Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Passive Solar House Design

Solar energy falls continuously to the earth and there are a number of ways to use that energy which cost little to implement and reduce not only your costs but your contribution to harmful emissions.
Many of our tips can be utilized on an existing home and if you're building a home or selecting a lot, you're in a great position to make some decisions now that will save you big bucks as long as you live in the home.
Combine simple passive techniques with some energy conservation tips and techniques and you can reduce your energy bill by more than half... permanently.
The cost of making use of passive solar energy when building your home is about the same as if you don't use it, but in the long term a passive solar house will enjoy a more stable indoor temperature saving you thousands of energy dollars without any further effort on your part.

Read more: http://www.solarpowerathome.com/passive-solar-power.html#ixzz1NzxNqqTs

Laura Wilcox

Interesting website...

Click on picture to go to website...

3 Ways To Use Solar Power at Home

solar power at home
Passive Solar Power - Simply design a space that makes the most use of the sunlight that falls on your property. No moving parts, no techy installations, just creative use of the natural energy of the sun.
Passive solar design creates a space that uses the heat and light of the sun and incorporates dense materials that can store the heat for evening living. Additionally, the thoughtful placement of greenery and breezeways keep summer temperatures from soaring.

Read more: http://www.solarpowerathome.com/#ixzz1NzwQYaAV

Thank you! 

Laura Wilcox

Trojan Nuclear Power Plant Demolition

Interesting... Didn't know that we had this in Oregon, did you?

" The 499-foot cooling tower was demolished on May 21, 2006. PGE had chosen a contractor, Controlled Demolition Inc. (CDI), which has safely imploded a number of large structures, including the Kingdome in Seattle. Every demolition bid proposal PGE received recommended implosion of the tower as the safest demolition method with the least community and environmental impact. The Trojan cooling tower is made of concrete and steel and contains no hazardous materials. It never contained any radioactive material, and all asbestos has been removed. " 

~Luai Abdallah

Imagine Energy

Imagine Energy is a newly founded form of energy to heat homes. It uses solar power to heat so no natural resources are needed. It is cost effective and extremely efficient. I posted the average costs of people who use imagine energy. I think this would be a great alternative to try out!

Laura Wilcox

San Francisco Giants Go Solar

Since the inception of Willie Mays AT&T Park, tremendous efforts have been made to conserve energy, starting with using florescent lighting, motion sensor lighting and an energy conservation systems.  A few years ago, AT&T Park, home to the champion San Francisco Giants, decided to do what it took to become the greenest ball park in the nation.  Today, they are the first park to achieve honorable Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver status.  There are 590 Sharp solar panels installed at AT&T Park along the port of McCovey Cove which produce about 120 kilowatts of energy, which is enough to light up the scoreboard for the entire baseball season (the power is being used for more though).  The scoreboard was changed to a Diamond Vision Scoreboard which uses 78% less power the ballpark's original scoreboard.  This power can be used to power about 12,000 city homes for the day when not used by the park.  As the world champions shine through a new era at the forefront of going solar it is hopeful that many other ballparks and establishments will go through with their green dreams saving the planet.  A year of Willey Mayes AT&T Park saves the planet about 725,522 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

~Kristen Roland


Monday, May 30, 2011

Alternative Energy & Narrow Views

According to Walt Patterson at the London-based foreign affairs, questions the government would build nuclear plants when there are so many other source of energy generations. Patterson said, “Why turn the slowest, the most expensive, the narrowest, the inflexible, and riskiest in financial terms.”

As I was reading this article named Nuclear power: Energy Solution or Evil Cur, by James Melik, I realized that throughout the article “cost” was brought up multiple times. This is the topic I would like to discuss in this blog.I wanted to start out by stating that there are multiple types of cost. What do I mean by that? Their all tangible cost such as capital investment of equipment needed for the power plant, operations cost and others that are easily measured by using a financial equation. The second type of cost is an intangible which are not fully taken account for when arguing the benefits of saving money with alternative energy production.  An example, what is the future cost to society or the environment that might need to be taken account for?

We as a society have a narrow view and short -term mentality. Yes, we can maybe we save on cost of production where one kilogram of natural uranium yields about 20,000 times as much times as the same amount of coal, but what is the boarder view on this subject. In supply chain management there’s a term used as total cost of ownership which looks at broader view of costs, this includes many intangible costs. The most productive and less cost solution doesn’t always mean it will be a better option in the overall picture. In this case the overall picture would be society.

