Saturday, August 27, 2011

Locusts are Kosher

Last week I wrote about the greens and fairways on a golf course in the Czech Republic. Jonathan reminded me that golf courses are typically gangrene not green as they need copious amounts of irrigation water, fertilizer, and gasoline to keep them in playable condition. Yes Jonathan I had a momentary case on amnesia as I had written a blog about 18 months ago on the ridiculous notion that the United Arab Emirates should host a professional golf tournament on a course they created in the desert using water from reverse osmosis for irrigation. I have also opined that artificial grass for lawns is a much greener option for homeowners in the USA where the simple act of mowing the lawn with a power mower exceeds the carbon footprint of the manufacture of the synthetic lawn from waste tires.

There is a saying that “all that glitters is not gold” so on the basis of golf courses and mowed grass we should have a saying that “all that is green may be gangrene”. Hurricane Irene is bearing down on the East Coast and the Big Apple will get a massive drenching. This storm has enormous energy and will do damage. The silver lining in the storm clouds is that people will drive less for a few days, the power outages will save some coal, and folks won’t water their lawn for a few weeks. Jonathan had suggested to me a year or so back, that one could fly into the eye of the hurricane and spray ethanol into the eye and the heat removed by the evaporation will cool the eye down and cause hurricane to dissipate. I performed the calculation for Jonathan and I estimated to remove sufficient heat from a hurricane one would need to evaporate approximately 15 billion gallons of ethanol. Therefore my friend’s idea on how to dissipate a hurricane required as much ethanol as we consume in our blended gasoline here in these Ignited States. We use about 13 billion gallons of ethanol a year in our gasoline. I have often opined that corn ethanol is plain stupid and it is a crime against humanity that 40% of corn crop is used for transportation based ethanol. It is quite amazing that to remove the heat in the eye of a single hurricane we would need to use up over 40% of our corn crop in the USA converted into ethanol and evaporated for this purpose. Mother Nature is sure powerful and hurricanes are the embodiment of this power.

I did say I would opine on the fracking of shale to yield natural gas but I simply did not have time to adequately research this so I will opine on this next week. The Washington Monument is closed indefinitely due to the earthquake that struck near DC earlier this week. Maybe Mother Nature is trying to give our leaders a message with an earthquake and now a hurricane. Next week if we have boils or locusts I will know for sure that there is a pattern and I may have to join operation exodus and will get out of Dodge. Did you all know that Locusts are kosher to eat? Perhaps when we reach the Promised Land we will have a diet of fried locusts. There is no doubt in my mind that protein from insects are a future valuable source of protein and that it makes much more sense to farm termites using cellulose rather than converting cellulose to ethanol using billions of dollars from the now shaken and flooded department of entropy. Termites also release methane (natural gas) via their digestion of cellulose. Termites are not kosher and I have no clue why locusts are? Perhaps it is because locusts do not produce natural gas and termites do?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Short Circuit

Wow another week flew by and the stock market is still reeling. The string on the yoyo is getting frayed and soon the toy will break only to be left in a solid waste dump just like half of the aluminum cans ever produced. My buddies at ENER1 (NYSE HEV)have short circuited and are close to Raser the wealth eraser. HEV trades at 37 cents and the NYSE will delist them soon. They were the backers of Think the now defunct electric car. AONE is also down to a few volts and is about to go flat. But GM gave AONE some life support by agreeing that some future yet unnamed electric vehicle from GM will have AONE batteries. You have to remember our department of entropy gave AONE half a billion for their factory in Michigan and GM has to throw a life vest to the sinking Michigan plant. AONE is also an investor in Fisker just like HEV invested in Think. Well Fisker needs another 200 million dollars for the launch of their expensive plug in car. They did sell car number 1 early this month. It was sold to Leonardo DiCaprio. Leonardo knows about sinking ships after appearing in the Titanic. He also appeared in Catch Me If You Can and no doubt knows about forgeries. The Fisker is one massive forgery. It is a Chev Volt on steroids. Al Gore backed it so of course the department of entropy also has pledged half a billion to the boys at Fisker

Did anything green happen this week? Yes I managed to get my news LED LCD HD TV connected to the new cable box from Comcast. It only took 4 phone calls and 8 hours but the simple act of bringing programs to my TV is now complete. Of course the cable box will need a reboot when we have a power surge or some idiot crashes into the pole on the street that the cable is hung upon. The Golf Channel is transmitted in 1080 p HD and that sure shows the greens and fairways to be green. They carried the Czech Open this week. I never realized how pretty and green central Europe is. Most of my images of these places were in Stalinist black and white with plumes of smoke belching form tall chimneys to make steel for tanks to attack the west. The commies are still going strong in the Peoples’ Republic and soon they will be the largest economy. My wife bought some “health nutritional bars” on QVC only to find out these power bars are made in China. No doubt made from recycled melamine furniture.

