Happy 142nd birthday, Yellowstone National Park!

March 1, 2014

142 years ago today, @YellowstoneNPS became America's first national park. RT to wish them a very happy birthday! pic.twitter.com/drka6iq0Tc

Tweet from the Department of Interior: 142 years ago today, @YellowstoneNPS became America’s first national park. RT to wish them a very happy birthday! pic.twitter.com/drka6iq0Tc

Ken Burns called the National Parks probably the best idea America has had.

Certainly a great idea — really born on this day, 142 years ago, with the designation of Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone NP contains the world’s largest collection of geysers. It is the heart of the largest, nearly-intact temperate zone ecosystem on Earth as well, contained in 3,468 square miles (8,983 km²), a laboratory and playground for geologists, geographers, botanists, zoologists, and almost anyone else who loves the nature and the wild.

Only 142 years old?  In the U.S., we have more than 300 units in the National Park System, now, including National Historic Places as well as the best of the wild.  Around the world, how much land has been saved, for the benefit of humanity, by this idea?  Not enough.

What’s your favorite memory of Yellowstone? What’s your favorite feature?

More:

Great Fountain Geyser in Yellowstone, the first U.S. national park, erupts every 9 to 15 hours, shooting water up to 220 feet high.  Photograph by Michael Melford

From National Geographic: Great Fountain Geyser in Yellowstone, the first U.S. national park, erupts every 9 to 15 hours, shooting water up to 220 feet high. Photograph by Michael Melford


New Boy Scout merit badge: Sustainability

July 25, 2013

It’s Eagle required, too — well, Scouts can choose either Environmental Science or Sustainability, but must earn one or the other to earn Eagle rank.

Image of the Sustainability merit badge, from MeritBadge.org

Image of the Sustainability merit badge, from MeritBadge.org

Requirements for the new Sustainability merit badge were released on July 16, concurrent with the 2013 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit.  A lot of people missed the announcement, I’ll wager.

It’s good news.  Conservation and nature-related merit badges have suffered a decline in Scouting, it seems to me.  The conservation series was very much the keystone of a trek to Eagle when I was a Scout, at least as important as the citizenship series.  But I don’t see that emphasis in Scouting today, sadly.

BSA recently created a Mining merit badge, which created some quiet grumbles among conservationists — this new, Eagle-path badge more than makes up for that, I think (though mining is a great topic for Scouts, especially in the western U.S., I think).  This will not set well with the anti-conservation, anti-Agenda 21 crowd and their merry hoaxsters.  But nothing BSA does is removed from political criticism from the right any more (see this odd photo choice for the Sustainability badge notice at the radical right-wing Daily Caller site).

This announcement gives me hope.

More:

Below the fold, the requirements and announcement from Bryan on Scouting, at Scouting Magazine’s site, verbatim and in total.

Read the rest of this entry »


What about National Parks as an issue in the 2012 elections?

October 16, 2012

National Parks really are a tiny part of the federal budget.  Consequently, they get overlooked, and that could be bad.

How are your Congress and Senate candidates standing on these issues?

Romney’s “energy plan” calls for opening up the National Parks for oil and gas exploration and drilling, even the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania  Bet that’s not mentioned by anyone in the debate tonight.

Which one is your favorite unit of the National Park System?  What’s your favorite family story from visiting the parks?  How are you going to vote in November?

Graphic from the National Parks Conservation Association:

Parks in Jeopardy, 2012, NPCA

From the National Parks Conservation Association

More:


Agenda 21: In graphic novel form, so it must be the truth

August 23, 2012

What is Agenda 21?  It’s a program at the United Nations to work on economic development, sustainable development, environmental protection, resource conservation and economic policies.  As with almost all UN programs, Agenda 21 pronouncements are wholly voluntary.

Several international programs create studies and make recommendations to nations — but unless they come from the World Bank or International Monetary Fund along with loans to help nations develop, such recommendations remain mostly academic:  Nations follow them only to the extent that a nation’s policy-making groups (like Congress in the U.S.) are persuaded that the recommended policies benefit the nation.

