Thursday, November 12, 2009

Waiting for Other ($10M Solar) Shoe to Drop

Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), at a Hudson Valley solar energy summit he led in late October, announced he'd roped in another $2.25 million in Federal dollars for The Solar Energy Consortium (TSEC). It's claimed that will spawn 100 jobs.

That brings the 2 1/2 year total of solar funds directed here by Hinchey to 20 mil — but wait, as they say on late-night TV, that's not all! "Additional funding to be announced in the coming weeks," says our man of the House, "will increase that figure to nearly $30 million."

Sounds good. The first two-and-a-quarter million has been passed by both the House and Senate, so that's a done deal. But that other $10 million that he says is now on its way to our area through TSEC is big news. In fact, almost five times as big… (Okay, 4.4 times as big. Why be imprecise with a calculator right at hand?)

The summit brought together three dozen solar energy company executives, researchers, and government types to look at the challenge from all the required angles, review the progress and discuss the next steps. Hinchey also announced House passage of a bill that intends to spread Federal solar grants around the country, where formerly they'd been concentrated in the Southwest. "We've put the Hudson Valley on the map as one of the nation's leading hubs for solar energy research and development," Hinchey said.

$2.2 million grant aids solar effort
By William J. Kemble, Kingston Daily Freeman (10/20/09)

$2.25M in federal grants for solar consortium will help land 100 new jobs
Office of U.S. Rep. Hinchey
Related, here: Posts tagged Green Tech

Thursday, November 05, 2009

An Informative Mind-Twister Involving Oysters

Okay, here's one for you, one of those you-gotta-be-kid'nme type facts, from a story about reseeding New York City's waterways with once-plentiful oysters. These are not intended as delicacies for the table, though, but as prodigious pollution digesters:

"Oysters act as natural water purification systems. 'Think of oysters as the catalytic converter on your car,' Fabian Cousteau, the grandson of Jacques Cousteau, explained. One adult oyster can filter up to 24 gallons of water in a day…"

"You Say Oyster," by Katherine Stirling, Sept. 21, 2009 issue, The New Yorker, in "Talk of the Town"
(Note: The New Yorker doesn't have that article online except with a paid subscription)
Besides being just plumb amazing, this is only one more example of how the big new wave of activity for re-greening our world could best be guided.

There's a great principle of accomplishing anything that states, Work From Your Strengths. It would hard to overestimate all the strengths that nature provides, this stupifyingly deep, rich web of life that is always in motion and regenerating itself, spontaneously growing things that we can eat to live(!), and just coincidentally manufacture oxygen which we need to breathe, and all this without requiring a single btu's worth of energy from our vaunted infrastructure.

Even purebread bottom-liners must understand the appeal of the savings in power and electricity alone when you can harness a system that is self-sustaining. You don't have to buy any fuel for the engine!

Don't get me wrong, I'm on board with the whole human evolution thing, the idea that we've got this brain and imagination and opposable thumbs so we can be creative, and respectfully customize and extend our physical circumstances here. And I love my Mac and my Honda, and all their family forebears.

But, going back to the oysters, have human engineers ever designed and built anything which was both that efficient at a job and completely self-perpetuating, and each over extremely long product lifecycles? Have they instead, in the process of going too far out on a limb (probably mostly due to the incitement of grants or investments, let's say), produced maybe as many horrors as upgrades?
(We do have to keep inventing, of course, because aside from any common speculations about our destiny, there's a rumor going around the scientific community that our planet is slowly losing momentum and being pulled closer to and eventually will be sucked right into the Sun. It's surface temperature is said to be around 6,000 degrees — Celsius. So, let's make sure funding for NASA is in good shape, too, cuz we're gonna need 'em.)
The pocket-guide conclusion: To whatever extent possible,

Work With Nature.

Related, here:
"Where do Great Ideas come from?" (One guess, based on the above...)
Posts tagged appropriate technology