Saturday, December 31, 2005

We partied like it was 1999

Okay, today is December 31, 2005. A posting on Scripting News had a pointer to five years ago and I suddenly remembered what that day was like. The big concern? Remember Y2K? The fear that come midnight that night, that the whole mechanised world around us would come crashing to a halt?

I remember being in San Francisco that night and passing by someone on the street shortly after midnight, and we exchanged the observation "Well, it all seems to still be working".

Before then I'd attended a talk by my old spiritual teacher. He's one of those who study on and on about conspiracy theories, and who has moved out to the country. At his place in the country they are offering it as a community place for like-minded folk to live. The phrase "intentional community" is common in the spiritual communities, and that's the phrase he uses as well. At this talk in, oh, I think it was in 1998, he was talking about having bought a huge quantity of canned food rations, and put aside other survival supplies. And he was talking about his experience at a gasoline station, where the power suddenly went out and the station owners had to chase everybody away. The computerised store could not be operated without power, and that was the perfect analogy for what might happen in 1999 when the computers fail.

During the talk he turned to me, since he knows I'm a serious geek, and asked my professional opinion. I had to say that the scenario was certainly possible. And, it was, because it wasn't known how wide spread any computer outages might be, and what the consequences would be. However I knew very well that the computer and IT industries had been doing a lot of Y2K related work to fix the systems.

It wasn't too surprising when computer failures failed to materialize. First, there'd been a lot of Y2K work which had served to strengthen computer system reliability across the spectrum. It's not like this problem was a surprise to the computer industry, because "we" had known about it since the 1980's.

But, it's worth pondering the general issue. The Y2K nemesis did not occur, but that doesn't mean we've escaped unscathed.

First, the Unix systems that are widely spread have a 2036 problem, in that their system clocks will roll over that year. That's far enough into the future we don't have to worry about it, right? But that's what the computer industry thought in the 1980's, and then the latter part of the 1990's was a scramble to handle Y2K issues. Human nature will be to push problems off until it's a crisis.

But even more generally think about how computers have woven their way into crucial roles in society. What if there were a massive failure? Suppose it were widespread enough to prevent food or water from being shipped? Today our food comes from so far away, and in most cities there's no local farming. It wouldn't take much to cause mass starvation. But it would have to be a very interesting sort of widespread failure. The failure would have to prevent shipping for long enough that local warehouses would empty, and the few local farms would be overrun by demand.

It's a little hard to imagine what kind of failure it would have to be. Here's a few possibilities that come to mind:

Power outage: This is the most obvious, and there is a looming issue with energy resources anyway. The Peak Oil warning is that fossil fuels derived from oil will have a peak in production after which there is an inexorable decline. If the world reaches the Oil Peak and hasn't developed an alternative to fossil fuel, then shipping will be impossible. If you want an example of the result, let me remind you have the Mad Max movies.

Computer virus: It would be difficult today for a computer virus to make a widespread outage happen. There are so many entities involved with shipping food etc, that it would be hard to knock them all out. One entity might have their computers knocked out, but the others would be okay. However it's always possible the virus authors will score a big hit and knock out most computer systems in one blow. The computer virus's do show an ability to spread deeply inside corporations, even behind firewalls, and I suspect the security of systems inside firewalls isn't as secure as one might like.

A cure for this problem is to ensure there's a wide variety of computer systems in use. There is a biological analogy at play, in that the multitude of biological species means that each virus or other biological attack can damage only a few species. Each species has different vulnerabilities, and each biological agent targets a small number of vulnerabilities. There's a similar principle for computer systems, in that each computer system has specific vulnerabilities. That's partly why virus's on Windows computers can spread so quickly, is that there are so many Windows computers each having the same vulnerabilities.

Food virus: Writing about biological diversity reminded me of a threat. The farmers are specializing towards a smaller and smaller number of food species, because that's what the seed industry is providing. What if this went to a logical conclusion, and there were only one species of corn being grown, and then a virulent crop blight were to pounce on that once species? It could wipe out a whole growing season around the country, if not around the world. Eek.

The cure for that problem is to diversify food crops.

Not to worry: In general these scenarios are worst case nightmares, rather than likely events. That is, except for the Peak Oil situation which is barrelling towards us like an out of control unchecked freight train. So long as the government is hiding their head in the sand, we the people are stuck on the tracks not even aware there's danger coming around the bend.

