Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Green Thread 2.0

This is the green thread. Discussion: what topics do you want to keep in here?

185 comments:

Judy B. said...

For me...Green denotes environmental concerns and money... two very related topics...How about we discuss these two ideas here...

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I agree. Nowadays, hearing the word "green", automatically makes the connection to environmental concerns. And for a long time, "green" was one of the slang terms for money.

Cheryl V said...

The Space Merchants by Frederick Pohl & C. M. Kornbluth (1952) comes closer to reality. Chicken Little is here:

Test Tube Meat Nears Dinner Table

Edible, lab-grown ground chuck that smells and tastes just like the real thing might take a place next to Quorn at supermarkets in just a few years, thanks to some determined meat researchers. Scientists routinely grow small quantities of muscle cells in petri dishes for experiments, but now for the first time a concentrated effort is under way to mass-produce meat in this manner.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0621-03.htm

dan said...

Cheryl, lab grown meat just doesn't sound too appetizing but then I wouldn't want to have a vision of a slaughterhouse just before dinner either. It does make you wonder what the food supply will look like in the next few decades. It reminds me of a futuristic movie from the 70's, "Soylent Green" which dealt with a variety of artificial foods, with soylent green being the most extreme. Wikipedia does a good write up of the movie.

Judy B. said...

Our food sources are certainly changing.... Best way to get good food is to grow your own...
I remember "Soylent Green" as a futuristic movie... how soon will it be the present?

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Yeah Dan, "Soylent Green" was a very creepy movie. And I agree that Wikipedia did a good job on the write-up.

It's eerie how much of what it depicts is already relevant only a few decades later...

Richard Yarnell said...

If the population continues to increase; if we continue to allow housing to displace farms; and if we continue to raise beef, a very inefficient use of feed grains; and if we don't improve our irrigation practices, we'll go hungry.

We can't even get people to donate vital organs. I don't think we're going to be cannibals very soon.

dan said...

Here's one group who won't go hungry soon.

CEO's feeding frenzy

Judy B. said...

The Energy Department said crude supplies rose 1.4 million barrels for the week ended June 16. They total 347.1 million -- their highest level since the week ended May 29, 1998, the report said. Motor gasoline inventories rose 300,000 barrels to total 213.4 million barrels. Distillate supplies rose 1.7 million barrels to 124.5 million.

Is it the money or the environment???

christin m p in massachusetts said...

What does that mean -- Dissolve the free-agent market (for CEO's)? I'm referring to one of the other links within the CEO Feeding Frenzy link you gave us Dan.

I want to know what that means, so we can see if it's something we can make happen.

Anyone?

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Judy,
I keep feeling like the girl in the B movies who says "Ow, that hurt my brain." It doesn't happen with all the posts of course, but sometimes I have to read a post over a few times before I'm able to figure out what it means. I'm sorry to have to keep asking for things to be explained better, but I'm not able to draw a conclusion (Is it the money or the environment?), with the information available. I must have missed some critical piece of info on the subject somewhere along the line. Can you fill me in some more?

dan said...

Christin, this is the article you were refering to.
Free Agent CEOs

The article suggests that ever since companies started to seek out superstar executives from outside their organization (free-agents), compensation has soared while performance often lags. They call for more transperency in total compensation and more oversite by corporate boards.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Dan,
So only shareholders have any say over that?

But what about coming at this issue as consumers -- is there a way the masses could use purchase power to pressure corporations to re-structure the way they compensate employees, so that it is more fair to the rank-and-file, and force them to base CEO pay on performance?

dan said...

Christin, I think more transperency about total executive compensation will solve the problem. Wherever outragious compensation has been exposed, stockholders have reacted and insisted on change.

dan said...

Turns out Republicans are not heartless, it's just that they save their love for a very small group.

Comforting the Comfortable

Afflicting the Afflicted

Judy B. said...

Sorry Christin, I was a little lax in that post...
The information given indicates that we have more petroleum on hand than we hav had in the past 8 years... I was just wondering why.. are people buying less gas because it is so expensive (is it the money?) or are people being more serious about the environment, using alternatives and/or curtailing their activities... My guess is that it is the money...

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Judy,
I'm thinking that for most people it's probably the money. I have to admit that I only curtail my driving when I can't afford the gas. It's so hard to resist casual driving, as it is something that, for me, soothes the soul. I've noticed through the years that whenever I've been in a close one-to-one relationship, I don't feel any need to go for long drives, because "traveling through the mind and heart" of an interesting person is infinitely more interesting to me than traveling in the literal sense. But when I'm single, those long drives listening to music in my car, are my number one "escape" from the tedium of the rest of my existence.

I wonder if casual driving isn't used as an escape for a lot of other people too. Because I see so many people driving alone, and not only during evening rush hour. For me, being alone in my car with my favorite music and my climate controls set just right, is like being in a cocoon of sorts. Even the feel of the car moving over the pavement helps me to meditate, almost the way it helps babies and young children to fall asleep.

I can't seem to find anything that duplicates that feeling for me.

I wish I could stop driving so much, but except for when I'm in a relationship, I get extreme wanderlust if I don't.

dan said...

From the Paris futuristic auto show complete with pictures:

What will you be driving in 10 years?"

deb said...

Cheryl...I'll join my daughters as vegetarians if meat is grown in a petri dish...YUCK!!!

Richard...I agree about our beef consumption. One answer that should appease everyone is the Scottish Highland Cow. Pics

Christin...suggestion...drive a little out of town and go for a nice hike. It clears the mind just the same and isn't costing a tank of gas. Instead of seeing churches and old courthouses you get to see beautiful unique plants and waterfalls.

WOO HOO Dan...I WANT one of those PHEV cars. I followed the links and it seems that the EU is going to beat us to the PHEV as well as other cars that are not dependent on fossil fuels...sheesh...

Dan...the CEO thing is just ridiculous. How much does a person need? And the thing is that it ultimately is coming out of our pockets.

Judy B. said...

Dan ... you have touched on one of my favorite subjects... low emission, economical (to buy and to drive), small vehicles...
I know some of you might have gotten tired of my SVC (small vehicle corridor) ideas as a solution for changing our wasteful ways...
We have the technology and some of the manufacturing companies in production right now to change the way we move around our communities...
I invite you to go back to the SSB "A slice above the rest" page
http://www.sinceslicedbread.com/ideas/flagged
and see several ideas in the transportation venue that made it to the top 50....

dan said...

Judy, some of the SSB ideas are just a blur to me now. I'll go back as you suggest and refresh my memory.

Richard Yarnell said...

Want a low impact animal:

Rabbits - 9 oz of grass per day

Llamas - low quality forage, low fat, low cholesterol, very high protein meat and useable fiber

Jacob sheep - great fiber, low fat, thrives on marginal forage.

Cheryl V said...

Richard,
You missed a couple.

Goats - The fertilize and mow the lawn at the same time.

Chickens - my favorites.

Have you heard of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy? They are trying to conserve historic breeds and genetic diversity in livestock. Many of the new & improved breeds are just inbred meat factories.

Richard Yarnell said...

Yup, my partner is a contributing member.

I've never had a good relationship with goats and, except for some cheese, don't much like the milk, their habits, nor their meat.

As for chickens, of course. But I didn't think I needed to mention them. But definately, the kind that are turned loose to forage - preferably outside and out of reach of any - let me repeat ANY producing garden.

Cheryl V said...

We used to have a pet goat. He was a lot of fun, but we had to give him away because he ate all the other animals' food. Wouldn't touch the goat feed. He also managed to eat a wisteria vine to a stump.

I've tried goat meat twice. The first time it was so bad I had to take a second bite to convince myself that something really could taste that bad. The second time, the cook must have known what he was doing. It was delicious.

deb said...

Cheryl, I was the same way about venison. Just never liked it, until they started encouraging people to thin out the doe population, and then changed my mind (still not my favorite, but not as disagreeable to me). I'm thinking that the male of the species has a different taste that I dislike. Could this be possible? If so would it be hormones?

Judy and Dan, I went to see "An Inconvenient Truth" the other night. Judy, it is the same as the power point presentation. There were previews for another documentary: Who Killed the Electric Car? I want it resurrected!!!

Judy B. said...

Haven't been watching much TV lately, but have seen some of the weather channel and it looks like the rain has been bad back eqst...Hope you are all high and dry and not in the flooding areas...

deb said...

I've been doing a bit of searching for electric cars and ran across this:

PHEV car This is from a company in Korea and the engine was in a trade show in 2001. Click in the blue box at the bottom of the first screen, then on the second page it lists "English" on a bar at the top of the page. Can this "air" engine work?

Also, the name "PHEV" threw me off as the Plug-In Hybrid goes by the same name.

CNN ran the story of this car in 2005. The story is based on the 2001 trade show...4 years later. Car that runs on compressed air"

I'm wondering why CNN waited 4 years, why there hasn't been more talk unless the engine doesn't work, or has complications.

dan said...

Debbie, very interesting articles. I did a google search on compressed air cars and got a wealth of information. Most cars involve filling the air tank from compressers in your garage or at filling stations. The Korean car seems to compress air on board but the details are sketchy.

I thought this rotary engine would be most suitable with the bonus of no air conditioner needed:

Compressed air rotary engine

Cheryl said...

WASHINGTON - July 5 - Food & Water Watch today released the names of chicken producers who failed to meet federal standards for Salmonella between 1998 and 2005. The names have never been publicly released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency responsible for meat and poultry inspection. The consumer group’s analysis of the USDA’s Salmonella testing program provides direct evidence of the danger posed by a change to the program that would reduce the frequency of testing at some plants.

http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/foodsafety/meat-inspection-1/tasteless-tidbits/

The report also lists the acceptable level of salmonella contamination.

Steers & Heifers -- 1.2%
Cows & Bulls -- 3.5%
Ground Beef -- 9.5%
Hogs -------- 10.9%
Broiler Chickens - 23.5%
Fresh Pork Sausage - 34.0%
Ground Chicken ---- 49.1%
Ground Turkey ----- 54.7%

dan said...

Cheryl, those are amazing results for companies that knew they were subject to inspections. Imagine the standards if we went to an *honor system*.

I've got to run, my dinner plans just changed.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

That's it. Those "standards" have motivated me to become a vegetarian. Only, how do I get started? I think they only have vegetarian drive-thru's in California, so now I'm going to have to learn how to cook. I eat very little, but almost everything I do eat either gets handed to me through my car window or requires first pressing a letter followed by a number. And neither of those sources offers much in the way of vegetables or non-meat proteins.

Even when I do heat something up at home, it's nearly always in the microwave. My conventional stove actually collects dust sometimes. So I think I need to get some vegetarian microwave recipes.

Richard Yarnell said...

Find a copy of "Joy of Cooking." Not the latest edition, but the one before that.

You'll find that even good cooking takes less time than driving to the fast food place, idling your car while you wait in line to order and the idle some more while you wait to get to the window. In the time it takes to do that, I can have a three course meal on the table from scratch. Basmati rice is the standard and it takes less than 20 minutes.

"Joy" has articles about the ingredients, how to prepare them for use, lots of useful information. The newest edition includes some recipes for oriental and African dishes but leaves out the entire section on dressing and cooking game (I like to say road kill). If it isn't in Joy, it isn't worth eating.

Richard Yarnell said...

On compressed air cars:

Some of us have used compressed air tools. Most are high speed machines. The Austrailian design seems to be an ingenious solution.

I'm not clear on how the air is to be compressed. That's an important step that produces a good deal of heat and uses large amounts of energy - normally electric or gasoline - to run a none to efficient air compressor.

I agree that everything downstream of the compressor is very efficient. If anyone understands the compression part of the system, please enlighten me.

In the meantime, I'll try to find a place to convert air under x pounds of pressure into motive force.

ry

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Rich,
It's not so much the time that cooking takes, it's that I hate making any cooking messes -- I kind of have OCD about that. I'm compelled to keep washing my hands and disinfecting the counter and stove and the cooking implements in between handling each different ingredient, so as not to cross-contaminate anything. But if there are recipes in Joy of Cooking where I only need to use one covered microwave dish, and maybe just a few ingredients -- then I'd like to try it.

Richard Yarnell said...

That's sad, in a way.

I don't think you're alone and I attribute it to overly conservative people who come up with ridiculous cleanliness standards for home kitchens. There are reasonable precautions, and some special ones that are good to follow with certain foods, but common sense has been tossed out the pantry door.

