The tech way
The words of author Jim Kunstler more than a month ago at a NESEA-sponsored forum still ring in my ears: "We're not going to organize our way out of [the climate crisis], and we're not going to tech our way out of it." I don't know if he's right (though I have to say that strong, declarative statements, forcefully stated from a public platform, do have a weight of their own), but he has certainly influenced my outlook. I thought of it several times at the show that followed, such as at BigBelly Solar's booth. Their foray into planet-saving is to build these big, heavy, solar-powered trash compactors and sell them to municipalities and large public sites as trash receptacles. I have to grant they they seem to offer several values: Crews have to come out less often, so you expend less energy and have to hire fewer people, and the solar cells ensure that buyers don't have to run power lines to the containers. Presumably, the bins are less likely to overflow, which can be a problem during large-scale public events. Even so, I've found myself wondering if all those embedded resources (the ore that was mined, the manufacturing of the metal, the technology) couldn't have been applied more gainfully in a world sitting at 385 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere, said already to exceed the safe limit of 350. When they read the roll of all the ways we saved the planet, it's hard to imagine that solar trash compactors will crack the top thousand. Does that mean everyone shouldn't do everything they can, even everything they can think of, to reduce their footprint? Well, yes, it might. What do you think? The impetus for my finally writing about this is this page listing 12 favorite energy ideas by the folks at environuts.com. (It comes via Digg/Environment, a compilation of green posts made popular by Digg readers.) There's not much there that's going to save the planet, but it showcases some fresh thinking, such as an alarm clock powered by no more than water and gravity and solar-powered phones (only two hours a day needed). But there's also a technology that harvests energy from revolving doors, which also may not break into the thousand.