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Author Topic: Your Green Energy News Center
fugu13
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If the $5000 per twelve foot by twelve foot panel is correct, and the 25k square miles of surface is correct, resurfacing all of the surface would cost 24.2 trillion dollars. That is assuming the $5000 per twelve foot by twelve foot panel includes all associated costs.

Repair costs would also likely be high, and I suspect much higher than our current costs, simply because replacing even a small part of the roadway would always be expensive.

There's only about $440 billion spent on energy annually, right now.

$24.2 trillion is approaching twice the entire US GDP.

I suspect there are more economical ways to provide energy.

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Lyrhawn
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Well they wouldn't do every road in the US, that'd be silly, at least at the outset.

If something like this were ever actually tried, it'd likely only be on interstates, and at that, probably only in the south where solar would be a constant year round source. That would drastically drop the cost, which I assume would also drop once A. Production began B. They actually get a working prototype.

I'd love to see something like this tried in the future, but they'd have to bring down costs, and I'd have to see a breakdown of where the costs would come from. The country needs a couple trillion dollars in infrastructure upgrades. I'd be interested to see what it would cost to upgrade everything versus integrated technologies like this. Probably still more expensive for this, but I expect costs to come down.

Plus these would be roads that generate profit. Other than toll roads, when has that ever happened?

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fugu13
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On a per-unit basis, the price is horrible. It doesn't matter how much you start with, it will still be a bad price.

Of course, if a private company wants to put up the funds to test it, works for me. When they can show the costs are at least in the vague ballpark of the benefits, then small pilot projects might make sense. Right now it isn't even close.

And roads generate profits all the time, they just aren't profits for the state. Also, I think you'll find that most of our roads are fine insofar as the paved surface goes, and that most of the infrastructure upgrades we need have almost nothing to do with what the paved surface is. Spending on this would take money away from replacing bridges with virtual certainty.

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Lyrhawn
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Well, I wasn't just talking about replacing bridges. We need to replace those, and sewer systems, water pipes, transmission lines, etc.

Okay, I guess I see what you're saying about indirect profits from roads being there, but that's not what I was talking about.

quote:
Also, I think you'll find that most of our roads are fine insofar as the paved surface goes,
How far north have you ventured? You wouldn't say that if you lived in Michigan (of course it's our own fault, but still).

I think a private company putting up the funds would be fine. They'd probably operate the road as a toll road, and they'd also get the profit from the power, and from the cables that run under the road that provide internet and cable to the surrounding community, it would just be a really expensive up front cost for potential very long term gains. If they could bring costs down, perhaps through increasing production (that's how it works isn't it?) and if solar can come through with some breakthroughs, I think it could work depending on where its built.

But we still don't know a lot about the proposed design. What sort of kilowattage are they expecting to make from each section? What is the life expectancy of each section? If each section is expected to last for 50 years, then hey, at 24 trillion dollars it would pay for itself, without the profit from other parts of the road. I just don't see the point in shooting something down before we really know much about it, I like to stay optimistic.

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fugu13
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I do not think we will be capable of making a section of road that will take heavy traffic for 50 years without requiring maintenance any time in the near future. I would suspect it will be more like every section will need replacing or major repair (hopefully for less than the initial cost) every five to ten years, simply because stuff wears out under that sort of use; there is no magic material that doesn't. Unless the replacement/repair cost is lower than I would anticipate by an order of magnitude or two, this wouldn't ever repay the initial investment.

The page you linked links to a cost calculation that includes some of the numbers you wonder about.

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Lyrhawn
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Hm, after reading the websites involved with the article, I think it's feasible, on a smaller scale over the course of a few decades, depending entirely upon how future advances change the cost of the materials involved. Especially if this is weaved into a new electric car driven future. There'd be another technical challenge to fix, the safety issue behind quick charging stations. The new LION batteries that A123, CPI and others are working on can be charged in 10 minutes, but you have to have a special station to do it, and it's not really dummy proof. Factor in the cost of all the oil we import every year for fuel, the cost of refining, and then the cost of infrastructure upgrades for the nation's energy grid, plus all the cost of fuel for all the power plants of the country, the cost of upgrading old power plants, the cost of building new power plants, the cost of building and repairing old roads, the cost of internet and phone infrastructure, and more. Factor all that in on a yearly basis and I think it starts to sound feasible, if certain technologies come through.

As it is? It's not going to work. But in the next ten years? I think it would be worth a second look. Nanopvcs I think will drastically bring down the cost of the roadways, while at the same time bringing up their effectiveness. If you read the website, it says that FULLY covering the area in question would provide enough power to power to entire PLANET, and that's using conservative estimates with low efficiency and low sunlight every day. In reality you'd only need a third of that area, which means more like $8 trillion dollars, which drops even more when you bring in cheaper PVCs and more efficient ones. Spread that out over 20 years, and include a lot of partnerships with private corporations, and I think it starts to sound a lot more feasible.

Anyway, here's your updates for today:

Trying to squeeze every last bit of efficiency and dimes out of old school (and yet still new) silicon PVCs. Applied Materials is trying to make nanosolar amorphous silicon-based PVCs more standardized, cheaper and efficient, but is it really going to beat next-gen tech?

A little walk down memory lane. New York before cars

Skyscrapers are wasteful enemies? Think again, skycrapers could be the greenest thing yet.

Big surprise, President Bush has broken the law when it comes to Global Warming.


A look at the numbers .... why installing a PV system on your roof is as much an investment as it is a gesture to save the world.

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AvidReader
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What a strange little article about NYC and cars. I thought cars were a needed improvement over all the horse poo that went with the buggies.

Neat ideas for green skyscrapers. I'd love to have a window in my office, let alone a pleasant garden to eat lunch in. I literally go the entire work day without seeing the outside world. Florida heat at 1:30 in the afternoon isn't worth it to see the sky, IMO.

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Lyrhawn
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The new Bank of America tower in NYC, which I've mentioned on here before, and you can find some details about on Wikipedia or elsewhere is either already or is going to be a LEED certified platinum Green building. It will recycle grey water, help power itself, use solar lighting, and many other Green advances in architecture. It will cose a few million more than a regular building, but the builders plan to recoup the loss in the first decade of use for the building. Pure profit after that.
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Lyrhawn
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Lots of stuff today, it'll have to sustain you guys, as I have to work a lot the next two days, and I'll only be posting something that REALLY catches me eye....

Marine Current Turbines is building the largest tidal turbine to date. It's not that powerful, only a 1.2MW, but considering we didn't have anything a year ago, that's some great progress. I expect this budding technology to only advance more and more in the coming years.

How Green tech investments made big green for four guys (now millionaires).

Ford releases a Product Sustainability Report, first of its kind in the auto industry.

Weather Channel goes Green.

Pacific Northwest states join with Canadian territories to form regional goals and plans to reduce CO2 by 2020.

New wind turbine designed to suck huge amounts of water from the air, could be boon to farmers and parched cities alike.

Not strictly a Green article, but it's interesting. Could the next Space Race be the same as the first? Maybe, but with a lot more potentially at stake.

Building Green from the ground up isn't as expensive as you think.

Dodge Sprinter will be first commercial PHEV, using large LION batteries from Johnson Controls (big ones, it's a big car) to run it.

Energy sipping processor moves at 500Mhz and uses only one WATT of energy. When idle it slides by at 1/10 of a watt. Their next goal are 1Ghz and 1.5Ghz models that run on 3.5 and 7.5 watts respectively.

GM and Toyota are still trading barbs in the press over the near future of Lithium Ion batterires. Rumors are now that GM will produce 60,000 Volt PHEVs in 2010, an almost ludicrous number when you consider that neither A123 nor CPI has any experience with that kind of volume. Toyota only sold 6,000 Prius hybrids in their first year. But many think it will be impossible for GM to meet their less than $30K price point without that kind of volume. Toyota has released several statements in the last couple weeks saying they still think the technology is years away from being feasible. Maybe, maybe not, but GM is already releasing performance estimates from their batteries.

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Lyrhawn
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Quick update tonight. Super short form for the lesser important ones, regular link summations for the rest.

Ford reduces fuel use through LEDs

One piece of those solar roads makes its way into England, heated roads.

Solar Decathalon approaches.

Climate Change underground

Island people use nature to fight nature.

Too expensive to reduce emissions in the US? How about in Botswana?

Los Angeles to start residential zoning in the clouds? Building houses in derigibles.

Nature might find a way to cull our overpopulation with a surge in new diseases.

