Archive for the Environmentally Conscious Category

Driverless Cars

Recently there have been some major advances it driver assisted car technology, we are getting to the point where driverless cars are starting to become a viable option.  The state of Nevada has just passed a law allowing driverless cars that meet certain criteria.

Many ask why this is important or is it even worth pursuing?  Right now 40,000 deaths $40 billion in repair costs result from car crashes and untold billions in medical and legal costs.  From an environmental standpoint the use of such cars will almost eliminate all traffic jams on driverless only roads.  Right now America spends 4 billion hours a year in traffic, translating into 2.4 billion gallons of gasoline wasted idling in traffic per year.  I for one am excited about this future, check out these awesome videos on driverless cars.


NSFW NOTE!:  there are some swear words in this video, so best not watch at work


Beating The Heat And The Guilt

For a long time now I have really agonized over one big hurdle that will come up when I finally live in a Tiny House, it is Air Conditioning.  Today it topped a few degrees over 100 and it was humid, really humid.

There are many who can simply sweat it out when it comes to the heat here in North Carolina, but I admittedly am not one.  Growing up in New Hampshire, just an hour and a half from the Canadian border, I love the cold and really hate the heat.  In my mind, I can always add a layer in the cold, but when it comes to heat, well… there is only so much you can take off!

Here in NC we have an amazing growing seasons and when it comes time for me to work in the garden, I don’t shy away from the heat.  It is the other times, when you just are hanging around, most people here can’t even sit in the shade with a cold drink and not end up needing a shower. What really gets me is not being able to sleep in the heat and humidity.  I take a break from backpacking and camping during the summer months as I retreat into my air cooled sanctuary.

So what is the answer?  If I were to have a solar array to power just my AC I would be looking at around 25 panels at 240 watts each, assuming 6 hours peak sunlight and estimating only 80% efficiency in the system.  It would essentially cost me around $10,000 to just power my AC unit.   I can’t believe I am going to say this, but is solar really sustainable?  I have beginning to believe that it really isn’t when you look at the earth minerals to make them, the coal power that makes the factor’s electricity, and the gas guzzling truck to get the panels to me.  I also am beginning to think sustainability isn’t really enough, but that is an entire different post.

There are some systems out there but they have some faults, one in particular is the Coolerado system that can output like a 5 ton system on only 4 solar panels.  But it effectiveness drops a lot in humid climates, for example, the one I find myself in here in North Carolina.  Many have suggested cross ventilation, shading the structure, thermal mass and geothermal options, but in all honesty they either cost the same, are only partially effective or both.

So what IS this answer? I am still left scratching my head.

Printing In The Sand

So I found this video which has been picked up by several credible websites, but I still have trouble believing this is real.  This is a machine that uses the suns rays to create 3D objects like a printer or a rapid prototyping machine.  My skepticism come from the fact that in order to melt sand, it needs to be heated to around 4,000 degrees F, which even accounting for the heat of the desert etc. seems really unlikely.

However, if this is true, think about the applications it could have.  With larger and larger parts of the world falling prey to desertification, we find sand to be very prevalent.  What if we were to use this method to build bricks to build homes!  The machine need no external power and with a few tweaks, could be made to refill sand on its own and there could be a whole slew of these going at one time.


Fracking Gaining Public Awareness

It has been interesting to watch the growing awareness of the dangers of fracking, but is it large enough to sway Federal law yet?  I have seen a large uptick in articles on fracking and the discussion has certainly been coming up a whole lot more.  I have to keep reminding myself that I am pretty well in the loop on most environmental issues, at least at a cursory level.  So sometime we forget that what is common knowledge to us, doesn’t represent the general population.  I use what I call “the mother test”.  When I think about public awareness I think about would my own mother talk about the issue with her friends.  If the answer is yes, it has likely hit the main stream consciousness.  Here is a great music video animation about fracking


How Many People Are There?

I found this interesting video about population which brings up an issue that I have covered before.  You can read my post that there was some controversy over here.  Before you watch the video, ask yourself, how many people live in this world?  After the video you can’t but wonder how we are going to meet this challenge and how it will effect you and your every day lives.