Thursday, 24 March 2011

Snippets from the Interwebs 5

Everything you need to know about the Real Bread campaign


Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops may be encouraging the proliferation of a new pathogen – a viral sized microfungus. If so, then they should be outlawed. Click for a letter from the (emeritus) professor who discovered the pathogen to the US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack warning about the new problem.


An article from “The Green Economy Post” - Wind Solar Water Alone Could Power the World by 2030 New Study Claims

Here’s a link to the paper that the article was based on

And here’s another similar claim

and a brand new article on (which is mostly the best source on the Internet for skewering denialist disinformation) – A plan for 100% renewable energy by 2050


I remember the cost of the US space programme being compared to how much the US consumer spent on cosmetics or toothpaste or some such a long time ago. This was because there were people then claiming that spending on NASA was starving funds from those who would do good works for the poor and hungry etc.

Here is an interesting graphic (source : Wellhome) which truly puts into perspective how much US government spending is being invested in renewable energy compared with how much the US consumer spends on such vital expenditure as that on the weight loss, plastic surgery and tanning industries.



Oil from algae is a technology that has been mentioned for years. A lot of work was done in the Jimmy Carter years but was almost abandoned when the Reagan/Bush years happened. There are plenty of “algoil” start ups around nowadays and one of the most promising is Origin oil who are near commercialisation.

Link to Businesswire article about Origin Oil


Pepsi recently announced (March 15 - click for link to story) it has developed the world's first PET plastic bottle made entirely from plant-based, fully renewable resources, enabling the company to manufacture a beverage container with a significantly reduced carbon footprint. This  steals a march on Coca Cola’s Plantbottle which so has 30% plant based material in it.


Agave, the cactus that Tequila and Mezcal is made from, looks like it could have real potential as a biofuel. Link to paper. It is being investigated for use in Australia where its low rainfall requirement would be ideal.Reported dry biomass yields of various Agave species, when annualized, range from <1 to 34 Mg ha−1 yr−1 without irrigation, depending on species and location. A. salmiana and A. mapisaga can have high nocturnal net CO2 uptake rates and high productivities averaging 40 tonnes dry weight ha−1 yr−1.


Build your own biogas system using 3 IDB tote tanks. These are widely used and available second hand Click for detailed instructions




Join the Cloud Appreciation Society! Have another look at my two recent posts featuring clouds - “Both sides now” and “Flytec 2010” - then head over to and celebrate finding that there are others who are a little deeper than those who only indulge in blue sky thinking.



Monday, 21 March 2011

Don’t be the only one…

Earth Hour 2011: 8.30pm, Saturday 26 March. Turn your lights off for just one hour. In addition to showing “solidarity” with actions to reduce energy use you just might prevent an attack by…?

Enjoy this Australian advert for Earth hour where some ordinary blokes can’t be bothered to turn off the light because “it’s only one light” and “every other light in Australia is off” .


Text below taken from



Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change. Only a year later and Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries/territories participating. Global landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, CN Tower in Toronto, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Rome’s Colosseum, all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour.

Earth Hour - Chile

In March 2009, hundreds of millions of people took part in the third Earth Hour. Over 4000 cities in 88 countries/territories officially switched off to pledge their support for the planet, making Earth Hour 2009 the world’s largest global climate change initiative.

On Saturday 27 March, Earth Hour 2010 became the biggest Earth Hour ever. A record 128 countries and territories joined the global display of climate action. Iconic buildings and landmarks from Asia Pacific to Europe and Africa to the Americas switched off. People across the world from all walks of life turned off their lights and came together in celebration and contemplation of the one thing we all have in common – our planet.

Earth Hour 2011 will take place on Saturday 26 March at 8.30PM (local time). This Earth Hour we want you to go beyond the hour, so after the lights go back on think about what else you can do to make a difference. Together our actions add up.

Visit our Beyond the Hour platform to share your stories and to get inspiration from the actions our supporters have shared with us already.



Friday, 18 March 2011

Flytec 2010

Another masterpiece from Bobby Bailey. Taken at the Flytec race and rally last autumn this again shows off the sheer joie de vivre when flyers get together. At around 2.27 there is one of the best videoed loops I have ever seen and it then smoothly goes into a textbook spin. As if that wasn’t enough, the glider does it in a perfect “amphitheatre” between the clouds that shows off the perspective superbly. Now, unless you have been there yourself, I cannot adequately describe how playing amongst the clouds like this can be a peak ecstatic experience. It can have the most pragmatic (on the ground) individuals going all spiritual on you when they attempt to recall what it is like to feel like this:

“Oh I Have Slipped
The Surly Bonds of Earth...
Put Out My Hand
And Touched the Face of God ”

The full poem  is called “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee who was a pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War. He came to Britain, flew in a Spitfire squadron, and was killed at the age of nineteen on 11 December 1941 during a training flight from the airfield near Scopwick.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds, – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless falls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor eer eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high, untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.



Thursday, 10 March 2011

This is how it was. What’s next? Feeling lucky, punks?

Calculated from NASA’s (click for more info) “Five-Year Average Global Temperature Anomalies from 1880 to 2010” and animated. Even a trainee climate scientist has been surprised at how fast things speed up right near the last couple of decades.You need to be at least a little bit scientifically literate to realise why anomalies are way more important to show the trend rather than absolute temperatures – a distinction which many cherry picking denialists, with their “it’s really cold here, so we must be in a cooling trend” garbage thinking cannot get clear in their heads but still, even they must get it, surely?

Note how the warming anomalies are by far the greatest in the Arctic zone where all the permafrost and Northern sea ice is. This is happening far faster than the last full IPCC digest of the science delineated in 2007. Those models did not take this faster heating and consequently faster rate of shrinkage of the ice into account in their models. Neither did they consider the release of methane from the permafrost nor the entrained carbon.

