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Help the Sierra Club Pick Winning Technologies

So, Robyn Gee from the Sierra Club just got in touch with us asking for help preparing their upcoming report, "10 Technologies That Can Save the World." We're a little swamped at the moment, what with new teammates, a site redesign on the way, the book about to come out and a national book tour/ research voyage/ road trip to plan, but we thought you might be able to help us answer her questions. After all, the community of people who read Worldchanging include in our ranks folks who are pretty much the greenest techies around.

Here's what they're looking for:

The goal of the report would be to promote the value of innovation rather than exploitation as a way to meet our global challenges.
The report would highlight 10 new technologies that, if widely used, could make a significant impact in the areas of energy and global warming, natural resource conservation, or pollution prevention. We would ideally promote examples that are ripe (i.e. ready or near ready for market), and it would be nice if they were a mix of technologies that could affect industrial processes and technologies that an ordinary consumer might use. The report would also be a great way to applaud the companies or institutions -- large or small -- that were behind the innovation. We would like to release the report in early 2007, and use it to launch a regular column in Sierra magazine that will focus on promising new technologies.

They'd like our help figuring out which ten technological innovations offer the greatest potential sustainability benefits. So, what do you guys think? What's on your list of bright green technologies?

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Comments

Solar thermal power has my vote as the technology most likely to play a lead role in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels in the short term.

It's simple, can plug in to conventional thermal power generation, can keep operating, albeit at lower levels, after dark, and has the potential to generate massive amounts of baseload power. Here in Australia the potential is huge, and the same would undoubtedly be the case in many parts of the USA.


Posted by: Tim on 9 Aug 06

Pebble bed reactors. We need to embrace nuclear reactors. Any issues need to be solved. Fusion and fission are the only technologys that can complete with the energy density and cost of oil. We will also need to change what we use for vehicles to a multi-source energy format such as electric or hydrogen, something we can manufacture many different ways. The gains from competitive energy sources more then outweigh the lossy nature of converting between the forms. To summarize, I believe using PBRs to generate hydrogen is what we need to work towards.

read up if you are skeptical http://technorati.com/tag/pebblebed


Posted by: Judd on 9 Aug 06

I'm always curious as to why there's this device/technology fetish with respect to problem solving.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 9 Aug 06

Because, Joseph, technology is tangible and easily described (and because of the way the question was framed).

However, you have a point. Innovative approaches that reduce power usage and overall waste should certainly be included in the list, alongside technological devices.

Innovations such as:
- cradle to cradle ownership
- disassembling technology (eg shape memory alloy fastenings on mobile phones)
- monitoring technologies that bring problems into the open.
- water purification
- changes in perception (ie conservation practices are not an expense)

Hmmm... writing this, I have the feeling that I'm jumping in with a 'grab bag' approach. I think I ought to step back a bit and try and look at the big picture more analytically.

So...

- What are the biggest problems facing us today?
- What are the major contributors to those problems?
- What are the most effective methods of reducing those contributions?
- Which of those methods are most readily achievable?

Answering those questions may be a better way to come up with a really useful list. More later.

('scuse the out loud musing, but it may help a few other contributors)


Posted by: Tony Fisk on 9 Aug 06

A couple thoughts:
1) An old technology, the bicycle, could change the world if more widely adopted in auto-dependent cultures.
2) Peak pricing for electrricity. It is very wasteful to build excess generating capacity to meet brief periods of peak demand. Everyone should have a conspicuous LCD display in their home that tells them the price of electricity in real time, so that they are reminded NOT to start the laundry or take a shower during times of peak power demand.
3) On a related note, people could get paid to grant control of their big energy appliances to the utility. If the utility could scehdule the demand for energy from peoples electric water heaters and refrigerators, then they could knock the peak off of the demand curve and avoid having to buy that expensive peak power and ultimately fewer power plants would be needed to meet peak demand. Your water would still be hot and your food cold, but the work would be done off-peak. The technology involves remote control of appliances by the utility with new wireless devices installed by the utility.
3) Peak use of the road system could also be regulated using market incentives. People who must drive during peak hours should compensate those who choose to forgoe trips during rush hour.

... patents pending ;-)


Posted by: Doug on 9 Aug 06

Retro fit and new construction geothermal heating and cooling. The principles are well known; the practical problem is to figure out a way of reliably and cheaply installing the tubing required to make the heat exchange underground. As well, coming up with a really efficient, cheap in home heat exchanger would go a long way to making the constant temperature 6 feet down a real energy saver.


