Using energy wisely

A look at personal rapid transit

This HND piece spotlights the exciting world of personal rapid transit--PRT for short.  The basic idea is to use computer controlled small vehicles, suitable for up to six passengers, that provide reliable mobility with minimal wait time.

It's much better, and much cheaper than light rail, so not surprisingly, the politics have been against it.  Fortunately, as they say, you can't stop progress, and there are now several successful installations, with more on the way.

Read the complete article.


How energy abundance might affect health care

This HND piece covers my portion of a recent panel entitled "The Societal Implications of Energy Abundance." This presentation—open to the public—was one of the first events that took place during the 18th International Symposium on Electronic Art. Or, as it is better known this year, ISEA2012 Albuquerque: Machine Wilderness.

Moderator Scott M.Tyson believes that we are just a few decades away from either harnessing fusion, or the even more amazing quantum fluctuation energy sources. Baby Boomers will remember that during the 1950s, we thought we were pretty close to energy abundance, and in some ways were were, based on nuclear fission. Of course, the risks were deemed too great to build it out to a greater extent.

My portion of the panel considered how abundant energy could affect health care, and for those of you who assume that I would be touting amazing high-tech breakthroughs, think again. The number one boon to health, and indeed for all aspects of humanity with energy abundance, would be massively increasing the desalination of sea water.

There's more, so I suggest you read the complete article.

Do the right green thing

In this HND piece, we invoke Spike Lee's film of nearly the same name while we ponder what ARE the right Green things?

Just as in the film, choosing the the right thing to do is not easy, and involves trade-offs. I cite a couple of examples...

While you would be hard-pressed to find a Green who is pro-Nuke, nuclear power surely gets us away from most of the bad things caused by fossil fuels---while presenting its own set of problems. Likewise, in the mad rush to seal up our homes tight as a drum in order that we could save every single bit of energy, we also created a massive problem with indoor air quality.

Fortunately, there are ways to be Green besides being an academic or politician. We discuss how innovative businesses and get into the act...and, no, I don't mean by becoming a federally-subsidized joke such as Solyndra.

Read the complete article.

Let's hear it for offshore oil

My latest HND piece shines the spotlight on offshore oil drilling, and contrasts it with recent "venture socialism" green energy debacles. It's hard to imagine a failure more epic than Solyndra, but given this clueless administration, there could be more.

In the meantime, real people need real energy, so—to quote a famous phrase from the 60s—"You're either part of the solution, or you're part of the problem." If the Feds intend to stay in the energy business, they're going to have to do WAY better. One tack might be to grant loans to companies that are actually worthwhile, rather than those that are merely politically connected.

We also take a look at a Triumph Drilling, a leader in the offshore space.

Read the complete article.

Seven ways to improve health care and the environment in 2011

My latest HND piece starts the year off with some suggestions. These are:


1.   Encourage telecommuting on a much grander scale

2.   Apply rigorous tort reform to medical malpractice

3.   Temper medicine's current obsession with blood numbers

4.   Promote accountability at the EPA

5.   Reform the medical education cartel

6.   Bring real editorial boards back to scientific journals

7.   Promote a healthy skepticism within the general public


All seven of these precepts are obvious, but are still overlooked, mostly because there is no direct way to make money with any of them. Of course, all of them will SAVE money, but who in leadership really cares about that? If they did, they would do more than just talk about it, right?

Read the complete article, where I fill in the details.

Ducking personal responsibility, and how this affects the environment and health care

My latest HND piece covers an interview I did with Renaissance Man John F. Groom. We started off talking about his new book, The 1.8 Billion Dollar Man. The provocative title refers to the annual cost for the Obama White House. But this was not about bashing Barack Obama.

Rather, it uses the White House budget as a way to study an out-of-control federal government.

I make the point in the article that no organization can be Green, or even claim to support such a notion if it is this big and bloated. Moreover, under these rubrics, there cannot be some sort of exemption for the White House, just because it is the White House. Either the future of the planet is at stake, or it isn't.