For example: there's a great deal of difference between handling a steak and handling ground beef. Contamination on a steak is always on the outside and is sterilized by cooking. Ground beef has the outside thoroughly mixed throughout: if it's not kept cold enough, bacteria can multiply. I cheefully eat raw hamburger when I know when and where it was ground. I frequently grind my own - I like raw beef.

Another result of this food fetish is that most people overcook everything and it just doesn't taste as good. I hate overcooked chicken and turkey. I like it just a little pink near the bone. Again, it is unlikely that uncut meat will be contaminated. Once it's cooked and carved, that's when to pay real attention to refrigeration.

Yet another result is that we throw out perfectly edible food just because it looks less than fresh. I buy spinach in 3# bags at Costco. When it begins to wilt and gets dark around the edges, I make it into soup.

But if you really want doable microwave recipies, get a copy of the newest Joy. He's updated the list of ingredients and cooking methods. But it won't be as good!

If you have a Osterizer or similar machine (VitaMix, Cuisinart), here are two recipes that take less than 3 minutes each, including washing the veggies:

1 - cucumber soup for two: wash and peel (it's the only time I peel cucumbers or seed them) a large cucumber. Cut it into chunks. (If you don't have one of those mixers, grate it.) Add 1/2 to 3/4's cup per person of cold yoghurt. Squeeze in half a lemmon or lime. If you like curry, add a small amount of curry powder. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Since I cook alot, I always have stock around and I usually put a little cold stock (no fat) in to thin the soup. I also add a TBS of extra virgin olive oil. Whiz it up until it's smooth (if you used the grater, mix it thoroughly and serve cold - it will keep covered in the fridge for a couple of hours. If you want to make it look pretty in the bowl, garnish with some parsely flakes of a sprinkle of mixed herbs.

2 - fresh salsa for two - two small to medium ripe tomatoes (I like roma's for this because they have less juice). Half of a medium sweet onion; a one inch chunk of fresh jalopena pepper (or more if you like things hot); the juice from the other half of that lime; 1TBS of olive oil; 10-20 celantro leaves; salt and pepper to taste.
Use very short pulses in a food processor to chop the ingredients, you don't want to even come close to pureeing them. Serve immediately with plain corn chips. (Don't make more than you'll eat at the first sitting.)

You'll love me for both of those.

ry

dan said...

I don't know about the rest of you, but I think meals at the Yarnell household must be terrific.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Rich,
That salsa dip looks fairly simple, except I don't know what celantro leaves are, so I'll ask one of the clerks at the supermarket. I think I'll try it without the jalapena pepper, though -- I like salsa very mild.

Richard Yarnell said...

cilentro is a flat leaved and pungent parsley. It has a very distinctive flavor. If you don't like it, don't worry: it's a genetic trait - really.

In place of the pepper, squeeze in a small clove of garlic.

The cucumber soup is even simpler.

Judy B. said...

Christina... regarding your cleanliness compulsion... What kind of cross contamination do you think you are getting eatoing fast food... or any other prepared food for that matter...
When I was much younger, I used to eat out a lot... My husband worked for a paper mill and worked a lot of overtime and got meal tickets at least twice a week... they would feed the family for several days... It seemed like a good deal, but soon the sameness of the food, and the the health issues of eating out all the time sent me to the kitchen more... There is nothing like good home cooking...And as richard points out, there are very good menues that are easy and quick,... and good for you... The best food comes from my own garden... A vegetable stir fry seasoned up with my own walla walla onions and my husbands special garlic mixture can't be beat...
Like Richard, I too use Basmati Rice in lots of dishes..

deb said...

Christina, I agree with Judy. I've worked in restaurants and there is so much food continually being processed and so many people coming and going that the likelyhood of contamination is many times that of an average home kitchen...and it sounds as if yours is more sterile than average.

Here's one of my favorite easy recipes that everyone seems to enjoy and it keeps well:

LuLu’s L.A.(Lower Alabama) Caviar

6 cans (15oz) blackeyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 c red onion, chopped
1/3 c each of green, red, & yellow pepper, chopped
1 c cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 c parsley, chopped
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
1/2 c olive oil
4 T sugar
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine above ingredients and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Store in glass jars. Serve with saltines or tortilla chips.

Richard, thanks for the celantro leaf suggestion...I like the taste, but have never added it to my salsa...I will now:)

deb said...

Christin, I have a sister who doesn't like for her meat to resemble the animal that it used to be. She buys frozen chicken already cut into strips. She can pour into the pan the number of pieces she intends to use and the bag comes with a zip lock to store the rest. No uncooked meat touches the counter. She is mostly vegetarian who has occasional chicken and fish.

Cheryl said...

Marketplace had a story about the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. You can listen/read it here
http://marketplace.publicradio.org/shows/2006/07/13/PM200607139.html

dan said...

Cheryl, I started wondering if a similar thing happened in the 1960's when Lake Erie was declared *dead*. I stumbled on this article which explaines the "dead zones" in Lake Erie, the Gulf and other places and includes some interesting photos.

Click on "links to this article" then choose "Dead zones spreading in worlds oceans"

Dead Zones

Note: fortunatly after years of enacting and enforcing environmental laws in the U.S. and Canada, Lake Erie has largely recovered and is once again a very popular recreational lake.




.

deb said...

Cheryl, your article reminded me of an article that I read recently about using algae for fuel. Algae can be half oil, and it is an excellent source to produce oxygen. I searched for the article that I had read and didn't find it, but found this:Sunsource Co.

What if we captured the runoff water leaving the farm land in algae ponds? Farmers could sell the algae for biofuel. The nitrogen is eaten up by the algae so that the Miss. R. quits killing the Gulf and algae is producing large amounts of oxygen as an added bonus.

In "An Inconvenient Truth" Gore showed how co2 increases dramatically worldwide each winter because most trees are in the northern hemisphere and the trees are dormant. If we could figure out ways to keep the algae growing year round then we could, perhaps, even diminish that lack of oxygen.

Just preliminary thoughts here...and I am a bit tired tonight...I'll do a little more research...but I like the thought so far.

deb said...

A better article on algae fuel, clicking the link will open a pdf file:

An algae based fuel

Cheryl said...

It sounds as though algae based fuel is being investigated. It's probably better than corn based. I always did think there was something odd about burning food when there are people starving in the world.

On the other hand, if we didn't use excessive fertilizers, we wouldn't have to worry about runoff. And we wouldn't be wasting the energy and resources needed to produce and transport the fertilizers that then become the runoff.

Richard Yarnell said...

"In "An Inconvenient Truth" Gore showed how co2 increases dramatically worldwide each winter because most trees are in the northern hemisphere and the trees are dormant. If we could figure out ways to keep the algae growing year round then we could, perhaps, even diminish that lack of oxygen."

In the Northern Hemisphere, we also burn fuel to heat homes during the winter.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

On the other hand, if we didn't use excessive fertilizers, we wouldn't have to worry about runoff.

But we need the excessive fertilizer to get the yields needed to produce the processed foods in quantities large enough to feed all the people when we rely on mechanized agriculture to produce the crops for the bulk of the population.

Organic methods can increase the soils ability to hold nutrients better, but nitrogen is nitrogen whether it is organic or chemical based.

We also need to look at the lush green lawns of suburbia as a major source of nutrient runoff. It is easy to point the finger at agribusiness and not look in our own front yards.

Cheryl said...

Christopher,
You're right about the lawns. They are at least as bad as agribusiness. In their search for the perfect carpet of green, people dump outrageous amounts of fertilizers, insecticides, etc.

A few months after we moved to our current house, Terminex came by to get us to extend the existing contract for house and yard pests (like spiders). After three years, I think we've conviced them we're not interested. We keep up with the termite protection, but the rest of the bugs are either nice to have around, or handled with occasional spot checks.

Somehow it just seems like there should be a more efficient system, than overproducing a product, overusing a product, and then dealing with the mess. There's a lot of oil being wasted this way.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Our lawn looks pretty good, and my landlord just lent me this book he follows to the letter, called Building a Healthy Lawn: A Safe and Natural Approach by Stuart Franklin. Here is the address to the gardening page at the publishing company's web site: http://www.storey.com/books/category.php/y/6/p/0

Even though the book isn't new, everyone gave it five stars at Amazon in recent years:

http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0882665189/701-7251628-3757964

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Christopher,

Would a better option be to have all our homes surrounded by woods?

From what I can see, probably half of the homes in this region are set in the woods, and roughly half have the typical suburban lawns. I find both to be aesthetically pleasing. But if having all the homes surrounded by forests or woods instead of lawns would be better for the environment, then the former would definitely be the more attractive option.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

With Global warming a comin a forested landscape might be best just for the cooling effect of living under trees. That is not an option for many places in the country.

It isn't so much what type of landscape it is but what you put on it to make it be something other than what nature would do on it's own.

It is quite possible to have a perfectly fine lawn without a granule of fertilizer or an ounce of pesticide.

Judy B. said...

As we consider algea as a fuel source, it might be wise for the masses to understand that it is also a great food source... maybe the best...
Farming the oceans to satisfy our appetite for convience is just one more step closer to eliminating aquatic life.... and all life..

Judy B. said...

"Cars, not people, will claim most of the increase in world grain consumption this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that world grain use will grow by 20 million tons in 2006. Of this, 14 million tons will be used to produce fuel for cars in the United States, leaving only 6 million tons to satisfy the world’s growing food needs."

For the rest of the story go to:
http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/2006/Update55.htm

Anonymous said...

Lawns? There is a connection between lawn chemicals and the gulf dead zone. Recently I read an article in which the waters of the Mississippi passes through twelve human bodies from the lakes to the gulf...yuk. and all the antibiotics and meds our healthcare system feeds us along the way. Perhaps the oxygen rich algae stuff growing in the dead zone holds the keys to some unique cures as a result. Just a thought.
Have we ever considered solar trees? Leaves on many plants will naturally and continuously turn towards the sun for maximum advantage of the suns rays. Instead of solar panels on roofs how about a solar tree? The trunk of the tree will convert to energy and feed into the grid rather than batteries on site, we could gather much more sunlight than a flat panel because we can layer the leaves, micro sensors will follow the sun maximizing the energy collected...we have landscape lights and yard ornaments, why not create a solar tree?

John G. in Georgia

Cheryl said...

I grew up a the southern end of the Mississippi, also called Cancer Alley. The last hundred miles or so is solid petro-chem plants. That's where we got our drinking water. From time to time an alert would go out due to a chemical spill upriver.

Trees are great as long as you put a little thought into what and where you plant. They make great shade, but you don't want one falling on your house in a hurricane. Our local garden column has a list of trees that handle wind better than most. People in fire zones also need to know what and where they can plant.

Richard Yarnell said...

Re: Terminex and lawns

Before I moved out of Portland, we had converted Susan's lawn into an organic and edible oasis. We planted edible plants as though they were ornamentals. Rather than long, regular rows, we interplanted things that protected each other, enhanced one another's growth, etc. When the drought came, we were the only place for several blocks that could legally irrigate, which we did with a drip system anyway.

One day, the neighbor's lawn and garden service, sprayed something through the fence as I was passing by. It was way too windy for spraying anyway, but this was a direct shot in the face. When I asked the operator what he was spraying, he didn't know nor did he know why. When I called the service and asked them and, incidentally complained, it was obvious they knew but wouldn't tell - they were worried about financial liability.

I called the State, explained what had happened and told them I wanted to know what I'd been drenched with.

It turned out to be synthetic pyrethrins - I'd live. The State came to inspect and asked what I wanted. I said I wanted a supervised visit and conversation with the owner of the service. I got it. What we negotiated with the State was:

1) a 10 foot "no spray" area along the neighbor's side of the fence;

2) elimination of the "treat by schedule" policy of the service. From that time forward, they looked for pests before they treated for them;

3) better training of field workers and a booklet in every truck that had the pro's, cons, and handling of every chemical they used;

4) notification prior to any spraying activity - that was eventually adopted city wide since it gave them a marketing opportunity;

5) and a committment from the State to adjust the chemical application rules so that there was a separate section for urban use of chemicals.

After about a year of phone calls from the service, I told the guy he didn't need to call anymore. He got real serious and told me that while he was sorry I'd been sprayed and our garden had been compromised, he wanted to thank me. His costs were down, almost all his contracts said that birds were back, bees were flying again, but that he also felt better. He also thanked me for not suing him.

ry

Richard Yarnell said...

Surrounding homes with woods:

I speak from experience since I live next to a BLM forest and tend a, now 16 acre woodlot.

Trees, especially forests, close to homes, or vice versa, are dangerous. Fire is an ever present danger and likely to increase. Wide margins around a house are a safety issue and it has been shown that they can save homes.

