Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Comics

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

At one point while living in my first apartment in Chicago, I actually thought about doing this.  Then I realized I had no idea where to begin and ordered a pizza.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Restoring Sanity/Fear

Today marks the day as Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert are holding the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear at the National Mall in Washington, DC along with satellite rallies all across the nation.

Even though this can easily be seen as a source of free entertainment – the more important point of this rally is that, despite your political affiliation, people need to stop allowing the menial issues to distract them from the important issues that will be largely influenced by the election taking place this November 2.

With many governorships "up for grabs" this election, alternative energy is at risk of being crippled by candidates that plainly don’t care about these issues – which I have explained is completely backwards.

Clearly this rally is going to be a fun one, luckily it is going to have the added benefit of reminding people in America to get out and vote this coming Tuesday.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Weekly Review - October 29, 2010

Every Friday, I will review the big developments that happened during the week so that you can stay current and (attempt to) sound smart when talking to others.

Range Anxiety
  • The What - This is a term that has been thrown around for a while now, but it has been popping up more and more in the coverage of electric cars.
  • Why You Care - Even though people don’t typically drive more than 40 miles on a daily basis, the fear that your car could run out of power while driving is a legitimate fear that could damage the sales of these cars. Like the first iPhone, battery capacity will improve over time, but initial purchases need to take place to provide the developers with capital they can reinvest into development.
Naval Biofuel
  • The What - Not a day went by this week without Sustainabili-City’s twitter account being inundated with headlines referring to the Navy testing out a Command Boat that runs on a 50% mix of algae-based biofuel.
  • Why You Care - Whenever the military begins purchasing a new technology ($424/gallon of algae-biofuel), new markets begin to emerge as the developers enjoy a new source of funding. Think cell-phones or the internet.
Wind Declining
  • The What - In a report released by AWEA, the wind energy industry is slowing down to levels previously recorded in 2007. This is most evident when considering that Vestas laid off 3,000 workers this past week.
  • Why You Care - Damnit. Oscillations happen all the time in new (and old) industries as they try to discover the efficient level of operation and growth, but this definitely is a punch in the balls.
Environmentally Friendly Halloween Costumes
  • The What - If you are like 80% of people, you have waited until the last moment to figure out what you are going to be for Halloween.
  • Why You Care - Face it. Halloween is the most enjoyable holiday of the year and you should never pass up an opportunity to celebrate with friends. With these last minute ideas, you can create a great costume out of things you potentially already have saving you from spending a lot of money on something that you will potentially only wear once.
My Favorite

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Copy and Paste

Not often will I blatantly quote the New York Times, but it is Thursday and I have turned almost all of my attention towards my costume for Halloween this weekend - so...

Plagiarism on!
Updating and expanding the electrical grid to accommodate new sources of energy will be the biggest challenge, and will require partnerships among states, federal authorities, the utilities and private investors. The Google project could be crucial to delivering wind power to Eastern cities, but major investments will also be needed in the West and Southwest. President Obama recently declared that no industry has greater potential to create jobs than clean energy. He is right. But it is never going to happen unless the administration and Congress do a lot more to push it ahead.
The entire article can be found here at the NY Times' website, but essentially it talks about how America needs to pick it up when it comes to alternative energy programs.

I will hammer this point forever.  You don't have to be a hippie or some idealist to see the benefits in alternative energy and energy efficiency along with other sustainable movements.

These things create jobs.
                 Jobs create money.
                            Money buys things.
                                    Things being bought sustain other jobs...and so it goes.

I can go on a huge rant about national security and environmental benefits that stem from these things, but I'll save that for another day.

Try to tell me that pursuing these technologies and practices are not the rational next move.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

D.I.Y.D: Using Outlet Timers To Shut Down Power Vampires

Most of the time you are going to find me talking about developments that will eventually impact your lives. Despite the (hopefully) exciting nature of these developments, the vast majority of readers won’t experience the full benefits for some time.

That is where these D.I.Y.D (Do It Yourself, Damnit) posts come into play. I will regularly post things you can do in your daily lives that will save you money and help you lead a more sustainable lifestyle.

One of the most common suggestions made when talking about methods to reduce your energy consumption around the house is to connect your energy hungry appliances (televisions, entertainment systems, etc) to a surge protector and turn the protector off when you are not using the appliances.

While this is a great suggestion and does provide a noticeable level of relief on your electric bill, it can become somewhat of a hassle. This is especially noticeable when you have a large entertainment system or computer system that is constantly draining power, but to unplug it when you aren’t using it means you would have to move a large desk (or in some college student’s cases, an elaborate systems of milk crates).

To help make it easier to stick to this plan, go out and buy an outlet timer and plug your surge protector into it. These allow you to set certain times during the week where the timer will switch off the surge protector for you.

