A new Era Begins

America now has a new President. President Obama brings a new vision of possibility, of responsiblity. In his inaugural speech, the new Commander in Chief made it clear that he would extend his hand to anyone / any country that would unclench theirs.

He also outlined that our nation faces tough challenges and that it would likely be a long timeframe before these will be met. But they will be met, he firmly proclaimed.

The idea of having a visionary leader willing to make the “tough decisions” is refreshing and paves the way for a new, forward-moving policy in our government. One can only hope that those inspiring words will be followed up with determined positive, continuaingly effective action.

The eyse of the world are indeed watching as the new adminsitration begins its arduous and critical path.

An Intriguing Renewable Energy Storage Concept

In the latest move to utilize renewable resources to augment energy supplies, Hokkaido Japan’s Chitose Airport will start storing snow in 2010 for use in cooling it’s terminal during warm summer months. This practice will provide around 30% of the building’s cooling needs.

The concept, though unusual to Westerners, isn’t new to Japan. They’ve been experimenting on this northernmost Japanese island since 1988 with utilizing this cold wet resource, receiving between 20 and 30 feet of the white stuff annually. Already smaller public buildings there are equipped with this type of cooling and storage system.

Storage would be achieved by covering snow with heat-insulating material which would hopefully retain 40 percent of the mounded powder. The rest would be used as part of a thermal energy system (TES). This could result, says Japan Today, in an CO2 reduction of 2,100 tons per year.

 This is an idea that – if it works well – could be implemented throughout the colder regions of the U.S – from Detroit to Buffalo, areas where snow is a too-frequent winter visitor. An even more intriguing idea is the resulting dramatic reduction of salt compounds on roads and highways that such a system would create. This would be a double win for the environment.

Yet another cool green concept for the new Obama administration to consider.


NASA’s new Lunar Rover to be in Inaugural Parade

On Tuesday, the new Lunar Electric Rover prototype will make its debut in President Barack Obama’s inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Able to hold two astronauts for a fortnight of lunar exploration, this remarkable piece of space travel equipment will contain beds and a toilet.
An innovation of the newly designed Rover is its multi-directional ability, including side to side movement making it easily adaptable to rugged terrain.
The new Constellation program currently has U.S. astronauts slated for their next moon launch before 2020. The program’s goal is to establish permanent bases on the moon. Considered a next step towards exploring our solar system, the long-term goal includes colonization on Mars, an effort widely written about decades ago by well-known science fiction writers like Edward Burroughs.
NASA has indicated its plan to adapt the Rover’s technology to earth-based electric vehicles as well.



Obama to determine the fate of Cape Cod’s Wind Turbine Project

Will Cape Cod finally see wind turbines off it’s shores?

This controversial plan to provide renewable energy to power up to 75 percent of the island has been fought by one of the Cape’s most famous part-time residents, Senator Ted Kennedy, since it’s proposal in 2001.

The “Cape Wind” project would encompass 130 windmills across 25 miles of Nantucket Sound’s federally-protected waters.

The Kennedy family’s famous compound would have a ring-side view of the wind farm and they have actively been fighting its approval from the beginning. Robert Kennedy, Jr.- well knwon for his stances on environmetal issues – has been pushing to have this landmark program to be dismissed, a clear back-tracking to his public espousal of all things green.

It seems the Obama administration will be the deciding factor in whether this energy-saving project gets off the ground (see http://tinyurl.com/82hr8a.

Clearly the new president will have an over-full plate awaiting him in his first 100 days in office. Creating new jobs, stimulating the economy, numerous critical environmental issues, strategizing the closure of Guantanamo and the strategic pull-outs from Iraq and Afghanastan, to name but a few key issues.

We definitely live in interesting times. The road ahead will be bumpy, no matter how you look at it. Best to keep moving forward, with a little faith and hope all around.


GMO Foods to Easily Enter the U.S.

The U.S. Agriculture Department’s Office of Inspector General reported the USDA has no control policy regulating imports of genetically modified animals.

As nations around the globe expand their GMO crop production, the Office of the Inspector General recommended the USDA update it’s control policy for all GMO imports and put in place a strategy monitoring livestock development and GMO crops in other nations.

Though the U.S. has been a leader in developing GMO plants and animals since the 1990’s, other countries have increased their investment in biotechnology and could soon overtake our lead.

The USDA has indicated it will create a plan to monitor global plant and animal development by November 30th, but further action could require approval by the new Obama administration.

