Design a Global Warming campaign and Win USD $5000

Climate Change, Miscellaneous Comments Off on Design a Global Warming campaign and Win USD $5000

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DESIGN21 Social Design Network, a an international design competition launched in 1994 by UNESCO and Felissimo, is having a competition called “Global Warming- Heat Issue“. Paticipants are asked to design an awareness campaign to educate the public on the issue of global warming. The deadline of submission is June 17, 2007.

“The impact of climate change is a heated issue, sparking controversy in political and scientific arenas. Most agree, however, that humans are largely responsible for generating the conditions that are driving the problem.

This competition asks participants to create an educational campaign to raise public awareness of the problem of global warming and the contribution of our daily lifestyle and activities to this phenomenon. The aim of the campaign is to provoke people to think about the issue and how their individual consumer choices and energy consumption play into the equation.

Your entry may address the broader topic of global warming or highlight a specific factor � but any facts contained in your entry must come from a verifiable source (you must quote the sources of your information in your project description).

The campaign may employ any media (print, billboard, clothing, film, animation, music etc) or a combination of formats.”

There are also two other competition: Child’s Play and Shelter Me.

2007 Next Generation® Design Competition Winner Announced

Renewable Energy, Sustainable Design Comments Off on 2007 Next Generation® Design Competition Winner Announced

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Next Generation® is an industrial design competition founded by Metropolis magazine to promote activism, social involvement, and entrepreneurship in young designers. This year the theme is “Energy”.

The San Francisco-based firm Civil Twilight awarded $10,000 for their energy-conserving “Lunar Resonant Street Lamps” proposal.

More details from Arch News now: “Replace standard urban streetlight bulbs with “lunar-resonant” units that would automatically dim or brighten in response to ambient moonlight – potentially saving as much as 95% of energy used in street lighting, while also enhancing nighttime visibility and enabling city residents to once again experience the pleasures of observing the nighttime sky.

According to the team’s statistics, streetlights account for 38% of all electricity used for lighting in the U.S., and produce about 300 million tons of carbon emissions per year. In addition, their light pollution prevents two-thirds of Americans from seeing moonlight or stars.

The concept could be implemented simply and economically, by retrofitting existing lights with dimmable LED bulbs and a highly sensitive photo-sensor cell that would detect/respond to moonlight (as well as cloud cover and atmospheric conditions affecting daytime needs for street lighting). Most parts required are available off the shelf.”

This make me think of Dutch design house Demakersvanthe’s Light Wind– a street lamp that was powered by wind.

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Fusion energy breakthrough at Sandia Labs

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An electrical circuit that should carry enough power to produce the long-sought goal of controlled high-yield nuclear fusion and, equally important, do it every 10 seconds, has undergone extensive preliminary experiments and computer simulations at Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine facility.

Z, when it fires, is already the largest producer of X-rays on Earth and has been used to produce fusion neutrons. The technology makes it possible to provide humanity unlimited electrical energy from cheap, abundant seawater.

First Successful Demonstration of CO2 Capture Technology

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Global Research Technologies, LLC (GRT), a technology research and development company, and Klaus Lackner from Columbia University have achieved the successful demonstration of a bold new technology to capture carbon from the air. The “air extraction” prototype has successfully demonstrated that indeed carbon dioxide (CO2) can be captured from the atmosphere. This is GRT’s first step toward a commercially viable air capture device.

Spinal Tap reunites to stop global warming

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From AP (original article from Boston.com)

British mock heavy metal group reunites as part of the Live Earth concerts to raise awareness og Global Warming.

“A new 15-minute film directed by Reiner on the band’s reunion will also play at the opening night of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York on Wednesday. The slate for the opening gala, to be hosted by Al Gore, was previously announced, excepting the Reiner short.

The festival is to open with a showing of several global warming-themed short films produced by the SOS (Save Our Selves) campaign. SOS is also putting on the Live Earth concerts, to be held across seven continents.”

Making Gasoline from CO2 with Solar Power!

Greenhouse Gas, Renewable Energy 1 Comment »

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A solar-powered reaction turns a greenhouse gas into a valuable raw material. By Kevin Bullis, from Technology Review (original article)

“Chemists have shown that it is possible to use solar energy, paired with the right catalyst, to convert carbon dioxide into a raw material for making a wide range of products, including plastics and gasoline.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), recently demonstrated that light absorbed and converted into electricity by a silicon electrode can help drive a reaction that converts carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide and oxygen. Carbon monoxide is a valuable commodity chemical that is widely used to make plastics and other products, says Clifford Kubiak, professor of chemistry at UCSD. It is also a key ingredient in a process for making synthetic fuels, including syngas (a mixture largely of carbon monoxide and hydrogen), methanol, and gasoline.”

