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Internet Over LED Lights

I never even knew this technology existed until now, but apparently you can transmit internet signals via visual signals.  A city in Minnesota has installed light fixtures that both save energy and reduce wifi over-burdening. The LED lights flicker at a rate undetectable by the human eye, transmitting signals back and forth.  (Think binary: off=0, on=1)  This saves 70-80% on electricity consumption, which more than covers the costs of the internet service.  The flickering light is picked up by a special modem on the computer while requests to the network are transmitted in the same way upward.  My question is, does the speed and reliability decrease when it’s sunny out? This is a great solution for businesses and office parks …

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GM To Test Other Electric Cars

Just as I’d hoped and predicted, the spawn of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf is more powerful than the sum of it’s parts.  GM is beginning to explore other electric vehicles, addressing the issue of a noncompetitive market and noncompetitive technologies. What I fully expect to come from this is increased competition translating to cheaper, better electric vehicles.  As it stands, I can’t afford to pay $35,000 + for an all-electric vehicle.  I hope that soon this barrier will be removed. Although the Chevy Volt is able to extend it’s range using a gas backup engine, GM has announced plans to roll out test fleets of all electric vehicles.  Is it the competition with the Nissan Leaf (entirely electric …

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Biodynamic Farming at DeLoach Vineyards in Northern California

DeLoach Vineyards is cultivating an intimate relationship with the land. The small-lot winemaker maintains 17 acres of vineyards in the Russian River Valley and a 1-acre garden. And while both are certified organic, it is their biodynamic certification that makes them exceptional. Indeed, guided by a holistic approach based on biodynamic farming principles, DeLoach vintners make organic farming alone look like a half measure. The farmers at DeLoach tend to their vineyards and garden as if they were a closed system. They seek at every turn to drastically limit if not altogether eliminate external inputs. Rather than a cycle of dependence based on the importation of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, through biodynamic farming practices they create a self-contained oasis of …

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Completely Unecessary BP Gaffe

Max Read over at Gawker noticed a very interesting issue with a recently released PB photo.  The image shows three men, diligently watching a ten-screen monitor bank with varying footage of the spill.  BP labeled this photo on their website “Houston Command Center”.  Sounds very official! The problem is, the image was photoshopped to add three images to blank screens.  The image meta data indicates the photo was taken in March of 2001 as well.  As Gawker puts it, their photographer either doesn’t know how to work their camera, or BP is downright lying. In addition to lying to the American public for the, ummm, bazillionth time this summer, it seems the lie was completely unnecessary.  Despite what some conference …

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EV Infrastructure Moves Forward

Think back to the ’90s when Electric Vehicles first became a reality for the average consumer. (Yes, I mean the 90’s that happened 20 years ago, EV’s were alive and well then). One of the chief concerns for both consumers and change-makers was that of range.  EV manufacturers are now toying with different solutions to the same problem: people don’t want to be limited by battery life or lack of charging stations. A small startup is hoping to be one component of the answer.  They are testing a battery swapping station that will allow, in this stage of development, three taxi cabs to drive in and roll along a conveyor belt as if in a car wash.  In less than …

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BP Bankrupt over spill? Unlikely

I’m no economist, and I don’t have an MBA.  But I can tell you this about the recent speculation that BP could go bankrupt over the Gulf Oil Spill.  Not a chance.  Here’s why: BP’s daily profit (not sales… profit) still exceeds what they’re spending on the spill cleanup efforts.  Last year alone they made $17 Billion.  As my wife puts it: “That’s not even a real number”. Although BP’s stock may be tumbling, two sad truths exist: a) This whole oil spill will be out of the public consciousness in a matter of weeks after the cleanup is finished. b) Stock prices tumbling may anger investors, but BP still has vast amounts of assets they could sell to cover …

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Oil Fields Employ America While Destroying the World

I stumbled upon an article in the New York Times describing how North Dakota has an incredibly unusual problem.  They have more jobs than housing.  How could that be? North Dakota has a lot of one thing: oil fields.  And those oil fields needs lots of people and they pay them a lot.  This is probably due to the high risk of the job and the very high profits of the industry. So what’s the problem?  There isn’t any housing! People walk around the town with a pocket full of money and nowhere to live.  From motels to trailer parks to campgrounds to apartments.  Everything is full and/or has a wait list. Why is this being discussed on an environmental …

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The Costner Oil Separator Stands Ready to Help in Gulf Oil Spill

In the mid-1990s while filming the movie “Waterworld” actor Kevin Costner began working on a way to clean up maritime oil spills. He purchased the rights to technology developed in concert with the Department of Energy after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989. Fifteen years later and with $24 million dollars of his own money invested, he has developed a machine referred to as the Costner oil separator. Costner’s business partner, John Houghtaling, described the centrifugal oil separator technology to the Los Angeles Times on May 21: “The machines are essentially like big vacuum cleaners, which sit on barges and suck up oily water and spin it around at high speed,” Houghtaling said. “On one side, it spits …

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How Green is Your Money?

Every day we make choices that not only shape our own experience, but impact other life around us and the world. Some of the most significant far-reaching choices involve how we choose to use money. And so we buy local. We buy organic and sustainably produced products and food. We support fair trade and patronize environmentally minded companies. Whenever we spend money we do so if at all possible in a way that reinforces our values and ideals. But what was that money supporting before it was spent? If it was saved in an account at a major bank like Bank of America, Citigroup or JP Morgan Chase, then it may well have been used to finance environmentally destructive projects …

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Biochar will save the world – or help anyway

Biochar is an old technology with new implications for environmental benefit.  Made from carbon-based materials super-heated to over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit  in the absence of oxygen, biochar is a charcoal look-alike.  However, it’s not nearly as messy and offers some amazing cleansing and carbon sequestration properties. Biochar is being researched across the world as a potential (and partial) solution to the climate crisis and environmental protection issues.  Although still in it’s infancy in terms of modern-day applications, Biochar is an incredibly promising innovation.

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