A group of people from the Occupy Wall Street movement is collaborating with the climate change advocacy group 350.org and a new online toolkit for disaster recovery, recovers.org, to organize a grassroots relief effort in New York City.
The combination of the jobs and economic focus of Occupy with the climate change and energy transition ideas of 350.org along with the disaster recovery systems of Recovers.org is a model that can build resilience and preparedness quickly if continued. Add Solar IS Civil Defense, set the Maker Culture loose, and it just might shade over into Solar Swadeshi, Gandhian economics, a non-violent and restorative open source peer-to-peer economic system where we plan for 100% success for all humanity, to paraphrase R Buckminster Fuller.
John Robb is a strategist and theorist of modern warfare. His book, Brave New War, is the best introduction I know of to small group warfare, the way technology has enabled ad hoc groups like Al Quaeda and others to wage war against superpowers like the USA.
In the last few years, Robb has changed his focus to the concept of resilience. Looking at the failure of international, national, and regional governmental, economic, and social systems to confront the challenges of climate change and institutionalized as well as ad hoc criminality, he has started an initiative to relocalize our basic systems of survival as we watch the slow decline and collapse of the overarching social machinery that currently exists.
The solution is to build resilience, is to build resilience at the local level... You take control of the things you can have influence over, the things in front of you, the things that are human scale.... and strangely, when you start looking at building resilience, building local viable communities, it solves all the problems at the global level, economically, environmentally, and in terms of quality of life...
Here is his lecture at the recent NYC Maker Faire. The video starts about 8 minutes in and his description of a resilient community ends around 15:40 when he begins to take questions. These seven or eight minutes are a useful introduction to a reasonable way forward.
You can now estimate with great detail the solar electric potential of any roof in Cambridge, MA by just typing in an address on a webpage, the Cambridge Solar Tool
(http://cambridgema.gov/solar). For instance, the double triple decker in which I live has six apartments and a total roof area of 2,781 square feet. 1,136 of those sq ft have high PV (photovoltaic) potential. This could support an 18kW solar electric system providing 22,945 kWh per year, enough to power about a third of the electricity used by those six apartments, if each apartment uses the rough US average of around 11,000 kWh per year (my own annual electric use is around 1,600 kWh/yr).
The estimated savings per year for such a PV system are $9,081. The total cost is $101,720. With the Federal tax credit of $30,516 and a MA state tax credit of $1,000, the final cost to the owner would be $70,204. In addition, the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) of 27¢/kWh could produce $6,212 per year (at least that's my reading of the MA SREC program, but I could be wrong). Such an investment would pay for itself in about 8 years with a return on investment (ROI) of 12.93%, a better return than gold (10.19%) or the stock market (Dow Jones average: 5.50%). The solar electricity would replace other fuels that now spew 12 tons per year of carbon into the atmosphere.
If the owner did not want to put any money down, they could opt for a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), buying electricity from a third party which owns, installs, maintains, insures, and monitors a PV system on the roof of our double triple decker at a long term, generally 20 years, fixed and lower cost than what is paid now for power.
(and knowing is half the battle. - promoted by eli_beckerman)
Solar IS Civil Defense - what we are all supposed to have on hand in case of emergency - flashlight, cell phone, radio, extra set of batteries - can be powered by a few square inches of solar electric panel. Add a hand crank or bicycle generator and you have a reliable source of survival level electricity, day or night, by sunlight or muscle power.
This is also entry level electrical power for the 1.5 billion people around the world who do not yet have access to electricity. Civil defense at home and economic development abroad can be combined in a "buy one, give one" program like the Bogolight (http://www.bogolight.com) which is a solar LED light and AA battery charger.
(I think the idea is right that these can be testbeds for new (or better) ways of living together, among other critical experiments. - promoted by eli_beckerman)
This idea may be moot after all the forced evictions of the Occupations from public spaces but I thought I'd share it anyway.
I've visited the Occupations in Wall Street, Boston, and Providence, RI. Every time I go to one of them, I try to connect with somebody about making the Occupation green with, as yet, little success. In New York, I saw the greywater treatment system Mobile Research Labs set up and talked to a couple of people about using some simple solar techniques. In Boston, I've tried to connect the winterization team with the student Energy Clubs at some of the local colleges and universities and alerted my own network of solar enthusiasts to Occupy Boston's efforts. I've also tried to do the same by contacting OWS's Sustainability Group. In Providence, I talked with the only occupier I saw up and around early on a Sunday morning. He was picking up trash around the park and was disappointed that the group hadn't organized themselves enough to do recycling. I gave him my card and my elevator pitch for a green occupation and he said he'd pass it on.
I look at the Occupations and see economic refugee camps and a possible test-bed for emergency response and sustainable economic development around the world. Some may say that's crazy but the links are there if you look.
