- USA CO2 emissions from fossil fuel – CO2 emitted, broken down geographically by county, and source of emission, fully zoom-and-panable in Google Earth! (tagged: energy maps visualization environment co2 carbon )
- In Amsterdam, The Bicycle Still Rules – The Netherlands spends about $6 each year per capita on bicycle infrastructure. California spends about about 18 cents. What would our state be like if we upped the ante? (tagged: bicycle transportation policy amsterdam california budget )
- Drones parked in our own backyard, to Bomb our own People – Ah, the People have their own Eye in the Sky now. Google Earth allows Pakistanis to find the CIA's predator drones, parked in an airfield in Pakistan! So much for their government's denial of involvement. (tagged: transparency surveillance google pakistan drone )
- Streams of Travelers – A one hour time lapse of a square filled with flowing pedestrians in Amsterdam. They're pretty dynamic, those walkers. (tagged: amsterdam pedestrian timelapse video flickr )
- Watching the Growth of Walmart Across America – Very cool animation of the spread of WalMart across America. Kind of like watching popcorn pop… (tagged: walmart maps economics visualization )
- Tinkering School – An awesome experiential school, at which kids are allowed to do dangerous things with power tools, in the name of learning to create things that work, and how to deal with frustration and failure. (tagged: education design ted school tinker )
- Interactive Atlas of the World's Endangered Languages – Most of the world's surviving human languages (of which there are currently about 6000) will go extinct in my lifetime. Here's a map of where they are, who speaks them, and what they're called. (tagged: language extinct culture human atlas maps )
- Mo(NU)mentum: a future urban drill core – A hypothetical drill core from the future, showing urban sediment through the ages: stone, to brick, to concrete, to asphalt, and finally plastic. Ever more refined and energy intensive materials, in thinner and thinner layers, until the present, at which… we note… sedimentation stopped. (tagged: art green construction urban )
- Final CA Budget Cuts Gas Tax Increase, Still Nothing for Transit – Happy St. Fuckers day: the republican senator from Orange County finds sales and income taxes more acceptable than gas taxes. All state funding for public transit nixed. Gas to remain cheap. What a crock. (tagged: streetsblog california politics energy transportation taxes )
- Los Angeles Bike Summit March 7th, 2009 – Los Angeles Bike Summit! Networking cyclists and bike advocacy organizations. Being put on by the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. (tagged: bicycle advocacy los angeles bike transportation )
- Getting Traffic Signals to Detect Bicycles – A short presentation on how induction loop traffic sensors work, and how to maximize your chances of being detected as a cyclist… and also how to make sure your sensors can detect cyclists, if you're a transportation engineer! (tagged: bicycle bike cycling transportation technology induction sensor loop )
- Tweet-a-Watt, A twittering power meter – Now if only somebody would make these things work out of the box, instead of requiring a soldering iron… (tagged: energy technology twitter green )
- China Needs U.S. Guarantees for Treasuries – Huh? What's a "treasury guarantee", and why would it be any more trustworthy than the promise to repay the debt implicit in any bond? Probably what they really mean is "Um, we're not really planning on buying any more of your Govt. debt, thanks. At least, certainly not at the pitiful interest rates you're currently offering." And so the Fed will "buy" it instead. I think this is called "quantitative easing" in doublespeak. Also known as printing money… (tagged: finance economy china federal reserve economics )
- Does a Big Economy Need Big Power Plants? – Good, if somewhat superficial and dismissive, look at big power versus small power. I really hope Amory Lovins is correct. (tagged: energy policy efficiency economics lovins renewable )
- Stimulus Bill Is Anti-Religious – Man, I *wish* the ACLU had drafted the stimulus bill! What's wrong exactly is prohibiting the use of federal funds for building religious institutions? Why would this not fall under separation of church and state? (tagged: politics religion stimulus huckabee conservative )
- Thefts puncture Paris bike scheme – More of Paris' Velib bicycles are being stolen or vandalized than expected. Not sure what their expectations were, but it is pretty annoying for basically every bike in the network to have been either stolen or damaged in only 18 months. The vandalism is probably impossible to stop (since it can be carried out while the bikes are locked in their stands) but the theft should be preventable with secure stands, and aggressive enforcement of responsibility for a bike while you've got it checked out (i.e. if the bike doesn't come back, your credit card is immediately charged for the total value of the bike, or possibly even more). I also can't help but wonder if the same functionality could be implemented with much, much cheaper bikes, especially in a city as flat as Paris. Singlespeeds with fenders and a basket, maybe 100 Euros each? With an RFID tag embedded – and put all the smarts in the racks. (tagged: bicycle bike cycling transportation paris velib )