Shade is a cheap substitute for A/C, but shade can be artifically produced where it counts.

Awnings work. Properly designed, they can either be retracted or shade only the high sun of summer, allowing the low sun of winter to enter through windows. Roofs should be white in color or galvanized metal to reflect heat. Attics should be ventilated and very well insulated. Walls should be very heavily insulated. Most windows should be on the South, SSW or SSE. Windows on the North should be small.

Trees should be kept at least 30' from the building, as should most flamable substances.

Richard Yarnell said...

All leaves, I think it's fair to say, are solar engines. But their function is to convert sunlight into carbohydrates. The fuel they creat is wood or woody. When it is combusted, it liberates carbon along with particulates.

Lot's of forest is a good idea. Carbon is sequestered there as carbon is separated from oxygen which is liberated back into the atmosphere.

We've been using trees as solar engines for a long, long time, but not to produce energy that's particularly portable or necessarily wise to use on a large scale (he says, laying in a supply of sawdust logs to heat his house next winter!)

Anonymous said...

Not real trees.
A solar collector that fits in with the landscape. Build solar panels that look like trees.
The "leaves" would actually be collecting solar energy/w micro sensors which are capable of following the sun to gain maximum efficiency at all times.
The "trunk" would actually be tied into the "grid" similar to public water systems. The energy collected by the leaves would be sent through the trunk and into the grid. The bigger the tree, the more solar energy collected. "Leaves" spaced on the tree similar to a natural tree would seem to be able to collect more of the sun than a flat stationary panel...

John G. in Georgia

Judy B. said...

JG.. I think our technology has caught up with you on that last one... there are some prototypes being experimented with that do something very similar..

Richard Yarnell said...

The tree may be an efficient structure in nature, given the need for the plant to rise above its competition and to support its leaf and fruit load. But from an engineering POV, it has some real liabilities.

I know that there are cell towers disguised as trees, but that's been forced on the engineers by folks who don't like steel skeletons rising above the acid-rain-killed trees in the Berkeshires and the Adirondacs.

Among other things, leaves shade one another. Putting that many sensors of any kind in place is expensive and there is wind: something delicate isn't going to survive.

Even with flat solar panels, adding a tracking device raises the cost.

I think we need to learn to like regular planes inclined to match the latitude at which they are installed and to employ some ingenuity in where we can mount them (roofs) as previously discussed.

Anonymous said...

I was kind of leaning towards one leaf having a sensor and the remaining following the lead similar to a flock of birds. The leaves could double as windmills for the wind...
Yet you give good arguments so I'll bend...how about solar shingles? That way when a panel goes bad it does not knock out the whole system. I had submitted an IDEA on ssb concerning using highway cat eyes and road signage as solar collectors. One of the reviewers suggested we start with rooftop panels as you have, on all the large buildings (home depot, wal mart etc). Considering solar would not be economical or feasible at all places have we ever considered grass clippings and yard waste? We spend a lot of time and energy cutting grass, trimming shrubbery every year. Could a lot of that be converted to a form of ethanol rather than mulch? It would appear to be more abundant than farm raised stuff such as corn...
When I was landscaping we raised our own shrubbery for sale to our customers. The dirt we used was a mixture of pine bark and fertilizers mixed and ground to fine dirt. We brought it in on huge trucks and dumped it on the ground, as we dug into the dirt to fill the pots it steamed. What was that? Out west we are now witnessing huge forest fires, a lot of it due to 50 or more years of dead stuff piling up and drying into fuel for the fires. Could we not devise a way to harvest this and convert it to ethanol?

John G. in Georgia

Richard Yarnell said...

If you mix materials, it makes the chemistry and handling difficult and expensive. Yard waste, I think, is better composted - we have a need for that too. (The steam from the "soil" you were using was an articat of the composting process. As the plant material decays it gives off CO2, H2O, and heat, among other things. The steam is really just water vapor that's condensing in cooler air. The highest temperature should have been in the neighborhood of around 150-160F and din't last long.

Solar shingles or panels both have relatively long service lives. The PV system should double as the weather roof, IMO.

I just finished reading Squyers' book about Spirit and Opportunity (Mars Rovers). Orientation to the sun is extremely important so road signage and all the little glass baubles are a poor source of energy, plus the fact that you'd spend a fortune on wiring it all together.

If we start using PV on new roofs and retro-fit those that are properly oriented and hook it all up to the existing grid, we'll be in pretty good shape.

Judy B. said...

Richard.. the Washington state legislature passed a bill last year that requires the electricity provider (PUD) buy back excess electriciyt from homeowners who install solar panels... the buy back is generous too, $.55 per kilowat hour (or something like that)... only there is one big catch... the panels have to be manufactured in Washingtonn state... Since we currently have no manufactures there is no incentive...

Washington state DOES have the raw materials, (they are currently being shipped to California)... This could be a wondereful opportunity for someone to get rich...

Richard Yarnell said...

Sounds to me like the utilities had a hand in writing that legislation.

One of the reasons I'm still pushing the very large array on the Columbia River is that it would attract a manufacturer to either Oregon or Washington. Unless there is wide-spread use of solar panels, or another compelling advantage to locating a plant in Washington, it won't happen. Now, about the chicken and the egg....

Get in touch with your legislators and point out how absurd it is to wave a sham credit around.

ry

Anonymous said...

Richard,
Kudzu? Can it be converted to some sort of ethanol? Would it be worth the investment?
Considering the way it replicates and endures it seems to have the photosynthesis thing down pat...

John G. in Georgia

Richard Yarnell said...

I don't know. Fortunately, I've never had any experience with the stuff.

Isn't it rather succulent? More water than cellulose? One of the early promotions for the stuff was as forage for cattle. Maybe as it matures its central vine gets more robust.

In terms of growth habit, if it is a good source of cellulose, cut it at the ground, bale it and ship it to the digesters. That would be a good question for some southern department of agriculture. Since it is no longer desireable, they might be happy to find a practical use for it.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Check this out you guys -- I found it at Ellen from Switzerland's Geneva Lunch site:

environment-friendly heat pumps

christin m p in massachusetts said...

It came from this article.

Cheryl said...

One of the Universities in Alabama is doing research on a weed call switch grass. Bush mentioned it in his last State of the Union address. I don't know how well it's going, but I would think that a grass would be easier to harvest than a vine like kudzu.

Judy B. said...

While heat pumps may be a good answer for new construction, I recently had an energy audit done to see how much of my electric bill could be decreased by converting to a heat pump.
Then I had an estimate done to determine the cost to convert from forced air heat to a heat pump...

I would only save about $450 per year in energy costs to convert, andthe cost to buy and install a heat pump that would satisfy our local electric company would cost a minimum of $20,000.

There is no financial justification there to encourage me to buy a heat pump...

Richard Yarnell said...

I suspect that harvesting kudzu would be more expensive than switch grass, especially if we compare field grown grass to the kudzu that has covered some 7.5 million acres of trees, buildings, old equipment, gullies and other uneven terrain. However, since we need to get rid of the Kudzu before it overtakes everything else useful, doesn't it make sense to harvest it for the alcohol it can produce? Factor that purpose into the equation and it probably gives a net saving on the Kudzu eradication side. If it is a vine, and were it grown commercially like, say, hops, then harvest would be familiar to the industry. In fact, I've wondered whether hops growers couldn't pad their income by processing the spent vines - the grow from the roots every year and the only part of the vine harvested are the immature flowers.

With regard to heat pumps:

Almost everything is cheaper if installed at the time of construction. For example, although I don't intend to install a heat pump in either new building, I'm planning to install the tubing needed to transport fluid through the slabs. Later, the cost of installing a heat pump will be little more than the cost of the heat pump itself.

deb said...

Terrific article from the earth Policy Institute. I received it in an e from Judy...thanks Judy!

RESCUING A PLANET UNDER STRESS

Kudzu: Horses and goats love the stuff they will eat it first...cows only eat it as a last resort. It dies when goats and horses graze on it after maybe the second year and doesn't come back...the roots just don't stay nourished enough to survive when the leaves can't grow. Southern states sprays tons of chemicals on it...encourage them to quit if you live in one. It would be really hard to harvest it because it grows on hills and ditches along roads (where it was planted to prevent erosion). After the first freeze it just breaks off when pulled.

Heat Pump: The geothermal heat pump is the main seller here in the NC mtns. for new homes. It is exciting technology!

christin m p in massachusetts said...

What would be the most practical environment-friendly and cost-saving heating system(s) for us to convert to in my region? We have a lot of housing stock here from the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries. Homes with geothermal systems are few and far between -- generally conversions in older Colonial homes, and seemingly reserved for the well-to-do.

Most average-income people here who have turned to an alternative or supplemental heating source, have opted for pellet stoves, as there is a major cost savings compared to traditional sources. Besides that, pellets burn much cleaner than wood does. The trouble is that, last year, so many people in this region installed pellet stoves that all the suppliers and distributors had run out of pellets by early Fall. My sister, who works at Home Depot, had customers coming in buying up whole pallets each of the pellets to make sure they were stocked up for the whole season. Then all of a sudden in late Winter, huge signs started to pop up all over the backroads with giant arrows and hand-painted lettering, saying "Pellets here". Better late than never, I guess. Either that, or the ones who over-bought in late Summer were taking advantage and re-selling their leftover pellets for a profit. (I'm telling you, it's all about the Almighty Dollar around here. No discrimination when it comes to race, religion, sexual orientation, or even educational level, but instead an insidious economic class war. And guess who's winning?

Also, how do I get our local politicians to promote the installation of geothermal systems in newly-constructed homes here? As far as I know they're still installing the traditional oil, natural gas, and electric heating systems in all those new McMansions that hardly anyone can afford to buy any more.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I do know of a modest, but beautifully restored Victorian home in a nearby city, that has a geothermal heating system. But again, the woman who owns it has a very high-paying medical job. Average Joe or Jane would need to take out a home equity loan to afford to convert to geothermal, assuming there is some equity built up.

Richard Yarnell said...

I can't emphasize strongly enough the need to insulate any building before any new system is installed. Especially older building were not well insulated. I've seen walls in old CT houses that had nothing but a few layers of paper, probably intended to cut down on wind infiltration.

For houses set on foundations (concrete or old stone walls) insulate under the floor. Look at the walls to see whether they've got any insulation in them. Injected foam or blown insulation is a reasonable thing to consider. I prefer using non-flammable insulation that will not settle.
Check the attic. Your local or State governments will have guidelines.
Check all windows and doors for air-tightness. It takes only a small crack to allow a great deal of heat to move through such an opening. Then find out how much it will cost to install insulated glazing (double or even triple glased windows).

After you've investigated all of these things, then look into the cost of installing a centralized heating system.

The heat source is only part of the deal. A heat pump, a combustian chamber for wood, oil, gas, all can provide heat through forced air, radiant wall, floor, or even ceiling (the least efficient) using water, anti-freeze or oil as a fluid.

Although I don't recommend them, I've seen wood fired burners that are installed remote from the house that heat a fluid that is piped to the house. Rooms can be serviced by installing wall mounted radiators fed either from below (basement) or through adjacent walls. (I'd rather have the combustion chamber in the house where a maximum amount of heat is recovered.

If you can provide a method of transporting the heat from room to room, then investigate whether digging the trenches or a well needed to make a heat pump work is practical and how much it will cost.

Bear in mind two things: the cost of all fuels is likely to go up: oil, gas, and wood, unless you can provide it from your own wood lot. Electricity will too, but generally a heat pump is more efficient to run than any kind of combustion device.

Everything that you do to conserve the heat that you introduce into the building or to exclude unwanted heat from the outside during the summer, will cut the operating cost and size of the system you choose.

A couple of other things you might try: if you have north facing windows, consider getting rid of them or making them smaller. If your prevailing winter wind is from the North, consider sheltering the house in some way.

If you have a south facing exposure that gets good winter sun, consider an attached greenhouse as a source of winter heat.

ry

Judy B. said...

Richard,,, have you ever thought about being an energy consultant???
Our PUD hires energy auditors to go out and help people figure out how to lower their electrical bills... I think you would be great at that...
Here are some of the things that our PUD helped us pay for...Thermopane windows fulled with whatever was the "best" gas at the time... PUD paid more than half; ceiling insulation and roof vents, door caulking and weather stripping... they paid in full..
They also give rebates on energy efficient appliances, and send out coupons for energy efficient lights...
It makes sense for them to lower the public energy consumption so they do not have to buy more expensive electricity from outside providers...
I wonder if these programs are realily available in the rest of the country...

Judy B. said...