THIS IS THE MOST FUCKING AWESOME IMPORTANT TECHNOLOGY!

Global Warming: A Convenient Lie?

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http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2332531355859226455

The Great Global Warming Swindle is a controversial documentary film by British television producer Martin Durkin, which claims that the consensus on climate change is the product of “a multibillion-dollar worldwide industry: created by fanatically anti-industrial environmentalists; supported by scientists peddling scare stories to chase funding; and propped up by complicit politicians and the media.

The film also states that Global Warming becomes the convenient tool for the anti-capitalism/ socialists to mobilize the masses to join the anti-globalisation movement and it also prevents developing country from developing. How I see it is the Democrats are definitely using Global Warming as a political weapon to bring the Republicans down.

The film stirs up lots of discussion in the scientists circles including RealClimate, Durando Bill and British Antarctic Society. Carl Wunsch, one of the scientists being interviewed, later called the film “grossly distorted” and “as close to pure propaganda as anything since World War Two.” George Monbiot from UK Guardian calls it a “crank.” On April 24, 38 scientists send an open letter to Durkin.

Here’s the film’s wikipedia page.

Nanoscale ‘Coaxial Cables’ for Solar Energy Harvesting

Renewable Energy 1 Comment »

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Scientists have designed a new type of nanowire – a tiny coaxial cable – that could vastly improve a few key renewable energy technologies, particularly solar cells, and could even impact other cutting-edge, developing technologies, such as quantum computing and nanoelectronics.

One overarching problem is that current semiconducting materials with the potential for use in renewable energy devices lack one key characteristic. When electrons in these materials are excited by light and jump to higher energy levels (leaving vacancies, known as “holes,” in the lower levels), both the electrons and the holes typically move around in the same region. Thus, they tend to recombine. This is desirable for certain applications, such as light-emitting devices, where electron-hole recombination produces light, but is not ideal for renewable energy devices. A better scenario is the separation of the excited electrons from the holes such that, in the case of solar cells, for example, the electrons can be drawn off and used for electricity.

Visualizing CO2

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2 campaigns, similar idea. A 7 meters high black balloon attached to the cars exhaust pipe, collecting the CO2 a car would have produces per day. The act kick starts WWF China’s 20to20.org

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The German Green activists group BUND put a earth balloon on the exhaust pipe and eventually the globe exploded because of CO2 overloaded.

Found at Infosthetics.com

Serious Game Engine Shootout

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For people who are not familiar with the term, “Serious Games” are computer or video games that are created for sole educational purpose, and that is the primary goal for our project Gas Zappers. Richard Carey from Serious Games Source analyzes which game engine is the most comparable to the special needs of Serious Games.

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Serious games and educational simulations are an unique product category with functional requirements that are different from platform and casual games, MMOGs, and drill–n-skill learning games. The gameplay itself is only the tip of the iceberg: hidden out of sight is an engine the player doesn’t see. (Note in this article the term “engine” is meant to be inclusive of the middleware, networking, client software and other components used to deliver the desired user experience, whereas “platform” refers to the combination of hardware and software required to use the product).

As an emerging market little has been written about the best engines for building serious games. This lack of transparency makes it difficult for publishers to choose development partners, and for developers to scope serious game projects and determine the best tools to use.

Full Article Here

More resources here:
Serious Game Engine Comparison
DevMaster.net database of game engines
SIGGRAPH database of game engines
Game Engine Features & Possibilities

Soggy Avatars in SecondLife

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Tokyo, London, Amsterdam, Ibiza and the entire Mediterranean is submerged by rising sea level due to Global Warming.

A rolling flood temporarily swamped several areas of the online world as part of a campaign to illustrate the potential environmental and financial impacts of climate change.

“Our message was, You may have a second life, but [you still need to] offset your second life in real life,” said David de Rothschild, a London-based environmentalist and adventurer whose nonprofit Adventure Ecology helped stage today’s flood.

Here’s the original National Geographic story.

Change your home or “Grow” a new one?

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United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s Sustainable Construction and Building Initiative (SBCI) release a report focuses on the building sector. The report states that “the right mix of appropriate government regulation, greater use of energy saving technologies and behavioural change can substantially reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the building sector which accounts for 30-40 % of global energy use.” Imagine, over two billion tonnes of C02 emission can be reduced if we set a more aggressive energy efficiency policy in the building sector world-wide, thats almost 3 times the amount of the Greenhouse gas to be reduced under the Kyoto Protocol. The full report can be downloaded from http://www.unep.org

Or maybe another solution we can consider is to “grow” our own home? Architect Mitchell Joachim‘s Fab Tree Hab is a living structure that “is designed to be nearly entirely edible so as to provide food to some organism at each stage of its life. While inhabited, the home’s gardens and exterior walls produce food for people and animals. The seasonal cycles help the tree structure provide for itself through composting of fallen leaves in autumn. The envisioned bioplastic windows, which would flex with the home as it grows, would also degrade and return to the earth upon life’s end, as would the walls.” This means we don’t even have to use the terms biodegradable to describe the home since none of the materials is processed.