For reasons unclear to me the wacky wing of the crazy right seized upon Agenda 21 as the symbol of most things evil in the world, especially since we don’t have the Soviet Union to blame stuff on any more.

Grist featured a graphic-novel-style explanation of Agenda 21, so you can follow the issues as they arise at the 2012 Republican Convention:  Agenda 21: Everything you need to know about the secret U.N. plot, in one comic.  Here is the entire post:

Agenda 21: It’s the biggest threat to your freedom, and unless you regularly attend yahoo-filled local planning and zoning meetings, you’ve probably never even heard of it. Until recently, this vast United Nations conspiracy to force us all to live “sustainably” was known only to stalwart defenders of Liberty and Freedom like the John Birch Society. But the underground resistance is about to go mainstream. GOP intellectual it boy Ted Cruz leads the counterstrike, and the Republican Party is even considering a public flambéing of Agenda 21in its official 2012 platform.

Looking to help break the siege of bike paths and high-quality education on our freedoms? Here’s what you’ll need to know.

First panel, Agenda 21 graphic documentary from Grist

Panel 1

Concocted by the U.N. during the 1992 Earth Summit and signed by the 1st President Bush ... in the dark of the night!

Panel 2

A comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering and global political control, Agenda 21 is being covertly pushed into local communities!

Panel 3

If implemented, Agenda 21 would wreak unspeakable havoc on the American way of life!

Panel 4

Imagine what our lives would be like under this Reign Of Terror!

Panel 5

Happily, there is a bright spot in this dark cloud! Shortly after the Earth Summit, the United States forgot Agenda 21 even existed!

Panel 6

This paranoid fantasy has been brought to you by: The Republican National Committee, The Water Fluoridators, The Gub'ment Mind Jockeys, and the evil elves that live in your walls!!!

Panel 7

Tip of the old scrub brush to Grist, and Charles Nesci and especially Greg Hanscom, the cartoonist.  Hanscom is a “senior editor at Grist. He tweets about cities, bikes, transportation, policy, and sustainability at @ghanscom.”

More (not a lot from sane sources on this topic):

More, a sampling from sources without hinges (a small selection):


John Muir: The saving of 100 million acres begins with a first word on paper

July 19, 2012

John Muir’s place in American history endures constant assault.  Not only did businessmen and politicians of his own day find Muir’s policies anathema to their hopes of profiting from the destruction of the American wild, so today do we hear that profits cannot be had without the rape of the environment.

Muir knew better, and so should you!

On July 19, 1869 — in the middle of the administration of U. S. Grant, Muir began his journals on the beauty of life in the Sierras, to be published 42 years later as My First Summer in the Sierra.

It should be required reading in more American classrooms:

John Muir

Watching the daybreak and sunrise. The pale rose and purple sky changing softly to daffodil yellow and white, sunbeams pouring through the passes between the peaks and over the Yosemite domes, making their edges burn; the silver firs in the middle ground catching the glow on their spiry tops, and our camp grove fills and thrills with the glorious light. Everything awakening alert and joyful…John Muir,
Entry for “July 19 from
My First Summer in the Sierra, 1911.
“California As I Saw It”: First-Person Narratives of California’s Early Years, 1849-1900

John Muir
John Muir,
1902.
The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920

On July 19, 1869, naturalist John Muir set pen to paper to capture his experience of awakening in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Published in 1911, My First Summer in the Sierra is based on Muir’s original journals and sketches of his 1869 stay in the vicinity of the Yosemite Valley. His journal tracks his three-and-a-half-month visit to the Yosemite region and his ascent of Mt. Hoffman and other Sierra peaks. Along the way, he describes the flora and fauna as well as the geography and geology of the area.

Muir immigrated from Scotland to Wisconsin as a child. He attended the University of Wisconsin and began working as a mechanical inventor. After an 1867 industrial accident nearly blinded him, he abandoned his career as an inventor to work as a naturalist.

