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Will Silicon Light Illuminate the Future?

Tyler Hamilton, Technology Review (MIT)
Researchers at a Canadian startup say they’ve found a way to make low-cost, white-light LEDs that could one day end our addiction to inefficient incandescent bulbs. They claim to have cracked the cost barrier for solid-state lighting by replacing the expensive semiconductors compounds traditionally used in LEDs with low-cost silicon.

“Because it’s a silicon-based system, we think [the lighting] will be affordable,” says Stephen Naor, chief executive officer of Ottawa-based Group IV Semiconductor (named after silicon’s position in the periodic table). “That’s critical, because if you don’t have affordability, then nobody is going to buy it.”

Roughly 60 percent of all lightbulbs in the world are still incandescent–and for good reason: most cost pennies to produce. However, 95 percent of the energy used by these bulbs is wasted as heat.
(6 Oct 2006)

A Climate Hero

Sylvester McMonkey Mcbean, Daily Kos
It seems that so many diaries on DailyKos focus on the villains that are damaging our country and the values we stand for. So it is so refreshing when we get a chance to recognize someone who is making a positive change for our world.

And even better when the person comes from a very unexpected place.

Meet Terry Townsend, President of the American Society of Heating and Refrigeration Engineers (ASHRAE).

Stick with me, and I’ll tell you why the hell you should care. You’re gonna love this.
(6 Oct 2006)

Healthy gardens just the start for healthy community

Beth Spencer, The Age
The significance of backyard gardens for greener, cleaner, more temperate cities and towns, and their function in harbouring and feeding the surprising amount of native wildlife that still lives among us is being increasingly recognised.

The bottlebrush in my garden, still finding its feet in clay soil, is not a luxury to the birds, nor is the tiny pond a luxury to my local frogs. We could save a bit by abandoning these, but maybe in the long run we’d use more water producing the extra chemicals to control the insects that proliferate in their absence.

Biodiversity and the successful use of small spaces in many ways takes time and care to establish, and often a judicious use of water to maintain. And I’d be hard pressed to believe that the salad that comes directly from my garden to my plate uses as much water as the lettuce I drive to the supermarket to buy that is watered by aerial spray or irrigation.

When 80 per cent of a nation’s fruit crop can be wiped out overnight by a bad frost, is this really a good time to actively discourage people from tending their backyard fruit trees and vegie patches? Could we instead perhaps educate and encourage each other towards permaculture and water efficiency by more diverse and varied restrictions?
(10 Oct 2006)
Water restrictions in Australia do not recognise the water efficiency of home food growing as compared to industrial agriculture, one of the points also made in this article. -AF

Relocalisation comes to town

Central and North Burnett Times via
Relocalisation Works in the Burnett Inland (RWBI) is taking action in response to concerns raised by a growing number of petroleum industry experts.
RWBI coordinators Chérie McGregor of Kilkivan and Andi Hazelwood of Dallarnil spoke about peak oil and relocalisation at the Burnett Inland Economic Development Organisation (BIEDO) Annual General Meeting held in Biggenden.

RWBI is a newly established group in Post Carbon Institute’s global Relocalization Network which promotes locally based trading, food production and energy independence across 11 countries.

The Relocalization Network is warning of a pending peak and decline in global oil production and the subsequent rise in prices for oil and all the goods and services dependent on oil.
(10 Oct 2006)

Energy Descent: Community lunch questions future

South Gippsland Sentinel Times via
How to plan to live better and more economically, high levels of consumerism, and questions of future energy use, were just several of the topics covered at a fascinating community lunch, held at Mitchell Community House in Wonthaggi last week.

Guest speaker and member of the Bass Coast Sustainability Education Group. Jessica Harrison, led a lively discussion outlining the Kinsale Community Energy Descent Plan. Kinsale is a small seaside town in Ireland, similar to Wonthaggi in many respects.

The townspeople are among the first in the world to take charge of their future, by developing a step by step plan to take the town towards sell-sufficiency in energy and food production by 2021.
(24 Aug 2006)

The World’s Best Documented Post-Peak Open Space Event Ever?

Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture
tttosWe had a fantastic day on Saturday, Transition Town Totnes’ first Open Space day, ‘How Will Totnes Feed Itself Beyond the Age of Cheap Oil?’ Not only did we get a good turnout and generate lots of wonderful connections and ideas, we also successfully trialled our putting the whole event live on the site as it unfolded. You can see the results on the Transition Town Totnes website, with photos and all the ideas generated. Our idea that lots of people around the world would be emailing in their thoughts and input didn’t quite come to pass, but as you’ll see, a couple of people did. We learnt lots from this event that we will be able to use to improve this coming Saturday’s event, which is about energy. Have a read of the write up of the event, it was quite something.
(9 Oct 2006)
Rob also notes that there are discounted places available to the Life After Oil Course at Schumacher college, Devon. -AF

Theories of Exceptionalism

Sharon Astyk, Casaubon’s Book
One of the things that drives me crazy is the constant statement that we all know that people (or Americans, or first worlders, orwhatever subset of “people” we’re talking about today) will never voluntarily change their lifestyles. Usually this is said by someone who has changed their own lifestyle towards greater sustainability and conservation, and is said of the rest of the people out there, who, it is either explicitly claimed or presumed as a functionof the conversation, are simply too stupid and greedy to ever voluntarily change.

But believing that most people won’t change their lifestyle implies a theory of exceptionalism – that we who know better are better people, more moral, smarter, wiser, more compassionate, nicer, probably prettier too. We good people who know about peak oil and conservation, we are wise and noble, and the rest of the hoi polloi are disgusting morons, wallowing in their own excess. Well, frankly, I think that’s a load of garbage, and a kind of self-aggrandizement, rather than anything useful. Because let’s be honest – much as we’d like to believe it, we’re no different than anyone else.
(9 Oct 2006)