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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

'Blue energy' for the 'Blue Marble'?

Earth is the 'blue marble', also a term for a series of photos of the planet taken from space by NASA, first in 1972, taken from Apollo 17, and then for subsequent images (like these, left).

Most of us are familiar with the term 'green energy'. It is an umbrella term for sustainable / renewable energy. That includes a huge range of tech, including but not limited to solar and wind energy, bio fuels and others.

There is also something called 'blue energy'.

As noted by the Mother Nature Network:

Saltwater power
It has been called saltwater power, osmotic power or blue energy, and it is one of the most promising new sources of renewable power not yet fully tapped. Just as it takes huge amounts of energy to desalinate water, energy is generated when the reverse happens and saltwater is added to freshwater. Through a process called reverse electrodialysis, blue energy powerplants could capture this energy as it is released naturally in estuaries around the world.
As we have seen from the attempts at locating the missing aircraft in the Indian Ocean, in some regards we know more about space than we do about the ocean on our own planet.

If we can stop polluting the seas and oceans on earth long enough to explore our options to make use of it for clean energy, there are some other forms of aquatic, or 'blue' power that show potential.

Continuing from MNN:
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)
Ocean thermal energy conversion, or OTEC for short, is a hydro energy conversion system that uses the tempurature difference between deep and shallow waters to power a heat engine. This energy could be tapped by building platforms or barges out at sea, taking advantage of thermal layers found between the ocean depths.

and one more possible form of 'blue power':

Vortex-induced vibrations
This form of renewable energy, which draws power from slow water currents, was inspired by the movement of fish. The energy can be captured as water flows past a network of rods. Eddies, or swirls, form in an alternating pattern, pushing and pulling an object up or down or side to side to create mechanical energy. It works in the same way that fish curve their bodies to glide between the vortices shed by the bodies of the fish in front of them, essentially riding in each other's wake.
We live in the 'land of 10,000 lakes'; we border one of the enormously valuable sources of clean fresh water, lake Superior. So long as we live on the blue marble, we need to be mindful of the benefits of clean water, of not polluting it, and of safeguarding everything from preventing pollution, to the possibilities of our water as a source of clean, renewable energy.

The next time you hear a conservative insist that we cannot have regulation to ensure clean water, that we can not end our dependence on fossil fuels without economic collapse, think of this: since the founding of the EPA, we have made a 70% improvement to our air quality, while doubling our GDP. It is not either /or; that is a false choice presented by conservatives. Repudiate it. Keep our blue marble shiny blue - and green. Preserve our land, our air and our water. We CAN do it; it is a choice.

It is a choice we make by doing things like funding effective regulation and innovation.

From the EPA web site:
...between 1980 and 2012, gross domestic product increased 133 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 92 percent, energy consumption increased 27 percent, and U.S. population grew by 38 percent. During the same time period, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants dropped by 67 percent.

Sunny Green : Playing the Angles

Happy Earth Day.

The need for energy drives global warming, as well as wars and pollution.

Clean, inexpensive, accessible energy would go a long way towards not only a healthier and cleaner planet, but towards global peace.

So, naturally conservatives HATE it, in any form, but most notably at the moment in the renewable energy of solar power.

The radical right - Grover Norquist, the Koch Brothers (of big oil fame) and the other fossil fuel special interests that OWN conservatives through the tentacles of ALEC - are attacking the expansion of solar energy.

Who else could hate clean, readily accessible, renewable solar energy? It goes back a long ways. Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the roof of the White House when he was president. Ronald "Ray-gun", who only loved science and tech when it was weapon-izable - took them down.

They've come a LONG long way since the third quarter of the 20th century. NOW solar energy is becoming more high tech, more viable, MORE COMPETITIVE.

As Truth-out noted
Solar, once almost universally regarded as a virtuous, if perhaps over-hyped, energy alternative, has now grown big enough to have enemies.
The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation's largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states.
Alarmed environmentalists and their allies in the solar industry have fought back, battling the other side to a draw so far. Both sides say the fight is growing more intense as new states, including Ohio, South Carolina and Washington, enter the fray.
At the nub of the dispute are two policies found in dozens of states. One requires utilities to get a certain share of power from renewable sources. The other, known as net metering, guarantees homeowners or businesses with solar panels on their roofs the right to sell any excess electricity back into the power grid at attractive rates.
Net metering forms the linchpin of the solar-energy business model. Without it, firms say, solar power would be prohibitively expensive.
The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a membership group for conservative state lawmakers, recently drafted model legislation that targeted net metering. The group also helped launch efforts by conservative lawmakers in more than half a dozen states to repeal green energy mandates.
"State governments are starting to wake up," Christine Harbin Hanson, a spokeswoman for Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, said in an email. The organization has led the effort to overturn the mandate in Kansas, which requires that 20% of the state's electricity come from renewable sources.
"These green energy mandates are bad policy," said Hanson, adding that the group was hopeful Kansas would be the first of many dominoes to fall.
The group's campaign in that state compared the green energy mandate to Obamacare, featuring ominous images of Kathleen Sebelius, the outgoing secretary of Health and Human Services, who was Kansas' governor when the state adopted the requirement.