To those complacent enough to comfort themselves with the belief that the models’ predictions are wrong I say – you were right! Sort of. The predictions of the models were wrong – they did not take enough into account – but they were wrong in a bad way. Things are worse than previously suspected. Read again my post of the 19th February entitled  We’re ***’ed (We’re hosed…) which is about melting permafrost. I quoted Greg Craven who spoke recently at the AGU (American Geophysical Union):

AGU rattled me to the core because my worst-case fears were not just confirmed, but exceeded (I found four paleoclimatologists who admitted to making plans for survival retreats), and my last hope–for the scientific community to enter the public debate–was completely dashed.

I’ve since found out directly from Greg that the full story is that, of those he spoke to, he found four who would admit to this but they also confirmed that “many” more that they knew were doing the same.


Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Corporations gain human rights. People pushed to one side

New from the "Story of Stuff" project. Last year the US supreme court ruled that US corporations should have the same rights as people, using a bizarre twisting of the meaning of their Constitution. Is that a problem? You betcha!

Annie “Story of stuff” Leonard also came up with another pocket gem a while back (November 2010) which I forgot to publicise at the time.So here it is now (click this link for further info).




Cooler Running

Troy Hartman has sort of done a low level Yves Rossy by strapping a jet engine on his back to go skiing. In this video he can be seen terrifying any wildlife or spectators by zooming around and ascending hills at speeds up to 47 mph, whilst still only at half-throttle. Like the “giraffeski” I mentioned a couple of days ago, this is hardly sustainable unless the jet fuel comes from a sustainable source; however, this is not as outlandish as it may at first appear because jet fuel is pretty similar to diesel and could, in theory, be created from vegetable oils and/or syngas (obtained from pyrolysis of biomass).

Original text taken from

“Hartman, who lives in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., is a professional stuntman who enjoys sky diving and, bungee jumping and other extreme pursuits. The jet pack he uses was built for a rigid sky-diving wing he recently developed for flying after jumping out of airplanes. "I cannot lift off and fly with it by itself," he says of the jet pack. "But I am developing another wing, different from the sky-diving jet wing, to do just that." “


Testing New Jetpack on Skis - Troy Hartman from Troy Hartman on Vimeo.

Looks like he might be snapping at Yves’ heels – he probably won’t be as cool as Yves though. I can testify to how cool Yves is as I met him after the last Jersey International Air Display where he did his first public display.


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Rossi Cold Fusion device news

Jed Rothwell's "cold fusion library" site is one of the best resources on the web for keeping up to date with Low Energy or Chemically Asssisted Nuclear Reactions (LENR-CANR). It contains just about every scientific paper published on the subject (thousands). Steve Krivit's New Energy Times site is also useful but comes at the topic from a more journalistic investigative angle. Direct coverage of the Rossi device is here

Here’s a reprint (from of some of the latest news

Rossi 18-hour demonstration February 2011

On February 10 and 11, 2011, Levi et al. (U. Bologna) performed another test of the Rossi device. Compared to the January 14 test, they used a much higher flow rate, to keep the cooling water from vaporizing. This is partly to recover more heat, and partly because Celani and others criticized phase-change calorimetry as too complicated. There were concerns about the enthalpy of wet steam versus dry steam, and the use of a relative humidity meter to determine how dry the steam was. A source close to the test gave Jed Rothwell the following figures. These are approximations: Duration of test: 18 hours Flow rate: 3,000 L/h = ~833 ml/s. Cooling water input temperature: 15°C Cooling water output temperature: ~20°C Input power from control electronics: variable, average 80 W, closer to 20 W for 6 hours The temperature difference of 5°C * 833 ml = 4,165 calories/second = 17,493 W. Observers estimated average power as 16 kW. A 5°C temperature difference can easily be measured with confidence. 3,000 L/h is 793 gallons/h, which is the output of a medium-sized $120 ornamental pond pump. The control electronics input of ~80 W is in line with what was reported for tests before Jan. 14. Input power was high on that day because there was a problem with cracked welding, according to the Levi report. 18 hours * 16 kWh = 288 kWh = 1,037 MJ. That is the amount of energy in 26 kg of gasoline (7.9 gallons). Given the size and weight of the device, this rules out a chemical source of energy. Levi et al. are expected to write another paper about this test. We will upload it when it becomes available. NyTeknik published a fascinating description of the latest experiment (in English). This includes new details, such as the fact that the power briefly peaked at 130 kW. NyTeknik also published an interview with two outside experts about the demonstration: Prof. Emeritus at Uppsala University Sven Kullander, chairman of the National Academy of Sciences Energy Committee, and Hanno Essén, associate professor of theoretical physics, Swedish Royal Institute of Technology. Two versions are available, in English and Swedish.

Two other articles linked to from the New Energy Times blog.



Jetski crossed with a giraffe

Why? Because it's fun I suppose. No doubt it's a completely unsustainable use of fossil fuel.
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Monday, 7 March 2011

Guernsey FUTU

Just had to post a link to our sister Island’s online satire sheet Guernsey FUTU and this witty article about climate change scepticism.

Disclosure: they paid me nothing for this free plug.



Thursday, 3 March 2011

Deep Green revisited

Back in February 2010 I did a blog post (click for link) about new developments in wind and underwater power generation technologies. They both used the tethered hang glider/paraglider concept to generate more wind power than conventional wind or tidal turbine systems by “flying” in a figure of eight pattern that increases the effect speed of the water or wind plus greatly increases the area (and thus the available harvestable energy) that can be covered by each generating unit.

Here’s an article in the Guardian online that revisits the Minesto technology. Briefly, their first sea trial will be held in Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland this summer (where engineers are already testing other other conventional tidal technology.