Groom then explains why the public does not seem to react to extravagant and questionable activities by celebrities, such as high overhead concerts for various causes, or private jet trips around the world made to convince the little people that they should care more for the environment. He also explains the apparent lack of shame on the part of the hypocritical offenders.

This gets us into the core problem: The disappearance of personal responsibility.

Inasmuch as around 70% of all medical treatment is related to conditions that are lifestyle-induced, you can see how no personal responsibility ties into health care, as well.

Groom is full of interesting ideas, and we agreed to talk again soon.

Read the complete article.

More on the 1.8 billion dollar man

Let's follow-up on the last posting, covering John Groom's new book.

We can get more specific on one glaring anti-Green aspect of the Obama White House, and that is travel.

Here's a guy with access to the bully pulpit, nearly anytime he wants, yet...

He traveled to Phoenix (and this is but one example) to announce a foreclosure prevention program. Supposedly, there is some sort of symbolism here in that Phoenix is one of the areas hardest hit. But, who cares? The news footage would look about the same if it originated from DC, wouldn't it?

Bear in mind that this is not a case of you or me traveling with hundreds of others on a jumbo jet, thus maximizing the energy usage, and minimizing the environmental impact. Rather, there is massive environmental impact because everything he does is on the biggest scale: huge jumbo jets, motorcades, and moving hundreds of security and other staff people around. And don't forget all the people who must travel to see him.

The Greenies voted for Obama en masse, but every trip he makes costs millions of dollars, and wreaks havoc with the environment. More than that, no person in the world has as large a carbon footprint as the president.

Isn't it interesting that the symbolism of Phoenix trumps the reality of Obama's non-Green ways.

The 1.8 billion dollar man

That's the title of John Groom's new book. Here's the blurb...

Did you know that, despite a token salary, Barack Obama has the most expensive lifestyle in human history, costing more than any other US president? That taxpayers pay $300,000 for every night he spends at the Camp David retreat? That, even after adjusting for inflation, the entire Versailles palace in France could be completely rebuilt every single year for what it costs to support the current US President? That his limousine costs over $2 million? That he has the most expensive fleet of aircraft in the world?

John Groom and his researchers have just completed the first ever complete investigation into the costs of the White House, and you’ll see how, even in the midst of recession, the US president lives like a king.

The environmental angle here is really quite simple. No organization can be Green, or even claim to support such a notion if it is this big and bloated. Moreover, under these rubrics, there cannot be some sort of exemption for the White House, just because it is the White House.

Either the future of the planet is at stake, or it isn't. Only don't hold your breath waiting for his supporters to call him on this.

Yes, there really is such a thing as green broadband

Contrary to what Kermit the Frog once said, it IS easy being green, mainly because there is no accepted definition of the term. To cite but one example, how was it ever decreed that reusable shopping bags are green?

Even though some of them are made from recycled materials (although the percentage is not easily determined), all of them are derived from petroleum, and are manufactured in what overall cannot be a benign or low-energy process. Then, millions of them are shipped over here from China, at a cost of still more energy and carbon emissions.

They don't last forever, of course, and are then discarded—mostly to landfills, while conventional grocery bags are easily recycled.

Yet, because they are visible and are used by self-affirmed trendsetters, they have become a symbol for environmental stewardship.

Traditional broadband requires laying fiber or cable and the attendant energy and pollution costs. Broadband over power line (BPL), however, allows already in-place power lines to be the conduit, and this is green by anyone's reasoning.

One innovative company in this space is Gridline Communications, coming off successful projects in Africa, Latin America, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. CEO Terry Dillon speaks of his company's new intellectual property that will have "disruptive impact" (in a good way) on BPL.

A recent HND article covers green broadband, the smart grid, and smart meters. Check it out.

"Demand" water heaters

My Health News Digest article this week talks about alternative ways of getting hot water.

So-called "demand" water heaters are also called "instantaneous" or "endless" water heaters, and they have certain advantages, but caveat emptor, as the Romans supposedly said.  [Latin for "Let the buyer beware."]

Some good info, including the interesting finding that solar water heating is actually a neat idea, offering a much quicker payback than typical installations of demand systems.