Monthly Archives: October 2009

Leaf blowers, again

leaf%20blow%201Yesterday, while riding my bike, I saw two people dealing with fall leaves. The first was a middle aged man in Mountain View, blowing madly away at leaves in his driveway, blowing them out into the street with a noisy gasoline-driven blower. I suppose then the neighbors will blow them back the next day.

The second person was a middle aged woman in Palo Alto, which prohibits gas blowers; she was suctioning up the leaves with an electric shop vacuum, rolling along on casters, to put them in her recycling bin.

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Filed under global warming/environment, Uncategorized

Stanford, UC Berkeley form science news wire service

The slow and lingering death of “traditional” news media has prompted some of the nations premier scientific institutions to create their own science wire service.

…35 top research universities—including Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley—have created their own “wire service” of sorts, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The service, called Futurity, is drafting and distributing articles about the universities’ discoveries to sites like Google News and Yahoo News. They are also leveraging new media, like YouTube, to get the word out. And the stories are also being posted on the consortium’s own site,

“Our preference would be to have the level of coverage of science and research that we enjoyed for decades,” Lisa Lapin, a Stanford spokesman told the Merc. “But the major news organizations haven’t had the resources to provide that independent, objective look at what we are doing. It’s been declining.”

The Merc notes that newspapers across the country have been whittling down their science reporting staffs. Both the Merc and the San Francisco Chronicle closed their Science sections several years ago.

Well done, and it has to be an improvement over the coverage provided by general news reporters or even science reporters.

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Filed under global warming/environment, healthcare, honest people, science: not a very Republican thing to do

Shifting the world to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 – here are the numbers

Stanford Report

Study: Shifting the world to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 – here are the numbers
Wind, water and solar energy resources are sufficiently available to provide all the world’s energy. Converting to electricity and hydrogen powered by these sources would reduce world power demand by 30 percent, thereby avoiding 13,000 coal power plants. Materials and costs are not limitations to these conversions, but politics may be, say Stanford and UC researchers who have mapped out a blueprint for powering the world.

Most of the technology needed to shift the world from fossil fuel to clean, renewable energy already exists. Implementing that technology requires overcoming obstacles in planning and politics, but doing so could result in a 30 percent decrease in global power demand, say Stanford civil and environmental engineering Professor Mark Z. Jacobson and University of California-Davis researcher Mark Delucchi.

To make clear the extent of those hurdles – and how they could be overcome – they have written an article that is the cover story in the November issue of Scientific American. In it, they present new research mapping out and evaluating a quantitative plan for powering the entire world on wind, water and solar energy, including an assessment of the materials needed and costs. And it will ultimately be cheaper than sticking with fossil fuel or going nuclear, they say.

The key is turning to wind, water and solar energy to generate electrical power – making a massive commitment to them – and eliminating combustion as a way to generate power for vehicles as well as for normal electricity use.

The problem lies in the use of fossil fuels and biomass combustion, which are notoriously inefficient at producing usable energy. For example, when gasoline is used to power a vehicle, at least 80 percent of the energy produced is wasted as heat.

With vehicles that run on electricity, it’s the opposite. Roughly 80 percent of the energy supplied to the vehicle is converted into motion, with only 20 percent lost as heat. Other combustion devices can similarly be replaced with electricity or with hydrogen produced by electricity.

The Scientific American article provides a quantification of global solar and wind resources based on new research by Jacobson and Delucchi.

Analyzing only on-land locations with a high potential for producing power, they found that even if wind were the only method used to generate power, the potential for wind energy production is 5 to 15 times greater than what is needed to power the entire world. For solar energy, the comparable calculation found that solar could produce about 30 times the amount needed.

If the world built just enough wind and solar installations to meet the projected demand for the scenario outlined in the article, an area smaller than the borough of Manhattan would be sufficient for the wind turbines themselves. Allowing for the required amount of space between the turbines boosts the needed acreage up to 1 percent of Earth’s land area, but the spaces between could be used for crops or grazing. The various non-rooftop solar power installations would need about a third of 1 percent of the world’s land, so altogether about 1.3 percent of the land surface would suffice.

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Filed under Al Gore, Bush blunders worldwide, economics, Politics, public corruption, science: not a very Republican thing to do

Klamath River dams to be removed in 2020; will there be any salmon left?

Salmon migrationFinally somebody is gonna do something about the catastrophic collapse of the salmon fisheries. Of course it won’t happen until 2020. And we still have the issue of how fish farms are affecting the wild population.

SAN FRANCISCO — A draft plan to remove four aging dams along the Klamath River in Oregon and California was released Wednesday, a long-awaited step toward ending a protracted dispute over the waterway….
The federal government has often played the unhappy role of referee. In 2002, environmentalists asserted that a significant die-off of fish had resulted from a diversion of water to farmers that was ordered by the Interior Department. Four years later, fishermen complained when low levels of salmon in the river led to government restrictions on commercial fishing.

Bush and his band of profiteers always sold out to whatever was the bigger corporate entity. The small businessmen who fish, and the consumer, and all those who appreciate wildlife, are the losers. Not to mention the tribes.

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