Biodiversivist

My real name is Russ Finley. I also have my own blog called Biodiversivist, which contains articles in addition to those submitted to Grist. I live in Seattle, married with children. Suffice it to say that although I am trained and educated as an engineer, my passion is nature. I very much want my grandchildren to live on a planet where lions, tigers, and bears have not joined the long and growing list of creatures that used to be.

The Exaggerated Promise of Renewable Energy

The continued existence and expansion of human civilization is wholly dependent on affordable sources of energy. The latest study just released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (an organization that exists to study and promote the viability of renewable energy) suggests that it may be possible to get 80% or so of our electric power from renewable sources by 2050. The study also (inadvertently) provides evidence that renewable energy will be a minority player in humanity’s energy portfolio. The results may disappoint my fellow solar enthusiasts because it suggests that only 13% of our electric energy will come from solar. …

Hydropower: Dammed If You Do

No, that is not a picture of cooling ponds inside a nuclear reactor. Those are dust covers on the turbines at the Grand Coulee dam. According to the photographer, you have to pass through a metal detector to get this far into the power plant. Come to think of it, the nuclear power industry could probably improve their public image with similar tourist photo ops of their spent fuel cooling ponds. There’s an article over on Mongabay about a protest of the  Belo Monte Dam project in Brazil:  Belo Monte will flood more than 40,000 hectares of rainforest and displace …

First Vehicle to Home Power System in North America

A version of this article originally appeared at Consumer Energy Report Nissan issued a press release earlier this month to announce that Power Stream will be using the V2H system with its fleet of Leafs in Canada. This device acts as a charger and as a power inverter, allowing 4 hour charges instead of 8 hours as well as the capacity to power a home for a couple of days in the event of a power outage. Apparently your Leaf has to have the CHAdeMO protocol quick charge port which was an option on the 2012 cars. The price seems about …

Nissan Leaf Orphan Finds New Home

You can read my earlier Leaf posts here, here, here, and here. The Leaf I ordered is not due to arrive for another two months. Another engineer that I work with called me up (while he was on vacation) to tell me that he had just test driven an orphaned (the ordering party decided not to purchase) Leaf. It was fresh off the truck and had a 12 percent charge. He warned me that the dealership wanted to sell it for $3,000 over MSRP. I called them the next morning and made an offer to pay cash for MSRP, which …

Electric Car Purchase Update

Just got an email from Nissan:   Hi Russ, congratulations! Your vehicle is scheduled to arrive at your Nissan Dealer in the month of September 2011.   As your Nissan LEAFTM is being built and shipped, we will continue to update your vehicle’s status. So make sure to sign in to “my account” to stay current with your estimated delivery date. Please be aware that it is normal for delivery dates to fluctuate by a few days as production is finalized. Should your delivery date change by more than two weeks, we will send you an email to notify you …

Leaf or MiEV?

According to <a href=”http://www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car/reservation/index”>this website</a>, Nissan is about to start taking reservations again. <blockquote>Beginning May 1, Nissan will reopen reservations to selected US customers who were registered before April 20, 2011 in states currently selling the Nissan LEAF™ (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington). Following this early-reservation period, reservations then will open to the general public in those launch states. More details to follow soon regarding other markets.</blockquote> <img src=”http://grist.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/leavvsmievchart.jpg&#8221; border=”0″ alt=””id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5599218099200615394″> <img src=”http://grist.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/leafvsmiev.jpg&#8221; border=”0″ alt=””id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5599197166549539986″> It will cost me $99 (which is refundable if I don’t buy a Leaf) to get in line to purchase one. Before …

Nuclear Reactor May Kill 192,000 Annually

Oh, wait a minute. I got that wrong. I meant ethanol reactor, not nuclear reactor. From a paper published in the spring 2011 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons–the official journal of the AAPS (Association of American Physicians and Surgeons):   Research by the World Bank indicates that the increase in biofuels production over 2004 levels would push more than 35 million additional people into absolute poverty in 2010 in developing countries. Using statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Indur Goklany estimates that this would lead to at least 192,000 excess deaths per year, plus …

Achtung! German Motorists Boycott Ethanol

The German government’s plan to follow our lead and force a ten percent blend of ethanol down its citizen’s throats has hit a snag. Unlike here in the States, German consumers can choose to buy gasoline without ethanol in it. So, that’s what they’re doing even though it costs more! I took the above photo with my cell phone while filling up our Prius. Your elected politicians are forcing you to fuel your car with food. Why aren’t you morally outraged?   Refiners and gas stations are sitting on full tanks of unsold Super E10. On the other hand, there …

Why Car Drivers with a Clue Support Bicycle Infrastructure

Photo courtesy of therozblog via Flickr Imagine what it would feel like to accidentally maim, cripple for life, or kill a bicyclist (daughter, wife, mom, son, husband, dad, teenager or kid) with your car, regardless of who got the traffic ticket. On top of that guilt, imagine the potential for an emotionally and financially devastating lawsuit. Oh, and don’t forget the deductible on your car insurance. I’ve had to brake hard to avoid hitting a cyclist, day, night, rain, or shine, many times in my life. As a cyclist, I’ve been on the receiving end more times than I can …