California, El Capitan, Yosemite Valley
El Capitan,
Yosemite Valley,
California,
William Henry Jackson, photographer,
1899.
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

An early defender of the environment, Muir in 1876 advocated adoption of a federal forest conservation program. His popular articles and books describing Yosemite’s natural wonders inspired public support for the establishment of Yosemite National Park in 1890 and expansion of the park in 1906.  At the same time, Muir continued to work and write as a serious scientist whose fieldwork in botany and geology enabled him to make lasting contributions. Alaska’s Muir Glacier is named for him. In 1892, Muir co-founded the as an association explicitly dedicated to wilderness preservation and served until 1914 as its first president, shaping it into an organization whose leadership in political advocacy for protection of the natural world continues to this day.

The popularity of President Theodore Roosevelt’s groundbreaking conservation program owed much to Muir’s writing. In 1903 Roosevelt and Muir visited the Yosemite region together. In 1908, Roosevelt issued a presidential proclamation establishing the Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, California, in Muir’s honor. Muir died six years later. Although sorrow and disappointment at his failure to save Hetch Hetchy Valley from becoming a reservoir for San Francisco may well have contributed to his death, Muir had succeeded more than any other single individual in establishing the preservation of wild nature as a major American cultural and political value. The clarity of his vision and the eloquence of his writing continue to inspire environmentalists throughout the world.

Learn more about John Muir and the conservation movement in American Memory:


Right or wrong reasons, North Texas governments back into water conservation

April 4, 2012

It’s a win-win situation for North Texas politicians, like Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings — they can take action that helps mitigate problems of global warming, but they don’t have to say they’re doing it for global warming.

Downtown Dallas in the background with the Tri...

Water supplies will limit future growth for cities like Dallas, if good water policies cannot be made to assure water to critical functions - Downtown Dallas in the background with the Trinity River in the foreground. Taken from the N Hampton Rd bridge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mayors of several cities announced they will push to keep watering restrictions on, to conserve water, even though their cities’ water supplies got big boosts from massive rainstorms over the past few weeks.

Bruce Tomaso, editor of The Scoop, a blog at The Dallas Morning News, wrote down all the details (comments at that site are worth visiting).

Thanks to last year’s brutal drought, most North Texans have gotten accustomed to watering lawns sparingly.

As lake levels dropped through the dry, hot summer and fall of 2011, emergency conservation measures were enacted throughout the region.

In some cities — Plano, for example — watering was restricted to twice a month. (That restriction was just eased to once a week.)

In others, including Dallas, a less stringent limit of twice a week has been in force.

On Wednesday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings , joined by the mayors of Fort Worth, Arlington , and Irving , will recommend that a twice-a-week limit on watering be made permanent. The mayors plan a 9:30 a.m. news conference at the offices of the North Texas Council of Governments, 616 Six Flags Drive.

“Although recent rains have improved current water supply availability, a twice weekly watering schedule provides predictable expectations to customers for landscape planning and a way for the region to continue to use water resources wisely,” says a joint statement from the four cities.

Bill Hanna of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that says the idea of making the emergency conservation measures permanent was raised a while ago by Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who discussed “a coordinated regional approach” with Rawlings, Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, and Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne.

“I think water conservation is probably the most important issue we have in the next three decades,” he quotes Rawlings as saying. “We cannot continue to grow without water, and I want to continue to grow.”

In each of the four municipalities, the City Council would have to approve a measure to implement permanent limitations on lawn watering.

On a related note, the Texas agriculture commissioner unveiled a new water conservation coalition plan Monday in Mesquite.

It’s a good move, even if they do it for the wrong reasons.  Texas lives in a world of trouble with regard to water.  Too many people live in big cities with water supply systems planned and built a half-century ago, for fewer people.  Massive aquifers that offered backup to surface water supplies have been mined out.  In a short phrase, Texas doesn’t have enough water even in a good rain year, and needs to conserve and develop a state-wide policy on how to allocate water, and how to protect water supplies needed for farming, for industry, and for residential use. Global warming threatens each of those resources in disparate ways, all of them bad.