More details are available at http://tinyurl.com/84qed7

.As the controversy as to potential health and safety hazards of GMO products continues, consumers across Europe continue to press governmental officials to permanently ban these products. Megacorporations like Monsanto and Archer Daniels, however, are sweeping forward, propagating increasing broad-based use of GMO seed crops, while scientists and environmentalists repeatedly voice concerns.

The question remains: where does common sense comes in? After repeated outbreaks of food-based illnesses, surely the voice of caution and safety bears listening to.




Greening a Fleet

An amazing new oil filter is changing the way we think about vehicle oil changes. ‘

No longer is it necessary to change oil every 3,000 or 5,000 miles. The new microGreen filter (see http://tinyurl.com/8v6tjj) has revolutionized this. Now it’s every 24,000 to 30,000 miles!
Successfully tested on fleets for the past year, on January 13th, Standard Oil of Connecticut announced they were utilizing this environmentally-friendly, cost effective filter on their entire fleet of 60 vehicles.
“The microGreen™ filter is unlike any other product available on the market,” said David Cohen, executive vice president of Standard Oil of Connecticut. “It lowers our costs significantly, is better for our vehicles and is much kinder to the environment.”
“It is a winner from every point of view,” he said.

Compatible with cars and light trucks equipped with spin-on oil filter canisters, this money and oil saving filter is available online at http://tinyurl.com/9voy4b and at retailers across the U.S.

With these kinds of savings, it’s seems a wise investment to make.  

Europe Moves to Recycle old Photovoltaics

It’s generally agreed that solar cells, or photovoltaics, have an average lifespan of around 25 years. So what happens to them when that lifespan ends?
Solar industry officials in Europe took an unprecedented step last month. Companies volunteered to collect a minimum of 65 percent of the photovoltaic modules installed throughout Europe since 1990, and to recycle 85 percent of the waste they generated. The purpose was to decrease waste and to reclaim and reuse valuable materials in order to produce new units.

PV CYCLE spearheaded this extraordinary initiative. This group includes BP Solar, GE EnergyFirst Solar, Q-Cells, Renewable Energy Corporation, and SolarWorld, which the group says represents more than 70 percent of the European solar market. According to the New York Times’ Green Inc. blog http://tinyurl.com/98n3tw, PV Cycle anticipates presenting their plan to the European Commission by April this year. They hope to encourage nations to “oblige” companies to follow these rules.
Once again, Europe is well ahead of where we in the U.S. are thinking. This is yet another lesson we have to learn, one that hopefully can be included in the upcoming “green” focus of the Obama presidency.

Alternative Energy Advertising About to Become Reality in New York City

Times Square is gearing up to see its first renewable energy billboard (see Nov. 19th post, “Wind and Solar Power Hit Times Square”) come to life. 

New York’s busy corner at 42nd and 7th will soon see the new “Eco Board” – weighing in at 3,500 pounds and powered by 16 vertical wind turbines and 64 solar panels – fully lit up. The turbines, custom built by California’s PacWind LLC, are installed vertically for maximum efficiency. The energy this gigantic billboard will generate will produce 95 percent of the energy needed to run the sign, said Ricoh spokesman Ron Potesky.

The biggest advantage of this environmentally-friendly sign is that it won’t produce the annual 18 tons (16 metric tons) of carbon normally produced by other electronic signs in one of New York’s most famous landmarks.
Ricoh anticipates the sign being operational by the end of January.

An Eco-Friendly Paper Towel Alternative

The versatile Skoy cloth is a great paper alternative

Americans use more than 90 million tons of paper annually – over 700 pounds of paper per person!

The EPA says out of the 250 million tons of trash Americans generate each year, thirty-four percent – 85 million tons – is paper. According to an Arizona State University report, if U.S households used 3 less rolls of paper towels per year, we’d save 120,000 tons of waste and $4.1 million in landfill dumping fees.

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National Recycling and Product Stewardship Become a Reality

On January 15th, the Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Company (MRM( will begin electronics recycling nationwide.

Founded by Panasonic Corporation of North America, Sharp Electronics Corp. and Toshiba America Consumer Products LLC. MRM will have at least one recycling station in every state, with 280 in all. Plans call for having at least 800 drop-off stations by 2011.

Any of those companies’ electronics can be dropped off and recycled for free.

David Thompson, MRM president, stated that the company is also committed to eliminating hazardous electronic waste exportation to third world countries, an escalating world health crisis.