I asked to take all aspects of alternative energy board, narrow, short and long term views, and see if it makes sense as a whole. There also needs to be an analysis of all stakeholders involved. Their might be benefits or influences that make a decision maker make a decision for personal gain. We have seen this throughout the world and our nation.

Is society as a whole, currently and in the future fully benefit from the solution? Furthermore, there are plus and minus for any solution, but we as society need to weigh them out and see which solution is best fitted for our reality.

Isai Montes De Oca

The Green Frenzy

Sense the topic of greenhouse gasses and alternative energy has become increasingly popular so has the push and pull of information to do your part in helping. There are sites for companies to redesign and incorporate new policies into their buildings and even daily employees routines. There are sites designed for house holds all across America which describe different actions which can be taken to reduce bills and make houses more energy efficient. There is also a whole new sector of construction called green building which allows you to certify your building to governmental standards of acceptance. I find these trends really interesting and wonder whether they are a reaction to the constant brade of fear about greenhouse gases and their effect on our weather and climate. Or if these trends were produced out of an actual fact based need which has a positive and lasting effect.
  After reading some facts and going off of my own experience I feel that it is a combination of the two option which have brought around this green fever. I feel that house holds are implementing these new features because in the long run it does add up based on savings over time. I do feel that the cost of implementing these new green design features is very expensive and for most families are impractical no matter what the savings. But, people have been very creative in there ways to go around these huge cost. One way is by pooling together in neighborhoods to bring down the cost per house. Also, by hearing first hand accounts from a current builder who said that implementing and building way LEED standards does not allow you to ask for more in rent but does bring value and attracts clients that would not have been interested otherwise. The fact people are constantly hearing issues, news, facts, and solutions that revolve around this subject had pushed them into believing and seeking out information which they feel is relevant and can provide them solutions.  I've attached some links to some interesting web pages which might expand your knowledge of the subjects.

Germany to back off Nuclear Power

Interestingly enough, Japan's misfortune have made other countries reconsider their agenda for Nuclear Power. Germany itself is now considering closing some plants by 2022. The new drive for energy is geared towards renewable clean energy, despite the steep costs. Germany's nuclear industry has argued that an early shutdown would be hugely damaging to the country's industrial base. Before March's moratorium on the older power plants, Germany relied on nuclear power for 23% of its energy. So this move has to be well calculated and a balance of energy reserves should be present for its citizens, if it is to make such a large transition. Of course, it helps when there are mass anti-nuclear movements protests plaguing the country as well. Germany's focus on renewable energy should be interesting, if not perhaps inspiring. Read more at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13592208

- Adnan Mansoor

Free Solar Estimates

If, by any chance, you are ready to go solar now, this place provides free estimates for both solar electrical and solar thermal alternative energy sources. This website is also packed with more info on solar energy =)

For free quotes, CLICK HERE.

Hollywood Goes Solar

Tons of Hollywood celebrities have been going green for quite awhile, making the switch from gas-fueled cars to hybrid/electric vehicles and designing/marketing/advertising/buying eco-friendly attire. The latest craze in going green is definitely going solar, and many celebrities such as Edward Norton, Johnny Depp, and Leonardo DiCaprio, to name a few, are doing (or have done) just that. These guys are setting a great example and are demonstrating, by example, just how much energy costs can be diminished by investing in alternative energy sources. Larry Hagman is known to have one of the largest homes in the United States, and in accordance to this article, his yearly electric bill dropped from a whopping $37,000 to a mere $13, once he switched to solar energy! Edward Norton founded the BP Solar Neighbors, a non-profit organization who donates a solar system to a low-income family in California, every time a celebrity uses the program to install solar panels on their home. With this kind of incentive and these amazing results, it's no surprise that so many celebrities are going solar.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Closer look at New Jersey’s nuclear plants and what we should learn from Fukushima Dai-ichi

New Jersey’s four operating nuclear power reactors produce about half of the state’s electricity. Two of the reactors are boiling-water reactors with old designs nearly identical to those of the damaged nuclear reactors in Japan. After the Japan disaster, will New Jersey take a closer look at how they produce their electricity? I found this very interesting article that includes an interview of Jan Beyea, a nuclear physicist in New Jersey. He explains why he is so pessimistic about our ability to improve safety at existing nuclear plants in the United States. He states that “there is no political pressure to act on the kinds of improvements that I and others have advocated for over 30 years, which would likely have made a big difference in Fukushima.” The industry is not going to spend the money on such improvements unless it absolutely has to, which will only happen when government regulations force them to. Change is only going to come from the people forcing the government to make the regulations that we need. 