Richard... back to energy retrofitting...What do you think of fireplace inserts as a possibility for helping with the heating.... We rarely use our fireplaces becauses it seems that we loose more heat up the chimney than it puts out..., but if an insert was a good option it might be worth considering as we have more than all the firewood we can use... We give it away to the elderly///

Judy B. said...

We got a free issue of "This Old House" and in it is a rather simplistic explanation of "building-integrated photovoltaics" (BIPV's).. I need the simplistic approach!
Any way, as I decide on what option I want to take for saving money and hgaving energy, this seems like the best option (when retro-fitting). The initial output will be a little more than buying a heat pump, but the pay back seems a lot better... While the heat pump will provide heat a little more economically than what we have now, it still needs electricity to run... In the case of power outages (which are bvecoming more and more frequent), it would be nice to have a power source (besides a gas driven generator, which we have) to run our appliances, particularly our water pumps. We have two sources of water on our property, a deep well that we use for irrigation, and a really good spring that we use for the house and for my flowers around the yard. Without power, there is no water.. that is why we have the generator... but it would be nmice to keep the refrigerators/freezers operating. So the BIPV's are sounding more and more lika a partial answer.

Christina, the article i mentioned talks about how the savings for BIPV's is more in Boston than in New Mexico because of the prevailing cost of electricity..

Richard Yarnell said...

BIPV's

If you have a BIPV system - the one I would choose and what I think we ought to install nationwide - when the grid goes down, the likelihood is that you won't have enough PV capacity to do heavy duty things like running a range or any heavy duty appliance.

Here's my plan. See how it compares to your situation.

I already have a 189 foot well which I will convert to a solar pump after the house is built. I will have limited battery backup for that pump only. We don't have water (except for stored firefighting and stock water which I don't think is fit to drink) when the grid goes down. A tracking solar array will be available for the pump and the battery backup will run it at night.

A second well, which we're placing near our boundary with an adjacent piece of property on which the owner wants to put lots of houses, will be deeper (it would require a larger solar array) and will have a grid operated pump. (By putting our well virtually on the property line, we will make it almost impossible for the neighbor to install a legal drain field. We also need the water for irrigation.)

The BIPV system will be designed to eventually cover the roof except for three solar DHW panels and about 150 sq ft of solar pool panels. I will have enough battery capacity to run low voltage LED lights and the elevator motor - the multi-level house (for a small footprint) will have a passenger elevator in accordance with "Visitability" recommendations.

IF I need to goose the refrigeration and freezers during a prolonged power outage, I'll do it with a generator - those circuits will be capable of being isolated from all other circuits. During the day when the sun is shining, I expect to be able to run most of the house except heavy motors once the solar system is fully installed.

Except for a microwave, we'll be using propane. I prefer cooking with gas and a tank is not affected by power outages.

We will not have A/C or Heat to deal with. The earth sheltered and solar heated house will use two wood stoves as backup.

One of the reasons it's easier to build a solar house from scratch as opposed to retrofitting, is that you can design the wiring for use with limited amounts of power.

Richard Yarnell said...

Fireplace inserts can be a good source of heat. Be prepared to control the damper as you would with your fireplace now.

I think those equipped with a fan to force air through the system to strip of the heat as fast as possible is worth the trouble. Don't overdo it though - if you cool the stack temperature too much, creosote becomes a problem.

Another option: install a free-standing wood stove in the mouth of the fireplace. Use the existing chimney to vent the wood stove. Modern wood stoves are usually more efficient than fireplace inserts even if they have glass doors so you can see the fire. The whole body of the stove radiates heat into the room. There's a line that I like a lot that comes equipped with a fan on the rear of the stove that pushes air between two plates at the top of the stove. They are attractive and you get the best of both worlds. I don't remember the name of them but will run it down if you're interested.

While I was acting in NY, I did spend some time as a free-lance solar (DHW) consultant. I spent most of my time assessing whether solar would benefit apartment buildings in Manhattan - the cost/benefit ratio was not good in most cases and shading was a real problem. Ironically, I was on the road when the board of directors of my own building (I was on the board but absent) accepted a HUD demonstration project. HUD installed 4 huge arrays (136 panels) on the roof, an 11,000 gallon heat storage tank in the basement, and a two heat exchange system (very inefficient) in an old coal storage vault - the real reason they chose our building. I wrote to the board to say that the design of the system was faulty. Boeing and HUD however, rightly pointed out that I was not an engineer and they did not consider me qualified to make the judgement. The system didn't work. I got my revenge though: several years later, my solar service co-op reversed the plumbing, took out one of the heat exchangers and the system did supply about 25% of the 17 story, 85 apartments, DHW load.

Unfortunately, that system no longer exists. The current board was not willing to deal with the roof leaks caused by faulty installation of the scaffolding on which the solar arrays were mounted - also designed by Boeing and approved by HUD. All HUD asked for after the system was installed was a photo so they could prove the installation was complete. When I offered them new performance data after the changes were complete, they no longer had any record of the installation! Later, when my folks built their solar house in Nevada, they got a grant to fund my 12 month monitoring of the design performance. I've often wondered what they did with the report. The architect took his copy and has made a very good living in Australia building earth sheltered passive solar homes.

Nowdays there are real, trained, engineers doing what I did because no one else was doing it. Been there, done that.

Judy B. said...

Richard, it sounds like you are building an underground house... is that the case???

Or is it a berm building, or a daylight basement confoguration?

Have you put pictures up on website yet??? if som what is the address??/

Thanks for all the info on solar and fireplace inserts...

deb said...

This is a post that I have been sharing around the net:

The best solution for an immediate change is the electric or PHEV car. Plug it in. The grid looses electricity at night, which is the time that cars would be recharged. With the PHEV most of our driving would be fueled by electricity, the car would run on electricity for our average daily commute and then on liquid fuel if we want to go further. Families could have one car that was entirely electric and one PHEV for longer trips.

Photovoltaic solar panels on every roof in the nation (not over night, of course)would keep us from building new power plants. PV solar and electric or hybrid electric cars are a completely doable answer now.

We need to continue with the bio fuel. Biodiesel will be needed to fuel trucks. For about $100. diesel trucks can be retrofitted to burn biodiesel.

Our rivers are full of nitrates, algae grows rapidly in the environment. Algae can be 50% oil by volume. Algae produces vast quantities of oxygen. Algae will clean the rivers. My suggestion is to build algae ponds along our rivers to harvest for fuel. It may be possible to grow enough fuel for PHEV cars with algae...we don't know because we haven't done it. The ramifications are awesome...low impact farming (dig some ponds with locks to allow water in and out, mesh nets to scoop out the algae, process the algae oil at current oil refineries), vast amounts of oxygen, cleaner rivers, and renewable liquid fuel!!!

This WILL work:

(1) PHEV cars

(2) PV solar on every roof feeding the grid (quit subsidizing oil companies and start subsidizing PV until the price comes down)

(3) farm biodiesel

and (hopefully)

(4) algae fuel for the PHEV car


I will NOT buy another car until I can plug it in. I would like others to join the "plug-in car" movement. I would like to force car manufacturers to build PHEV cars. Cal-cars currently retrofits the Prius into a PHEV...lets force the manufacturers to do it at the plant!!!

Richard Yarnell said...

The plan, not finalized, is to excavate so that the north wall of the bedroom floor (lowest) and public spaces floor (middle) are earth sheltered on the North and partially on the E and W. The south is glazed and opens into an attached greenhouse.

The top floor, really the roof, is sheltered by the solar panels and contains mechanical spaces, water tanks for the fire suppression system and DHW storage. The rest will be open and enclosed storage. It opens on the north onto the backfill that shelters the two floors below.

I haven't posted any drawings yet although the bottom floor is pretty much set in Google sketch format.

Richard Yarnell said...

PHEV and all electric:

Plug-in hybrids are good. For short trips, and daily commute under 250 miles, it appears that all electric (plug in) are possible (Tesla Motors). Tesla has introduced its high end sports model first to gain attention - 250 miles per charge, 0-60 in 4 seconds, $100K/copy. They promise a more utilitarian sedan in 18 months at a lower price. Since batteries are the biggest expense in the production model, look for the cost to come down as sales increase.

Because battery requirements are less for both the hybrids and for the RUF system, unless a family can afford two cars, I favor the latter. The all electric has a range/charge of 250 miles. I don't know how long a full charge takes, but I suspect a good part of the night. RUF has a much shorter range off the system power supply on which it operates. Range is limited only by the availability of the system track. True hybrids charge batteries when the combustion engine kicks in.

I have some experience with algae: I used to clean out our reservoirs. Harvesting it is no piece of cake. It has a very high water content. I'd guess the dry weight is 10% or less than its wet weight. Oil content will be based on dry weight. I also imagine that processing for oil will require a dried raw material. It can be done in the sun and will require a lot of area. Drying it artificially would doom the project based on expense. Drying will require lots of space. I don't mean to discourage the idea, but there are some hard choices to be made. As with most projects of this kind, system benefits and costs must be fully examined and given credit when there are additional benefits to be derived - clean water, etc.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Rich,
After seeing the back-up of traffic here on Rte. 495 Northbound and Southbound, before the on-ramp to Rte. 90 (the Mass Pike)-- day after day (both right and center lanes on Fridays, and all three lanes on and around Thanksgiving Day) -- year after year -- it makes me wonder how much of global warming is directly and indirectly attributable to toll collection booths forcing so many drivers to sit seemingly forever in their idling cars, just to pay for our highway department's now legendary incompetence (You all must have heard by now about the Big Pig, uh -- I mean the Big Dig, and its gargantuan cost overruns and the horrific death recently of that woman crushed by the falling ceiling panel in the tunnel).

Since commuters were promised way back when, that Mass Pike tolls would be very temporary, many have tried various legal paths to "free the Pike" -- obviously without success.

Based on the toll booths' contribution to global warming, would not all U.S. citizens have legal justification for eradicating all the toll booths in the nation?

Judy B. said...

Speaking of water... check this out:
http://www.earth-policy.org/Indicators/Water/2006.htm

Cheryl said...

Judy,
An issue related to water overuse is the "Green Revolution". Nice name for a terrible idea. Third world countries have been encouraged to follow western farming techniques. They are also pushed to stop growing traditional crops in favor of better producing hybrids developed in the west. The traditional crops are well suited for their environment and often able to handle pests. The new and improved crops require irrigation and pesticides to grow.

Judy B. said...

Deb... I agree wholdheartedly..
I remember a few years ago visiting with a man siting beside me at a resturant counter,,,
He was full of pride and zeal about his good works... seems he and some others from his church bought up some old Ford tractors and shipped them to Aftica for the poor to use.. They didn't know how to operate them, or repair them, so people had to be sent to teach them that, as well as "modern" farming methods...that use the infernal combustion engine...
When will we learn that we do not always have the best answers for all the world??/

Judy B. said...

Another Chyurch group fro here went to Mexico to build a hoouse for a poor family... using our building techniques, they squandered an opportunity (and money) tohouse one family...

On the flip side of the coin, there are several Cob Builders who go to Mexico and teach the residents how to be in community when building COB structures for the whole commujity... Using local, easily accessible resources (erth/clay/sand/rock and when available, baled straw). the cost is held to a minimum, the buildings are energy efficient, and the locals are left withthe ability to continue building for themselves...
As much as I support Habitat For Humanity and what they do in the U.S. for the poor, I think they shpould take lessons from the cob builders when they trek to foreign soil.

Anonymous said...

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/marine-dead-zone-off-oregon-is-spreading-11123.html

Richard Yarnell said...

"...it makes me wonder how much of global warming is directly and indirectly attributable to toll collection booths..."

And stop lights, traffic jams, well, automobiles. And how about drive up service as your local junk food store, or drive up tellers: the list goes on and on.

Richard Yarnell said...

I hear that HforH is interested in Super Adobe construction. One of the problems they have is that much of the material and expertise donated to them is for conventional housing. It would be a tough call to give up that support. But, if Washington approves this type of construction for its low cost housing, I think it will take off.

Grab some sand bags, fill em with local soil, lay them in a ring, beat hell out of them with the shovel, do another row, they lather them inside and out with local dirt mixed with portland cement.

http://www.prx.org/pieces/11138/stationinfo;jsessionid=EDD400F1675D29932BE0036C12D7BC76.jvm1

(That's a long link so make sure you get it all.)

Judy B. said...

Super Adobe construction.... interesting building method richard... The main problem i see with it is the cost.... not really for low income...
I think I will look further into it tho and see what the finished product really looks like....

I wonddr.. does the cost include the price of the land???