According to a Popular Science interview with Joachim, “Despite its odd exterior, the house will look normal on the inside. The walls, packed with clay and plastered over, will keep out the rain, and modern technology will be welcome. Yet there are still a few practical kinks to work out. Joachim wonders, for example, how a planning board will react to a house that constantly expands. Each house will take at least five years to grow, depending on the climate, but Joachim envisions the structures being grown and tended to on a farm. Customers could pick a finished tree habitat and then have it transported to and replanted on a lot within 100 miles.

Here’s a link of a video showing how the interior will look like.

Apple being the most eco-unfriendly

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In the latest Greenpeace‘s Guide to Greener Electronics: 3rd Edition, Apple ranks the last among the 14 electronics companies, only scoring 2.7 out of 10. Greenpeace ranks the CPUs and Mobile companies companies on their chemicals policy and practice, which includes Chemicals Management, Timeline for phasing out all use of vinyl plastic (PVC) and brominated flame retardants and the amount of PVC- and BFR-free models of electronic products on the market. So befoe you break your piggy-bank to buy that suave looking iPhone think about it first. You can also find more info on eWaste at S.V.T.C. and its Computer Take Back campaign.

Flying wind farms

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Apr 3rd 2007
Original Article from Economist.com

Power generation: If people object to wind farms cluttering up the countryside, one answer might be to put them in the air

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IF IT ever seems windy where you live, be thankful you do not live 10km up in the air. At that height, the jet-stream winds blow stronger and more constantly than ground level winds, carrying up to a hundred times more energy.

So, just as oil companies are drilling deeper and in more remote locations in search of new reserves, pioneer wind-power engineers are looking higher in the sky for new sources of energy. Conventional turbines will not take them there—the highest to date is just over 200 metres tall. So they are trying to invent a whole new technology for harvesting wind: electricity generators that fly.

One of the most ambitious ideas has been developed by Sky WindPower, a company based in San Diego and led by Dave Shepard. Mr Shepard began his career cracking Japanese military codes during the Second World War, then developed machines for reading written text. His work led to the squared-off numbers still seen on bank cards today.

Mr Shepard’s flying generator looks like a cross between a kite and a helicopter. It has four rotors at the points of an H-shaped frame that is tethered to the ground by a long cable. The rotors act like the surface of a kite, providing the lift needed to keep the platform in the air. As they do so, they also turn dynamos that generate electricity. This power is transmitted to the ground through aluminium cables. Should there be a lull in the wind, the dynamos can be used in reverse as electric motors, to keep the generator airborne.

Mr Shepard estimates these rigs could produce power for as little as two cents a kilowatt hour. That is cheaper than the three to five cents conventional energy generation costs. It is an attractive idea, but a flying generator is difficult thing to build—and there is a limit to how helpful existing helicopter technology will be. Aircraft require maintenance after a few days of operation, if not sooner. To operate cost-effectively, wind turbines will need to keep turning for many months without upkeep.

Mr Shepard, however, thinks he has a way out. Stabilising and directing a conventional helicopter requires that the pitch of the individual blades be adjusted with every rotation—up to a thousand times a minute. That puts massive stress on the turning mechanism and wears it out rapidly. On a four-rotor arrangement, you can achieve the same effect by changing the pitch of one or two whole rotors, rather than adjusting the pitch of individual blades. Mr Shepard reckons that this will make a big difference, and will increase the periods between maintenance enough to make the project viable.

Exploiting the jet stream represents the zenith (both literally and figuratively) of aerial wind-engineers’ ambitions. Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution who has worked with Sky WindPower, estimates that harvesting just 1% of its energy would produce enough power for the whole of civilisation. But even at lower altitudes, the winds are stronger than they are at the surface, and that has attracted the attention of other inventors.

In Canada a company called Magenn Power has developed a proposal for a wind generator filled with helium. It turns around a horizontal axis, rather like a water mill, and could fly at an altitude of up to 1km. The firm sees its system as an alternative to diesel generators in remote locations where ground-level wind is insufficient for a normal windmill.

Meanwhile, Wubbo Ockels of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands has been developing another approach to airborne wind generation at lower altitude, with backing from Royal Dutch Shell and Nederlandse Gasunie, a natural-gas company. Dr Ockels’s idea is that a kite (without rotor blades) be launched from a ground station, turning a generator as it rises to an altitude of several hundred metres. When it reaches its full height, it alters its shape to catch less wind, and can thus be reeled back in using much less power than it produced when it was being paid out.