-Melissa Carter

Nuclear plant in South Carolina to become first digitally controlled facility in the U.S.

The first Nuclear power plant in the U.S. to be upgraded with digital controls, is to become operational in the next few weeks, in South Carolina. The operators of the power plant found this as a cost saving measure because all plants in the U.S. use about 4 analog sensors to monitor reactors, and very often, those sensors give bad readings. When this happens, the plant has to shut down, and new sensors have to be installed, which are becoming harder to acquire as well. A digital system can take several thousand measurements at a time, while 4 analog sensors can only display 4 different measurements to an engineer....

This story is very interesting because I had no idea that Nuclear plants in the U.S. were using mostly analog controls, while many countries around the world use digital systems. The supposed reasoning that U.S. plants havent made the switch as quick, was a fear that the digital systems could be hacked, because most power utilities are connected to the internet to be controlled securely from a different location. I think this is a legitimate fear, because there have been many stories and reports about power/water facilities being hacked remotely from foreign countries and overriding the controls and causing chaos. Another cautionary tale about using Nuclear power in this digital age.....


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Interesting Article

I recently came upon an interesting article regarding nuclear power.  It's arguments seem to shed an interesting light on the problems of nuclear power in our society.  The author argues that the media has churned up so much fear over nuclear power - citing Chernobyl, "The China Syndrome", and Three Mile Island - that production of nuclear power plants in the U.S. has ground to a halt.  The recent oil spill catastrophes have also stirred up controversy over the use of coal power plants and deep oil well drilling.  The author finds these fears to be unnecessary and hindrances in the greater scheme of things.

To read his article, go here

Nuclear Power and Natural Disaster

The dangers and risks of nuclear power are never so pronounced as when disaster strikes and we are dealing with these problems.  We have seen this happen in recent history with the tsunami in Japan.  What would happen if something of that nature occurred here in the States?  Well, it could have only a few days ago when the tornado struck Joplin. 
Only 150 miles from that city, lies Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant.  This plant was recently removed from a list of power plants that were in need of more intensive reviews after an inspection last week.  Though the inspection turned up problems relating to the plant's ability to determine problems at a certain level, the plant is no longer among the other plants (H.B. Robinson and Fort Calhoun plants) who are scheduled for more detailed inspections.
The recent inspections were spurred by the events in Japan.  We need to be sure that our nuclear power plants can withstand natural disasters before they happen.  The tornado that recently struck the Midwest left a great deal of damage, but we can at least be thankful that the nuclear plants in the vicinity have been tested to withstand disasters of that magnitude. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Into Eternity

The movie Into Eternity is a documentary film about the attempts to house nuclear waste. The director Michael Madsden films the underground cavern in Finland, Onkalo, where the nuclear waste must be house for 100,000 years. The film is presented in a way to brings to light the consequences of nuclear energy and should be a must see for everyone interesting in the future of the planet. 

-Cristina Coyne

Simple Method of Dealing With Harmful Radioactive Iodine Discovered

Professor Neil Hyatt from the  University of Sheffield has recently discovered a new, simple way of immobilizing radioactive forms of iodine. The process involves a simple microwave—the kind used in homes—and may reduce or eliminate the harmful effects of iodine in the future. This is important news as iodine-129 has a half-life of more than 15 million years, and is one of the most significant threats in nuclear waste.
It is also important to note that iodine-131 is the harmful gas that was released after the Fukushima incident, and the gas responsible for health issues during the 1950’s open-air testing, and was the same gas emitted during the Chernobyl incident.
Might this discovery lead to safer nuclear energy?
~Erin Bovelle~

How can I make a difference with my energy consumption at home?