Richard Yarnell said...

Super adobe:

My understanding is that it's relatively cheap - at least the shell of the building. Sand bags are cheap and the idea is to use local dirt - you don't even need clay since you incorporate portland cement.

The real problem now is building departments who don't have any standards for it. Yurt and domed shaped buildings require some imagination when it comes to windows and doors, but beyond that, it should be dirt cheap.

Judy B. said...

The cost I was referring to was the $100,000 mentioned in the article... While inexpensive by most home standards, for half that amount (or a quarter if you are a good salvager) you can build a small cob home..

Judy B. said...

Debbie, as I recall, during SSB, you discussed building a cottage using cement and foam? blocks.. How does that foit in with these other methods?/

Yes, Richard, the permitting of any alternative building methods is hard to do... That is one of the reasons the cost goes up... I have often thought if a low income housing provider (like in the story) could come up with some standard plans that could get state approval, it would be much more cost effective... That is what makes your article so interesting... that is what is happening..

Richard Yarnell said...

The foam blocks act as a form for reinforced concrete that is poured into their core(s). In effect, you have rows of concrete columns and the equivalent of 4-5" of foam insulation. I don't know about the cost now, but when the patents run out, the labor savings should overwhelm the material cost.

Cob or super-adobe are both enormous generalizations. Plain adobe in a wet, rainy climate is not appropriate - adobe erodes too. But since the materials can be mined on the site and the basic labor involved in building the shell, whether it's conventional rectangles or kinky freeform, or traditional round shapes, the cost for comparable square footage can be reduced by sweat equity.

In places where State regs trump County and City planning, a series of standard plans will go a long way to reducing the cost. But I don't blame the folks in Washington for taking it slow. It is, after all, a seismically active region and we know what happens to stone and mud buildings in places like Pakistan and Iran.

Land costs will always be a factor.

Judy B. said...

As I followed the link further, I discovered that this design has been approved in the most earthquake prone area of the U.S. The vault/beehive configuration has something to do with that...

The cob finish has lasted hundreds of years in wet old England, and is doing well in Oregon. Like any home, routine maintenence is always a factor...

http://www.calearth.org/cvillage/cvillage.htm

deb said...

Judy, We are using PolySteel blocks. Richard had told me some months ago about the fire hazard associated with the styrofoam blocks (thanks Richard)and I started researching other possibilities when I came across the PolySteel product. The fire safety data is impressive compared to the earlier foam blocks. But, there are always pros and cons with any product.

I don't remember how much I told y'all about what I'm doing...we are subcontracting a house to sell and then intend to build ourselves a small cottage...second house should be paid for and I will be able to travel with Jeff (especially if he is working in cool places) instead of having to stay home alone and work.

This first house has a PolySteel foundation that is half garage and half walk-out basement. The second (main) floor is a log cabin, the upper floor is in the roof area with 2 bedrooms, ba. and loft. We are almost finished with the log stack part.

For 'our' cottage I am planning radiant heated floors, possibly heated by radiant solar roof...but I may have PV solar roof (haven't checked prices yet), no basement, main floor PolySteel, 1/2 story up. Just enough for Jeff and I and room for the kids when they visit or for guests (please come by if you get to NC).

The slab, blocks, and poured concrete walls for the log house basement cost around 25K for 1400 sq. ft. slab surrounded by the block. The thing is that it is a wonderful structure by itself, just add a roof and siding of choice and the exterior of the house is built and fast. The slab and walls were finished in 2 weeks, which included footings and plumbing in the slab. The block stack took 2 days I think.

Richard Yarnell said...

Affording PV:

Talk to your Solar contractor and tell him you want to plan the system so the controls will have enough capacity when you cover the available space on the roof. In other words, spend the first money on the controls. Then add the panels as you can. That way you don't have to throw anything away.

Also, ask him to split the system and put in enough battery to power a low voltage lighting system. That way, if the power goes down, at least you can see and run a radio or small TV.

ry

Judy B. said...

We have "played" wit cob building here, and while it is economical it is VERRY labor intensive... And requires a knowledgable 'cobbist' to get the clay,sand,water,straw consistency right... If you have the land and the time, a cob structure can cost almost nothing..

As I have pursued Richard's link to the super adobe structures
I am becomming more and more impressed.... It souds like it doesn't take a lot of skill, and will be a whole lot easier than cob.. particularly using a few modern pieces of equipment (a tractor/tiller and front end loader) which we have...

We may try building one of the 8' emergency shelters as a storage shed to try it out...

As I wnet further into the links, I discovered that there is very little cost involved and NO lumber is used except for doors etc as wanted.

Anyone want to come visit and help build a prototype??/

deb said...

I haven't had much pc time lately, but wanted to share this with those of you concerned about Global Warming. It is a petition asking for alternative/renewable energy plans for the nation. If someone doesn't believe that global warming is a man-made issue then the same applications will also clean the air we breath and assist in reducing acid rain which is unhealthy for our forests and waterways. Global Warming Leadership

Judy B. said...

Thanks Deb.. I signed the petition and will forward it to my mail list..

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

I signed the petition too and have already received automated responses from the WhiteHouse and my Representative.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I received automated responses from the League of Conservation Voters and the White House, but none yet from Marty Meehan.

Judy B. said...

From Time magazine
http://www.time.com/time/2002/inventions/rob_tower.html

"Want cheap, green electricity? The Australians have a simple answer. First, build a 20,000-acre greenhouse to trap and heat air. Then build a colossal tower 1 km (.62 miles) tall in the middle of it. The warm air from the greenhouse will rise through the tower as it would through a chimney, turning turbines and generating enough electricity to power 200,000 Australian homes. It may sound like science fiction, but the project is on track to get approved by the Australian government. If completed, the $800 million solar tower will be the tallest man-made structure in the world."

For more search solar tower on google

Judy B. said...

This site gves some basic overview of different alternative energy solutions...

http://www.eere.energy.gov/RE/solar_concentrating.html

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I thought I'd run this past you guys, since it addresses issues of land pollution, and possibly air pollution/global warming and renewable energy as well...

I remembered having read many years ago about a restauranteur/inventor from Scarborough, Maine -- named Rocco DiSanto. He invented a machine which first freeze dries tire rubber, then burns the rubber without emitting air pollution. In fact, the furnace is supposed to have the capability of cleanly burning every substance known to man. If it does work well, it might possibly serve the dual purpose of providing energy, while at the same time disposing of land polluting rubber tires -- and without the undesireable tradeoff of noxious air pollution/global warming.

I searched the net to try to find current information about it, but this 2002 article is the most recent one I could find:

rubber tire-burning furnace

deb said...

Judy, The solar tunnel tower is extremely exciting. I am wondering if it could be done on a small scale for one house. I searched a bit and didn't see a smaller application. Thanks so much for the info!!!

Christin, I believe it is illegal to burn tires. That method sounds terrific if they must be burned, but I think that they are generally ground up and recycled.

Richard Yarnell said...

No matter how you cut it, burning anything makes CO2. There are CO2 scrubbers, but that's expensive. I'm inclined to agree that finding other uses for the tires (NPR talked about a test of rubber sidewalks to replace concrete - the motivation was avoiding destruction of both sidewalks and the trees that put their roots under them) Here, ground up tires are mixed with asphalt to make roads. There was an outfit in BC that has built a patented system that does burn the tires, first shredding them, the using some of the heat the liberate to melt the shredded material, turning it into a liquid that can be sprayed into the fire. I'd gues that freezing the tires and pulverizing them is another approach to getting very small particulate or droplet size.

On the Austrailian tower: I'm very skeptical about very big things. I have no doubt at all that it will work. But anything that size is going to cost a lot and its maintenance costs alot. It's remote so shipping power from it is going to be expensive. If it goes down for any reason, and it will fail at some point, the all of its power is off line. I favor more smaller things so that one or two failures don't have an appreciable impact on the system. Sure will be a site to see (pun intended).

Judy B. said...

I agree, richard... Seems way to big, but the concept is worth following...
As I recall JG offered a similar concept way back on SSB...

Richard Yarnell said...

I'd like to see the enviroTower married with the Wang wind tower that I think I described here.

If you directed heated air into a much less ambitions tower and allowed wind to enter the sides of the towerI suspect the results would be several orders of magnituted higher.

Judy B. said...

Richard... I googled wang wind tower and versions of that and couldn't find anything that fits what you describe...

Richard Yarnell said...

And you won't unless you look up the expired patent. There was a discussion some time back about trying to exploit what I thought had been tied up by the company he worked for when he (or they) filed the patent.

Essentially his wind machine is a tower, roughly 3 times as high as it is in diameter. The wind turbine is mounted in the middle of the base with the "propeller" in the same plane as the ground. Air is introduced to the turbine from below. The tower has louvers which open on the side the wind is blowing. The wind induces a vortex, the center of which has a lower pressure than peripheral wind. It's the low pressure that draws the air through the turbine.

What makes it powerful is the amount of wind captured by the machine.

A tower 30 feet high and 10 feet in diamter presents 300 square feet of area to the wind. A propeller 10 feet in diameter presents roughly 80 feet. And although wind turbines are rated based on that area inscribed by the tips of their propellers, only a small fraction of that is actually pushed by the wind.

I built a model years ago based on his description and burned up a motor by turning it too fast. I then rebuilt it using a less complicated mechanism relating to the louvers. It worked just as well.

If you use the heating mechanism of the Austrailian tower to feed air into the center of the vortex, just like a hurricane feeding off of warm water, the vortex should increase in strength. Whether the loss of density of the heated air would reduce the efficiency is beyond my skill to determine.

Richard Yarnell said...

And you won't unless you look up the expired patent. There was a discussion some time back about trying to exploit what I thought had been tied up by the company he worked for when he (or they) filed the patent.

Essentially his wind machine is a tower, roughly 3 times as high as it is in diameter. The wind turbine is mounted in the middle of the base with the "propeller" in the same plane as the ground. Air is introduced to the turbine from below. The tower has louvers which open on the side the wind is blowing. The wind induces a vortex, the center of which has a lower pressure than peripheral wind. It's the low pressure that draws the air through the turbine.

What makes it powerful is the amount of wind captured by the machine.

A tower 30 feet high and 10 feet in diamter presents 300 square feet of area to the wind. A propeller 10 feet in diameter presents roughly 80 feet. And although wind turbines are rated based on that area inscribed by the tips of their propellers, only a small fraction of that is actually pushed by the wind.

I built a model years ago based on his description and burned up a motor by turning it too fast. I then rebuilt it using a less complicated mechanism relating to the louvers. It worked just as well.

If you use the heating mechanism of the Austrailian tower to feed air into the center of the vortex, just like a hurricane feeding off of warm water, the vortex should increase in strength. Whether the loss of density of the heated air would reduce the efficiency is beyond my skill to determine.

Judy B. said...

Recently i recorded a LINK TV presentation "Oil On Ice" and just now finished watching it...

I hope you will watch it too, and spread the word... I think there are many things that separate people, but it seems that the environment is one thing that people are starting to agree on...

If you do not get Link TV, check out this websitge:
http://www.oilonice.org/newsroom/

Richard Yarnell said...

I think a real test should be made of BP's criminal failure to maintain the pipeline.

There are federal regs requiring inspection that weren't followed; there was contractual requirement that BPm, owning 47% was to maintain the line. For weveral years, whistleblowers have revealed weaknesses in the preventive maintenance schedule and results: they've been attacked, fired, or forced to resign.

Except for the fact that most if not all of the oil companies will provit from this timely showdown, you'd think one of the minority owners would start a civil suit.

Then there's the good news: can you imagine anyone advocating drilling more in the region? It may be that Bush's legacy will be fostering coonservation and mainteance of pristine wild places. What history may or may not realize is that he backed into it by doing the wrong thing almost every time.

Judy B. said...

One of my investor advisors is touting liquid coal as an alternative fuel...

Thought I would ask all of you researchers what you think...

Here is one website I foound...

http://www.tulsaworld.com/BusinessStory.asp?ID=060719_Bu_E1_AirFo32328

Richard Yarnell said...

Liquification of coal as well as pulverization of coal are both technologies that have been around awhile. I hadn't heard of this particular process (short on details in the article).

We do have a lot of coal. However much there is, it is still a finite resource and it's both dangerous and destructive to mine it.

There is a Florida test, partly financed by DOE with the majority of money coming from Tampa Electric, I think, in which coal is pulverized and very efficiently burned on site. The advantage is that the process can use very low quality and high sulphur coal and still come up relatively clean in the well scrubbed stack. CO2 still is released.