Posted by: Jay Currie on 10 Aug 06

It seems to me that on this blog and in general there is an idea that the world is going to be saved by technology or something new. In my mind the cure to our unsustainable paths... or warfull paths... or any harmful paths... isn't some new technology. The cure is a change in attitude towards consumption. The problem is that people always want more and more.

Even with new technologies the human race can still overshoot it's consumption, creating a population that is not sustainable (for evironmental or energy usage reasons), and cause great suffering.

May you all find paths that are peaceful and sustainable


Posted by: tommyb on 10 Aug 06

condoms.


Posted by: brian russell on 10 Aug 06

I think the solutions are there and have been there for years. Just look in books like Factor Four and at the "active houses" and "energy plus" houses that are build here in Europe and all over the world (Rocky Mountain Institute e.g.). There are "super-windows" which have been working great for years. Completely faired bicycles with luggage capacity (called velomobiles) are there for over 25 years (see leitra.dk) and with existing technology you can make vehicles consuming only 1litre/100km and even less (~200mpg).
In my eyes it goes the direction that most people are too lazy and occupied by their jobs and lives to have an eye for the big problems of our time (and it is unfortunately not only one problem as you all might know). So the solution can not only be new and better technology if we don't understand how to get it to the masses. There really needs to be a new way of thinking as tommyb suggests.
There's a story from the former executive-director of the UNEP, Klaus Töpfer, about a Indian farmer he's met: When he came there the first year he showed to the farmer how he could get more from his fields by better watering technology. The second year he came there the farmer was not on his farm again but in a temple meditating.
I asked my father what he would do if he got twice the salary he gets now: Buy a bigger house and more solar panels.
In my eyes it's the mentality of the Indian farmer more people especially here in the western world could need - being content with what you have and breaking out of this mechanistic worldview.
It's not some esoteric silliness which tells us that "we have to learn to think in a new way". It's top scientists from all over the world (Russel-Einstein Manifesto, Potstdamer Manifesto 2005).


Posted by: Daniel on 10 Aug 06

A few criteria are essential for maximum impact of a scheme:
Cost effectiveness, that is, what can be done to give the greatest benefit/dollar spent.

Social acceptability. People will only change if they can see the benefit and it is not to great a change.

Multiple benefits. If an idea can save people money as well as save the planet it will be adopted more rapidly.

I think the concept that embodies these best is one that is close to the Sierra club mission: Conservation.

Amory Lovens has pointed out for decades that spending money to increase efficiency in the home and business is the cheapest and best way to make use of our resources. Al Gore in Inconvenient Truth told of the amazing impact one lightbulb in each home being changed for a higher efficiency one can have.

My suggestion would be to create a nationwide campaign to increase awareness of the benefits of efficiency.
Efficiency and conservation are not inherently sexy, so there needs to be some creative thinking about changing public perception of these concepts.
This would involve a barrage of articles for magazines, contests for energy saving techniques, and a weekly tv show (maybe broadcast over the internet) that explains how to drive more efficiently, and how to get funding for your solar water heater and similar topics.
In the same way that hybrid cars being in the media have become part of the nations solution vocabulary, we can promote the idea that we need to work smarter, not harder to create a more sustainably livable planet.

Real wages have shrunk during the Bush administration, and many costs like gas and heating have risen sharply making people ask questions about how to save money, and improve their quality of life. Lets give them some answers.


Posted by: macrumpton on 10 Aug 06

Building on Joseph Willemssen's and Tony Fisk's comments-
Let's reframe the question to be:
"[Top] Ten Ways to Use Technology to Save the World" or
"Ten New Ways of Using Technology - That Can Save the World"

And let's apply the following "another world is here" principle:
Perceive our needs as group needs, rather than as individuals' needs, & design our technology to meet our group needs.

To be more flippant, simplistic & succinct:
Share.
Both A) make co-ordinated sharing easier
and B) make un-co-ordinated sharing easier

Brainstorm starters:

* Abundant vanpooling.
(Vanpool vans roaming the streets along well-known and flexibly-followed routes.)

* Ubiquitous foodsharing.
(that reduces refrigeration & packaging of individualized food.)

* 24-hour free computer labs.
(and appliance labs of microwaves and all other luxury appliances.)

