Saturday, November 29, 2008

Subsidies and a Bailout For the Automobile and Fossil Fuel Industry Create Global Warming

The taxpayers of America (you and I) are subsidizing the fossil-fuel industry at the rate of over $220 billion dollars per year. Fossil-fuel subsidies are an archaic and out dated practice. At one time in this country we needed to develop oil and coal for progress. This is no longer the case, fossil fuel burning has become a threat to our very way of life. Subsidies have led to special interest groups (lobbies) whose only agenda is to keep the status quo. In the last decade of the last century oil and gas companies have $154 million dollars in campaign contributions in order to protect special tax rates that save them billions of dollars. The oil industry has larger tax incentives in relation to it's size than any other industry. This is a vile and evil system that is rewarding those who would destroy our planet. We are not vile or evil people for the most part, let us get rid of the evil in our system. We however, are not the only ones subsidizing the fossil fuel dynasty. German subsidies for the coal mining industry is (in their minds) justified by saying it is a job protection measure. At it's worst they were subsidizing that industry at $90,000 dollars per year/per worker. They could have paid each miner half of that money to stay home and not mine coal and come out ahead. There are hidden subsidies. The oil industry gets a tax break based on the fact that an oil field will eventually run out of oil! The U.S. military spends over $60 billion dollars per year (according to the RAND Corporation) to protect access to oil in the middle east. This oil is only worth around $25 billion dollars. The $60 billion will increase as long as we continue the senseless war in Iraq. Seven years ago a study showed that our government used taxpayer dollars to subsidize internal combustion engine automobiles. At that time the amount of the subsidy was around $257 billion dollars. Even if you do not own an automobile or are too poor to afford one, you are helping to subsidize those who do and can. We need to ask our leaders about this policy and change course. Now the automobile industry is requesting a $25 billion dollar bailout. They approached the congress and the senate without a viable plan and simply asked for the money. They are at the end of their reign, they should be forced to do what they could have done 10-15 years ago. They should not receive a bailout unless they acquiesce. These funds could subsidize clean and renewable energy sources, along with electric automobiles which would not destroy our environment. If that is not enough, this energy could be had at a small fraction of the cost of utilizing fossil fuels.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Solar Energy Thermal Power Plant Opens in California

On October 23, 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California in cooperation with Ausra Inc. , a large solar energy manufacturer and developer, started the first solar thermal power plant built in California in twenty years. The Kimberlina Solar Energy Facility was built by Ausra Inc. and at full capacity it will generate 5 MW of electricity or enough to power 3,500 homes located in central California.

In his own words Governor Schwarzenegger stated, "this next generation solar power plant is further evidence that reliable, renewable and pollution-free technology is here to stay, and it will lead to more California homes and businesses powered by sunshine, not only will this large-scale solar facility generate power to help us meet our renewable energy goals, it will also generate new jobs as California continues to pioneer the clean-tech industry." Two years ago California passed a bill requiring a rollback in greenhouse gases to the 1990 level by the year 2020. This would represent a 25 percent reduction. The governor said the Kimberlina solar thermal power plant will help the state in trying to reach that goal.

The first solar plant in the country to utilize Ausra's technology. This facility is a different type of facility with which most people are familiar. They don't use photovoltaic solar panels, which convert the light from the Sun into electricity and are often mounted on rooftops, this solar thermal facility uses large arrays of mirrors to concentrate and capture the Sun's heat, converting it into electricity and relevant energy.

This process will produce high temperature steam for process plants and other industry challenges, solar concentrators use directed concentrated sunlight to boil water. The large turbines in power plants (nuclear and fossil fuel) use steam to power their generators. Electricity is the main objective and is being produced now in this fashion. The concern is that financing must be available, and will all utilities contribute to financing projects using renewables.

Ausra is developing a low cost thermal storage system that will store thermal energy and make it possible to generate electric power on demand. Their core technology is called the Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector solar collector and steam generator. It was developed first at Sydney University in the early 1990's. It was used in the commercial setting first by Solar Heat and Power Pty Ltd. in Australia in 2004. It is currently used in a much more finalized design on a much larger scale by Ausra all over the world. In the words of Robert Morgan, executive vice president and chief development officer for Ausra, "behind these striking, 1,000 foot long mirrors is a design philosophy that uses an elegant simplicity to lower costs and accelerate our ability to deliver at large scale and on schedule, making solar power much more of a player in our collective energy future." Bob Fishman, Ausra chairman CEO and president said, "Kimberlina represents more than an industry milestone, it represents the best of American and Australian ingenuity and get-it-done attitude. I'm particularly proud of the best of Ausra employees who designed and built this plant safely in five months, with zero loss-time accidents and entirely with private capital."

An event was held to launch the facility and Pacific Gas & Electric executive Peter Darbee pledged that his company would never forget it's commitment to curb global warming. He stated, "climate change is a very, very serious problem. "

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wind Turbines Offshore in Deep Water For The Northeast US

The state of New Jersey is helping to fund an initiative by Garden State Offshore Energy to build wind turbines 16 miles offshore. The state would like to have 3000 megawatts of wind power from offshore wind farms by the year 2020, which is 13 percent of the state's electricity needs. The Garden State initiative will provide 350 megawatts of electrical power, and represent the US's first deepwater wind turbines.