Portland General Electric (PGE) has been awarded the Number One Renewable Program in America. This means that PGE offers it customers several options for lowering energy consumption and sourcing purely renewable sources for its customers. Many of these options come from several resources to include: wind, biomass, geothermal and hydro. By committing to these sources your electricity will be offset by 100 percent renewable sources. These earth friendly power source options (Green Source, Clean Wind from PGE) help a customer consciously determine the source of where they are consuming energy.
To read more about how to sign up for this program please visit this link: http://portlandgeneral.com/residential/renewable_energy/green_source.aspx
Renewable Energy Options with PGE

Source: Oregon Department of Energy, 2010 data for Green Source and Clean Wind. Oregon Department of Energy 2009 data for Oregon System Mix. Data for PGE System mix may differ from Oregon System Mix; check PortlandGeneral.com for details. All percentages are approximate and may not add up to 100% due to rounding. “New” refers to power generated from facilities that became operational after July 1999.


Energy Efficiency & Costs

I stumbled across an interesting article, which claimed that between 2003-2005, energy costs accounted for 3.5% of the US median household income in the United States. Between 2007-2008, these costs had increased to 8.5%, so you can only imagine how much we're paying for energy in 2011.  According to this article, energy efficiency is a "no-brainer," so time to get educated! 

Check out the link below for more info and further explanation.

-Rachel Langhans-

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nuclear reactor in 'Tornado Alley'

With the recent tornados in the United States many questions have begun to swirl as one of the 104 nuclear reactors in this country sit directly in 'tornado alley'. Approximately 150 miles from Joplin, MO., sits a major reactor called Wolf Creek that has been under scrutiny lately for not meeting safety standards. Jenny Hageman, a spokeswoman for the plant says they are "protecting the critical elements". While a former nuclear reactor safety engineer David Lochbaum says "it's kind of stupid for it to be there".

Click the link below to read more about the conditions of the Nuclear facility in 'Tornado Alley'
Read More

- Adam Smith

SAS Highlight Their Concerns at International Wave Energy Conference (UK)

 Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is a group that have been protecting waves from a myriad of threats since 1990. Recently they have identified several potential wave energy projects that could seriously impact on the world-class waves that lie in their ‘shadow’. SAS are lobbying the offshore energy industry to ensure that they recognize waveriders as significant coastal stakeholders and acknowledge sites of special surfing interest. An inappropriately placed offshore energy site could have a multitude of negative impacts on surfing waves, including; shutting down the tube, closing out the wave and even making the wave totally unsurfable.

This article reports their concerns over the use of waves as a source of energy that might affect surfers.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Switzerland Decides to Phase Out Nuclear Energy

Switzerland announced today that they are canceling their plans to build a new nuclear plant.  They also plan to phase out their current nuclear power plants by about 2034.  This announcement is a direct result of the disaster in Japan.  Currently nuclear power makes up about 40% of Switzerland's energy.  They plan to invest in alternative energy sources going forward.  Switzerland is the second country, after Germany, in Europe to decide to completely phase out nuclear power.

Global Post

With more and more countries changing their stance on nuclear energy, is it time we talked about making a change?  Check out our class website for information on Nuclear and Alternative Energy choices.

Nuclear and Other Energy

-Ryan Cohen

History of Nuclear Energy - Laura Wilcox


    Nuclear EnergyNuclear Energy

    The sun and stars are seemingly inexhaustible sources of energy. That energy is the result of nuclear reactions, in which matter is converted to energy. We have been able to harness that mechanism and regularly use it to generate power. Presently, nuclear energy provides for approximately 16% of the world's electricity. Unlike the stars, the nuclear reactors that we have today work on the principle of nuclear fission. Scientists are working like madmen to make fusion reactors which have the potential of providing more energy with fewer disadvantages than fission reactors.