* Cell phones equipped with 'CB' radio functions.
(Smart use of communications technology, to serve the goal of being able to co-ordinate easily with everyone within sight, and within a few kilometers. Tool lending libraries, sign-up sheets, and all other co-ordinating techniques, including a whole new vocabulary of efficient handsigns/sign language.)

* Anti-bombing blogging.
(Well co-ordinated (& translated) networked diaries from grassroots to grassroots, and from grassroots to bombing pilots, division-commanders, and generals. We can't keep bombing each other in real time. Bombing-busting blogging doesn't just say 'don't bomb here,' it says 'don't bomb at all.')

* Empowered-grassroots computer programming.
(Software, websites, online money-handling, & online work-co-ordinating wiki-style that will surpass & make moot much pre-Internet government and pre-Internet corporate organization. We can make it easy online to propose & approve group projects, & to sign up on individual-task-breakdown sheets to do the work of completing these projects.)


Posted by: GroupNeeds-R-Us on 10 Aug 06

A new technology ... we already have in hand so much that could make a real difference, from:

* Efficiency technologies
* Design concepts/technologies for more efficient operating, living
* Pollution control processes /

New technology --

* Combined with a major education campaign, real-time monitoring in every home & office in the country showing: energy use; dollar/euro/currency cost; AND pollution/global warming implications (kilos of carbon)

* Mass introduction of flex-fuel, plug-in hybrid technology (hybrid power could be electric, air pressure, or otherwise)

* Low-cost, clean, small trash/bio processing system to turn waste into (a) fuel and (b)material that could go directly into environment (compost equivalent) for mass introduction in urban areas worldwide

* Stirling based solar power electric generation at low enough cost for distributed power generation worldwide

* Low-cost process for cracking C02 -- and turning the carbon into carbon fibers for construction (buildings, roads, cars, furniture, clothing (?)) to recapture the carbon that we have put into the atmospher


Posted by: Adam on 10 Aug 06

Artificial geothermal fields:

http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17236&ch=biotech&sc=&pg=1

I don't remember if I got this off WorldChanging in the first place, but it's the most significant thing I've seen this year.

Imagine you have enough steam power to replace fossil fuels with cracked hydrogen; and coal, oil, nuclear or hydro electricity generation as well. That wouldn't solve all of of the problems of modern civilisation, but it would eliminate a lot of the mess.

Unlike most alternative energy proposals I've seen, this offers the potential for *complete* replacement of these forms of power on a relatively short timescale.


Posted by: Simeon on 10 Aug 06

Clean and abundant energy for all would solve a lot of problems. Such a situation would accellerate the attitude shift needed to quicken the replacement of outdated systems and behaviour. Please check out this link: http://www.focusfusion.org/index.html


Posted by: Ronald on 10 Aug 06

ecological water purification
Dr. John Todd
Maybe if we humans could do something with our sh.t
We in turn might be able to evolve ourselves into a greater being.
I would have to vote for both John and his wife Nancy to be featured.
http://www.oceanarks.org/


Posted by: Druwin on 10 Aug 06

More energy efficient computers. Better software which shuts downs computers when not in active use.

Most desktops consume upwards of 200 watts of power + another 100+W for the monitor. Nobody I know would dream of leaving 5 (60 watt) light bulbs on when they leave the room, but most people think nothing of leaving the computer on overnight in order to save 2 minutes the next morning.

Fortunately the industry seems to be waking up to these issues in the last couple of years. Intel has begun to focus on on making computer chips which consume less power. LCD monitors consume far less energy than CRTs. Hybrid hard drives promise to save energy by allowing the spinning disk to spin less. Microsoft is making "hibernate" the default shutdown method in Vista, which will vastly lessen the penalty imposed at startup, hopefully making more people shut their machines down. Much of this is because the industry is shifting to laptops and other portables, which inherently have power constraints. I think this is very good for the sustainability of our computing. Add some RoHS, WEEE and REACH, and we should be much better off in 5 years.

Will we soon be telling people to replace those old computers, in order to save power (and money), just like we tell people to replace their old fridges?

Eric


Posted by: Eric Boyd on 11 Aug 06

Another couple of votes for condoms and bicycles!

Any technology that provides cheap, green, abundant, clean water for the rural areas of the developing world.

Any technology that provides cheap, green, abundant electricity for the rural areas of the developing world.