- Google Power to the People – Google developing tools to allow you to disentangle your own energy use, when the datastreams from smart meters come on line. Making this information easy to comprehend, pricing electricity to displace demand from the peak times, and allowing the largest energy users to schedule their use in an automated way could (without even changing anything physically) have a large impact on the amount of power generating capacity we (don't) need. (tagged: energy google sustainability green open data transparency )
- WattzOn and Wesabe Join Forces – This is the post that made me wish the Elevations Credit Union was more internet savvy. I want to be able to apply all these big-brotherly tools to myself! (tagged: open data transparency energy wesabe wattzon money finance )
- Numbrary – A library for numbers – mass quantities of publicly available data, mostly (entirely?) from the US Government. In a hopefully usable and searchable form. Many automatically generated charts and tables. (tagged: data transparency government statistics open )
- Mayapedal – People building useful human-powered bicimaquinas, in Guatemala, where human labor is still a common prime mover: washing machines, coffee de-pulpers, corn de-grainers, grain mills, blenders, concrete microvibrators, etc. One kind of appropriate technology. There's also some YouTube videos on them, e.g.:
- Humanity In Motion – An incredible montage of what bicycles can be: safe, enjoyable, cheap, convenient, everyday transportation for young people and for old, for families, in a city largely unpolluted by the exhaust and noise of cars. (tagged: bicycle transportation amsterdam netherlands photos )
- Overcoming Obstacles to U.S.-China Cooperation on Climate Change – Guidelines from the Brookings Institute for the US and China to cooperatively address climate change and clean energy issues, without being combative. Executive summary sounds good, whole thing is 80 pages long. Given the positive economics for many energy efficiency measures, I thought there should have been a little more focus on the often erroneous assumption that addressing these issues has to be costly. (tagged: energy sustainability china policy climate efficiency brookings )
- Amendment to Eliminate Bike Infrastructure in Stimulus – DeMint (R – SC) and Coburn (R – OK) are trying to kill all bike infrastructure investment in the stimulus package. Call them and your own senators and make sure it doesn't happen! (tagged: politics bicycle infrastructure policy transportation stimulus )
- The Transparent Society – The essay that later became Brin's book of the same name, in which he argues that first, universal surveillance is coming, whether we like it or not, and second, that a world which is transparent – in which surveillance goes both (all) ways, is vastly preferable to one in which the illusion of privacy is maintained, and the powerful are the only ones with access to our information. (tagged: technology privacy transparency surveillance brin wired )
- Make Love Not Porn – Hardcore (esp. internet) porn has unfortunately come (ha!) to substitute for sex-ed in our culture, so says Cindy Gallop. I think she has a point. And so she made this website, to try and point out the flawed generalizations that one might arrive at from being "educated" by online porn. I think it's worth noting also though, that the diversity of pornography on the web has steadily increased over time, and there's a lot of positive and realistic, and non-exploitive depiction of sex out there now, if you want to look for it. In particular Abby Winters, Beautiful Agony, and I Shot Myself come to mind. It's ironic (absurd?) that the site has an "18+ only" clickthrough on the front page. (tagged: porn sex love ted education )
- Dept. of Energy to draft energy efficiency rules… 30 years late. – I can't believe I'd never heard of this. Apparently for the last 30 years, presidents have been refusing to direct the Dept. of Energy to draft enforceable energy efficiency regulations, despite being directed under law to do so by Congress. Finally in 2005, 14 states sued, and won, and Bush still failed to comply in a timely manner. How many other instances of the executive branch (both democrat and republican!) completely ignoring Congress on important issues are there? It's rare enough that Congress gets anything right – that the president should ignore them when they do is unconscionable! (tagged: politics policy energy nytimes green efficiency standards regulation )
- First annual Letter from the Gates Foundation – I hate Microsoft, but in the great American tradition of evil corporate fortunes being given back to good causes, the Gates Foundation works on some difficult, important, and interesting problems. I've been curious exactly how and why their focus on population has faded away over the last few years. Not sure this letter (suggested by and modeled after Warren Buffet… who doubled their endowment last year) really answers that question. I get the feeling that the change is partly for PR reasons – that they remain focused on the issue, but don't think it's really productive to make that statement prominently. (tagged: philanthropy health microsoft bill gates population )
- WRI on Bus Rapid Transit v. Light Rail – Given the difference in cost, I really don't understand why BRT doesn't get more consistent consideration in transportation planning. Hopefully someone will notice this study (and hopefully the study is done well…) (tagged: transit transportation brt rail sustainability bus green )
