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Author Topic: Stewards of the Earth  (Read 11315 times)

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Stewards of the Earth
« on: 30 Jan 2015, 22:16 »

I said I'd make a pure, environmentally focused thread, so here it is. I'd like to use this space as a way to give others little pieces of advice to live a more environmentally conscience life. Advice on composting, light bulbs, water use, recycling, gardening, food use, places to boycott for being dicks; if you have a good idea about how to be better to our planet then please share it! Also, any questions about habits, environmental thoughts, issues or questions are encouraged.

These things are important to me (which I always found weird, because I'm probably more right leaning than left leaning - in the American political spectrum that is) and I hope they can be to you as well. And with that I'll open it up here.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #1 on: 31 Jan 2015, 08:26 »

I just wish that more people would realize that it isn't the environment we need to save but rather our place in it. Ultimately the planet will be fine however our survival on it is tenuous at best. Someday probably sooner than later humans will tip the ecologic balance out of our favor leading to our extinction. 
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #2 on: 31 Jan 2015, 10:50 »

Should this go in Discuss? 

Also, remember - do not throw those CFL bulbs (the twisty ones) in the trash!  They contain mercury.  So do regular flourescents (the long tubes), but not as much as the little ones.  They all need to be recycled properly. 

Anyone know any drawbacks to the LED bulbs that are coming out? 
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #3 on: 31 Jan 2015, 14:07 »

I toss burnt out bulbs in the Kerbside Recycling anyway.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #4 on: 31 Jan 2015, 14:57 »

Anyone know any drawbacks to the LED bulbs that are coming out?

As far as I know, they're the most environmentally friendly.  They have excellent power efficiency, unlike the old school bulbs that mostly generate heat, and assuming they don't something weird with the bulbs, diodes don't rely on chemicals to generate light the way fluorescent lights do.  I have no idea what goes into the actual manufacture of them, but I can't imagine that the manufacturing process would outweigh the advantages they have over other kinds in the actual use of the bulb.  And diodes last practically forever, which is another plus.   

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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #5 on: 31 Jan 2015, 15:15 »

Should this go in Discuss? 

I thought about this, but I wasn't sure. I only didn't put it in there because I was figuring this could also be used for simple advice stuffs. If a mod moves it I wouldn't be upset, I was just 50/50 on where to put this.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #6 on: 01 Feb 2015, 14:22 »

Yeah I think it can go here, it's not like we have to get into huge debates about how the earth is being destroyed and what all humans should do about it, we can just share tips, ask for/give advice and talk about what we do personally.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #7 on: 02 Feb 2015, 09:40 »

Also LED bulbs don't give off uv light so they dont attract bugs!

We have a light at the top of our outdoor stairs that we can't turn off (landlord liability thing I think) and it was always swarming with bugs in the summer , which meant bugs always got in the house when you opened the door.  We replaced it with an LEad bulb last year and problem solved!
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #8 on: 02 Feb 2015, 09:53 »

Hmmm.

1. Get into the habit of eating vegetarian meals more often if you aren't already a vegetarian. Added bonus: greater diversity in your life.

2. Change how you buy, cook and save food in such ways as to minimise food waste. Bonus: save money, empty trash less often, have less smelly home.

3. Don't buy/replace stuff with new stuff all the time. Learn to make the most of what you have and take advantage of second-hand stuff. Bonus: save money, get satisfaction from squeezing value out of old things by creatively modifying or fixing them.

4. Spend some time on insulating your home a little better. Bonus: you'll be less cold.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #9 on: 02 Feb 2015, 11:38 »

Also LED bulbs don't give off uv light so they dont attract bugs!

I actually didn't know about that at all, we're learning already!

This one is more of something that's obvious, but we forget about a lot. When shaving or brushing your teeth you're allowed to turn the water off in between strokes (heh) and it's okay to not flush after some pees. If you're an American those toilets can use up to 5 gallons of water a flush, it's okay, just put the seat down sometimes to cover it up.

