Nov 28, 15

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Ask WorldChanging: Antarctic Solar?

Our buddy and ally, noted polar explorer Ben Saunders, finds himself with a bit of a green design challenge on his hands, and he's hoping we can help. Specifically: in October, Ben will be launching a four-month, 1,800-mile human-powered expedition across Antarctica -- the longest unsupported polar journey in history. Given that polar ecosystems are taking a hell of beating because of climate change, Ben would like to make that expedition as green as possible. We're kicking around some...

Nausicaä and the Technique

So, I finally got a chance to see Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the 1986 anime feature based on the much-beloved ecological manga series Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä, about a future in which humans have poisoned the planet, with the survivors breaking into small kingdoms, and a toxic forest of fungus and giant insects spreading over the land. Unfortunately, I think I came to this flick ten years too late. I mean, I was much taken with the character of the "warrior/pacifist Princess...

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Last night was the opening of the new movie version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,and if you're a fan like me (or like Kos), you've already seen it. For those that haven't, it's definitely worth it--Hitchhiker's Guide is arguably the best science fiction satire ever written, and I predict that in a hundred years it will be in the canon alongside Gulliver's Travels, Alice in Wonderland, etc. As for this movie version, the verbal witticisms aren't pulled off quite as well as in some of...

The Catastrophist's Dilemma

The DVD of The Day After Tomorrow is out and, despite it being neither a terribly edifying spectacle nor subtle work of art, I felt compelled to pick it up. It's the first big climate change disaster movie, but it won't be the last; in it's own way, it's a historical document. When it came out last year, it generated a lot of buzz (something we played a tiny role in helping to create) and even more debate about its scientific veracity. TDAT was not meant as public education, but many (both...

Homebrew 3D Printer

Want to make your own fab lab but don't quite have MIT's resources? How about using Meccano (known in the US as "Erector Set". Stop giggling.) and a glue gun? reBang weblog shows us that New Zealand's Vik Olliver has done so; a picture is worth a thousand words: He's reportedly able to get 0.25mm precision with the setup. He won't be making printed circuit boards with it any time soon, but it will be fascinating to find out what he can make with it... (Via All Art Burns)



Ndiyo is Swahili for "yes" -- and is also the name of a new non-profit organization set up to build and sell a low-cost network computer for the developing world. We've covered the question of how best to provide information services in low-income countries before, and I've argued that a beefed up mobile phone is a more reasonable course than a pared-down desktop. A big reason is that desktop computers, even pared-down ones, tend to be power-hungry and space intensive. Ndiyo solves one half...

Three Little Candles

Reader Patrick Di Justo commented on yesterday's "Earth Out of Balance" post with a remarkable observation. I want to make sure that people who don't normally read the comments see it, so I'm putting it here. The article quoted in the post noted that the additional energy trapped at the surface by greenhouse gases amounted to the equivalent of a 1-watt light bulb per square meter. But Patrick notes: A one watt lightbulb is a pretty bad image. Who has ever seen a one watt lightbulb?A...

Millennium Green

More bright green British building. Millennium Green, a 24-home development in Collingham, Nottinghamshire, sports a number of cool sustainable features: Of particular note are the various water efficiency measures. The homes were fitted with the ‘Freerain’ system, which is an advanced rainwater harvesting system developed by Gusto. The rainwater system uses underground storage tanks big enough to provide non-potable water to the home for 18 days. If the supply of rainwater becomes too...

Sustainability and Competitiveness in the EU

This new report summarizes the kinds of actions that will help "synergize sustainable consumption and competitiveness" in Europe. It's serious hardcore intense wonkery, and I disagree with big chunks of it, but it's full of interesting ideas: Eco-efficiency is regarded as the most viable strategy to obtain competitiveness and sustainability, but it will not do the job alone. Eco-efficiency reaches its limits when the expansion of production and trade overcompensates what has been achieved....

Home Energy Audit

How much energy does your home consume? You can use tools like the Kill-a-Watt to check specific appliances, but that won't help you figure out if the aluminum windows, uninsulated water heater or aging dishwasher should be your first choice of replacement. Fortunately, the Lawrence Berkeley Labs has a useful tool online: the Home Energy Saver. The HES is a website with a multiplicity of questions about your home's energy status. You can rely on averages or get extremely granular, as...

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