Toyota offers more smack talk on PHEVs. Considering their PriusX, the next Prius version is supposed to be PHEV capable. It's a bit funny to hear them spouting this. It's only because GM is going to release the first true PHEV before them with much better batteries. For a company that has been mopping the floor lately with US companies, they're being a bit childish about it.

I've seen this kind of thing elsewhere, but here's a video giving you an idea of what happens when everyone is FORCED to go the speed limit.

Ethanol breakthrough? Maybe. A new bacteria is being touted as the key to super efficient Ethanol creation.

Plans for a new wind farm in Lake Erie may spell jobs for Ohioans and energy as well.

California developer makes solar power standard on new homes.

TXU is planning on adding 3GW of new wind energy in Texas soon. They plan to try a new method involving air compression to harness wind energy at night, and use it during the day when consumption is high.

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aspectre
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Edit in: Just realised the below is a nonsequiter inregard to the above discussion of solar-power roads, yet starts as if it were referring to the same system.
It's in reference to an article on a mechanical generating system (or linked to through an earlier article here).

Past&presentday cars&trucks are absurdly inefficient in producing power and applying it to the road, in turning the potential energy contained within fuel into the forward movement of a vehicle.
After all that wastage in converting potential energy into up&down piston movement into rotary motions into forward motion, the "power-producing" roadway is proposing to suck the power out of that vehicular forward motion to create an up&down piston movement to drive a generator...so the automobile engines will have to work harder, wastefully burn even more fuel to keep the vehicles moving forward at the same speed.
It'd make a heckuvalot more sense to have efficient electric motors driving the roadway pistons up&down to provide forward movement to unpowered automobiles. Not that that would make any sense in the real world.
Even excluding weathering and icing&deicing -- which would be MAJOR problems -- those roadway sections would quickly self-destruct due to self-grinding from continuously direction-shifting variable-weight loads. Effectively, the idea behind "power-producing" roads is to rip off drivers by turning roadways into a continuous series of shallow potholes.

No one was forced to drive at 55mph. Whatcha had was a buncha drivers who could easily drive their vehicles faster than 55mph becoming dangerously frustrated from getting logjammed by a buncha malicious lawbreakers. And nothing else.

Yeah, GM is gonna be selling fuel-celled cars too. And I'm gonna be hitting 900 MajorLeague homeruns within a single season. Nice thing about gonna be is ya can claim anything whatsoever, no matter how improbable, as long as it's possible.
The only people "forcing" Toyota to go more electric are some American car owners who have already been converting their Priuses for all-electric operating capability. Toyota built the Prius assuming there wouldn't be a market for all-electric capability, and their customers have proven them wrong. So they're following their customers' lead.
Too bad GM couldn't have learned that lesson about pleasing the niche market from their EV1 customers. Instead ya had a buncha VROOM-VROOM idjits running the show out to prove that the market for vehicles as transportation-only couldn't exist.

And yeah, Tatiana, I'll get back to the EV1. Just burned out while typing a response to your original question, and saved it to notebook for later continuance and eventual posting.

[ August 26, 2007, 04:04 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Lyrhawn
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Well GM has certainly caught on now. If anything they're going too far in the other direction, pumping out hybrids and electric cars all over the place.

And what law did they break? Seriously, specifically, I'm not being sarcastic I'm just curious as to what it was. If all the cars behind them had followed the speed limit, they wouldn't need to get dangerously frustrated, wasn't that the point?

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Lyrhawn
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What was going to be a small update ended up being much bigger when I found a ton of great artcles and pieces of news on Green developments. Some of them I'm going to go a bit more into.

Power tools you aren't using? How about a car sitting in your garage you don't want to part with? Rental sites could be the new ebay as new sites pair lenders with borrowers in a way to squeeze cash out of idle property.

The Holy Cross Project is currently under construction in the 9th War in New Orleans. The goal for these new large and single family homes is to achieve LEED Platinum Certification, and to have zero energy requirements due to efficient design and solar power on the roofs. They will also utilize that special Bluewood you may have seen on Extreme Home Makeover that protects against insect infestations, mold and fungus, meaning no black mold, and no fumigation. There are several other advances and advantages to these homes as well, and the whole project is amazing. The project in the Ninth War was started by Brad Pitt, and the final design for the home has been selected. Follow this link for an interactive and informative tour of the house. Seriously it's full of tons of Green goodies.

Related to that, some are calling for more regulation regarding the size of new homes being built in the US. Personally I say if they want to build huge homes, they should have to offset the huge footprint. I'd rather people built smaller homes, but for bigger families they make more sense (bigger homes I mean). But without taking a Census every year to determine residency status, I can't see a system like that really working.
The Winds of Change is a book that details the history of the fall of empires and impact on the planet of global and local climate change, showing that it's happened on a large scale in history, and it's ruined kingdoms and empires.

This isn't strictly an environmental link , but it is a growing concern for the environment under the ice in the North Pole. There's a bruhaha starting over resources in the north and just who gets them. Russia has already planted a flag, and Canada is claiming total ownership of the soon to be possible Northwest Passage, a route that will save hundreds if not thousands of miles by sea over the more southern Panama Canal for many ships. Once the Arctic is ice free, something scientists saying is only decades, if not less, away, there will be a major fight for resources and sea lanes, one that Canada is woefully unequipped to fight. It's opened a bigger argument amongst Canadians over closeness to America. NAFTA would demand that Canada sell a great deal of that oil to America, should the Canadians get it at all, and if America really demanded, and for that matter, backed up Canada's claim with our Navy, they wouldn't have much room to tell us no. But Canadians fear coming closer to America, fearing they'll end up being just another state, or worse, that Republicans won't allow them to have the vote at all. Anyway, this will be an issue of increasing importance in the years to come, and I might just start a full thread on it depending on developments.

Growing fake coral reefs in the Red Sea might be the answer to protecting natural reefs while they recooperate.

Israeli company might have perfected a new method of turning CO2 emissions into algae based biofuel. Said to be leaps and bounds ahead of US rival.

Sunshine State based Florida Crystals may build Cellulosic Ethanol plant.

GM may build new type of hybrid. This hybrid would be a "mild" hybrid system, built for the masses. It's incredibly cheaper than full on two-mode hybrid systems, and they believe this paired with new LION batteries will allow them to make cheaper hybrids for the masses. It's still a few years away, but they also may pair this with new HCCI engines that are up to 25% more efficient than present day ICEs, since they won't have to power as much with advanced batteries and other efficient parts, it would be yet another saving.

GM also offers full on hybrids like this new GMC Yukon, which nets big savings over its gas guzzling parent.
California may meet high renewable needs by contracting out of state.

Well Fargo investing huge amounts of money in the Green sector and renewable energy.

Vinrod Kholsa says: 'Big problems require big solutions.'

New small fuel cell could be boon to long lasting battery life for electronics. Say hello to 100 hour battery life for laptops.

After Edwards, Obama unveils his new plan for CAFE standards. Instead of setting 40mpg as the goal by 2016, he would impose a 4% hike per year that would accumulate to almost that by the same time, but allow the changes to happen gradually. The speech was made back in May, but I missed it, so here it is, quite late, if you want to read it.

Why Coal isn't, won't be, and can never be the answer to our energy crisis.

Surprise surprise! Bush's EPA wants to relax yet more rules and violate the Clean Air Act. This time he wants to reduce regulation on emissions for oil refineries...to zero regulations. Doesn't it put your mind at ease when the EPA violates the landmark law it enacted 30 years ago?

In the latest update on the War between Chicago, Illinois, and the BP plant in Indiana:

Illinois challenges the air quality standards of the plant, which may require it to reduce it's emissions by half.

[ August 27, 2007, 05:14 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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aspectre
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The law* is that the driver of a slower-moving vehicle must move into the right lane if his/her vehicle is impeding the movement of a given*number of cars behind them. Or pull over to the side of the road at the first point that the driver can do so safely if there is only one lane per direction of travel.
There is no "unless the slower-moving vehicle is being driven at the speed limit" exception*.
* In all states as far as I am aware, though I think that the number of cars triggering that required movement into the right lane varies from state to state. The only exceptions I know of are for Presidential motorcades and funeral processions, which often require a prearranged police escort if they block traffic.

I believe GM is still playing "If you build it, they won't come." with their hybrids so they can whine to Congress that the proposed new car regulations are too strict.
Honda's already proven that using hybrid technology as an after-design add-on merely to boost power doesn't appeal to most people who want to purchase a hybrid. Its hybridCivic accelerates faster than its regularCivic of the same engine displacement, but doesn't have the level of fuel-saving that could even vaguely justify the extra cost; not even at the level that could make the careful purchaser think "It's worth the extra cost to help save the environment."

