Posts Tagged ‘wind’

A Climate Convergence in San Francisco

A Climate Convergence in San Francisco

Organizers call San Francisco “flagship” event for worldwide campaign

Christopher Penalosa / KQED More than a thousand people marched down Market Street in San Francisco for the Moving Planet rally.


Posted 24 September 2011, by Sarah Terry-Cobo, KQED News – Climate Watch,


About a thousand people marched in San Francisco on Saturday, chanting slogans, carrying signs and wearing costumes. But unlike many demonstrations that frequent the City by the Bay, the Moving Planet rally was one of hundreds around the world, calling for action and awareness to halt global climate change.

Organized by, the non-profit founded by author and activist Bill McKibben, the San Francisco rally brought together some predictable allies, such as the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the Berkeley-based Ecology Center, but it also included groups with broader aims, such as the National Organization for Women, Food Not Bombs and 100,000 Poets for Peace. McKibben’s group is devoted to reducing carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere to 350 parts per million (from the current 390 ppm), a number that some scientists estimate could stave off catastrophic effects of climate change.

Chris Penalosa / KQED Bill McKibben addresses the crowd at the Moving Planet rally in San Francisco

“Every country on Earth — except for probably, North Korea — is having rallies around this wonky data point, 350 parts per million CO2,” said McKibben in an interview after addressing the San Francisco gathering.

n the absence of national climate change legislation, McKibben told the crowd, it’s important to “put our bodies on the line.” The Vermont-based activist is one of about 1,200 people that was arrested August 20 for protesting in front of the White House the proposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring crude oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas.

Michael Brune, President of the national Sierra Club noted that his organization was the first to create “blue-green” alliances between environmental and labor groups.

“What we’re trying to do is find a way to make this an issue that brings us together, that doesn’t divide folks, so this doesn’t punish one industry and reward another,” said Brune in a separate interview.

Brune added that the Sierra Club is working with clean technology companies to ramp up renewable energy. “We firmly believe the road to a clean energy future is one that will make our country more economically resilient,” he said.

Chris Penalosa / KQED Carl Anthony, a long-time Bay Area activist for environmental and social justice, addressed the crowd.

Another focus of the afternoon rally was the connection to environmental justice, the concept that poor communities and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by pollution of all types. Carl Anthony, founder of Urban Habitat, one of the nation’s oldest environmental justice organizations, spoke to an energetic crowd packed into Civic Center Plaza. He emphasized that people, not just polar bears, are affected by climate change.

“Global warming is a climate justice issue,” he told the rally. “The people of color, the poor people, the indigenous people will bear the burden of climate change, even though they, less than anyone else, are responsible for our CO2 emissions.”

He continued, “This means that any solution we come up with for climate change must also be a solution for social and racial justice.”

“We have the opportunity in California, to take money away from suburban sprawl…to rebuild a public transportation system that works for poor people as well as rich people,” Anthony said, citing the Sustainable Communities legislation that would redirect $218 billion to rebuild public transportation.

Many people took public transit to the day’s event. Cassie Barr rode BART to the rally from Oakland with her six-year-old son, Philip. She said she wanted to make a statement that people should do more to avert climate change and that she supports an outright tax on carbon emissions. “I think it’s the only way to get businesses — corporations — serious about lowering their CO2 levels,” said Barr.

Jordan Pacheco also took BART from Moraga with his five-year-old daughter, Macy, “…because this is her planet too.” Pacheco works for the solar panel installation company Sungevity, on the firm’s design and engineering team.

In the future, he said, “I would like to see a more openness to any kind of alternative energy, whether its solar, wind, anything. I think the politics have taken over to the point where there’s no common sense anymore.”

Chris Penalosa / KQED Employees from Sungevity hold a parachute painted with a depiction of the Earth.

Bill Carney, president of Sustainable San Rafael helped to organize participation from Marin county. In recent years, activists there won state approval for a community-owned energy company, after much resistance from the investor-owned Pacific Gas & Electric, he said.