Solar water disinfection
http://www.sodis.ch/index_EN A two liter plastic bottle can be made into a water treatment system simply by filling it with contaminated water and exposing it to the sun. Sodis is an organization that promotes this technology around the world.
The disinfection process can be speeded by turning aluminized mylar snack food bags inside out and making them into reflectors as two young students in Belo Horizonte, Brazil discovered: http://calais.phase2technology...
In 2002, during a long electrical shortage, at Uberaba, São Paulo, Brasil, Mr Alfredo Moser discovered a way to gather sun light in the house through plastic bottles hanging from the roof. First shown at the Globo Reporter in the 25th May 2007.
Alfredo Moser was pressed by a scarce electricity substitution and found out that he could light his house with a bottle of water filled with water and a protection cap made of camera film.
The bottle is just refracting sunlight very effectively and produces an equivalent light power compared to a 50/60W lamp. In a rainy day, even without much light and direct sun, one still have some light. Scientist have now visited Moser and are looking into ways to take this concept to maximize its potential.
"Any window that sees direct sunlight is a solar collector. You can learn how to use that free energy to make your home more comfortable and secure. Caulk and seal the window against drafts. Install storm windows on the exterior, interior, or both. Cover the window at night with an insulating curtain to prevent conduction, convection, and radiative heat loss. A valence above the window will stop night-time drafts and reduce condensation. A sunny window can double as a greenhouse for starting seedlings or growing house plants. Expand the solar space below, above, or beside the window with a windowbox solar air or water heater. You can even design a living system to provide fresh vegetables and fish year round while producing space heat, cleaning the air, and reducing waste. A south-facing window is already a solar collector. Learn how to use it."
A lot of modern junk - plastic bottles, cups, refills, rubber slippers, pens etc can be reused in many creative ways to make joyous learning aids. Children could make more than a dozen delightful pumps using all kinds of odd stuff. For instance, push two film cans on the ends of a 15 cm piece of old bicycle tube to make an air pump. The opening/closing valves are made using bits of sticky tape. This high quality pump can easily inflate a balloon! Or else make a scintillating sprinkler within a minute. Poke a broom stick in the middle of a plastic straw. Make two half cuts 2 cm away from the centre. Bend the arms and secure them in place with some tape to make a triangle. Twirl this triangle in water to make a most delightful centrifuge or sprinkler.
Arvind Gupta has been building science teaching toys from trash materials since 1978 and for the Children's Science Centre at Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune University, Pune 411007 Maharashtra India since October 2003.
RDTN.org: Radiation Detection Hardware Network in Japan
RDTN.org is a website whose purpose is to provide an aggregate feed of nuclear radiation data from governmental, non-governmental and citizen-scientist sources. That data will be made available to everyone, including scientists and nuclear experts who can provide context for lay people. In the weeks following launch, it has become evident that there is a need for additional radiation reporting from the ground in Japan. This Kickstarter project will help us purchase up to 600 Geiger Counter devices that will be deployed to Japan. (The project minimum will fund 100 devices).
(The fight continues. This time for the win! - promoted by eli_beckerman)
Nearly 35 years ago, the Clamshell Alliance organized to oppose the Seabrook NH nuclear power plant. In the wake of Fukushima, these old(er) campaigners are ready to start campaigning again.
A Call To Action From Fukushima
Ø Fukushima: Chernobyl in the Pacific Ocean 25 years later.
Ø Nuclear corporation Entergy is poised to violate the will of the people of Vermont and operate the Vermont Yankee reactor (same make, model and age as Fukushima) past the 3/2012 contractual closure date.
Ø Federal NRC granted the VY reactor a 20-year extension just days after the meltdowns in Japan began.
Ø We must begin now to prepare for mass nonviolent action.
Estimated US energy use in 2009 was 94.6 quadrillion btu's. 54.64 quads were "rejected energy," wasted energy. 39.97 quads actually provided energy services, did work. We lost about 57.75% of the energy we produced to get the use of 42.25% of what we, mostly, burned. At least, those are the percentages I get with my calculator.
Every year I start my garden early by using solar cloches made from 2 liter plastic bottles. These three cloches were planted with seed in the last week of March and first week of April, respectively, with tomato and basil, cucumber and dill, and zucchini in planting Zone 6A, eastern Massachusetts.
The ring of bottles are filled with water to store solar heat during the day and the central bottle has its bottom cut out and pressed into the soil to protect the growing seeds.
(With something like 90% of the world's people being either religious or theistic, perhaps a little praying would help. Showing up at Wednesday's events may too. - promoted by eli_beckerman)
A friend sent this to me. I do not know if it is genuine, actually from the Ise Shrine and oracle, but the sentiments are real and, as with chicken soup, it couldn't hurt.
