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A rooftop solar installation like this one could power a house or a small business sustainably, relieving stress on the power grid, reducing the burning of fossil fuels and encouraging energy independence. Not interested, says America’s (formerly) largest solar panel manufacturer. (Photo courtesy Wayne Natrional Forest)
British Petroleum — the folks who tried for a while to convince us that their initials stood for “Beyond Petroleum” until it became clear that they really meant “below par”– have done it again. Having shown us how not to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, and how not to maintain the Alaska Pipeline, they have now demonstrated how not to use solar power to make a stronger, more sustainable America. According to Reuters, their BP Solar subsidiary is closing its huge solar-panel manufacturing plant in Frederick, Maryland. Completely. What are they going to do instead? Solar project development. Continue reading
Converting a Hummer to bio-diesel, as this one has been, is like having a diet drink after gorging at McPiggy’s. As it turns out, converting an industry to bio-diesel makes about as much sense. (Photo by Paul Keller/Flickr)
In 2003, the European Union threw all its weight behind bio-diesel — a fuel manufactured mostly from plant seeds — as the sustainable replacement for fossil fuel. The members created the world’s largest bio-diesel industry, and now to their sorrow are discovering the truth in what has been a mantra of the Daily Impact: renewables aren’t sustainable if they’re industrial. The realization may destroy the $13 billion industry. Continue reading
Mohammed "Don't-worry-be-happy" Aliabadi, Iran's acting oil minister and former Olympics Committee chair, says there is plenty of cheap oil for everybody, forever.
To hear its members tell it, the issue before the meeting of the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries beginning today in Vienna is whether or not it will choose to increase oil supplies for an increasingly needy world. What concerns the 12 member countries, they say, is merely fine-tuning a system that is working wonderfully, to make sure everyone remains as content as they are now. The current price of oil, around $100 a barrel, is about right, they say, and in the words of the current OPEC president, Iran’s caretaker oil minister Mohammad Aliabadi, “very much due to OPEC’s efforts, the world remains well supplied with oil, with ample spare capacity and adequate stock levels.” Wow. How much better could things get? Continue reading
That's a natural gas fracking well. You'd be well advised not to drink the water. (Photo by Daniel Foster/Flickr)
Pennsylvania’s largest practitioner of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, Chesapeake Energy, has suspended operations in the state — not because of any government action, but voluntarily, after a string of violations, accidents and blowouts. In the most recent and one of the most serious, Chesapeake lost control of a well for more than 12 hours after a blowout on April 20. Thousands of gallons of toxic drilling fluids spilled onto farm fields and into streams, and seven families were subjected to sudden, middle-of-the-night evacuations. Continue reading
Each Bloom box shown provides 100 kw cheap, clean energy for CalTech. Other clients include eBay, Google and Coke.
One year ago, the venerable televison news program 60 Minutes broke a blockbuster story that (as The Daily Impact observed at the time — Hope Springs: Can a Fuel Cell Save Us?) made even energy pessimists feel a pang of hope. (Okay, 60 Minutes didn’t exactly break the story, but they did introduce it for the first time to a mass audience.) Bloom Energy of Sunnyvale, California had brought to market a reliable, efficient, clean and relatively cheap fuel cell that was scalable from a coffee-can-sized power source for a home to a greyhound-bus-sized industrial plant. Continue reading
A word cloud (the more often used, the larger) generated from a speech by Governor Bobby Jindal in 2009. (Photo by Jason-Morrison/Flickr)
While the problems caused by industrial-scale pollution of air, water and land rise inexorably to nostril level, any and all efforts to deal with them are hampered by the deliberate release of toxic words into our language. Like poisons and endocrine-disruptors, toxic words cloud our intentions, weaken our will and muddle our efforts. If we can’t talk clearly about where we want to go and why, we can’t get there. Continue reading
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A solar flare recorded Dec. 5, 2006, by the X-ray Imager onboard NOAA's GOES-13 satellite. The flare was so intense, it actually damaged the instrument that took the picture.
Blind faith in the power of industrial technology to provide everyone with cheap luxury requires turning a blind eye to the deferred costs of industrialization. And the longer we ignore the consequences, the worse they are. For example, the longer we tolerate industrial agriculture’s loss of topsoil, pollution of water and destruction of diversity, the more difficult will be any recovery to sustainable practices. Our society remains stubbornly oblivious to even the obvious rising threats; but here’s one that, real as it is, is truly obscure: the possibility that the sun could turn off our lights. (To listen to the audio version, click here: 0103 Solar Powered Blackout) Continue reading
As night gathers in Washngton, the Capitol dome shines a beacon of total ignorance over the nation. (Photo by David Iliff/wikimedia)
The triumph of ignorance and greed in the November elections is about to complete the paralysis of the United States government that has been the clear objective of the right wing since 1980, and has been almost within its grasp since 2000. Virtually free at last from the constraints of objective journalism, effective opposition and a shared public sense of civic duty, the right wing no longer needs to be restrained, or rational, in completing the destruction of a once great nation. Continue reading
In this type of solar "farm," mirrors focus the sun on the tower to boil water. Lots of sun in the desert, but water? Photo by Bardot/Wikimedia
The relentless industrialization of renewable energy continues, now with the support of government at all levels. The case for solar “farms” and wind “farms” (note how the word “farm” summons bucolic images that have nothing to do with these immense factories), dripping with greenwash, obscures the fact that industrial renewables are no alternative for a petrochemical-addicted society, simply another industrial dead end. As an example, consider the solar “farm.” Continue reading
Coal burning power plants, like this New York City veteran, are fast becoming industrial dinosaurs because they do more harm than good. (Photo by futureatlas.com)
Last week, the East Kentucky Power Cooperative abandoned plans to build two coal-burning power plants in Clark County. This major setback for Big Coal in the heart of Big-Coal country, comes just a year after Ohio’s American Municipal Power gave up its attempt to build a coal fired electric plant on the Ohio River near Cleveland. And according to a Sierra Club tally, it brings the number of coal-fired generating plants planned, announced and then abandoned in recent years to over 100. Continue reading