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Solutions & sustainability - March 22

Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Innovating for a low-carbon age

Peter Madden, Forum for the Future
As five climate change innovations vie for a $75,000 prize, Peter Madden asks you to vote for which will make the biggest contribution to saving the planet.
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Today we announce the finalists in our global competition for innovation to tackle climate change. It's an exciting mix and we're asking you to help us choose the winner.

Five projects have been shortlisted out of nearly 300 entries from around the world, and now we’re asking the public to vote for the scheme that could have the biggest impact. The winner will receive a $75,000 prize – sponsored by technology giant HP – to help develop their product or service and bring it to market.

* Kyoto Box – a cheap, solar-powered cardboard stove for use in rural Africa which can be flatpacked and distributed by lorry in its thousands. It will halve firewood use and carbon credits will earn families money from the first month. (Kyoto Energy Ltd, Kenya)
* Carbonscape – a giant industrial microwave which ‘fixes’ the carbon sucked out of the atmosphere by trees by turning wood into charcoal. This can be buried, used as fertiliser or burnt as a highly-efficient fuel. (Carbonscape, New Zealand/UK)
* Deflecktor – an inexpensive, lightweight aerodynamic cover for lorry wheels which reduces drag. It can cut fuel consumption by 2% on an eight-wheel lorry and trailer. (ADEF Ltd, USA)
* Mootral – a feed additive, derived from garlic which cuts the methane produced by cows, sheep and other ruminants by at least 5%, and up to 25% with optimum dosage. Methane from ruminants is estimated to be responsible for 20% of global warming. (Neem Biotech, UK)
* Evaporating Tiles – an indoor cooling system which works by using exhaust air to evaporate water within hollow tiles built into a false ceiling. It halves the energy use of air-conditioning systems and can be used as a standalone. (Loughborough University, UK)

... This is an extended version of an article that originally appeared in the Financial Times.
19 March 2009)



Minimalist living in Silicon Valley

Cynthia Cheng, Santa Clara Weekly
What could motivate a financially-secure retiree of a Fortune 500 company to live day-to-day in a home without a bed, a television, a sofa or even a dining table? The desire to be a minimalist is what drives Peter Lawrence to live in this manner. This Santa Clara resident recently published a book titled The Happy Minimalist: Financial Independence, Good Health, and A Better Planet for Us All.

Born in Singapore and raised Catholic, Lawrence credits his humble upbringing for teaching him about the merits of living with minimal means.

“My parents didn’t have much education. We were a large family of seven. We didn’t have a lot of luxuries. So we learned how to survive with very little things. Until I was seven years old, the seven of us were living in a one-bedroom apartment,” Lawrence recalls.

As an adult, Lawrence traveled a lot and learned from his observations that a lot of people can live fulfilling lives with few material items.

“The thing with people who live with a lot of things is that they end up spending up a lot of time working to procure those things. And they work to maintain those things. But they never enjoy them,” Lawrence says. “If you think about a rich person’s expenditure, the highest ticket item would be someone’s house. But ask yourself how many waking hours do we actually spend in the house to enjoy it?”

Today Lawrence goes to bed in a sleeping bag, lets his ironing board serve as a desk and computer table, and watches television and DVDs from his laptop. He digitizes his music, books, and documents, so he wouldn’t have a lot of loose items lying around. He avoids turning on his lights or using his heater unless he absolutely has to.

... Visit www.thehappyminimalist.net for information on purchasing the book.
(18 March 2009)



Household and Community Food Security

Jason Bradford, Reality Report
This show of the Reality Report discusses household and community food security through local granaries and local currency. The guest is Cyndee Logan of Mendo Food Futures, a project funded by the California Endowment that includes the local, food-backed money called Mendo Credits.

An article about this project is also available at The Oil Drum. Jason was also interviewed about this project on Ecoshock Radio.
(16 March 2009)


Maggots as Good as Gel in Leg Ulcer Treatments

HealthDay News via US News & World Report
The use of maggots to treat leg ulcers is similar to standard hydrogel therapy in terms of health benefits and costs, according to British researchers.

Debridement (removal of dead tissue from the ulcer surface) helps promote healing and is a common part of treatment for leg ulcers, chronic wounds most often caused by diseased veins. While a hydrogel is commonly used for debridement, it's been suggested the maggots (larval therapy) debride wounds more quickly, stimulate healing and reduce infection.

... Compared to hydrogel, larval therapy significantly reduced the time to debridement, but there was little difference in time to ulcer healing, health-related quality of life or levels of bacteria.
(20 March 2009)
Looking at traditional treatments is a likely trend, as we look for ways to make medical care cheaper and more sustainable. -BA



Reuse stores make use of refuse

Associated Press via MSNBC
Artist Cathy Mansell wants your old thread spools, your empty yogurt containers, your unwanted vinyl LPs.

She knows that even if she has no use for the yarn remnants, wallpaper samples, button collections or irrigation pipe unearthed during closet cleanings, someone will need them for an art project. So she's turned her office full of odds and ends into one of hundreds of reuse centers around the country.
(13 March 2009)

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