Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 8:30 AM by Richard Schitts
Some students at MIT came up with a cool idea for lighting Philippine slums. I love their idea - it's so simple it's genius; it uses no energy and recycles old pop bottles. There is one downside - it only works in the day. But if you live in a hut with no windows near the equator this might not be too much of a downside.
MIT's Slum Lighting Solution: Cut a hole in your roof, seal a pop bottle with water and a little bleach (to kill algae) into the hole. Voila! You have a light. The cool thing is that because of the way a pop bottle refracts light it captures more light than just a hole in the roof - the equivalent of a 50-55 watt light bulb.
Simple, elegant, beautiful, genius. A picture is worth a thousand words. It made me think - why did it take MIT engineers to come up with this solution? Maybe they are trained to think out of the box - maybe they see past a problem and towards a solution. Environmentalists take note.
Now if only we could genetically engineer algae to be bioluminescent for a couple of hours after dark "slum landlords" would be all set!
Further reading: http://isanglitrongliwanag.org/Edited on: Friday, September 23, 2011 8:54 AM
Posted on Thursday, September 08, 2011 at 10:05 PM by Richard Schitts
The physics laboratory CERN has been doing some very high tech research on climate science. How you may ask? By Using cloud chambers, particle accelerators and cosmic rays. Some very cool stuff!
Clouds are made when water vapor condenses around ammonia and sulphuric acid "seed" molecules. The suns ions (cosmic rays) help to form the "seed" clusters of ammonia and sulphuric acid. This means the sun plays a direct roll in cloud formation (read about the sun's cycles here). The question is - how much of a roll does the sun play?
-More complicated than you'd think.
Today's climate models used to predict global climate change have a hard time linking Sun activity to cloud formation. CERN's research will help with this. CERN's experiments have shown that sulphuric acid and ammonia seeds only account for 1/10 to 1/1000 of the clouds we observe in the atmosphere. Currently climate models assume that ammonia and sulphuric acid are the most common seeds water vapor attaches to in order to form clouds.
This means that in the cloud department current climate models are 1,000 to 100,000 percent off!
(If the climate model says there is 1 cloud it should actually say there are 0.001 to 0.1 clouds.)Edited on: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 9:55 PM
Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 2:26 PM by Richard Schitts
Finally there is some good news for the pipeline bringing oil from Canada to America. The State department gave the project a thumbs up saying: "concluding that the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline would have minimal effect on the environment". It isn't approved yet, but it is a step in the right direction.
-That's just a road. What? It's and underground pipeline? AND it's going to create 10,000 jobs?
People picketed the white house last week protesting the project. Over 400 were arrested. What I want to know is where were the PRO pipeline demonstrations? Oh wait, people who are for the pipeline probably have jobs like the policemen who arrested the protesters.
One of the reasons the state department supports the pipeline is: "..the weak economy and high gas prices have made it difficult for the administration to oppose a project that would greatly expand the nation’s access to oil from a friendly neighbor and create tens of thousands of jobs."
It really is a no brainer to build the pipeline. It doesn't stop oil from being used, it just switches the source of that oil. No environmental impact. Be happy Canada gives us dibs on it's oil and doesn't sell it to... China. The other pipeline project considered by the Canadian government was from Alberta to a terminal in BC which would fill tankers bound for China. Yikes. Also, would we rather buy that oil from Saudi? Is it better to be blown up today by terrorists or worry about some slight warming effect (1-3 degrees) that may or may not have any major consequences. Oh and Canadian Oilsands only contribute 0.01% (Less than 1%) to the global greenhouse effect. I imagine Saudi Arabia is also antipipeline, and they sponsor terrorism!
What did the greens have to say about things? (Even after State engineers said it "would have minimal effect on the environment" and even though a public environmental assessment will be released along with mitigation plans in the even of a spill?