Conservation is a lot cheaper than building more dams and more pipelines, and more environmentally friendly.  Nice to see these guys endorse conservation.

Trinity River in flood and Dallas at night, 9-2010 IMGP5052 - photo by Ed Darrell, Creative Commons License

Texas should not rely on freak floods to mitigate long-term drought; growth of cities like Dallas require better water policy. Photo shows Dallas at night over the Trinity River flooding, September 2010. Photo by Ed Darrell, Creative Commons Copyright

Tip of the old scrub brush to Sara Ann Maxwell.


Dogwood Canyon amble for the blossoms

March 26, 2012

It was billed as a “hike” that might take 2.5 hours, but David Hurt, the grand benefactor of Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, was the guide — at the two hour mark we had just ambled to the blossoming trees in their still-semi-secret location.  Amble, not a hike.

Great day to be outside.

Dogwood Canyon's benefactor David Hurt - 03-25-2012 import 672

The voyage is at least half the fun.

Dogwood Canyon's benefactor David Hurt - 03-25-2012 import 672

After more than a year of serious drought, some of North Texas experienced high rainfall in the past three months. Spring-fed streams and seeps on Cedar Hill and across the Escarpment flow well for the moment, lending hope to wild bird breeding. On some entangled bank . . .

David Hurt demonstrating plant differences, Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center - 03-25-2012 import 688 - photo by Ed Darrell
Poison ivy along the trail, Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center - 03-25-2012 import 697 - Photo by Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution

Poison ivy along the trail. Keep away.

David Hurt demonstrates differences in oaks, 03-25-2012 import 694 - photo by Ed Darrell

Is it eastern red oak, or something else? How to tell?

David Hurt demonstrates how yellow-cheeked warblers use Ashe junipers to nest - 03-25-2012 import 708 - photo by Ed Darrell

Hurt showed how to make a nest from loose bark strips from Ashe juniper trees. Golden-cheeked warblers, a threatened species, require this bark for nesting, and it can come only from mature Ashe junipers. The birds need this nesting material close to a good stand of deciduous trees, where they catch their food.

Dogwood blossom at Dogwood Canyon, Cedar Hill, Texas 03-25-2012 import 737 - Photo by Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution

The dogwoods in bloom! An early spring, and lots of water, pushed the trees to leaf out before blossoming started -- usually the blossoms come first. The drought last year probably hurts blossoming this year. Blossoms are not yet at their peak.

Dogwood blossoms, Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center 03-25-2012 import 744 - phot by Ed Darrell

Exquisite aroma and beauty from the dogwood blossoms - not the carpet of white we saw in a previous year. Still just the shock of finding these little beauties in Dallas County adds to their splendor. Dogwoods do well in East Texas, where it is wetter and the soil is acid. Here on the escarpment it is generally dry, hotter, and the soil is thin and alkaline. That the blossoms show up at all is a stunning oddity, a stroke of fortune emblematic of the unique place that is Dogwood Canyon.

Guided hikes — the only way to get to see the blossoms — are planned for Wednesday and Saturday this week.  Hikes are limited to 20 people, with two planned for Wednesday, and one for Saturday, March 31.  For reservations call Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center at (469) 526-1980.

Previously in Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:


Get your Texas Drought Survival Package from Texas Parks & Wildlife

February 20, 2012

We’ve had serious rain in Dallas, but most of the state still resides well in the thrall of drought.  Plus, the rains in Dallas have been unseasonal, which suggests the drought is not done with Dallas yet, either.

