Ahead of his time

We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide. … I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. -Thomas Edison, inventor (1847-1931)

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Coffee and Orangutans

Just rolled into the Microtel Inns & Suites in Klamath Falls, OR. It is a gorgeous drive from Portland. Green, green, green, and not many other vehicles. Also the most remote wifi – 10 miles west of Oakridge, OR, on the 58.

Not sure how this popped into my mind, maybe because I was in Portland earlier today and had the best cup of ever at a Stumptown. If you don’t know what a Stumptown is, think Starbucks before it went national. We bought some friends of ours some beans from the Stumptown Roasters cafe. Fair-trade they are labeled.

Oh, I remember what made me think of all this. Sitting in our gas guzzling F-150 truck in the parking lot of a Safeway. Seeing how far apart all the shops, restaurants,and homes, how large all the vehicles are, how fat everyone is, seeing how large the grocery store is, made me realize that the American way of life is unsustainable.

The great coffee my wife and I enjoyed in Portland,while fair trade, was grown in another country. How did the beans get to Portland? Were they flown there? Was It on a ship? On the backs of donkey led to the great Northwest by Juan Valdez? For all of our crunchy goodness and wanting to keep the world for our children, should we even be drinking coffee?

And then from the Safeway, my wife purchased some gluten free crackers. Very exciting to find those. As I was coming back up to the room from the truck with the crackers, I took a look at the ingredients. Palm oil is one of the ingredients. Palm oil, in case you didn’t know, is, or rather the growing of trees for palm oil, is leading to the destruction of orangutan habitat.

You just can’t win

Grammar and Global Warming

Hello again, my dear single reader. Single as in solo, not as in Han, but as in being only one reader, not in reference to your social life.

After, or rather in the midst of my second double Americano, I have decided to write about a subject I have been thinking about a long time, but do not have enough concrete examples to fully support and elucidate my hypothesis.

My hypothesis: Bad grammar, specifically subject-verb agreement, leads to weak thinking.

Take the following sentence – The well appointed man wearing many felt hats are going to the haberdashery.

It should be – The well appointed man wearing many felt hats IS going to the haberdashery.

The subject of the sentence is man and he is going to the haberdashery. Granted the hats are also going to the haberdashery as they rest upon his head. The hats, however, are the object of the preposition of and, therefore, not the subject of the sentence. The singular form of the verb “to be” is needed because the single noun and not the plural noun is the subject of the sentence.

The plural form “are” would be used if hats were the subject of the sentence.

The many felt hats on the well appointed man are going to the haberdashery.

More and more I hear and read incorrect subject-verb agreement. People are using the noun that is closest to the verb to determine which form of the verb use. This shows an inability to think complex thoughts. It shows a need for immediacy and the inability to think through more than one step.

How does this connect to global warming, you ask. Take the term global warming. Climate scientists chose this term because on average the temperature around the globe is warming. The global climate is changing and warming. This warming is causing large temperature changes over the whole globe. This is why it is now a lot colder in San Diego than normal. This is why it was a lot warmer in So Cal in November than normal.

Most people assume that because the term has the word “warming” in it, they will only experience warming. They are not able to put do the mental process of global warming- the whole globe/average temperature – temperature swings. They are looking only at the immediate relationship of “warming” to what they are experiencing right now.

This leads me to another hypothesis – Most people in the Tea Party do not use correct grammar.

Taxes for Veterans

Some people argue that American foreign policy is largely governed by the United States insatiable thirst for oil. Please note we invaded Iraq to save them from Saddam, but haven’t given as much of a concerted effort in other troubled locations – Rwanda, Somalia – to name a couple. And in our foreign policy efforts, we send many troops into harm’s way. Then veterans come back home physically and mentally harmed.

What I propose is a 1¢/gallon tax increase on gasoline. The more gas you buy/use the more you pay. And these extra funds go to help veterans. I would like to see the right try to talk down the idea of increased aid for veterans.

Geothermal energy is a bad idea.

a really bad idea.