Proposed wind turbines in this country have been challenged diligently by the public and shipping interests and this has slowed or outright stopped some proposed offshore wind farms. With the deepwater turbines this is no longer a problem. When the turbines are closer in to shore they are visible and some feel eyesores. Shipping interests say shipping lanes are compromised by the wind turbines. The problem was that no wind farms were allowed any further out than 3-4 miles. The federal government has now agreed to open up deep ocean waters, and by new federal government rules this will create vast areas of space to place wind turbines. The area that they have agreed to let companies develop is the outer continental shelf, it extends to the edge of U.S. territory 230 miles out. These wind farms would not obstruct views, or interfere with any other activity.

The U.S. Department of the Interior, the agency that is responsible for the new rules planned to finalize to rules by the end of 2008. They will lease plots of the shelf to developers of wind farms and other renewable energy projects. These other projects include ocean current and wave-harvesting technologies. States along the northeast coast where 80 percent of the population of the U.S. lives, have decided to providing some of the funding for these wind farms in the hope that they will have some of the energy from the farms transmitted into state grids and help meet renewable energy requirements. The Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition's founder Sean O'Neill thinks the leases may be too expensive and the environmental review process too extensive. Other groups are saying that there are too many barriers to overcome, and they want to know are these waters really open?

Opening the shelf is probably the only way to have offshore wind projects for the U.S. There have been problems in the past trying to get something like this done. Most proposed wind projects in state waters can be seen from shore, and there's potential interference with shipping lanes. Wind turbines in these conditions have to have a smaller design and this leads to a reduction in the anticipated amount of electricity causing profits to fall. In addition no one seemed to know who had control, before the new federal government rules. As a result there is not a single offshore wind turbine operating in the U.S. today.

Nearly 80 percent of the population of the U.S. live in coastal states. In the heavily populated areas there is simply no room for wind turbine farms. Wind turbines located on the continental shelf will generate 1000 gigawatts of electricity. That number is more than the electrical capacity of the entire U.S. The U.S. is in the rear with regard to offshore wind turbines, Europe has more than 2 dozen wind parks in their waters.

New designs have to be developed for deep water wind turbines. At shallow depths it is a simple matter to drive a pole into the floor of the sea, this is called a monopile. The concept is like having to drive piles for reinforced concrete construction. Obviously they cannot have the deepwater turbines without new designs that will take the depth of the water into consideration.

Engineers and researchers are trying new designs like underwater tripods and lattice type structures called jackets. German developer Alpha Ventus is in the next few months going to build a dozen turbines with tripod and lattice structures in deep water. The leading developer in this type of technology are the engineering staff for Beatrice Wind Farm in the North Sea close to Scotland, with turbines 138 feet deep and over 15 miles from shore.

Engineers have determined these designs would be good for depths of 200 feet. The option they have for deeper water is floating structures used by the oil industry. The platforms would not be exactly the same as the oil industry has experience in using, however they would be very similar. Private developers in Europe say they are working on prototypes for this model. Otherwise this technology could take up to a decade to to get up and running.

The cost of deepwater windturbine installation is twice that of wind turbines on land. The industry here in the U.S. is being very careful, they don't want to fail because of fear that would hamper or completely stop further offshore construction of wind turbine farms.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nuclear Power Is Not A Renewable Energy Resource

There is quite a bit of talk about nuclear power as it is being touted as a clean reliable energy source. It is actually put on par with solutions to our power needs like solar and wind power. I beg to differ. The nuclear power industry is getting as old as I am! Nuclear plant owners are trying to see if they may be able to capitalize on these developments. They are doing retrofits and upgrades in every plant they can in order to spruce themselves up for the unwary public.

The problem as I stated earlier is the age of the nuclear plants currently in existence. Around 40 percent of U.S. nuclear power stations are over 30 years old. More than 90 percent of all plants in the U.S. are over 20 years old. Well, you might say, so what? If they are working out, then let's use them. Therein lies the rub. Nuclear power plants are built using reinforced concrete and structural steel , with concrete having the higher numbers in so far as materials used are concerned.

Over time the materials used to build a plant start to corrode and develop cracks (known as stress corrosion cracking [SCC]) because of age and exposure to radiation. If you consider steam turbines then the blade attachment areas and disc bores of low pressure turbine rotors are in danger of SCC.

The owners of some plants want to replace low pressure steam paths with higher pressure steam flow equipment. This theoretically could result in higher output. The emphasis on theoretically is mine. I have worked in the nuclear power industry as an engineer and one thing is certain, and that is nothing is certain. It is hoped that this solution will address reliability issues with these existing steam turbines.

The retrofit that most are opting for would include installing new low pressure rotors, rotating and stationary blades, inner casings and blade carriers. The scope of this type of retrofit would be large and costly. They would have to install or replace: high efficiency, integrally shrouded, reaction type blading for their front stages; longer last stage rotating blades to reduce the energy content of the steam leaving the turbine, thereby increasing turbine output; provide consistent and predictable vibration characteristics, snubbers at three quarter height will need to interconnect the last stage rotating blades and the second to last stage blades will need to be linked by integral tip shrouding; provide reduced stage leakage due to better sealing and reaction characteristics over the length of the blade; and select materials to provide erosion corrosion characteristics.

