that every day, there are news headlines about increasing costs of
consumer products, talk of scarcity of food, energy and even water...
The list goes on and on.
news isn't all bad. Here's some ideas that you may not have heard about
to help get us out of the pickle we're in.
Machines that draw pure water out of the air. Think of them as
dehumidifiers that produce clean, sterile, drinkable water. wikipedia
article on "atmospheric water generators"
2. Electric generating stations that concentrate the sun's light. these are currently being used in places like California and Spain.
Aeroponics is a system of growing plants without soil. The AeroGarden
is a good attempt at a home unit. Aeroponics
is also being used commercially.
Hydroponic greenhouses have been shown to be commercially viable.
Pesticides don't need to be used because the growing area is enclosed.
Crops can often be grown 365 days a year, even in areas with colder
climates. Thanet Earth is a great example of this new way of farming; it's a 220 acre hydroponic farm in Thanet in Kent, England.
lighting is about as efficient as compact fluorescent lighting. But it
has some important advantages; the bulbs last a lot longer than CFL's,
and they don't contain mercury (which fluorescent lights do). They also
generate almost no heat, so they reduce air conditioning costs and can
make rooms more comfortable. Los Angeles plans to replace 120,000
street lamps, which is expected to save approximately $10 million
annually from a combination of reduced energy usage and lower
6. Vegan diets can save a lot of energy versus meat based diets. Eating a pound of meat can be like
throwing away several pounds of grain, since it takes so much grain
to feed livestock. It's only because the US has huge, complicated
subsidy programs that keep meat from being much more expensive.
7. Low rolling resistance tires can reduce auto fuel consumption by as much as about 5.1 percent.
efficient consumer electronics can add up to big savings. Laptop
computers can use a fraction of the power of a desktop PC and monitor.
Also, a new type of audio amplifier, sometimes referred to as Class D
or Class T, is approximately 90 percent efficient. These often run so
cool to the touch that you can't even tell if they are on. Most
traditional amplifiers generate quite a bit of heat, which represents
wasted electricity. These are being used in some TVs, home stereo amps
and car amps. more about Class D amps
than 10 percent of the energy put into the US electric grid is lost as
heat. A company named Transphorm has developed a more efficient
electric power conversion process which they claim could prevent up to
90 percent of all electric conversion losses in devices, an amount
equal to $40 billion worth of electricity or the equivalent of 318
coal-fired plants. read more
Electric bicycles are a more energy efficient way than cars for people
to get around. Interest in e-bikes, as they are sometimes called, is
just now growing in places like the US, India and Europe, But there are
already an estimated 120 million e-bikes in China. read more
flush toilets are an idea that makes so much sense, it's a testament to
our resistance to make changes that they have only caught on recently.
A regular flush uses the standard 1.6 gallons, while a "pee only" flush
uses just nine tenths of a gallon. Conversion kits
are available for about $20-30. New urinals, such as the Zeroflush
brand, can save 40,000 gallons of water per year, for each urinal.
speed rail is estimated to consume approximately 42 percent less energy
per passenger-mile than intercity car travel and 30 percent less energy
per passenger-mile than plane travel. Japan has had these modern
marvels since the 1960's, and Germany, France, England and China have
big leads over the US in using them.
Solar panels that make electricity are sexy, but the real money savers
are solar panels used to heat a home's water. These can have a
payback period of a little as six years, with a savings of $10,000 or
more in the following ten years. Here's a solar payback calculator (be sure to check
the menu item to indicate whether your water is currently heated with natural gas or electricity)
devices are being developed to capture wave energy in the ocean to
produce electricity. One of the most promising designs is called
SeaRay. The manufacture, Columbia Power Technologies, says “the
world’s oceans are estimated to contain enough practically
extractable energy to provide over 6,000 terawatt hours of
electricity each year, which is enough to power over 600 million
homes and is worth over $900 billion annually".
time we stopped doing things the way we used to, 'cause that sure
didn't work. By re-examining how we use energy and material resources,
we can get on the track toward sustainability.