Kansas, home of Koch Industries, failed to push through anti-solar legislation. But they spent a LOT of money trying. A grass roots movement thwarted them - a REAL grass movement, not one of the Koch funded astro-turfed versions of populism.

But Oklahoma DID pass that kind of anti-solar legislation described above, and the governor signed it. Not surprising really; Oklahoma is a backward very red state pretty much owned and operated by the fossil fuel industry.

We have a battle to fight; the benefits of winning it are huge, even life itself on this planet. The enemy is conservatives, the enemy is big oil, the enemy is the fossil fuel industry.

Or maybe we should just abbreviate that to 'the dinosaurs and the old fossils' who hate and fear change, and who are stuck years in the past, even millennia.

And let us not forget the fools, including this one below, who made the incredibly stupid and factually inaccurate statements below, a little over a year ago. He is as big if not a bigger shame to the state than Michele Bachmann.

And sadly - OURS.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter to Penigma readers

Ukranian Easter Eggs

Today is the 15th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre


An armed guard was in the school; that was ineffective in stopping the shooters.

It is STILL far too easy for people with evil and violent intentions to get their hands on firearms.

We need to do more, to make a greater difference.

Friday, April 18, 2014

courtesy of ReaganBushDebt.0rg

Welcome to

This site tracks the current Reagan Bush Debt.
The Reagan-Bush Debt is how much of the national debt of the United States is attributable to the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and
the Republican fiscal policy of Borrow-And-Spend.

As of Friday, April 18, 2014 at 4:25:36PM CT,
The Current ReaganBush Debt is:
which means that in a total of 20 years,
these three presidents have led to the creation of
of the entire national debt
in only 8.4034% of the 238 years of the existence of the United States of America.

Fossil fuel is obsolete, time to move on to clean energy without big oil and big coal

Friday is fun day - and a 'conversational intervention' for the coming Holiday

Good Friday is the day which commemorates the death of Jesus on the cross, leading to the resurrection.  The technical term for that period is the Paschal Triduum, something you can trot out at the water cooler (if you feel like showing off). The Paschal Triduum was not always celebrated the way we do now; it used to be different by half a day, but that changed in 1955 under Pope Pius XII.

 The official Easter season does not end on Sunday, but goes through Pentecost, 50 days later.  The Sunday a week after Easter is called Ember Sunday, except in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, and appears to be another one of those pagan holidays co-opted by Christianity.

So we all pretty much know that Easter celebrates Jesus rising from the dead, and that before that, Jesus was attributed with the act of raising Lazarus from the dead.   But in Christianity, that used to be pretty common; some 400 saints, according to their specific history or hagiography, became saints in part because they supposedly also raised the dead.  The gospels command believers to raise the dead ( Matthew 10:8 “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely you have received, freely give.” ) and St. Paul is credited in the book of Acts with raising Eutychus in Acts 20:12.   Eutychus was a man who dozed off because Paul's preaching was boring, and Eutychus fell asleep, and then fell out of a window where he was sitting.

So, for those who like to be able to trot out religious trivia - you have the Triduum, Ember Sunday, and Eutychus / dead raising. But if you still feel the need for a little 'conversational intervention' topic to tuck into your mental pockets in case things get tense, there are still fringe Christian groups that do so -- or claim to do so - today. 

YUP, in the U.S. we have crazy fundamentalists, or as some of us refer to them more colloquially, 'fundies' who are part of a world-wide movement that believes they can raise the dead -- and they run around trying to raise 21st century corpses.

As the Freethinker noted, in the U.S., in Washington state, there is a group called the Dead Raising Team; they claim to have raised 11 people from the dead, but of course, they can't produce any of them.  In the U.K., the BBC did a news piece on the global evangelical movement; there is a documentary about them called "the Deadraisers", and of course, youtube videos.

They actually complain about a lack of available corpses to practice on.  Although some of these fundies reject modern medical care in favor of exclusive reliance on prayer, which does seem to provide them with dead people on a regular basis.

Personally, I see this as nothing more than more groups of religious charlatans, giving religion a bad name, and embracing superstition rather than spirituality. But what the heck, it might just be the thing you need to change the subject if your crazy conservative uncle starts ranting about Obamacare, nazis, or domestic terrorists like Cliven Bundy and the dangerous militia groups out in Nevada.

If dead raising doesn't change-up the mood, there is always creating vaginas in the laboratory to fall back on.  If you get one of those transplanted in, is a woman a virgin again?