Also, just a personal gripe, if you have a lawn, please don't use thousands of whatever units you use to water it. It's a lawn, there are droughts across the globe right now and the ones in America are being exasperated because of water usage in farming and lawn care.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #10 on: 02 Feb 2015, 12:41 »

One of my pet peeves is those self-flushing toilets in public restrooms. I've had them flush on me anywhere from three to five times, and I'm usually pretty quick about things. Then the damn thing keeps flushing every few minutes, even if there's nobody using it. How many hundreds of gallons are wasted per toilet per day on something like that?
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #11 on: 02 Feb 2015, 12:43 »

Maybe that's why those sinks with the motion detectors never work? So they make up for all the flushing their toilets do.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #12 on: 02 Feb 2015, 22:01 »

Also LED bulbs don't give off uv light so they dont attract bugs!

That's actually really useful info. Maybe I just don't see enough advertisements anymore overall, but I've never seen this advantage advertised ant that seems silly.


2. Change how you buy, cook and save food in such ways as to minimise food waste. Bonus: save money, empty trash less often, have less smelly home.

On this subject: even if you aren't really into recycling, having separate trash cans for recyclable containers/paper/cardboard can make it to where you really reduce the amount of trash you have to take out every week. And if you have a garden, composting can reduce it even more. I'm lucky in that my city issues free recycling bags for our trash cans, and we can put the recycling out on Mondays along with the trash and the recycling crew will come through behind the trash crew.

Maybe that's why those sinks with the motion detectors never work? So they make up for all the flushing their toilets do.

Joke's on them; that's why I just wash my hand in the toilet.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #13 on: 02 Feb 2015, 22:15 »

I don't drive.  Even if I did have more money, I wouldn't.  I cycle or take transit everywhere.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #14 on: 02 Feb 2015, 22:16 »


On this subject: even if you aren't really into recycling, having separate trash cans for recyclable containers/paper/cardboard can make it to where you really reduce the amount of trash you have to take out every week. And if you have a garden, composting can reduce it even more. I'm lucky in that my city issues free recycling bags for our trash cans, and we can put the recycling out on Mondays along with the trash and the recycling crew will come through behind the trash crew.


My town gave us a bucket for recycling, though I was surprised when I found out some towns don't have any recycling options (I have no idea how really small work really). Given two options people are going to choose what's easiest and just throw everything away together..
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #15 on: 02 Feb 2015, 22:29 »

I don't drive.  Even if I did have more money, I wouldn't.  I cycle or take transit everywhere.

I'd love to not need a vehicle, but there're just too many things I can't do with public transportation.

My town gave us a bucket for recycling, though I was surprised when I found out some towns don't have any recycling options (I have no idea how really small work really). Given two options people are going to choose what's easiest and just throw everything away together..

Unfortunately fixing our environmental problems (or even settling for not making it any worse) takes people making to choose the less easy option. It does seem people are becoming more aware these days, though, myself included.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #16 on: 02 Feb 2015, 23:06 »

I don't drive.  Even if I did have more money, I wouldn't.  I cycle or take transit everywhere.

I'd love to not need a vehicle, but there're just too many things I can't do with public transportation.

It's obviously dependent on where one lives.  Transport isn't as reliable or as frequent as when I lived in SF, for example, but my area still has a high enough population density to support a halfway decent system.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #17 on: 02 Feb 2015, 23:21 »

It's obviously dependent on where one lives.  Transport isn't as reliable or as frequent as when I lived in SF, for example, but my area still has a high enough population density to support a halfway decent system.
Oh, definitely. I'm originally from Houston, where the public transportation is practically non-existent. Now I'm in a college town in central Missouri, and while there are bus routes for the apartment complexes and student dormitories, there isn't anything where I live.

On top of that, even if I could do away with a daily driver for most of the year, I do a lot of stuff where I need my truck. Not every day or even every week, but at least a couple dozen times a year. Transporting scuba gear, kayaks, mulch, and lumber is difficult at best on a Metro bus. Plus it's nice to be able to help people move.