These upgrades are not all that would need to be done, and I include them here to show the complexity of this proposed fix of the aging nuclear power plants. This is not to confuse the layman but merely to show that this undertaking would be of immense scope and would cost millions of dollars. Dollars perhaps better spent pursuing alternative energy in the form of renewable energy resources.

The owners of some of these plants are saying that by the low carbon output (i.e. lower CO2 which has been shown to cause global warming) and possible gains in capacity, they could in some cases identify around 350MW of electricity increase by 2014.

I don't want to give the impression that nuclear power should be abandoned, I am a scientist and I would not make rash statements like this without some sort of research. It is simply obvious that we are already paying a very high price for electricity generated by nuclear power. The cost alone would be enough to deter some, and there is still the question of safety. Obviously we have not mastered nuclear power to the point that we can claim that it is 100 percent safe. The byproduct of nuclear power or it's waste is weapons grade plutonium. That is enough to make me question the sanity of utilizing this option. There has never been a permanent solution for the question of waste storage.

There would certainly be a decrease of carbon dioxide emissions if we pursue this course, however is that enough? We have the technology for several different course to pursue. The carbon dioxide emission problem would simply cease to exist with renewable energy resources generating our electricity. The money needed for this option is not available, but if we can spend so recklessly on nuclear power, could we not use the same funds for sustainable and renewable energy sources?

I am saddened to say that in some cases utility operators, owners of the aging nuclear plant system would not invest in installing new power transmission lines to enable more wind turbine or solar power systems. Too costly, and not part of the scope of their work. This from the people selling us our electric power. My bills have increased over the past year by 20 percent. My income certainly did not increase by anywhere near that amount.

We should at least look at this problem and lobby our elected officials to make a stand for the sake of all Americans, for the sake of the people of earth in general. The utility companies work for you and me, write to them, we are their customers. We should at least try.

Why don't we investigate wind power or solar power, there would be costs, but that is another article altogether. Just bear in mind that nuclear power is not renewable or sustainable.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fossil Fuels Causing Increased Global Warming and Health Issues

There are studies that point to another problem with fossil fuels and global warming, people are experiencing more and more allergies and allergic reactions. There has been in the last decade a 50 percent increase in older patients who are having allergic symptoms. These are people from 60 to 80 years old. Older people are for the first time in their lives being diagnosed with asthma. This is from doctors in the northeast part of the country, which has been cited for increased levels of carbon dioxide in the air. There are not many forest lands and fossil fuels are being burned heavily in this area. Older people tended in the past to suffer less from allergies and allergic reaction, not anymore. They are suffering enmasse' the same as the rest of the population due to global warming.
The rampant use of fossil fuels causing global warming, is changing the climate and some experts believe this is in turn increasing pollen counts and making the pollen more potent. Warmer temperatures are extending the growing season, and that increases the growth of both tree and grass pollen and makes their potency higher than it has ever been. The USDA Agricultural Research Service's ecologists believe the carbon dioxide itself helps plant growth. This increases the incidence of allergy problems.
Lewis Ziska is a plant ecologist for the USDA Argricultural Research Service, and he is the first researcher to show how global warming could affect allergies, and actually cause people who never had allergies to suddenly start to suffer from them.
Mr. Ziska in 2001 planted ragweed in urban, rural and suburban sites in and around Baltimore Maryland. He used the same seed and soil and the same amount of water. In the urban areas the temperatures were higher and the carbon dioxide levels were 20 percent higher than they were in the rural plots. The plants were larger and produced five times more pollen than the rural plots. Mr. Ziska published his study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Dr. Paul R. Epstein of the Center for Health and Global Environment at Harvard Medical School published a study in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and in it he stated that carbon dioxide stimulates all plant life, however weedy plants, like ragweed, are stimulated more so. Ragweed pollen increased by 2/3 when it was exposed to twice the amount of carbon dioxide than there is in the atmosphere currently. According to scientists the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will double by the end of this century if we use fossil fuels at the current rate.
Some species of trees are producing 3 times as much pollen as they were prior to the advent of fossil fuels used in our industrial revolution until now. Poison ivy is now sometimes three times the size of plants found 50 to 60 years ago. Because of increased Co2, poison ivy oil that causes the itch is getting stronger researchers including Dr. Epstein say.
The largest problem concerning increased carbon dioxide is the burning of fuels like diesel, which causes a greater impact on asthma patients. Dr. Epstein explains that airborne pollen binds with diesel particles and go deep into lungs, there it irritates and can change into asthma. Nitrates in diesel aggravate the cells that cause allergic reactions. The older the patient the more problems they they may have with lung function. Beside smoking, and pollution, the natural aging process causes problems.
Allergists are seeing more problems. Dr. Jefferey G. Demain has done research that focused on insects that caused allergies, like bees. He found that symptoms are lasting longer and are much stronger than in the past. Higher temperatures due to global warming cause the insects to live longer. He has seen a large increase in cases of stinging allergies that require treatment.
If you are over 60 or an infant there is a greater risk for anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock. This is a reaction to an allergen that causes difficulty breathing and swelling in the throat. Older patients with insect venom allergies as well as the very young, are at a greater risk of a serious problem or death if stung. The increased risk of anaphylaxis, and possible respiratory disorders that elderly people may have, make it a serious problem.
Global Warming is causing existing allergies to accelerate and is now causing people who heretofore did not have allergies to have them. This is the legacy that we have created for our future generations, illness and allergic reactions caused by the very air we breath simply because of climate changes. Climate changes directly caused by global warming.
Fossil fuels are the culprits with regard to global warming and we are not only killing other species, we are destroying the human race. We can save ourselves by converting to clean renewable energy sources. We have the technology to convert to solar and wind power almost painlessly. This is only one more reason that we should pursue this course. We are running out of options.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

