Monthly Archives: February 2013
Mere days before China’s government is set to begin their annual legislative hearings, Beijing’s air pollution reaches a dangerous new high. Pollution is expected to be among the main topics to be addressed. Will China take the hint and get aggressive with their energy policy?
Increased air pollution means an increase of PM2.5 particles in the air. Prolonged exposure to these particles resulted in over 8,000 premature deaths in Beijing, Shanghai, Xi-an, and Guangzhou alone last year. According to the World Health Organization, a person should not expose themselves to PM2.5 levels of 25 or higher for more than 24-hours. In Beijing, levels are regularly recorded in the fifty range — nearly DOUBLE the recommended level.
On January 12th of this year, levels of PM2.5 in China rose to a mind-numbing 993. 993! People have been forced to wear masks to simply walk to the grocery store. Remember — the Earth only has one atmosphere. Their air will eventually become your air. That is why the issue of global warming cannot be confronted on a country-by-country basis. I requires inter-governmental cooperation to drastically reduce carbon emissions to ensure our air remains breathable, not just for another century, but for thousands of years to come.
And the problem isn’t just with our air, either. Pollution in the atmosphere makes its way to the ground in the form of rain, which seeps into our streams, and oceans. It pollutes our wells and drinking water. Like the first domino in a long chain of pollution, what we put into the air inevitably makes its way back into our bodies, one way or another.
This week, Chinese Newspapers protested the Environment Ministry’s refusal to make classified pollution information available to the public. The 21st Century Business Herald newspaper drew comparisons to the outbreak of SARS in 2003, which had also been kept secret from the public. It’s time for transparency in government. After all, isn’t government supposed to work FOR the people, not in spite of them? How can the public be expected to make informed decisions if the necessary information is kept from them? Change is never easy — let alone change in blind faith. It’s one thing to have to wear a mask to the grocery store. It’s another not to be allowed to know how many trips will kill you.
The chief pollutant responsible for China’s problem? Coal. Accounting for 19% of the total air pollution, the out-dated energy source continues to pump poison into our atmosphere. How little air has to be left before the world takes a serious look at our energy infrastructure? Sure, it may be China’s problem today. But tomorrow, it’s the USA’s. Next week, Europe’s. Air pollution spreads like cancer. What we need is an emergency procedure to remove the growth before it devours us from the inside, out.
Consider NRGLab’s SH-box the scalpel in this procedure. Without any grid modifications whatsoever, the SH-box is ready to start producing clean, natural energy from crystals. By converting environmental heat into electricity, these Boxes are capable of powering a community or a corporation. Because NRGLab thinks it’s about time we cleaned up our planet. Let’s start with our cities, and move on from there. Hopefully China takes the hint and the lead.
After the Russian meteor scare last week, many wondered why governments around the world seemed surprised and unprepared for the 10,000 ton death-rock hurling towards us. According to NASA scientists, the explosion in our atmosphere was the “equivalent to nearly 500,000 tons of TNT.”
But don’t worry. One country has come to the rescue. Drum roll, please for…
After today’s launch of the Indian Polar Space Launch Vehicle (PSLV), four Canadian satellites, including the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite (NEOSSat), will begin monitoring the skies for potential meteoric threats.
That’s right. Asteroid mining out of Canada. The Canadians have Bruce Willis and the team from Armageddon. Who could have foreseen that coming?
NEOSSat will be the first space telescope dedicated solely to finding Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) in our solar system. Unlike Earth-based, man-monitored telescopes, NEOSSat will operate 24/7, capturing hundreds of more images per day for analysis.
NEOSSat is tiny — only the size of a suitcase — and runs off of multi-band gap solar panels. It was launched into orbit 800 kilometers above the Earth, and represents our first line of defense against total annihilation.
I guess someone was listening when I said there were no more hero’s in today’s world. Continue proving me wrong, Canada.
So maybe you’re not an environmentalist. That’s OK. Maybe, despite the overwhelming evidence for global warming, you’re still not a believer. Maybe you think there are more pressing issues that need to be addressed. Like the economy, and the unemployment rate. Well — turns out all of these issues are intertwined.