I saw at least four ads this week on my new TV on shale natural gas and how Exxon Mobil is so careful not to let the fracking of the shale deposits destroy the ground water. Next week I will opine on shale gas but in general the Green Machine gives a green light to shale gas. A friend of mine named Charlie decided to fork up a few bucks and connect his natural gas supply to his BBQ in the back yard. I told him he was being green in burning methane rather than propane as methane emits less CO2 per steak. Also each time a propane tank is filled some propane is allowed to escape to allow pressure equalization for filling and propane is a severe greenhouse gas. My friend Charlie gets a green star.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A week of Red and Black but no Green

This was a crazy week of black and red with almost no green. The stock markets around the globe were like yo yos and went down and up. The yo yo is a pretty green toy that uses gravity for motion and a little jerk of the finger to recover the downward momentum into upward momentum. This is a lot greener a toy than any toy that needs a battery. I love to play with a yo yo and find it kind of soothing until the loop on the string really tightens on my finger and cuts off my circulation. As a kid in South Africa I remember a particular couple of years when Coca Cola gave out free yo yos if you collected 100 bottle caps. Those red and white yo yos where really cool and I did manage to get a couple by drinking a few hundred Cokes.

Cokes in South Africa were made with cane sugar and tasted pretty darn good under the hot African sun. A two liter Coke has about half a pound of sugar in it. That is a lot of sugar. The sugar is far more gangrene than the plastic bottle. There is move afoot by Coca Cola and the other major bottlers to use some bio plastics made from bio derived ethylene glycol for their bottles. Kind of stupid to work on the minor side of the problem when the sugar or high fructose corn syrup in the drink far eclipses the carbon, water and land footprints of the plastic in the bottle.

I guess the stock markets and debt rating agencies also felt that governments are working on solving the wrong problems and hence the wild swings in the markets over the past weeks. The Green Machine has always proposed a small carbon tax as the partial solution to the deficit. The carbon tax should be on the carbon emitted in various stages of value addition to products and services. The rate at which it should be charged is perhaps $20 per ton (1 cent per pound) of CO2. For example if you take a 25 mile taxi ride and the taxi cab gets 25 mpg the ride you took emitted 20 pounds of carbon dioxide and the VAT for the ride should be 20 cents. There should also be a corresponding Carbon Dioxide import duty on goods and services that are imported into the USA. For example if a steel pipe that weighs 50 pounds comes from China and we know China emits 0.75 pounds of CO2 for each pound of steel produced the added CO2 import duty will be 37.5 cents for that piece of steel pipe.

OK so you all think I am a tax and spend person. Actually I am not and I don’t really worry about the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as we will adapt and survive as a species even after we reach 500 parts per million or 700 parts per million. The carbon dioxide tax will help us adapt a little faster to a lifestyle of wasting less and that is my sole interest in being a Green Machine. Nonsense technologies being promoted by Al, Vinod and their friends that tax us at over $1,000 per ton of carbon dioxide will not be part of the adaptive lifestyle as that level of taxation is simply too much of a burden. At $20 per ton of CO2 the US could raise about $120 billion of taxes on domestic VAT and another $50 billion on imports. French imports will bear the least duty as they produce goods and services with the least amount of carbon dioxide emissions. The Chinese who are polluting the planet will bear the most and maybe they will do something about their emissions.

I once suggested to Jonathan Lash who heads the WRI and was President Clinton’s guru on sustainability that the membership dues that countries pay the United Nations should be based on the carbon emissions. China would have to pay more dues than the USA and France would get a break. I doubt that all the politicians that love to talk green would ever agree that the “fair” way to levy dues for UN membership is based on carbon emissions. Australia and South Africa who have fairly small populations but burn coal like there is no tomorrow would have to pay more to belong to the UN. Perhaps the Green Machine should be Secretary General of the UN as well as the Engineering General of the US. This all fits in with my general theory of relatives that states you cannot pick your family but you can pick your nose if you have a good plastic surgeon. Coke should pick a better sweetener rather than a better plastic. Let’s all work on solving problems that yield results. Controlling the population explosion is the first problem to solve in our quest for greener pastures.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

EcoVillage Ithaca: A Greener Place to Live

We've all heard about the evils of suburban sprawl swallowing up prime farmland, fragmenting wildlife habitats, and disconnecting people from their communities (to name a few). A select group of people near Ithaca, NY are creating a new model for suburban living which is healthier, more socially engaging, and better for the environment. The place is a self-proclaimed intentional community leading by example, called EcoVillage Ithaca (EVI).

EVI has attracted a demographically diverse resident population in its two 30-home cohousing neighborhoods that occupy just 3 acres on the 175 acre site. Over 80% of the land is planned green space, including two Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms, community gardens, a large pond, and other natural areas. A third neighborhood for the site is now in the planning process.