Now if Dodge or somebody could come out with an all-electric pickup truck, I'd be golden.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #18 on: 02 Feb 2015, 23:33 »

Electric cars aren't actually as good for the environment as you would think.  The large battery banks used require a lot of extremely toxic materials, and it's not like those things last forever.  In addition, a lot of the toxic components are manufactured in countries where things like tumor-riddled factory workers don't get on the news.  So, yeah.  Woo.  I'm just waiting for my atomic car.  Nuclear power is actually better than most other forms of power production, assuming you have the kind of modern fail-safes that were invented after Chernobyl. And if you use the kind of breeder reactors France uses, nuclear waste is recycled multiple times as additional fuel.  Downside: With breeder reactors, the waste isn't moderately radioactive depleted uranium, it's very small amounts of motherfucking plutonium.  The only really safe thing to do with plutonium is launch it into the sun.  Or use it to blow up commies.  Ya know, whichever.

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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #19 on: 02 Feb 2015, 23:45 »

Well, a pick-up is a practical vehicle for a lot of people.  A lot of my friends are either tradesmen, or otherwise have to haul heavy shit a lot of the time.  I won't judge anyone for using one, even though they're not normally the most energy-efficient.  And one can't always afford another vehicle.  The last time I drove one, though, I didn't like it.  The seating was too high, compared to what I was used to, but I was the only person there besides the person whom I was driving who knew how to drive a standard transmission.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #20 on: 03 Feb 2015, 00:49 »

Also LED bulbs don't give off uv light so they dont attract bugs!

You mean I can get rid of the ugly yellow CFL bug lights I have outside my house?!?

 :lol: :laugh:
Yay!
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #21 on: 03 Feb 2015, 00:51 »

Electric cars aren't actually as good for the environment as you would think.  The large battery banks used require a lot of extremely toxic materials, and it's not like those things last forever.  In addition, a lot of the toxic components are manufactured in countries where things like tumor-riddled factory workers don't get on the news.  So, yeah.  Woo.  I'm just waiting for my atomic car.
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Nuclear power is actually better than most other forms of power production, assuming you have the kind of modern fail-safes that were invented after Chernobyl. And if you use the kind of breeder reactors France uses, nuclear waste is recycled multiple times as additional fuel.  Downside: With breeder reactors, the waste isn't moderately radioactive depleted uranium, it's very small amounts of motherfucking plutonium.  The only really safe thing to do with plutonium is launch it into the sun. Or use it to blow up commies.  Ya know, whichever.
I don't know if we would need to do that, but I'm torn on nuclear weapons. On one hand, they're weapons and they're nuclear. On the other, I can imagine them being useful in various space operations, and I'm a big fan of space operations. Propulsion or some crazy engineering thing, or maybe we'll need them to fight an asteroid. So I think they should be around in case we want to make a hole in something bad or hack the planet or whatever.

But yeah I'm a fan of nuclear power.

Well, a pick-up is a practical vehicle for a lot of people.  A lot of my friends are either tradesmen, or otherwise have to haul heavy shit a lot of the time.  I won't judge anyone for using one, even though they're not normally the most energy-efficient.  And one can't always afford another vehicle.
Whatever crazy energy-efficient vehicle technology they can come up with, I want a pickup truck version. And one that can be autonomous.

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The last time I drove one, though, I didn't like it.  The seating was too high, compared to what I was used to, but I was the only person there besides the person whom I was driving who knew how to drive a standard transmission.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #22 on: 03 Feb 2015, 01:00 »

Actually, I was wrong, it was the *owner* who could also drive a standard, and my passenger was just to shaken-up.  Mea maxima culpa.  But a standard is certainly useful to ward off thieves.  I generally left my first car unlocked, since I never left anything that I cared about it in, and the clutch was so bad that my father was the only other person who could drive it.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #23 on: 03 Feb 2015, 02:49 »

