Monday, May 28, 2012

Why Can't Water Get No Respect?
Matt Damon with CamelBak Groove bottle
We take it for granted, yet we can't live with out it. We are made of water -- more than 60 percent water.

But so is the clothing we wear and the food and drink we consume.

Think about it. A pair of stonewashed jeans takes roughly 500 gallons of water, including growing, dyeing and processing the cotton. A t-shirt? 700 gallons. The cup of coffee I'm drinking as I write this? 35 gallons. A pint of beer? 20 gallons.

Over 130 gallons of water to make a 2-liter bottle of soda (not sure if that counts making the bottle itself); and that hamburger adds another 630 gallons.

Pretty twisted, huh?

According to, the average American uses 176 gallons of water per day compared to 5 gallons of water the average African family uses each day.

That five-minute shower my teenage son takes uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day -- if they can get access.

Last night, received the World Social Impact Award from the World Policy Institute at its 50th Anniversary celebration.

Those of us in the audience were grouped by issues and asked to get into dialogue with our table mates. I sat at one of the water tables.

We were led in our discussion by Sanjay Bhatnagar of WaterHealth International and Dr. Upmanu Lall, the Alan and Carol Silberstein Professor of Engineering at Columbia University and director of the Columbia Water Center.

Our table quickly came up with a critical question: Why can't water get no respect?

Water is the Rodney Dangerfield of natural resources. And yet it's critical to our lives and livelihoods; indeed, our very survival depends on it.

We didn't have any answers, other than the usual fact that water isn't priced appropriately and it is relatively abundant. Perhaps we need price signals like we have for oil that tell us how much our water actually costs, one of our group suggested.

Dr. Lall shared with us some research he's privy to concerning a technology that may solve the production of clean drinking water. But our group was pretty clear that access will continue to be an issue that we need to address.

And that's why organizations like -- although they may be just a drop in the bucket of needs -- are so important and deserving of recognition.

Posted by Scott Edward Anderson at 5:51 AM
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Labels: environment, water,, World Policy Institute

Great do it yourself LCD temp display project with Arduino

code is there to copy, some feedback on the page is here:

Steve - great work on this. There is a lot of work on the internet about the DS18B20's, but little on simple applications on getting them to perform for the non-technical makers that have no engineering or programing backgrounds. This is important work, so please keep it up. This is a awesome IC that will have a big impact once the power of them are unleashed in simple to follow projects that are replicable by the average maker!!!
GadjetApril 27, 2011 5:17 AM

Thanks for this info, I've been looking everywhere for info on using multiple DS18B20s as I was struggling with assigning the different IDs to user variables, your post helped loads, thanks
mikeeJuly 1, 2011 4:34 PM

Hi, please where can I find OneWire.h,
and LiquidCrystal.h files?
Steve SpenceJuly 1, 2011 8:12 PM

OneWire.h and DallasTemperature.h are available at LiquidCrystal.h is included in the Arduino IDE.

Planning and Building a Greenhouse

Planning and Building a Greenhouse:

'via Blog this'

Denmark aims to get 50% of all electricity from wind power

The Danish government has stepped up its green energy and carbon reduction targets for 2020, hailing the plan as the "broadest, greenest, and most long-term energy agreement" it has ever reached.

Danish minister for climate, energy and building, Martin Lidegaard, confirmed on Friday that parliament had agreed a new set of goals designed to wean the country off oil and gas.

The deal aims to see Denmark cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels and decrease energy consumption by more than 12% compared to 2006.

It also aims to supply 35% of its total energy from renewables, with half of its electricity delivered by wind farms. The agreement also covers advances in renewable heat, smart grids, and biogas among other green technologies.

"Denmark will once again be the global leader in the transition to green energy," said Lidegaard. "This will prepare us for a future with increasing prices for oil and coal. Moreover, it will create some of the jobs that we need so desperately, now and in the coming years."

The agreement will help Denmark achieve its goal of supplying 100% of its energy from renewables by 2050, including electricity, heating, industry and transport.

Lidegaard added that the commitments would prevent consumer energy bills from soaring, by reducing the country's dependence on the volatile price of fossil fuels.

