Friday, August 28, 2009

Unscientific America

When we talk about how can we be more aware of environmental problems and therefore of their solutions one's first encounter is that in general our society is scientifically illiterate. There is a book "Unscientific America" by Mooney and Krshenboum that clearly touches this topic. Click here to go to their blog:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mexico Hit By Lowest Rainfall In 68 Years

Mexico is suffering from its driest year in 68 years, killing crops and cattle in the countryside and forcing the government to slow the flow of water to the crowded capital.
Below-average rainfall since last year has left about 80 of Mexico's 175 largest reservoirs less than half full, said Felipe Arreguin, a senior official at the Conagua commission, which manages the country's water supply. To read the full article click on the link

Thursday, August 20, 2009

No Bag Tax in Seattle

As it is reported in The Oregonian the people of Seattle voted this past Tuesday not have a 20 cents paper/plastic bag tax. You can read the editorial linking here:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Paper or Plastic

Scientific American has an interesting post on Seattle's new law charging $0.20 fee for plastic or paper disposable bags. Here is the link

Monday, August 17, 2009

Natural Resources by Randi Fellwock

PHS 100
Warner Pacific College August 7, 2009
Society can assess natural resources by looking at our wind potential. A study by Harvard University states that potential wind power is a global source of electricity that is assessed by using wind and estimates were given for quantities of electricity that could be obtained by using a network of 3.6-MW turbines set up in the ocean waters at depths of <200 m within 50 nautical miles of closest coastlines. This wind power accounts for 42% of all electrical capacity that is added to the United States electrical system in 2008, this is a small amount of total electricity generating capacity. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s WinD’s model, stated that wind power could account for as much as 25% of U.S. electricity by 2050. Our next resource that we should look at is oil and what potential it has for the future. The peak year for oil field discovery was 1962 and since then the global discovery rate has dropped sharply in all regions. It is implied that the volume of resources yet to be discovered will lie somewhere between zero and infinity and will be found sometime between now and eternity. But whether it will be discovered depends on discovery activity. Another resource we need to look at is our water and how we can save and reduce the use of conventional water resources and also by saving and increasing the use of non-conventional water resources. According to a study in Arab the found ways that can help with water shortages are using water saving devices such as low flow showerheads which is a savings of 5 gallons per day, ultra low flush toilets have a savings of 4.2 gallons per day, faucet aerators, using meters can save 1.5 gallons per day, high efficiency washing machines have a saving of 37% in water and energy and the use of landscape water conservation devices that also saved 50% in water and energy. These are also being practiced here in the United States but a lot of Americans are still not participating to help with our water crisis. Environmental regulations do have an impact on lifestyles in the ways that we are told when to use water, when we can burn, they recommend not driving our cars on smoggy days, the time it takes to recycle plastic bottles, cans, glass and paper products. We all know that this is good for the environment and although some of the items are not enforced everywhere maybe we should look into this and make it so that everyone has to participate to make our world a better place to live and breath.
Future world oil supplies: There is a finite limit. L. F. Ivanhoe, Novum Corp., Ojai, California. (August 9, 2009) for Water Savings & Rescue in the Arab Region. (August 9, 2009) Global potential for wind- generated electricity – PBAS. (August 9, 2009)http:/

Friday, August 14, 2009

Business Oportunities

There are two articles today in The Oregonian related to business opportunities related to the environment. One on the front page by Abby Haight is about the building on SW 12th and SW Washington St. (The SW 12th building) that will have some wind generated electric power. To see some pictures of the turbines click/link here. The other article is an op-ed by Katy Brooks (link here) on how the economic stimulus program will allow thousands of households to do an energy efficiency retrofit that will save a lot of money in the long run and will provide many jobs in the short time.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Finding Comfort by Shawn Kratochvil