Posted by: Pace Arko on 11 Aug 06

Interestingly, the Sierra Club's problem statement (as quoted in the article) starts out perfectly, saying:

"The goal of the report would be to promote the value of innovation rather than exploitation as a way to meet our global challenges."

Innovation is undoubtedly needed. Technology, however, may or may not be. People often confuse innovation with technology, but innovation is really a matter of design. Technology enables some designs that weren't otherwise feasible, but amazing things can be done with existing tech. For instance, Europeans have half the eco-footprint that Americans do, without any more advanced technology. Just better urban design and different personal habits.

So my recommendations for best worldchanging innovations are:
- better, denser urban planning
- the bicycle
- free condoms
- mostly- or all-vegetarian food


My recommendations for best new technologies (which are cool, but pale in comparison to the above) are:
- computer modeling for energy efficiency and passive solar design
- ocean wave power
- smart grids with micro-wind and solar power
- passive solar water purification


Posted by: Jeremy Faludi on 12 Aug 06

The Internet-blogs-distributed media
The ability to change perception increasingly rests in the masses not in the few. Changing the way people see the world is a way of changing the world itself.


Posted by: Tim on 12 Aug 06

Not fancy, but potentially high leverage:

Radically efficient/effective (factor 10) design

Cogeneration (Combined heat & power)

PV paint and films (well, maybe that one's fancy)

Time of use pricing for electricity

Tax shifting -- let resources and pollution pay their full freight, while reducing taxes on income

Real-time regulation (http://www.natlogic.com/resources/nbl/v14/n09.htm)


Posted by: Gil Friend on 13 Aug 06

Plug in hybrid electric cars get my vote. If I could buy, or build, a hybrid with the capability/extra batteries to drive 20 - 40 miles on "all electric" mode, then I could do 90% of my shopping, commuting, and other car travel on electricity from wind, solar or other benign electricity sources. When I need the longer range of gasoline, it is right there in the plug in hybrid. www.pluginamerica.org for more info. This idea is endorsed by right wingers concerned about overreliance on OPEC oil/national security and trade imbalance concerns as well as enviros, health groups and self-reliance types.


Posted by: Charlie Garlow on 15 Aug 06

Allthough we need alternative sources of power our biggest opsticle is education. Simply, Americans don't care enough about changing they're power foot print because it isn't hurting them enough. Rising gas prices are welcomed becuse people will us less; that's a start. We also need to get oil men (Bush) out of office becuse they are protecting they're buddies (oil companies). In this feed back there were alot of great suggestions and one would think these ideas are ano brainer. But, we need the the grid operaters to the oil companies to wake up and help with the problem not feed the problem. Until our goverment takes control of the situation I am affraid there will be no end to Global warming and Napa Valley will be growing grapes in New England sooner than later.

So my suggestion would be to vote people in office that care (ALCORE) and squash the corpetate greed that is controlling weather our children will have a climate, they can survive and flurish in. BIODEISEL IS NOT A FIX!


Posted by: Eric on 15 Aug 06

visioning. see the planet with enough energy and not focus on what isnt happening or what we dont like.

watch the secret. www.thesecret.tv

we can serve the world and make it the place we desire to live in but we must see it, feel it and love it.

in joy,
hillary


Posted by: hillary rubin on 15 Aug 06

The first step is to define the problem correctly. Americans are addicted to driving and travel, not fuel. The Texan in the White House is supporting his big oil cronies at the expense of the environment. My vote for the most innovative solution is turning cow manure into fuel.


Posted by: debi on 15 Aug 06

As I read about all these wonderful proposed technogical and behavioral changes, I hope they come to pass. I'm sure the Planet will need them.
Ultimately,these changes are only enabeling actions, enabeling more and more humans to crowed their way into the imbalance humans have caused in Nature. It is a matter of shere numbers.
Another vote for the condom or any other ingenious program or divice or change of human behaviour that limits the population is the end all answer.


Posted by: murlin on 15 Aug 06

We evolved mainly as individuals at many levels, with individual motivations, basically greed, leading to our present situation. We learned to cooperate at some points, but competition was always a factor. I see this very natural evolution as maybe the reason we haven't (provably) heard from ETs, who followed similar paths and eliminated themselves. I think we need to develop a new religion called "Gaianism", with Gaia as the ultimate deity to serve instead of greed.