For most sorts of events ingenuity will kick in, relief supplies will flow, and there'll be a lot of serious sounding coverage on CNN. For most disastrous events we survive, because that's what humans do.

But when the oil production peaks, if nothing has changed between now and then, well, Mad Max might look tame.


COMMENT: Palm oil can light up biofuel advantage

An interesting overview of Malaysia's strategy for becoming a major player in biodiesel production. As noted before, they are installing many palm plantations, and from them are extracting "palm oil". The biggest advantage the article notes is a palm plantation can produce 5 tons of palm oil per hectare, while with other plant sources you can produce only 500 kg per hectare. COMMENT: Palm oil can light up biofuel advantage


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Safe Haven | The Potential Emerging Energy Crunch

It's interesting to look at an investors viewpoint on "energy" and the oil supply issue. The Potential Emerging Energy Crunch (by Sol Palha) He lists several potential energy sources and points out how they all have problems preventing wide use right now. The issue is the high oil prices we saw over the last year, and he is trying to say the energy prices will continue to be high for the forseeable future, and that there is one solution: Uranium and Nuclear Power.

Hurm. Apparently Uranium is a hot thing to invest in right now ... my office-neighbor who's a serious day trader type of investor, he's really focussed on Uranium right now.

His reasoning about Uranium is there's a serious growth in Uranium demand around the world, not only from new reactors but also from stockpiling activities.

That may be, but I find his reasoning overall suspicious. First, Uranium and Nuclear Power is not a substitute for oil. No-way-no-how will you ever drive up to a fueling station and ask to fill-er-up with Uranium.

Uranium and Nuclear Power can only provide heat, from which they make electricity. Hence, Nuclear Power can run our homes and factories, but not our cars unless we convert to electric cars.

The energy price problem of the last year is oil prices. It is for oil we are fighting the wars in the Middle East. That's because the U.S. has stupiedly made a dependency on oil to run our economy.

In fact all the energy alternates he discusses produce electricity and aren't suitable for vehicles unless the U.S. were to convert to electric cars.

He does miss out on one glaringly important alternate energy source that's currently a rising star: Biodiesel. Biodiesel has an interesting advantage that it can be grown "anywhere", is simple to make, and can easily drive a diesel engine.

Now, back to the author of the post above. He's clearly an investment advisor. It's well known that investment advisors are more often than not pushing "products" which will drive investment transactions regardless of how sound an investment they are.


Green Car Congress: Seattles Essential Baking Company Shifts Delivery Fleet to B99 Biodiesel

Okay, so this is one small company and the deal involves only 13 diesel delivery trucks. What's the big deal? Well, it's like I noted yesterday, in getting biofuels (biodiesel is a biofuel) accepted, it will be easier to begin with commercial operators and build your market with them first. Yesterday it was the Port of Seattle, today it's a small bakery in Seattle, tomorrow it'll be another company and so on.

Eventually biodiesel will be a big thing among commercial companies.

Seattle’s Essential Baking Company Shifts Delivery Fleet to B99 Biodiesel (28 December 2005, Green Car Congress)

Biodiesel Truck Fleet Becomes the Essential Baking Company's Latest 'Baker's Dozen' (Wednesday December 28, 8:30 pm ET, Yahoo News)

Finding local sources for maintenance and fueling for the vehicles isn't as difficult as the average business small might think, say company officials. The Essential Baking Company currently uses Dr. Dan's (Freeman) Alternative Fuel Werks of Ballard for biodiesel fueling, and International Truck Leasing for trucks and service, among others.

Dr. Dan's Alternative Fuel Werks


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Green Car Congress: Terminal Operator at Port of Seattle Moves to B20 Biodiesel

For alternative fuels like biodiesel to succeed, they don't have to first approach the mainstream car drivers. Yes, mainstream car drivers could buy a diesel car and pretty easily run it on biodiesel. But a mainstream car driver doing this would face an infrastructure problem, when they run out of fuel in the middle of the desert where do they find another biodiesel station?

This problem would make it hard(er) for biodiesel makers to sell their fuel, that is if they limited themselves to the mainstream car drivers. However there are a lot of diesel vehicles operated outside the mainstream car drivers.

This is an example: Terminal Operator at Port of Seattle Moves to B20 Biodiesel (Green Car Congress, 27 December 2005) The story concerns the Port of Seattle, which has a lot of heavy equipment (cranes etc) that run on diesel. It's in a fixed location, making it easy for the fuel vendor to simply deliver more fuel every so often.