      Changes can occur in the structure of the nuclei of atoms. These changes are called nuclear reactions. Energy created in a nuclear reaction is called nuclear energy, or atomic energy.
      Nuclear energy is produced naturally and in man-made operations under human control.
      • Naturally: Some nuclear energy is produced naturally. For example, the Sun and other stars make heat and light by nuclear reactions.
      • Man-Made: Nuclear energy can be man-made too. Machines called nuclear reactors, parts of nuclear power plants, provide electricity for many cities. Man-made nuclear reactions also occur in the explosion of atomic and hydrogen bombs.
      Nuclear energy is produced in two different ways, in one, large nuclei are split to release energy. In the other method, small nuclei are combined to release energy.
      For a more detailed look at nuclear fission and nuclear fusion, consult the nuclear physics page.
      • Nuclear Fission: In nuclear fission, the nuclei of atoms are split, causing energy to be released. The atomic bomb and nuclear reactors work by fission. The element uranium is the main fuel used to undergo nuclear fission to produce energy since it has many favorable properties. Uranium nuclei can be easily split by shooting neutrons at them. Also, once a uranium nucleus is split, multiple neutrons are released which are used to split other uranium nuclei. This phenomenon is known as a chain reaction.
    Fission Diagram
    Fission of uranium 235 nucleus. Adapted from Nuclear Energy. Nuclear Waste*.
      • Nuclear Fusion: In nuclear fusion, the nuclei of atoms are joined together, or fused. This happens only under very hot conditions. The Sun, like all other stars, creates heat and light through nuclear fusion. In the Sun, hydrogen nuclei fuse to make helium. The hydrogen bomb, humanity's most powerful and destructive weapon, also works by fusion. The heat required to start the fusion reaction is so great that an atomic bomb is used to provide it. Hydrogen nuclei fuse to form helium and in the process release huge amounts of energy thus producing a huge explosion.

    Milestones in the History of Nuclear Energy

      • December 2, 1942: The Nuclear Age began at the University of Chicago when Enrico Fermi made a chain reaction in a pile of uranium.
      • August 6, 1945: The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing over 100,000.
      • August 9, 1945: The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, killing over 40,000.
      • November 1, 1952: The first large version of the hydrogen bomb (thousands of times more powerful than the atomic bomb) was exploded by the United States for testing purposes.
      • February 21, 1956: The first major nuclear power plant opened in England.

    Advantages of Nuclear Energy

      • The Earth has limited supplies of coal and oil. Nuclear power plants could still produce electricity after coal and oil become scarce.
      • Nuclear power plants need less fuel than ones which burn fossil fuels. One ton of uranium produces more energy than is produced by several million tons of coal or several million barrels of oil.
      • Coal and oil burning plants pollute the air. Well-operated nuclear power plants do not release contaminants into the environment.

    Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy

      The nations of the world now have more than enough nuclear bombs to kill every person on Earth. The two most powerful nations -- Russia and the United States -- have about 50,000 nuclear weapons between them. What if there were to be a nuclear war? What if terrorists got their hands on nuclear weapons? Or what if nuclear weapons were launched by accident?
      • Nuclear explosions produce radiation. The nuclear radiation harms the cells of the body which can make people sick or even kill them. Illness can strike people years after their exposure to nuclear radiation.
      • One possible type of reactor disaster is known as a meltdown. In such an accident, the fission reaction goes out of control, leading to a nuclear explosion and the emission of great amounts of radiation.
        • In 1979, the cooling system failed at the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Radiation leaked, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee. The problem was solved minutes before a total meltdown would have occurred. Fortunately, there were no deaths.
        • In 1986, a much worse disaster struck Russia's Chernobyl nuclear power plant. In this incident, a large amount of radiation escaped from the reactor. Hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to the radiation. Several dozen died within a few days. In the years to come, thousands more may die of cancers induced by the radiation.
      • Nuclear reactors also have waste disposal problems. Reactors produce nuclear waste products which emit dangerous radiation. Because they could kill people who touch them, they cannot be thrown away like ordinary garbage. Currently, many nuclear wastes are stored in special cooling pools at the nuclear reactors.
        • The United States plans to move its nuclear waste to a remote underground dump by the year 2010.
        • In 1957, at a dump site in Russia's Ural Mountains, several hundred miles from Moscow, buried nuclear wastes mysteriously exploded, killing dozens of people.
      • Nuclear reactors only last for about forty to fifty years.

    The Future of Nuclear Energy

      Some people think that nuclear energy is here to stay and we must learn to live with it. Others say that we should get rid of all nuclear weapons and power plants. Both sides have their cases as there are advantages and disadvantages to nuclear energy. Still others have opinions that fall somewhere in between.
      What do you think we should do? After reviewing the pros and cons, it is up to you to formulate your own opinion. Read more about thepolitics of the issues or go to the forum to share your own opinions and see what others think.

History of Nuclear Energy - Laura Wilcox


Thorium - The much safer alternative nuclear energy source

This a great article by Neil Reynolds from the Canadian website Globe and Mail. He goes into the history of Nuclear energy and weapons and the two main sources that were considered to fuel them, which were uranium and thorium. Many countries researched the differences between the two in the early 1900s. It turns out thorium had all the advantages. It is more abundant, simpler, and safer (doesn't combust or "meltdown" with no chain reaction). The only advantage uranium had in the eyes of many of the governments researching nuclear at the time, is that uranium is a much more deadly and devastating bomb (radioactivity lasts exponentially longer), hence why we use uranium today.

