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Tagged with energy

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No Fracking, No Fracking Pipelines

Something is happening in the Delaware River watershed, something important and inspiring. Yesterday over 100 people from dozens of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware groups joined together in one of the most empowering actions I’ve been part of in a long time. For two and a half hours, led by Maya Van Rossom and Tracy Carluccio of the Delaware Riverkeepers Network, we nonviolently and creatively took over the latest meeting of the Delaware River Basin Commission. We took this action because of the DRBC’s complete failure, so far at least, to deal with the 13 natural gas pipelines …

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New technology could make your cell phone battery last twice as long

You probably have a sneaking suspicion that using your smartphone all the fricking time is wasting a fair bit of energy. And you're right! And among all the energy-wasting parts of your phone, there's one little gizmo -- the power amplifier -- that is a particular energy hog.

The power amplifier, basically, just sits around spinning its wheels, waiting for you to use it. In theory, it could hang out in standby mode at low power levels, but it’s dumb, and it gets kind of confused when it has to switch out of standby to higher-energy activities. So most designers, says Technology Review, leave the standby energy pretty high. But a company called Eta Devices, which spun out of MIT, has figured out how to make the power amplifier less confused -- and thus, more efficient.

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This light switch forces kids to save energy through emotional manipulation

Danny Taylor is a genius. He is going to teach an entire generation of children to turn the lights off when they leave the room, and he’s going to do it in a time-honored way: by traumatizing them.

Taylor has designed this dimmer switch which smiles when the lights are off and frowns when they're on:

Danny Taylor 

Lights on = bad. Lights off = good. Simple. Kids with this in their bedroom are going to be followed for the rest of their life with a vague sense of unease if they leave the room and the lights are still on. Turn them off, and -- aaah, that feels better right? Now the light switch loves you, because now you deserve it.

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Thoughts on economic growth and energy slaves

I've lately become intrigued by the idea of "energy slaves" a deliberately unsettling way to highlight how unusual the last 200 years have been in terms of energy and economic growth. Suppose you were a wealthy white farmer in the antebellum South and owned 10 slaves. Assume you have no other access to energy beyond their muscle power. If you monopolize the fruits of their collective labor, you get a 10x force multiplier: the output of 11 men, harnessed to the sole benefit of one. That means you churn butter ten times as fast, harvest cotton ten times as fast, …

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U.S. exit signs use as much power as West Virginia

Photo by InertiaCreeps.

At BoingBoing, Maggie Koerth-Baker shares an amazing fact: The 100 million lighted exit signs that adorn the country’s schools, offices, and movie theaters use 30 to 35 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity every year. To put that in perspective, West Virginia used 32 billion kilowatt-hours in 2010.

Koerth-Baker writes:

This is just one small part of what makes buildings, in general, incredibly energy intense. In the United States, we use more energy powering our buildings -- from the lights, to the heating, to the stuff we plug into the walls -- than we use to do anything else.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Your CD collection is greener than Spotify

A new report crunched the numbers on your Spotify habit and concluded that it's terrible for energy consumption. Streaming 12 uncompressed tracks 27 times uses the same amount of energy as making a plastic CD. And let's face it: you have all listened to “Call Me Maybe” about 100 times in the past couple of months.

Streaming music users aren't necessarily relying on uncompressed files, though; services like Spotify have some local caching built in, which brings down energy consumption a bit. More caching could spare conscientious listeners from having to kick the Spotify habit.

Or, as PaidContent reports, you could go for the greenest music solution available: "a 1 petabyte drive capable of storing all the songs ever recorded."

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One more way your plane flights are killing everybody

Remember when cars used to give off disgusting clouds of lead-laden smoke? Planes still do that. Some of them do, at least -- in particular, those nasty little planes that rich people fly because car traffic is for suckers. According to Scientific American, smaller planes now produce HALF of all the lead pollution in the air.

As might be expected, this pollution wreaks havoc on the health of anyone exposed to it. SciAm writes:

Some of the health effects of repeated exposure to lead include damage to the central nervous system, kidneys and red blood cells, and decreased function in the cardiovascular and immune systems. Lower IQ levels and learning disabilities can also result from lead exposure, especially in children, whose young bodies are more sensitive than those of adults. And scientists at the National Toxicology Program have concluded that lead and lead compounds are “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.”

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The only way to evacuate all of humanity from Earth is to use nuclear propulsion

Yes, it is awesome the Curiosity rover can Instagram Mars pics back to Earth from 50 million miles away. But ultimately, one goal of all this space exploration is to have another place to go if we really royally screw up the planet, right? XKCD's Randall Munroe answers a critical question about that overplayed movie plot secret government plan ahem THEORETICAL POSSIBILITY: If we actually needed to get billions of people off this planet … could we really do it?

If you haven't been reading Munroe's new "what if?" feature, in which he answers "hypothetical questions with physics," know that it is only slightly less awesome than having a robot send you pictures from another planet. There are stick figures, and there is science! What more could you want?

Munroe runs through a few different options for launching billions of people off the planet: rockets like we use now; an elevator that ferries people up from Earth to a satellite in space; rockets that ride a wave of nuclear energy out of the atmosphere. But today's rockets, it turns out, would likely take more fuel than we have available to produce and launch.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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The world’s about to get its first entirely solar-powered country

By next week, Tokelau will be the first solar-powered country in the world. 3News, in New Zealand, reports:

Workers from Kiwi company Powersmart Solar are just a week away from converting the atoll Fakaofo from being diesel powered to solar powered.

“It’s been quite a milestone week for us, we now have all the solar panels erected, 1584 solar modules, all the batteries are in place,” says mechanical engineer Dean Parchomchuk.

Sure, Tokelau is a tiny island nation made up of three atolls and populated by only 1,400 people. It's about the same as if Sea Bright, N.J., went solar. But Sea Bright, N.J., has not gone solar, whereas Tokelau is on the verge of flipping the switch.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Power your laptop with your butt

Swedish designer Eddi Tornberg has turned the plight of modern workers -- sitting like lazy larvae in front of computer screens all day -- into a form of renewable energy. He uses the heat of our rear ends to create electricity. You’ll still die from sitting, but at least your energy bills will be lower!