Give Our Government A Backbone!

Our friends over at Post Carbon Institute recently wrote a blog entitled “What’s it Going to TaketoBeat BIG OIL? 537 Spines.” In the post, they write, ”Clearly our nation’s leaders haven’t found the backbone to stand up to Big Oil and break our addiction to fossil fuels, so we’re asking you to lend them yours.” And they mean it, literally!

They also need your help. If you want to have your voice heard, click on the link below and participate. Along with sending a toy spine in your name to your government officials, they, ”will also include an optional statement from you, to our leaders, about what you are doing in your life to kick the fossil fuel habit. We’lll be documenting our backbone shipments in pictures and videos that will be uploaded to the PCI Facebook page, so keep an eye out on this campaign’s progress.”

Please help by giving our government a backbone!


Oil Spill Disaster is Act One of Two-Act Tragedy

2010′s disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana, is only Act One of a two-act tragedy.  The second act involves the disasters that will occur when we don’t spill oil but, rather, burn it.  We are on course toward seeing a world of increasing droughts and famines and inundation by oceans of most large cities and huge areas of land.

We need to replace oil with energy sources that will not contribute to global warming.

If BP had manned an ocean-based facility to generate green energy off the coast of Louisiana, both Act One and Act Two would be averted.  The US and other countries need to make a commitment not just to avert oil spills but, rather, soon not to allow fossil fuels to be extracted for burning.  An alternative energy plan exists in the form of “Energy Islands” — large, ocean-based facilities that provide green energy from water, wind and sun.  See the plan presented at Dolphin Blue’s website: .


Proposed Effort to Slow Melting of Glacier in Antarctica

by Thomas Manaugh, PhD

kelloggI have written before about an “Energy Island” — a floating structure and integrated method of extracting large amounts of energy from the sun, from the wind, and from water waves and currents — and I believe it could be our solution to slow the melting of glaciers in the Antarctic.  

Here, it is proposed that an Energy Island could be used to provide massive amounts of energy for cooling seawater.  Cooling seawater in a key area off the western coast of Antarctica could slow the melting of glacial ice.

One effect of global warming is rapid melting of glaciers around the world. Melting of the glacial ice cap at the South Pole is of greatest concern because the ice that covers the Antarctic continent constitutes most of the glacial ice in the world.  Melting of ice on the continent of Antarctica would raise sea levels by a calculated 234 feet, flooding coastal areas and huge areas of low-lying lands around the world. (Calculation is based on numbers from NASA, referenced and quoted below).

Ground zero for concerns about Antarctica is now focused on an area in Antarctica’s western part.  That area contains Pine Island Glacier, a massive continental glacier that is slowly flowing into the Pine Island Bay on Antarctica’s western coast.  Undercut by warming seawaters, the glacier has been recently found to be melting four times faster than earlier estimated.  (See below reference and quote from research leader Professor Duncan Wingham, University College London.)

Could water off the western coast of Antarctica be cooled in a way that would slow melting of glacial ice in Antarctica?  If so, could such cooling give us a longer time to cope with and reduce global warming before catastrophic rises in sea levels would be otherwise predicted to occur?

It is proposed here that wind, wave, water currents, and solar energy could be used to power an effort to cool seawaters off the coast of a carefully targeted area of western Antarctica.  Cooling of waters in parts of Pine Island Bay could serve to slow the melting of glacial ice that is flowing into the bay.  In essence, the rapid melting of glacial ice would be slowed, the movement of the glacier into Pine Island Bay would be slowed, and more years (perhaps decades) would be granted to reduce global warming before catastrophic sea levels would otherwise inundate coastal areas around the world.

How hard would it be for an Energy Island to cool seawater that bathes the underside of glaciers that flow into Pine Island Bay?  Actually, the process is very simple — even less complicated than the task performed by your refrigerator if it automatically makes ice: the refrigerator controls a flow of water into the ice-making mechanism, cools the water by refrigeration, and discharges the resulting ice.

Similarly, Energy Island only needs to let fresh seawater flow for cooling into a refrigeration space — a space located within in the island’s structure.  The seawater is cooled to a temperature below 0 degrees Celsius (but not to a point of freezing).  It is then discharged from the bottom of the cooling space, and fresh water is allowed into the top of the cooling space to continue the process. 

If inlet and discharge processes were properly configured, it would be possible for the cooling process to operate continuously.

The discharged cooled seawater, now denser and heavier than the water around it, sinks toward the ocean floor.  The space between the glacier and the ocean floor is where the greatest glacier melting occurs.  The cooled seawater infiltrates that critical area and acts to slow the melting process.

Heat extracted from the seawater is dissipated from refrigeration condenser coils into the air.  That cooling process could be enhanced by also using water to cool the coils.  The result — warmed air that contains water vapor — would quickly cool in the frigid atmosphere of Antarctica, adding to snowfall.  Fresh snow adds to glaciers and helps protect glaciers from melting because snow is efficient at reflecting sunlight.

