Friday, October 22, 2010

Turbine as Art or Imposition?

Wind turbines are springing up faster than spring daisies all across the United States, in response to the search for alternative energy sources, and also because it appears they can be profitable! According to an article in the St. Louis Dispatch one of my students posted:

"In the past six years, U.S. wind capacity has more than quadrupled. And by 2020, the report predicts, it could offset as much as 4.5 percent of the planet-warming carbon dioxide that U.S. utilities would otherwise spew into the atmosphere."

Unexpectedly, some of the very same folks who you might expect to applaud are instead upset because the proliferation of man-made structures is dangerous to birds in flight, requires miles and miles of transmission lines that can disturb delicate ecosystems, and are also aesthetically displeasing to many...

Most of my students thought these costs were reasonable in the face of our need to get off fossil fuels.  If I were a bird or a bat, I think my position would be clear, but today I won't take a stand one way or the other, because I haven't researched it adequately. 

What I did want to share, however, is one response to the aesthetic complaint.  A few artistic souls have decided to give turbine art a whirl (pun intended!).  Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I'm thinking the raptures and the bats won't find these anymore beautiful than the old versions, but I still wanted to share.  My daughters are both artists, and it doesn't surprise me to find that even the elusive wind is a canvas.
Here's a link with several more:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

350 - Pass It On

One of my students found a website that talks about the ultimate CO2 goal, beyond which is the planet's tipping point. A quote from the site,

"350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

“Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate impacts have led scientists to conclude that we are already above the safe zone at our current 392ppm, and that unless we are able to rapidly return to below 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.

“For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Parts per million is simply a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules to all of the molecules in the atmosphere. 275 ppm CO2 is a useful amount—without some CO2 and other greenhouse gases that trap heat in our atmosphere, our planet would be too cold for humans to inhabit.

“So we need some carbon in the atmosphere, but the question is how much?

“Beginning in the 18th century, humans began to burn coal and gas and oil to produce energy and goods. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere began to rise, at first slowly and now more quickly. Many of the activities we do every day like turning the lights on, cooking food, or heating or cooling our homes rely on energy sources like coal and oil that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. We're taking millions of years worth of carbon, stored beneath the earth as fossil fuels, and releasing it into the atmosphere. By now—and this is the second number—the planet has 392 parts per million CO2 – and this number is rising by about 2 parts per million every year.”

Below is a short video that graphically demonstrates the CO2 shift since the beginning of the Industrial Age, and asks us to spread the word.  The website address:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Petroleum Essence Shampoo, Anyone?

The folks who brought us "The Story of Stuff" now bring us "The Story of Cosmetics."  I've written about this at this link, but it's far more powerful to watch!   This video takes no prisoners.  Worth watching...

Friday, October 8, 2010


Three cheers for Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York, who wants to end the use of foodstamps' for buying sugary drinks. 

Hurrah!  Hurrah!  Hurrah! 

From ABC World News Tonight:  "New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, one of the most powerful players on the national stage, challenged national policy on food stamps, in essence saying What if all this taxpayer money was used to reinforce national health? This segment aired Oct 7, 2010."

Foodstamps currently may not be used for tobacco and alcohol.  To the many who do not want government telling them what to eat or drink, I say... when the high cost of health care in this country is a direct reflection of our nation's incredibly bad eating habits- which we all pay for in both personal insurance rates and subsidies for medical care for the indigent - then I say we have a right - even a responsibility - to insist that our tax dollars do not subsidize behavior that will steal even more money out of our pockets.

Click this link,, to watch the ABC story, since ABC did not provide an embed code for me.  Or watch this embedded video below from "Newsydotcom" - a little different.  The video has a few comments I find offensive - like comments suggesting that people who must use foodstamps should not be allowed to "eat better" than those who pay for their food with their own (not tax) dollars.  Sorry.