“There are many sources of renewables: hydro, solar wind, or methane and with the funding to our local power provider, they are able to buy that energy but [also] create a local marketplace for additional generators of that clean electricity,” said Carney.

Falling back on a familiar metaphor with a global warming theme, Carney said, “Events like this really are the tip of the iceberg of public awareness that is really growing by leaps and bounds.”



5 micro wind turbines that can have a big impact on the environment


5 micro wind turbines that can have a big impact on the environment


Posted 12 September 2011, by Mahashweta Patra, EcoFriend (Instamedia),



Wind energy generators have been around for centuries in various shapes and sizes. But as the eco-friendliness becomes a constant topic for concern, the wind energy generator or windmills are moving up in the preferred list of those concerned about energy and environment. Wind is one of the natural and renewable sources for thermal power generation. Scientifically, it is defined as conversion of kinetic energy (the motion energy) into mechanical power. However, large sized wind turbines are mainly suitable for the sea side or hill top areas. Therefore, many micro wind turbines (about 5+ meter of height) have been designed and have become very popular for generating sufficient electric power. Micro turbines are mainly suitable for off-grid places, where national grid electricity can not be accessible. The entire process comprises of the storage of generated electricity first in battery banks and then the circulation of the energy via inverters in the form of 240 A.C electricity.


When it was realized that micro turbines were not apt for urban areas, basically because of its noisy generator and poor functionality in low average wind speed, micro wind turbines became very popular. The micro wind turbines also provide an additional support to national grid electricity for specific areas. The micro wind turbine can be fitted on the roof tops conveniently and is capable of producing enough power for basic household consumption. These micro wind turbines are quieter with minimal vibration than the conventional turbines. There are several domestic micro wind turbines such as Windsave 1000 and D400 StealthGen, which are available in cost effective rates and are eco-friendly as well.

Here is the list of various types of micro wind turbines:

1.Skystream 3.7– The Original Skystream Personal Wind Turbine


Skystream 3.7: The Original Skystream Personal Wind Turbine

Skystream 3.7 wind turbine is well suited for homes and business areas. The most exciting feature of this energy generating machine is that, it functions even in low wind environment. It is a user friendly machine and can be easily controlled with the help of Skyview monitoring software installed in your computer system. This Skystream 3.7 comes in a sleek and modish design and there are monopole towers of varied lengths. Good efficiency even in low wind speed (due to presence of special blades which are swept shaped) and excellent durability with easy to operate are some of the highlights of this micro wind turbine. It also comes with a warranty of 5 years. The entire set up is capable of producing 400 Kilowatt hours of electric power per month and is highly recommended for schools and government buildings.

2.Bergey Excel


Excel: Bergey Excel

Bergey Excel was introduced first in the year of 1983. This wind turbine is installed at around 1,800 sites across the world till date. Recently, this specific turbine has been upgraded with powerful alternator and larger blades to enhance its efficiency and performance by 25 percent. This machine basically designed with around 7-meter diameter is estimated to produce approx 10,000 W power. Bergey Excel wind turbine is available in two configurations: grid-connected and battery charging form. It is highly reliable turbine and requires very low maintenance and functions in the adverse weather conditions as well. Also available with varied height towers (18m to 43m) and bending versions, these micro wind turbines are also offered as per your location. It is highly recommended for locations like Eco- tourism resorts, larger tele-communication sites, big rural areas, remote villages and places with lesser facilities. The price ranges varies from 25,770$ to 31,770$ due to upgradation with a voltage regulator or a grid synchronous inverter

3.Whisper 500

Whisper 500: Micro wind turbine

The Whisper 500 turbine is specifically designed to encounter the harsh and high speed wind conditions. The attention has been paid to its extraordinary design, which includes two blades with fiberglass reinforced design. The component named angle governor helps in protection of the turbine by turning the blades and alternator out of the wind. As a result, there is less exposure of turbine in high speed environment conditions. The side-furling angle governor basically helps in carrying out smooth functioning of the turbine resulting into the high yield of energy by this machine. It produces around 500 Kilowatt Hours of power every month with the wind speed of 12 mph. The only drawback of this machine is that it is not suitable for the installation in marine areas.

