energy economy

A global transition is needed to shift linear economic models typified by carbon intensive energy consumption and significant environmental impacts, where we ‘take, make and dispose’ natural resources- to circular models with reduced energy requirements from low carbon renewable sources, with minimal environmental impacts, and where natural resources are recycled and reused, and products are maintained and re-manufactured. 

Investing in projects and schemes, and across a range of sectors and scales, that align with this transition can have significant environmental benefits, as well as other positive sustainability related outcomes. Consider, as examples, the range of environmental, social and economic benefits that can be achieved at both a regional/national, and global, level of investing in cycling as a mode of urban transport- or by designing and engineering natural infrastructure that works in harmony with existing natural systems.

Three debates, and ZERO climate questions. But, each time Hillary Clinton brought the topic up herself. 

This is what she said at the third (and final) debate in Las Vegas. 

Read more about the climate silence at the Guardian.

5 Reasons to Hate Millennial Americans

1. They have slightly different eating habits than older generations, such as eating less cold cereal, preferring “fast casual” dining options, and seeking out “ethical” food sources. Why can’t they just grab a burger? So g-darn pretentious.

2. Millennials have access to tools via the internet on their cellphones and computers, and they use those tools. Instead of going to the store every time, they frequently shop online. Instead of using a physical planner, many of them use apps. They even do their banking through internet services instead of going to the bank! Can we say LAZY? They should be doing things the old fashioned way, even if it takes more time and there’s absolutely no advantage in it for them.

3. They’re not content with this good country the way it is. They want to end institutionalized racism, implement clean energy, improve the economy, and cut the poverty rate. I’m sorry but I respect my American heritage, and my great-great-great-grandpa didn’t die in the war to make this country “fair”.

4. They think that a full-time job should pay enough for an average individual person to survive off of, which is obviously ridiculous. Obviously. Many economists support raising the minimum wage, but they’re just dumb. There’s not even room for debate on this one.

5. Some Millennials want Bernie Sanders for president. Bernie Sanders is a socialist. The definition of socialist is someone who wants to make the USA just like the USSR. There are not different varieties of socialism, nor are there any elements of socialism in any successful country. Millennials need to learn some history for once. In any case, they should know better than to have independent political beliefs.

Could we get solar energy from bacteria?

Bio-solar panels, which use materials such as soil, plants and bacteria instead of the the metals and acids that are required for photovoltaic panels, just took a major step forward. Researchers from the Binghamton University, USA, have connected nine bio-solar cells into a panel and managed to continuously generate 5.59 microwatts of electricity. Until now, nobody has connected that many cells into a panel or generated that many microwatts. 

The nine biological-solar (bio-solar) cells connected into a bio-solar panel by the team from Binghamton University. Credit: Seokheun Choi

Seokheun Choi, co-author of the paper Biopower generation in a microfluidic bio-solar panel, which reported the findings, said, ‘Once a functional bio-solar panel becomes available, it could become a permanent power source for supplying long-term power for small, wireless telemetry systems as well as wireless sensors used at remote sites where frequent battery replacement is impractical’. 

While the amount of power generated is tiny relative to that of conventional solar panels, the findings could encourage further research into this potentially promising area. 

This approach uses cyanobacteria, a type of bacteria that gain their energy using photosynthesis, hence the ‘solar’ element of these panels. Because they don’t directly run on sunlight, in the manner of conventional solar panels, they could be appropriate for environments that can’t make use of traditional solar power.

Cultured cynobacteria, which can be found in almost every terrestrial and aquatic habitat on the planet, and which provided the energy for these bio-solar panels. Credit: Joydeep.

However, there remains a lot of work to be done before bio-solar panels can be a realistic prospect. Choi said that, ‘The metabolic pathways of cyanobacteria or algae are only partially understood, and their significantly low power density and low energy efficiency make them unsuitable for practical applications. There is a need for additional basic research to clarify bacterial metabolism and energy production potential for bio-solar applications.’
We can have good jobs and healthy communities

Our families and children deserve clean air and water and we must do all that we can to stop allowing corporations to corrupt our livelihood unchecked. Where possible, we must choose clean alternative options so that our economy and our families can thrive. It is not a one or the other choice. We can have good jobs and healthy communities by shifting away from an economy dependent on fossil fuels to one that creates jobs for workers through a just transition to a clean energy economy.