U.S. Conference of Mayors Study Validate Green Collar Jobs

The United States Conference of Mayors released a report stating that 4.2 million green collar jobs could be created by the year 2038 if we gradually convert to renewable energy sources. In addition to renewable energy jobs would be created by opening fields like sustainable agriculture, and green building. The Mayors are right, if we calmly pursue this strategy, then there would be over four million jobs in 2038. However we don't have that much time. We must pursue this alternative aggressively, the writing is on the wall.

The leading presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama and many in the scientific community believe that 5 million new jobs could be achieved in the next decade. Senator Obama is closer to what we as a nation actually need. We cannot let this problem linger on for over two generations. Some in the scientific community predict triple this outcome if we aggressively pursue alternative energy policies, utilizing solar and wind power.

The report completed by Global Insight, Inc., states that currently 750,000 people work in the green collar job sector. This ranges from scientists and engineers to makers of energy efficient products. That is one half of one percent of total employment. Taking this report into account 10 percent new job growth would occur over the next three decades. That could make it the fastest growing job segment of this country.

This growth cannot be realized without a shift away from our current use of fossil fuels. This would be the main hindrance to this solution no matter how much growth we attempt to pursue from these methods. There must also be an increase in energy efficiency.

The report assumes that by 2038 40 percent of all electricity produced in this country will come from alternative sources, half of this electrical power will come from solar and wind energy. Thirty percent of motor fuels it is assumed will come from ethanol and biodiesel. There is the assumption that there would be a 35 percent reduction of electrical power use by retrofitting buildings to achieve optimal energy efficiency. The report envisions 30 percent of motor fuels will come from ethanol and biodiesel at that juncture.

The report states currently only three percent of electrical power is generated by the use of alternative sources (solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass) of energy. Nonfossil fuels (ethanol and biodiesel) are currently providing only 5 percent of motor fuels according to this report.

The conference according to it's president (Miami's Mayor Manny Diaz) feel that the investment of funds to bring alternative sources of energy to the forefront is a sound one and that it will pay huge dividends. They also feel that the federal government must embrace this solution as well.

The report states that the largest gains in employment would be in the use of alternative sources of transportation fuels generating 1.5 million new jobs, renewable energy according to the report would generate another 1.2 million new jobs. A little over 80,000 jobs would be gained in the industry that concerns making homes and buildings energy efficient according to the report. The gains in research, consulting, legal, and engineering would be around 1.4 million jobs.

The report was presented at a Mayor's conference in Miami. The main issue was that alternative energy must be embraced and most Americans would agree with that judgement. The time frame is the only point that even Senator Obama does not agree with nor myself. I feel as most of the scientific community does that the time frame for this solution should be the next decade, not the next three.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Windfall Tax Revenues From Wind Power

From Abilene to Midland Texas there is a wind power boom of sorts going on. The economy in west Texas has benefited from these projects by way of tax revenues growing in leaps and bounds. The city of Blackwell Texas is an example. In a two year period the property tax roll climbed from 325 million dollars to 1.2 billion dollars because of the revenues from four wind farms in that area. Blackwell is building a new school that would not have been possible were it not for the wind farms. New computers and improved curriculum are benefits of the wind farm projects in the area as well.
When most people think of Texas, they think oil and gas. Ironically Texas leads the nation in wind power capacity. They currently boast 5,800 megawatts which in itself is a substantial amount of power. However if predictions for new transmission lines are met, then the number will increase to 18,000 megawatts.
There are no shortage of investors lining up to finance new wind farms in the wide open spaces of west Texas. They include Florida based FPL Group, and many others. The wind farms are being promoted by many prominent Texans including T. Boone Pickens a Texas billionaire. There are very few detractors of the wind farms with the exception of Gillespie County. The county is a tourist attraction due to scenic views and a popular hiking destination. They opposed the wind turbines, stating that they would interfere with the scenic views.
Wind investment has made it possible for school districts in the area to sell bonds to raise funds for education. There is an eight million dollar bond issue to build new facilities for the Highland Independent School district in Roscoe Texas for the district's 220 students. According to the superintendent of the school district they would not have considered this measure were it not for the revenue the wind farms bring to the economy.
Sweetwater Texas is the center of the wind farm expansion and officials there say there are no empty hotels, restaurants are full and there are no empty houses. People who had plans to leave the area are now staying. Sweetwater is the home of Texas's famous rattlesnake roundup and the attraction of the wind farms rival this event.
A wind farm scheduled to be completed next year in Roscoe Texas will become the world's largest. Former residents who had since moved away are considering returning to the area as it is now an attractive option for retirement. The tourist trade will provide plenty of activity as people come into the area to witness these wind farms.
This is another example of the opportunity for growth that converting to renewable energy will provide. This rural area of Texas will now provide power for larger cities like Dallas and Fort Worth which are in dire need of new power sources. This in turn will not only create revenue, it will provide jobs for thousands of people. These 'green collar' jobs will give way to 'green collar' careers as time passes.
The power generated by the wind turbines will be emission free. There is no equal in the world of fossil fuels. This is a win-win scenario, there is no downside. The citizens benefit from an improved standard of living and their power needs are met painlessly. Our lawmakers in Washington are currently debating this option along with others. It would seem that all one need do would be to look at projects like these wind farms or the solar installations successfully providing power in various places around the world. This is change whose time has come.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