Greed is partly about the number of our offspring. The "technology" to change this is first to make ALL forms of reproduction control, including abortions, free to all. Do the same for suicides which only involve oneself. Second, use taxes and encentives to encourage use of the above for those who feel their lives are w/o meaning or contribution. Third, ban all energy-entensive weapons and let the overly agressive go at it with knives and spears, against others who volunteer, with our "leaders" leading.

On a more technical level:

Taxes on all means by which the rich get richer.
Carbon taxes on ALL mining, sale and burning of carbon.
Replace fluorescent lighting with LED lighting (and remember that you don't have to light a room to read a book).
Simplicity, efficiency, conservation of course.

Global warming being the much greater future crisis, consider increasing upper atmosphere pollution to increase cloud cover, reflecting sunlight. (a short-term solution).

Consider also means to remove CO2 from power plant emissions, and hopefully from the air. (I have thoughts and some knowledge on how to do this perhaps efficiently enough to be viable.) If by such methods we could get CO2 down to say 1900 levels, we could simply wait for economic and technological collapse due to corrupt politics and peak oil, to save us from much worse.

Don't overlook nuclear power as a means to get us through perhaps the otherwise final crisis.


Posted by: Dan Robinson on 15 Aug 06

I forgot to mention before:
"Hybrid" vehicles that use hydrogen or electricity, and/or muscle power.

Exercise machines that also generate electricity.


Posted by: Dan Robinson on 15 Aug 06

Ask Lester Brown (Plan B, 2.0) and Thomas Friedman (The World Is Flat).


Posted by: Gene Peters on 15 Aug 06

I like the plug-in hybrid idea. Also, there was that competition where college students were building houses that relied only on solar. I think the name of the program was Solar Decathlon. They ran all their appliances from the solar power. They weren't on the grid at all. They also collected their own rainwater. And they grew a lot of their own food. They also had to have enough power left over to charge a golf cart which they drove around Washington D.C. Maybe if we had different roads that regular cars didn't drive on, or communities (like the homes on a golf course) where you could drive a cart to the store, we'd be better off. I say build some (smaller) stores on my block. More mixed zoning (with small family-owned stores, not Wal-marts).


Posted by: Gary on 15 Aug 06

I'd like to see the revitalization of the industrial hemp industry. It has 25,000 uses. Is sustainable, needs no fertilizer or herbicide.


Posted by: jerry cleveland on 15 Aug 06

Interesting !

I recently went to a church that my great grandparents went to . Churches are known for charity work . I gave ten copies of a certain book about conservation to each church in town several years ago !

Now I am asking the preacher at one of the churches to consider reading about many of the nonprofits that work to better the world .

If YOU are going to go to a church , would't you want that church to help in every way that it could ?

Honestly
Frank Stivers
P O box 146
Ripley , Ohio
45167
9372150270


Posted by: Frank Stivers on 15 Aug 06

I'm interested in what the average person can do now with technology we already have. When we moved into our new home here in CT, my wife and I were shocked at our first month's electric bill. That was a year ago and it hasn't come down a whole lot, despite trying to be more energy conservative. For example, we've changed every light inside and outside our home with compact flourescents. We seal the windows during the winter and so forth. By far, the largest consuming device seems to be our electric hot water heater. I am really at the point where I think replacing that with something else will help immensely.

My wife wanted to put in domestic hot water. Well, that heats off the OIL BURNING furnace. I'd rather install a solar hot water heater.

I wondered if anyone here has any experience with solar hotwater heaters and what would be the best given our New England latitude of 41.27 degrees? Which type of system is the best in terms of efficiency and as close to year round use as possible?

Thanks,
Dave


Posted by: David Ocame on 15 Aug 06

Interesting !

I recently went to a church that my great grandparents went to . Churches are known for charity work . I gave ten copies of a certain book about conservation to each church in town several years ago !

Now I am asking the preacher at one of the churches to consider reading about many of the nonprofits that work to better the world .

If YOU are going to go to a church , would't you want that church to help in every way that it could ?

Honestly
Frank Stivers
P O box 146
Ripley , Ohio
45167
9372150270


Posted by: Frank Stivers on 15 Aug 06

Park It!!!

Leave your car in the garage, bike with a rack and carriers to carry groceries and other things.