- Bill Gates unplugged – Talked about two problems: malaria, and lousy teaching in America. Not so interested in Malaria (we know what we need to do, we just don't really care… and if all it does is increase human population, is that really a success?), but our inability to make teaching work well reliably is really annoying… (tagged: education ted teaching schools bill gates )
- Till Children Do Us Part – Yeah, having kids can keep you together… out of obligation, or desperation if you're an unemployable 50s housewife. But jeez, who ever thought they actually help a marriage? (tagged: children marriage love )
- Dumping the Refrigerator for a Greener Planet – Well of course I *could* do without a fridge if I wanted to, but why not just get a super-efficient one, or understand better what *actually* needs refrigerated, or design a fridge that takes advantage of the outside temperature for condensing or evaporating coolant, or build an insulated north-facing root cellar into your earth-sheltered house, or use a zeer evaporative fridge, etc. Story seems a little one dimensional. (tagged: refrigerator energy sustainability green environment efficiency )
- Extended Producer Responsibility – I wonder just how much of my predilection for German bike parts comes from their EPR policies, and how much comes from the German design ethos, and how separable those two things really are? (tagged: bike germany green sustainability recycling policy bicycle )
Implementing a national energy efficiency portfolio standard (EEPS) are just as important as, if not more important than renewable portfolio standards (RPS), and will go a long way toward making aggressive RPSs attainable, but aren’t getting much in the way of mindshare. More info from the DoE, and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE). EEPS are also a much cheaper (i.e. more profitable) way to cut carbon than current renewables.
Change.org is a kind of public idea tourament. There are a bunch of different subsections: agricultural policy, government reform, energy, etc. Readers vote and comment on the ideas, and the top few ideas in each category advance to the next round. Larry Lessig has submitted Citizen Funding of Congressional Elections whereby only public money and small contributions can be applied toward election campaigns.
Not sure how well this kind of system can work. Many of the highest rated ideas don’t sound very productive…
The US road to recovery runs through Beijing says Asia Times Online, and Thomas Barnett emphatically agrees. Everyone is talking about how to reorganize the global economy, but mostly the discussion is about how to most efficiently export our recently collapsed model of growth to the developing world. Better this time around for sure, we say, but not fundamentally different in any way. The Chinese need (and want, it turns out) more domestic consumption and consumer debt.
Several years ago, Yuk Yung noted, either in seminar or at one of his lunch talks, that overall, as a system, the Earth, including its biosphere, actually does not consume energy. This isn’t so surprising if you think of it like a lifeless rock – of course a spinning asteroid being shone upon somewhere between Jupiter and Mars isn’t consuming energy, it’s just absorbing and re-radiating, by σT4. It re-radiates at a lower temperature than the sun, and it re-radiates isotropically; the quality of the energy changes, its entropy increases, but the amount of energy coming out, of course, is the same as that which is coming in, barring any interesting chemistry that might take place as a result of the incident radiation.
For some reason, the same statement, applied to the Earth, seems stranger. We think of life as consuming energy somehow, but really it doesn’t. At most, the Earth system acts as a temporary energy buffer, as our indigenous biology catalyzes the formation of chemical bonds, using mostly sunlight as a power source. But by now, overall, the Earth is in almost perfect energetic equilibrium. The light comes in at nearly 6000 °K, and it comes in nearly parallel. It leaves at a few hundred degrees Kelvin, and in all directions. All that’s changed is the entropy, unless there’s a net creation (or destruction) of ions or chemical bonds, or a change in temperature, on the way through. Somehow, life extracts order from this flow of energy. “We eat negative entropy.”, Yuk said. We consume information, transmuting the physical order of the star’s light into the chemical order of life. We grasp at it as it passes through, and in that grasping, live.
The material with which we encode this order, with which we briefly hold the light, is itself also the product of stars. I’ve known this since I watched Cosmos as a kid. We are the “stuff” of stars, but somehow the fact that our order is also somehow tied up in the order of stars, quite literally, seems odder. We’re some kind of entropically driven reaction.
It seems to me that this physical reality is ripe for mythologizing.
The stars are great unknowing givers. They are radiant, and generous, and terrible. They can receive nothing in return for their gifts, incinerating their lovers. They say to us, without knowing, “Take this light and hold it. Use it as it passes through you, to know, and to perhaps preserve, against the chaos, and cold dark emptiness of space.” And so we are become the receivers of the light, composed of the cold cinders of the stars. We keep the light that only they can make, but which they cannot hold. I think it’s a difficult and sacred thing to do, to just keep holding on.