It's unfortunate that the shortsightedness of the governments and researchers back then has greatly affected the way our world is today, simply because they viewed nuclear for mainly military use. However, thorium seems to be making a resurgence and governments are taking a second look at it. It goes on to talk about China and their recent efforts with using thorium in their plants...


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Possible Faulty Safety Measures in US Nuclear Power Plants

This article really demonstrates how little is known about nuclear energy plants. The precautions put in place to avoid disasters were tested on the March 11 earthquake in Japan, and they failed. While this is helpful in redesigning the safety features for other plants in the United States and other countries, these features cannot be fully tested until there is another disaster and, hopefully, they will work next time. This article from the New York Times goes into more detail about the incident and what is being done to fix the problem that arose in the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

-Cristina Coyne

Monday, May 23, 2011

US Inspections Show Some Nuclear Plants are Unprepared

Following the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident, the US launched inspections of the 104 power plants in the U.S. Of them, less than one-third were found to have design or safety flaws that would pose a significant threat in the event of a dual emergency, such as a fire and an earthquake.
Although the number of nuclear plants found not to be prepared for coinciding disasters was some-what low, the results of the inspection bear cause for concern:  
“Firefighting equipment staged to respond to severe fires or explosions was not stored in hardened buildings because a severe fire and an earthquake "were not assumed to occur coincidentally."
The obvious question here is why are some nuclear plants not prepared for the worst? If nuclear energy is the cure-all for our ever growing need of energy, shouldn’t nuclear plants be built with a worst-case-scenario mindset? If they were, it’s possible that some fears would diminish and nuclear energy could get more credit (and more funding).
~Erin Bovelle~

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Can Japan's Radiation Catastrophe Reach U.S.?

Very interesting article. I encourage you all to read it ... And please post your comments.

Public health officials in the U.S. are trying to reassure residents that the potential release of radiation from Japan will pose no threat to the west coast.

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/health/2011/03/15/japans-radiation-catastrophy-reach-experts-say-unlikely/#ixzz1N9Ky4tLO


~Luai Abdallah

The future of energy

The future of energy

A fundamental change is coming sooner than you might think

SINCE the industrial revolution 200 years ago, mankind has depended on fossil fuel. The notion that this might change is hard to contemplate. Greens may hector. Consciences may nag. The central heating's thermostat may turn down a notch or two. A less thirsty car may sit in the drive. But actually stop using the stuff? Impossible to imagine: surely there isn't a serious alternative?
Such a failure of imagination has been at the heart of the debate about climate change. The green message—use less energy—is not going to solve the problem unless economic growth stops at the same time. If it does not (and it won't), any efficiency saving will soon be eaten up by higher consumption per head. Even the hair-shirt option, then, will bring only short-term relief. And when a dire prophecy from environmentalism's jeremiad looks as if it is coming true, as the price of petroleum rises through the roof and the idea that oil might run out is no longer whispered in corners but openly discussed, there is a temptation to believe that the end of the world is, indeed, nigh.
Not everyone, however, is so pessimistic. For, in the imaginations of a coterie of physicists, biologists and engineers, an alternative world is taking shape. As the special report in this issue describes, plans for the end of the fossil-fuel economy are now being laid and they do not involve much self-flagellation. Instead of bullying and scaring people, the prophets of energy technology are attempting to seduce them. They promise a world where, at one level, things will have changed beyond recognition, but at another will have stayed comfortably the same, and may even have got better.
Please read rest of the article. 
Thank you! 
~Luai Abdallah 

Renewable Energy Will Play a Larger Role in Japan

Government officials in Japan have stated that renewable energy will play a larger part in their long term energy policy.  The announcement and change in policy are a direct result of the recent earthquake and tsunami which caused the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.  Japan's previous energy policy stated that Japan would us nuclear energy to produce 50% of their power consumption by 2030.  This would have require them to build an additional 14 nuclear power plants over the next 20 years. This plan has now changed because of the events at Fukushima.  While Japan will continue to use nuclear energy, they are investing a greater amount of resources in renewable energy such as wind power. Currently renewable energy only supplies about 1% of Japan's power.  The Government hopes to significantly increase this number going forward.

