Friday, December 11, 2009
Many people may be wondering "what is a green roof?" Basically green roofs which have also been referred to as “eco-roofs” are rooftop gardens or parks or meadows. These roofs carry a host of environmental and economic benefits. By using soil and plants on rooftops instead of hard, impenetrable roofing materials city governments, developers and/or individual homeowners can reduce air pollution, reduce rain water runoff, add insulation to a building, help reduce global warming by capturing carbon dioxide, create new habitat for birds and double or even triple the life of a roof. Many cities are offering incentives to encourage homeowners, developers and local businesses to install green roofs on new and existing buildings.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also known as the EPA encourages the creation of green roofs for solving the urban "heat island effect" whereby temperatures in crowded cities can soar some 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than in less developed areas nearby. The green roof works by the cool roof reflecting and emitting the sun’s heat and rays back to the sky.
When it comes to outlasting traditional roofs, green roofs surpass them in lifespan. Metal roofs which are known to be relatively maintenance free and last longer than shingles don't even compare. Slate roofs also have an excellent reputation for lasting long, although getting work done on them can be expensive when they do need repairs. The Slate Roofing Contractors Association states that sea green slates can last anywhere from one to two centuries, depending on where the slate is obtained and how well it is installed.
I find that there are many benefits to a green roof. The idea of it is very simple and it does save you money in the long run also by not having to spend as much to maintain a roof. The green roof also provides many benefits, and people who have it would probably never even realize that. To me a green roof should definitely be considered by all.
The Salar de Uyuni in southwest Bolivia is the world's largest salt flat, the salts their contain large amounts of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and lithium. Lithium is a soft alkali metal and when put in its carbonate form it is a power source which can be used to power electric cars and plug in hybrids. Bolivia has nearly 35% of the world's lithium resources, and with the increase in the amount of the electric vehicles, this could lead to great things for South-America poorest country. As we have found out there is a coming of peak oil production and we will no longer be able to fuel our growing need for petroleum. We must find another source of energy and it could use Lithium powered batteries. There is enough lithium in the Salar de Uyuni for almost 4.8 billion electric cars. Another good thing is that lithium is recyclable, so we will be able to use then reuse over and over again.
Many believe that bolivia and other lithium producers could turn into a cartel like OPEC, by artificially inflating prices, blackmailing the rest of the world. But the thing is lithium is inexpensive and even if it did become expense new sources could be found via exploration. This is not the case with oil we have already found the vast majority of the sources. Also as we improve the technology of lithium recycling of it will also become better.
While there are many things that could go wrong with a dependence on lithium, we would be better off then our current situation with oil. It only takes a few pounds of lithium to make a battery that lasts for years, with oil you need to refuel with many gallons at least 2 times a week depending on the amount of driving you do. Lithium is another promising alternative and the sooner we cut or dependence from foreign oil the better off we will be as people, and a planet.
A new study by scientists at the Carnegie Institution and California State University identifies New York as a prime location for exploiting high-altitude winds, which globally contain enough energy to meet world demand 100 times over. The researchers found that the regions best suited for harvesting this energy match with population centers in the eastern U.S. and East Asia, but fluctuating wind strength still presents a challenge for exploiting this energy source on a large scale.
Using 28 years of data from the National Center for Environmental Prediction and the Department of Energy, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology and Cristina Archer of California State University, Chico, compiled the first-ever global survey of wind energy available at high altitudes in the atmosphere. The researchers assessed potential for wind power in terms of "wind power density," which takes into account both wind speed and air density at different altitudes.
This would be a great way to produce alot of energy if we can get this working soon. Wind energy right now is very environmentaly friendly but it does not produce alot of energy. With this it would fix the problem that wind energy is missing right now which is to produce enough energy. With results that would light New York i feel that this is a very good way to produce energy and i hope we get on this project soon.
Posted by Unknown at 12:26 PM
A recent article has found that farmers in the Northern plains are using much more water to produce a gallon of ethanol than farmers in other parts of the country. This comes from a study about whether or not an increased use in bio fuels could drain the nations water supply. Ethanol industry advocates report that the study offer little new insight consider that a majority of the ethanol is made with rain-fed corn.
The study showed that farmers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas use 323.6 gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol from corn, with only 3 gallons used for irrigation. That's nearly 20 to 30 times the amount of water used by the nations other two main corn producing regions. In Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri they use about 10 gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol, while the other region containing Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan uses almost 17 gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol.
The demand for water is increasing in various sectors, it places more and more stress on our already dwindling supplies. We are wasting a valuable commodity on a fuel that is only causing more problems for our environment than we can handle at this moment. Vice president of research for the renewable fuels association said " it's disingenuous to suggest increased ethanol production is somehow driving irrigated corn acreage. He quoted a National Renewable Energy Laboratory article that said 96 percent of corn used for ethanol production is not irrigated." The VP also noted that new technologies are being used to develop more resistant seed that require less water and are drought tolerant.
I believe we are only wasting more resources and time on a technology that isn't holding it weight. Biofuels such as ethanol use much more time and energy to produce then they give off. We are only digging ourselves into a deeper hole, other energy sources are much more efficient and plentiful such as electric. But many people in positions of power are making way too much money on the production and consumption of corn derived products.
Image from: http://lifekills.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/ethanol-is-bad.jpg
Today the United Nations climate conference called for the world’s greenhouse gas emissions to be cut in half in the next 40 years. This would be amazing if we could actually make it happen. Today 40 years seems far away but in reality it is a very short time in which to make such a dramatic reduction. This reduction would require developed countries and especially the United States to work together and devise a plan to bring our greenhouse gas emissions down. To do so we would have to cut our emissions by about 13% a decade this is fairly substantial. Developed nations would also have to work with developing nations and try to help them curb their desire to consume more energy and therefore emit more greenhouse gasses. We as a world would have to put aside our conflicts and work together. The United States would have to get over its fear of losing to China, and other developing nations. That is the only way that this lofty goal will be possible.
While searching for alternative forms of energy I came across a very interesting video on You Tube, which showed a Solar energy tower in Australia that should be up and running in the year 2012. The tower combines the power of solar energy and convection to form an efficient and powerful energy source.
Technically it is known as a solar updraft tower and it is a proposed renewable energy power plant. The tower combines three proven technologies of the chimney effect, the greenhouse effect, and the wind turbine. In the solar updraft tower air is heated by the sun in large greenhouse structures that surrounds the base of the tower, which is basically a very large chimney. As convection occurs it causes concentrated airflow to rise up the the updraft tower. The resulting airflow from greenhouse to the updraft tower drives powerful turbines which produce electricity.
The solar updraft towers ability to generate power depends on two things, the size of the collector area and the height of the tower. One downfall of the tower is that is requires very large amounts of land for the collecting areas, if they want to produce comparative energy amounts to modern power plants. Therefore solar tower construction would mostly be in hot areas, with a low value such as deserts. Another disadvantage of the solar tower is that it has a much lower energy conversion efficiency than other solar energy concentrating power plants.
Even though these towers are expensive they do not leave a footprint on the environment, and the only fuel they require is the sun of which there is much abundance. I think that we should install a solar tower in the U.S. so we could be able to see the costs and benefits first hand of this innovative technology.