Electric cars aren't actually as good for the environment as you would think.
Even if issues with the batteries can be overcome by improved manufacturing and recycling, which they probably can, the key question with electric cars is "How is the electricity that charges the batteries generated?" An EV might not have a tailpipe, but that does not mean it does not have an exhaust.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #24 on: 03 Feb 2015, 03:05 »

That's the problem with a lot of things that use electricity, you kinda have to use whatever the grid is providing you with (unless you generate your own electricity) and sometimes the only sources they use are dirty fossil fuels. If they use natural gas, renewable sources or nuclear then yeah, it's probably better. You can find out what is used to generate your electricity at your power companies website.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #25 on: 03 Feb 2015, 12:53 »

Electric cars aren't actually as good for the environment as you would think.
Even if issues with the batteries can be overcome by improved manufacturing and recycling, which they probably can, the key question with electric cars is "How is the electricity that charges the batteries generated?" An EV might not have a tailpipe, but that does not mean it does not have an exhaust.

Excellent point, and it brings us to a new environmental topic: methods of power production. 

I already said what I think about nuclear power, which is a bit of a mixed bag.  Everything goes right, it's good, anything goes wrong, it's bad.  I think we can all agree that coal is just terrible for the environment, regardless of how cost efficient it is.  Most power plants that burn something as fuel are pretty bad.  I did, however, hear about some power plant that runs on old motor oil, engine grease, and other second-hand oil based products.  I like the idea of putting used oil to good use, but I would imagine the smog is terrible. 

Wind power.  We have a lot of wind farms in Texas, mostly in all the huge stretches of mostly-uninhabited land we have.  They're a good backup for an existing network, but they're stupidly expensive to build and maintain, and I think that's going to be what prevents them from being used on a larger scale.  Same goes for solar power.  Until a breakthrough either increases the output or decreases the costs, they're just too expensive to keep running.  And environmental groups keep saying that wing turbines chop up birds.  It seems ridiculous if you watch the windmill from a distance, since they don't seem to spin very fast, but when you consider the length of the blades, those suckers gotta be moving at a good clip.

I'm a fan of water power.  Hydroelectric is a proven technology, it doesn't burn anything, so there's no exhaust being pumped into the sky, and in the right spot, it puts out a ludicrous amount of power.  Downside, people complain that it's bad for the fishies, though the catfish that live around the bottom of dams seem to be doing fine.  Those suckers get fat.

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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #26 on: 03 Feb 2015, 13:13 »

Wind power.  We have a lot of wind farms in Texas, mostly in all the huge stretches of mostly-uninhabited land we have.

Didn't know beans were a large crop over there.

I'm a fan of water power.  Hydroelectric is a proven technology, it doesn't burn anything, so there's no exhaust being pumped into the sky, and in the right spot, it puts out a ludicrous amount of power. 

The concrete that's used in the construction isn't too great though.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #27 on: 03 Feb 2015, 13:32 »

Dams can be horrible for river systems and wetland areas. Think about it, they have to flood a huge area for them to work. What is it? The 3 Ganges Damn in China (I think that sounds right, I don't feel like google), that did some pretty significant damage, especially to people who lived upstream.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #28 on: 03 Feb 2015, 17:09 »

I'm a fan of water power.  Hydroelectric is a proven technology, it doesn't burn anything, so there's no exhaust being pumped into the sky, and in the right spot, it puts out a ludicrous amount of power.  Downside, people complain that it's bad for the fishies, though the catfish that live around the bottom of dams seem to be doing fine.  Those suckers get fat.

I am too, but unfortunately damming rivers can have pretty disastrous effects. Look at the Aswan High Dam in Egypt, or as explicit said, the 3 Gorges Dam. Those issues can be mitigated, of course, but aside from the problems they have with the ecosystem, they also remove silt from downriver, and they can cause slumping and other erosion-related problems in their reservoirs.