We can and must be the change we want to see in the world and we have the chance to do it right now. In North and South Dakota, construction of a crude-oil pipeline, known as the Dakota Access Pipeline, threatens the lives and livelihoods of the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The pipeline would pass under the Missouri River (at Lake Oahe) which is just half a mile upstream from the boundary of the Standing Rock Sioux’s reservation and provides their drinking water.

Over the last three years there have been over 200 known pipeline leaks in the United States. A spill at this site would be a health, economic and cultural catastrophe for Standing Rock Sioux families. Further, the pipeline would pass through incredibly precious culturally significant sacred lands, like burial grounds, for the tribe and infringe on their freedom to practice and protect their culture and beliefs.

We are so proud that our union, the Service Employees International Union, along with other labor unions, didn’t stand idly by and let this injustice prevail. Instead SEIU along with like-minded good jobs and justice-focused partners have stood strong with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

Not only do the Standing Rock Sioux deserve the respect and protection of their sacred grounds, but they deserve to know the water they are drinking is uncontaminated and safe. This is yet another instance where a low income, community of color is subjected to contamination at the hands of powerful corporations and an unresponsive government.    

[image description: a photograph of Donna Mazapeta-Firesteel with the words “We need to stop this pipeline of mother earth and for children that are not yet born”- Mazapeta-Firesteel, LPN at Health Partners, SEIU HCMN Member]

…a 2012 study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives compared the public value from a $5 billion pipeline— the rough cost of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway— and the value that could be derived from investing the same amount in green economic alternatives. It found that if $5 billion is spent on a pipeline, it produces mostly short- term construction jobs, big private sector profits, and heavy public costs for future environmental damage. But if $5 billion is spent on public transit, building retrofits, and renewable energy, economies can gain, at the very least, three times as many jobs in the short term, while simultaneously helping to reduce the chances of catastrophic warming in the long term. In fact, the number of jobs could be many times more than that, according to the institute’s modeling. At the highest end, green investment could create thirty- four times more jobs than just building another pipeline.
—  Naomi Klein - This Changes Everything

You get a sense of “authenticity” when you hear Sanders talking truth to power, but there is another kind of authenticity, which may not feel as good but is vitally important, when Clinton speaks honestly about what change really requires, about incremental progress, about building on what Obama has achieved in the arenas of health care, clean energy, the economy, the expansion of civil rights. There is an inauthenticity in appeals to anger rather than to reason, for simplified solutions rather than ones that stand a chance of working. This is true about Donald Trump, and lamentably also true about Sanders. 

Please Please read the Rolling Stones article.

Iraq’s main labor unions declared that ‘the privatization of oil is a red line that may not be crossed’ and, in a joint statement, condemned the law as an attempt to seize Iraq’s ‘energy resources at a time when the Iraqi people are seeking to determine their own future while still under conditions of occupation.’ The law that was finally adopted by Iraq’s cabinet in February 2007 was even worse than anticipated: it placed no limits on the amount of profits that foreign companies can take from the country and made no specific requirements about how much or how little foreign investors would partner with Iraqi companies or hire Iraqis to work in the oil fields. Most brazenly, it excluded Iraq’s elected parliamentarians from having any say in the terms for future oil contracts. […] In effect, the law called for Iraq’s publicly owned oil reserves, the country’s main source of revenues, to be exempted from democratic control and run instead by a powerful, wealthy oil dictatorship, which would exist alongside Iraq’s broken and ineffective government.
—  Naomi Klein

The Living Line: Modern Art and the Economy of Energy is one of the best books i’ve read in months.. or maybe not the best but the one i think of most often. that and Moving Through Modernity: Space and Geography in Modernism which got me into a huge Henri Lefebvre kick. I’d love to write something about using his theory of space applied in architectural thought concept and execution, I think there’s overlap for looking at function and art as variants of social space.