National Day of Action/Green Jobs Now

Today (09-27-2008) is The Green Jobs Now National Day of Action, and many events have been planned to bring about awareness of this work. Several environmental and activist groups are trying to convince our elected officials to invest in creating 'green collar' jobs, millions of jobs. This seems to be a daunting task, however I agree with their ideas. If we commit to using clean renewable energy we can do this.
The largest gains in employment when we convert would be in retooling manufacturing facilities, building solar power facilities, solar panel fabrication and installation, weatherization of existing buildings, wind farms, manufacturing wind turbines, water conservation, organic product marketing, repairing the infrastructure and training our citizens in the new technology. Most of the training would be simple as there aren't any complicated issues where renewable energy is concerned.
This is a way to become involved in the actual creation of these jobs. You have to convince your power company that you don't want your power to come from coal, nuclear, gas or any of the other fossil fuels that are producing greenhouse gas and literally killing us! You are a customer of the power company in your area, your opinion is important. The power companies don't have to buy fossil fuels, they may buy solar, wind, geothermal and any combination of renewable energy sources. The problem is they don't buy renewable energy sources, and they have no incentive to do so. That is why we have to force this issue. In this country coal fired power plants are responsible for 80 percent of electricity's global warming pollution. Less than five percent of the energy we use in the U.S. is from renewable energy sources. We have very little choice, we have to try and convince the power companies that control our futures in more ways than one.
We can make everyone listen including the policy makers. The policy makers will listen because we control their fates and once again the power companies must listen to their customers.
America does not have any products that we make in our own country anymore. We don't have oil to speak of, we don't manufacture anything. What we have are people. That is what we have to start to exploit. Our people are strong and imaginative, together we can achieve our goals of clean energy and a new economy based on the creation of 'green collar' jobs.
The government should get behind the industries that will serve to clean up our environment. They will create 'green collar' jobs. A green collar job is a blue collar job that's been upgraded to respect the environment. There should be good benefits and wages that will support families tied to these 'green collar' jobs. We would solve several of mankind's problems with this solution. We will start to repair our environment and we will put millions of people back to work. I hope the events planned for 9/27/2008 go well we need to bring attention to a situation that has it's own problems and now there are answers. The organization Green Jobs Now would have it that we can invent and invest our way out of our current problems. They have been proven right by countries all over Europe. America has to catch up.
We will create jobs and lasting new businesses, small and large, that will provide an economic future for us all. The green revolution is re-powering America. We will create 'green collar' jobs and 'green collar' careers will be born, lasting careers with futures as long lasting as renewable energy. That is to say they (green collar careers) probably will last forever.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wind Power: Alternative Energy Whose Time Has Come

In August of 2008 the town of Rock Port Missouri announced that they had the first completely wind powered community in United States history. There are only four wind turbines supplying all of the power that Rock Port needs. Rock Port is a small city with only a little over 1300 residents. Rock Port's wind power is supplied by four wind turbines on agricultural lands inside the city limits of Rock Port which is in Atchison County. They use 13 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year. The four turbines will probably produce around 16 million kilowatt hours per year.
The excess power generated but not used will be purchased by the Missouri Joint Municipal Utilities for use elsewhere. At the University of Missouri, Extension specialists say that there are opportunities for wind power to be used in northwest Missouri.
Currently 24 wind turbines operate in Atchison County, 24 operate in Nodaway County, and 27 operate in Gentry County. University of Missouri Extension specialist say that wind farms will produce 1.1 million dollars a year in county real estate taxes. The taxes will be paid by wind energy developer Wind Capitol Group from St. Louis Missouri. This is a situation heretofore unheard of (the increase in tax dollars) in rural areas like these. Using wind power will help landowners in these areas, as they will lease part of their property for wind turbines at rates of 3,000 to 5,000 dollars.
The success of this venture is bringing other wind energy companies out to look at possibly acquiring sites in northwest Missouri. According to a U.S. Department of Energy map northwest Missouri has the state's highest level of wind resources. It also shows that a number of locations in this area would be suitable for wind development on a utility scale.
There is a 20 year life span for the turbines being used in Missouri, therefore they will provide electricity for that period before they would need to be replaced. The community will benefit greatly from this as they save money as well as the electric power companies in the area. An unexpected benefit is curiosity brings visitors from other areas which adds money received from tourism.
This is another example of the practicality of using renewable energy and thereby reducing CO2 emissions as well as eliminating greenhouse gas. We must lobby our elected officials to see that this is going to be one of the ways we save our environment and our planet.
Click on the title of this article to go to another site to learn more about renewable energy sources.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pink Floyd and Other Tastes

I would like to say that I learned of Richard Wright's death yesterday (September 15, 2008) with great sorrow. Mr. Wright was a founding member of Pink Floyd a rock group that influenced my musical taste in the '70's, I was a young man then. This brings to mind a subject not often discussed (too sad) but important at any rate. Mortality, we have lost a great many musical and show business icons this year: Issac Hayes; Bo Diddly; Bernie Mac, just to name a few. I'm getting to the point, I tend to ramble these days.

