Sea of Noise

Tue, 21 Sep 2004

Oil Security Digest

A new blog that looks promising: Oil Security Digest.

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Thu, 03 Jun 2004

National Biodiesel Board

The National Biodiesel Board is the national trade association representing the biodiesel industry. It's a good place to start if you want to buy biodiesel.

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Wed, 12 May 2004

Make a Solar Power Generator

"How to Make a Solar Power Generator for Less Than $300" is a rough and ready guide to getting some power from the sun, to a battery, and out to your back massager or other favorite appliance.

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Wed, 31 Mar 2004


Why not build an earthship?

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Mon, 29 Mar 2004

Apollo Alliance

Back in December I said that we need a nationwide effort to reduce our dependence on foreign oil on the scale of the Apollo Project. It's probably not surprising that other folks are thinking along the same general lines.

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Buried Sunshine

A recent article in Nature reports Jeff Dukes' calculation that it takes 23.5 tons of ancient plant material to produce one liter of gasoline.

In 1997, he points out, we burned fossil fuels equivalent to more than 400 times the amount of plant matter produced on Earth in the same year.
Despite these inefficiencies, fossil fuels created over the past 500 million years have given us a relatively inexpensive fuel source for the past 250 years. "It is fantastic stored free energy from the past, but it's not sustainable," Dukes says.

Bucky Fuller called this energy stored in the form of fossil fuels Earth's "cosmic energy savings account". As he pointed out in Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth and elsewhere, our daily energy "income" from the sun is vast in comparison to the energy we can obtain from burning up our "savings". Humanity's current approach is prodigal, but even worse it misses out on the incredible daily opportunity to use far great amounts of energy our planet gets for free.

Fuller put it this way in his 1981 book Critical Path:

. . . cosmic evolution is also irrevocably intent upon making omni-integrated humanity omnisuccessful, able to live sustainingly at an unprecedentedly higher standard of living for all Earthians than has ever been experienced by any; able to live entirely within its cosmic-energy income instead of spending its cosmic-energy savings account (i.e., the fossil fuels) or spending its cosmic-capital plant and equipment account (i.e., atomic energy) . . . a spending folly no less logical than burning your house-and-home too keep the family warm on an unprecedentedly cold midwinter night.
Humanity's cosmic-energy income account consists entirely of our gravity- and star(99 percent Sun)-distributed cosmic dividends of waterpower, tidal power, wavepower, windpower, vegetation-produced alcohols, methane gas, vulcanism, and so on. Humanity's present rate of total energy consumption amounts to only one four-millionth of one percent of the rate of its energy income.

Over twenty years later, nothing has fundamentally changed--not our approach and not the potential.

[Nature article link via Macroscopic Labs]

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Fri, 05 Dec 2003

The Moon Not Gloom or An Energy Policy That Would Make Me Want To Vote For Howard Dean

I haven't encountered any sentient beings lately who think President Bush's "energy policy" is more than a bad joke. As a Republican, I'm embarassed. But, then, that's my usual reaction to the President's policies when it's not sheer outrage.

So why can't the Democrats articulate an energy policy that will inspire America? (No, don't answer that. Rhetorical question.)

We need someone with the folksy appeal of Ronald Reagan and the youthful energy of John F. Kennedy who can communicate a bold vision of American energy leadership. "Fellow Americans," the speech could begin, "over a decade ago we broke the back of Communist hegemony, and two decades before that we put a man on the moon. I believe we are the greatest nation on Earth, and that there is nothing we can't accomplish if we work together. The time has come to face humanity's next great challenge: by 2020 we will eliminate America's dependence on foreign oil and usher in a new era of abundant, clean energy for ourselves and for the world!"

Instead, the best the Democrats can come up with is an insipid, uninsipiring catalog of half-measures--a tax credit for this and new standard for that, incremental improvements and yawn-inducing wonkery. It doesn't matter whether they're the right policies, because no one is going to notice or care about them.

And that's the best. The worst (think Al Gore as the reincarnation of c. 1977 Jimmy Carter after suffering a blow to his head) is not just uninspiring, it completely misses the point: yes, America (and the world) is pissing away its energy savings account; but we won't move forward as a nation or as a species by cowering in our caves conserving the last few precious drops of the world's dwindling oil reserves, resigned to a gloomy future. That doesn't sell. And it's not that it doesn't sell because American voters cum consumers are greedy and shortsighted (they may be, but that's beside the point); it doesn't sell because it fails to aspire to greatness.

The future is very bright indeed, if you have the courage to look into the sun. If Howard Dean (or any other candidate) wants my vote, its time he got some cojones.

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