Humans need to work more in tandem in order to survive in the long run. This site is a small effort to contribute to that direction. Stand As One is not a call for everyone to be the same, or follow the government, or lose their individuality or freedom. Nor is it related in any way to the End Times.

We can all agree, hopefully, that we would like the Earth to continue to support humans for as long as possible, at the highest standard of living as possible. Assuming that's the goal, this site is a small effort to present ideas to help anyone interested to work towards that goal in their own way. That's all Stand As One means. We have one planet that we've evolved to live on. If we screw this one up - there is no place left to go in the foreseeable future.

It ain't no doom and gloom - it's about challenges and opportunities.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Encyclopedia of Life

I heard about the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) through an appearance by E.O. Wilson in Seattle last year. EOL launched in February, but I'm just now getting caught up with it. This site is a world-wide collaborative effort to document all of the species of life on Earth. Everyone from established institutions to dedicated individuals are encouraged to contribute.

The overall goal of the site is to "Increase our collective understanding of life on Earth, and safeguard the richest possible spectrum of biodiversity." Biodiversity is a critical element of long-term survival of humans on Earth.

More on this as I learn about it, but it's pretty cool that anyone can research and learn about all the known species of life on the planet. I think in February the site launched with 30,000 listings. For now, enjoy this small image of Nelson's Anchovy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Honda Insight

Since I have an Insight and people ask about it, I thought I'd post some general information about our experience so far. I got this car in 2000, recieving state and federal tax breaks, and it currently has 175,000 miles on it. The vehicle is a 2-seater that weighs 1,887 lbs. We have maintained larger cars for family requirements, so this has been used as a commuter in the Balt/DC, western PA, and WA state areas.

Miliage varies depending on terrain and maintenance. The lowest has been 49 mpg, the highest average 62 mpg. I was getting 49 mpg in western PA where the terrain is very hilly, there's a lot of snow, and where I needed to repair an O2 sensor and some other items that were bringing miliage down. The overall average has been between 59 and 62 mpg. I have a heavy foot as well, but if a driver follows speed limits, for example, then miliage goes up just like with any vehicle.

The car drives and maintains like any gas car. It has a 3 cylinder gas engine and an electric engine that pulls energy from a battery. The battery is powered by friction/heat energy captured from the front axle when the car slows down in gear, so the electric is all free power that is otherwise wasted as friction/heat. Maintenance can go every 7,000 miles, but I take it in every 3,500 or so. Oil change costs the same as other cars, and it uses synthetic oil.

As far as speed, I can merge into traffic with ease since the Insight accelerates very rapidly, and I can cruise smoothly at high rates of speed. I’ve driven tens of thousands of miles on the Baltimore and DC beltways, up and down I-95 on the east coast, and on I-5 in WA, and have excellent performance at speeds up to and exceeding 85 mph. Many small cars shimmy and sway over a certain speed and I’ve not found that with the Insight.

After 175,000 miles, I’ve had one major repair on the Insight, the replacement of the large battery above the rear wheels. To Honda’s credit and my pleasant surprise, the manufacturer replaced this battery free of charge. The replacement came when the vehicle was at 130,000 miles. Many critics site battery replacement as a major hurtle to buying a hybrid, however at 130,000 miles this car had already outlived my three previous vehicles. Therefore, even if I had chosen not to repair the battery, the Insight would still have beaten the best of my previous three cars by over 25,000 miles. On all three previous cars, engines eventually died and were either replaced or the car was scrapped. So, a person has the option of simply trading the car in or scrapping it when the battery fails, or repairing it like they would a transmission, engine, or other major problem that so many cars have as they approach/exceed 100,000 miles.

Complaints are mostly directed at the interior. The seats are nothing like, say a VW Passat's, and they can hurt your back on long rides or day after day. Also, the interior is a bit on the cheap side. But that's about it. Overall, I'm glad I bought and will drive it as long as I can or until I can afford something that performs better.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fabrik Bamboo and Recycled Aluminum Hard Drive

Fabrik has announced a new hard drive that sells for around $150 that has an external chassis made from bamboo with other components made from recycled aluminum. The design has changed so that rippled sides act as a heat sink and therefore the unit does not require a fan, lowering energy requirements as well. Bamboo is a renewable resource that is stronger than maple and many other types of wood. The unit's packaging is made from recycled materials and has been re-engineering to be just the minimum necessary to package the hard drive.