It has been noted that money cannot buy health, love or happiness, or can it? There is a study that suggests otherwise. (check today) Nancy E Adler PhD (University of California San Francisco) has looked into this problem and her conclusions are shocking to say the least. It seems that people in the lower income groups have health problems far more than their higher paid counter parts. They also tend to die prematurely, more so than the affluent! This is not because they have more money, it is usually because the poor tend to have bad diets, poor exercise habits, smoke more, abuse alcohol and drugs and they live in areas decidedly bad for their health. Take for instance the urban working mother with 2 jobs, she may outlive her husband but she won't outlive her suburban counterpart. She doesn't have time to exercise, is more likely to feed her kids from the local fast food establishment due to lack of meal prep time, and is more likely to suffer from bad health in general. There is a connection between status and health that scientists don't completely understand. Dr. Adler changed her focus to socio-economic status after seeing a British study with the shorthand title Whitehall I. She is now the chairwoman of MacArthur Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health.

It seems that Whitehall is a street in London where many government agencies have offices. In 1967 the study began by surveying 18,000 male workers, civil servants. They were divided into 4 groups with Administrators (policy setters) at the top, executives next, clerical workers followed, and at the bottom were office messengers. These men all had the same access to benefit packages provided by the British government, as well as the same amount of job security. However 25 years later, in the early 1990's, they found that the men at the top were far more healthy than the men at the bottom. Not only were they healthier, they tended to live longer as the men at the bottom were 3 times more likely to have died or would die an early death. They could not explain this even when they took bad habits into consideration. (The upper level had just as many bad habits as the lower)

It is not known for sure if you can free yourself from this grim fact of life, but you may surely try to do so. The studies indicate that beyond 125k per year there is little health advantage to be gained by increasing wealth beyond this point. What can you do about it if you don't make the grade by your income level. Live as though you do have an income equal to 125k. They listed seven ways to improve your health prospects and I'll repeat them here. Before I do, the one theme that seemed to be in the background was make your world green. Protect your environment and the environment that we all share. Air and water pollution due to our dependence on fossil fuels are killing us, along with our diets and bad habits. That is the full truth, however the following are seven ways to add 15 years to your life.

Number 1
Become famous, or at least recognized in your field. According to Dr Adler your social status is as important as economic status. Those who were successful in their endeavours and who also had adequate incomes tended to live longer. Her advice was to find your niche and if you are successful, stay with it, you'll be healthier.

Number 2
Hang out with thin people or at least people who are not over weight. Obesity levels are not equal with regard to social status. The highest rates of obesity are found among people of lower economic and educational status. This is not hard to understand among the poor, they have notoriously bad diets. However there is one surprising factor, if your friends are obese chances are you will be as well. This statistic goes up if you are a man almost double. If you have a very close friend that is obese, then the chances of you becoming obese climbs to 171 percent.

Number 3
Live in peaceful surroundings, this should not matter but according to researchers it does. Living in the city increases the chance of premature death by over 60 percent. This is where environmental conditions are the culprit more than any place else. Respiratory disease is higher because the water and air are polluted. Higher incidences of lead paint in homes. Dr Adler found that low income families had 6 times as much lead in their blood as did their higher income counterparts. The fear of crime increased depression and anxiety disorders. Cities tend to be noisy, and this leads to stress, social isolation, depression and heart disease. How do we counter this? Should we all move to the suburbs? No, we should lobby our elected officials to get moving on repairing our environment and our planet. Cease the use of fossil fuels, build homes without lead paint, legislate the use of electric vehicles and all of the benefits of using alternative energy will pay off. It will even create jobs to build a new future, we must do this!

Number 4
Quit smoking and this is a no brainer. Over 400,000 people die each year from smoking, and they are from the lower income groups. This is probably because more under educated people smoke because they are surrounded by smokers. Only 10-15 percent of male college graduates smoke today.

Number 5
Find a job that you are satisfied with and you don't feel angry and frustrated over. We no longer work on jobs where you would get coal miner's lung or have a large piece of steel drop on our heads. We still think that these are the only kinds of jobs that are hazardous to our health. Nowadays we have to think in terms of how much stress and frustration our jobs cause us to have. Dr Adler has found that jobs in which people have little control, feel they are being treated badly, are threatened by pay cuts or job loss are likely to develop stress that in turn causes many diseases. If you feel that you don't fit wherever you work, quit or lose your life in the process.

Number 6
Call the people you really like and for whom you have a high regard. They can be relatives, friends, co-workers, fellow church members, you get the picture. Isolation can be a stress inducer and those of us who don't have a lot of income tend to become isolated. That is not something that has to be true. Remember, you are pretending that you have an adequate income (125k/year) in order to get the same benefit. Reach out and become a social person, it won't hurt and you'll increase your chances of enjoying good health.

Number 7
Last, but certainly not least is to get more education. This is the most important aspect of a healthy life, your level of education. A study done in Sweden suggests that every step up the educational ladder increases your life span. The most amazing thing about this study was when they compared PhD holders to professionals only one step down the ladder. (i.e. engineers, attorneys) The PhD's did not make any more money, yet their mortality rate was 33 percent lower. Well, that does it for me, go back to school, you'll live longer.

