Circa 1940

The first great depression


Everywhere we go recently it seems as though there is a brand new eco-friendly “green” versions of old products.  I have mentioned a few of these silly things like the 57 watt light bulb as a new energy efficient version of the 60 watt.

I have been coming across even more ludicrous examples, many of them outright lies.  Often you can see the absurdity just by looking at the contradictions in the advertising.  Phrases like “eco-friendly” and “contains mercury and lead” should not be on the same product.

I came across a good example the other day with a can of lithium grease.  The can is green of course and is pitched as a bio-based biodegradable lubricant.  If the warnings about calling poison control if ingested aren’t enough there is always the fact that Lithium is a metal and thus can not bio-degrade…ever.

This trend is a problem because in addition to claiming dangerous products are safe, overall the public believes things are changing for the better when in reality the packaging is just different. Consumers look around and things look like companies are being less wasteful but in the end it is just a marketing illusion.

Natural Gas to hydrates for transport and back to gas

A while back I wrote a post HERE and HERE on collecting natural gas hydrates from the sea floor.  I was not really in favor of the idea because of the possible/probable dangers.  For good or bad like drilling at 5000ft for oil, extracting these frozen naturals gasses is going to happen so might as well examine the effects..

One of the often cited problems with natural gas as an energy source is that they are hard to safety transport over long distances because of the volatile and hazardous properties of the fuels.  A proposed solution is to turn the fuel back into a solid by freezing and applying pressure like at the bottom of the ocean where fuels like methane are in a solid and thus more stable state.

My concern in using this method of freezing and unfreezing is how much energy will be needed to convert a gas like methane into a solid.  The melting point of methane is about -297 F(162.5C) so an extremely cold environment would be need to convert and keep methane as a solid.  The other problem is that natural gas is another limited resource so putting lots of energy into collecting it is not a good long term energy strategy.

However, just like coal and oil, we will take natural gas as long as we can get it and so having a viable fuel transportation strategy is an important development.

Savor your shrimp as it may be your last, Oil is the new seaweed

I have been wanting to write about the disaster in the Gulf Of Mexico but whenever I tried to learn about the impacts of the oil, the more irritated I got.

So now that I am in a more objective emotional state of mind I will try to asses the future term impacts.  This is just the start as ridiculous amounts of poison gasses liquid, and solids will be pumping into the ocean for several more months.

The oil we see washing ashore and being burnt up on top of the water is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. What is coming out of the bottom of the gulf is a diverse mixture of petroleum with different densities and thus buoyancy.  The vast majority is under the surface mingling with the fishes and shrimp.

Dispersants makes even more oil go underwater but is necessary to protect the coastlines. Either way most of the oil will collect in The Gulf and then the ocean currants will take it around the world, first the North Atlantic, then the South Atlantic, and then on to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Pacific.

The politics surrounding this event are also very disconcerting. This was not a completely unanticipated event.  There has always been the possibility that offshore rigs can be compromised. It is unfortunate that is takes a real disaster to wake people up.

The best shrimp came from the Bayou but I believe those days may already be over.

The Mississippi Meets the oil

Geothermal energy waste into lithium batteries

Most geothermal energy plants inject water deep into the ground where the earth’s heat energy turns it into steam used to generate electricity.

The wastewater from this process is full of elements that are not abundant on the surface and that includes lithium.  Without going too far into battery technology lithium batteries last four times as long as conventional ones and can deliver a lot of energy quickly.  The latter feature is extremely useful for electronics and hybrid cars.  The 150 MPG cars you hear about are made with lithium-ion batteries.

This is a great example of a change needed at the demand level.  Energizer makes them but  the cost makes them a rare purchase despite the advantages.  A synergistic relationship between battery makers and geothermal energy producers is very important. The educated consumer will buy them but needs to realize that you get what you pay for and 99 cent batteries last only hours.

Supermodels for a good cause,

A friend of mine made this video and I think it is a good way to get people’s attention…clearly we need a new approach to get people to take climate change seriously.

The production was done very well and  Bill O’Reilly doesn’t like it so that’s a good sign.

For Sale and Help Wanted Boston 1885

I liked Ted Kennedy

even though he caused a great many traffic jams that I got stuck in…

old old south church

“Bostonians like the feeling of being steeped in history,” Ted Kennedy wrote. “They give special deference to the old — the ancient building, the small shops, the restaurants with the large overhead fans where their grandfathers ate, the old characters who stand around the Court House.”
new old south church

“It offends the human ego that nature is indifferent to our dreams”

This post is somewhat dated, I’ve been moving and haven’t had internet.

I forget where I heard that quote but if you haven’t guessed it relates to the G8’s “decision” not to allow an increase in global temp of more than 2C

This is dumb because it implies that we have a lot more control over global climate than we do.

Yes reducing carbon emissions would help the planet get back to an equilibrium but whether we can actually stop the current trends initiated more than two hundred years ago is a different question.

It is arrogant to state we have this much control over nature and stupid to assume that we know what will happen as temperatures rise.

Take sea level rise for example, IT IS NOT HAPPENING.  This is not to say we shouldn’t reduce emissions and be clean for the future, just that symbolic goals without any reason to believe we can accomplish them doesn’t seem like the most effective way to change things.

…Particularly not when developing countries (ie the majority of the world) refuse to abide by this “decision”


Top 50 Environmental Engineering Blogs

GROG is on this LIST at number 13 as an “Industry Insider”

They even wrote a little summery:

“GROG: green tech blog The main focus of this blog is Green Technology. Get reviews of the newest developments in sustainable design and renewable energy, and certain technologies that will promote energy independence and a cleaner environment.”

The list is a resource for engineering students and has a lot of good blogs on it.

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