The hybridCivic has been discontinued because of low sales (along with several other hybrids built by nonAmerican companies; I think, haven't been paying sufficient attention).
Problem is that the folks who want faster acceleration can get it cheaper both initially and in the total time of expectable ownership by paying for the larger-engine option. Such folks don't particularly care about saving fuel or the environment.
GM hybrids are going the same route: after-design add-ons for higher acceleration and marginal fuel-savings.

If GM were serious about the attempt, they would at least reprogram the fuel-air injectors and other electronicly-controlled engine systems to run full-time in economy mode, sacrificing some acceleration for larger fuel-savings. Then sell at no-profit or even subsidize sales just to gain&maintain a market foothold while they reengineer those vehicles from ground up to become true hybrids.

As for their "plans" for electrics and fuel-cells, GM has spent far too much money and energy on superficial "pimp my ride" redesigns for "New! New! New!" advertising campaigns which would have been far better spent on engineering better vehicles for me to take GM seriously; at least until after they've delivered on their brags.
And perhaps a few years after then. eg Last week, three GM models reached the (Lexus-level) top-tier of long-term customer satisfaction and dependability (as measured over three years); a first for GM. All three GM models have already been discontinued.

[ August 30, 2007, 01:48 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Lyrhawn
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There's a law that says you have to move out of the way for people who want to break the law or else YOU are breaking the law? That's absurd.

As for GM: I've seen several different articles suggesting that GM will sell the new hybrid Yukon either at no profit or at a loss to get it into the market so they can raise production and make money.

Why would they spend billions of dollars, literally, on that, and on electric cars, if they weren't serious about it? I think it's a much different atmosphere than the days of the EV1. They're pinning a lot of their future and their money on greener cars, and for that matter, the Saturn VUE and Saturn Aura hybrids are already selling well, and they just started selling them. They KNOW that the sales are there, and they KNOW that Congress will for sure be enacting higher CAFE standards. Complaining to Congress isn't going to work this time.

I too await actual prouction on something like the Chevy Volt and the Dodge Sprinter PHEVs, and the new BAS mild hybrid cars. But it seems like they are throwing a lot of money away if they truly aren't serious about it.

Which were the three GM models that were discontinued?

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aspectre
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Definitely a Buick and I think a Cadillac and possibly another Cadillac . Couldn't easily find the article that I originally read which mentioned the specific models and that they had been discontinued.

Most states have a safe speed law that supercedes maximum speed laws. The safe speed is presumed to be the average speed of the majority of drivers on a given stretch of road because speed differentials between vehicles is a greater hazard than speed in-and-of itself. The requirement that slow drivers must allow "go with the flow" drivers to pass minimizes that hazard.
No state recognizes a driver's right to enforce traffic laws upon others. That power is strictly reserved for law enforcement. The last thing anyone needs on the road are civilians playing at cops&robbers: too easy to end up in a lethal version of bumper cars.

The "billions" spent on Research&Development is mostly for re-engineering and retooling the assembly lines for "new" versions of old favorites. Of the amount spent for actually R&Ding new automobile technology, most of the R&D attributed as being expended on hybrids/etc is for processes and products that they desire for use in regular internal combustion vehicles.
The small amount left over for R&D to develop&manufacture hybid/etc technology itself isn't in the same ballpark as the true billions they spend to make minor changes to eg the location or appearance of trim/headlights/taillights/etc to create "new" models, or to advertise those "new" models.

I'd love to be proven wrong but American executives have a 40-year history of ignoring the results of or sabotaging their own R&D programs, and of refusing to integrate new technology until after a steep decline in their marketshare forces them to accept that customers will choose and pay a premium for that better product.
AmericanMotors collapsed, Chrysler would have collapsed without first a goverment bailout then a Mercedes buyout, and Ford and GM have lost over half of their US marketshare because of that risk aversive nature.
Meanwhile, "tin box" makers like Toyota and "brick outhouse" makers like Mercedes have embraced RiDing the cutting edge, and have been rewarded by strong profits on highly increased marketshare. (Though Mercedes has been becoming more like American manufacturers with every passing year; ie relying on salesmanship of past glories to sell new cars, and whining "We can't!!!" to the governments: EU, German, and US.)

As far as I can tell, Ford and GM are still being run by salesmen of the "car lot manager" variety, whose egos are tied to demonstrating how "smart" they are by exploiting customer naivete* rather than to making the best product possible, or even to making money.
The problem being that there is a limited number of gullible customers, which steadily decreases as an ever greater percentage notice that they've been screwed. Can't keep a business healthy over the long run when today's sales are based on loss of future sales.

* Including the desire to social climb.

[ August 28, 2007, 12:36 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Lyrhawn
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So they aren't just mislabeling or spinning the facts, they are blatently outright giving baldfaced lies in press statements? And all the hype and millions they say they are spending on developing new cars is just a giant spin...for what?

I just don't get what they could even THINK they would get from such an effort. 15 years ago the lies made sense, and they WORKED, but gas was $2 a gallon cheaper back then, sales of hybrids didn't exist, and they were on top from selling gas guzzling SUVs. They COULD make an efficient, expensive car, and half ass it then go crying to the government. They might be a bit dense when it comes to changing trends, but they aren't suicidal. They know that there is a market, a potentially huge market, they know that Congress will for SURE be making CAFE changes that haven't been changed in at least a decade, and they know that they are being replaced by high efficiency imports and that they won't be getting a bail-out, especially if something like Obama's healthcare for efficiency bail-out plans come to life.

Why spend the money on researching new batteries? Why spend the money on new engine designs and more efficient features? Why has Ford been developing and is now using car parts made from plants rather than petroleum? And why have they totally remodeled several of their plants to make them many times more energy efficient?

I don't think it's just talk anymore. The kind of attitudes you're describing were used in the 90's because they WORKED in the 90's. In the 00's, they don't, and for obvious reasons that any layperson could see. Before it was change or suffer time, now it's change or die, and they've got the plans on the table to do so. You're saying they are actually buying their way into banktrupcy, and I don't believe it.

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aspectre
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"...blatantly outright giving baldfaced lies in press statements?
...They might be a bit dense when it comes to changing trends, but they aren't suicidal.
"

It's called advertising. That's whatcha get when ya put people who think that salesmanship is everything in charge of companies.
Look at HP's near-suicide after its engineer founders retired and marketers were put in charge. Or Apple during the time when they had replaced Jobs with a Pepsi salesman.

"Why spend the money on researching new batteries? Why spend the money on new engine designs and more efficient features? Why has Ford been developing and is now using car parts made from plants rather than petroleum? And why have they totally remodeled several of their plants to make them many times more energy efficient?"

Cuz they're getting massacred by Toyota, Mercedes, Hyundai, etc. And some minutely small rational portion of those executive/stockholder minds, more likely survival instinct is driving them to mimic those foreign-owned companies' example. They just have a LOT of well earned skepticism to overcome before I'll believe that they've really changed their postWWII corporate culture.
Frankly, their wheedling Congress into subsidizing biofuels seems to be more of the same old "nothing is more sacred than our right to spew filth" than a commitment to improve their companies' product line.

Let 'em come out and lobby in support of banning*all personal-transport/family vehicles which use more fuel than the current fleet average of 27.5miles per gallon / 8.55litres per 100kilometres, and I'll believe that they're being serious. Over half of all automobiles already exceed that mileage, so nobody can truthfully argue that it's impossible to have the entire fleet do better than 27.5mpg.

I mean good grief, the only vehicles that need 150kilowatt/~201horsepower are tractor-trailer rigs traveling at the speed limit going uphill on medium grades. 350kilowatts/~470horsepower is enough to pull those rigs up steep grades.
And it ain't as if it's legal to travel above 81mph -- except on small portions of the German Autobahn; and even there, driving above 130kilometres per hour makes the driver automaticly liable for accidents, at least partially even for accidents that an under130kph driver clearly caused -- so the excess horsepower found in many automobiles isn't needed to overcome air-resistance either.

Such a law would also eliminate the unnecessary hazard of uselessly heavy hunks of junk being driven by people trying to impress via "I'm bigger than you, so I'm more important." Just cuz someone can legally drive doesn't mean that they should be legally entitled to endanger others with such monstrosities.
People are also legally allowed to drink booze, but ya don't see any sane person arguing that driving-while-drunk should be legal. Same principle applies.

