Being Green: Radical Transformations

Hi Folks:

Friday once again, so that means it’s ‘Being Green‘ day here on our blog.  It seems to me there are basically two ways to progress, and both can have their place.  One is to take an existing technology and improve on it.  For example, virtually every fixed-wing aircraft in the world today is a variation of the ‘Wright Flyer‘ first flown by the Wright Brothers in 1903.  However, when Igor Sikorsky first flew the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300 in 1939, he ‘launched’ (pun intended) an entirely different mode of flight. (NB: The VS-300 is popularly known as the first successful helicopter.  The De Bothezat helicopter did fly some 20 years earlier, but was highly unstable and the project was scrapped.)

Similarly, the recent Progressive Automotive XPRIZE was awarded to 3 (in different categories) of 115 entries, all vehicles capable of achieving over 100mpg or electric equivalent.  That’s fantastic news, but all of the entries resemble cars or motorcycles – with some having three wheels, some having two or four and using either fuel-based engines, electric motors or hybrids.  I congratulate the winners and applaud all of the entrants for their time and dedication but what really intrigues me are vehicles like GM’s EN-V concept car.  The idea is still in early development and is designed primarily for high-traffic areas, but it’s an autonomous vehicle that doesn’t require a driver.  What if we were to combine this kind of technology with something like the Solar Roadway (YouTube video)?  Imagine a grid network of interconnected vehicles, driven autonomously, and controlled by a networked computer system that analyzes traffic patterns, merges traffic flow automatically, creates free lanes for emergency vehicles…  No more vehicle accidents, no road rage, etc.  What if the vehicles were powered by the grid over which they traveled?  Similar navigation ideas are being considered for small aircraft, where traffic control would be automatic and the aircraft would be guided through ‘tunnels’ in the sky.

As an example for the building industry, I came across a link this week for an air conditioning unit that uses 90 percent less power.   I think that’s great.  And while I don’t like to highlight specific companies, CREE Lighting recently announced an LED potlight that generates 80 lumens/watt, dimmable to 20%, that gives the light equivalent of a 100-watt incandescent bulb for only 12.5 watts and with an expected lifespan of 50,000 hours.

We seem to live in a world that is increasingly broadcasting the ills we are facing, the narrow track we walk between salvation and disaster.  Yes, we have major environmental and societal issues to change, but complaining about them won’t help.  One thing we as humans have going for us is an incredible ability to innovate and to find new solutions.  We’ve made mistakes in the past, some of them spectacular.  But we’ve also made remarkable achievements.  Here I’m going to leave the last to Seth Godin’s “Turning the tables on critical trolls“.

BTW, before I get to the links for this week, I wanted to add one more mention.  Until the end of September Global Giving is holding their Global Open Challenge. From the site:

“Any project that is able to meet the challenge threshold of raising $4,000 from at least 50 separate donors will be invited to stay on at GlobalGiving. These projects will be eligible to continue receiving donations from the general public, private and corporate foundations through and take advantage of GlobalGiving’s fundraising tools and services.

The top three (3) projects that raise the most funds will also receive supplementary cash bonuses from GlobalGiving of $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 respectively. The project with the greatest number of unique donors will be awarded a bonus of $2,000.”

What have you got to give?

Okay, the links for this week include:

Okay, that’s it for now.   Have a great week!

P.S.  While Marcia and I are privileged to live in Canada, you don’t have to live here to appreciate its beauty: Special Places: Natural Riches & Ecological Treasures

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