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Archive for October, 2012
Old Ideas and Modern Technology To Solve the Energy Crisis1
Taking a trip “back to the future” can put us on track to solve to the “energy crisis” in (1) buildings (to energy-efficient construction and systems), (2) transportation (to electric cars and trains), and (3) electricity generation (to renewable resources and distributed generation).
Solar power dates back to 212 B.C., when Archimedes advised Greek soldiers to use their curved bronze shields to concentrate beams of sunlight on Roman ships. Over 10,000 years ago, More >
On Sept. 17, a $53-million, state-of-the-art, international smart grid project powered up in Los Alamos. The New Energy and Industrial Technology and Development Organization (NEDO) of Japan, Los Alamos County and the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil a photovoltaic array, a battery storage system, a smart house and an energy management system that will serve Los Alamos residents.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, together with NEDO Chairman Mr. Kazuo Furukawa, Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, Los Alamos County Council Chair Sharon Stover, LANL Director Dr. Charles McMillan and Toshiba CEO Mr. Norio Sasaki, along with other More >
A Journey into Profound Possibilities
From July 26-29, the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid hosted the annual Extraordinary Technology Conference. And indeed, extraordinary was a good word for the information sharing that occurred during the data-packed conference. Just what was extraordinary in this context? The physics, the chemistry, the math and the many individuals who participated, when taken together, created an experience beyond what one would normally expect from a traditional technical conference.
The conference was sponsored by TeslaTech Inc., of Queen Valley, AZ., whose mission is to champion and nurture advanced concepts and products in science and technology. Many of the concepts they More >
Green Tech Firm to Lease Schott Solar Plant
McCune Works, Inc., an innovative green technology firm, has announced that within six months it will lease Schott Solar’s 200,000-square-foot Mesa del Sol manufacturing plant in Albuquerque for photovoltaic panel production. Because of a competitive domestic and global market, Schott closed the plant, which employed 250 people, in June. Beginning in early 2013, McCune Solar Works LLC will make solar modules under the new logo “Hott Solar PV.” McCune Works also intends to produce other environmentally conscious products at the plant and expects to employ about 130 people, many of them former Schott More >
Dedicated to teaching sustainable knowledge and practices, the Carbon Economy Series returns to Santa Fe Community College from October 2012 through June 2013. The monthly weekend workshops teach principles and practices for land, soil, water, waste, organic food production, and how to positively affect climate change from a local perspective. There will be opportunities to learn aboriginal living skills, regenerative agriculture, sustainable tourism, Permaculture site design, and creating edible food forests. There will also be a women’s symposium on ranching, gardening and farming.
A partial list of speakers includes: Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, who, without pesticides, fertilizers, tractors or More >
“Grid integration” is utility-speak for adding photovoltaic (PV) and wind power sources to the traditional fossil-fueled electrical power system. There are very real challenges to adding high levels of PV and wind power to traditional utility grids. These issues are now getting a lot of attention, not only from some of the more progressive utilities themselves, but also from university researchers, National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) staff and the US military.
Many traditional ultra-risk-adverse utilities still cling to the belief that even a modest percentage of wind and PV power integration is too expensive, intermittent and unreliable to bank on. More >
Biomass energy is like a solar battery. Through the process of photosynthesis, the earth’s hydrocarbon economy is constantly banking the sun’s energy as biomass while fixing atmospheric carbon and releasing oxygen. In contrast to other biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, biomass energy technologies are primary energy sources that can utilize the raw, solid and usually by-product forms of organic resources. Two specific technologies that can be extremely compatible to New Mexico’s abundant daytime sunshine and existing solar/wind technologies are anaerobic digestion and wood chip gasification.
Anaerobic digestion is a wet, bio-chemical process that harnesses a primeval consortium of More >
IAIA Demonstration Garden
Although the faculty had integrated agricultural curriculum into the Indigenous Liberal Studies and Museum Studies departments, opportunities for hands-on student agriculture and scientific research at the Institute of American Indian Arts was lacking until two years ago, when a garden was planted to demonstrate and promote Indigenous agricultural methods for food and medicinal crop cultivation. The garden includes corn, beans, squash, peaches, lettuce, onions and other fruits and vegetables, some of which are used in the school’s cafeteria.
