Category Archives: Green / Eco Friendly

Vegetables irrigated with treated wastewater expose consumers to drugs

Green

Society focuses so much on reducing its footprint in waste that we’re constantly looking to new ways to do more with less, and recycling just about everything from atomic bombs to plastic shopping bags and roadkill on the side of the road.

One popular recycling technique is to reuse wastewater from treatment plants, factories, “green office buildings” and more. So it’s no surprise to hear of this new study that finds maybe we’re going a little too far in the wastewater recycling…

Via ScienceBlog:

A new study by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Hadassah Medical Center shows that eating vegetables and fruits grown in soils irrigated with reclaimed wastewater exposes consumers to minute quantities of carbamazepine, an anti-epileptic drug commonly detected in wastewater effluents.

Fresh water scarcity worldwide has led to increased use of reclaimed wastewater, as an alternative source for crop irrigation. But the ubiquity of pharmaceuticals in treated effluents has raised concerns over the potential exposure for consumers to drug contaminants via treated wastewater.

Planting A Billion Trees

biocarbonengineering

Ex NASA man wants to plant a billion trees every year…with drones. The drone start-up is will counter industrial scale deforestation using industrial scale reforestation.

Here’s a description of the technology they’re using:

We use emerging technologies to deliver precision planting and mapping to increase the uptake rates and the likelihood of healthy forest development.

There are a variety of tree-planting techniques, including planting by hand and delivering dry seeds by air. However, hand-planting is slow and expensive, and spreading dry seeds results in low uptake rates.

Our solution balances these two methods. First, by planting germinated seeds using precision agriculture techniques, we increase uptake rates. Second, our scalable, automated technology significantly reduces the manpower requirements and costs. Finally, our mapping UAVs will also provide invaluable intelligence on planting patterns, landscape design and appropriate timing.

Home Depot’s Latest Small Wind Deal

Green Power

CNET blogger Candace Lombardi alerts us to the fact that Home Depot has a new Wind Power turbine available for installation on your personal property. The unit is called the Skystream 3.7 Personal Wind Turbine by Southwest Windpower and costs between $15-20,000 (includes installation).

This is a nice “little” unit to tell the truth. The rotor diameter is 12 feet, produces power at 8mph wind (3.5m/s), can generate as much as 400kWh/month and has a wireless monitoring system so you can view the health of the system from the house.

Of course, before you venture down this path the first thing you should do is check out their free wind energy assessment for your property. You could do the quick and dirty self assessment by examining a wind map for your region. It seems my locale is a “Poor Resource Potential” based on my property’s location, which is just as well because I don’t think our Home Owner’s Association would take kindly to me erecting a 30-40ft tower in the backyard. 🙂

  – View the spec page on the Skystream 3.7.

  – Download and read the Spec Sheet (pdf).

Disclosure: I’m very bullish on the Alternative Energy sector and I invest in this area as well (PWND, Wind Energy ETF). Even though my results in the last year have not faired well due to some heavy hitters giving up hope, I shall continue to believe. 🙂

Out With Solar Panels, In With Solar Shingles

Solar panels

From a Discover Magazine blog:

Forget those bulky rooftop solar panels–the hot new thing in solar energy could be rooftop shingles that convert sunlight into electricity, and that blend in seamlessly with the standard asphalt shingles that top most houses. Dow Chemical has announced that it will begin selling its Powerhouse Solar Shingles in limited quantities in 2010, with a full roll-out the following year.

Yes! I’ve been waiting for this, now all I have to do is convince my friendly neighborhood HOA to modify our CCRs to allow Solar Shingles! 🙂

Greening the World of Warcraft?

Green Eco Friendly WoW - World of Warcraft

From PopSci.com we learn of a media expert at Stanford that details the ways in which online multiplayer games can reflect and reward real-world eco-friendly behavior. The idea is to tie in your home power usage and metrics to an online game, like World of Warcraft is an example the expert touts as one vehicle to encourage people to reduce power consumption.

A scenario might be this: Within the game the user receives feedback on their home’s power consumption, let’s say that you left a bunch of lights on. If you then turn the lights off, the game detects the decrease in power and your character in the game is rewarded somehow to reinforce the eco-friendly behavior.

The concept of rewarding people for reducing power consumption is good, and I think being able to provide live feedback to consumers is also great. But the implementation details this expert gives are screwed. A WoW player, most any MMORPG or online FPS gamer for that matter, is not going to be motivated to alter their real world lifestyle to impact their online experience.

Now maybe if there was a way to tie the reduced power usage to a reduced WoW subscription fee or for free online game time, that is something I’d consider useful.

Are Scientists Overselling Climate Models?

Global Warming

The Washington Post asks whether society is leveraging global climate models properly in their decision making process to slow or limit the warming trends. The author talks to Lenny Smith, a statistics professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science:

They can yield information on plausible risks and minimize vulnerability, although not necessarily provide totally reliable estimates of the odds. As Lenny puts it: "When I cross the street, average statistics about cars and how they are driven are of less value to me than the sound of a bus heading my way. Models help us listen for that bus."

Link to the Washington Post article

New Nano Coating Boosts Solar Efficiency

Green Earth

Researches from the Future Chips Constellation have developed an anti-reflective film for solar panels to take efficiency from 67% today up to 96% within a few years. The film is made of seven layers of silicon dioxide and titanium dioxide nanorods positioned at an oblique angle. These nanorods effectively bend the light down towards the next layer, each one taking its part to reduce the solar loss of ultraviolet, infrared and visible light.