Become a locavore (commit to 80% of your food coming from local sources), grow a garden, spend time with your neighbors talking about local environmental improvements and present your ideas to your mayor and city council and ask them to become a "cool city"


Posted by: Paul Thompson on 15 Aug 06

1) Nuclear power. The only way to stop greenhouse gases from heating up the planet.

2) Stop paying welfare mothers more for each child they produce.

3) Put effective limits on population growth via immigration. The US, Japan, China and Europe are at Zero Population Growth. We need to get the rest of the world there. Otherwise, Earth might not be a nice place to live any more.


Posted by: Jim Burks on 15 Aug 06

An existing technology, the traffic light, is robbing our energy supply and polluting our air. Where I live, in MD, and in the DC area, nearly everyone accelerates off every green light only to meet the next one turning red. Traffic moves in bytes, usually from standing still at red lights. By the time the light turns red again, all the traffic has passed it, and they're waiting for the next green light up ahead. But wait! As I pull out, I see the traffic on the perpendicular intersection ALSO arriving a red light as they approach it.

How much more fuel is required to move that 2 to 3 tons of steel off the dime than to keep it moving?

Just watch the bellowing exhaust from the truck in front of your when it leaves the light, or ride a bike and compare the effort to start moving with that to keep rolling.

Synchronizing lights so that traffic could move at a steady pace would save a LOT of fuel, and money, and significantly reduce exhaust emmissions.

And in my area, it'd probably cut down on speeding, since that is, literally, the only way you're gonna make the next light!


Posted by: Richard Klein on 15 Aug 06

Change building codes in green oriented towns to require
1) low-e windows
2) solar panels or solar shingles
3) traffic circles (as in U.K.) rather than stop lights
in all new developments. In addition offer a tax incentive to developers that exceed code standards for efficiency. Resulting demand and market expansion should lower the cost of the equipment as more companies start producing it.


Posted by: Terry Williams on 15 Aug 06

Green Roofs and Biowalls. Urban Agriculture and Bringing nature back to cities baby!


Posted by: Jeremy Kirouac on 15 Aug 06

I've wondered about posting those high tech windmills along the already existing high level powerlines that run through forests etc. The land is already cleared with established access for construction and maintainence vehicles, and a power highway is already there to be added to with power from wind turbines.
My sister lives in northern Vermont where they have cnsidered creating a windmill powerline and has brought to my attention how destructive the preparation work is to the natural environment and then how invasive the resulting windmills will be to the horizon. So why not put them where the work has already been done??


Posted by: Amy Kramer Perry on 16 Aug 06

I am both an environmentalist and a believer. I am furious at churches for not focusing on saving the environment and with environmentalists for ignoring/misstating biblical positions. I agree with Frank Stivers....change the churches and change the world. So I have a web site: www.earthbow.org.
Pass it on.


Posted by: Abby Chapple on 16 Aug 06

A 100 mile by 100 mile solar Stirling farm in the Southwest could power the United States. http://www.sandia.gov/news-center/news-releases/2004/renew-energy-batt/Stirling.html Solar Stirling energy farms are being built outside Los Angeles and San Diego. http://www.stirlingenergy.com/breaking_news.htm


Posted by: Judeth Van Hamm on 16 Aug 06

Electric engines are far more efficient in using energy than gas or even hydrogen engines. Here are two innovations that could make electric vehicles viable. A123Systems’ battery technology delivers up to 10X longer life, 5X power gains and dramatically faster charge time over conventional high power battery technology. http://www.evworld.com/view.cfm?section=communique&newsid=10016&url=
Carbon nanotube supercapacitor being developed at MIT could also make electric cars viable. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2006/06/26/mit_research_may_spell_end_for_the_battery/


Posted by: Judeth Van Hamm on 16 Aug 06

Global wind power generated at locations with mean annual wind speeds ≥ 6.9 meters/second at 80 meters is found to be about 72 TW (terawatts)(about 54,000 Mtoe) (million ton oil equivalent) for the year 2000. Even if only about 20% of this power could be captured, it could satisfy 100% of the world’s energy demand for all purposes (6995-10177 Mtoe) and over seven times the world’s electricity needs (1.6-1.8 TW). http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/global_winds.html
Wind power technology is cost effective now. As of 2006, my town of Hull, MA, generates ten percent of its electric needs from wind power and hopes to generate all of its electricity from wind power soon. www.hullwind.org


Posted by: Judeth Van Hamm on 16 Aug 06

Is there a way to convert garbage to some sort of fuel? I have no idea how or if it is feasible, but it would help dispose of the mountains of garbage that are generated as well as provide another source of fuel.


