Posts Tagged 'rainforests'


To tide you over ’til Thanksgiving.

Read up on how Italy already has a headstart on their Smartgrid.  Yeah, the same country that can’t take out the garbage.  They’re already saving millions though.  So much to ponder in this situation.

The Economist’s green.view advises fat cat money grubbing sell their own mother if they can get enough leverage bankers redeem their image by investing in rainforests.  So the next foreclosure crisis we’ll have pythons and pirahna defaulting on their mortgages?  Think it through, Economist.

Know how Alexandria’s wastewater plant is on Glebe?  This article is from NYC, but it applies here too:  when we get too much rain for the system to handle, we dump untreated sewage and other runoff into the Potomac.  As if two days of dreary damp weren’t bad enough- as if realizing I need to replace my windshield wipers on the Beltway in traffic wasn’t bad enough- this is plenty bad.

BBC reports on US research correlating conflict in Africa with climate.  Controlling for other factors like governance and population, conflict in the region escalates as temperature goes up.  This has a lot to do with food supplies, as well.  I’d like to see similar research for different regions of the world.

And check this by your local foodbank, but a reporter for the NYT suggests that you reconsider your volunteer  meal-serving plans this holiday season and do something more helpful for them instead.  If you’re stumped, donating some more perishables can’t hurt.

I’ll be back to give Thanks before the holiday, but until then, safe travels!


Tiny Cardboard Kitchen: Now With Links

Here’s the model so far:

kitchen 1

See, I drew a plan for it and everything.  The purple thing is the herb box under the window by the sink, which you have to imagine to the right of that counter top, and the compost bin (I’ll make it green) is going to the right of the sink.  Here’s some of the pieces set up on the plan:

kitchen plan

The squares in the middle there are the column supports (why, yes, I do have Corinthian columns in my kitchen), and to the right you can pick out the frame for the greenhouse, I hope!  On the left is a color study (scribble).  Considering the foamboard piles I’ve turned in before, I’m pretty proud of this kitchen so far.  I’ll show you the finished product in a couple days (just got the metal sheets for the fixtures tonight!).

I’ve actually been busy for this blog during the break- brainstorming on some environmental events for Alexandria (maybe news on that end soon!?), and plotting in general.  Let’s ease back in with some links, though, shall we?

This morning, the satellite to monitor international carbon outputs failed massively and utterly, in the way that only rocketry really can.  The satellite was supposed to aid international efforts to regulate carbon outputs by objective measurement- now, beyond figuring out what went wrong, the question is, try this one again with spare parts (without the explosion parts), or push it back to develop a new and better one?

The rainforest is growing back in some places, prompting debate on the environmental virtues of new vs old forests.

Germany just opened their new Antarctic Research Station.  It’s got a wicked stilt design to keep it all from sinking into the snow, and some pretty impressive waste management systems to keep the pole all pristine.

Our national electricity grid is currently regulated by the states?  Oh dear, no wonder it’s a bit outdated.  The Fed is finally thinking about taking that over to make a national smart grid to better distribute energy to everyone, from everywhere.  I’m a fan in general (energy is a national concern), but any states’-rights people want to try and make a case against this idea?

The NYT style section thinks it’s trendy to keep worms in your kitchen.  This could possibly be hard and smelly, they note.

And yes, I’ve failed to set a goal for this month, with five days left.  But I biked, and there was a little local action, and the compost and garden got some much-needed attention, so I can’t feel too guilty about that.  I’ll lay off until March.

Harrison Ford Is A Rainforest

Mr. Ford has been working with Conservation International for over 20 years. This is an ad for their “Lost There, Felt Here” campaign. I won’t set this one up too much, since it says plenty already.

Now, I’d watch a documentary on the outlook for 1985’s novelty coffee mug manufacturing sector if Mr. Ford narrated it- so it’s a good thing he’s got some other, more interesting videos up at Conservation International, along with information on their campaign to value and preserve forest lands.

Watching this video a lot and forwarding it to various people counts as activism, right? Grassroots? I hope so.

Biofuels Backlash, But Wait

It should probably tell me something that my most popular post so far has been about Valentine’s day and looooove, but I’m going to ponder that later and talk about biofuels now. A new study by the University of Minnesota and the Nature Conservancy adds up the total life cycle impact of crop biofuels- like corn and whatever else is grown specifically on converted or agricultural land to make fuel, not food- is actually worse than fossil fuels in terms of carbon production. Yup, apparently ethanol is bad (please remove corn subsidies already, Washington?).

So if biofuels- or at least the ones we’re growing now- are such a bad idea, how come we didn’t notice before? Partly it was due to a failure to predict the effect of converting huge areas of land from food production to fuel production- drives up food prices worldwide, and invokes deforestation and land clearing to create new agricultural land to grow more of the displaced food crops or the new fuel crops- which tend to be heavily subsidized, thus very profitable.

The NYT article on the studies doesn’t heavily emphasize the different types of biofuels used as energy resources, so it’s easy to come away with the impression that all biofuels are bad.  Not so! The Nature Conservency interviews an author on the paper, Joe Fargione:

Although there is no silver bullet to solve climate change, there are many silver BBs. Biofuels can be a silver BB if produced without requiring additional land to be converted from native habitats to agriculture. For example, biofuels can be made from waste from agriculture and forests, and from native grasses and woody biomass grown on marginal lands unsuitable for crop production.

We not only have to consider how we produce biomass, but how we convert it to energy. Producing liquid transportation fuels may not be the most efficient way to use the energy contained in biomass.

I’ve added my emphasis. Europe is trying to fix the newly-discovered ill effects of their plans to increase biofuel use by maintaining that it must not come from former rainforests, and no word on how the US will change it’s recently passed ethanol provisions in the 2007 Energy Bill. Energy policy should go back to the drawing board, to maximize research funding for waste biofuels, and seriously, no more corn ethanol subsidies, not even if you call it a tax cut! Pretty please?

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