4. AeroVironment Architectural Wind

Architectural Wind: AeroVironment Architectural Wind

This particular kind of turbine is quite different from the conventional wind turbines, specifically in terms of design. The AeroVironment Architectural Wind design is such that it can contribute in easy production of thermal energy. It is mainly designed for commercial buildings and can also add up to the architectural beauty of the building. This micro turbine is to be placed at specific positions of the building to take the complete advantage of accelerated wind that eventually results into 50 percent maximum production of thermal energy than the power generated by the systems located outside the acceleration zone. This clean culture of power generation is very popular and adapted by most of the commercial offices.

5.Southwest Windpower AIR X marine

AIR XSouthwest Windpower AIR X marine

Southwest Windpower AIR X marine is considered as the latest evolution in the history of micro wind turbines. The AIR-X turbine is the world’s largest selling turbine so far. The special features associated with this machine make it more advanced and popular in contemporary time. The additional features include a micro-processor to regulate the speed that helps in enhancing the performance, advanced body charging capability and reduction in loud noise generated by the device. The controller attached to the main machine helps in keeping a track of the wind by controlling the function of the alternator. The main function of the cubic curve alternator is to generate the energy to be delivered to the battery. The smart controller of the turbine helps in proper movement of the blades and reduces the possibilities of flutter noise.

Recently, a new range of carbon reinforced blades with optimum angle direction has been introduced. These are very useful in increasing power production. The noise system is basically controlled by the efficient electronic circuit system of this micro wind turbine type. For example the electronic circuit system slows down the blades in case of heavy winds. Apart from this, special battery set up has also been introduced which mainly focuses on high battery durability and no overcharging. Any battery size bank between 25 amp-25,000 amp hours or higher can easily be associated with this kind of turbine. Also there is a special auto brake feature to slow down the AIR-X turbine to silent spin when the battery is fully charged and indirectly also helps in reducing noise. The highlight of this turbine system is that a manual switch on-off control option is attached to it. This wind turbine design is highly resistant to any critical situation of wind, sun and water and does not require any additional support of a tower.

Related Stories:

A peek at Nacelle, the colossal part of wind turbines

New micro-turbines can produce electricity from slightest of breezes

Wind turbines that are designed to be an architectural asset!



Growing little by little

Growing little by little


Posted 09 September 2011, by Kwanele Sosibo, The Mail & Guardian Online,


A community farm in Phillipi produces fruit and vegetables on a small scale. (David Harrison, M&G)

Rain, wind-blown sand and sunshine jostle for dominance. There is no one in sight except for older women hunched over well-maintained rows of healthy looking vegetable plants at the Siyazama Community Allotment Garden Association in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

“There is too much wind in Khayelitsha,” says Monica Dilla when I comment on her extensive use of protective tunnels. “It destroys the spinach, giving it black streaks. The sun also burns the crops and makes the sand dry very quickly, forcing us to irrigate twice a day when it’s sunny.”

Dilla runs a co-op called Masikhanye Food Garden, measuring about 1.2 hectares, with 19 other women at the edge of the Siyazama association’s land. It was started in 2000, three years after the association’s first garden was established in the township. Masikhanye also has gardens in other parts of Khayelitsha, such as Harare.

In their entirety, the association’s gardens cover about 3.5 hectares of a narrow stretch of municipal land that was once temporarily occupied by Eskom. According to the Abalimi Bezekhaya organisation, which assists communities like these to establish gardens, it is the first community garden of its size in Cape Town.

Although the Siyazama gardens are thriving, Nobesuthu Mgomane, a gardener who is in her fifties, says membership of the association has dwindled as women have left because of old age or impatience.

