A Critical Topic Discussed

Yesterday’s panel on Human Trafficking hosted by California First Lady Maria Shriver was riveting.  Prior to beginning, large video screens flashed pictures of a variety of trafficking victims. Scenes depicted a child’s hand grasping a tall chain link fence, a malnourished infant resting in a box filled with packaging peanuts, a young child’s haunting face, and a young person in leg irons. A heart rending beginning to an eye opening, often wrenching discussion.

Attendees included a group of young girls who had escaped that unimaginable horrific life. Shy and smiling, they declined to be interviewed, quietly saying that for many of them, legal issues prevented them from speaking publicly.

Ms. Shriver showed knowledge and compassion as the moderator, often drawing out panelists, who included 2 women who were themselves former victims.

There is a great deal to tell about this forum. Check back soon for more.

A Look at Human Beings

Tomorrow morning, the First Lady of California will be moderating a breakfast panel at the outset of the Border  Governors conference. Her focus? Human Trafficking: A United Call to Action”.

Afterwards, I will be interviewing Ms. Shriver, to get her first-hand perspective. It’s an awesome opportunity. Be sure to check back here over the next few days to see what she said.

A Hopeful Perspective?

These next few posts will be somewhat of a departure from what you might anticipate here. But because of the nature of the topics, this may be a perfect forum.

I am currently part of the press covering the Border 26th annual Governors Conference in Universal City, California – just down the block from the famed Universal Studios.

Why am I here? Because the governors of the 9 border states will be discussing issues impacting the future and the environment. This afternoon, a number of Nobel laureates and key leaders will be holding a forum called “A Conversation on Building Green Economies”.

As the promotional material says, the speakers will present not only the challenges of global climate change, but also the opportunities “in innovative research and development and capital investment in emerging clean technologies.”

I will report back on what “opportunities” were outlined.

A Questionable Solution

Compact florescent lightbulbs, otherwise known as CFL’s. They’re being touted as an amazing energy saver, the lighting solution for homeowners everywhere. Even though they have, as the EPA admits, “a small amount of mercury” in each one, they’re being promoted and pushed by every retailer in a frenzied race to see who can sell the most in the shortest amount of time

But are they really so terrific? And are they really safe? That’s a critical question that I’ll be examining in the next article, coming very soon. There are a lot of facts to separate out from hype. This is an important subject to educate yourself about. Check back soon for more.

Innovation and Creative Thinking

Walt Disney said “If you can dream it, you can do it.” 

Who would have thought everyday things like revolving doors. algae or biowaste could generate energy? Ten years ago these ideas would have sounded ludicrous or bizarre. 

With today’s concerns surrounding climate change, carbon footprinting and skyrocketing fuel prices, these creative ideas show real practical application. 

Two New York architects – women with no scientific or engineering backgrounds – have created a revolving door that, with one day’s rotation, generates the equivalent of a 150-watt light bulb running for 100 hours. Created by Carmen Trudell & Jennifer Broudin as part of a research project for their Masters degree in Advanced Architectural Design at Columbia University, the Revolution Revolving Door converts human energy into electricity.

It’s about new ways of using energy, the door’s creators said. The prototype – one third the actual size – debuted in March at New York’s Eyebeam art and technology center. Its power lit up a dazzling array of 500 LED lights. 

The moving parts – the gear and flywheel assembly, a rotating magnetic wheel resembling the wheel you spin for prizes at a raffle, and a wire coil wheel – sit atop the door’s central shaft. 

The Revolution Door runs slightly faster than a standard revolving door and pushes easily. “It’s only a matter of time until (developers) want to invest,” says Trudell. 

Innovation and Creative Thinking Part 2

Universities are exploring different energy solutions. Common algae is being synthesized to create oil for biofuel. According to the National Algae Association, algae’s “a promising source of renewable oil that can be used for a variety of fuels (biofuel, hydrogen, jet fuel, bio gasoline).”
 
According to Pure Energy Systems Wiki  www.peswiki.com neutral algae biofuel is non-toxic, biodegrades quickly” and is capable of producing 30 times more oil per acre than crops used for biofuels! Though still too expensive for commercial viabitily, in 2006 megacorporation Chevron began a five-year biofuel research alliance with U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory to explore algae’s use. Called the “crop of the future”, UC Berkeley is working with International Energy of Canada to produce hydrogen from algae.

 

Another unusual energy source is popping up across the country. The town of Sanford, Florida is building a plant to convert wastewater biosolids into synthetic gas (syngas). Sludge from wastewater treatment will be converted, using a biomass gassifier, into renewable “green” energy. The town thus saves on disposal transportation charges and pricey purchases of natural gas.

According to Paul Moore, Sanford Utility Director, “Sanford will save $9,000,000 over the 20-year life of our contractwww.greenenergy/blog.com. With such substantial anticipated savings, places like San Diego, Elmont, NY, and Alameda County (in the San Francisco Bay area) are scrambling to take advantage of this outstanding technology. Adding to the appeal, large systems can produce extra energy that would then be sold back to utility companies. 

 

Creative solutions like these have deep roots in our country’s history. It’s said that when Henry Ford visited Thomas Edison one day, he found it hard to push the front gate open at Edison’s yard. Chiding the great inventor about his rusty gate, Edison replied Ford had just pumped a gallon of water out of the well.

This waste-to-energy technology is a fast growing movement. Its roots go back to the 1980’s, and include southern Massachusetts’ SEMASS (Southern Energy of Massachusetts), whose gigantic resource recovery facility reclaims recyclable materials from waste and generates energy.

These innovative energy solutions – green algae and human waste – are born out of creative thinking. What else does the future hold? Perhaps your imagination has the next great idea.