Over the past sixty years, Earth’s steadily warming climate has cut into the amount of physical labor being performed by nearly 10%. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that percentage could double by the year 2050. The less work being done, the fewer jobs that will be available. Global warming represents a clear danger to the blue collar working class, also known as the 99%. The 1% of CEOs may feel a slight pinch in their pockets from a dip in the stock market. But they won’t lose their jobs. They won’t have to figure out how to feed their families. They’ll be OK.
As for the rest of the world, warmer air in the atmosphere holds more moisture for longer. Just ask anyone who’s ever visited the state of Florida, and they’ll tell you that humidity is nothing to be fooled with. It creates a stressful work environment and forces supervisors to reel in on hours and man power.
If Earth’s average temperature rises 6C, summer work will be nearly impossible. From New York harbor to the coast of California, workers will be forced to endure heat “beyond anything experienced in the world today”, said John Dunne, a representative of the NOAA. According to Dunne’s predictions, New York would become like Saudi Arabia. The only way to keep this from happening is to limit global warming to less than 3C.
Hover, the Earth has warmed by approximately 0.7C annually since the rise of industrial manufacturing. If things continue at this rate, Dunne’s worst case scenario may just come true.
The west coast of the United States and northern Europe will likely be two of the regions most affected by the rise in humidity. During a 2003 heatwave, 70,000 Europeans died from heat exhaustion. That was ten years ago. Imagine the damage the next heat wave will do.
If we want to follow Dunne’s advice and keep global warming to a minimum over the next four decades, we’re going to have to come up with alternative energy sources. Oil and carbon emitting fuels got us into this mess. Do we really think they’re going to get us out?
Cutting down won’t cut it. (Pun intended) With the rate of warmth growing exponentially, drastic measures are needed to turn our infrastructure upside down, before it’s too late, and it’s too hot to work towards a solution. Companies like NRGLab have dedicated themselves to developing practical energy alternatives. Join them in their effort to save the world, one SH-box at a time.
As I predicted, gas prices in America have soared to all-time seasonal highs. According to AAA spokesman John Townsend, ‘February “is the most expensive we’ve seen gasoline in the dead of winter.”
Despite vehicles becoming more fuel-efficient and more people growing conscious of the miles they’re driving, the bills just aren’t reflecting this progress. In a study performed by the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical American family spends roughly $3,000 a year on gas. This includes heating the house. Driving to work. Things that, if re-imagined, could be accomplished just the same via alternative energy sources.
In February, the national average for gasoline rose to $3.80 a gallon. (On the West Coast of California, it’s more like $4.00 plus) This price depends on a number of factors, of which the American Institute for Energy Research has broken down into four basic components:
1. World markets
2. Refining costs
4. And distribution markup.
Saudi Arabia produces 700,000 fewer barrels now compared to a year ago. As a result, market competition between Iran and Iraq has increased. Add to that the current civil uprising in Syria, another major crude oil producer, and it’s no wonder why, with the American government’s dependency on foreign oil, people are paying the price. There are even talks of America raising the national gas tax, which has been stable at 18.4 cents per gallon for almost twenty years.
It seems like everything costs more these days. From diapers to highways, as the costs of raw materials rises, so too will taxes. If history has proven one point: it’s that citizens have rarely given into increased taxation without some sort of push back. Families are already struggling to survive and cannot afford to pay more for gasoline. IT’S TIME FOR AN ALTERNATIVE.
And not just a hypothetical one, either. We need real solutions, like the one offered by NRGLab. Their crystal technology produces natural electricity that’s not only green and good for the environment, but good for the American wallet as well. Because times are tough. The government needs to stop offering temporary solutions to structural issues (like the gas tax hike), and repair the structure from the foundation up.
We now have a number. Scientists from Oxford University say an increase of merely 1.5C will be enough to send the world reeling into an Apocalyptic scenario.
This increase in temperature will begin to melt Siberia’s permafrost. Covering roughly a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere’s total land surface area, the melted permafrost could release hundreds of GIGATONNES of methane and carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.
