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Burning Buried Sunshine

Dave Cohen, The Oil Drum
I thought it was time to step far enough away from the myopia induced by current oil prices and, in so doing, provide sufficient space to review the the sustainability of the way we live. The title is taken from Jeffrey Dukes’ 2003 paper Burning Buried Sunshine: Human Consumption of Ancient Solar Energy (pdf). Before moving on to Dukes’ results, here is a summary of the findings of Mathis Wackernagel, et. al. Tracking the ecological overshoot of the human enomy (pdf).
(27 Sept 2006)
Highly recommended.-LJ

A step in the right direction

Danny Bradbury, Guardian
Scientists are trying to harness the power generated by walking and to tap the vibrational energy produced by trains. Danny Bradbury reports on their progress
Five years ago, when the World Trade Centre fell, the shockwave rolled around the world. It ruined many lives, and sank a few companies. But who could have known that it would hit Sir Trevor Baylis’s business so hard? Baylis, the British inventor best known for the wind-up radio, was developing a shoe that would charge your mobile phone battery as you walked. The shoe, complete with a slot for the battery, captured some of the energy discharged in the average human step, roughly eight watts, and used it to charge a phone over thousands of strides. Baylis had even walked 100 miles across the Namibian desert to raise money for the idea. But his idea collapsed along with the twin towers.

“After 9/11, anyone wearing electric shoes would look like a bomber. That’s what you have to watch with any electric kit that you carry nowadays,” muses Bailey. Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a plane by carrying explosives in his heels – which subsequently made customs officials particularly nervous about footwear- has a lot to answer for.

The idea of harvesting otherwise wasted energy isn’t new, but it’s beginning to gain traction. Not only are researchers hoping to reap the energy from people, but they’re also planning to use the vibrations from motors and even passing trains to generate power. In some cases, converting vibrations into a tiny charge may be enough to power a wireless sensor. In others, thousands of footsteps could power lights and audio systems.
(28 Sept 2006)

Author & Locavore Jessica Prentice on “The Reality Report”
Jason Bradford, Global Public Media
Today’s guest on the Reality Report is Jessica Prentice, cofounder of the Locavores, a San Francisco Bay Area group that gathers it’s food from within 100 miles of where they live. Prentice is also a professional chef and author of the book “Full Moon Feast”, a culinary tour through the year that details the history of food in different cultures. Her website is Jason Bradford hosts The Reality Report, broadcast on KZYX&Z in Mendocino County, CA.
(18 Sept 2006, but just posted)

An Interview With Christopher Flavin

Jeremy Faludi, Jeremy Faludi
Chris Flavin is the president of Worldwatch Institute, a cutting-edge think tank of sustainablity policy and technology which has written books like their annual Vital Signs and State of the World, countless white papers, and the Worldwatch Magazine. Not for the wonk-phobic, they are a hardcore numbers-intensive analysis group. We’ve linked to them countless times, and are happy to have recently formed a partnership with them.

Yesterday I got the chance to interview Flavin, and he has interesting things to say about the future of renewable energy, climate change, and other things Worldwatch researches.

…Q: You’ve said “signs are now growing that the world is on the verge of an energy revolution.” What are those signs?

A: Well, you see it in the growing investment, you see it in the double-digit growth rates for technologies like solar, wind, and biofuels; you see it in new government policies being passed on a very regular basis now.

The interest and investment and technological momentum in all of these technologies is not only accelerating, but I think reaching some kind of tipping point where the markets really get to be transformed in a way that the next stage of change is actually a lot easier. Even though the amount of growth is going to be a lot larger, it actually gets easier to do, because the whole political equation is different. You’ve got big energy companies that are supporting renewable energy rather than opposing it, because it’s part of their business plan, as opposed to before when they saw it as an unwanted competitor. That in turn changes the political equation, which means that it’s easier to get new laws enacted, which in turn tends to speed up investment, so it becomes a real self-reinforcing circle.
(26 Sept 2006)
More at Gristmill.

North Bay Energy Transition and Climate Change

Sarah Smith,
Please join other concerned citizens and business, political and community leaders in the North Bay (California) to learn about the interdependent challenges of our dependence on fossil fuels and global climate change. In addition to presentations from local experts, you will have an opportunity to consider possible individual and community responses to the challenges.

You will learn more about the facts underlying the higher costs of fuels and the implications for transportation, agriculture, trade, housing, medicine, education and delivery of governmental services.
Also, you’ll hear why some of the “solutions” (such as coal, shale oil, tar sands, etc.) that are being proposed to meet our energy needs are not viable in light of their negative impact on climate change. ..
When: 6:00 – 9:00 pm on Friday, September 29th, 2006
Where: Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave in Santa Rosa, California USA.
(18 Sept 2006)