Japan to Develop Renewable Energy

With Japan making a radical change in their energy policy, should we consider doing the same?  you can find information about U.S. Energy Policy here Energy and the Environment.  If you feel we need to make a change in energy policy, you should write your state congressmen and tell them its time for change!

-Ryan Cohen

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Is there a Safe Energy? Laura Wilcox

Is There Any Safe Energy?
Newsweek (NEWSWEEK), 2011 Mar 28; 157(13/14): 30-1
Publication Type:
journal article - pictorial
Minor Subjects:
SafetyEnergy-Generating Resources
Japan stands on the brink of nuclear catastrophe a year after the West Virginia mine explosion and the gulf oil spill. But what are the alternatives?
Journal Subset:
Consumer Health; USA
Special Interest:
Consumer Health
NLM UID: 9877127
Publisher Info:
URL: www.cinahl.com/cgi-bin/refsvc?jid=774&accno=2010986430
Entry Date:
Accession Number:
CINAHL with Full Text
Full Text Database:
Nursing & Allied Health Collection: Comprehensive

Is There Any Safe Energy?

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Section: News Beast
The Big Fat Story
Japan stands on the brink of nuclear catastrophe a year after the West Virginia mine explosion and the gulf oil spill. But what are the alternatives?
The world holds its breath as Japan's damaged nuclear reactors continue to spew radiation. In the worst case, a cloud of radioactive material could be blown inland, endangering millions. The crisis has forced a reexamination of American nuclear policy. Until recently, Republicans and Democrats showed rare common cause in supporting supposedly safe nuclear power. Now nuclear lobbyists are scrambling to defend the industry. U.S. scientists are battling bureaucrats, saying that American plants desperately require repairs. Nuclear power, long favored, may be on the outs.
It's been almost a year since the oil industry had its last major disaster. The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig claimed 11 lives, robbed a region of its economic engine, and left thousands with mental and physical problems due to stress and pollution. Five million barrels of oil gushed into the ocean over 86 straight days. Tourism plummeted along the Gulf of Mexico. Still, Americans seem to have put this trauma behind them: six in 10 say they favor more offshore drilling, and in March, the federal government approved a second deepwater-drilling permit in the gulf.
Just before last year's oil spill, the coal industry witnessed a devastating catastrophe when 29 miners were killed at a coal mine in Raleigh County, W.Va. Critics of the coal industry decry the pollution, while television news crews reliably swarm the mine disasters that seem to happen like clockwork. Last fall 700 plaintiffs sued Massey for allowing toxic metals to find their way into local drinking water. (Massey denies the charge.) Another coal giant just coughed up $4 million to settle claims that it polluted the water in West Virginia and other states.
For producing clean, renewable energy, wind farming has many proponents. Animals aren't among them. A new study suggests that beaked whales--the size of a rhino and the weight of a bus--are confused by the presence of wind farms at sea, leading them to beach. Birds too find wind farms to be killers. The wind turbines in California's Diablo Mountains chop up thousands of birds a year, including golden eagles and red-tailed hawks. Critics point out that wind power hasn't lowered carbon-dioxide emissions in countries where farms are prevalent.
Biofuels like ethanol grew in popularity during the Bush administration as a cure for the U.S.'s oil addiction. But the corn cure-all has its own dark side. Transforming agricultural land into energy resources drives the price of food into the stratosphere. Back in 2009, a government report warned biofuel prices could force the U.S. to pay nearly $1 billion more for food stamps and childhood nutrition. Among the reasons that protests filled the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen was lack of food. "Bring us sugar!" they shouted in Algeria. According to the U.N., prices for grain has reached record levels, and 1 billion people live on the edge of starvation.
Energy boosters, like Dick Cheney's old outfit Halliburton, stump for "hydrofracking" (hydraulic fracturing), a process that pulls natural gas out of the earth by driving water, chemicals, and sand a mile below the planet's surface. The practice has spread from Pennsylvania and Colorado to upstate New York. Opponents, including actor Mark Ruffalo, say the spray is poisonous, leaching radioactive and carcinogenic substances into the soil and water supply. Josh Fox, who directed the 2010 documentary Gasland (much challenged by the gas industry), says that the health risks of fracking include brain damage, respiratory problems, and cancer.