* Obviously there will be a commercial need for mini-vans, vans, mini-buses, light&heavy-duty pickups for businesses. Let them be registered under business licences for that purpose, with LARGE/confiscatory fines for misstating the purpose for owning such vehicles. No exemptions for company cars given to individuals for personal travel; ie driving to and from home, driving around town to meetings or lunch, etc. If driving around a client in a larger vehicle or limousine is necessary, let 'em hire a limousine service. ie No exemptions for mostly-personal-use gas-hogs by pretending that they are a "business necessity" because someone can conceive of a circumstance in which that personal vehicle might be used to transport a client.
Similarly there are handicapped people who also need such vans for easy access features and to carry their gear, and people with large families who need mini-buses with a lot of seating. Let them also be registered under licenses granting exemption. And equally confiscatory fines for lying (ie have a higher standard of misconduct than misstatement before triggering the strongest penalty.)
As for RecreationalVehicles, maybe exemptions for RVs being used as primary homes. Probably less wasteful than most houses.

[ August 30, 2007, 02:05 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Lyrhawn
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Not all advertising is blatently misleading, we have somewhat weak but still established laws against false advertising, but you aren't talking about advertising, you're talking about PR.

The problem is that by and large Americans still want those big dirty giant monstrosities. If the price of gas was a dollar a gallon, I doubt we'd be having this discussion at all. So GM is coming up with ways of making them more fuel efficient (still falling short of where I'd like them, but it's progress) so they can satisfy both customer demands: Behemoths and Fuel Efficiency. Why do you think many in the auto industry are clamoring for a legally mandated floor to the price of oil? Because if and when the price for a barrel of oil bottoms out, then people will flock back to those big fuel wasting behemoths and many of them who were buying a Prius to save on fuel costs will be switching with them. They want guarantees that if they make a big expensive switch, they aren't going to get screwed for it in the future, as clearly there is still a market for those cars even when the price is high.

While I think the mess the Big Three are in is largely of their own making, there's still blame to go towards the lack of regulation guiding from Congress. And that goes beyond the Autoindustry. They don't know what is going on. Industry wants to know if there is going to be a carbon cap so they can start planning now. I think we all know there IS going to be just such a cap one day, probably not far off, and the further we put it off, the further companies will put it off, and it will be made more expensive because they will have to make a lot of expensive short term changes instead of starting now to make more inexpensive longterm changes. If Congress were to step up now and say "Okay this is it, we're setting up a carbon cap and trade system and this is what part the autoindustry is going to play, and these are the new emissions standards from tailpipes, and these are the new MPG standards that you have to meet, and here are the benchmarks," then they could all plan better. But instead they get nothing for 10 years, and oil is cheap for all those years, and sales are high for all those years, and they have little impetus to change.

And now things are different. So they will change with the times. They've spent millions developing these efficient technologies like the recently unveiled HCCI engine, which gets the same efficiency or very near, to a diesel, but without the nasty side effects, the only downside is that you can't go as fast as a traditional car's top speed can go without switching back to a normal ICE with spark plugs. But they are looking at this to be the new engine on hybrids and other "mild" hybrid cars they are developing. And they are spending a lot on battery research. This is just GM mind you, Ford has a lot of their own developments, some of which look very promising, but on the whole I have less hope for them than I do GM.

Fact of the matter is, I think there is just way too much information coming out of GM about things already in development and things planned. I've seen several cars that were either huge or sports cars, that would have been immensely wasteful get left on the concept car trash heap because in today's world they can't survive, but in the 90's they would have produced those things in a heartbeat. And you slam them for making hybrids as an afterthought and yet Honda doesn't have a true hybrid, only modified Civics and Accords. Only the Prius was designed from the ground up to be a hybrid, and it'll be joined in the next few years by other such designed cars, as well as dozens of "afterthought" hybrids.

As for the rules you propose there, The Big Three could waste all the time, money and effort they want on just such a measure, but they won't for one simple and very easy to believe reason: The public will never support it. They'll kill it before it ever gets out of committee, if it even makes it to committee, which I'd also doubt. Not to mention that if you do that, you have to ban a lot of other stuff, like private jets and helicopters, also big wasters that the uberwealthy would not enjoy losing access to, and they would speak up, also helping it die a FAST death.

We'll see who is right in a couple of years, but I think you're stuck in 90's mode, which I guess given your immense anti-Big Three baggage isn't all that surprising, but things have changed and the Big Three has changed. Have you looked at Big Three sales in Europe lately? They make a lot of great, green cars there, and have even tried importing them to the US over the last couple years, but most of them die a slow death because Americans just don't want them. And that's not crying to Congress, it's poor sales records from cars people have negative reactions to. But now people want these cars, and now they are much more cost effective to sell. And I think the Big Three have caught onto that, and I think they are making serious changes in the products they plan to sell.

We won't know who is right for a few years, but the news I see coming out of Detroit is too much for me to believe your 20th century assaults are correct.

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Lyrhawn
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New MP3 player not stylish, but it does provide 125 hours of battery life on one AAA battery.

Chevy Volt won't get the new HCCI engine, at least not right away.

Nintendo Wii a Green machine.

Citigroup aims to build LEED Gold certified data center that will cut energy use by 75%, save millions of gallons of water, and not cost more than a regular facility.

I already posted this story, but the graphics are cooler here. Most people are wrong about what going Green in building construction will cost. Also they are unaware of the cost of doing nothing.

There's some new ideas on how we should determine the footprint of a building. Alex Wilson of Building Green wants the people who give out LEED certification to include the environmental cost of transportation in their parameters. A totally green building in the suburbs or out in the country will take longer to get to, and you have to drive to get there. That makes it less Green than a building in the middle of a big city where people can walk or take public transportation. It's a new idea, and a one that's a bit more complicated, but I think it's good to include in the question. We should be talking more about smart urban planning, and LEED should be involved in that if their certification is to be so valuable.

Solar powered WiFi may be boon to rural areas as well as the third world

Many new animals being added to list of endangered species in Britain. Meanwhile, President Bush has overseen the fewest number of animals being added to the list, and that's not a good thing, it means the animals that need it aren't getting the attention they deserve.

Florida looks to return glass to its birthplace. How recycling glass might lead to saving their beaches.

Sun soaked classrooms may make kids smarter. New schools being built are emphasizing natural light, as one 1999 study suggests kids who learn in direct sunlight perform 18% better on tests than kids in artificial light.

The end of grasslands? A new study suggests that increased carbon in the air may eliminate grasslands worldwide.

The US and Canada plan to bring the internet to the ocean.

A picture of the fires in Greece as viewed from space. Truly devastating to behold.

So how bad of a polluter is China? Horrible...and not that bad. This interview gives a surprising view on China and the environment.

The coming water crisis

More on why clean coal is a myth.

New advance in hyrdogen power could be boon to many applications

California experimenting with longer buses for better public transportation

In the wake of the fight between Chicago and BP, a Marathon refinery in Michigan wants to increase production, but is prepared to spend the money to make it a tiny bit greener.

GM create 8th landfill free factory. Everything that leaves the plant is either a product, or it's recycled.

Hymotion plans to expand production and make PHEV conversion a bigger option.

New Nissan Altima Hybrid to be priced at $25K

Trucking industry touting their green advances.

[ August 29, 2007, 05:30 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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Lyrhawn
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Smaller update today, and a correction from yesterday. The MP3 player gets 85 hours of battery life from a single AAA battery, not 125.

Telecom company sells solar charger for cell phones.

SC Johnson cuts greenhouse gases and taps landfills for power.

Breathing new life into an old idea? Fuel vaporizers can yield big increases in fuel economy, but they're unproven in mass production.

Poll finds Americans care more about gay marriage than global warming and the environment. I guess so long as we're all heterosexual when the apocalypse comes, it's all good.

Northwest passage sailing not that far away in the future

Western Carbon Initiative looks to grow, maybe even double in size. Could mean huge CO2 cap and trade system for the US.

Nissan will unveil an electric concept car at Frankfurt auto show. Looks futuristic, and has cockpit like driver's seat.

New cars will have indicator light to let you know when your tire pressure is low. Now lazy people can enjoy higher fuel economy as well.

"Who Killed the Electric Car?" is an oft heard question, but the answer isn't as easy as many people think. Now this article leaves out some questionable behavior from GM, but raises a lot of questions.

Here's an interview with Wagoner, CEO of GM with Charlie Rose. Actually it's a series of interviews, from 1999 to 2006. I haven't watched it all yet, it's 58 minutes long, but supposedly it is an interesting look at how GM has changed their stance with the changing world.

Edit to add:

Okay, the 1999 interview starts pretty much right at the beginning. He spends the first 10 minutes or so talking about the increasing rise of the global market place (and himself), as evidenced by the new merger of Daimler with Chrysler. He talks about Onstar, and how price reductions drove demand and how that led them to head towards cost reductions to increase profit. It's only maybe 20 minutes long.