“There isn’t a big youth movement in this sector,” says Dilla, who qualifies for a pension in October. “Many regard it as a job for old people who are uneducated. So we still have to find ways of getting them involved.”

With the help of Abalimi Bezekhaya, Masikhanye Food Garden sells its produce to suburban Capetonians at a weekly market known as Harvest of Hope. Crates with a variety of vegetables fetch R95 each and Dilla says the co-op makes between R8 000 and R11 000 a month, which is divided among the women. They also distribute food parcels of vegetables to members of the group twice a week.

The department of social development has reportedly told Masikhanye that it “needs to be sustainable and can’t be babysat forever”.

Masikhanye has joined forces with other farmers to form the Vukuzenzele Farmers’ Association, with the aim of approaching the department of rural development and land reform to acquire more land and access bigger markets.

In the long run this could bolster Masikhanye’s fortunes, because it struggles to meet the demands of a larger-scale market closer to it. “The Phillipi [fruit and vegetable] market wants us to pay for stalls and they demand a lot of quantity. We are small farmers — where are we going to get pallets of carrots?” asked Dilla.

In the heart of Phillipi other community farmers who are constrained by space, failing crops and the need to make a living are contemplating repatriating to the Eastern Cape. Rose Makosa, who has lived in the township for more than 20 years, wants to return to her ancestral home to work with young people.

Looking over the 400m² plot she cultivates with her colleagues from the Sakhulwazi Women’s Organisation, she says: “This is not farming. In the Eastern Cape there is a lot of land that we can use. There are huge tracts of land where our fathers used to plant. Those children [living there now] may as well learn to be farmers.

“If we can get a government contract we can supply prisons, orphanages and hospitals with our produce. Then we can begin to reverse urbanisation, which has only succeeded in turning our youth into criminals.”

In a good month the garden generates about R3 500, which is distributed among the organisation’s 10 members, who also make beads to earn extra income.

But good months have been evading Makosa and her colleagues recently. When Makosa — the only one in the group who has received horticultural training — recently went on a six-week trip to the Eastern Cape, she came back to an unkempt garden, which suggested that her colleagues’ strengths lay more in beadwork than agriculture. Part of their crop failed because of a pest problem that they were ill-equipped to handle.

Makosa says she has appealed to the group’s sponsor, the non-profit organisation Heart’s project, called FoodTents, to assist urgently with the problem. “People get demotivated because they have to wait so long for a harvest,” said Shaun Cairns of FoodTents, which sponsored the group with its patented protective covering. It has taken over the site and turned it into a “grow zone” where it plans intensive training sessions to assist potential small-scale farmers to turn a profit from the crops they produce.

The protection afforded by the food tents, which cushion plants from the harsh elements, helps farmers to reduce the impact of inclement weather on their crops. They could, in the future, in other contexts across the region, help mitigate the effects of climate change and water shortages.

Kwanele Sosibo is the Eugene Saldanha Fellow in social justice reporting, supported by CAF Southern Africa. This feature was produced in partnership with the Southern Africa Trust

Rainy days

  • Trends suggest that large regions of Africa — particularly the Sahel and part of Southern Africa — could experience a warming of 3°C to 6°C by 2100.
  • Precipitation patterns will be affected dramatically, declining by more than 20% compared to 1990 levels.
  • More than 95% of Africa’s agriculture is rain-fed. Agricultural production will be severely compromised by climate variability and change. The amount of arable land, the duration of growing seasons and the yield per hectare are all expected to decrease, adversely affecting food security and exacerbating malnutrition.
  • Three-quarters of African countries are in zones where small reductions in rainfall could cause large declines in overall water availability. By 2020, between 75-million and 250-million people are projected to be exposed to increased water stress.



Winona LaDuke Speaks on Mining and Other Environmental Issues 2011 (TV)

Winona LaDuke Speaks on Mining and Other Environmental Issues 2011 (TV)


Posted 09 September 2011, by Staff, News From Indian Country (Indian Country Communications, Inc),


Winona LaDuke was the 1st American Indian woman to ever run as vice presidential candidate alongside Ralph Nader on the Green Party ticket. She is a known environmental activist and a Harvard educated economist.