I am excited about the potential for tidal/wave power, but those also require a ton of infrastructure and likely involve some ecological damage to the ocean floor, as well.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #29 on: 03 Feb 2015, 17:27 »

IIRC, India is putting a metric-arseload of money into work on throium reactors, since it can't be potentially used as a weapon, do a Chernobl, and is easier to dispose of. 
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #30 on: 03 Feb 2015, 18:50 »

Using molten salts as a battery looks like a good idea to add to our existing power generators.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #31 on: 03 Feb 2015, 19:32 »

I will say that every type of power generation has environmental issues with it, you kinda are just stuck with trying for whatever does the least harm.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #32 on: 03 Feb 2015, 19:56 »

I will say that every type of power generation has environmental issues with it, you kinda are just stuck with trying for whatever does the least harm.
Too true. That's why I'm hoping we can make enough technological breakthroughs to mitigate them.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #33 on: 03 Feb 2015, 19:59 »

I can't really think of too many egregious environmental issues for solar power though. It's mostly just... not very good right now...
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #34 on: 03 Feb 2015, 20:17 »

I can't really think of too many egregious environmental issues for solar power though. It's mostly just... not very good right now...

I think -- though I'm working from memory here -- it has to do with the minerals used in the photovoltaic cells. The mining would bring with it certain environmental (and probably human rights) issues, while the expense of extraction and the rarity of the stuff used contributes to expense. There've been cells designed more recently that use stuff that's more commonly available, but those haven't gone into production yet. Will add a link if I can find one.

ETA: Found a link for the environmental consequences of rare earths, but can't find the article I'd read about the alternative solar panels.

http://news.thomasnet.com/imt/2013/08/22/rare-earths-and-other-chemicals-damaging-the-environmental-value-of-renewables
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #35 on: 03 Feb 2015, 22:48 »

I can't really think of too many egregious environmental issues for solar power though. It's mostly just... not very good right now...
Mostly basic infrastructure concerns as well as building the things. I've been knocking on wood for graphene to advance the state of the art for like a decade now.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #36 on: 03 Feb 2015, 23:10 »

I'm a fan of water power.
Leaving aside the issues associated with construction of dams (displacement of populations, loss of productive land, requirements for gigantic quantities of concrete and steel), the environmental effects others have mentioned, and the political problems where rivers run through multiple nations/jurisdictions, hydro-power only works where there is sufficient precipitation and suitable topography close to where the power is needed.

I think -- though I'm working from memory here -- it has to do with the minerals used in the photovoltaic cells.
One has to bear in mind that solar does not necessarily require photovoltaic cells. Solar thermal is another option, and one that does not require rare-earth minerals. Arguably the heat produced by thermal solar is easier to store than electricity (at the present state of the battery art), reducing the problem of generating solar electricity at night. Thermal solar tends to come in "big chunks", however, and the collectors can require large flat areas to be bulldozed.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #37 on: 04 Feb 2015, 00:01 »



I present the solar furnace at Odeillo in the Pyrénées.  Reaching temperatures over 6,000 degrees F (3500 C) since 1970.  The plane mirrors in the foreground follow the sun, reflecting light onto the parabolic array from dawn to dusk.  It's at an elevation that's above much cloud cover and provides for a long day. 

And hydro power doesn't always require a dam.  Most of NY state and the surrounding area gets power from a simple diversion of the Niagra river before it goes over the falls...
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #38 on: 04 Feb 2015, 02:02 »

It's all based on the power of the river. A damn is usually built to add force to the water when it passes through the turbines.

I like the pic and I may be talking out my butt here, but I believe the solar power arrays (mirrors) can provide a lot more power than the cells. The arrays just do what all other power plants do - make things hot and use steam (though I believe instead of water solar arrays use a salt mix in a closed system).
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #39 on: 04 Feb 2015, 03:18 »

There was a theory a while ago that a satellite could trail a long copper cable behind it to generate a current off of earth's magnetic field, but the obvious problem is getting power down out of orbit.   