The commitment could also provide a boost to efforts across the European Union to increase its carbon emissions reduction target to 30% from the current 20%.

Earlier in March, Poland was the only state to vote against the shift, arguing the EU should wait for other countries to take similar measures first.

In Race against Carbon Catastrophe, Solar Power is Making Strides

by Juan Cole

The world probably needs to get back to 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere if truly radical climate change is to be avoided. But we are going in the wrong direction fast. In April, the Mauna Loa observatory measured CO2 in the atmosphere at about 396 parts per million, the highest recorded since records began being kept. The level was up nearly 3 ppm in a single year, itself an unusual statistic. Before the Industrial Revolution, at the time of the American Revolution, the level was 280 ppm. The Founding Fathers would already not recognize America’s balmy climate if they traveled in time to the present.

There are responsible and irresponsible players in this crisis. The Chinese are the most irresponsible in having the highest level of CO2 emissions, though they are actively trying to bring those down. Arguably the most irresponsible of all is the United States, with the second largest amount of CO2 emissions but doing very little about it (and our big corporations, including Big Media, are trying to exercise on us a Goebbels-like Big Lie that we needn’t do anything).

Then there are responsible countries, like Germany and Portugal, who are investing in renewables in a big way.

On last Friday afternoon, because of clear skies and good weather, Germany was at one point producing 22 gigawatts of solar power, a new record. Today (Monday) is a holiday in Germany, and electricity needs will be only a third of normal. So, for a couple hours this afternoon, all Germany’s electrical power needs will be supplied by renewable energy. That must be a first for an industrialized, G8 country.

Germany has defied the predictions of those who said that mothballing its nuclear plants would cause it to produce more CO2. Its carbon dioxide production was down 2% in the past year. It replaced 60% of its formerly nuclear-generated electricity production with renewables, and became 5% more efficient in using energy.

Germany’s achievement is owing in part to the influence in the 1990s of the Green Party on energy policy in that country. But soon investing in solar energy will no longer be high-minded, it will just be economic common sense. By 2017, even if you don’t count all the damage hydrocarbons do to the atmosphere, solar power will reach grid parity with them. That is, it will be economically competitive to put in a solar plant instead of a coal one. (In some areas of the US, solar grid parity will be reached in 2014). Of course if you factor in the health and climate damage caused by CO2 and other dirty emissions, solar is already much cheaper than hydrocarbons.

Japanese firms, with the Fukushima nuclear disaster/tsunami in mind, are going into solar energy in a big way. Kyocera is planning the world’s largest solar power farm in the south of the country, which will generate 70 megawatts. If Japanese technical innovation and scientific ingenuity is turned, as it seems like to be, to renewable energy, they may well rejuvenate their lagging economy and become a big player in the burgeoning solar and wind turbine markets. The Japanese public has turned against nuclear pretty decisively, as have most companies there. They have lost a lot of trust in their government and in the Tepco firm that managed Fukushima.

The Indian government is likewise planning to put in a fresh 10 gigawatts of solar energy production by 2017.

There are daily new technological breakthroughs both in wind turbines and solar cells that will make them more efficient and more competitive over time. The world is on the right track. It is just a day late and a dollar short. The US and China aren’t accomplishing what Germany is. Not to mention the rest of the world. We can’t get back to 350 ppm at this rate. We are going toward 450 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, which climate scientists such as James Hansen now warn is probably catastrophic for the earth and for human beings.

I’ve met many self-described “Realists” who hold two beliefs simultaneously: a)we need to control events in the middle east to secure energy supplies, and b) an industrial economy primarily powered by renewable energy is not an economical option for the foreseeable future, given that it needs high levels of subsidy and government intervention.

But the realists never seem to factor in the most expensive subsidy imaginable: the trillions that go into playing the Great Game across the middle east (and a few other regions). Military occupation, civil and military aid, the cost of dealing with blowback from terrorist groups responding to the incursions… the tangible economic costs are almost incalculable, before we even get into the deformation of American political life.

Perhaps the optimists are the true realists here.