Once again it is not certain as to whether these suggestions are valid, however studies seem to indicate that they are. Eight years ago studies indicated that if your income is 36,000 dollars/year or less you had a 64 percent larger chance of premature death. There you have it!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11 2001, So We Remember

The following is a reprint from my blog posted on Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden's site

By Gypsyman27 - Sep 11th, 2008 at 11:00 am EDT
Comments Mail to a Friend Report Objectionable Content
On September 11, 2001, I was at my son's elementary school in the office, (I taught math and reading as a volunteer) the TV set was on and we watched in horror as the second plane hit the World Trade Center Tower. I had a dim thought that it was only by the grace of God that I was not in that tower, I used to work there on the 86th floor. In the hours and days that followed we all watched as brave police and firefighters tried to locate and rescue any survivors. Some of the rescuers have since passed on themselves from maladies contracted while attempting to help. I'm sure everyone can remember where they were when this terrible tragedy took place. We will not soon forget
The perpertrators of this crime are still free. No one has brought them to justice. Our sitting president was chasing his own political agenda by sending troops to Iraq to die in a (I feel) pointless conflict. We should have been using our resources to capture and punish those responsible for this misdeed. This was a dark moment in our history.
Today let us join Senators Obama and Biden as we remember and honor our dead. Let us remember that they all left families and friends behind. We should, as we go about our business today, take time to say a prayer for our fallen friends. Let us remember in the hope that this must not be allowed to happen again. Thankyou, Senator Obama and Senator Biden for remembering.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Nanotechnology is a simple short term solution for implementing alternative, renewable energy systems. It is a cost effective way to implement solar and wind power systems, which generally depend on the weather for energy output. By using chemical techniques inexpensive solutions of nanoparticles can be prepared and applied to materials for use in ultra capacitors. These units will be cost effective and will conduct electricity at a higher rate than is currently possible. Nanotechnology can be used in battery technology. Nanocomposite materials greatly increase the surface area at which chemical reactions occur in batteries. It enables increases in the battery's output while reducing it's size. In the long term nanotechnology could enable power to be harnessed from renewable sources and stored until we use the power at a later time. This is a technology whose time has come as we don't have a system in place that effectively stores power in this fashion. However there are researchers who are working in this direction and new discoveries are coming almost daily. It is almost the way every major innovation in our country has occurred. When the internal combustion engine was developed, there were several inventors working toward the same end without any of them having any knowledge of what the other was doing! The same could be said of the steam engine. Credit for a great deal of this information comes from material written by David Walker and Dr. Mark Daugherty of IPC Corporation. This technology is another advent in getting to a place where we free ourselves from costly fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy. Click on the title of this blog for more information.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

M's Palin Has Astonished Even Me!

The speech M's Palin gave last night was indeed astonishing. From an enviromental point of view she made it clear that it was business as usual in Alaska. Should we expect anything more of this candidate for the country? I don't think so. There was not much in the way of substance, however she made it clear that she was blundering ahead with the drill and pollute mentality that has been the signature of the fossil fuel industry. This, once again is not a political blog, but I must speak about the obvious. She trotted her family out all evening, although everyone is supposed to lay off these people. Don't use them as props 'hon'. If you do so, then they become fair game. I could be in Alaska helping the oil companies make more of the 'over the top' profits to which they have become accustomed. I chose not to go that route. I have said it before, I could use the money. My seventeen year old son needs college money. ("Baby needs a new pair of shoes") I simply cannot, in good conscience get it in this fashion. I know it's a cliche', but money isn't everything. I'm going to bring up the sheer number of children that she has. I can't believe that anyone with her genes would reproduce so wantonly. I know this is America, but come on! But I digress, there are going to be problems if this ticket goes any further than watching 1600 Pennslyvania ave. from the sidewalk. No plan to substitute renewable energy for fossil fuels. No plans to help the middle class with health care, jobs, or tax breaks. I would love to see them address the enviroment, although she did mention this vaguely. We need someone with a plan! The city of San Francisco has cleared the way for it's residents to get permits for, and build wind turbines. Let's face it, we are going toward renewable energy whether M's Palin and Senator McCain like it or not.

Friday, August 29, 2008

...And Then McCain Got It Wrong

Once again this is not political, I simply want to say that choosing the governor of a state in which they pay citizens to ignore the plunder of the land for vice president is not exactly 'cool'. (no pun intended) Never mind this candidate is a woman, never mind she is a mother, (once again, no pun...) never mind she has a story, (?) they are drilling everything that moves in Alaska. We don't need to continue on this course. We have to pursue alternative energy sources, not oil. I'm sorry about ranting here, I simply cannot believe that I am the only one who 'gets' this. The oil lobby is one of the most powerful in Washington, I don't think we need someone who has catered to that industry a heartbeat away from being the leader of the free world, if, that is , McCain succeeds. Please say it isn't so. We are heading in the wrong direction for sure if we send a signal such as this. Let us all in a loud voice declare that we will not pursue this kind of agenda. Alternative energy sources that include only renewable sources is the way to go. I am an engineer and I have been asked to come to Alaska to continue this bankrupt energy policy of 'drill for oil' recently. I will refuse, although I certainly could use the money. I hope that we as a people will understand that this is the way that we Americans could restore our country to the greatness that we once knew.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Al Gore Has It Right!

