Saturation means more of a given ingredient cannot be added to a given volume or fabric of activity, without spilling over, and being wasted. The fossil fuels market is saturated, in the sense that it cannot effectively capitalize on major new production investment without major new construction of productive facilities. The industry has effectively pushed … Continue reading Saturation vs. Scalability: Old & Costly vs. Clean & Efficient
There is a myth permeating our nation’s energy policy and energy economy, which holds that renewable sources of energy cannot meet our outsized electricity demand, let alone power our entire economy. That myth is not only entirely untrue; it depends on the flawed assertion that the only way things can be is the way that … Continue reading We Need a National Renewables Start-up Incubator
Yemen may be where the Arab spring, this sweeping current of democratic upheaval in the Arabic-speaking world, takes a turn definitively toward violence or toward civic solutions. The regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh, a tribal dictatorship using feudal power tactics, based in the capital Sanaa, is now waging one war against extremist Islamists and another against non-violent pro-democracy protesters.
Yemen is an intensely poor country, likely to see its dwindling fresh water resources 100% depleted before any nation in the world, and could be the global home-base for jihadist extremists. Yemen could also, however, be a sparkling example of how peaceful democratic change can bring sustainable prosperity and security to an otherwise impoverished society ruled by feudal warlords and kleptocratic dictators.
‘Psychic numbing‘ is a relatively new term, assigned to the phenomenon which shows people tend to feel less urgent compassion, and tend to give less, when the suffering in question is shown to be more systemic and more pervasive, or affecting larger numbers of people. Some psychologists believe it is linked to our intuitive sense that if one suffers alone, the suffering is worse, but if one is accompanied, there might be some security in numbers, not just emotionally, but practically.
The individual does not actually suffer less, but somehow, human beings —across cultures, ages groups and regions— appear to have an almost inborn tendency to convince themselves that the one who suffers with others is somehow safer. This is, of course, rarely true. While yes, a young boy might survive because his older sister goes without food, two young children in a population beset with pervasive, persistent scarcity or political disorder, may be at significantly heightened risk of violence, or even enslavement.
Citizens Climate Lobby took its message to Capitol Hill, meeting with 52 different members of Congress, or their energy and climate staff, in both the House and the Senate. The first CCL national conference was fortuitously timed, as the ongoing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has brought into stark relief the nature of the carbon-fuel problem and the urgent need for action to achieve a civilization-wide overhaul of energy infrastructure, and the climate bill pending in the Senate may not have the votes to override a filibuster.
The “Lobby Day” experience was part of the first annual CCL National Conference, in the nation’s capital. The landmark event brought together climate scientists, oceanographers, environmental engineers, economists, activists, community leaders, small business owners and concerned citizens, to deliver the message to members of both parties that citizens from the community, their own constituents, will support them if they take meaningful, comprehensive action to combat climate destabilization. Continue reading “Citizens Climate Lobby Takes Campaign to Capitol Hill”
With the digital medium putting down roots and expanding its reach into more and more aspects of everyday life, the risk of identity theft is increasingly of concern and increasingly hard to keep pace with, prevent and reverse. There are deep worries —expressed by every expert from privacy advocates, to civil rights lawyers to Microsoft and its founder Bill Gates— that the use of biometric markers for real-world identification will lead to an irreversibility problem and radical incentivization for identity thieves and fraudsters.
Countering the rise of a global black market in stolen identities will require not just bold, innovative thinking, but a comprehensive awareness of the nature of media hyper-convergence, and the ways in which that process will affect our ability to interact with, judge, manipulate and keep safe from, the world around us. Standardization and atomization both present opportunities for would-be identity thieves, and so the major pro-consumer model must be centered on getting ahead and staying ahead, technologically, of those who seek to steal and misuse personal identity, whether digital, biometric or analog (like one’s signature).
One solution for California would be the expansion of its efforts across the region and the nation, to spur the creation of a full-scale renewable resource-based power grid, to optimize both generative capacity and distribution. The question is, now that the decision has been made to shift toward renewables, how can California go beyond the 1/3 threshold and build a strong renewable-energy export economy?
Part of California’s renewables build-up process might well be, as Gov. Schwarzenegger suggests, a dynamic market in which renewable resourced energy is imported into the state. But part of California’s goal in doing this, admittedly, is to depend less on the volatility of imported energy. So there will have to be a major shift in the investment of public funds toward renewables infrastructure, within the state.
The New Scientist magazine is reporting on an intriguing and brazen new Pentagon program that would create living “OrthopterNets”, communication networks made of insects implanted with special technologies to modulate their wingbeats. Crickets, cicadas and katydids, all use their wings to generate sounds, the patterns of which communicate information to others of their kind. The Pentagon wants to use this natural communications network to prompt the insects to emit specific sounds in the presence of specific chemicals.
The result would be cyborg insects, living insects with technology integrated into their physical composition. The technology could have broad application, including “sniffing” applications in the search for toxins, concealed chemical or biological agents, hazmat detection, and even the search for survivors from natural disasters. A number of factors impede the timely locating of survivors buried in rubble after earthquakes or other major disasters.
Biodiesel is a controversial area of energy sourcing. Many believe it is a poor choice for breaking human dependence on carbon-based fuels, since it is essentially, yet another way of burning carbon to produce energy. But others say it is a healthy, incremental step, which can burn cleaner than petroleum fuels and will help diversify the scope of recycling and related inputs to the energy economy.
Now chocolate is making its way into the biodiesel game. Chocolate fuel: the phrase is charismatic, it draws the ear, alerts the mind, it wakens the attention of people who have rarely thought about what the development of alternative fuels really means. So, how does chocolate biodiesel work? It is actually the waste byproducts made by industrial production of chocolate for human consumption. Those waste byproducts —often simply small chunks, flakes or “misshapes” of chocolate— are concentrated into biodiesel, which can be burned to produce locomotion in motor vehicles.
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