A Japanese Monk Sent this Prayer Request
The damage of the earthquake in Japan is devastating. Unable to cool down the reactor, we are facing a possibility of nuclear plant explosion [hydrogen explosions, not nuclear like a bomb]. Please join our prayer. Feel free to forward this prayer request to anyone. It would be great if more people can pray.
Here is a translation of a message/oracle from the Ise Shrine in Japan:
After sunset we need strong power of prayer.
Please let me deliver the message to as many as possible.
We can stop this earthquake with our prayers, but right now the nuclear
plant is in danger.
Please heal the suffering, sadness, anger, worry about nuclear plants.
Please do not think that this accident will bring justice.
Please care for each other.
The energy toward conflict and fight is also fueling the things happening right now.
Please stop the conflict and stop the fight and change the worrying voice to the power of prayer.
Please pray that as many people as possible can be saved.
We will be O.K.
If our hearts start connecting with each other the earth will be healed.
There are the sounds/vibrations that can release the karma of earth.
Anyone who can make a prayer sound, anyone who can do reiki,
anyone who can do long distance healing,
please direct your energy to the center of Japan .
The exact location is above the Hachiro gata, Akita Prefecture .
If you can sing, please sing.
Humming is fine too.
Let the earth listen to the sound.
Please send gratitude to the earth.
If mother earth wakes up, everything will stop.
The word Song/Sing writes in Japanese Kanji - small possibilities
support a big lack.
Please send your prayer to the Earth to wake up the Spirit.
I will be in meditation after the sunset.
I will pray for the light shining in the sky even in the darkness.
May everyone be safe.
Thank you for supporting my heart at this very difficult time.
Gratitude for our life.
Underequipment, overdevelopment, and mature technology
The combination of transportation and transit that constitutes traffic has provided us with an example of socially optimal per capita wattage and of the need for politically chosen limits on it. But traffic can also be viewed as but one model for the convergence of world-wide development goals, and as a criterion by which to distinguish those countries that are lamely underequipped from those that are destructively overindustrialized.
A country can be classified as underequipped if it cannot outfit each citizen with a bicycle or provide a five-speed transmission as a bonus for anyone who wants to pedal others around. It is underequipped if it cannot provide good roads for the cycle, or free motorized public transportation (though at bicycle speed!) for those who want to travel for more than a few hours in succession. No technical, economic, or ecological reason exists why such backwardness should be tolerated anywhere in 1975. It would be a scandal if the natural mobility of a people were forced to stagnate on a pre-bicycle level against its will.
(In a world where progressively minded folks get their news from GE (ie, MSNBC), what's to be expected? - promoted by eli_beckerman)
Today was the last seminar in a series on clean energy and the media at Harvard's Kennedy School. The subject, scheduled months ago, was "The Seesaw Coverage of Nuclear Power" with Matt Wald, NYTimes, Ned Potter, ABC News, and Matt Bunn, Harvard.
You know it is time to make the switch to solar when you're using solar steam generators to extract oil! From Oil and Gas Journal:
The world's first commercial thermal enhanced oil recovery project that uses solar steam generators went on line Feb. 24 at Berry Petroleum Co.'s heavy oil 21Z lease in McKittrick, Calif.
...GlassPoint built the solar unit in less than 6 weeks and estimates that its facililty on the 21Z lease will supply during the day about an average 1 million btu/hr of solar heat and replace 25-80% of the steam generated by gas-fired boilers on the lease.
The challenge: solar is used for heat and electricity; oil is used for transportation.
Paradoxically, the concept of a traffic-optimal top speed for transport seems capricious or fanatical to the confirmed passenger, whereas it looks like the flight of the bird to the donkey driver. Four or six times the speed of a man on foot constitutes a threshold too low to be deemed worthy of consideration by the habitual passenger and too high to convey the sense of a limit to the three-quarters of humanity who still get around on their own power.
A desirable ceiling on the velocity of movement cannot be usefully discussed without returning to the distinction between self-powered transit and motorized transport, and comparing the contribution each component makes relative to the total locomotion of people, which I have called traffic.
Transport stands for the capital-intensive mode of traffic, and transit indicates the labor-intensive mode. Transport is the product of an industry whose clients are passengers. It is an industrial commodity and therefore scarce by definition. Improvement of transport always takes place under conditions of scarcity that become more severe as the speed-and with it the cost-of the service increases. Conflict about insufficient transport tends to take the form of a zero-sum game where one wins only if another loses. At best, such a conflict allows for the optimum in the Prisoner's Dilemma: by cooperating with their jailer, both prisoners get off with less time in the cell.
Green Mass Group is an online forum for Green thought and collective action in Massachusetts. It is a community forum for justice, sustainability, democracy and health in the Commonwealth and beyond.
"Memorial Day should be a day for putting flowers on graves and planting trees. Also, for destroying the weapons of death that endanger us more than they protect us, that waste our resources and threaten our children and grandchildren."