This shows a useful game plan for the biodiesel vendors to follow. Industrial users like this are generally in a fixed location or in other ways you can make arrangements for fuel delivery. They operate a lot of diesel equipment, and there's a growing concern over the known health problems caused by burning fossil-diesel fuel. Those health problems don't exist when burning bio-diesel instead.

You may think "oh, they're not selling to regular drivers, so what good is that?" It does a lot of good, because it gets an alternate fuel into more vehicles. If the U.S. is going to wean itself off fossil fuel, those industrial users have to be converted sometime. If it's easier to convert them now, then why not do so?


Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Energy Blog: Bioenergy Feedstock Information Network

As the world makes moves towards biofuels, the source of the biological material is going to become important. For example I've noted earlier how current growth in biodiesel production in southeast asia is leading to deforestation of the rain forests so they can plant palm trees and grow "palm oil".

The Bioenergy Feedstock Information Network (BFIN) "is a gateway to a wealth of biomass feedstock information resources from the U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and other research organizations."

This is U.S. Tax Dollars at work producing a wonderful information resource. They cover all angles of biofuels, including economics, environmental impacts, sources of biomass, the supply system, and research activities.

I found this via The Energy Blog, December 17, 2005 Bioenergy Feedstock Information Network


BLM to speed wind energy development

Here's some good news on the energy front. The U.S. Interior Department is announcing a new sped-up process for approving wind energy projects on public lands.

The move sets broad guidelines for the Bureau of Land Management's wind energy development program, and should decrease the time to get approval for a wind energy project from two or more years to less than one year, Norton said.

BLM to speed wind energy development (Great Falls Tribune, December 17, 2005)

Secretary Norton Announces Major Step Forward in Promoting Wind Energy Production on Public Lands

For Immediate Release: December 15, 2005

Contact: Hugh Vickery 202-501-4633, David Quick, BLM, 202-452-5138

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Interior Secretary Gale Norton today announced the completion of an environmental review that will allow the Bureau of Land Management to significantly expand its wind energy program on public lands while ensuring the conservation of threatened and endangered species and migratory birds.

With the publication of the record of decision on a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, BLM also is amending 52 land-use plans in 9 western states to generate more than 3,200 megawatts of wind energy - enough to provide electricity for nearly 1 million homes.

While changes in the land-use plans will speed development of wind energy, individual projects will still require site-specific analysis and permits. Nevertheless, BLM expects to be able to shorten the approval process for new wind energy projects from two or more years to less than a year.

"When he took office, President Bush made finding and developing alternative sources of energy on public lands a key component of his National Energy Policy," Norton said. "With this record of decision and the amendment of the land-use plans, we are taking an important step in diversifying and expanding America's energy supply while conserving wildlife and its habitat. We can conceivably produce six times more wind energy on BLM lands."

"The Department of the Interior has taken a major step forward for the future of U.S. wind energy and for America's electricity consumers," American Wind Energy Association Executive Director Randall Swisher said. "The inclusive way in which these policies were created will help to ensure the responsible development on BLM land of a clean, domestic, and strategic energy source."

The Interior Department has made increasing alternative energy production on public lands one of its top priorities, Norton said. For example, over the last 5 years, BLM has issued 86 wind energy permits, compared to four issued in the previous 5 years.

The Programmatic EIS establishes broad guidelines for BLM's Wind Energy Development Program ensuring that the best management practices are used to avoid impacts to at-risk species and migratory birds.

As part of the approval process, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a biological opinion stating that the wind energy program would not jeopardize threatened or endangered species.

BLM also incorporated guidelines to reduce the impact of wind energy production on birds, bats and other wildlife. The guidelines mitigate impacts related to noise, habitat fragmentation, collisions, ground disturbance, protection of riparian areas and wetlands, and other conservation issues. Wind energy accounts for only 6 percent of our nation's renewable electricity generation and 0.1 percent of our total electricity supply. BLM currently has 22 wind energy development sites that produce 500 megawatt hours of power.

"Public lands offer enormous opportunities for environmentally sound renewable energy production," Norton said. "We expect to see many new wind energy sites in coming years."