Each neighborhood features owner-occupied energy efficient 1-4 bedroom duplex homes (some with roof-mounted solar panels) that sit astride a pedestrian pathway leading to a neighborhood common house. The common house serves as a meeting place for members of the community and features a large cooking/dining area with additional sitting rooms, guest rooms, offices, play rooms, and laundry facilities.

Governance and decision-making at EVI is made through a consensus process. To keep the place running smoothly, each community relies on 2-3 hours per week of volunteer work by each member. Residents apply themselves to tasks for which they have the most enthusiasm - and yes, the dishes do get done and toilets cleaned. Amazing!

The ecological footprints of the EVI neighborhoods are far below a typical American suburban neighborhood without sacrificing standard of living or comfort. Plus the members of these intentional communities arguably live healthier, more connected, happy lives. What a concept.

~Mark Bremer, Green Explored Contributor

Saturday, August 6, 2011

An Early Fall

The leaves are falling very early this year. Sales of the Leaf dropped 46% from June to July. Nissan sold 931 leafs in July and this certainly is pathetic for a new product launch to see sales peak in four months and then drop precipitously. No doubt the idiots who bought the Leaf soon after the launch were few and far between and now Nissan is searching desperately for a few more idiots to help them assure the Department of Entropy that using some of the US Government’s increased debt ceiling on the dumb Leaf plant in Tennessee is still wise.

If the Leaf dropped the Volt short circuited. GM saw a decline of 80% in sales of the Volt in July versus June. They managed to sell a total of 125 Volts. This is beginning to sound like the level of electric service out of an electrical socket in my bathroom. Actually I do have an electric toothbrush with a lithium ion battery so the comparison to the 125 Volts is valid. I have a GFI (Ground Fault Interruption) circuit for my bathroom socket so I do not kill myself brushing my teeth. Of course the Department of Entropy is also supporting the expansion of the Volt factory. Nissan and GM think GFI stands for Government Funded Investments. The Department of Entropy thinks GFI stands for Go For It.

Talking of government, I have an acquaintance named Andrew Tobias who is the Treasurer of the Democratic National Committee. Andrew is a writer with a Harvard MBA and has written several books on personal finance. Andrew blogs at and he is so proud of his 3 kilowatt PV system he installed on his home back East. I sent Andrew the following email as he is the guru of personal finance after he posted the following on his site:

“The solar panels I installed last July have generated 4,066
kilowatt hours – nearly $900 worth. I can tap an app on my iPhone
from anywhere in the world to see how much I’m generating right now
(2880 watts)

There being 8,766 hours in a year, I’ve averaged about 450 watts an
hour – way more at noon than at midnight, obviously – which is enough
to keep four-and-a-half 100-watt light bulbs burning 24/7 all year.
Which I would never do. By way of reference, a ceiling fan might draw
88 watts, my light bulbs draw 23 watts or less, and I never use the
dishwasher (about which I have written importantly before). Here’s an idea of the power stuff draws. I got so freaked out watching my
electric meter spin when the dryer was on that now, when possible, I
dry my towels and sheets on the roof deck.”

I wrote this to Andrew

OK so you are the Green Machine On The East Coast but the following may
be deduced from your system:

You installed a 3 kw system and its total cost was about $20,000

After tax credits you invested about $12,000 in the system

As a finance guru you should demand a maximum of 5 years of payout on
your own capital so your marginal cost of capital is $2,400 per year

The government should demand a 10 year payout of their capital or $800
per year

The full cost of ownership is therefore $3,200 per year

You saved $900 in the 4,066 kwh produced over a year

Your added marginal cost to society for these 4,066 kwh is $2,300
($3,200 - $900)

4,066 kwh if generated by a state of the art combined cycle natural gas
generation station and including transmission losses would have a
maximum CO2 foot print of 0.9 lbs per kwh

You saved the planet 3,659 lbs of CO2 or 1.8297 tons of CO2
Using the marginal cost of $2,300 divided by 1.8297 tons your marginal
cost of avoided CO2 emissions is $1,257.04 per ton of avoided CO2

This is plain dumb use of money.

I never heard back from Andrew but will report if he does reply. I think that a guy who is a financial guru and has written books on personal finance should be a little more adventurous with investing money than my other friends who have installed PV on the roofs of their homes. These other folks know that if they put their money in stocks, homes, the bank, autos or simply pay exorbitant taxes they will earn nothing on their investments so investing in PV makes sense to my other friends. Andrew is the Harvard MBA investment guru who has written finance books. He should be able to get a 20% return on his money. The USA lost its AAA rating for Debt from S&P. I have the solution for Tiny Tim. Just take a triple A battery out of the TV remote control and power up the economy with millions of green jobs