Monthly Archives:October 2005

Keep it cool

admin No Comments

Cool! Solar cooled in Southern China

Some of us use the sun’s energy to help heat our home. But many months of the year (or all year round, in some places), heating the house is the last thing we want. There are ways to keep the sun’s heat away from our home and keep down those expensive air conditioning bills.

What do you do on a hot summer day when you want a moment’s respite? Find some shade, stoopid.

This is a smart idea for your house as well. Effective landscaping not only prevents sunlight from entering your home unimpeded, but the leafy foliage itself can lower temperatures in the surrounding area by giving off moisture.

A Year in the Kalahari

admin No Comments

Helen and her crazy meerkat – Sexy

Remoteness, like many things in life, is perhaps only a relative measure, writes Zoologist Helen Johnson who has just returned from a year in Africa.

Imagine a small reserve in the dry dunes and scrubland of the southern Kalahari Desert. There is no radio or television reception. No newspaper deliveries. During a year’s stay at the reserve one can expect about four excursions away from the site, most of which will be no further than the 3 hour drive to the nearest ‘town’. Relative to the daily bustle of city life this is way, way off the grid.

My time in the Kalahari was spent on a research project studying the behaviour of meerkats, a small mongoose, as portrayed by ‘Timon’ in the Lion King.

(Discovery Channel – Wild Discovery: Meerkats – A Kalahari Saga – buy it from Amazon UK

Meerkats,Cohorts of the Kalahari – VHS – buy it from Amazon US)

For the Eco-kid in all of us – book review

admin No Comments

Chiras: Eco-Kidult

Saving our environmentally abused planet is never for ourselves but for the NextGen.

As Dan Chiras points out in his much-needed book “EcoKids: Raising Children Who Care For the Earth” (New Society Publishers, $17.95), the key to a sustainable future lies with today’s youth, the ones who are going to be stuck with the mess we’ve created.

Chiras, who lives off the grid and hasn’t had to pay an electric bill since 1996, provides the ideas; parents must be the ones to introduce the rapidly disappearing natural world to their children. Each chapter offers a primer on environmental issues and short case studies.

EcoKids : Raising Children Who Care for the EarthEcoKids : Raising Children Who Care for the Earth – buy it from Amazon US

Ecokids – Buy it from Amazon UK
Ecokids – Buy it from Amazon Canada

Passive Solar heating

admin No Comments

Steve Moore, solar farmer

One of the easiest ways to start getting off grid is to build your home, or a home extension, using passive solar design. This kind of structure uses the way the sun interacts with the building itself to capture the sun’s energy and use it for heating, cooling, or lighting. All that’s needed is a careful attention to building site, architectural design, and building materials. Not only is passive solar energy use affordable and efficient, but can result in beautiful living spaces full of natural light and pleasant landscaping.

Pennsylvania farmer Steve Moore and his wife Carol have been farming organically for 26 years, using horses for the farm work up until last year. They also had dairy heifers and were raising pigs for market. The farming operation included a greenhouse. Twelve years ago, needing more income, they were considering expanding the greenhouse.

Biodiesel main hope for future energy

admin one comments

Everyone loves Biodiesel

So what’s going to replace fossil based fuels and when? Chuck Steiner of WaterSmart reviews the existing options and weighs up the science and the cost. He concludes Biodiesel is the answer.

Here is a potential virtuous circle of future energy production

1. Energy collection using parabolic solar collectors that focus and concentrate the light energy of the Sun.
2. Applying the collected energy to a Stirling-cycle heat engine which, in turn, drives an electricity-producing generator to power an electrolysis system.
3. Electrolysis systems use electricity to chemically decompose water into its component elements of hydrogen and oxygen. Free hydrogen doesn’t exist in sufficient quantities to support a hydrogen based transportation fuel.
4. The solar hydrogen is then used as an environmentally clean fuel to power transportation equipment.