For the last four years, Tommy Nelson has sponsored a birthday party for Winona at the infamous Tom’s Burned Down Cafe in downtown LaPointe on Madeline Island off of northern Wisconsin Lake Superior coast. Here she discussed the impact of big corporations and their attempt to mine and exploit the lands of Native and other Americans.


Winona LaDuke speaks on Mining and other Environmental issues 2011

Video Link:


Watch live streaming video from indiancountrytv at


Click here to watch the video on the original website.


(Ed Note: Please visit the original site for more video content)


Iranian greens fear disaster as Lake Orumieh shrinks

Iranian greens fear disaster as Lake Orumieh shrinks

Football chants and street protests raise profile of fight to save Unesco-listed site

A ship left high and dry on the solidified salt of Lake Orumieh, which has lost half its surface area. Photograph: Vahid Salemi/AP


Posted 05 September 2011, by , The Guardian News and Media Ltd.,



The fate of a shrinking salt lake is the last thing you would expect football fans to chant about – but Iranians are doing all they can to stop a looming ecological disaster.

Lake Orumieh in north-west Iran, one of the world’s largest salt lakes and a Unesco biosphere reserve, is disappearing due to drought and government mismanagement, and has become a major cause of concern for environmental activists and ordinary people in the Islamic republic.

Thousands of Iranians from Tabriz and Orumieh, two cities in Iran’s Azerbaijan region, have come out on streets over the past few weeks in protest at the government’s failure to protect the lake, which has already lost half of its surface in recent years. Lake Orumieh is situated at the heart of the region, home to the country’s Azeri ethnic minority, whose activists claim they have been marginalised in recent years.

On Saturday security forces on motorcycles in Tabriz and Orumieh clashed with thousands of protesters who gathered in scattered groups raising alarms over the lake’s disappearance. Experts have said the salt lake, crucial to agriculture and tourism, could dry out completely in the next few years.

Amateur videos posted on YouTube and social networking websites, believed to have been taken from Saturday’s events, show riot police attacking what appears to be a peaceful protest. Opposition websites said riot forces wielded batons and used teargas and plastic bullets to disperse protesters who were chanting “Lake Orumieh is thirsty”. Scores of protesters, including several environmental activists, have been arrested. The committee of human rights reporters in Iran reported on Monday that Farank Farid, a prominent women’s rights activist, was among the protesters currently held in custody.

A website affiliated to South Azerbaijan’s student movement claimed that protesters were injured in clashes with security forces. The association for defence of Azerbaijani political prisoners in Iran reported that eyewitnesses said at least one person was killed.

“According to the eyewitnesses, a protester was killed by the Iranian riot police in Tarbiat Street of the city of Tabriz. The body was immediately removed by the security forces,” ADAPP said. The association reported protesters were chanting “Lake Orumieh is dying! Iran is issuing its execution”, “Long live Azerbaijan”.

Protesters blame the gradual drying of the salt lake on the government and its policies of damming rivers, but officials say drought and global warming has caused the disaster.

Some 36 dams have been built on rivers on the way to Lake Orumieh. Etemaad, a reformist newspaper, reported that the water level in Lake Orumieh falls by 3mm every day.

Experts say the government has refused to acknowledge the severity of the problem, which could have catastrophic environmental consequences. Fields of vine, almond and garlic in the region are dependant on Lake Orumieh. Experts say the intensity of the wind in the region would mean any salt left behind as the lake dries would destroy flora and fauna in the surrounding area, and also be harmful to humans.

Unable to stage street protests freely, Iranians have exploited every opportunity to voice alarm over the lake’s fate. Football fans have chanted slogans in relation to the salt lake in stadiums since April. Activists are planning to stage another protest on Friday during a football match in Tehran’s Azadi stadium, which holds up to 100,000 people.