First let us start with the idea that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Geothermal, as I understand it, involves tapping into the molten core of the earth for energy. This can be done in several ways. Some methods are more passive – using a heat exchanger to heat water to heat house and water. One place I have experienced this is at the Breightonbush Hot Springs in Oregon. Their sauna is right over an open geothermal pool, capturing the heat and steam that would be lost into the atmosphere anyways. Another method, enhanced geothermal system, involved drilling into the earth ( i.e. !!!WARNING Not using naturally occurring sources of geothermal energy WARNING!!!) and injecting cold water into the “hot dry rock.” The water then heats, expands and is converted into electricity using either a steam turbine or a binary power plant system. This method has lead to earthquakes. Granted they were only 2.9. But man made earthquakes are not a good thing.

But what worries me is not the possibility of man made earthquakes, but the assumption that geothermal energy is a sustainable source. Sustainable in comparison to coal – less CO2 emitted and maybe more sustainable than nuclear power plants – no radioactive waste to deal with. But the long term consequences are much more frightening. And our collective inability to see down this road is what is really frightening.

The earth’s magnetic shield, the magnetosphere, “provides protection, without which life as we know it could not survive. Mars, with little or no magnetic field is thought to have lost much of its former oceans and atmosphere to space in part due to the direct impact of the solar wind. Venus with its thick atmosphere is thought to have lost most of its water to space in large part owing to solar wind ablation. ” The shield, which protects all life on earth, is generated by the Earth’s FLUID core spinning. See dynamo field.

For this to work, the core must be liquid. And if we suck more and more energy out of the core it will cool. This will lead to solidification. This will lead to death of the magnetosphere. And this will lead to the death of everything on the planet. Except for roaches and those bacteria that live down near the vents at the bottom of the ocean. Oh, but wait, Mars lost it’s ocean due to solar winds. So I guess everything on earth will die.

But, wait, you say – The Earth’s core is so huge and we could never extract that much energy. Humans can’t have that much impact on our planet.

Overfishing anyone?
Deforestation?
Global warming?

When humans started using petrochemicals for fuel, did we even have a concept of running out of them or that we would affect the atmosphere? We, as a species, cannot look that far ahead.

You heard it here first – Geothermal energy is a BAD idea.

Don’t candles also make greenhouses gases?

From an Antarctic research base to the Great Pyramids of Egypt and beyond, the world switched off the lights on Saturday for Earth Hour, dimming skyscrapers, city streets and some of the world’s most recognizable monuments for 60 minutes to highlight the threat of climate change.

Sounds like a good idea. But I am not sure if everyone got the idea completely.

In Australia, people attended candlelit speed-dating events…

Candles burn oxygen creating carbon dioxide, a green house gas. Therefore they were still adding to the problem.

A key 2010 football World Cup qualifier against Serbia posed a dilemma for Romanians. “Shall we watch the match or turn off the lights?,” the 7plus daily asked in its main front-page headline.

Couldn’t they just play the game during the day time when there is carbon free light?

McDonald’s Corp. planned to dim its arches at 500 locations around the U.S. Midwest

Why not stop selling burgers for an hour? The consumption of meat adds more to global warming than transportation.

Solar Panels over Parking Lots

After seeing this on the news yesterday, I had one of those moments of – Duh, why didn’t I think of that? (a feeling that also happens when viewing contemporary art) In Sunnyvale, Ca, the parking lot of Applied Materials is covered in solar panels. Electric vehicles can charge up in that lot.

Why are we not covering every single parking lot south of San Francisco with such structures? I remember listening to a Science Friday on NPR that talked about solar panels and part of the problem is that there isn’t enough room for solar farms near where the power is needed, i.e. urban areas.

Well, doesn’t this just solve that problem? How many parking lots, huge parking lots, are there in L.A., in Pheonix, in Houston, that are just baking in the sun 300+ days of the year? Why are we not demanding these solar farms be built? They could be a revenue source by charging people to recharge their cars while they are at the mall or the movies or at Disneyland or the golf courses outside Palm Springs.

Why are we not doing this? Are projects like this in the Stimulus Package?

p.s. why are there golf courses in the desert?