Okay, the first 20 minutes of the 2002 interview is a discussion between a think tank and Charlie Rose about the Iraq War before the war started. It's fascinating to watch it now knowing what we know, so hey, go ahead and watch that too. At the 34 minute mark it starts the GM interview with Wagoner. They spend time talking about how the economy isn't as good as it used to be, then they segue into talking about light trucks and SUVs being a cash crop more or less, and about how they are ahead of the game. Wagoner doesn't see demand going anywhere, they have SUVs in short supply, and he doesn't think the economy or that gas prices will have any effect on demand. He goes on to say that GM has a lot of work to do to bring up sales and quality, and that you can't sell a bad car, you need to have a great product to begin with.

He thinks fuel cell vehicles are the cars of the future, maybe by 2020, and that hybrids will have a small potential market. Fuel cells hold "tremendous promise." They've made a lot of progress, and need another 10 years of work to make it feasible, but they've spent a ton of money on them. He said they tried electric and it doesn't look like the answer, but hybrids are too expensive, though they will have a role to play.

He also guessed that if we were to ever switch away from gas and into something non-oil, it would be for environmental reasons, not because we're running out of oil, and that every time we think we're running out, we always seem to find more, and technology advances to make it cheaper. He spends some time talking about pensions too. And he talks about healthcare, and how the big benefits were negotiated when healthcare was a lot cheaper, but being more expensive, it becomes a huge challenge. What I really liked was when he talked about how he didn't get any bonuses because GM didn't do well enough, and how he and the board talked specifically about how what sort of performance would have to be met as far as marketshare and earnings before what types of bonuses would be awarded. Very fair. The interview lasts about a half hour.

The 2006 interview lasts a full hour. I guess he got more important over the course of seven years. The tone has changed noticeably. Now they are talking about a recovery plan. Basically they made a ton of cuts, cuts to labor, healthcare, pensions, and more, that have cut $7 billion in structural costs. As of 2005, he says for just healthcare, customers pay $1500 of each car for it.

He says trends are away from truck based SUVs and more towards crossover SUVs, smaller car based ones that are more fuel efficient, and smaller cars in general. More hybrids, more diesels....and that's where I stopped listening. That gets us to the 43 minute mark (as in, 43 minutes left in the interview) and I almost fell asleep listening to the two of them chatter on. Watch the rest if you want, and post about it if you do, but you'll save a lot of time by skipping the first two and just reading my summaries. They're very boring interviews.


In closing, so I know I post a bunch of auto news in this thread that might not seem directly related to Green Energy, or at least not as much as the thread first started off as. But I think the direction of the auto industry is directly tied to the fight for efficiency and a Green world. They are massive polluters and stand to make great gains in efficiency in the coming years, which are the articles I try to point out.

[ August 30, 2007, 12:32 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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AvidReader
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Hooray for low tire pressure lights! I couldn't afford to replace a tire with a slow leak, and the fix-it can only did so much. I spent weeks just trying to guess when it was low.

I finally got one of those pressure gagues (and replaced the tire) but a light would have been nice.

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Lyrhawn
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DOE offers $34 million in funding for cellulosic ethanol research

Liberal Dems in the UK calling to eliminate ALL gas cars by 2040.

New cheap nano-lubricant reduces engine friction, increases fuel economy.

Many British citizens feel the UK government is wasting money by buying Hybrids.

Young writer suggests Microsoft change their MSWord software to save paper. Small change could mean big gains.

Bush Administration wants big giveaways for coal companies. Could mean legalization of massive environmental destruction.

And this is the kind of destruction I'm talking about.

Remember a couple years ago when I said to invest in silicon? A mass shortage of silicon has led solar panel makers to find other materials.

What it takes to get oil from the ocean.

15 companies that will change the world.

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AvidReader
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Wow! Those fuel cells could be a big deal if they get the price down. And biodiesel is the good one, right? I love the digital camera with its own inkless printer built in. Even better lightbulbs, always good.

But what I really want to try is that financial software. There's always room for improvement in the budget.

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aspectre
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Boric acid fumes are toxic. Unless there's new tech that the article isn't mentioning, ain't a good idea using it in engine lubricant.

"The problem is that by and large Americans still want those big dirty giant monstrosities. If the price of gas was a dollar a gallon, I doubt we'd be having this discussion at all."

Worse than that. Money magazine did a poll of "soccer moms" when gasoline prices had peaked after HurricaneKatrina
Asked what car they would purchase if money weren't a limiting factor, the majority chose a very large SUV; with the largest SUVs being the most popular choices.

[ August 31, 2007, 11:02 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Lyrhawn
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One would imagine they'd thought of that before announcing it as any kind of breakthrough. Besides, they say it's "made from" Boric Acid, not that it IS Boric Acid.

Ann Arbor, MI switches entire bus fleet to hybrids.

Ford creates less polluting anti-corrosive technology.

Solar power comes to the northeast, it's a small start, but it's the first time it's ventured outside the Sub Belt.

Ford turns paint fumes to energy

23% of Americans don't recycle, and for some pretty lame reasons.

More on General Motors' efforts to recycle.

Soil Erosion: How ignoring what's beneath our feet could be our undoing.

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Lyrhawn
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Two day's worth.

Transonic Combustion, a startup out west claims to have a 100MPG car using a state of the art fuel injection technology. No details yet, so treat it with a grain of salt.

GM award more battery contracts, this time for a LION battery for a planned Saturn VUE PHEV. Contracts are to Cobasys (who will work with A123) and Johnson Controls (who has a contract for the Dodge Sprinter).

Honda plans a Prius challenging hybrid. Small sports car inspired design will not have non-hybrid counterpart, but will be a ground up hybrid only.

First ever released satellite images of gas flaring shows in color the price of burning off natural gas from oil wells.

New sensor system will wire the Hudson River. Real time data will show 315 mile long river system through network of stationary sensors, buoys and underwater drones.

EPA finally gets around to banning toxic substances we've known to be destructive for 40 years.

Pollution reduces size of polar bears'...ahem, equipment, and hinders reproduction of the species.

Pine Beetle wreaks havoc on British Columbian trees. The devastation is yet another sign of the power of invasive species.

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Lyrhawn
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eestor update. Not much new news, but there's a summaton of what we know.

NASA releases new report that says storms in the US will become stronger and deadlier as global warming gets worst, but bad for West, storms will be less frequent with more lightning strikes.

A couple things came in before I signed off for the night and I wanted to get them out of the way before the new week started.

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aspectre
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"Pine Beetle wreaks havoc on British Columbian trees. The devastation is yet another sign of the power of invasive species."

More the destructiveness of GlobalWarming. Those beetles would have frozen to death over the winters not too far in the past. With a small rise in temperatures, they're turning forests into kindling for forest fires.
Releasing yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

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Lyrhawn
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I should have been more direct, I meant to include global warming in that headline, which isn't obvious of course from the man made problems involved with global warming, don't even get me started on the Great Lakes, and you can thank global warming for that on a different front. Dryness in the west is the new reality, prolonged, forever, dryness. It's that dryness that creates such perfect conditions for forest fires. Even if those trees had been alive they likely would've suffered the same fate.

Either way, global warming isn't making it easy on the forests, or much else on Earth.

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Lyrhawn
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EU approves British proposal to fund 500 million Euro fusion reactor. It wil be a HiPER design reactor.

Zenn Motors makes big claims about their future eestor powered cars, but for now it's all talk.

OSU works on replacement for corn based ethanol, by using sorghum instead. I've talked about this before, but basically it requires less fertilizer, water, and pestifices than corn, and can be grown virtually anywhere in the US, while producing much higher yields.

While others work on biofuels made from prarie grass, and wild flowers.

Featured article

Toronto based company uses "swarm logic" to make energy hog devices a lot more efficient.

Check this article out, I've seen devices like this before, but they haven't gotten very far in the US yet. But this is based on Toronto, where large buildings are charged a premium when their hourly energy rate goes above a certain level. The point is that a ton of these little devices talk to each other and decide when to turn on and off to balance the energy load over the course of a day so there aren't peak times like there are now. Economically, it saves the building money, which more than pays for the devices themselves (which interestingly, the company is renting out, not selling, so the maintenance fees are non-existant). Environmentally, it's good because if as a nation we ALL used such devices, we could possibly eliminate peak energy use, and by doing so, eliminate the need for peeking plants, which are not only very expensive, but are the worst polluters of all power plants (as they are by and large coal fired plants, which can be revved up and turned down). This is yet another reason why I think we should switch over to a system that charges more for power during peak times and less at night, it'll make these types of efficiency devices seem much more attractive. And we all benefit.

