Monday, January 07, 2008

50 People Who Could Save the Planet

The Guardian just listed their "50 People Who Could Save the Planet". Apparently, Al Gore just made the list, so you'll find an interesting list of people with inspiring stories in many cases, many of whom you may not be familiar.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

ConocoPhilips CEO Calls For Federal Energy Strategy

The large oil companies are spending a decent amount of money in research of alternative energies - for competitive reasons, they don't have much choice. That being said, it seems that what may be holding them back from investing more and making a greater impact in the development of useful technologies is that there is unease about what the U.S. government may ultimately decide upon in terms of regulations. Oil companies know regulations are coming, so they want to know what they have to deal with before making any significant investments.

ConocoPhilips CEO James Mulva says as much in this article from BusinessWeek online, "The Trouble with Crude Oil". Mulva calls for an energy strategy to come from the U.S. government, so U.S. oil companies can better compete with foreign companies and national oil companies.

My question is whether our government can make a policy that makes sense and doesn't simply make decisions based on winning votes (can anyone say ethanol made from corn?).

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Energyville - Powering the City of the Future

I recently played Energyville, an easy-to-play game developed by The Economist Group for Chevron, where the object is to power your city today and in a couple of future years using a number of different power sources. You are scored based on environmental, security, and economic factors - for example, using all fossil fuels might cost less, but would score poorly in the environmental and security portion.

To play, you can link to the game from Chevron's Will You Join Us website, which is a portal for discussion about the future of energy. The game doesn't take very long to play - see how you do by clicking here.

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Electric Car on the Market

Concern over gasoline prices and global warming of the past few years has helped develop a market for alternatives to the traditional gasoline-only powered car. That is not news as we've all seen more and more hybrids hit the roads. For me, I had heard about the luxury electric car produced by Tesla Motors, but a more affordable electric car was news to me.

The ZENN ("Zero Emissions, No Noise"), produced by ZENN Motor Co. of Toronto, is an electric car that is currently available. At this point, it can only be purchased for in-town driving, as government regulations restrict the car to 25mph, so it can not be driven on highways.

More about the ZENN can be found here and here. One dealer that offers the car is Berkeley-based Green Motors, which has an on-line presence currently and will opening a physical dealership in the next couple of months.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Black is Green

This is my first post since my move to the West Coast. Things have been a bit crazy, so I haven't had much time to keep up with this. Hopefully, things will settle down a bit soon and I'll post on a more regular basis.

Back in January, the writer of the blog ecoIron calculated that since the energy needed to display a web page with a white background is greater than what is needed to display one with a black background, if Google switched to a black background from their current familiar white background, the change would save about 750 Megawatt hours a year.

Fast forward to about now and it appears that there is an option to have the same power of Google with a black background. Called "Blackle", it offers the Google engine (run by a different company who apparently just customized the engine) with an all-black background. If it is, indeed, the same search engine, I hope anyone who reads this will help spread the word. Every little bit counts!

Here are some questions answered about it from ecoIron.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Nanotechnology and its Environmental Effects

Today's San Francisco Chronicle has an article that explains some of the positive contributions nanotechnology has made to some products that are already on the market, such as stain-proof pants and stronger, yet lighter sports equipment. It also points out the potential negative long-term environmental effects - since products made with nanotechnology are relatively new (if nanotechnology itself isn't), these negative effects are sure to be reported more and more as the technology matures.

A specific example the article uses is the use of silver nano particles. They are used to combat bacteria, so the concern is that if the particles are released in the water system, beneficial bacteria can be killed.

To read more about what nanotechnology is, see this link.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Goldman Sachs' Thoughts on Renewable Energy Sector

Goldman, a company showing leadership in the fight against global warming, has listed five factors they feel will help the renewable energy sector. One, a call for a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax, exemplifies their leadership. As the article points out, though, the fifth factor - a more receptive presidential administration - will be needed.

The complete list:
  1. "Enacting renewable portfolio standards"
  2. 'Boost enforcement of renewable portfolio standards'
  3. "Enact a carbon cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax"
  4. "A significant increase in fossil fuel prices"
  5. "The 2008 presidential election"

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What are American Automakers Thinking?

American automakers are still fighting against increases in mileage standards claiming that it will force them to lose money and lay off workers. The last time I checked, they weren't doing so well in either regard as it is. Will years to prepare for a regulated increase from the current 27.5 mpg for cars (which has been in place since 1983) to something in the area of 35 mpg by 2020 really hurt automakers that much? If so, I am curious to hear why that is. It's easy for automakers to simply say that it will cost them, but I'd like to hear how. Yes, I realize it's easy for me, with no knowledge of the auto industry, to feel that it's a feasible undertaking.

It appears a compromise may be in the works, mandating a less aggressive increase.