Geothermal Energy

Warner Pacific College
August 10, 2009
Finding Comfort
Technology is growing every day. With that new technology there at times things that use to take time have become less time consuming with the different options available for us today, money savings is possible, and there is more comfort for people. The automotive industry has created automobiles that will tell a mechanic exactly what is wrong with a vehicle making the diagnosis less time consuming and the customer can get a accurate repair to their vehicle with as little as one visit to the repair shop. Energy efficency allows buildings to be maintained to a comfort level for individuals inside when the outside temperatures raise or lower. One option for a renewable source of energy is geothermal energy.
To understand how geothermal it first must be defined. “Heat from the Earth, or geothermal — Geo (Earth) + thermal (heat) — energy can be and already is accessed by drilling water or steam wells in a process similar to drilling for oil” (Geothermal basics, 2008). In the upper ten feet of the earths surface the teamperature is typically between 50 and 60 degrees farenheight. This is using the constant temperature below the earth’s surface to heat the building in the colder seasons while at the same time cool the same building in the summer. The geothermal system is very efficient in maintaining a constant temperature throughout the year. In locations that have extreme seasons like the mid west region of the United States, some individuals are taking advantage of this renewable source of energy to make their homes more comfortable all year long.
One family that purchased a home in South Dakota buildt in 1918 made the decission to research renewable energy for heating and cooling after living in the home for almost 30 years. This home originally had a coal furnace heating water that ran through a hot water radiator system throughout the house. This system was upgraded in the 1950’s to a natural gas heater that would heat water in the same radiators. Winter months caused the natural gas bill costs over $500 for this single family home of 3300 square feet (approximately three square feet of every room held a radiator) in addition to the wood burning stove. The radiators would give no releif in the hot humid months of the summer. When looking into replacing their system with a central air system they were informed that the cost was estimated to be near $9000 since there was no duct work thought the house to circulate the air. At this time they looked into other systems for their home.
After doing deep research on what would maintain the historical value of their home while adding the comfort of airconditioning for the summer months, they decided to install a geothermal heat pump. In order to do this six barrells were burried 30 feet below the earths surface with pumps installed to circulate the air through new air ducts throughout the house. While this system still uses electricity to run the pumps their house is maintained at a constant temperature all year long now. Now they are able to consider the basement as a third level adding an average of 1500 square feet to their home. Even though their yearly costs for energy did not drop significantly (an average of $35 per month), they now can enjoy the airconditioning in the midwestern summers and constant warmth in the bitter winters.
In the California there is a region known as the “Ring of Fire” that contains numerous geothermal energy sources with fourteen of them reaching 300 degrees Fahrenheit or greater. Many of the counties have begun taping into this renewable source of energy, “when added together, California's geothermal power plants produce about 4.5 percent of the California's total electricity” (California Energy Commission, 2008). With more effort in renewable energy sources our society can become less dependant on the precious natural resourses.


California Energy Commission. (2008, June 16). Background about geothermal energy in
California. Retrieved August 10, 2009, from The California Energy Commission:
Geothermal basics. (2008, October 3). Retrieved August 10, 2009, from U.S. Department of
Energy - energy efficiency and drenewable energy:

Things Take Time

An article in the Oregonian by Scott Learn tells us about the agreement endorsed by the governors of Washington and Oregon states. In it a new goal for the cleanup is stated and the year 2047 is mentioned. Read the whole article at:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Global Warming and National Security

At the end of an Environmental Studies course we always talk about the future. Our future and the future of the world. When we look what is going on in technology as well as with new business models we get the idea that the future is here. Of course there is always a link to the past as many human activities continue and will continue as they have been for many years. Some business models developed after the Second World War are still in place and are still very useful but in some cases these models have become obsolete. One thing that is important to understand is that we organize ourselves based on our understanding of order and security. The Second World War occurred at highpoint of the industrial revolution and production. Industries were organized in the same way armies were and a hierarchy was established that guaranteed valued outcomes, mainly monetary.
An article in the New York Times by John Broder clearly states how the outcomes of global warming are to be considered as issues related to our national security. These outcomes are posing profound strategic challenges that have to be addressed without further delay.