An example of this would be that you have your outlet timer switch everything off during the hours you are at work and at night while you sleep. Timers are relatively cheap and eliminate the ‘I can’t believe I forgot to switch off my entertainment system…again’ moments.
You may ask, “But dude, what if I am playing Halo: Reach on Xbox at 3 AM and the timer shuts off my system. Won’t that lose all my progress?”
To this concern I respond, “Well, person who still says ‘dude,’ I would be more concerned about playing video games at 3 AM, go to bed.”
Yes, it is convenient to have your entertainment system supplied with power all the time because you can turn it on at will, but these are also some of the largest unnecessary drains on power found in households.

By introducing a little discipline to your life, an outlet timer becomes a small and effective step towards making your home more energy efficient, and will make the wait for new energy technologies to become available less strenuous (while also developing some good habits along the way).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Sea Britain" Revisited

Often you find me talking about alternative energy and things that individuals can do to help reduce their "energy footprint."  While I do believe that energy consumption is the most pressing issue facing us today, water consumption is an extremely close second.

Water is a limiting resource, and as population increases, more water is going to be demanded.  This has led to the development of more efficient systems of water use ranging from more efficient washing machines and dishwashers to low-flow toilets (9 out of 10 men will agree that there has to be a better way make sure these damn toilets don't get clogged as much - I'm looking at you, engineers!).

However, no matter how efficient we get with our water usage, the bottle-neck of water treatment still exists.  The thought of using chemicals to clean our water leaves something to be desired for a lot of people, mainly because it is a constant drain (pun!) of money.

That is until now.

Floating Island International has developed a technique to create man-made islands that use the same natural processes as bogs and wetlands to clean polluted water without the aid of chemicals.

There is a good interview with the company's owners (Bruce and Anne Kania) over at Marc Gunther's blog outlining all the work that they have done up until now.  Most projects are on a municipal level which, in my opinion, is right where it needs to be.

Bruce goes as far as to say that one day he would like to create ocean-front real estate with his islands to support human living conditions, and while even I think that sounds a little bit like science fiction, I am prepared to eat my words the day it happens.

Will this end the need for chemical treatment of our water systems? No.

This will follow the same trend as alternative energy working in collaboration with coal.  Maybe one day we will figure out how to completely replace the dirtier process, but until then we can make great strides in mitigating the pollution we are exerting right now.

(For those of you who don't get the title of this entry, "Sea Britain" is one of the more brilliant jokes that came from Season Three of Arrested Development.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Green ($) Technology

There is a great article over at Grist talking about the progress that has been taking place in America at the state level regarding alternative energy and efficiency initiatives.

I encourage everyone to read the entire article here, but the main point of the article is that despite all the positive movement, the clean-energy sector is at risk of being crippled by certain politicians running for governor of their respective states.

I know, I'm shocked as well.

My favorite excerpt is:
"Of the 37 Republicans running for governor this fall, 22 reject the science of climate change..."
I'm going to go ahead and ignore the part of my brain that is screaming at people ignoring simple scientific trends and current events and instead present another argument:  Alternative Energy presents an opportunity to make and save (a lot of) money.

Are you kidding me?!?!?!!
Money is good.  This is something that most people can agree upon no matter what their political views are.  So, even if you don't believe that the climate is going to shift due to our continually increasing carbon emissions (duh*), it would be politically irresponsible to ignore the opportunity to create jobs and make money off of these technologies.

Job creation is one of the biggest issues today and alternative energy has the potential to help mitigate this issue.  To simply dismiss these technologies due to political reasons is short-sighted and backwards.

There are countless examples of alternative energy and sustainable living programs popping up all over the country (many of which I am listing on Sustainabili-city's Twitter page), politicians just need to wake up and realize the money making potential of these programs.

Oh yeah, and while the money is being made and saved, there is a side-effect of making the world a cleaner place...if living in a clean environment is your sort of thing.

*I rarely say 'duh,' which should give you an indicator of how I feel about climate change.


Make sure to follow Sustainabili-City on Twitter.

Alternative energy and sustainable living practices are highly dynamic with new developments occurring all the time.  I'll be doing my best to cover most of the topics, but inevitable some stories will "fall through the cracks" of the internet, and that is where I will be using Twitter to list these developments.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Comics

An option for the environmentally conscious, intergalactic tyrant.

Every Sunday, I will post a comic that I find on the internet which (hopefully) will be related to alternative energy, energy efficiency, or sustainable living.

If any of you come across something funny, feel free to email it to me here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Let me be clear.

At this stage of my life I know very little about alternative energy, smart grid technology, and sustainable living.

However, this lack of a thorough understanding doesn’t make me blind to the potential of these fields. Instead, every day I look for an opportunity to talk about these emerging industries. This is for two reasons:

  • I believe that the more people hear about these things, the less that they will believe that alternative energy and smart energy-distribution systems are some futuristic dream.
  • I like sounding smart.

These two points highlight the purpose of this blog (sarcastic self-indulgence and shameless promotion of clean practices).

By discussing these sustainable advances, I am hoping to make my (millions of) readers and Stumblers more aware of the issues while also furthering my own understanding so that I can continue to (think I) sound smart.

I invite anyone to comment on or criticize anything that I say here, because ultimately we will all be benefit from the conversation in the end…hopefully(maybe?).