This is not a political diatribe, it simply is something that is happening in this season of politics. Al Gore spoke at the Democratic National Convention and he made several references to the enviroment and clean renewable energy. He made reference to the fact that the current regime (and I must call it a 'regime') has not made even a small effort to move forward in time and start looking for alternatives to fossil fuel. This is not something we should pursue, it is something we must pursue for our sakes and our children's sake. Our sitting president is an oil man, from an oil family. He is putting his own fortunes ahead of our futures. We , the taxpayers of the United States are subsidizing the fossil fuel industry at a rate of over two hundred billion dollars per year. The fossil fuel subsidies could pay for a new beginning with regard to the use of renewable energy. Fossil fuel subsidies have no place in our current society. We must use those funds to provide renewable sources of energy, clean and safe energy. I'm speaking about solar, wind and water power. We are subsidizing global warming, pollution and violent weather changes. As long ago as 1991 we had enough harnessable wind energy in three states to satisfy national electricity needs. (the three states are North Dakota, Kansas, and Texas) Imagine with the advances in technology what that means today in the year 2008. This is no longer a 'dream', it is a reality. We have to give alternative energy the opportunity to work. If we don' t we are doomed to failure, fossil fuels are not renewable, they are not clean, and they are not cheap. We can do this together, for more information click on the title of this post to go to my website. Let's save the Earth for our children, let's save it for our grandchildren, and let's save it for our own peace of mind.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Solar Power vs Solar Energy

The terms 'Solar Power' and 'Solar Energy' are used interchangably, however the terms have different definitions. Solar Energy is utilizing the radiant energy from the Sun. Solar Power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either by photovoltaics and concentrating solar thermal devices, or the utilization of thermoelectric converters, solar chimneys or solar ponds. (some of the latter are experimental) When we consider building design, solar energy (and shading) are considerations. In order to conserve heat that the Sun delivers, thermal mass is used. Optimization of the light in buildings is called a 'Daylighting' technique. Solar water heaters are used in many applications including swimming pools and domestic hot water. Farmers use greenhouses to lengthen the growing seasons, as well as pumps that derive power from solar cells (photovoltaics) in order to move water for grazing animals. In order to harvest salt, as well as clean waste streams, evaporation ponds are used. In order to increase the supply of potable (drinking, cooking etc.) water, solar distillation and disinfection methods provide water for a great many people around the world. There are many simple uses for this renewable energy and the prospect for a great deal more. Keep reading, there will be more to follow.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Alternative Energy-Conversation With A Friend

My friend's name is Gary, after reading my post from 08/22/2008, Gary told me of an idea he'd been looking at for some time now. He has an idea for using perpetual motion devices using renewable energy in order to generate power. Gary is not an engineer or scientist by profession. He is an old world craftsman of sorts. He has a small business in the construction trades wherein he installs ceramic and all other forms of tile. He is capable of doing beautiful work in this genre, for all types of projects. (I saw him do a wonderful marble display for a client's final resting place) Therefore I was surprised that he had given using forms of alternative and renewable power sources any thought. He described a simple way to harness energy from a source readily available, as well as clean and reliable. I am happy to know that among my casual friends there are those that are as concerned as we are about this problem. We have made a pact to see that Gary gets to research his ideas and try to bring them to fruition. I would like to hear from anyone who is of a like mind. Renewable energy is not a pipe dream, we can do this if we work together!

Friday, August 22, 2008

We Have to Switch Now!

Today I spoke with a man who heard me make an off the cuff remark about renewable energy in a 'gas and go' store. He was concerned, he's a boat captain and he's noticed things that are not good. He's noticed certain breeds of fish are no more, flotsam and jetsam are strange and alien. We have seriously damaged our eco-system, but it's not too late. We can save it, we have to try at least. Renewable energy is solar, water, and wind. We have the technology to make use of all of these options. We don't have the desire, money is clouding the issue.
We have all fed at that stand, and some of us still are there, oil refineries, coal fired power plants etc. I am as guilty as anyone, I was an engineer for a quarter of a century, the last ten years I changed my focus. I can still make a great deal of money perpetuating this crime against nature, however I have children and grandchildren. What kind of legacy are we leaving our offspring? I am advocating the immediate cessation of power generation utilizing fossil fuel, we have to switch to renewable sources of energy for our power needs. You won't have to give up anything, you can still have all of the gadgets you want. But we have to begin immediately. If we don't, this crisis will become a disaster. Stay tuned, I'll explain completely in future writings.
If you have any thoughts, write I'll listen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It seems there is something for parents to gnash their teeth and wail about every day. Now there is a study suggesting that our children are preoccupied with video games this year. (duh) The cost of all of this gaming is far more harmful than pornography or drugs. I didn't know that we considered this practice exposed our children to morally bankrupt material, more so than drugs or pornography. I don't know, maybe this study was done tongue-in-cheek. My seventeen year old son plays various titles from Madden, to Grand Theft Auto. He's an honor student and he plays violin with amazing fervor and talent. The games have not corrupted him, I have always kept an eye on what he plays and we talk about what he is playing and what it means to him. Someone talk to me about this one.