Sympathetic Stupid

Monday, January 02, 2006

Double-Oh Six

Happy 2006 all!

(Unless you're in that recalcitrant group still using the old-school Julian calendar. In which case, you've got almost two weeks to wait, till January 13th. Good luck with that.)

(Of course, there are others. The Chinese Year of the Dog doesn't start until January 29th, otherwise known as Big Day Out Day. It's also Tết in Vietnam. Jewish year 5766 has been happening since October 3rd last year. Islamic year 1427 has to wait until about the 31st of January. Thai New Year will be April 13th to 15th this year - as it is every year.)

Enough wikipedia wandering. Where was I? Munching on an assortment of leftovers from the WorldChanging fridge.

"(U)sing white rooftops - tiles, paint or other - had a substantial environmental benefit, potentially greater than would be gained using traditional solar panels" White Roofs, Revisited. It's cheaper and arguably better than solar panels for enviro-friendliness of houses. Think about that. (Not mentioned there, but I presume it also increases the Earth's albedo, though possibly not enough to counteract melting ice.)

On the subject of wasting energy, how about the multitudes of pretty electronic boxes, drawing power for hours when they're not used? (OK, admittedly the TV's always on, but that's a separate problem...) Have a look at smart power boards to stop this sorta profligacy - "pay for itself in as little as six weeks" is an admirable claim. Dunno how much they might cramp your lifestyle, though.

And BMW are working on recapturing some of the energy wasted through the exhaust pipe of a car, by the simple (!) expedient of tacking on a steam engine. It's only experimental, so there's no word yet on whether it'll go "too-ooooot" like Thomas. But, as Jamais says in the article, any unintended heat like that in exhaust gas or on brake pads is a complete waste - you burn petrol to create it then just dump it into the atmosphere. There's a long way to go on making systems properly efficient.

Lastly, the Algerian Space Program. Yeah, this sounds like a punchline but it's leapfrogging again. Small nations are able to get satellites in space for a tiny cost, relative to the benefits they'll give.

Linked through that article is Jamais' great argument on the utility of the space program, from a green perspective. "(A) focus on sustainability, a bias towards the accumulation of knowledge, and a preference for long-term thinking" are qualities shared by greens and a good space program. Going to space allows us to get invaluable information about planetary ecologies, like why did Earth get livable while Venus and Mars missed out? And how do changes in the Sun affect us? (No, it doesn't just sit there and shine.) And while it seems fairly unlikely that we'll find ET life anytime soon, that could give Earthlings some perspective, that we're in this together (don't bet on it, though). Maybe this is why I like the space program.