Texas Parks & Wildlife has words of advice:

More information from TPWD:

The drought has taken a toll on everything from wildlife to water bills. To help Texans cope, Texas Parks and Wildlife is offering a Drought Survival Kit http://www.texasthestateofwater.org/


Stimulus spending: Texans remember how the CCC helped save the nation

January 20, 2012

New video history piece from the Texas Parks & Wildlife people:

63

Uploaded by on Jan 17, 2012

The Civilian Conservation Corps provided jobs for over 3 million young men during the Great Depression and helped establish the foundation of our nation’s park system. 70 years after the creation of the CCC, Conservation Corps veterans reunite in one of the parks they helped build, sharing stories and rekindling old memories.

A pictorial map showing Texas State Parks with significant work performed by the CCC:

Map of Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy Parks in Texas - TPWD image

Map of Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy Parks in Texas - TPWD image - Click on map for original, larger version


Say what? India only now figures out DDT kills birds?

January 17, 2012

Here’s a troubling thought:  What if India’s use of DDT now is just as destructive as the use of DDT in the U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s?

Why even mention it?  We’ve been reminded here that in the 21st century India is the world’s leading producer of DDT, and that the nation uses more DDT than the rest of the world combined.

Mon Town Baptist Church in the mist, Nagaland, India - Wikipedia image

Mon Town Baptist Church in the mist, Nagaland, India. The people of the state of Nagaland are mostly Christian, and local Baptist groups were among the most politically active groups who worked to put an end to fighting in the area in the early 1960s - Wikipedia image

From my perch in Dallas, Texas, it’s difficult to get a perspective on just how much DDT is used in the nation, and how much of the use is abusive, out of doors, or leading to environmental contamination.

One of the news feeds picked up on this opinion piece from Maneka Gandhi, blogging at the Nagaland PostNagaland is India’s most northeastern province.

Among other troubling issues:  Ms. Gandhi talks about “with the disappearance of the vulture.”  Ecologists should sit up and take note of that; what cleans up the roadside carrion in Nagaland?

Killing birds due to human activity

[Maneka Gandhi]

16 Jan. 2012 11:51 PM IST

Last week I wrote about the strange and mysterious deaths of birds and fish that have taken place. But how many birds are killed every year due to human activity? I am not going to take into account the billion chickens that are killed at the rate of 1000 every minute, the turkeys, emus, ducks, quail that are slaughtered in the millions. I am talking about the birds you do not eat but kill anyway with deliberate malice or carelessness. Why are you ignorant of these? Because bird bodies are rarely found on the roads.

Night roaming scavengers finish them off very quickly. Here’s one estimate of numbers. A 2005 paper by Wallace Erickson, Gregory Johnson, and David Young (“A Summary and Comparison of Bird Mortality from Anthropogenic Causes with an Emphasis on Collisions”) estimates that 500 million-1 billion birds are killed each year in the U.S. alone from human-related causes.

This includes: Collisions with buildings – 550 million (58.2%) Collisions with power lines – 130 million (13.7%) Cats – 100 million (10.6%) Cars, trucks, etc. –80 million (8.5%) Pesticides – 67 million (7.1%) Communication towers – 4.5 million (0.5%) Wind turbines – 28.5 thousand (less than 0.01%) Airplanes –25 thousand (less than 0.01%) Other sources (oil spills, fishing by-catch, etc) – did not estimate I would put the same number in India.

Perhaps decrease the collision with buildings and increase the pesticide hit ones. While large mortality events make the news, the constant attrition, the constant killing has put one in six bird species worldwide in danger of extinction because of the factors listed above plus habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change. I was in Kolkata recently to start a campaign to save sparrows. It consisted of caps, drawings, speeches and the distribution of bird feeders.

I hope it will work but this much I learnt – very few of the children in the school had even seen a sparrow. How many kinds of birds have you seen? Most cities now just have crows and kites and a few parakeets. Looking at this list, can you see a number of ways that people – from municipalities to individuals can work to prevent at least some of these deaths.

Things like making windows and other structures more visible to birds, keeping cats indoors, and minimizing use of pesticides are all crucial to the survival of many species. The deaths are huge and quick but they are preventable if we just tweak our lifestyles. If I told you that you stood at the edge of a cliff and a little step forward would kill you but if you just sidestepped, you could reach safety, would you not?  Often the disappearance of a bird species alters entire human lifestyles, forcing them to change.