They said.. "extracting and processing tarry oil from the Alberta wilderness would significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and devastate bird habitats. And they warn that a leak in the 36-inch-diameter pipeline could wreak severe environmental damage." Yeah lots of things could happen. Cities and windfarms are bad for birds too but greentards love them. Pretty much all of Canada is good bird habitat - should we tell Canada oh no you can't develop any more. You can never have 300 million people like us, you have to stay under 40 million. Oh and you can't develop your natural resources, because even though the mines will be returned to forest within 100 years and you have many millions of acres of forest more than us we love birds too much. We love birds more than Canadian jobs, or American Jobs.
I like birds, in chicken nuggets. I like them best when it's not just any chicken nugs, but the new chicken nuggets with all white meat.
Saudi Arabia is also antipipeline, and they sponsor terrorism! Ok that was a cheap shot. The environment should be considered, and it will be. The green movement had it's place in the 1970s, but now that there is government environmental oversight the arts majors (and other hippies) should leave it to the experts. .
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Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 1:17 PM by Richard Schitts
That's right! A study published by Nature says that when it's hot and people are hungry they get mad. They conducted their study during El Nino years, which is a cyclic tropical weather event that makes things hotter.
The Data: Most countries have a 2% chance of armed conflict a year (wow!). BUT Tropical countries have a 3% chance of conflict during (relatively) colder weather (La Nina). Tropical countries in El Nino (hotter weather) have a 6% chance of conflict. Yikes! Also, somewhat randomly - if a pitcher in baseball has had a person on his team beaned with a baseball he is more likely to bean somebody from the other team the hotter it is.
Quick, turn on the AC!
Their reasoning: hotter weather in Africa makes it harder to grow food. Farms make less money farming and more money as a mercenary. At the same time there is less food - which apparently makes everyone mad.
Basically when people who live in shitty places are hot and hungry they make things even shittier. The cyclic nature of the events must discourage planning - which leads to tougher times when things get bad. The people who did the study were quick to point out that their data is for cyclic large temperature increases. Not small constant increases. For example Saudi is consistently hotter than South Africa but people in both places survive well.
The solution is pretty obvious- make sure people have food. GM crops could help with this....
Link to article: http://www.economist.com/node/21526787Edited on: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 1:34 PM
Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 11:46 AM by Richard Schitts
I saw an interesting tv show the other day by Penn & Teller called Environmental Hysteria. It is part of their Bullshit series. It can be found on youtube split into 3 parts. The links are below.
Posted on Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 12:06 PM by Richard Schitts
So let me get this straight. The visionary founder of the green movement, the first environmentalist said -"other than hydroelectric energy—which I also strongly support—nuclear is the only technology besides fossil fuels available as a large-scale continuous power source". This is the original green activist speaking! He is not one of the conformist green joiners that we see today, he's the original those people try to emulate.
Nuclear power is also very very clean, with only small amounts of waste and almost no CO2. A coal fired power plant of similar size emits more radioactive particles into the environment! Contrary to popular belief that nuclear power "breeds" nuclear weapons the opposite is actually true. There is a program in place where America and Russia are reducing their nuclear arsenals by using their warheads to generate electricity.
-But look at all that smoke! What? It's purely water vapor? Oh.
A nuclear power plant operates in the same way as a natural gas or coal fired power plant. Water is boiled which runs a turbine, with no mixing of heavy water in the core with the working fluid. There is one important difference - nothing is burned. Instead of releasing toxins to the atmosphere through smoke it is all contained as a solid. This gives much more control in how the waste is disposed of.
Properly built and designed a nuclear power plant is the greenest safest power around. We now have powerful computer controls which were lacking in the 50's, 60's and 70's. Look at France - 70-80 % of it's energy comes from nuclear power without a major incident in decades of operation!
