Science to the Rescue: MIT Creates Synthetic Leaf Power Station?

Dr. Daniel Nocera and his team at MIT have created an artificial leaf that might be able to power a home. Here’s a bit from the story I found at Mail Online with help from Slatest:

About the shape of a poker card but thinner, the device is fashioned from silicon, electronics and catalysts, substances that accelerate chemical reactions that otherwise would not occur, or would run slowly.

Placed in a single gallon of water in a bright sunlight, the device could produce enough electricity to supply a house in a developing country with electricity for a day, Nocera said.

It does so by splitting water into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen.

The hydrogen and oxygen gases would be stored in a fuel cell, which uses those two materials to produce electricity, located either on top of the house or beside it.

Read more:

The Libyan Question

I was really concerned that the international community would simply stand by and watch as Libyans were slaughtered by their own military forces. Think Rwanda and Burundi and those awful type of events and outcomes all over again. The US and the international community stood by as human beings were exterminated. If you need background on that I recommend the PBS video – Ghosts of Rwanda – as definitive coverage.

This is always a problem when an armed force decides to slaughter or exterminate a civilian population. Should “we” get involved or should we step back and let the local conflict be decided by local forces? The German attempt to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe was accompanied by territorial encroachment and domination of neighboring European countries and was confronted, but the truth is that the international community was very slow to come to the aid of the groups that were identified for extermination. It wasn’t just Jewish folks, the Romas, gays, communists, and more were targeted for their ethnicity, their politics, their orientation to the mainstream culture.

Jump forward to the Cambodian holocaust. The international community sits on its hands. Jump forward to Rwanda, Burundi, the Congo. No effective action. Look at the Sudan.

Yet we (the UN, the US et al) intervene in Bosnia and I am not sure why. I read and listen to Andrei Grubacic and I am not sure the intervention really worked to further goals that I have about the elevation of persuasion over coercion.

So, here we go. I felt we should intervene when the rebels in Libya were in danger of being crushed and exterminated. But once Western forces start bombing the country I am very uneasy. Can this work out well? Is there an end in sight? Are we there because Libya has sweet oil?

Want to hear Grubacic? You got it. Anarchism and Marxism, Part I.

Carbon Nation – Movie Showing in Seattle

If you are in San Francisco, Portland or Seattle, you can see the movie Carbon Nation in the next week or two. There are solutions to our energy issues that do not require that we bomb anyone or support oppressive regimes to keep oil prices down.

This does not have to be a Red or Blue issue. Can we persuade the country to move in a direction that is good for all of us? (almost all of us, may cost the Exxon/BP execs some big bucks down the line)

Tip of the hat to Mary at The Left Coaster for picking up this story from Climate Progress.

Here’s the trailer:

Does Environmentalism Create Any Economic Benefits?

My friend Pat Rasmussen sent me a link to the Center for Biological Diversity. Pat does some great work with temperate rainforests and works with so many groups in the Puget Sound area on forestry, sustainability and environmental issues. It’s an honor to know Pat.

The link contains the NYT story about how the Clean Air Act will yield 2 trillion in benefits. It’s also saving lives. Does government regulation work? Yes, it does. Is it necessary? I say yes, though I know that Monsanto, BP, and Enron say it is a waste of precious public dollars and that we can trust the market place. Each of us will need to make some decisions. One thing we can count on is that automated pod people will show up in the comments suggesting that Monsanto et al have done so much for us.

Environmental activism and civil disobedience has costs. And while the benefits of environmentalism accrue to all, the costs apply to individuals.

Here is a link/suggestion from the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace list serv this morning that informed that Tim DeChristopher was found guilty this past week and faces up to 10 years in jail for making a fake bid in an oil and gas auction.

Will Potter at Green is the New Red has the DeChristopher story.

News and Weather from Climate Progress

Click on photo to read the storyClimate Progress does a fine job of keeping up on the science and making presentations on global warming and climate change in a way that most of us can understand. If you click on the chart above you will jump to the climate progress story on Arctic sea ice.

The graph tells the story pretty effectively. Sea ice is steadily declining.

Why should we care? The ice-makers on refrigerators are still working, right?

Yes, polar bears will notice, but why should we? Well, check out the next graph from Climate Progress:

Click to jump to the story


The same changes that are driving the loss of Arctic sea ice are also reducing food crop production and creating rising food commodity prices. Paying more at the checkout stand for a couple of bags of groceries, that’s not good. But it’s harder than that if you are living on $2 per day or less. And amazing as that may seem, many folks on the planet are in the $2 per day or less class.

If you are interested in the nuts and bolts and hard science of global warming and climate change, bookmark Real Climate as well as Climate Progress.

The Dirt on Coal

Special Series by the Sightline Institute

The Dirt on Coal

The Dirt on Coal

Here in the Northwest, coal feels like someone else’s problem. We know that much of the electricity that powers our homes comes from carbon-free hydropower, which can make flipping a light switch feel almost virtuous. But the numbers tell a different story: coal is big in the Northwest. In this series, Sightline researchers look at the region’s real reliance on coal and examine how we can get ourselves off the dirtiest of fuels.

Click here to see the reports.

This content reprinted by permission of Sightline.

Solar Seattle?


Here is the news, with a tip of the hat to Nan at Envirotalk in Olympia for spreading the news.



This is how we do it. We stop waiting for the leaders to figure out the obvious and we jump in to build from the grassroots level.

Here’s an organization that may be able to help you make this happen or to start the line in your community to make this happen. One Block Off the Grid.