Recent unrest in the Azarbaijan region saw familiar scenes to those witnessed in the aftermath of Iran’s post-election protest in 2009.

Some analysts have seen these protests as being inspired by, and a continuation of, the unrest in 2009 and have even linked them to the uprisings in the Arab world. But there is little evidence to suggest recent events are connected to anti-regime movements.

Saturday’s protests came after the Iranian parliament refused to fast-track a bid, proposed by local MPs, to feed the lake with water from a nearby river. Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency published a letter, signed by 22 MPs, urging parliament to act on the issue. Speaking to Khabaronline, a news website, Javad Jahangirzadeh, an MP for the city of Orumieh, said: “In my view, the issue [of Lake Orumieh] should not be seen as a security issue and it should not be politicised. It is a social and environmental issue which we can rescue and it can be solved by the human.”

He added: “Out of 100 people who come and visit me, 99 of them ask about Lake Orumieh, which shows it has become a sensitive issue for them. People follow the lake’s fate, how can I stay silent and ignore their demands regarding an issue which shows their interest in the environment?”

Last year Iran’s state television, Press TV, said the lake’s problems were because “declining rainfall, climate change, and rising temperatures accelerate the evaporation process”. were to be blamed.

Environmental experts fear that Lake Orumieh might see the fate of a lake in neighbouring countries, known as Aral Sea, which was formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world but has almost disappeared due to aggressive irrigation projects during the Soviet Union era.

Iranian media were not allowed to report the protests but an official news agency acknowledged that a gathering had taken place on Saturday.



How to build a vertical axis wind turbine using recycled parts

How to build a vertical axis wind turbine using recycled parts

Vertical Axis Wind Turbine. Made from recycled materials


Posted 03 September 2011, by Sneha Upadhyaya, EcoFriend (Instamedia),

1980’s copy of Mother Earth News had pushed the designers and developers towards making a Savonius turbine through assembling the 55 gallon PVC containers from closest flange and sheet metal screws. This was probably to flourish a design from recycled stuffs. The essence of this design is that such Vertical-axis wind turbine can resist over 70 MPH winds and that too without destruction.


Complexity level: Moderate

Time required: It depends on the expertise and experience so differs from person to person.

Materials required:

1. Plastic (50 to 60 gallon)

2. Compass or sharpie

3. String or straight edge

4. Poly vinyl chloride pipes

5. Closest flat surface

6. Screws of sheet metal and nuts

7. Hand tools or electric tools

8. Washers

9. Lazy Susan supporter

10. Plank

11. Generator

12. Wire or chain

Procedure to build vertical axis wind turbine using recycled parts:

Step 1: Bisecting outline on container: Deal cautiously and do not slash diagonally or across the thick tube-shaped opening. Use sharpie and straight edge or compass and string and draw bisecting outline on container.

Step 2: Slash the containers and unite the halves: Do not let the container move while slashing the long sides of the container. Bring a piece of wood or any device to firm the position of the container or fix the container next to the wall by a solid article that is heavy in weight. Use the hand tool to slash the container. Arrange the containers and fasten them from closest flange.

Step 3: Use poly vinyl chloride pipes: Hit the pipes through all of the containers to situate them at ninety degrees away from each other. Drill into the pipe through the closest flat surface and place the container by using the rivets of sheet metal to the surface.

Step 4: Exploit Lazy Susan support: Drill countersinking holes in the wood, if required. Combine two support assemblies and for this, use Lazy Susan bearings, and wood. Utilize closest flat surface and accumulate it to drill a hole. Fasten it from the screws of sheet metal that will get combined to poly vinyl chloride pipe.

Step 5: Turbine accumulation: Accumulate the turbine and generator to arrange the gears of small size.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the right process of connecting the halves?