Posted by: Lynda Smith on 16 Aug 06

The simple thing to do is vote with our dollar.
Automobile companies will stop producing gas guzzlers if nobody buys them. They will produce more and more hybrids if people demand them.
Thus far, not enough people have voted with their dollar.

If we want change, we have to start with ourselves. Lead by example and help educate others why this is so important.

If we can get the common person to embrace conservation and vote responsibly with their dollar, the rest will follow.


Posted by: Christopher Catterton on 16 Aug 06

I am really concerned about Global Warming and green gas emissions but I am even more concerned about people who think nuclear is the solution to set us free from our dependence on coal.
Switching from coal to nuclear would just move the problem but not actually solve it!!!
We will reduce our carbon dioxide emissions and increase our nuclear wastes: WHAT A DEAL!!!
Nuclear...
- Do you remember Chernobyl April 26 1986?
The nuclear reactor that melted in Ukraine 20 years ago and contaminated all Europe still has consequences today both on the environment and on people (thyroid cancers)
- In France "La Hague" a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, is one of the most polluting nuclear plan the world. Greenpeace found out that the plant dumps 230 000 m³ of nuclear wastes in the Channel!!!
(Furthermore to prevent terrorist attacks: radars and sometimes even missiles monitor 24/7 the site!!!)

Do you still think nuclear is a good alternative?
If you want safe energy, nuclear is definitely not the solution!!!

We should stop being so short-sighted.

The future is NOT:
- in coal or oil that are eventually going to run out as they are fossil fuels (As our energy consumption is skyrocketing, we don't allow enough time to the Earth to produce those fossil fuels in large quantity to sustain our unbridled energy thirst)
- definitely not in nuclear (as we cannot recycle safely nuclear wastes)

The only solution are renewable energies(wind, solar, biomass, geothermal...) and energy efficiency.
- Turn off the light when you are not in the room, turn off electronic appliances (TV, computers, hi-fi.......) when you are not using them!
- Do you really need you AC set on 65?
- Switch to fluorescent light bulbs...
- RECYCLE
You'll save money plus you'll release less Carbon dioxide
Many more tips on:
http://www.otpco.com/SaveEnergyMoney/Tips4SavingEnergy.asp


Posted by: Chloe Souque on 16 Aug 06

It seems to me that changing our roofs on our homes and large commercial facilities to WHITE, through the use of white shingles or through an existing, inexpensive technology available in most cities called THE WHITE ROOF could reflect back the sun's heat as the polar icecaps do, and assist in preserving the polar icecaps.
Additional benefits would be: lower energy bills, since a white roof absorbs less heat just as a white car does, less use of electricity, and lower carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, the WHITE ROOF stays cleaner, because birds don't nest on it, and their feathers and excrement don't accumulate to damage the roof and roof-mounted heating and cooling systems, making them more efficient.


Posted by: Marilyn Combs on 16 Aug 06

I agree with Tim (August 9, 2006 06:22 PM ).


Posted by: C. Hill on 16 Aug 06

World-changing innovation: taxes.
Tax on advertising, noise, CO2 emissions, water and air pollution, manufacturing nonrecyclable stuff, producing and selling weapons......


Posted by: Gina on 16 Aug 06

On Lynda Smith's comment:

YES, there is a way to convert our mountains of garbage to good use.
Check out "thermal depolymerization" on wikipedia.org.


Posted by: GroupNeeds-R-Us on 17 Aug 06

Overpopulation is the worlds largest problem by far. Why people have so many children is due to many reasons, which are often just poverty and ignorance related. Technology improvements in contraception especially in lower cost would help somewhat. Especially for women who often wish to limit the number of children but cannot.


Posted by: Craig Christenson on 17 Aug 06

Technologies that would save the world include:

+ Anything that humanely reduces human population.
+ Anything that humanely reduces the impact of human populations in developed countries.

Some specifics:

+ Empowerment of women appears to have a natural population moderating effect.

+ In the short run, the creation and deployment of plants to suck excess carbon dioxide out of the air and excess nitrogen compounds in the water, seems like a good idea.

+ Bicycles have so many upsides, it would take way too much time to list them here. I wonder what the downsides are and why they are not universally revered? I have been bike-commuting since 1970.

