “the energy challenge will come back with a vengeance.”

Come back? It’s gone somewhere? Sure it’s hiding behind the drop in prices that is the result of a fire sale to jetison every asset for cash, including in the commodities market and oil contracts. But it’s… HIDING. This a test of our resolve. The biggest challenge/problem we have in society – all caps implied – is what to do when the price is cheaper. When faced with this, we always do the wrong thing: destroy downtowns, eat poison, willfully trash the environment, put ourselves out of work, live in isolation… all because it costs a little less. Low, low prices. Always.

Listen up, people. This is an actual emergency. You are being defined on your ability to resist your impulses to return to your regularly scheduled programming and wait for this to pass. You must begin to change everything about the way you do everything before this looming catastrophe changes it for you – even and especially when it is supposedly cheaper not to.

I won’t go into why it would be cheaper to begin to change now. I think I’m already starting to have more in common with the sound of the hum than I’m comfortable with.

Update: Interesting addendum to the miles per gallon vs. gallons per mile debate to tack on

and sometimes (Red)

A friend directed one of the music videos, here.  The whole enterprise is premised toward shedding light on the absurd reality that tens of thousands of people are living with a greatly treatable disease, suffusing a very substantive cause with music and performances.

I wasn’t crazy about the early incarnations [years ago?] of the campaign that paired the cause with a credit card – we’ve got to get away from the tacked-on ‘feel good’ messaging that appeals to getting some direct benefit (feeling good) from doing the right thing while maintaining a comfortable separation from the work that is needed to affect actual progress. But this digital magazine looks more like the ‘take this hope, make something lasting and give it away” I have espoused elsewhere. More like this, please.

Unrelated but also, this is 10 levels of awesome.

Meeting green energy goals

This article from the Times last Friday lays out in somewhat predictable fashion how some states have set goals for their percentages of renewable energy that they likely won’t be able to meet.

“I think we are really overselling how quick, how easy and how complete the transition can be,” said George Sterzinger, executive director of the Renewable Energy Policy Project, a Washington advocacy group.

More than half the states have adopted formal green-energy goals. In many states the policies, known as renewable portfolio standards, are too new to be evaluated. But so far the number of successes and failures is “sort of a 50-50 kind of affair,” said Ryan Wiser, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and co-author of a recent report on the targets.

At first I was thinking that this was merely an excellent ‘press’ story, because they love to set up pins and knock them down. Maybe we should have some PBA sub-designation and sponsorship. The article appears to be thought provoking when, in actuality its merely following a formula, or so it seemed.

The utilities cited a catalog of reasons for falling short. These include stop-and-start federal tax incentives for renewable power, problems finding reliable suppliers among the many young and fragile start-ups in the industry, and difficulty getting transmission lines built and obtaining permits to build solar stations and wind farms.

“Not every part of the country is equally blessed in terms of having locations for renewables,” said Debra L. Reed, president and chief executive of San Diego Gas & Electric, which is having trouble getting new transmission lines built to an area with a lot of sunshine.

Most of the actual people associated with Utiltity companies quoted in the article remarked on this problem – the need for new transmission lines. Maybe the reporters, straying from formula, are agitating for infrastructure spending for our electrical grid, especially collapsed onto so many other reports of the needs for, and Obama plans to enact, gigantic public works programs.

Transforming the system would seem to be a great way to put a lot of people to work, prepare for the non-carbon energy future and enable some potent, new technologies. More

The current grid is a stiff arrangement of one-way transmission lines, centralized generation facilities and aging substations. The recent emergence of large amounts of renewable electricity in markets around the country are creating new challenges for both the transmission and distribution sectors.

On the transmission side, the issue is whether there are enough lines to bring renewable energy onto the grid. Because many of the abundant renewable resources are far away from load centers, additional lines must be built to bring wind, solar and geothermal energies to market. If plans to construct lines are not on the table, developers will be hesitant to build large projects in these rural areas.

“This is what we call the ‘chicken and egg’ problem,” says Meyer. “It’s difficult to develop new generation without being certain that the transmission capacity is there or will be there. No one wants to be out front taking an undue portion of the risk.”

As planners look to build more of those lines, they may have some emerging technologies to consider; particularly High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) and wires based on nanotechnology.

HVDC transmission is certainly not a new concept — but it’s gaining ground in the U.S. as renewable electricity will have to be transported further distances with higher efficiency in the future.

The other technology still in the research and development phase is the “armchair quantum wire,” made from tubes of carbon 100,000 times thinner than a human hair, called carbon nanotubes. When these nanotubes are made into a larger wire, they can conduct electricity far more efficiently and over far greater distances than the copper wires used today.

Meeting green energy goals

This article from the Times last Friday lays out in somewhat predictable fashion how some states have set goals for their percentages of renewable energy that they likely won’t be able to meet.

“I think we are really overselling how quick, how easy and how complete the transition can be,” said George Sterzinger, executive director of the Renewable Energy Policy Project, a Washington advocacy group.

More than half the states have adopted formal green-energy goals. In many states the policies, known as renewable portfolio standards, are too new to be evaluated. But so far the number of successes and failures is “sort of a 50-50 kind of affair,” said Ryan Wiser, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and co-author of a recent report on the targets.

At first I was thinking that this was merely an excellent ‘press’ story, because they love to set up pins and knock them down. Maybe we should have some PBA sub-designation and sponsorship. The article appears to be thought provoking when, in actuality its merely following a formula, or so it seemed.

The utilities cited a catalog of reasons for falling short. These include stop-and-start federal tax incentives for renewable power, problems finding reliable suppliers among the many young and fragile start-ups in the industry, and difficulty getting transmission lines built and obtaining permits to build solar stations and wind farms.

“Not every part of the country is equally blessed in terms of having locations for renewables,” said Debra L. Reed, president and chief executive of San Diego Gas & Electric, which is having trouble getting new transmission lines built to an area with a lot of sunshine.

Most of the actual people associated with Utiltity companies quoted in the article remarked on this problem – the need for new transmission lines. Maybe the reporters, straying from formula, are agitating for infrastructure spending for our electrical grid, especially collapsed onto so many other reports of the needs for, and Obama plans to enact, gigantic public works programs.

Transforming the system would seem to be a great way to put a lot of people to work, prepare for the non-carbon energy future and enable some potent, new technologies. More

The current grid is a stiff arrangement of one-way transmission lines, centralized generation facilities and aging substations. The recent emergence of large amounts of renewable electricity in markets around the country are creating new challenges for both the transmission and distribution sectors.

On the transmission side, the issue is whether there are enough lines to bring renewable energy onto the grid. Because many of the abundant renewable resources are far away from load centers, additional lines must be built to bring wind, solar and geothermal energies to market. If plans to construct lines are not on the table, developers will be hesitant to build large projects in these rural areas.

“This is what we call the ‘chicken and egg’ problem,” says Meyer. “It’s difficult to develop new generation without being certain that the transmission capacity is there or will be there. No one wants to be out front taking an undue portion of the risk.”

As planners look to build more of those lines, they may have some emerging technologies to consider; particularly High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) and wires based on nanotechnology.

HVDC transmission is certainly not a new concept — but it’s gaining ground in the U.S. as renewable electricity will have to be transported further distances with higher efficiency in the future.

The other technology still in the research and development phase is the “armchair quantum wire,” made from tubes of carbon 100,000 times thinner than a human hair, called carbon nanotubes. When these nanotubes are made into a larger wire, they can conduct electricity far more efficiently and over far greater distances than the copper wires used today.