Unite the halves: Arrange the container in a manner that the two halves of the container overlap each other with nine inch. Fix the halves together by a flat surface which is stuck to an object that will fasten it and will make it stronger. Through the container, drill four quarter inch holes by using flange spacer. Now put in four quarter inch bolts and nuts to fasten the container and finish the process of connecting all the containers.

Quick Tips:

  • Instead of electric tools, prefer hand tools.
  • To prevent from accident, use chain or chicken wire to make an enclosed structure around the spinning turbine.

Things to watch out:

  • Cautiously surmount the hand tool while cutting the container.
  • Be accountable while using gears.

5 Most unconventional renewable energy sources

Unconventional renewable energy sources. Sources of alternate or renewable energy that are little-known.
Posted 05 September 2011, by Munmun Goswami, EcoFriend (Instamedia),

The gradual exhaustion of conventional energy sources is creeping out of human control. The result is that today we have run headlong into a situation of acute energy shortage. The way out is to use energy from the bounty of nature that is virtually impossible to exhaust. However, the only sources of renewable energy that have been used extensively are wind, sun and water. Let’s enrich our knowledge by learning about five unconventional sources of renewable energy.

1. Power generated by trees

Power generated by trees. Researchers have figured out a way to plug into the power generated by trees.

Trees conduct electricity as the human body does. Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered that trees generally store 200 millivolts of energy. Although a very small amount, this energy can be harvested and stored away until it reaches larger values. A boost conductor has also been built up for such a purpose. This device can seep out as little as 20 millivolts of energy and store it. By connecting it to a tree, enough energy to power small sensors can be produced.

2. Pee-powered battery

Urine-Powered Battery. Pee-powered battery smaller than a credit card

Human urine is a potent source of energy generation. Bang Lee, a researcher at the Singapore Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology has come up with a wonderful workable battery that harnesses energy from urine. This device generates 1.5 microwatts of power using just 0.2 millilitres of urine. 15 hours later, if another drop of urine is fed into the device, it generates an equal output of equal power again. In the battery, a filter paper seeped in copper chloride is sandwiched between thin sheets of magnesium and chloride. It is 1 millimetre thick and is a little smaller than a credit card. This battery can be used to power small biological test kits as also small devices like mobile phones in an emergency.

3. Shoe Power

Shoe Power. Walk to generate energy

From all activities we do, we generate untold quanta of energy, which if properly trapped and utilised could solve the much chattered about energy crisis. Walking generates huge amounts of energy. Don’t confuse yourself with the kinetic energy generated; we are talking about trapping the heat generated during walking and converting it into power. It is done by using a device that two genius minds, Tom Krupenkin and J. Ashley Taylor have designed. This device runs on the principle of reverse electro-wetting. This principle utilises the interaction of a thin multilayered film with liquid droplets. This is actually a reversal of the electro-wetting, wherein, charge is used to activate liquid droplets. The device can be placed in shoes and the power harvested would be enough to charge a device as good as a laptop.

4. Electricity generated from kites

Kites generated electricity. Giant kites to tap power of the high wind

Your favourite childhood game can become a potent source of power generation. Kites have been proven to be a wonderful trap for wind energy. Having the capability to fly at heights of 800 metres where no windmill blade can reach, a kite measuring about 10 square meters has been able to produce 10 kilowatts of power, when attached to a generator. In fact, a project named Laddermill has been initiated by scientists at the Delft University, Wuboo Ockels, with a former astronaut as the team leader. The researchers plan to experiment with a kite large enough to produce 50 kilowatt power. has also invested $10 million in Makani, a US kite company. Multiple kites can generate electricity enough to power 100,000 homes.

5. Electricity from moving trains

Electricity from moving trains. Moving trains can produce wind power

It is still a concept but the idea that the wind energy produced by moving trains can be used to generate a fair amount of power, is worth considering. Designers at the Yanko design firm have already prepared a device known as T-box, which can be fitted into rail tracks. Through remote calculations, it has been estimated that a stretch of 150 T-boxes can produce 2.5 kilowatt of power. Let’s see whether this idea would ever come to life in the everyday world.