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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #40 on: 04 Feb 2015, 03:24 »

There was a theory a while ago that a satellite could trail a long copper cable behind it to generate a current off of earth's magnetic field, but the obvious problem is getting power down out of orbit.

MOTHERFUCKIN' LASERS, let's do it.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #41 on: 04 Feb 2015, 03:33 »

There was a theory a while ago that a satellite could trail a long copper cable behind it to generate a current off of earth's magnetic field, but the obvious problem is getting power down out of orbit.

MOTHERFUCKIN' LASERS, let's do it.

I know that this issue of power transference has long been the stumbling block for orbital power generation. One solution had been a high-power microwave-wavelength radio beam, which would penetrate the atmosphere as if it wasn't there. However, someone did some calculations and realised that even a tiny fraction of a degree of a drift in the aiming point of the transfer beam would literally flash-boil any life-form it its in its skin in a second if they were unfortunate enough to be within a few miles of the receiving station.

In reply to Orkboy, I don't think that they make lasers that powerful yet, at least not in operating wavelengths that can penetrate Earth's atmosphere.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #42 on: 04 Feb 2015, 04:26 »

I present the solar furnace at Odeillo in the Pyrénées.  Reaching temperatures over 6,000 degrees F (3500 C) since 1970.  The plane mirrors in the foreground follow the sun, reflecting light onto the parabolic array from dawn to dusk.  It's at an elevation that's above much cloud cover and provides for a long day. 

And hydro power doesn't always require a dam.  Most of NY state and the surrounding area gets power from a simple diversion of the Niagra river before it goes over the falls...
Oh that's pretty cool. The last thing I read about a solar furnace was the one in Nevada that reflects the heat from the ground to a tower, which poses the problem that any birds passing through that area get roasted mid-flight. Presumably that's less of a problem with one on the ground, but how does that one work? I see panels on the field and mirrors on the building; where is the heat collected? It could be that building in the center but that doesn't look like a solar collector at all.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #43 on: 04 Feb 2015, 05:28 »

The thing's 8 stories tall, the solar collector is on the side of that center building that's facing the mirror.  You can't see it in reflection because of the missing central mirror panels.  It's there, but partially surrounded by the building's sides. 

You can see the scaffolding and lower parts of the collector in this pic. 

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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #44 on: 10 Feb 2015, 20:34 »

Does anyone have a good way of remembering to bring their reusable bags into the store? For the life of me I always forget.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #45 on: 10 Feb 2015, 21:34 »

Laundry Day

Same day I do the Shopping, so I take the Laundry down to the Laundrette in the cloth bags, stick it on and go do my shopping locally.  Take the Shopping home, wander back down to the Laundrette and pick it up and hang it out at home.

FYI, I live three to four minutes walk from my local Shopping Centre.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #46 on: 10 Feb 2015, 21:48 »

We keep a handful in the car. I usually keep one in my camera bag or my messenger bag, too (they're not the bulky reusables; they're the thinner nylon ones that have a storage pouch sewn in). I also keep a plastic bag in my camera bag... I shoot a lot in cemeteries, and people littering in cemeteries bothers the shit out of me. That way the trash gets carried out and the plastic bags get re-used.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #47 on: 11 Feb 2015, 04:19 »

Does anyone have a good way of remembering to bring their reusable bags into the store? For the life of me I always forget.
Always keep them on your person. I have a shoulder bag I always have with me and there's always one two plastic shopping bags in there. You could also keep one in a coat pocket.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #48 on: 11 Feb 2015, 06:52 »

Except I think he was talking about the heavier duty reusables.  Those flimsy plastic things tend to tear, especially with the crap I keep in my coat or pants pockets, or my wife's purse. 

We keep three in the back of the van. 



Then forget to take them into the store...
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #49 on: 11 Feb 2015, 11:38 »

Yeah I hate carrying extra stuff with me.... cause I'll inevitably lose those things... I had a habit of leaving my bags in the trunk and not realizing it until I was in the checkout line already.

They're really good for carry bottles around to parties though. So at least I used them.
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