With the disappearance of the vulture most villages have had to think of what to do with cow/bullock dead bodies.

The carcass which would have been cleaned up in an hour by the vultures now becomes a threat to human life. No solutions have been found as yet. The Parsis will have to find another way to honour their dead as the towers of silence have no vultures so an entire religion has changed. China lost its sparrows (killed all of them) and then lost its grain because the insects proliferated. It finally had to import sparrows and start rebreeding them.

Today it is losing them again – as we are. Animal mortality is actually a far larger problem than these numbers might suggest. Just one example: in the U.S. there are some 70 million house cats. Each year they kill off hundreds of millions of native birds and more than a billion small mammals such as rabbits, chipmunks, and squirrels. The numbers are staggering. But they tend to go unnoticed, except by ecological researchers.

Most people consider what these cats (which are non-native, invasive pets) are doing to be “natural.” While animals are killed by weather fluctuations, lightning generated fires, the impacts of volcanism, earthquakes or other natural threats, all these hazards pale in comparison to what humans do to them. We have become by far the most significant factor in the deaths of individual animals, or entire species over the past several centuries.

There are many lethal artifacts of civilization. These range from agricultural toxins, to industrial pollution, to lawn care chemicals, to windows and glass buildings (which attract birds to collide with reflections), to predatory pets, to wires to loss of crucial habitats. So many birds have been killed by DDT alone – and it is still being used.

When the Americans finally noticed that their national bird, the Bald Eagle, was disappearing due to DDT, they banned it. We have lost all our birds of prey because DDT does a lot more than just kill insects. It impacts birds of prey to such a degree that it causes their eggs to weaken so that they can’t hatch.

Our consumption of fish is killing all the shore birds. With sonar fish finders and GPS technology, fish harvesters are decimating swordfish, tuna, and a host of other “food species” as our world population swells to 7 billion.

Make a New Year resolution that goes beyond not smoking, drinking and being nice to your mother/daughter in law. Start by making your house less toxic and by eating organic wheat/dal/rice. Plant as many fruit trees as you can so that birds have somewhere to nest. Choose a village and see if you can help them clean up their water body.

More, resources: 


Daily-floggings-will-continue Dept.: Alaska Rep. Don Young melts down, takes it out on famous historian Douglas Brinkley

December 1, 2011

Dr. Douglas Brinkley writes history, and teaches.   In the last decade he’s been one of our premiere historians of conservation and wilderness preservation, especially as started by Theodore Roosevelt.

The issue at the hearing was the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

One may get a whiff of “skeptic” desperation at the hearing — Brinkley’s written a book on wilderness protection.  That’s why he was called to testify.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Eli Rabett.  He’s right — it’s tough to improve on the straight dope, the unexpurgated version.  So most of this post is borrowed from the Bunny’s Spartan, laconic post of this same material.

And the Big Bunny is correct that MSNBC’s interview of Brinkley following the hearing is good to see and hear.

More, Resources: 


“Out of Yellowstone,” Nature Conservancy film on surviving the winter, and surviving the future

September 19, 2011

It seems like just a few months ago that Kathryn the Trophy Wife™ and I honeymooned in Yellowstone National Park, for a glorious January week.  On more than one occasion we had Old Faithful all to ourselves — it seemed like such an indulgence.

Seems just a few months ago, but that was before the 1988 fires, before our 1989 vacation there, before our 2004 ceremony casting the ashes of brother Jerry and his wife Barbara to the Yellowstone winds.

Will Yellowstone be there for our children, and for our grandchildren, as it has been for my lifetime?  The Nature Conservancy produced a 16-minute film showing much of the glory of winter of the place, and talking about the problems.