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Lyrhawn
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Lots of stuff today, looks like there's a glut of post Labor Day entries.

Britain takes a step further to one up Michigan company in producing mini-electric cars by switching to Lithium Ion.

Madrid continues Spain's rise in the solar power biz by attracting SoCal investment. The plant being built it small, but it's the experimental technology that's important.

Premier Power Renewables starts program to more or less lease roof space for solar panels on private homes in return for fixed 20 year energy prices.

Usually I leave out these cutesy little inventions, but this one looks kind of neat. It's a small fake candle but made of real wax and features a flickering LED light instead of a wick. The cutesy part is that you turn it on and off by blowing on it.

New Jersey sees rise in number of people composting. It's an example we could all learn from.

In a bit of offbeat news, a Seattle councilman wants to make it legal for suburbanites to own small goats. Why? They are small, can mow your lawn for free, and produce milk. Somehow I don't see it catching on, but it's a nice thought.

Chinse researchers come up with formula for styrofoam that will break down in landfills.

Farm subsidies might not just be bad for your wallet, they're bad for your health too.

Why we need to update the infrastructure of our electrical infrastructure to save energy and power devices of the future.

New type of wind power uses kites.

SolarCentury is seeing big growth, based on their innovative design that incorporates solar electric and solar heating in a panel that is installed like roof shingles.

Quasi featured article on the global environmental toll the US/Chinese addiction to each other is taking.

Think the environmental problems in China stay in China? They don't. Read the article and then check out the link to the Colbert Report for an interview on the subject. It isn't just that China is polluting their rivers, leveling their old growth forests, and losing land to desertification. It isn't just that all their fish are dying, their soil is bankrupt of nutrients, or that the air quality of their major cities is deadly to breathe.

It's that their problems are our problems. It's largely American consumerism (and the rest of the world yes) that drives them to destroy their own environment (we both share the blame). But we can't just gleefully take the gains while they pay the price (though from the quality of the crap they send us, that's debateable anyway). Their problems become our problems when giant dust clouds from new desertified areas float over the Pacific and land on our shores. And they become our problem when a lack of regulation in China means they send us food with almost zero guarantee of its safety. They're burning up centuries worth of natural resources and their habitat in order to erase centuries of being behind in the world, but the cost of bringing China into the 21st century at lightspeed might not just be theirs to pay.

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Enigmatic
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
In a bit of offbeat news, a Seattle councilman wants to make it legal for suburbanites to own small goats. Why? They are small, can mow your lawn for free, and produce milk. Somehow I don't see it catching on, but it's a nice thought.

We owned goats in the suburbs. They're less good at the lawn-mowing than you'd think, preferring to eat bushes and such. Did nicely at keeping the sumac in check, though.

dkw's goat was a jerk.

That's all I have to saw about that.

--Enigmatic

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Glenn Arnold
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I would think sheep or cows would do a better job on grass.
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aspectre
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Sheep are much better at mowing lawns. Goats tend to ignore grasses when given a choice of feeding on almost anything else.
They preferentially feed on weeds in nearly a "the nastier, the tastier" manner. It wouldn't surprise me to find out that humans first began gardening the noxious* plants and shrubs now known as flowers and ornamentals as feed for their goats.

* Nearly always unpalatable, usually inedible, and often poisonous to humans.

[ September 05, 2007, 08:26 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Lyrhawn
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Harder to get sheep and cows classified as small pets though. [Smile] The mini-goat is already a stretch.

Here's your update for today, another big one:

The Dutch have long been famous for their extreme engineering when it comes to sea walls to keep the sea away from them. But then you have to when the majority of your nation is below sea level. Well in this article, we see that they are preparing for a time when sea walls aren't enough. Floating houses are being developed. Not house boats, they are actual houses but with hollow concrete bases and light woods. They rest on the ground, but if the flood waters come in, they rise and float, and use water proof cables so power and clean water will still make it to the house. Smart engineering from the Dutch.

Spanish freight company saves money and gains security by producing their own biofuel.

Production of eestor ultracapacitors pushed back 6 months.

Clean Air Act prohibits sale of PZEVs? (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles). Well maybe, the Clean Air Act is complicated, and it might, but it doesn't stop states from establishing higher standards like California's.

LiquidPiston, a new kind of internal combustion engine may gain 250% improvement in efficiency over current ICE. I've seen a few reinventions of the ICE over the last few months, all of which look promising, but none of which have yet come to fruition. Good luck to LP on this.

Japanese join the bandwagon of nations aiming to have space based solar power systems in the next 20 years.

GM considering leasing the battery pack for the Chevy Volt separately. What seems overly complicated, and what brings to mind the EV1 fiasco is actually pretty good for the customer when it comes to things this expensive and evolving.

"Go Before It's Gone," a list of natural wonders to see before Global Warming and mankind destroy them, soon.

Supplies of rare materials necessary for computers, nuclear and solar power could all be gone by 2020.

New estimates say arctice ice will be gone by 2030, almost 70 years earlier than some earlier projections. Northeast passage will join northwest passage in becoming navigable.

High speed Green trains in Europe challenge the air industry. They aim to be cheaper, greener and faster than planes.

Shell executive says Carbon Capture must be a global priority. Says renewables cannot replace fossil fuels fast enough.

Starting at the end of September, Staten Island buses will have the same power ambulances have: Making red lights go green. The idea is that it will make bus travel faster and car traffic slower, giving buses a leg up and increasing travel on them. It'll also save fuel by not making 10 ton buses stop so often.

Two featured articles of the day, one is just a neat blurb, the other is a big surprise for who gets the money when you buy food:

MO Congressman introduces and passes law in the House of Reps that makes it illegal for members of Congress to use taxpayer money to lease cars that pollute.

quote:
Although it went largely unnoticed in the broader tussle over the energy bill, an amendment authored by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver — that was approved right before the Congress' summer recess by a 218-196 vote — would allow congressmen to only lease eco-friendly cars. The Missouri Democrat estimates that the new provision will only affect about 100 of his colleagues — those who have been spending upwards of $1 million in taxpayer money every year to lease ginormous, gas-guzzling luxury cars. Cleaver himself leases a big van retrofitted to run on used cooking oil.
The law fails to name any real specifics on the measure, but I like the idea.

..............................

quote:
1/3 -- the number out of all US farms that are actually within metropolitan areas, approximately (more than you thought, wasn't it?), representing 18% of the total farmland in this country, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

In the same vein, only 3.5 cents of every dollar goes to the farmer when food is purchased at the grocery store, according to the Sustain AgriFood Network versus the 80 to 90 cents on the dollar that goes to the farmer when food is purchased at a farmer's market.

Sources: EPA & Sustain AgriFood Network

Some freaky numbers there. The cost disparity, other than people taking their share of the profits along the way, probably has a lot to do with the massive cost, in money and pollution, of trucking and shipping food from all the corners of the country to all the other corners. Buying local is better for farmers, better for you, and better for the environment. Check to see if there is a farmer's market in your area.

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aspectre
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"dkw's goat was a jerk.
That's all I have to saw about that.
--Enigmatic
"

Not that mysterious considering the shape your jet was in.

[ September 06, 2007, 03:44 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Lyrhawn
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This is going to be a big one because I missed it yesterday. I cut myself at work yesterday (stupid green peppers) and had to make a not so quick trip to the hospital, and it took a long time. So I might break this into two parts with some featured articles.

John Deere and farmers partner up to make wind farms into a cash crop. Farmers front a small amount of money and get big long term rewards.

Mexico has big goals for renewables, but it's not as green as you might think

A dual use water saver for the people: Bucket that doubles as sink allows you to easily reuse greywater.

Volvo enters the PHEV arena with concept car at the Frankfurt show

Solar startup BrightSource has filed for permission to build a 400MW solar power plant. It's not a PV plant, it'll use focusing mirrors and steam engines, also called a Sterling.

The designer of many high end cars will enter the next gen hybrid arena. Considered to be a challenger to Tesla in the start up arena.

Featured Article on Coke
Coca-Cola unveils new plan to recycle or reuse ALL of its US consumed plastic bottles, up from 10% now. They've also unveiled a bottle that uses 5% less plastic. It's an ambitious goal to say the least, and their commitment isn't just lip service, they've devoted $60 million to a new facility for recycling that will be the largest of its kind, and will create 100 million pounds of reusable plastic a year when it's done. Admirable.

UK Businesses have cut enough carbon since 2001 to equal the carbon of two major cities.