The plot is designed and maintained by the school’s Center for Lifelong Education, local tribal members, students and faculty. More >
In August 2012, I had the opportunity to travel to China as part of a farmer-to-farmer cultural exchange program. The farmers I met there were able to sell what they grow in the open markets, and after they make their state quotas, have brokers sell the larger amounts. Wholesalers drive their trucks to the farms, buy directly from the growers, and then transport the produce to the city to sell to restaurants and stores. On several occasions, I saw vendors selling directly to the hotel where we were staying. Also, each day, local street markets sold live seafood. What More >
Patrick W. Staib and Sayrah Namaste
“We wanted to dispel the myth that you can’t make a living farming,” says Don Bustos, director of the New Mexico program of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). AFSC is an international nonprofit organization and Nobel Peace prize recipient that has worked in NM since 1976 tocreate economic viability through training small farmers in sustainable agricultural practices, thereby protecting land and water rights and traditional cultural practices.
AFSC’s hands-on, farmer-to-farmer training program teaches beginning farmers high-value-crop selection, sequential planting, crop aggregation, year-round production in passive-solar cold frames, and managing a farmer network. Teaching farmers to More >
While the mainstream media has grudgingly begun to talk about the connection between global warming and destructive wildfires, there is an important connection not being made. Today’s wildfires, now often called megafires, are much worse than those of the past due to human mismanagement of the forests. This mismanagement is based on how humans relate to fire and how we relate to the communities that depend on the forests.
The US Forest Service (USFS), the agency tasked with managing approximately 100 million acres of public forest throughout the West, believed from its inception in 1905 until the 1980s, that More >
Lisa Mednick Powell
On June 26, 2011, lunchtime patrons at Española’s La Cocina emerged from the restaurant to see a thin plume of smoke rising from the Jemez Mountains into the afternoon sky. Less than 24 hours later, the ragged plume had become a raging wildfire covering 43,000 acres of northern New Mexico. It would continue spreading untilAug. 2, when it was finally contained; by then the Las Conchas Fire had gained the distinction of being the largest wildfire in NM history at 156,000 acres.
Some wildfires begin with a spark from lightning or from a careless smoker’s smoldering match. The Las More >
Consider this. We became who we are as a species around 200,000 years ago, responding to some greater urge to evolve that prevails within the biotic community. By the end of the Pleistocene, we practiced a time-honored hunter-gatherer lifestyle, relying on our individual and collective wit to survive by reaping the bounty offered by the flow of Nature. The whole of our planet was a wilderness where sometimes we ourselves provided a wholesome meal for other predators, our decomposed remains enriching the soil to provide nutrients.
During the warming trends of the early Holocene, we began to develop agriculture, and More >
The Prodigious Power of Our Beliefs
Many of us have noticed the rapid acceleration of change that is occurring both individually and collectively. You don’t have to watch the news to perceive that various aspects of our culture that previously seemed tolerable, or perhaps held in denial, appear to be crumbling as a result of unsustainable foundations. It is a time to become witness to our patterns of behavior, to confront the imprints of our social conditioning and to take responsibility for the outcomes precipitated by our actions. This is especially worthwhile, given that these actions are often driven by subconscious More >
Victoria Gonzales and Elizabeth Sanchez
Santa Fe High School students
Think of our world. What are its issues? What are its needs? We, living in a First World country, tend to believe that the world’s needs only revolve around us. Have you ever imagined homeless children or global warming right outside your front door?
Michael Reynolds did. In the 1970s, he invented what are known as earthships. Earthships are eco-friendly homes constructed from recycled materials. They can produce much of their own food, heat and water supply. This is made possible through the use of innovative design that includes solar panels, rainwater harvesting More >