Dr. Thomas Manaugh is a frequent contributor to numerous blogs, including, Dolphin Blue, Inc. He is a leading expert in the ecosystem and climate and large advocate for anything helping lessen our carbon footprint. He can be contacted at

Reference and quote from NASA:

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are an average of 2.4 km (7900 ft) thick, cover 10 percent of the Earth’s land area, and contain 77 percent of the Earth’s fresh water (33 million km3 or 8 million mi3). The Antarctic ice sheet has 10 times more ice than Greenland because of its greater area and average ice thickness. If their collective stored water volume were released into the ocean, global sea level would rise by about 80 m (260 ft).

Reference and quote from Professor Duncan Wingham:

Satellite records show that if the melting of the Pine Island Glacier in west Antarctica goes on accelerating at current rates, the main section will have disappeared in 100 years, 500 years sooner than previously thought.

The research showed that the ice surface is dropping at a rate of 16m a year.The faster melting affects 5,400sq km of the glacier, containing enough water to raise world sea levels by 3cm, said Professor Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds, a member of the research team. The glacier’s melting could also expose stationary ice behind it to warm seawater, and if that ice were to melt, it could raise sea levels by another 25cm. The research, led by Professor Duncan Wingham at University College London and published in Geophysical Research Letters, is based on satellite observations of the glacier over 15 years. Professor Shepherd said: “Being able to assemble a continuous record of measurements over the past 15 years has provided us with the remarkable ability to identify both subtle and dramatic changes in ice that were previously hidden. “Because the Pine Island Glacier contains enough ice to almost double the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s best estimate of 21st-century sea level rise, the manner in which the glacier will respond to the accelerated thinning is a matter of great concern.”  Professor Shepherd said: “This is unprecedented in this area of Antarctica. We’ve known that it’s been out of balance for some time, but nothing in the natural world is lost at an accelerating exponential rate like this.”


Let There be Light: A guide to eco-friendly lighting options

Compact%20Fluorescent%20LampAs summer draws to an end and the days get shorter, that means less daylight — which, in turn, means more electricity used to illuminate your house. Given that lighting makes up a huge percentage of a home’s electricity bill (somewhere in the vicinity of a quarter of usage), looking at ways to save energy and money through your light bulbs makes good sense.

It’s been a long time since 1879, when Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, forever changing life for Americans. And like any invention, the ensuing 130 years have brought modifications and improvements — many that save you resources and money. With lighting constituting up to 25 percent of the average home energy budget, it’s a great place to look for reductions in energy usage.
Here’s a look at some of the newest lighting options:
According to Energy Star, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy program, CFLs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer, plus they save approximately $30 in electricity costs over each bulb’s lifetime. CFLs should be left on at least 15 minutes at a time in order to keep their lifespan at its peak potential.
Although CFLs used to give off harsh lighting, the color is improved and warmer now, making them a good option for everything from track lighting to porch lights to table lamps. Because they can sometimes take time to warm up to full power, they may not be the best choice for timed lighting. However, CFLs are definitely faster to light fully than in the recent past. And, you can now get “dimmable” CFLs at  
One of the turnoffs to buying these bulbs is a higher initial cost than incandescents. In the long run, though, you can save money — as an example, an 18-watt CFL used in place of a 75-watt incandescent will save about 570 kilowatt-hours over its lifetime, equating to a $45 savings (assuming 8 cents per kilowatt-hour).
Likely the biggest concern about CFLs is that they contain small amounts of mercury, which can be harmful if the bulb breaks. In case of a spill, the EPA provides guidelines for cleanup here.
More than 50 American Lighting Association showrooms across the country currently offer CFL recycling, as do many retail stories such as Home Depot and IKEA. Visit to find other locations near you that will take the bulbs and properly recycle them.
When the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, replaced all downtown street lights with LEDs, they reaped an estimated savings of $100,000 annually in energy costs — or the equivalent of taking 400 cars off the road per year.
While these energy-efficient bulbs have been restricted to small usages in the past, like Christmas lights, pen lights, and in TV remote controls, more household applications are being developed every day. One barrier to their widespread adoption is that they are currently much more expensive than both incandescents and CFLs, but researchers have been working to develop less-expensive methods of producing the lights, which will bring down the price for consumers.
LEDs last about 10 times longer than CFLs, making them the most energy-efficient option out there right now. They don’t get hot like incandescents, and they don’t break as easily as other light bulbs. Many cities and electric companies offer rebates for LED lighting, so check with your provider to see what options you have.
According to Cree LED Lighting, the average price in the U.S. of running a 65-watt light for 50,000 hours would cost $325 in electricity. By using a 12-watt LED bulb, running the light for 50,000 hours would cost only $60, plus the lights are replaced much less frequently.
Energy Star Lighting
Energy Star has long been known for its appliances, but the program has also certified lighting fixtures for more than a decade, and now has around 20,000 offerings. While screw-based CFLs (those that you substitute for an incandescent bulb) are great at conserving energy, Energy Star fixtures outfitted with CFLs are even better.
If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, save more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars, according to a segment on CBS.
Looking forward, Energy Star is working on labeling solid-state light fixtures — those that employ LEDs as the light source — and you can expect to see more Energy Star qualified lighting products hitting the market. They also feature a buyer’s guide that can help you figure out what kind of bulb you need in different fixtures, based on what kind of light you want.
For a side-by-side comparison of incandescents, CFLs, and LEDs on issues of lighting quality and cost, read this article from financial blog The Simple Dollar.