Read the press release here and think about supporting these guys if you need a new drive.

Friday, July 25, 2008

RMI's MOVE Solutions and BET

The Rocky Mountain Institute is one of the organizations that really puts its money where its mouth is and delivers hardcore results. RMI was one of the leaders in the development of hybrid-electric cars and is currently leading the charge into the world of the ultra-light vehicle that meets or exceeds current safety requirements. RMI works directly with industry and government for everything they do, and develop profit-based solutions, not push-down government regulation.

They have launched two new web sites to communicate information, one for transportation, called MOVE, located here

and another one called Built Environment Team (BET) that I have to research before I post on, but it's here

More on both later.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Plastic Grocery Bags

Heck, I 'members me back in 1983 or 84 being a bagger/stockboy at Safeway, when all's we had was the paper bags, y'know. Then came 'long plastic. Plastic was supposed to be better than paper, because paper was killing trees. Then they say plastic is bad because of the oil consumption and also the endless long-term litter and impacts on wildlife. Some people point to to things like this and say "See? Environmentalists don't even know what the hell they're talking about!" When really the issue is, disposable bags, not what they're made out of. And the bigger issue is just consumption of resources, in general.

So I remember hearing that platic bags are harmul a number of years back and thought, "Whatever," because what the hell can you do? Well, I still don't know what to do, but I'm thinking about it for a few reasons.

One is the numbers. 5 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide annually, and they end up everywhere. They're also filling up landfills. That tied in with this PPT that I'm sure many of you have seen, that I got from my sister last week, located here:

After I viewed that, I remembered that, in the Pacific Ocean, there is a floating island of plastic and trash that is estimated to be twice the size of Texas. That's frickin' big. Texas takes a long time to drive across going 80 mph. Imagine that times two, floating around in the damn ocean. I can barely imagine it. More on that here and another good article here The crazy thing is that nobody has photographed this thing, or at least I can't find any pics easily.

So, all those things added up in my head, and now I'm going to look for, select, and implement and substitute for disposable food shopping bags. Then I'll post an update here.

Folks are switching back to paper because that recycles better, so for now that's a start, but I'm wondering about bags you take to the store and use over and over. I think I'll start by looking at hemp bags.

Reframing the Oil Debate

Currently the oil debate is framed into two sides. One side says oil is $4/gallon and rising, so that means we need to tap into domestic sources including ANWR and offshore drilling. This side also tries to go to large oil producing nations and asks them to please lower their prices. This side also states that China and Cuba are allowed to drill in our offshore waters, but that, due to environmentalists, we’re not allowed to. Today the ban on offshore drilling was lifted by the President, even as his own White House spokesman admitted to reporters that it would have no impact on either drilling or gas prices (But the President strongly suggested that it would lower gas prices, and that only Congress stands in the way of lower gas prices now. In the same press conference, Bush acknowledges that we need to move away from oil but falsely states that this new direction doesn’t help anything short term so we need a short term fix – offshore drilling – even while he knows that will not impact prices or supply. This type of game-playing with factual information, regardless of what party does it, damages the human race).

The other side says oil is $4/gallon and rising, and we need to explore alternative sources of energy. There is not a lot of substance on this side of the argument either, but it has this general flavor to it of some sort of new direction.

One thing that’s interesting is that, no matter which side you’re on, you can see there is not much in favor of oil. At one time, it was a great energy source, back when it was cheap and plentiful and safe to acquire. Now, it’s expensive and getting more so, it threatens U.S. national security on multiple levels, it’s damaging our environment, and on top of that the supply is running out. Also, an oil economy keeps new jobs stagnated, except any created for new offshore oil rigs.

But it seems to me that the debate, like so many debates in this country, is about the wrong aspect of the problem. The question to me seems to be “Do we want more oil?” and based on what I can see, we really don’t. What’s the point? Since supply is limited, we’ll be here again X years from now. And it’s obvious that we’re throwing money away when it comes to oil security spending, and in fact are spending billions to chip away at our nations’ security over the course of decades, and of course speeding up with the latest Iraq war.

The debate should really be about effective transportation that provides more benefit than loss. It should be about increasing national security instead of eroding it. It should be about creating new jobs, new technologies, and a new international competitive edge for the U.S., instead of continuing to retard that growth.

I’ll post more on this topic as far as solutions.