An arrangement of two or more of these kites could act together to produce a steady supply of power. When one kite was being released, part of the electricity produced would reel the other kite back in, and vice versa. The whole system would thus remain in surplus, and if well designed could deliver a constant current. This system has the advantage that it requires only simple parts—generators, kites and cables—and should thus be much cheaper to build than a conventional turbine.

Controlling it, however, would be a different matter. Dr Ockels is working on kites with wings and rudders, which look much more like a plane than anything you might see flying in the park. The wings and rudders themselves would be under computer control—a technology already well established for flying aircraft without too much interference from a human pilot.

To test the idea, Dr Ockels’s team is building a 100kW prototype. He hopes to start testing a full-scale device, which would generate 10MW, within five years. That would be large enough to power around 10,000 homes. He believes the system should be capable of generating electricity at a cost of just 1 cent a kilowatt hour.

Any promise of such cheap energy has to be treated with scepticism, and all these projects are still a long way from the full-scale test rigs needed to prove they will succeed. No-one denies that it will be hard to build a flying generator that can make money. However, the political impetus behind renewable energy is growing and space is limited at ground level. Perhaps it is time for the wind power industry to reach for the sky.

US announces renewable fuel standards for vehicles

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Original article published by NewScientist.com news service on 14:05 11 April 2007

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced new standards for renewable fuels for cars and trucks on Tuesday, but stopped short of committing to regulate greenhouse gases that spur on global warming.

The agency’s Renewable Fuel Standards Program aims to cut dependence on foreign oil and curb global warming pollution by expanding the use of ethanol and other alternative fuels.

“The [planned] increased use of renewable fuels … will prevent the release of greenhouse gas emissions equivalent of up to 13 million metric tons,” says Stephen Johnson, head of the EPA. “That’s equal to the carbon dioxide emissions of nearly 2.3 million automobiles.”

Carbon dioxide, emitted by petroleum-powered vehicles and coal-fired power plants among other sources, is one of the main greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.

The new standards, originally ordered by Congress in 2005, require that 4.02% or 21.37 billion litres (4.7 billion gallons) of all motor fuel sold in the US in 2007 must come from renewable sources. The standard will gradually increase to 34.1 billion litres (7.5 billion gallons) per year by 2012.
Regulation powers

On 2 April, the US Supreme Court ruled that the EPA has the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, although Johnson says that ruling was still being considered (see US Supreme Court forces EPA emissions rethink). “We are evaluating that Supreme Court decision and we’re looking at our options and what actions we may take,” he said at a news conference. “Today is premature to talk about it.”

In 2003, the environment agency refused to regulate greenhouse gases, saying that it lacked the power. California and 13 other states have proposed mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions. But Johnson says, in the California case, this would not be possible until after that state’s petition is evaluated. The evaluation process will begin “shortly”, he adds.

Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, called the use of renewable fuels “an important part of the fight against global warming [that] also increases our energy independence.”
Coal-to-liquids

However, Boxer took aim at the Bush administration’s plan to develop such alternative fuels as “coal-to-liquids”. This involves the gasification of coal and the conversion of the resulting hydrogen and carbon monoxide into liquid fuel. But the process generates more global warming pollution than ordinary gasoline.

The Sierra Club – the oldest environmental group in the US – also applauds the renewable fuels standards, but echoes Boxer’s criticism of liquid coal and urges the Bush administration to raise fuel efficiency standards.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, another environmental group, sounds a similar note, also faulting the government for failing to limit emissions. “What is missing today?” says David Doniger of the NRDC. “Any sign that the Bush administration will follow last week’s Supreme Court decision, which ordered EPA to decide – based on the science and only the science – whether the pollution from cars and trucks is contributing to global warming.”

Climate Change – Want to know more about global warming – the science, impacts and political debate? Visit our continually updated special report.

Energy and Fuels – Learn more about the looming energy crisis in our comprehensive special report.
Related Articles

* Hydrogen injection could boost biofuel production
* http://www.newscientisttechnology.com/article/dn11364
* 12 March 2007
* Bush to back bioethanol – but benefits are in the balance
* http://www.newscientisttechnology.com/article/dn11325
* 06 March 2007
* US mobilises for a biofuelled future
* http://www.newscientisttechnology.com/article/mg19325924.300
* 24 February 2007

Weblinks

* Renewable Fuel Standards Program, EPA
* http://www.epa.gov/otaq/renewablefuels/
* Environment and Public Works Committee
* http://epw.senate.gov/public/
* Sierra Club
* http://www.sierraclub.org/
* National Petrochemical and Refiners Association
* http://www.npradc.org/

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