Unless you have lots of mad money you're willing to lose, I wouldn't back any speculative venture like the Texas outfit. And if that's money on which you'll depend in the future, your broker shouldn't be pointing you in that direction. IMO.

Judy B. said...

My real question here was not about investing (I never speculate with money that I need to live on)... buy one more of is this a viable, environmentally safe alternative...

While we all tout solar and wind power, to be realistic there are tens of millions of cars on the road that need fuel, and these cars are not going to be replaced quickly... we do need an alternate fuel for them... this sounds like a possibility...

Here is some "madison avenue" type retoric....
"A special kind of "designer fuel"
that - unlike ethanol or any of the other so-called alternate fuels you read about - behaves, molecule for molecule, just like gasoline, diesel fuel, oil, even jet fuel. Only, it's cleaner. You can burn this new "designer fuel" in any car or other contemporary
vehicle. No alterations, tweaks or upgrades needed. Yet to make this
special fuel, it costs about half what you'd pay to squeeze the equivalent amount of engine-gunning power from a barrel of conventional petroleum.
And it yields much more power, drop for drop, than gasoline-blended ethanol.

How far away are we from seeing this new "designer fuel" on the market? Guess what? It's already available."

Judy B. said...

Here is a Bismark, N.D. newspaper editorial about liquid coal...
The previous noted web address was brom a Tulsa OK newspaper... Sometimes I thionk we need to know more about what is going on ion the heartland...

http://www.bismarcktribune.com/articles/2006/03/21/news/opinion/editorials/111978.txt

Judy B. said...

http://www.greengroundzero.org/civicspace-ggz/node/173

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I noticed something new and very pleasing when I went to the mall yesterday evening. The vehicles in the parking lot have gotten smaller than ever. Even as recently as a few months ago, whenever I had to park at the mall, I would always end up swearing like a longshoreman (not so anyone else could hear me) about all the monstrous vehicles barreling through there. For months, I wouldn't even drive through the center of my own town -- I would take the backroads instead, because I swear the ratio of giant SUV's to normal-sized cars had to be something like 20 to 1. Yesterday evening, I saw nearly all compact cars, a few small SUV's, and only a couple of those oversized pick-up trucks that some of the young boys like to show off in.

This is a typical suburb -- there is no terrain around here that warrants using giant SUV's anyway.

BTW, I try to support the smaller Mom and Pop stores whenever possible, but sometimes what I need and can afford can only be found at chain stores or at the mall.

Cheryl said...

I hope the trend towards smaller cars spreads to more of the country.

We all make the best choice we can with what we buy, and if we buy. I try to at least acknowlege the trade offs I choose when buying. As much as I would like to only buy green, fair, labor responsible, local, etc., it isn't always possible.

Judy B. said...

Our local Public Utility District, a small cog in the massive energy cartel, is getting into wind power.

http://www.tdn.com/articles/2006/08/16/area_news/news04.txt

Judy B. said...

And another small PUD in Washington state is doing the right thing with regards to the salmon run and hyreoelectric poser...

http://www.tdn.com/articles/2006/08/16/ap-state-wa/d8jhapm81.txt

It is my position that we cannot do much on a global scale EXCEPT act locally... this is what these two articles rreflect... public pressure at the grass roots level to push for environmental... but as I have always known, it is the money side of the equation that matters the most to the decision makers.

Richard Yarnell said...

Fireplace inserts:

I've never used one. I'm told they are more efficient than a plin old fireplace, but you do need a fan to recover heat from behind them.

I'm partial to a well designed, modern, wood stove. You can mount them in or just in front of a fireplace and get a little more efficiency out of them. I heat 1200 feet of our house with the smallest Vermont Castings stove - Alpine, I think. It uses very little fuel. If you pipe combustion air to it, even better.

As for comparitive costs, I don't know.

I'm looking at another, larger and more modern looking wood stove for the new house - Country something. I'll try to remember to find the brochure. It has an optional fan that blows air under a plate that's mounted above the firebox. I'll convert that to a 12 or 24v motor so it will run when the power's out. The fan allows you to reduce the size of the stove and still heat the same volume.

Sorry I can't be more help.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

This may seem like it should be common sense, but I learned it the hard way:

For anyone who decides to put in a woodstove, be sure not to use cheap "green" firewood (green firewood feels much heavier to carry than seasoned wood, it's a pain in the neck to get it going since it tends to smoulder, and it sizzles instead of crackling when it finally does burn). Even though seasoned firewood costs a little bit more, it burns much more efficiently, and leaves a lot less creosote in the chimney or flue. Also, never burn trash of any kind in the woodstove, as that also leaves a lot of creosote.

The reason I say I learned about this the hard way, is that my friend Jack and I often used green firewood and burned things like paper take-out food containers in our wood stove. One night the built-up creosote in the chimney caught fire (there was no flue in it). Fortunately, the fire department was able to get there before the surrounding wall caught fire. Since the house wasn't burning, they didn't use water to put it out -- they got up on a ladder and dropped a heavy chain with what looked like a "ball" of chain loops on it down into the chimney to scrape out the burning creosote. We couldn't get over the huge quantity of chunks of creosote left in the fireplace after they had finished.

After that scare, we made it a point to always use seasoned wood. We noticed that we didn't go through as many cords as we did with the green wood, because the seasoned wood heated the house so much more efficiently. So, over the heating season, we probably didn't have to spend extra for the seasoned wood after all.

Richard Yarnell said...

On seasoned wood:

Even though I have a wood lot that requires periodic thinning, I no longer use even seasoned logs in the wood stove. Our forest is Douglas Fir. Instead, for the last three seasons we've used manufactured sawdust logs. They have no "binder" in them. If they get even damp, they come apart. If they get wet, they become a pile of sawdust.

But they burn slowly and almost completely. To start them, I use "Dragon Eggs," which we make and sell at the Oregon City Farmers' Market. I mix sawdust, of which I have plenty, with beeswax and press about a tablespoon into the capsules of egg cartons. It takes one cell to start a fire.

This story has been related to me more than once:

Not long after my father graduated from college, and while he was still considered a newly-wed, he was working as a ranch-hand learning the ropes growing avocados - that later became the family business. He was living in an old house provided by his employer who later put him onto the land that became our ranch, and who then followed us to Fallbrook where he set up his own place.

One chilly night, their chimney caught fire. Pop didn't want to end up either burning the house down or, to him, worse, having to rebuild the chimney. To fight the fire (no phone, no fire department any where close by) he climbed up on the roof in the middle of the night, according to my mother very scantily clad, and put water down the chimney in very small quantities using a baby syringe. I was never told how long it took to put the fire out, but he didn't crack the lining. After that, he was obsessive about sweeping the chimney. He remains a very patient person.

deb said...

Richard, Thanks for sharing the baby syringe story. I have been thinking on how much "cool, calm and collective" potential I would have in that situation. First, I don't suppose the thought of cracking the lining would have ever occurred to me and even if it had I wouldn't have thought of how to put out the fire without cracking it.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I guess that's why the fire department knows not to put chimney fires out by hosing them down with water. I'm usually such a curious person that, under normal circumstances, I would have asked why they used the chain with the ball of chain loops instead.

I was still so shaken even after it was over, all I could think about is "Is it completely out?" and "What if there are still some burning embers that might reignite the fire?"

It scared our cat half to death too. In fact, he was the one who alerted me to it. Apparently the sound of the chimney fire scared him so much, he came flying into the laundry room. I do have very good hearing, but the sounds of the washer and dryer must have muffled the noise from the fire. To me, it sounded like a jet airliner that never continues passing overhead (that's what I thought it was at first, because we had an airport nearby), or the rumbling of a freight train, or an earthquake (we have experienced a few small earthquakes over the years in Massachusetts). After the fire was over, our cat was still peeking around the corner from the sunporch -- still too scared to go back into the living room.

My friend Jack, on the other hand, went right back to bed after the firemen left, and he fell asleep within seconds after his head hit the pillow -- And it was his property! Sometimes I could have sworn that guy had no nerve endings. Male hormones give some people an unfair advantage.

At least he did take the practical measure of hiring a chimney sweep to come and service the chimney at regular intervals.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Rich,
I almost forgot -- Can heavy rain or snow get into the chimney and cause small starter cracks to form in the lining?

And do contraction and expansion, due to extreme winter cold followed by the heat of the escaping woodstove emissions, contribute to cracking the chimney lining?

deb said...

Sorry for the topic change...
Honda to Mass Produce Next-Generation Thin Film Solar Cell

UCLA engineers pioneer affordable alternative energy-solar energy cells made of everyday plastic

In the hands of scientists - the power of 10,000 Suns

I stumbled onto this online magazine...exciting stuff!!!

deb said...

One more

Cheryl said...

Interesting site Deb. I'm going to have to take a better look when I have time.

Richard Yarnell said...

That would be analogous to "weathering" in stone or brick. The short answer is probably "yes" but....

To keep water out of the chimney, I'd suggest installing a cap that allows smoke to escape but keeps rain or snow from falling directly into the chimney. I suggest that you use one that has screen around it to keep live embers from escaping - of course, a properly burning stove or fireplace shouldn't produce live embers, but accidents happen.

Starting a fire in a wet chimney, again if it's properly done, allows the chimney to heat slowly. But to the extent that a really saturated lining gets hot before the moisture evaporates, weathering would occur.

If you can, start with a stainless steel chimney liner. I installed a flexible one in the old chimney here because I really didn't know what the condition was. It cost about $6/ft and I did the work. I don't know how much it costs to have someone else do the work.

Richard Yarnell said...

It's my understanding that "thin film" collectors probably can't match the efficiencies of other types of cells. However, they are generally cheaper to produce, easier to install, and can be installed in places that traditional crystalline cells can't. They do have a place.

The efficiencies used to contrast the UCLA cells seem low to me. The conservative service life ususally quoted for crystalline arrays ranges from 25-50 years. I use 25 years. So the service life of plastic cells has to be adjusted to get a meaningful comparison. Also, keep in mind there are some tests you can't really accelerate. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is one of them. While getting the initial cost down is important, the consumer needs to know what it will cost over the life of the system and to make sure that various systems have similar service lives.

And yes, the Japanese are way ahead of us in development of PV equipment.

dan said...

Debbie, thanks for alerting us to that very interesting online magazine. And of course, it's great to have Richard here to help us understand the strengths and weaknesses of all the inovations presented there.

Judy B. said...

Putting a cap on you chimney is a good idea.. Ours is also stainless steel, and has a "weather-vane" attached so it will turn and send the smoke in the right direction... there is also a built in bird deflector to keep the flying critters out of the chimney, where they will sometimes like to roost in the off season...

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I was just listening to John Hofmeister -- President of Shell Oil Company -- speaking at an InfraGard Conference on c-span 2. I was very surprised that I actually have a good feeling about him. He said that if we would conserve just 5 percent of the oil we now use, in as little as 6 weeks, we would see a noticeable drop in the price of crude oil. He said that right now, the world is in the unprecedented condition of using up all the oil at the same rate it is being produced. He mentioned China's and India's increased demand, of course. But he also said outright that the popularity of large sport utility vehicles and full-size pickup trucks over the past five or so years, was responsible for the increase in demand for oil in the U.S.

One other thing that caught my attention is that he mentioned something about a (the?) wind farm on Maui. Although I didn't catch it if he said so, I'm assuming that Shell Oil built the wind farm he was referring to -- he said it helped them preserve the beauty of the island by making it unnecessary to build a new generator plant which would otherwise have been needed to meet the increasing demand for energy there. I wonder whether that means the year-round population in Maui has increased, or if either tourism or industry has increased there, or if the residents are just using more energy than they used to...

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

There's MORE friggin people living here driving big ass SUV's and talking on their cell phones. There are tons more tourists because this is the USA not Bali or Europe or Indonesia where it is safer from terrorists and tsunami's.

Shell may be a partner in the wind farm I do not know, but they are not the sole owners.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Christopher,
Is all that part of the cause of "The Shift of a Sweet Scent"? And part of the reason for wanting to live on a mountain ridge where developers are unlikely to invade?

I've been thinking about how different it's going to be for you living on a mountain... In particular, I think of how there's going to be snow there in the wintertime -- which is very beautiful. But not when you need to drive in it...

Richard Yarnell said...

Shell WindEnergy, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary. They announced last June that they would be installing 40 megawatts of wind turbines on some windy hill on the island. That's about 20% of current demand and will be augmented by pumped hydro: excess wind power will be used to pump water to reservoirs which can be released through turbines to help cover peak loads. The water would be captured in a lower reservoir, ready to be pumped up again. Ironic isn't it. BP also has a major presence in the PV market. However, those alternative energy businesses are still miniscule in relation to the fossil fuel side of their holdings.