Though scientists claim that this type of melting could take decades to reach, the fact remains: in the spectrum of billions of years, mankind’s occupancy his been minimal, yet disastrous.
Compare our time on Earth to the stalactites and stalagmites studied in Siberia. They’ve formed over hundreds of thousands of years from melting permafrost dripping into the caves. Through ice ages and vast civilizations, warming periods and wars, they’ve grown and shrunk with the environment. Scientists can measure individual stalactites and stalagmites much like loggers can measure the age of trees — by cutting into them. (Only scientists use radio-carbon dating instead of saws.) They’re then able to examine growth and decay rates, which can be linked to specific periods in history.
Scientists discovered that Siberian stalactites experienced rapid growth during a period dating back 400,000 years, when temperatures were 1.5C higher than today. This finding indicates that permafrost will melt just as quickly again if temperatures rise to a similar level.
Presently, the global temperature is approximately 0.6C-0.7C above pre-industrial revolution levels.
Anton Vaks, of Oxford’s Earth Sciences department and one of the chief scientists on the Siberian team, hinted that their findings could have an affect on energy infrastructure, including the laying of natural gas pipelines and future drilling operations. Oh, and one more thing: it could send the world into complete, and total chaos. “Although it wasn’t the main focus of our research, our work also suggests that in a world 1.5C warmer – warm enough to melt the coldest permafrost – adjoining regions would see significant changes. Mongolia’s Gobi Desert could become much wetter than it is today.”
New oceans, drowning our deserts. Coastline cities under water. Sounds like the plot of a Hollywood movie, though I assure you — the threat is all too real. We need to gain an appreciation for consequences, and the domino-effect our every decisions, even the simple ones, have on the rest of the world. Leaving the water running while brushing your teeth. Leaving that extra light on when you’re not even in the room. These things seem trivial, and yet they add to the overall problem of global warming and energy consumption.
Consumption has been taken off the table of debate, since democracies often equate consumption with personal freedom. So then, what can we do? We must re-evaluate our means of energy production and distribution. A good way to start? The SH-box by NRGLab — a device designed as a cost-effective alternative to carbon emitting fuel sources.
We will decide the world we live in. Whether that’s a good or bad thing remains to be seen. Every pipeline feeds our consumption habits, which warm the planet, making it harder to lay more pipelines, which makes gas more expensive, and people poorer and more stressed. The end of the world doesn’t always lie at the bottom of an ocean. Sometimes, it lies at the bottom of ourselves.
American President Barack Obama has come under heat lately for his use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, to take out potential terror targets, both domestically and abroad. The president does not need congressional approval, nor concrete evidence, to take out anyone the administration deems ‘threatening’.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the world is reacting to this issue properly. Allow me to reiterate: the leader of the free world has unbridled authority to use flying robots to kill people presumed guilty before innocent. Does not the opposite ideal lie at the heart of the democratic justice system: innocent before proven guilty?
The real danger in a defense policy like this is the precedent it sets. In the future, Americans could be looking at the revocation of basic rights. Free speech. Freedom of assembly. When one individual is given an ambiguous amount of power, it’s only a matter of time before that extent is challenged. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Now, there are a number of strong arguments in favor of drones. They cost one-tenth of current fighter jets. They’re less detectable in enemy airspace. And strongest of all — they take pilots out of the cockpit. Any option that reduces human causalities cannot simply be ignored.
So, what can we do to keep people safe, while at the same time keeping the government’s power in check? Cheap energy. With the money saved from the transition to drone warfare, the government should invest in a new energy infrastructure and alternative means of energy production. By reducing the basic cost of electricity and making it more accessible to the middle and lower classes, people will, in a sense, enjoy a wider sense of ‘freedom’ in this digital world. More people will be able to develop applications for, say, the iPhone. More people will be able to play and test video games for more systems designed by more programmers.