GM considering weekly battery payments for Volt. I have to say, this is getting out of hand. Volt owners would have to buy gas for the "range extender," pay the electric bill for the battery, pay for the car payment and a weekly battery bill? That's just goofy, and cumbersome beyond reason. Keeping the battery payments separate is an interesting idea, one that for a battery as expensive and experimental as that might keep the Volt aloft until the batteries get cheaper and the kinks are all worked out, but weekly payments are silly I think.

Offshore wind power, far offshore, outside the vision of coastal residents, will one day be king. There's vastly more wind power potential out there, and tons of space too, but it's not without risk.

Feature on Geothermal

The Geothermal Revolution

That's the talking points and here's another story on investment and potential, but this is the meat:

Study on US Geothermal

It's a pretty good report. It summarizes the types of Geothermal, the costs, the electrical generation capacity, how much it costs per kwh, etc. It's a great summation, overview and advocate. I'll break it down in case you want to go to a specific page, but don't worry, it's not dry, it's in the form of a powerpoint presentation, so it's bullet points and pictures.

Pg. 4 - Key Findings, mostly Western states stand to make huge gains from geothermal. What the industry needs in cost and equipment over the next few years.

Pg. 6 - Kinds of Geothermal power, and future experimental methods of power generation.

Pg. 7 - Cost of production per kwh vs other renewables and cost of installed capacity.
Result? Geothermal is extremely competitive.

Pg. 9 - Land use and tech maturity vs. other renewables. Result? It uses small amounts of land and is a very mature technology, with even more room for growth.

Pg. 10 - Key advantages, including that it can run 24 hours a day, among others.

Pg. 11 - Starts a three day global geothermal overview. Big potential.

Pg 15. - Breaks down US electrical generation, then goes over geothermal, and a state by state analysis current production of geothermal in the western states.

Pg. 30 - Breaks down the potential for Geothermal production in western states. It's an extremely well detailed breakdown on a state by state basis.

Pgs. 48-50 - Talk about the necessary investment and why, and where money should be and will be spent.

The study is very thorough and a great, somewhat quick read for someone looking to be informed on geothermal's current power and potential for the near and long term future. This is mostly for the western states, where there is enormous potential, but this study doesn't address the details of or the potential of EGS, which is the next generation of geothermal power. It could, potentially, dramatically increase the power in the west, and even create power in the east on a big scale too.

I would have liked to see some of the risks explored, but current direct use geothermal is safe, clean, and reliable. It's EGS that has potential problems that need to be studied further, but I guess that's for another report.

[ September 08, 2007, 04:30 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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Tristan
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Your Volvo link goes to the same page as the preceding graywater thingy. Just saying [Smile] .
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Lyrhawn
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Thanks Tristan! I fixed the link if you want to go back and see it.

Here's the second half:

Okay, it's just a cute little game with a polar bear. But several Green sites I've been to say it's a good way to break the ice with your young ones about global warming. The game is about a cute little polar bear who has to refreeze rain into ice to protect his environment.

Sacramento aims to be Greenest city in America, and by the numbers they are on their way.

Little steps and so far to go, how coal quickly destroys all the progress we make

New solar bottle purifier could be cheap, green way to bring clean water to the third world

Hurricane Felix provides more proof that forests and coastal mangroves, along with natural barrier islands that nature has its own defense against Hurricanes. So long as we don't screw it up.

I don't post as many cycling articles as I probably should, but there's a tiny, quiet little war going on out there between cyclists and, well, seemingly everyone else. Maybe for my September editorial I'll go back and search out some of these articles to give a better background, but the gist is this: Lawmakers around the country, and in Europe to a certain extent, though not as much, don't give cyclists a fair shake. According to the law, so far as I know, bikes are allowed on most roads (maybe all?) and are to be treated as any other vehicle, including following the same rules that they do. But at the same time, cyclists get killed at an alarming rate because of careless drivers. And they aren't given, in my mind, the kind of infrastructure to travel on that they deserve. There's a lot more to it than that, but here's the latest in the war:

In Beverly Hills a cyclist was almost killed by an SUV driver, who proceeded to follow him (gender neutral, I don't know the sex of the cyclist) around the corner and call the police, saying the cyclist shouldn't be there in the first place. The police arrived, verbally abused the cyclist and ended up writing him a ticket, letting the motorist go. The story, and the complaint letter written by the cyclist are in the link, and I think it's good reading, and a great example of why cycling isn't as prevelant as it chould or should be (oh, and the cyclist was right, and the SUV driver is seriously, seriously, in the wrong).

Amazon leaps into the e-book world. It looks like something out of the 1980's, but could be the first step to moving away from paper books. I admit a negative bias here, I love books. I love the smell of books. I love the feel of books. I love organzing my books over and over, chronologically, alphabetically, by subject, by date of publication, and I rarely loan them out for fear someone might dogear a page or crack the spine. I'm a bibliophile, and in my Green heart, I know that cutting down trees to make books is bad, but I love them so. It's good that so many of them are made with recycled paper, but the overall loss of trees needs to be stopped. Green wins in the end.

Perhaps my last BP Lake Michigan entry. After emailing both my senators, I received a reply from both that BP had given up their plan to put more waste into Lake Michigan. This link to TreeHugger (apparently unaware of the win) shows that for relatively low cost, BP could expand the waste water treatment plant at the site.

Pictures of the Bahrain World Trade Center, the first commercial building in the world to have massive wind turbines attached to the building itself for power generation. Truly stunning.

A massive (40 ton) second generation wave power buoy generator has been placed off the coast of Oregon. Wave and tidal power are the babies of the Green power movement, and this is a great step towards bringing the technology further.

Ford helps pay for particulate filters in diesel cars in Germany

Mitsubishi also puts forward a PHEV concept car.

Solar panels to be installed on schools in more than 20 counties in Florida. Allows schools to not have to buy power during peak periods for energy hogs.

California may change regulations to help reduce emissions and energy use from commercial buildings by changing a simple regulation. In other words, people finally have to pay their fair share.

Green building and construction. I'll let you read these at your leisure, but it's an 18 part, and still growing, series on how to build a Green home from green materials that maximizes efficiency, from something simple like using hinged windows that provide a better seal vs. track slide windows. There's links at the bottom of this page that will take you to the others.

And finally, the military is really getting serious about Green...weapons. Maybe not the best use for Green power, but what the hell, the military loves the Green movement. And why shouldn't they? In places like Iraq and elsewhere, wind and solar can provide instant power plants for bases and some power for parts of cities where the enemy has cut off the power plants. Electric powered vehicles, even hybrid tanks, create less of a heat profile and almost make a tank into a stealth vehicle with less engine noise. The military is eyeballing the Green movement for these types of advances, and they're even looking at bio jet fuel. Thus far, they've actually been stymied by the Bush Administration, if you can believe that. When it comes to Green power for the military, Pres. Bush actually isn't listening to his commanders on the ground. But believe it or not, the Green movement won't just make us safer from an energy independence point of view, in the future there'll be more of the Army that's green than just their camo.

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Lyrhawn
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Feature on electric cars next Sunday morning on the CBS Morning Show

EV1 makes TIME's list of top 50 worst cars ever.

New York Institute of Technology's entry into the solar decathalon.

Coal Forever? The coal industry wants the government to help them find more ways to make use of federal lands with coal.

Super grass grows in the sun, and in the shade, in fresh loam and in infertile soil, and requires no rain to thrive.

Why nature has a beef with us, or, how America's hunger for imported beef is killing the rain forest.

New 1kw mini wind turbine for use in your back yard is quiet, not bad looking, safe, but a little expensive. It's really not bad looking, but at $4,000 the price tag is a little hefty. At 10 cents per kwh, it would take 20 years to return the investment. Such a device would make sense if built on a brand new property, but that's one heck of a long term investment. I've seen cheaper designs for wind turbines that mount on rooftops, and though they produce less power, they're much cheaper and even less intrusive. Still, if they could bring the price down, this could be yet another great innovation for microgeneration.

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AvidReader
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I'm not a fan of grass; I don't think the amount of water it needs justifies its uniform look. But a waterless grass that can take full sun is a brilliant idea for those into that sort of thing.

Now if we can just convince the retirees that they don't have to cut down all the trees on their property to keep the grass nice and not have to rake. It's Florida. It happens for a couple weeks and then we're right back to summer again. Run the leaves over with the mover - you'll be fine. </rant>

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The White Whale
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The EV1 making the top 50 worst car ever list surprises me. The only experience I've had with them is through the movie "Who Killed the Electric Car?" and I got the impression that many people liked them.

Did anyone here have one or ride in one? Was it good? Was it one of the worst cars ever?