Highlights from the CNN article:

  • Scientists create a new coating that could make solar panels more efficient
  • The coating boost sunlight-absorption rates from 67.4 to 96.21 percent
  • The seven-layer, anti-reflective coating also captures sunlight from all angles
  • Researchers hope to have the product on the market within two to three years

The World Has Never Seen Such Freezing Heat

Global Warming

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) announced that last month was the hottest October on record. At the same time in October, countries from America to China to New Zealand and more have reported over a hundred record low temperatures and snow storms aplenty. Is it a cock-up at GISS? Yes, and it appears their data collection assumptions that were also used by the UN and Al Gore have been exposed with a significant flaw they failed to previously report.

From the Telegraph:

GISS’s computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all.

A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with. This is an astonishing admission

30 Most Incredible Abstract Satellite Images of Earth

abstract satellite images

I recently came across Environmental Graffiti, an ecologically conscious site that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Below are a couple of the more recent and interesting articles like 30 incredible abstract satellite images of Earch, i highly recommend checking them out.

Other articles over there you might find interesting:

World’s Most Expensive Places to Have Sex

Magnetic Fields As You’ve Never Seen Them Before [pics]

Scientists Attach Rectal Methane-Collecting Backpacks to Cows

Postal Service Wants To Recycle Your Junk Through The Mail

  eWaste 2

Free and green. Those are the goals of a pilot program launched recently by the U.S. Postal Service that allows customers to recycle small electronics and inkjet cartridges by mailing them free of charge.

The “Mail Back” program helps consumers make more environmentally friendly choices, making it easier for customers to discard used or obsolete small electronics in an environmentally responsible way. Customers use free envelopes found in 1,500 Post Offices to mail back inkjet cartridges, PDAs, Blackberries, digital cameras, iPods and MP3 players – without having to pay for postage.

Postage is paid for by Clover Technologies Group, a company that recycles, remanufactures and remarkets inkjet & laser cartridges and small electronics.

If the electronic item or cartridges cannot be refurbished and resold, its component parts are reused to refurbish other items, or the parts are broken down further and the materials are recycled. Clover has a “zero waste to landfill” policy: it does everything it can to avoid contributing any materials to the landfills.

The free, postage-paid Mail Back envelopes can be found on displays in Post Office lobbies. There is no limit to the number of envelopes customers may take.

The pilot is set for 10 areas across the United States, including Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego, but could become a national program this fall if the pilot program proves successful.

This is really cool, but I have a couple of questions:

– How can we extend this to other nations?

– Can I get a Mail Back box big enough to hold about a dozen old fluorescent tube lights, 1 broken down old PC and 1 busted 21″ CRT? 🙂

eWaste

 

[via ecolectic]

World’s Longest Voyage in a Wave-Powered Boat

 Suntory Mermaid

Economically speaking, wave power would seem to be a very cheap method of travel for a boat, no? As with everything else in life, there’s yin and there’s yang, give and take, pro and con. In this case, while the cost is cheap, the speed is slow.

Kenichi Horie is a Japanese sailor that embarked on a 4000 mile voyage March 18  2008 from Hawaii to Nippon on his 3 ton boat called the Suntory Mermaid II. This boat is powered by waves which in turn cause two paddles, or fins, at the bow to propel the boat forward at a speed up to 5 knots. After about a month of travel, he’s recently reported that he’s making progress of 100km per day and the progress report from the link below shows he’s about 1/3 of the way home.

It’s expected to take this adventurer about 75 days to reach his destination, to put it into perspective a diesel powered boat would take about 10 days.

The reason he’s doing this is to promote this technology and encourage further research into wave power with a goal of one day seeing commercial ships adopting a greener method of locomotion.

Track his progress here.

Tip of the hat to Kenichi, I wish him well and will follow his progress closely.

The Problem With Biodegradable Coffins

eCoffins

Treehugger.com tells us about the new hotness in ‘green funerals’ – biodegradable coffins.

The problem with biodegradable caskets is that if CSI ever needs to exhume the body, any potential evidence to be discovered would likely be destroyed due to the accelerated exposure of the body to the elements.

Interested in seeing the eCoffin product line? Jump to the Ecoffin parent company in the UK, and check out the hand woven urns.

Rethinking Global Warming?

The Australian News re-prints a remarkable interview involving the co-host of Counterpoint, Michael Duffy and Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of Melbourne-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. I suspect we’ll be hearing more and more like this as we collect additional data.

Duffy asked Marohasy: "Is the Earth still warming?"

She replied: "No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you’d expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years."

Duffy: "Is this a matter of any controversy?"

Marohasy: "Actually, no. The head of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has actually acknowledged it. He talks about the apparent plateau in temperatures so far this century. So he recognises that in this century, over the past eight years, temperatures have plateaued … This is not what you’d expect, as I said, because if carbon dioxide is driving temperature then you’d expect that, given carbon dioxide levels have been continuing to increase, temperatures should be going up … So (it’s) very unexpected, not something that’s being discussed. It should be being discussed, though, because it’s very significant."

Duffy: "It’s not only that it’s not discussed. We never hear it, do we? Whenever there’s any sort of weather event that can be linked into the global warming orthodoxy, it’s put on the front page. But a fact like that, which is that global warming stopped a decade ago, is virtually never reported, which is extraordinary."