The world of the 9-5, punch the clock is over. We live vicariously through Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet now. According to a poll by Reuters, one in five people worldwide telecommunicate to work. That number could be much higher, and make a major dent in unemployment rates, if energy became a resource evenly distributed, instead of a competitive market.
NRGLab wants to give more people the means to work from home. To be creative. To be innovative. To lend their voice to the global discussion. Energy alternatives, and products like the SH-box, offer real, cost-effective solutions, and should be looked at seriously by those in politics who understand: in order to be re-elected, you have to keep the voting public happy.
If people are going to be forced to trade freedom for a sense of security, you better believe they’ll be looking for some sort of compensation. Why not give them cheap electricity?
Compelling evidence has recently surfaced linking the People’s Liberation Army to serious hacking attacks on over 100 U.S. companies over the past seven years. Information on market trends and developing technologies is chief among the data believed to be targeted, although exactly what information has been stolen remains to be released. This obviously gives the Chinese government a tremendous advantage in competing in the global economy. With insight into competitors’ accounting books and Research & Development patents, China can manipulate the market to do its bidding.
What will happen because of this? Prices will fluctuate, and will be difficult to predict. As most of us know, a majority of cheap manufacturing is out-sourced to countries like China. The American government, along with most of the world’s super powers, rely so heavily on China’s export business that any additional leverage in China’s favor may tip the economical balance for good.
Of course, spokesmen representing the Chinese government continue to refute these reports. They deny any and all involvement in these corporate hacking cases. In fact, they have gone as far as to suggest China may also be a victim of hackers. Talk about trying to deflect attention!
Now the question is: how should the world respond to these allegations of hacking? As aforementioned, China plays a pivotal role on the world’s economic stage. However, as any good director will tell you, no role is larger than the play itself. (Save, perhaps, Macbeth) The world needs for the Chinese government to recognize this, without instigating an economic stand-off. If that happens, the world will surely delve into a “cut off your nose to spite your face” scenario. National economies, especially those whose strengths do not lie in manufacturing, will suffer. They will be hostages to China’s export industry — forced to give into unreasonable demands in order to survive.
We all know that governments spy on one another. This is no big secret. (How many James Bond movies have they made?) The argument could be made that if China is clever enough to find weaknesses in a company’s digital security, why not take advantage and “sneak a peak”, so to speak? But is that really the world we want to live in? Where competition means dragging the opponent down instead of rising to meet the challenge? It’s like steroids in baseball: sure, maybe most players are doing it, but that doesn’t make it right. Capitalism and our globalized economy remain, in principal, systems based on hard-work and the righteous will of the individual. If we take ‘righteousness’ and the ‘individual’ out of the equation, and replace them with ‘deceit’ and the ‘company’, what are we really left with?
What do you consider ‘living standards’? Well, I suppose that depends on where you live in the world. Are you reading this from San Francisco, California, USA? Or are you reading it from a crank-powered laptop somewhere in Uganda?
Living standards are what we consider, in a cultural context, to be ‘suitable’ for the ‘average’, middle-class person. Now, of course governments in power have a heavy hand in laying out what is, and is not, considered ‘suitable’. But in 2013, the USA, Europe and Japan are expected to witness significant declines in living standards. While the size of the middle class shrinks, the socio-political tensions rise. The governments of these countries will increase taxation on the population and corporations. The amount of world trade will continue to drop. Living standards for the ‘average’ person will dwindle.
Currently, China is reevaluating their internal manufacturing system in order to satisfying their decaying national economy. Their export business will suffer, and therefore, the world will suffer. Only one thing can solve the Chinese conflict with their middle class — and that’s cheap energy.
In order to prevent economic collapse on a global, unfathomable scale, governments must start investing in alternative green energies like NRGLab. Their crystal technology is not only natural, but produces electricity at $0.03/kW, which is pennies of current costs. If cheap energy is made universally accessible, perhaps people will be more motivated to pursue individual means of support. They won’t rely on the government as much. They won’t worry about paying more in taxes, because they’ll be saving money on their monthly energy bills.