+ Do you REALLY need to make that purchase?

+ If population size control and population impact control are un-obtainable, I recall the suggestion of a Professor at UC-Berkeley to "get small", breed humans the size of gerbils --- the environmental gains would be awesome! ;}


Posted by: Norm Ellstrand on 18 Aug 06

Most doctors and pharmacies dump medicines down the toilet and into our water systems. I work at a board and lodge facility and until we developed a plan to stop this, we did too. We are hoping that the recycle center for the city will burn them, but have yet to find out. At this time I collect all unused meds and store them for the time we take them to the recycle center to see how this should be handled, if it can. If it cannot be handled there, we do not know what to do with them, and flushing them is unacceptable.

There does not appear to be an effective way to dispose of medications no longer in use other than the possiblity of disposal at the recycle center. I checked around and currently there isn't a State of Federal Mandate that I know of for disposal of medications. There needs to be. It doesn't also sound like these medications are removed from the water when it is cleaned at the cities water plant. Any ideas? Any news I am not aware of?


Posted by: kathy dunn on 18 Aug 06

Imagine living in a world where the costs of energy are soaring, a world where fresh water is becoming more scarce. A world where pollution, both air and water, is becoming more obvious. Now think about thing and you will realize you are living in that world.
It is a scary thought, but also realize there are solutions available. This is where we can help.
If you could get your laundry cleaner without using detergent, bleach or even hot water would you? Yes you would, especially if you were cleaning these clothes without putting any harmful chemicals back into the ecosystem. With Laundry Pure you can do exactly that. There are a thousand loads of laundry started every second, without using hot water think of the energy saved. When you think about this, Laundry Pure is one advance in technology you can't afford not to have.
We are not stopping there, we also have air and water purification units that clean the air and water in a whole house available right now. With our products available you can live in a home that is not only energy efficient, but also germ and bacteria free.
This is just the beginning, we are working on several new additions to the already large array of environmental friendly products. We Realize how important it is to conserve energy, we also realize the technology is available to make this easier. Think of how much energy could be saved if there was an affordable roof top windmill powerful enough to run an entire home. How about an adapter for your electric outlet that allows you to plug major appliances in and save 20% on your electric usage.
These are just a few of the products that could soon be readily availavle in the near future. You don't have to wait until then, remember you can start making a difference today. Please contact me for more information on any of our products


Posted by: Joe Romer on 18 Aug 06

I must agree with Joe Romer. I have used these products he is talking about and was presently surprised with the results. They perform just as he has described. Let's make the world a more enviroment friendly place. You can contact him to request information about these products or to purchase some of these products at totalgame@zoominternet.net


Posted by: Greg Michels on 19 Aug 06

It's the supposed division on issues that Big Oil and other enemies of the environment have used to delay and obfuscate, e.g. with the global warming issue. Fortunately, Al Gore's film is getting the message out that such tactics the wise will be wary of. Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and all other major conservation groups should form a consortium or alliance of some sort with a comprehensive plan to put to the voters. I suggest that we replace the Interstate Highway System with an Interstate Rail System, use the existing routes and foundations, and power it using electricity from a massive wind generation complex in the Great Plains States, supplemented where possible by the other clean energy sources like geothermal, hydroelectric, and solar. Secondly, we need to build it back into our lives the practice of getting around either on foot or by bicycle. For other energy needs, modular highly efficient battery packs could be attached to generators on bicyles, aerobics machines at gyms, weight lifting machines, and so on so that each of us could create the energy for his or her needs later on in the day or in the next. With some desire, planning, and a bit of sacrifice by one and all, energy independence can be acheived. The problem is that things are set up to perpetuate a selfish, wasteful, and destructive system. One of Bill Clinton's themes in his 1992 is that we need good government. I couldn't agree more, and now is the time more than ever.


Posted by: John Sheehan on 23 Aug 06

I wonder what the change would be if people would replace turfgrass, which here in Iowa where people don't ordinarily water, is brown. There are ordinances in Des Moines, for example, to prohibit grass above a certain heighth. If people were to change their yards, using trees, bushes tall grasses and forbs, wouldn't that make a huge impact?

I also wonder what would happen if the world's roofs were white? The white icecaps reflect the sun and prevent warming, would roofs all over the world do the same?


Posted by: Peggy Murdock on 29 Aug 06



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