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Lyrhawn
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I think there are a lot of reasons it made the list. The batteries used were volatile, and expensive. All the materials in the car for that matter were horribly expensive, and it didn't go very far on a single charge, especially given the type of performance we expect. It was small, it had a paper thin shell which I can't imagine most people would feel safe driving in with all those SUVs out on the road.

It was a good idea that didn't have the technology to back it up, and while it may forever be remembered as the father of the electric car, it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. It would only have ever sold to a small, niche market, and I don't think GM would have made a profit off it from the expense of making the car. Battery technology just wasn't up to the task in the 90's. We question whether or not it's up to it now.

Personally I have no opinion on whether it was a great car or not, but I know that it wasn't a silver bullet that GM killed for the hell of it. It had real, serious issues.

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Bokonon
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quote:
and yet Honda doesn't have a true hybrid, only modified Civics and Accords. Only the Prius was designed from the ground up to be a hybrid, and it'll be joined in the next few years by other such designed cars, as well as dozens of "afterthought" hybrids.
I was catching up on the thread, and Honda Civic Hybrids are just that. The last thing you want is to split up green-conscious folks into smaller groups ("real" hybrids vs. "fake" hybrids).

I know it was a throwaway comment and all, but it's still dumb. Neither design is fully capable without its ICE. Even with the plug-in tech.

-Bok

[ September 09, 2007, 12:49 PM: Message edited by: Bokonon ]

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Lyrhawn
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I agree with you. My point with that comment was that aspectre shouldn't bash GM for something everyone else is doing, with the exception of a single car company with a single car.

New turbulence mapping system saves fuel on airplanes.

Clean coal still pie in the sky.

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Dagonee
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A couple of articles on biofuels:

Article on use of jatropha to obtain oil for biodeisal. No analysis on net energy yield, but it can be grown with food crops.

Article on efforts in Virginia to get a switchgrass industry up and running. One of the potential benefits is that it's suitable for tobacco land, which apparently is hard to make viable for other crops. The biggest need cited is a refining capability - the process is still not ready for commerce. When it is, local refineries should help net energy yield.

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orlox
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10,000 posts! Congrats Lyrhawn. I add my thanks for the great posts and all your effort!
[Hat]

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Lyrhawn
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Dag -

Great articles. I know that switchgrass holds a lot of promise, though I think it's dependent on the next generation of cellulosic ethanol techniques to make it feasible, and I've heard a lot of promising news on that front recently. I'm glad to see Virginia is taking advantage of the here and now advantages, at the very least is top soil retention, instead of waiting for the technology to come through, they can at least make sure the ground is ready when it comes time.

And also a good article on jatropha. That's the first I've ever heard of it, and I'd be fascinated to read what sort of energy yield per acre it has, to see if it is really superior to other potential crops. I'll do some hunting and if I find anything I'll post it. Thanks for keeping your eye out.

Orlox -

Thanks, I'm really proud of this thread especially. And I'm glad that people slog through all the links day after day and keep themselves updated on the newest happenings, and even from time to time find and add their own links. You guys rock. [Smile]

Everyone else, your daily update -

Hydraulic hybrids may be more efficient than electric.

Prius sales still strong, but August say a big dip in hybrid sales. Analysts blame falling gas prices.

Devastating ice loss in Greenland triggers earthquakes.

UNEP uses solar power in rural India to bring light to the darkness. Much of India is still outside the power grid, and by using local microgeneration, they've brought a few hours of light each night to 100,000 Indians. And it's surprisingly cost effective.

Awwwwwwwwwwww (just look, it's your feel good link for the day).

Fisherman and miners fight over Bristol Bay.

EPA fails to listen to its own scientists, and puts the health of Americans at risk, yet again. This is getting ridiculous.

New method patented for turning algae into oil...this could dovetail nicely with new technologies that grow algae via CO2 capture.

Salt water a potential fuel source? Maybe. A cancer researcher found a way to extract and burn hydrogen from salt water using radio waves. What needs to be looked at next is what the energy exchange is, or, do the radio waves use more power than the hydrogen produces.

First sustainable tuna fishery certified. About time, if any food production industry needs sustainability it's the fishing industry, or we may suffer a future with few choices for fish.

Potentially great news about using low frequency electromagnetic waves on ethanol crops can increase yield by almost 20% Brazilian researchers made the discovery, which is no surprise with them being the OPEC of biofuels.

Senator Bond slams Lieberman/Warner climate change bill. A little discussion on this one is warranted, which is why I saved it for last.

To be honest, this is the first I've heard of this bill. It's damned strong too, calling for a whopping 70% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2050. Now I haven't seen the bill, so I don't know which gases are covered, and I don't know if they mean 1990 levels, as are so often aimed for, or if they mean current 2007 levels. Regardless it's impressive. 2050 is often called looked at as the big date by many climate scientists as being the year we have to have these sorts of changes in place by in order to halt or reverse climate change before irreperable damage is done.

Economist Sir Nicholas Stern has said that taking no action to stop climate change could mean a 20% hit to our GDP from climate change related problems, but if we change the way we do things now, that could be dramatically reduced to 1%. I have to wonder about that claim, and I'd love to see the formula he uses to come up with those numbers, but given the unknowns involved, I find it a bit hard to swallow without knowing specifics.

Now Bond has specific, and perfectly reasonable concerns:

quote:
Bond said his criticisms were specific. For instance, his letter states that businesses would be threatened because of duplicative state and regional carbon control programs and that low-income families would be harmed by higher energy costs.

Bond said he will fight to ensure that climate legislation does not disproportionately hurt those who struggle to pay their energy bills.

From News-Leader

Okay, I can see his concern on the working poor and energy costs. If we use more renewables, the cost for a kwh of power is likely to rise, at least in the near term, but I think by 2050 that argument holds a lot less weight. Costs are already plummeting, and this target date is four decades away. But if that were really a serious concern, I think the government should consider

A. Some sort of energy tax on regular homeowners and renters. Energy hogs could pay slightly more and the balance could be transferred to the people who use less, allowing the poor to keep their bills lower, and incentivizing reduced use. This is perfectly fair. If we expect businesses to pay for their excesses and wastes, why wouldn't we expect regular people to use less energy and create less waste themselves? It's monstrous homes and wasteful products, and simple things like leaving computers and lights on that can and should be turned off. When you attack the wallet, people get smart about things they usually don't think much about.

B. A system of loans for the poor (and everyone really) to make energy efficiency improvements to their home, including renovation for better windows, solar heating, better insulation, more efficient energy using products in the home like instant water heaters, energy star products, and CFLs, and money to install either small home wind turbines or solar panels. This is something that is currently being done by private industry, where I think it should be, but if there is to be a focus on the poor, it would have to include especially low interest rates, or the cost savings are non-existant.

So that should protect the poor from high energy costs, so what about his assertions that this will kill the economy? Well, to be blunt: It's crap. Cap and trade systems are already underway in Europe, they are being planned regionally in the West, and there's already a market for them in Chicago. Many, MANY groups way ahead of a carbon cap are already reducing their emissions and making products more sustainably, and you know what? The majority of them have found that more efficient production SAVES THEM MONEY! I've said it a million times but going green MAKES green, as in cash. A cap and trade system will incentivize the kinds of changes that will not only make businesses leaner and more competitive, but will earn them money from emissions credits. It's win/win for the people who aren't stuck in 20th century mindsets. Bond is wrong, and I think industry even thinks that. They are making all these changes without the legislation in place for two reasons I think:

A. They know that such legislation is coming, and frankly I think Congressional ambivalence has been hampering their long term planning.

B. They realize that if they make the changes to using less waste, reusing what waste they have, and even producing their own power, they waste less money, and it makes them greener as well as more competitive in the marketplace.

If a national standard is adopted that as strong as or stronger than the regional ones, then I don't think there will be a problem melding them all together. The only reason you have these regional partnerships cropping up is because states are sick and tired of Congressional inaction, and they are taking matters into their own hands. When Congress finally gets around to acting, the states I think will gladly give way, so long as Congress is serious about it.

I'll look for and try to get you all more information on the details of the bill.

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Glenn Arnold
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Regarding Lyrhawn's link about clean coal: I'm currently working on mercury capture technology for SaskPower. I'm not quite sure how much I can say here, having signed a nondisclosure agreement, but the article makes it appear that Sask has dropped coal intirely, which certainly isn't the case.

CO2 sequestration may indeed be pie in the sky, but "SO2, NOX, mercury and particulate control and capture mechanisms" are quite doable, and since coal is so dirty in the first place, there's a lot of room for clean up.

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