Category Archives: Environmental issues

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day, I thought I’d re-post this news story about Sweden using trash to create energy. Such innovative solutions to environmental problems should be celebrated. Sweden wound up using all of its trash and then had to import it from Norway to keep the energy center going. A great story.

Father of “Green Revolution,” Norman Borlaug 1914-2009

The father of the “Green Revolution,” Norman Borlaug, died yesterday. If you didn’t know about him, you should. By creating new types of high-yield, disease-resistant wheat, he saved millions from starvation. This is a good story about him, and you can also read about him here. The WSJ said this about him: “more than any other single person Borlaug showed that nature is no match for human ingenuity in setting the real limits to growth.”

He will be missed.

Attention Greens and Geeks: Time for an Energy Revolution

I’m currently working on the environmental chapter of my book, which is reflected here in my bi-weekly column. It’s amazing how much potential is waiting to be released on the clean(er) energy front. Here are the first few lines from my piece:

“Earth Day is fast approaching, yet despite the awareness this day brings, most people are powering their computers with electricity from coal-burning power plants, delivered by “dumb” networks. Change is long overdue, and it’s not a difficult matter.

The electricity grid’s basic structure hasn’t changed much since Thomas Edison came up with the idea back in 1882. That’s a long time with little innovation, especially since electricity demands continue to rise. Some might argue that the grid didn’t need changes and it’s not wise to mess with a system already working. That argument no longer holds, anyone who lives in California’s Silicon Valley knows. Blackouts and shortages are a constant worry every summer and the grid is unable to properly handle newer and cleaner sources of energy such as solar and wind.

Worse, when a blackout does happen, the utility company usually doesn’t know until someone phones in the problem. That’s because the system can’t sense the problem — it is “dumb” and only sends inputs one way. So how come the grid isn’t smarter, and what can we do about it? The answer is not as complicated as one might imagine. ”

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The future of auto manufacturing

Cnet reports that “Detroit Electric, an auto brand once favored by Thomas Edison, is mounting a 21st century comeback with electric cars aimed at U.S. soccer moms and Chinese city dwellers. ”

But the biggest news is actually buried later in the article:

“Rather than build cars itself, Detroit Electric’s engine and battery pack will be fitted onto Proton’s existing cars and manufactured in Malaysia by Proton. Detroit Electric will modify the styling to distinguish its cars. “Contract manufacturing is the future of the auto industry,” Lam said. The business model will allow it to bring cars to market faster and eliminate the need to raise the money to build those facilities, Lam said. ”

Ah, like a Dell for cars… About time!