For the deer, elk and pronghorn in and around Yellowstone National Park, surviving the winter means finding adequate food and areas with low snow accumulation. But this critical winter range is increasingly threatened by energy and residential development. At stake is the very future of the Greater Yellowstone region’s iconic wildlife. This film highlights the voices of those working together to save these magnificent herds: ranchers, conservationists, scientists and others. http://www.nature.org/yellowstone

Growing up in the Mountain West, I learned to appreciate the stark beauty of the cold northern desert — but seldom is that beauty captured on film so well as it is here.  Phlogiston Media, LLC, made a remarkable, beautiful film, about a remarkable, beautiful land threatened by gritty, banal and mundane development.

This movie has been viewed only 542 times when I posted it.  Spread the word, will you?


White House notes advances in light bulbs and energy conservation

August 14, 2011

L-Prize-winning bulb from Philips North American Lighting -- a 10-watt LED bulb to replace 60-watt incandescent bulbs

L-Prize-winning bulb from Philips North American Lighting -- a 10-watt LED bulb to replace 60-watt incandescent bulbs

From the White House blog, something you probably didn’t see in your local newspaper and/or Tea Party organ:

Bright Ideas: Thomas Edison would be amazed. The conventional light bulb now has some serious competition. Philips Lighting North America has invented a revolutionary 10-watt light emitting diode (LED) bulb. Phillips is the first winner of the Energy Department’s Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize(L Prize). The L Prize challenged the lighting industry to develop high performance, energy-saving replacements for conventional light bulbs that will save American consumers and businesses money.

Some business gets an award for lights that conserve energy?  Rats, there goes Rand Paul’s raison d’etre — all but for the lack of a toilet Paul could flush on his own.

More: 


History and economics of energy use and conservation – a more accurate version

July 30, 2011

Our memorial to George Washington neared completion in the 1880s.  For an obelisk more than 550 feet tall to honor the Father of Our Country, planners decided to top it with a “capstone” made of the what was, then the most precious metal known on Earth.  The top is a pyramid, and the top of the pyramid is a one-pound block of this precious metal.

What was the most precious metal known to humans in 1880?  Gold?  Platinum?  Tungsten, perhaps, not yet chosen to be filaments in the yet-to-be-perfected Edison “A” lightbulb?

Washington’s Monument is topped with aluminum.

Yeah, aluminum.

“But,” you begin to sputter in protest, “aluminum is almost ubiquitous in soils, and it’s cheap — we use it in soda cans because it’s cheaper than steel or glass, for FSM’s sake!”

Today, yes.  In 1880, no.  Aluminum requires massive amounts of energy to refine the stuff from ore.  Aluminum is common in soils and rocks, but it couldn’t be refined out easily for use.

That problem’s solution was electricity, generated from coal or especially falling water.  For a while, our nation’s biggest aluminum refining plants resided in the state of Washington, not because they were close to aluminum ore deposits, but because there was a lot of cheap electricity available from the Grand Coulee and other dams on the mighty Columbia River.  It was cheaper to transport the ore long distances for refining than to transport the electricity.

This history reveals a lot about science, history, energy use, resource conservation and economics — areas in which most climate denialists appear to me to lack knowledge and productive experience.

Peter Sinclair more often explains why climate denialists get things wrong.  In this video, the first of what could be a significant series, Sinclair explains how we got to where we are today in energy use and conservation — or energy overuse and lack of conservation, if the Tea Party and Rand Paul get their way.  (Notice the ingots of aluminum shown in the historic film footage.)

This is history which has been largely covered up, partly because so much critical stuff happened in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, a time the internet doesn’t cover well.

5,842

Slowpoke Comics on the light bulb wars

July 24, 2011

Oh, while we’re looking at the genius of Jen Sorensen, let’s see what she’s got to cartoon about light bulbs:

Jen Sorensen's Slowpoke Comics, "Bulb Wars"

Jen Sorensen's Slowpoke Comics, "Bulb Wars" - for a larger image at Jen's website, click the image

This strip appears Wednesdays at Daily Kos, and I understand some newspapers around the country have picked it up.  Does it appear in a paper in your city?


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