When nuclear power was new it was a good thing for people to be concerned. Now that it is a mature technology with 6th (!) generation designs it is much safer. An excellent article can be found here: http://www.economist.com/node/15048703
The problem with current reactors is that they are all OLD! Possibly the worst legacy of the green movement is residual fear in nuclear power. The world could be a much greener place, but it isn't thanks to Greenpeace and other environmentalists.Edited on: Monday, August 29, 2011 1:16 PM
Posted on Friday, August 26, 2011 at 6:10 PM by Richard Schitts
Founder of Greenpeace's Comments can be watched on Youtube here.
He is not a happy camper and says the "Green movement is basically Elitist".
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Posted on Friday, August 26, 2011 at 10:51 AM by Richard Schitts
-Jonny was schocked to learn that Russians in fact do not speak english. He then recieved an important life lession about cultural differences.Edited on: Friday, August 26, 2011 5:45 PM
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Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 2:34 PM by Richard Schitts
Charities help people. For this they get tax breaks from the government. People who donate to charities also get tax breaks. You can't just sign up to be a charity, you have to meet certain criteria set out by the government designed to evaluate how much you really are helping its citizens.
As a citizen if you donate to a charity you get a tax break and know that the charity has met certain government controls. You can be fairly sure your money will be used for the cause they promote.
If you donate to a company you have no idea what the money is being used for. You don't get a tax break. They don't have to answer to the government oversight, but they do have to pay tax on profits. This is like donating money to an Oil Company and saying "put this toward environmental cleanup".
-The new slogan?
Canada: Not A charity
GP lost it's charity status in Canada in 1989. GP then found a tax loop hole which was closed in 1995. The hilarious statement on the Greenpeace website says: "In order to remain independent from governments and industry, Greenpeace cannot issue tax receipts."
This statement can be found here: http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/Donate/Monthly-giving/
New Zealand: Not A charity
The NZ court ruled: Greenpeace too political to register as charity in 2010.
Germany: "Looks set to loose its Charity Status"
A German Study in 2006 said lax Charity Rules "...had allowed special interest groups to avoid paying certain taxes and to win excessive public influence as a result. The advisory committee said there is an urgent need for a ‘clear restriction of the tax privileges presently associated with charitable status... [and] should not be aimed ‘primarily at political influence on public opinion’; instead the specific results of environmental activities should be closely evaluated and proven."
It was proposed by the German government to remove Greenpeace's tax breaks. Greenpeace now also protests this study, protests which have to be funded by donations to GP. You can understand that the German government does not want to give tax breaks to a company that spends that money protesting against the political workings of goverment.
USA: Yes for the Moment
Greenpeace has toned down protests directed at US Coal in favor of the less environmentally harmful Canadian oilsands. The question is, how long can they keep quiet from speaking out against American Industry? I'm a little pissed that GP gets a free ride while we're laying off our teachers and cutting public services!
-Meanwhile at Greenpeace headquarters.
What This Means to YOU!
Greenpeace in different countries has to obey different tax laws. Greenpeace is one entity with the same operating practices and procedures everywhere. This is concerning because A)Greenpeace actually MAKES a profit (Not all money goes to environmental causes) and B)Greenpeace doesn't actually evaluate environmental effects and consequences, it just exerts pressure based on opinion. Why not donate to a REAL charity so you know your money will be put to good use plus you get a tax break?
Do you have info on GP's charity status in your country? Please fire me an email!Edited on: Thursday, August 25, 2011 2:44 PM
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 1:00 PM by Richard Schitts
Recently Greenpeace got after Facebook for using coal power to run their servers. GP even created a cartoon narrated by a cute sounding child with an English accent. The twist came when:
"Schnitt also subtly points out Greenpeace’s own infrastructure challenges. The organization runs a number of servers in a rented data center in Northern Virginia, which in turns runs 46% on – you guessed it – coal."
-Greenpeace's favorite source of Energy
Wait a minute, Greenpeace is protesting a company for running their servers on coal when Greenpeace runs their servers on coal? Oh the hypocrisy.