Top 10 Eco Innovations of the 20th Century

We’ve come a long way with green technology over the past century but not every eco innovation from the past is worth forgetting…

This clunker will go further on just a gallon of gas than many cars can travel on an entire tank!
This clunker will go further on just a gallon of gas than many cars can travel on an entire tank!

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9 Unusual Alternative Energy Options – the Potential of Biomass

Biomass Can Come from a Great Variety of Interesting Sources
Biomass Can Come from a Great Variety of Interesting Sources

Biomass energy and biomass fuel are becoming more and more viable options for a sustainable future. But Biomass is a lot more fascinating than most people realize, with fuel sources ranging from chicken excrement to human fat and even stranger substances you might never have guessed. The many, many different possibilities for biomass materials makes it one of the most fascinating forms of alternative energy – especially when you consider these unusual methods of biomass production:

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The Tyranny of King Corn (part 1)

We’ve all heard by now that corn-based ethanol has turned out to be a bad idea.

  • Corn is energy intensive to grow, gobbling up fossil-fuels at every stage of production, from transporting seeds to fertilizing the fields (with petrochemical fertilizers) to final harvest.
  • Corn is also a spectacularly water-intensive crop.
  • The ethanol production stage consumes more fossil fuels and water.
  • Once it finally reaches your gas tank, ethanol burns around 30% less efficiently than gasoline (meaning your per-mile cost is actually 30% more than you think it is).
  • Estimates of how much actual energy we get out of the process range from barely breaking even to around 20 percent more than the input energy.
  • And of course, every step of the process spews CO2 into the atmosphere.

It’s been almost a year since The New York Times editorialized on the subject:

The economics of corn ethanol have never made much sense. Rather than importing cheap Brazilian ethanol made from sugar cane, the United States slaps a tariff of 54 cents a gallon on ethanol from Brazil. Then the government provides a tax break of 51 cents a gallon to American ethanol producers — on top of the generous subsidies that corn growers already receive under the farm program.

And unlike our inefficient corn-based ethanol, that Brazilian product actually yields 370% of the energy put into it.

So, why are we doing this? What possible calculus could convince us to even consider corn ethanol?

Corn is big business – and big agribusiness hires the best lobbyists.

Here, the return on investment is spectacular: plant a few tens of millions of dollars in seed money in the form of campaign contributions to senators and members of Congress, and reap billions of dollars in federal farm subsidies.

And for agribusiness, corn is king.

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Drill, Nancy, Drill?

Oil RigOffshore Oil Platform Under Construction --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

You may well be wondering – why the heck is Nancy Pelosi pushing through a bill that allows for offshore drilling? Isn’t that against everything we’re supposed to stand for? Is this another example of business-as-usual betraying core Democratic principles?

Alas, sometimes green areas fall in grey areas. Here’s the scoop:

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Suns Turn to Namesake for Power

The US Airways Center will be the latest venue to benefit from alternative power, as the Phoenix Suns have announced plans to utilize solar panels, one of only a few professional sports organizations to currently do so.

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San Fran Residents Clamor for Greener Power

San Francisco residents vying for the option of public power have had hopes dashed eleven times since the 1920s, but the fight against power entity Pacific Gas and Electricity (PG&E) is entering its twelth round, and this time supporters of the proposition – Proposition H – believe that November 4th will mark a victory for them and the environment.

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Solar Energy – The Only True Source of Power

Author’s note:
It is beyond the scope and space available in this blog to fully explain how important solar energy has always been.  For this reason, much of the information here is meant to be a LINK to other information, and is connected to it through hyperlinks to other web pages.  To better understand how important solar energy is, it is strongly advised that you click on some or all of these links.  Each one will open a new window, so you will be able to return easily to this article, and continue along the train of thought it offers.  — Roger

Deep field image of many galaxies. Courtesy of NASA

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GYM: Concept Car for Physical Fitness

Sporting and sporty, combining fitness and transportation

If being an electric car isn’t enough to make you look at this concept vehicle with an appreciative eye, would it help to say that it incorporates personal workout into it’s operation?  That’s right, it is flashy, sporty, and helps keep you healthy.  The car could be charged up using a connection to a conventional electric outlet, but it can also be charged by another, rarely tapped form of power: the human body engaged in physical exercise.  It has a stepping machine, a bench press, a rowing machine, and you can even do some pull-ups, keeping you physically fit at the same time as you put that aerobic energy to a practical use.

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