Friday, September 21, 2007

What if?

What if we all made ourselves well-equipped? What if we all carried a cup and a plate and silverware with us? What if it wasn't a given that you would be provided with unnecessarily disposable products? Would it be horrible?

I wonder what would we be different if our resources were a tenth... a thousandth of what it is now. What if gas was $10 a gallon? $100? What would it look like?

If anything, it is entertaining to imagine a world with the scientific knowledge it has now but not the resources to continue it. We would know aerodynamics and combustion statistics and biofuel manufacturing information but we would all be on bikes. We would be experts at material sciences and polymers and styrofoam but we'd all have our designated cups that we brought to the regional coffee pot.

For some reason I really like the idea of grass-roots living next to intricate technology. Maybe it's the sci-fi director in me or something...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A bit out of my typical scope...

... but AMAZING and from my hometown.

This, if I may be so bold, is a small step towards my idea of utopia. In my utopia, cities still exist and prosper but they co-exist, intertwined, with natural processes. Small EVs everywhere, lots of quiet, clean public transportation, and flora coating everything. In this mindset, I present to you the "Off-Grid Vertical Farm," a small slice of my own personal heaven.

Fully self-sufficient building: in energy and water.
-> 31,000 sq ft rooftop water rainwater collection
-> Recycling of gray water (including an ability to handle some of the surrounding area's waste water up to "20 times its own discharge potential")
-> 34,000+ sq ft of solar PV cells with hydrogen gas backup

Agricultural features include
->Fields for growing veggies and grains, greenhouses, rooftop gardens and even a chicken farm.
->Local produced food is critical for changing energy patterns as "40 percent of an individual's ecological footprint is generated by the embodied energy in food."

318 apartments (studio, 1 & 2 bedroom units)

Restaurant & Cafe (The "Greenhouse" using building grown food.

"Off-grid" means you are fully energy self-sufficient. This building creates its own energy through the solar cells attached to it.

Keep in mind that, while it is doubtful you will see this erected in downtown Seattle (pleasepleaseplease), this is not pie-in-the-sky Jetsons stuff, this is real. This building can be built right now. There are no technological barriers, the materials are not from another planet, and it would not cost the US defense budget to construct. Besides the obvious aesthetic benefits, the plants would do well in a high-CO2 environment like the center of a city. Environmental concerns addressed through solar cells, CO2 processing and water collection, living space addressed by real estate incorporated into the structure, economic benefits bolstered by job created in the farm and retail space... what is not to like?

More info here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

CAFE standards have a new friend

The Loremo!

According to this article:

German engineering consultancy Loremo is to display a fully working prototype of its super-economical coupe at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It revealed a mock-up called LS at Geneva last spring, demonstrating its plans to create a sporty-looking, ultra-lightweight four-seater capable of over 100mpg. The working prototype, called L1, is said to be able to travel 100km on two litres of fuel (equivalent to 117mpg), thanks to a tiny, super-efficient diesel engine and the car's low weight.

117 MPG?!? Check out the Wikipedia article for information about its range.

The X-prize, if you're not familiar, is an organization who awards huge sums of money to people who propose and prove amazing technological advances. The first was for a spacecraft, the new one is for automotive advances.
Imagine a world where super-efficient cars are desirable, affordable and everywhere... where gasoline no longer makes history, but is history... Revolution through competition.

Sound like good stuff. Blog here if you're interested in reading.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Start your day with fresh quotables

One from Seth Godin:

So I guess my advice would be to either build your product and network along the way to align with exactly what the middlemen want... or reject them and live/thrive without them. It's the middle ground that's really frustrating.

His argument, perpetually, is "build a good product and people will come." His idea is simple and his delivery is honest. You don't have to be a product guru or market trend god to determine whether a product is good or not. You can decide for yourself. Once you truly DECIDE (i.e., you KNOW your product is great, end of discussion), now you're in a position to move and set your own rules.

The same goes for YOURSELF. Once you truly decide that you, as a product, are great, it becomes much easier to distribute yourself. Because we are all, in the end, marketable products ;)

How about something a little more... vintage. Benjamin Rush was a leading physician cum major political factor in the late 1700's. He wrote an essay in 1773 refuting the idea of slavery, an essay that foreshadows how enlightened people today think about racial differences (i.e. different is not synonymous with inferior). The essay, "The Pennsylvanian," is a great read but one quote jumps out at me as important to remember today:
No manufactory can ever be of consequence enough to society to admit the least violation of the Laws of justice or humanity.

What B. Rush just said is that industry and business are not to be considered more important than human rights. Because a pharmaceutical company makes compounds that help people does not let it off the hook for questionable marketing pratices. Because a car manufacturer promotes itself as safe and efficient does not absolve it from resisting fleet-wide MPG increases. Because a clothing manufacturer makes inexpensive clothes does not release it from the responsibility to take care of its employees, regardless of where they live.

Remember that your money isn't just a ticket to more stuff, it's a vote. Choose wisely.