Friday, September 19, 2008
Photosynth is free and takes a short time to download, and you can use it to make your own synths of whatever objects you want. You can download digital images of documented species from the EOL site.
This guy's a nuclear engineer, so he starts talking about nuclear power and how great it is. You could store all the waste of the world's plants on/in the space of 4 football fields. Nuclear power is clean. Many people are against nuclear power but they don't understand the details and just listen to the biased politicians and media. I asked him to elaborate on each of these points, and when he got to "Nuclear power is safe," I sort of pushed that one a bit. After 2 "oh sure it's safe" comments, he gave up and edged a bit closer to me, squinching up his nose a bit, "Look, of course it's not safe. It's not safe. But there are no alternatives." I found this point of view just fascinating. First of all, the guy is a nuclear advocate and has worked in nuke plants for a very long time. Then, after minimal prodding from a stranger, he burps out that nuclear power is not so safe after all.
But then to add that there is "no alternative," well that was too much for me just to smile and agree with everything, so I asked about combinations of wind, solar, conservation, design improvements, etc. Nope, he says, none of that stuff works. Solar is no good. I said that I knew folks - in Washington state, further north than Germany - who were running fully on solar power and solar/wind combinations and selling their excess power back to the grid, and he's like "no." I say, "Yes, it's true. And that's in a cloudy place! Think of what they could do in Vegas, Arizona, Florida, places like that."
And he says, "Well, I really need to get back to my raking," and ends the conversation. Just like that.
The point of that story is simply to share my observation of the discussion. Here's a guy who's career is squarely in the energy field - I would call him an "Energy Professional." And he's either completely ignorant of the performances of various energy forms, or is blatantly lying about them. After saying that nuclear power is misjudged in the media, he promptly agrees (off the record, of course) with what the media charges, then goes on to try to smear alternative forms of energy that are actually being proven to work in the field.
And this, my friends, highlights one of the core problems in human society today. Informed people are taking advantage of uninformed people. And it's like a game where they just keep saying the false message over and over enough times that people who are too busy, lazy, or ignorant to learn about it will eventually say, "Nuclear power is safe and clean, and wind and solar are just pie-in-the-sky technologies and will not work." This tactic of misinformation, in times when the complexity of technology is growing exponentially and everyday people find it harder and harder to keep up with it, is setting up the human race for catastrophe. And we're headed down this path not just in the energy field, but also in terms of climate change, warfare, disease, economics, justice, health care, and just about every major branch of science.
I think we need not just a more educated population in the US and abroad, but we also need more transparency. Above all, we need to start to see that we are all stuck together on the same globe. At some point, competition at all costs will negatively impact humans instead of helping to strengthen the herd.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thing is, they weren't bothering us in the least. The nest started out as a small attachment that quickly grew to a ball about the size of a soccer ball, but they curved the entrance of the nest away from the front door, and towards the woods, where they would file off throughout the day to find food. They would look at us once in a while but not in the wierd way that a single wasp does when she's guarding her young. These guys were just too busy, fanning the nest in the heat, talking, running to the woods, and entering the nest. So I just let it grow and grow, with the idea that if they drew first blood, they would immediately die a minty death.
But they never bothered us, and since we don't have any bee sting allergies in our house, we let them stay. One day in early September, the nest was quiet and a small hole (visible in photo) seems to show where the queen left to find a spot to overwinter, since they don't winter in the nest. Therefore, I think that with this particular species of wasp (which I have yet to identify), I can let them summer on the house, which is just another small step I can take to make our house more friendly to the native species that we have displaced. This winter I'll go up and carefully cut the nest down to use as a natural history study aid for our son.
Overall, seems like a win/win, where before I was hell-bent on just eliminating the nest when it appeared. This situation is compounded when I read that most if not all bees, wasps, hornets, etc. are overall beneficial to your yard and to the ecosystem in general. The more native species we can keep around the house that don't pose a threat, the less of a negative impact our living has on the land that we've taken from native species. Our goal is to bring/keep as much of the plant and animal life that lived there before we got there living alongside us. This is a small way to maintain biodiversity in whatever area in which you live.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Not sure what the formal title for making walls and roofs with plants on them, but it includes green roofing. This is a subject I'm just starting to learn about, but this building is particularly interesting both architecturally and sustainably, so makes a good example.
This structure is a store in Seoul, Korea for clothing designer Ann Demeulemeester. It was designed by Mass Studies and more pics can be seen here. I can't find too much detailed information on it as far as maintenance or numbers, etc.
The exterior on the sides shown are comprised of a geotextile that supports soft, green stemmed (not woody) perennials. In a cold climate these plants will die back in winter but return each spring.
More on this to come.