Land use plans define how public land resources will be managed within a specific planning area and establish restrictions on activities to be undertaken in that planning area. They are developed by BLM in conjunction with interested stakeholders and with ample opportunities for public comment. The land use planning process is the key tool used by BLM to protect resources and designate uses on public lands. The plans help ensure that the public lands are managed in accordance with applicable laws and regulations under the principles of multiple use and sustained yield; recognizing the nation's need for domestic sources of minerals, food, timber, and fiber while protecting the quality of scientific, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water, and archaeological values.

BLM developed the Programmatic EIS in response to recommendations made in the President's National Energy Policy, which encourages the development of renewable energy resources on public lands. The document is also consistent with congressional direction provided in the recently passed Energy Policy Act of 2005 related to renewable energy development on public lands.

Work on the EIS began in October 2003 and included extensive community meetings in the West and opportunities for public comment. The document addresses wind-energy development on BLM-administered lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. BLM is not amending the land-use plans for Arizona and California because those states already are addressing wind energy locally.

The Record of Decision and the Final Programmatic EIS are posted on the Web at


BBC NEWS | Ramp creates power as cars pass

Here's a story of an interesting alternate energy resource. The kinetic power from cars moving along the highway. Ramp creates power as cars pass (BBC, December 16, 2005) The article shows a picture of a small metal ramp installed in the road, angled such that as the car rides over the ramp, the ramp will move down. Presumably there's something underneath that spins a generator to make electricity.

It says the ramps are silent, comfortable and safe. I don't quite buy silent, as it's clearly going to make some noise (it's a metal gizmo being driven over by cars). It's also going to remove some of the inertia from cars, hence it will degrade gasoline efficiency a bit (otherwise we'd have a violation of some laws of physics).


Monday, December 12, 2005

Malaysian National News Agency :: BERNAMA

Another announcement of an agreement to supply palm oil to create biofuels: Malaysia, South Korea Sign MoU On Biofuel

As I noted the other day, the hidden issue in this is how the palm oil is gathered. Large palm tree plantations are constructed, generally by cutting down swaths of rain forest.

Hence this is one of those times where the solution may be worse then the problem we're trying to solve.


Resource Insights: Energy: Fairy Dust for Techno-optimists

Kurt Cobb raises an interesting question in Energy: Fairy Dust for Techno-optimists. He begins by alluding to Peter Pan and the pixie dust used to cause the children in the story to levitate allowing them to fly to neverland.

For decades there have been wondrous visions of what technology can do for us. He names a few ideas so we can remember them. The common thing that technological marvels require is energy.

Let me ask you -- what turned our society from a rural agrarian mode into a modern industrial wonder? Was it the development of technology?

You betcha it was the development of technology. Beginning with automobiles, trucks, trains, etc we had the transportation power to move products and materials around much more quickly and efficiently than ever before. A couple weeks ago I was in India for my second trip, and while Bangalore is in many ways a very modern city there are many ox or horse or hand drawn carts on the streets and it really strikes me how innefficient they are. At least compared to modern trucks and cars.

And it's technology that made the difference. Just as communications technology makes a difference in another way. If you want to distribute a newspaper nationwide (e.g. USA Today) there are two choices. One is to print the newspaper in a central place, and then ship it by overnight air express to the nationwide destinations. The second is to transmit the data nationwide, and have it printed and distributed locally. The second is more efficient and a society that isn't technologically advanced is incapable of doing either.

But, what allowed for the development of technology?

Let me suggest that it's energy resources, in the form of coal and oil.

Leonardo DaVinci is proof positive that intelligent and creative minds existed in other era's. What would have happened if DaVinci had available to him the energy resources we take for granted today? If he were reincarnated to todays era, just which of the tech wonder companies would have have founded?

Without the energy resources we will not be able to sustain the technological marvels we take for granted.

Remember if you will Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The hero, Max, finds a group of children in the desert and they have a few doodads of technology hanging around. One of them is a vinyl record they have attached to a medicine man style staff. At some point they find a record player and Max takes the vinyl record, puts it on the record player, and shows them what it's really for. Those children didn't have the energy resource to drive a record player, hence had no ability to play the record they had.

Kurt Cobb, however, suggests that providing energy to the level to which we've become accustomed is insolvable. We have facing us the Peak Oil problem, namely, that the worlds oil production system has maxed out and there's not more oil to find. It's oil which is the prime source of the energy we use, and when the oil supply really peaks we're going to be heading towards the Mad Max scenario. He runs through the alternatives being bandied about and points out none of them are terribly sustainable.

Let's home he's just being defeatist.


Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/06/2005 | Cheap heat idea bubbling in deep fryer

Using used fryer oil to in heaters.

Cheap heat idea bubbling in deep fryer (By Mitch Lipka, Inquirer Staff Writer, Posted on Tue, Dec. 06, 2005)


Nine Licences Issued For Production Of Bio-diesel - Malaysian National News Agency :: BERNAMA

December 06, 2005 16:28 PM E-mail this news to a friend Printable version of this news

Nine Licences Issued For Production Of Bio-diesel

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 (Bernama) -- Nine licences have been issued for the production of bio-diesel, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters after officiating a biodiesel symposium on Renewables Made in Germany here, he said investment proposals had been submitted to the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA) from various parties including from Singapore and Italy.

Currently, three bio-diesel companies have been chosen to partner Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) to build three bio-diesel plants, which will have a combined capacity of 180,000 tonnes of bio-diesel a year.

The plants which would cost a total RM120 million would be built primarily for export to the world market and to help reduce dependence on fossil fuel, he said.

It was reported that work on the Carotino plant had started on Nov 1, 2005 and due commissioning at end-2006 while the other two plants (Golden Hope and Fima), due to commission by early 2007, were in the process of selecting the engineering contractors.

In his address, Chin said there was a high demand for biodiesel from the West especially in Europe such as Germany and Italy as well as other countries like Turkey, South Korea, India and Colombia.

Global demand for biodiesel is expected to touch 10.5 million in the next few years and Malaysia has the potential to capture 10 percent of that market by producing up to one million tonnes.

Germany alone has an annual demand of two million tonnes, he said.

"Its train operator Prignitzer Eisenbahn (PE) Arriva which had earlier purchased 50 tonnes of Malaysia's biodiesel, has displayed satisfaction with their trial run early September this year and has placed additional palm oil order for another 100 tonnes of the fuel," he said.

Germany is today the largest producer and user of biofuel and its technology holds a leading position in the fields of biofuel production based on sources like rapeseed, sunflowers, soya bean and palm oil.

"With the supply of palm oil continuously and readily available, it is hoped that the Malaysian palm oil industry will be able to participate extensively in the development of the fuel industry in time to come," the minister said.

The same goes for other commodities, whereby Brazil had diverted its sugar production for ethanol as well as part of the supply of the corn industry in the United States.

Europe's rapeseed industry is starting to divert supply for fuel in accounting for 40 percent of production, and with greater demand, the price of the commodity too had increased by RM1,000 more than palm oil.

The Malaysian government itself had in August unveiled more proposals for medium-term implementation in the National Biofuel Policy.

It was decided that the palm oil composition in the biofuel blend will be at 5.0 percent processed palm oil and 95 percent petroleum diesel.

The blending of 5.0 percent, he said, would require 500,000 tonnes of palm oil annually which would cause the stock to be short by 40-50 percent and in turn would increase the price of palm oil accordingly.

During the press conference, the minister was also asked on the outlook and other developments for palm oil.

He said demand was good this year and expected to pick up because of biodiesel needs.

Chin said he would also be going to China to talk to his counterpart as well as meet the importing agencies there with regard to the conditions as well as limitations on the importation of palm oil despite the lifting of the quotas.

The import tariff rate quota on edible oil in China will be eliminated next year as part of its commitment to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) since becoming a member in December 2001.

China's palm oil quota had expanded from 2.4 million tonnes in 2002 to 3.168 million tonnes in 2005.



Monday, December 5, 2005

Guardian Unlimited | Guardian daily comment | The most destructive crop on earth is no solution to the energy crisis

There's a pattern we often fall into. When we humans go to solve a problem, we often create other problems in its wake.

A problem we humans are facing today is what to do about oil. There's no doubt that oil has made for a great big expansion of what human society can do in the world. Compare in your mind life before oil made it big, say in the 1800's, and life as we live it today. It was oil that made all that happen, the technology simply came along for the ride using the energy we derived from oil to make the technology possible. Leonardo DaVinci is testament to mans inventiveness, and if he had the energy resources we have today he would have been among the ranks of Tesla, Edison and the like.

The most destructive crop on earth is no solution to the energy crisis

By promoting biodiesel as a substitute, we have missed the fact that it is worse than the fossil-fuel burning it replaces (George Monbiot, Tuesday December 6, 2005, The Guardian)

He has a bothersome thing to say about the move to biodiesel. Namely that the oil issue is probably too big for biodiesel to solve, and that the current moves to implement biodiesel production are themselves wreaking ecological havoc.