Judy B. said...

WEATHER MODIFICATION IN THE USA

http://twm.co.nz/wmrestec.htm

Richard Yarnell said...

There are modest strategies for "modifying" the weather that work, sometimes. During a drought long ago in California, a bunch of ranchers got together and paid for a cloud seeding operation that [may have been] responsible for perhaps a tenth of an inch of rain. But then, of course, the moisture that fell where they hoped it would, didn't fall somewhere else.

Seeding clounds in strategic parts of a hurricane might alter its dynamic and prevent it from forming or strengthening.

What articles like the NZ blog reveal is that most folks don't understand how big nature is.

Electromagnetic waves to set off earthquakes or volcanoes? I really doubt it. Earthquages result from mechanical forces working over enormous distances and volumes. Id put my money on a strategically placed explosive to dislodge a fault that's not slipped for a long time. Can we measure that? Can we know where they exist with enough backed up energy to make a quake. Not really. Even in the places that have been studied most intensively - California and Mt. St. Helens.

The same thing is true of Volcanoes - mechanical forces are dominant. In simplified terms, what finally caused St. Helens to explode was the land slide that slipped off the bulge above Spirit Lake. When all that material was removed from the pressurized magma that had migrated toward the surface, there wasn't anything to hold it back and it was released suddenly. But what's the point of inducing an eruption. Just doing it doesn't mean the eruption is strategically placed.

We're probably doing more localized climate changing and weather modification in our own country that we could ever succeed in paying for intentionally. We're paving the country that changes long term percolation patterns that refill our aquifers; that same pavement increases temperatures profoundly around cities causing havoc in relatively small areas around them; we dam rivers changing the environment along the course of the rivers above the dams (where there are lakes that warm up and evaporate) and below (where the water, in some cases, no longer flows - the lower Colorado).

As the players in the Middle East continue to fool around in unnatural ways with the flow of regional rivers and the land that may or may not be riparian to them, political pressures will continue to build that will make oil seem insignificant.

Earlier this month, Israel bombed and destroyed irrigation canals and pumping stations on the Litani river. I'll leave it to others to decide whether that attack amounts to a crime against humanity. But it surely continues the dispute over claims to water in that river.

There is a reason that those desert lands are sparsely populated. By moving water around and applying it in places it doesn't occur naturally (at least in the same quantities), large population centers that cannot be naturally supported have been intentionally, and IMO, in the long run, tragically encouraged to grow. We've done the same thing in this country, particuarly on the Colorado. Los Angeles cannot be supported by the water resources naturally available to it; nor can Las Vegas. There are places in Nevada where the land has sunk largely due to depletion of aquifers, either for support of Las Vegas or mining.

Foolishly, and my family benefitted from transporting Colorado River water to sage covered granite foothills in San Diego County, we've irrigated vast tracts of land so that we could grow inappropriate crops while we continue to build on the best natural farmland. All the while, we're using up the resources, soil fertility, naturally store water, and fossil fuels, that, when they're exausted, will leave huge populations to starve and dehydrate.

Sorry, I'm passionate about this particular inhumanity. I'll leave off by saying that no matter what small fixes we try, minute adjustments we make to curb climate change, and the rest - if we don't reduce the world's population substantially, the rest of it won't make a bit of difference. This is the argument that Gore and I aired publicly in Portland: he, at least at the time, advocated slowing the rate of growth while allowing growth to take place. I tried to persuade him that we'd already gone beyond the long term carrying capacity of the globe and that only population reduction would do. If someone with the intellectual capability he has and the almost encyclopedic knowlege of the problems related to it, doesn't get it, the chances of the population at large getting it are vanishingly small. And since it takes more than a generation to reverse a population trend, we're doomed.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

It seems Shell Wind Energy is planning a second wind farm here.

"The Kaheawa wind-energy project is expected to produce 9 percent of Maui Electric Co. needs, eliminating the need for 244,000 barrels of imported oil annually.

It is the first of two large-scale wind farms to be developed on Maui. MECO will get an additional 40 megawatts from a Shell Oil Co. project proposed for a remote corner of 'Ulupalakua Ranch on Haleakala. The $200 million Auwahi wind farm is expected to provide enough power for 15,000 homes.

At full capacity, both wind farms will provide more than 20 percent of MECO's electricity. The utility already is receiving 6 percent of its power from bagasse burning by the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. mill in Pu'unene.

The $70 million Kaheawa project is jointly owned by Maui-based Makani Nui Associates, whose partners are Kent Smith and Hilton Unemori, and Boston-based UPC Wind."

Full Article

Cheryl said...

There was an experiment with Hurricanes a while back. They tried to dissipate a small huricane that was heading into the Atlantic, away from the east coast. For some reason, the hurricane intensified, turned around, and hit the US east coast. No one knows if the experiment caused the change, or if it just happened.

Judy B. said...

Richard, I too am passionate about water and the unwise decisions that are being made about transporting it to populations centers instead of keeping it where it "belongs"..
California has long coveted water from the Columbia River... I think they should look at the ocean and desalination as an answer rather than building pipelines to steal what doesn't belong to them...

Also on the unwise list of water use in watering golf courses in desert areas...And wedo not have to look very far for that... Bend, Oregon is an example

Richard Yarnell said...

When I was young and foolish (or masochistic), I played golf on courses where only the tees and greens were irrigated.

That seems like a reasonable compromise.

dan said...

It does seem very odd to fly over a desert city and see large patches of green. I asked a friend who was about to move to the Las Vegas area a few years ago, if they had ample water supplies to support the population explossion. He said he really didn't know. I guess there are lots of people who don't concider things like that until there's a crisis.

Here's a story from this morning's NYTs about a mayor is taking action.

dan said...

Think we build too many dams? Better keep thatopinion to yourself.

Judy B. said...

Water, Water, everywhere and not a drop to drink...
soon that will be the case in the U.S., as it is in many parts of the world...
Although we are contemplating selling our home and acreage, I have mixed emotions about doing it,,, The emotional level is about letting go of our dream come true... but sometimes letting go is the thing to do...
The tational part of me says we should keep this place for our daughters future... and a good clean, abundant water supply is one of the prime reasons...
Even here in the wet NorthWest, we need water....

Richard Yarnell said...

Not long before I finished my undergraduate degree, my father asked me if I wanted to farm the family ranch - avocados and lemons. Most of my pre-teen and teenage work experience had been on the ranch, so I knew it pretty well. We took a walk.

I pointed out the early signs of decline in the avocados and the nematode damage in the lemons. I also pointed out that water prices were going to rise as LA continued to spill out of the Valley of the Smokes, filling the adjacent land with water hungry suburban sprawl.

I would have like to stay on the land, but didn't think it was a good economic decision. In addition, I had military service to look forward to. My sister expected to marry and follow her as yet unidentified husband to his work.

We sold the farm.

I still appreciate the fact that I was asked. If you have the luxury of deciding on other than budget grounds, I recommend it.

Judy B. said...

Thanks Richard... we have asked the girls, and while they would like to have the place, to be truthful, Erika's life expectancy, and ability to do the work, doesn't make it "practical" for her. That is really a hard way to look at it.... Kristin has never been the "farmer" that Erika has been, and with a job with Microsoft, probably wouldn't come back here for many years.... Rod's health is slowing him down and requiring more and more hired help to do the work... Financially, we can "stick it out" 10-20 years, but physically, that is another matter....
SOOOO... i guess it is really about me... I love this place, I have put my heart and soul into it... and letting go is hard to do...
I am advertising on the intentional community website for workerbees... maybe I will find a good mix...

Judy B. said...

Concerned about the food you eat??
Interested in political pressure concerning organic foods?
GO TO:

http://organicconsumersfund.org/index.cfm

deb said...

Thanks for the link Judy. I do believe that organic food is an important bandwagon, but one that (at least to me) has to take a back seat for now.

I feel that for us to quit burning fossil fuels is the most important environmental issue that we face. I, also, know that for this country to become energy independent using "green" alternatives is an economic issue as well as military/security issue.

There is so much that needs done just to start the country and the world onto the right path that I try to be very selective in what I am presenting to the politicians that represent me.

Speaking of which...I had breakfast with Shuler this morning. The Women Dems from our county sponsored it and we had local, state, and the dem candidate for the US House (Shuler) in attendance. I was able to garner a bit of time with him and discussed alternative energy. I feel that the more our pols hear about an issue that the more likely that issue will become their most important focus.

BTW Richard, A few months back you were discussing dining with your "Congress Critter" and I was awesomely impressed...thanks for inspiring me to realize that getting personally familiar with my representatives is not only something that can actually happen it is something that those of us, who want for the world to be a better place, must do. It all comes down to there being 2 kinds of people cozying up to politicians...the altruistic and the money makers...way too often the money makers are the squeaky wheels.

Richard Yarnell said...

Just remember, the way to a candidate's heart is through their gut so long as it isn't rubber chicken.

I've noticed two things: one, if you take the time to become well informed about your issue and don't resort to red-eyed sensationalism, you'll have an appreciative audience. I try to take a letter to back up what I've said and I hand it directly to the office holder or candidate. I know it works because I met Bob Kerry at a campaign event for Ron Wyden when he was still in the House. I gave Kerry the letter and said I hoped he'd have time to read it. When I got home and checked my email, I had a letter from him regarding mine. He wrote it while waiting for a plane in Salt Lake City.

There's another, almost as valuable off-shoot. If the candidate knows you and calls you by name, you get the attention of others in an audience. That gives you the opportunity to stump for your issue.

And one other suggestion (this is easier for me to talk about than do because I'm lousy with names): get to know the staff. They labor in the shadow of their bosses, don't like to be finessed, but will give you time, especially if they think you know how important they are.

Richard Yarnell said...

And a comment about "organic" food.

You know that I garden using manure and compost, avoiding manufactured fertlizer and insecticides. It's done on a small scale. I also use what are known as heritage varieties when I can.

I don't buy "organic" foods in the market though because I don't trust the labeling or the motives of most co-ops or growers who insist they're doing what I do. On industrial farms, it's not possible.

What I do do, though, is to ask the grocer whether this squash is local. I request more local produce and meats, dairy, anything else I can think of. By asking for and supporting locally produced food, I cut down on the impact of shipping, and generally support family owned local farms. It is more likely, that small farms, certified "organic" really are.

"Organically" farmed tomatoes that have been hybridized to ship, still taste like cardboard. But an local tomato that's been picked ripe is wonderful.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I definitely agree that locally grown tomatoes picked ripe taste wonderful. And it's so true, that shipped tomatoes never have any flavor -- at least I've never tasted any that do.

Pretty soon, I don't think we're going to need our government to influence farmers, because consumers are moving in ever-greater numbers toward buying "organic" and local. We're also sick and tired of seeing all the scenic family farms subdivided for building strip malls and ugly housing developments. I wish I could remember which publication it was (probably one of our local newspapers), but I read recently that some of the farmers who are losing money, are planning to go organic in order to survive financially and keep their farms.

Even though I barely make enough to get by, I myself will only buy organic milk. I only go through about a half-gallon a week, so the $3.89 to $4.19 per half-gallon price will not break me. It's not just that I'm repulsed by the thought of all the bovine growth hormone and pesticides, but also because the organic milk is ultra-pasteurized, so it stays very fresh for the whole week. Plus, it tastes really good -- the way milk used to taste when I was a little kid.

My favorites are Stonyfield Farm milk, which comes from Londonderry, NH, and Organic Valley milk, which comes from different family farms -- and is Oregon tilth certified.

Rich, how come it's certified in Oregon? Are the standards more strict there?

Anyway, Stonyfield Farm milk tastes better in my cereal, and Organic Valley tastes better by itself, but not as good combined with cereal, for some reason.

Judy B. said...

Deb..."There is so much that needs done just to start the country and the world onto the right path that I try to be very selective in what I am presenting to the politicians that represent me."

I agree with setting priorities...and your priorities seem "right on" to me...

Richard, Deb...The Congressional District that i live in is pretty rural geographically, so it covers a very large land area...including all or parts of 6 different counties, but the main population area is Vancouver, WA, basically a suburb of Portland OR. That means that the ideas/problems of the district (as a whole) get diluted.
The Congressman has to rely on staff a whole lot to know what is going on in the many diverse interest groups he represents...

Also, a few people in each county become the eyes and the ears to pass on information... Becoming one of these indispensible people can get you thru a lot of doors, including the Congressional Private Dining Room in D.C...(I've been there).
One of the ways I became indispensible was volunteering...volunteering...volunteering... and writing everything down and passing it on...

deb said...

