Friday, November 24, 2006

Abandon hope. We're doomed.

Tom DeWeese ( the president of the american policy centre ) said:

"To save liberty in America, Sustainable Development must be stopped."

"And I will tell you now, if you want to keep your guns, your property, your children and your God… if you love liberty… Then Sustainable Development is your enemy!"

Obviously 'Sustainable Development' could have been replaced with almost anything. Simply slot in your least favourite religious, racial or idealistic group and repeat. Still, this seems to be official American policy now. (insert favourite deity) help us all.

[ more here ]

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Energy Statistics

From the Ecotricity website:

"It is worth noting that a 1994 briefing note from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee identified that each unit of electricity produced from fossil fuels, such as coal, results in excess of 860g of carbon dioxide, 10g of sulphur dioxide and 3g of nitrogen oxides being produced."

Impovements in solar power

The problem with solar panels is that they cost too much and produce too little electricity per square meter. An example of this problem can be seen with major high street stores selling panels for £10,000 that will save £200/year. Most consumers don't want to spend on a micro-generation system that will pay for itself in 50 years (if it lasts that long). To be commercially viable pv solar panels need to undergo a dramatic reduction in cost, a dramatic increase in efficiency or both.

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have created solar panels that generate from a greater range of the EM spectrum. By doping a zinc-manganese-tellurium alloy with oxygen atoms they have produced a solar panel that responds to lower energy photons. This panel has an estimated efficiency 45%. Find out more here.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Old smoke detectors

We've had a smoke detector fail. I'm sure it's not 7500 years since it was installed; that being the half-life of the radioactive material they use to make them.

So, what do you do with a busted smoke alarm ? Apparently the best thing to do is throw it in the rubbish bin - that seems to be the recommended practice. The radioactive material costs about £1000 per gram, so you can imagine how little of it there is in the smoke alarm (clue: about 0.0002g). Allegedly it's even safe to swallow it - it doesn't get absorbed by the gut as it's not soluble in water or fat, so apart from a few stray gamma rays passing straight through you, there should be no harm done.

Still, I'm not entirely comfortable with chucking it into landfill - or even incineration.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

eco cad package

Ecotect is a package that lets you design a building and work out the environmental impact of it. Not had chance to test it yet but it looks good. Allegedly works under WINE on Linux too though I've never had much success with that on any non-trivial application!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Pledge Bank

Re-discovered pledgebank today, and signed up to one by Steve Jalim to 'replace all of the traditional light bulbs in my home with low energy versions'.

Click on to show your support.

Steve Jalim's pledge will close on 31st December 2006 and it currently needs the support of 60 people before it goes into action.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Sweden is aiming to be independant of oil for energy and transport by 2020 - without resorting to nuclear power. They city climate change and the cost of oil increaing as supplies run out. I feel a letter to my MP coming on... See here for a report from the Swedish government on this.

New links

I've added a bunch more links on the side bar. Go on, spend a lunch break browsing :-)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Underground homes

Interesting article on - about building non-conventional housing. Has a chunk on building underground and also on treehouses.