Let's consider this sobering thought:

In 2003, the biologist Jeffrey Dukes calculated that the fossil fuels we burn in one year were made from organic matter "containing 44 x 1018 grams of carbon, which is more than 400 times the net primary productivity of the planet's current biota". In plain English, this means that every year we use four centuries' worth of plants and animals.

If we switched all current use of oil to some kind of biodiesel it would mean, as he says, processing four centuries worth of plants and animals every year.

er... whoops? So, uh, hmm.. er.. ah...

That really leaves me scratching my head over how "we" are going to make up the gap. Fortunately we don't have to make up the gap today, because there's still oil and natural gas and coal as existing fossil fuels. But it sure raises the issue of developing alternatives other than biodiesel.

Perhaps the cleanest way of producing biodiesel is some kind of microbe that's been genetically engineered to be a really good at oil production. You'd just have vats of these microbes, and you harvest whole vats at a time, and process them for their constituents. Hopefully those microbes would not be ones who could cause diseases, because it'd be a real bummer to create a worldwide epidemic just so we could grow some oil.

But ... it's a real stumper how we are going to have factories that grow enough microbes every year to equate to 400 years worth of plants and animals.

Anyway, let's get back to the article for another disturbing thought:

"The demand for biodiesel," the Malaysian Star reports, "will come from the European Community ... This fresh demand ... would, at the very least, take up most of Malaysia's crude palm oil inventories." Why? Because it is cheaper than biodiesel made from any other crop.

In September, Friends of the Earth published a report about the impact of palm oil production. "Between 1985 and 2000," it found, "the development of oil-palm plantations was responsible for an estimated 87 per cent of deforestation in Malaysia". In Sumatra and Borneo, some 4 million hectares of forest have been converted to palm farms. Now a further 6 million hectares are scheduled for clearance in Malaysia, and 16.5 million in Indonesia.

Almost all the remaining forest is at risk. Even the famous Tanjung Puting national park in Kalimantan is being ripped apart by oil planters. The orangutan is likely to become extinct in the wild. Sumatran rhinos, tigers, gibbons, tapirs, proboscis monkeys and thousands of other species could go the same way. Thousands of indigenous people have been evicted from their lands, and some 500 Indonesians have been tortured when they tried to resist. The forest fires which every so often smother the region in smog are mostly started by the palm growers. The entire region is being turned into a gigantic vegetable oil field.

Certainly the vision of biofuels is to reuse existing waste material such as fryer grease, or perhaps agricultural waste. But that's not what is happening.

A large number of biodiesel refineries are being built as he describes in the article. I guess there isn't enough leftover fryer grease to feed those refineries, so they're turning to farmers to grow oil-rich crops. There's an existing industry of farmers growing oil-rich crops to create different vegetable oils, usually for cooking. So it's perhaps understandable to see how the need for vegetable oil would cause growth in the number of these farmers.

So, here we have it ... the need to wean the world from fossil oil ... leads to further environmental degradation ... yet the people who are pushing for biofuels are probably environmentally minded and would hate to learn of such vast deforestation.

It's like squeezing a balloon, isn't it?


Saturday, December 3, 2005

Energy Hog is a flash-based web site geared to children, and offers a game environment in which one can learn about "Energy Hog's" in the typical household. The Energy Hog's are the basic innefficiencies people have around the house ...

For example, if you have a television or other electronic gadget with an instant-on feature, it is probably constantly pulling current. For a television to be instant-on the CRT tube has to be kept warmed up and ready to go, and this requires constant power. That along with all the other trickles of current around the house adds up to a significant amount of electricity.

The typical house window is a single pane of glass, which doesn't make for much insulating power. In the winter or summer the window can either be a source of cold or a source of heat, but if it's double paned then it's a better insulator.

Chimneys can provide you with a place to put a fire and create warmth in your house. But at the same time if the flue is open (and you don't have a fire burning) it can let cold air into the house. Alternatively, during the summer a chimney can let the air conditioned air escape.

Refidgerators and other major can be energy innefficient, or energy efficient. Pay close attention to the labeling when you buy them.

Keeping the house cooled or heated during the day when nobody is at home wastes energy. Why not leave the thermostat adjusted so the heating/cooling is off until you get home?