Congressional Private Dining Room in D.C...(I've been there)...OK, I am very impressed!!!

volunteering...volunteering...volunteering... and writing everything down and passing it on...

Judy, You have been an inspiration to me since last OCT. Thanks for the mentoring.

dan said...

Judy, I'm also very impressed. I'd like to hear more about your Washington experience sometime. Have you been able to maintain those connections?

Judy B. said...

Deb, Dan...
I am really more of a farm girl... and prefer the low profile life now...
after my Congress woman lost her election to a right-wing, card- carrying NRA advocate, i took a step back and changed directions...,although I didn't do it diliberately, I began what would become something much more important (to me) than politics...

I keep my hand in at the local level a bit, but mostly act locally for the global perspective..
I have a group of local women friends (all younger than me) that I seem to "mentor"... and really accomplish more now thru them...
We call ourself the "Monday Night Ladies" and we have been meeting for quite a few years... Each in her own way, we have had quite an infludnce on the direction of other women in our community...
I have seriously been considering writing a book called the "Monday Night Ladies"...
But like my other book idea "Tapping the Wisdom Within...Without Treking to Tibet", this will probably not make it to the book stoors...

dan said...

Judy, I will reserve a copy of both books the minute you write them. I'm glad you're sharing your aquired wisdom with your Monday night group and of course, with us at this blog. You touch on areas that I know nothing about, but I respect your opinion enough to listen and think about everything you say.

Richard Yarnell said...

Oregon Tilth has been at it for awhile and seems to have a good reputation.

It not only certifies at the farm, but at the processing and marketing level too.

The USDA standards are not particularly strong. We don't have enough volume to bother with certification. It's expensive. And as far as honey is concerned, it's a sham. Bees can and do fly up to (rarely) 5 miles foraging. That's about 20 square miles. I can assure you there are gardeners and commercial farmers, to say nothing of the wood lots and xmas tree farms using forbidden (for organic production) chemicals.

At http://www.tilth.org/certification/index.html
you'll find a detailed description of the program.

dan said...

RE: sharing aquired wisdom

BTW, I feel the same way about everyone at this blog. I don't always know enough about certain topics to join every discussion but I do read most every word...fastinating content I might add. I've learned a lot about energy, conservation and natural foods. I've got a long ways to go on physics, metaphysics and astronomy.

The common thread I think is that we all feel strongly about improving life on this planet and that much needs to be done and soon.

Judy B. said...

Dan... Thank you
The people on this blog are much like my Monday Night Ladies group..
different backgrounds, different personal desires, but anunwavering committment to bettering this world...
I will drink a nice glass of wine and toast all of you...

deb said...

As I drive through my county small local farms have little fruit and veggie stands on the wayside. It is all so delicious...and I am ending up with more food than I can eat at a fraction of the cost of a grocery store. Our freezer is at my Mom's until we have our own cottage...but next year I plan to fill it with all of this terrific local food.

Judy, I don't have any wine opened, but cheers to you all.

Judy B. said...

Wish you were all here to pick some of our wild blackberries... so many will go to waste...
and when our grape come in... AAHHH.. to many to eat while fresh so we make raisins... the best in the world...
If I were younger I would learn how to make wine...

Richard Yarnell said...

Judy,

Have you figured out why the homeless don't pick the berries? When I was still living in Portland, I had my favorite roadside brambles picked out. I never did see a single hungry homeless person gleaning for himself.

Making wine has only one rule: be clean. The supplies are inexpensive. You can find grapes to pick where they will stem them and even let you use a press as part of the bargain.

To give you an idea, the first time we picked grapes at the OSU vinyard (which no longer exists), we took clean, 5 gallon buckets, pre-loaded with a dose of meta. We also took an extra bucket, brush, and some meta with us and cleaned the press that everyone else had been using. People thought we were old hands because we had read a book and arrived prepared. With two 5 gallon carbouys ($13 each), some PET tubing, a wine thief ($5) and the chemicals it takes to check for acidity and sugar, and a hydrometer ($12), we made some outstanding wine. Later, we added a cork press, and I found a small used wine press, ($100) and we started harvesting our own varietal grapes that we started from cuttings taken from the OSU experimental farm. (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Reisling.) Save your wine bottles and ask friends to do the same. In a pinch, ask a restaurant to put their bottles in a couple of boxes for you. It takes 25 to bottle a five gallon batch.

If you don't want to mess with the grapes the first time out, Wine Art sells condensed varietal grape juice. It's a good, reasonably cheap way to learn. The last time we bought grapes, they were 45c per pound. Probably higher now.

And for anyone else - although wine varieties have a larger proportion of seed and skin to "meat," eating a ripe wine grape is like eating flavored sugar cubes.

Judy B. said...

Our grapes are table grapes, not wine grapes... Can we still use them for that purpose??

Richard Yarnell said...

Yes, but you'll have to adjust the sugar. That can be done with plain refined (white) sugar. You need to be able to measure the specific gravity. The amount of beginning sugar determines the ending amount of alcohol (the excreta of the yeast).

The simple hydrometers used by us home wine and beer makers have a paper scale inside which give specific gravity, alcohol equivalent, and a ball scale (obs.)

Generally, the taste is less intense. Try making a blackberry cordial. (Sweet wines are harder to do because you have to stop the fermentation instead of letting it starve to death. It might be a good idea to do a "kit" wine first, having saved the berry juice for a later attempt.)

Judy B. said...

Here is a new updte from Earth Policy News...
Insurance Companies Abandoning Homeowners in High-Risk Coastal Area

http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/2006/Update58.htm

Richard Yarnell said...

That article doesn't tell us whether those figures are adjusted for inflation.

Reinsurance is supposed to deal with that kind of loss.

Regardless of whether the insurance companies are guilty of fraud, incompetent in failing to generate accurate predictions of their exposure, or whether 2005 was an abberant year, the trend should inform those who would rebuild NO and all those coastal developments that were lost to sotrm surge and wind: don't do it.

As a taxpayer, I'm tired of subsidizing willful stupidity.

Cheryl said...

Yet somehow the insurance companies made record profits last year.

There's a big difference between a modest house owned by fishermen, and an extravagant summer mansion. We need some common sense in what we build along the coast, but coastal areas are too productive to completely abandon.

Richard Yarnell said...

Oh, I don't think we should abandon the coast, we just shouldn't put habitation there.

The port of New Oreleans shouldn't be abandonded, but putting people and habitation in that bowl is folly. If it's done, and I think it will be, then habitation should be designed that puts apartments above the reach of the worse case flooding (remember how rapidly the glacial melt is proceeding? Even ABC's report conceded up to 40 feet rise in sealevel within the century if the current trend continues.) Buildings of all kinds should be constructed with parking and warehouse space on the ground and to levels high enough to avoid inundation. Hospitals and other buildings should put their back-up power plants, not in the basement, but likewise out of the reach of water.

It amuses me to hear the media report that floods have destroyed so much land. Floods, generally are restorative of the land. Nutrients and soil are deposited as the water recedes. We no longer have to live on the land we farm. Put the housing and maybe the equipment barns above the flood plain and continue to farm the land preserved for the purpose.

Let's not doggedly rebuild over and over again when history and predictions of the future tell us for certain that another flood is on the way. Other animals learn from experience.

Judy B. said...

Amen Richard...
I remember both of my grandparents farms very fondly... their houses were placed mostly out of harms way, except for the very worst of floods, but they relied on the floods every year to replenish the "bottom" as they called it... They didn't dam the floods, they co-existed with them, ...
Unfortunately the government in their wisdom, decided more land could be farmed bydamming up the c\reek and running irrigation ditches to some of the most unproductive "farm" land in the area...
When will we realize that we need to work with nature rather than try to control Her...
It is not justg hurting our (\taxpayers) pocketbook, but the spirit of opur country as well...

Anonymous said...

Richard,
I thought this might interest you.
I wrote my congress critter about KUDZU as a bio fuel. He expressed interest and referred me to the latest GEORGIA magizine put out by the electrical co_op. Shortly thereafter (related??) I recieved an interesting phone call from a representative of conoco-phillips.
She stated they were doing a survey and had a ton of questions. The conversation lasted some time and even drew other reps to the conversation. I stuck the Kudzu IDEA and LBT in there also, and received a warm reception. Yes, I did point out the price of gas and their marketing flaws in the wake of record profits. The conversation ended with an aprreciation for some of my comments and a promise to call back at a later date as I expressed a desire to get involved with alternative fuel research...
I did "not" refer them to this blog, breathe easy.

Your friend John G.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Richard,
I remember having read that Galveston was rebuilt in such a way as to take flooding into account, after a natural disaster took place there many, many years ago. Is that the kind of rebuilding you are referring to?

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Sorry Rich,
I have a bad habit of only skimming instead of reading sometimes... After I did a little research, I realized I had completely misinterpreted what you wrote. I think I'm clearer now on what we would be dealing with in attempting to rebuild New Orleans. Here are a couple of paragraphs excerpted from a piece that was written just a couple of weeks after Katrina had first hit:

First of all, how is it that a city came to exist below the level of the sea? In its native condition, it wasn't really that way to begin with. The land that existed before the city did, consisted of the Mississippi River and its riverbanks that had built up over time from river sediment. Apart from a few areas, much of the rest of the land the city now occupies was native swamp. Not necessarily below sea level. That process started as eager land developers started looking toward the swamps as a way of developing land into sellable real estate, as the prosperity generated from the port city created a demand for close-in homes. Swamps were drained and then filled in, the land divided into streets and lots and houses. But putting the weight of civilization upon such a muddy base while continuing to pump out water from the land results in a settling effect over time, one that is still occurring.

The easiest solution to this massive and expensive headache is to simply abandon the worst areas in favor of higher ground. The lowest-lying areas could be filled in and rebuilt, but the same disaster potential remains. Eventually the filled-in land would settle just as the existing areas continue to sink gradually lower. It's a known fact that sea levels are gradually rising, and the phenomenom of global warming is resulting in more frequent and more intense hurricanes driven by rising sea temperatures. It's time to give up the struggle against the inevitable. The lowest areas should be slated for near total abandonment by not permitting new construction in these zones. In Hilo, Hawaii after tsunamis wrecked the lower areas of the city, parklands have replaced residential areas that were wiped out by the waves. It's time to do the same for New Orleans. The city and its thriving port and history will go on, but not the waiting-for-the-next-disaster game if sensible measures are taken now.


Here is the full article:

Should New Orleans Be Rebuilt?

Cheryl said...

What to do about New Orleans and every other coastal city is a real dilemma. Even without global warming, coastal errosion and soil subsidence is a big problem. I grew up with predictions of "the big one". Then again, what city is safe? Will we abandon San Franciso when the earthquake comes? How do we decide when a city isn't worth it.

There are ways of making the city safer. Rebuilding the marshlands is the biggest one. Canals cut by the oil companies have decimated them. After the flood of 1978, building codes were changed. They probably need further improvement. The levee and pump system can be improved.

South Louisiana is not only one of the richest fishing areas, it's also some of the best farmlands. People need to be able to live there.

We need the port. Moving it upriver would be quite a project. The river would have to be dredged deeper and further before ships could make it up. More levees and more dredging make the subsidence worse, and round and round we go.

Which reminds me of my favorite story of Louisiana ingenuity. The midwestern farmlands erode and their soil gets washed down the Mississippi. We scoop it up to keep the river clear for shipping, and then sell it back to them as fill.

If you're interested in the history of New Orleans, the best book I've ever seen is "Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children" by John Chase. very funny and very real.

Richard Yarnell said...

As I wrote when Katrina first hit, NO should not be rebuilt, but should be expanded into a larger port. Move the people out.

The difference between a place like San Francisco and NO is that the storms are an annual occurance. The earthquakes are not so predictable. Moreover, as Japan and the US have demonstrated, buildings can be made to withstand fairly severe shaking. In Portland, they're retrofitting public, commercial and private structures.

But the predicted sea level rise is going to be an expensive business. If politicians would listen to the scientists, they could learn what a new coast line will be when the water is say 40 feet higher than it is now. Then those same politicos should be able to come up with a fair way to allocate the new margin of human havitation. How many times can we afford to spend $150 Billion or more to rebuild a city that shouldn't exist?

Some places, like Manhattan, might well be worth enclosing in a wall. That island is bedrock, stable, and very densely developed. There's enough elevation on Staten Island that it may be a matter of moving people to higher ground. Brooklyn and Queens, no recommendation.