We need to address the issue of potential civil unrest as the economy continues to grow on a global scale. Initiatives only succeed as far as the consensus is willing to take them. NRGLab is determined to provide the world with a new, clean source of energy: the SH-box. Are you willing to help them take it the rest of the way?
On Friday, a meteor descended on Chelyabinsk, Russia at a speed of 18.6 miles per second. They were lucky – the meteor would have been as big as a 15-story building had it not disintegrated in the atmosphere!
Is it possible some people were expecting this to happen? We have been raised on sci-fi movies are somewhat de-sensitized when it comes to meteors. We immediately think of movies like Armageddon and Deep Impact. Come Saturday morning, some folks were excited having had survived the meteor. Others were shocked that our advanced missile defense systems proved utterly useless. (Turns out blasting meteors out of space only works in Hollywood. So much for trillions of dollars spent on defense.)
The truth is people tend to think of themselves as all-powerful and all-mighty beings. In the movies, the heroes always have muscles and access to the most high-tech equipment. They never get shot. They always get the girl. And in the end, just before the credits roll, they somehow save the day.
But this is a fantasy! Men are egotistical fools who rarely use technology for good; who shoot each other quite often. Mankind’s biggest accomplishment, to date, has been surviving for thousands of years despite our apparent genetic disposition for blood lust. Sure, we’ve invented a great number of things. From the internet to capitalism. Java to baseball. But have these innovations helped us progress, or have they sunk us further into disillusionment?
Hollywood heroes do not exist. Bruce Willis isn’t waiting to take off in a space ship, plant a nuke on a meteor, and (spoiler alert) save the earth from sure-fire destruction. We have learned much while at the same time, learned nothing. We’re afraid to face the truth: men are not heroes. We are fools who think we can conquer anything we set our sights on. The Earth. Outer Space. Nothing is out of mankind’s dominion.
So while we talk about the economy, climate-change, and advancements in new technology, let’s not forget – we’re all just one giant meteor away from being wiped from this Earth, like the woolly mammoths and dinosaurs before us. Poof! Gone. Just like that.
What happened, Iceland? Three years ago, your government set a precedent by passing legislation banning all internet censorship. It was a bold move in keeping technology free, preserving the internet as a populous tool. Now, this week, your government is taking a vote on a bill that will ban, you guessed it — internet pornography.
Iceland is considering adopting legislation similar to Thailand’s firewall-filter. As always, the justification by Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson is that pornography “threatens our children.” In Thailand, where the internet has been available for over twenty years, the government prevents browsers from gaining access to certain websites. This morally misguided attempt to police the internet threatens the fundamental philosophy of technology: that it’s of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Censorship is a slippery slope. It begins as a protectorate built upon politicians’ best intentions. But soon, like an overbearing and abusive parent, it keeps society from maturing; from decided for itself what’s “good” and “bad,” and learning from experience. We live in an age of unheralded information. An age where we can freely exchange ideas with the click of a mouse. Just see the Egyptian revolution, where twitter helped usurp a tyrannical government. The internet is a tool, a technology, with immense power. And with immense power, as American comic-book legend Stan Lee once wrote, comes great responsibility.
Our responsibility is to make sure technology protects our freedom, not our soul. Iceland’s proposed bill would require human censors to personally check every alleged pornographic website and judge whether or not it is “acceptable.” So, is a website showing a woman how to perform a breast exam considered acceptable? How about an exercise video, where the participants are wearing tight spandex? Or an article on AIDS research?
I bring up this legal debate because it represents a much larger concern. Who should decide what is best for society: the government, or the individual? In terms of energy policy and the future of climate change, who should decide what’s best for our planet: the government, or the individual? Perhaps it depends on a healthy balance of both. Either way, in order to spread ideas, opinions, and developments in green-energy, we need tools like the internet. If we concede this tool, we lose the ability to cooperate on a global scale. The innovative work of NRGLab and other environmental awareness groups will go unnoticed. Ignorance will spread like a cancer. Our world, along with our freedom, our creativity, and our passion, will slowly die.
It’s a slippery slope, censoring technology. As the adage goes: if you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll want a glass of milk.