Permaculture Club

Permaculture Club

Homesteading is a fancy term for going back to the earth

Posted 17 August 2011, by Staff, Syracuse New Times,

Green is the new black. Recycling bins, compostable product packaging and wind/solar energy are just a few of the new and hottest trends. But hidden within many American cities is a larger-than-you-think population of people who dub themselves urban homesteaders; they aren’t just going green, they’ve been green. Now others seem to be catching on.

Homesteading is a fancy term for going back to the earth.

Urban homesteaders live by basic rules centered on an idea called permaculture, a compound word suggesting a practice that sustains itself over time. That definition, and a whole lot more, can be found in a new book, Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living (Skyhorse Publishing, New York City; 292 pages/softcover; $16.95), by Rachel Kaplan and K.

Ruby Blume. Kaplan knows of what she speaks: She has been an urban gardener for more than 15 years.

Within this easy-to-understand, wellorganized guidebook to homesteading, defined on as “transforming a city or suburban home into a property that produces some or all of its residents’ own food and other subsistence needs,” the authors have compiled projects, ideas and values on permaculture from a wide variety of sources. The two acknowledge that no one has a handle on every aspect of homegrown sustainability, so they have gathered an abundance of knowledge from fellow homesteaders, validating the importance of collaborative community within this way of living.

Throughout the book, Kaplan eloquently reminds readers, without being preachy, of why the earth is worth pre serving.

This how-to book suggests small changes readers can make to start homesteading themselves, no matter where you live: city, suburb or countryside.

Urban homesteading encompasses a large range of different green and sustainable ideas. Simply put, the practice is a return to the basics. Urban homesteading embodies skills and practices that many of us have forgotten while living our hectic lives. These homesteaders are resurrecting a simpler time by gardening, harnessing renewable energy sources, drying clothes on a line instead of in an appliance and many more ideas outlined in the book.

In Syracuse, an excellent example of urban homesteading exists on the Near West Side, at Alchemical Nursery. Frank Cetera, who works as a certified business adviser specializing in green business development for New York state, is a cofounder of the group whose mission is, in part, providing educational resources, dialogue space, networking tools and project development to develop equilibrium between humans and the environment.

Cetera is renovating a house at 717 Otisco St., looking forward to the day when the clay plaster walls, earthen floor and masonry stove will be completed. Not only does this work demonstrate the lifestyle choices Cetera has made, but it’s showing the neighborhood the importance of the environmental changes he believes we all need to make.

“The whole theory behind an urban homestead is for everything to work as one system: landscapes, agriculture and the residents all working as one unit to  thrive,” he says. Cetera hopes he can move in before winter so that he can start on the house’s interior. Meanwhile, he’s living at Bread and Roses collective, 162 Cambridge St., until the West Side home is habitable.

“My vision is that at least four homesteaders will share in the equity of the site and its production of food and energy,” Cetera says. Homesteaders believe there is no individual gain within permaculture living. Cetera is on board with Kaplan’s idea that the sharing of knowledge and education is the best way for growth within urban homesteads across the country. “It’s all about educating at this point.”

Cetera came to Syracuse about five years ago to earn a master’s degree in forestry from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. While studying there he met some likeminded people who inspired Alchemical Nursery and the decision to create an urban homestead. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to spread the idea of permaculture and to educate individuals to become more self-reliant and more closely connected to their ecological environment.

“It’s important to me that I interact with the environment, that I appreciate living in it,” he says, “instead of apart from it, taking social justice into our own hands. People are lost and craving to get back to their roots, and getting ready for a time when we might not have the luxuries we have now.”

In true green fashion, Cetera is using salvaged materials in this renovation. Windows discarded by others, found on curbsides all around town, and even as far as Quebec, Canada, while Cetera was on a bike tour, will encase the sunroom that will overlook the back yard. Just a few of Cetera’s eco-friendly, sustainable energy plans are for all of the appliances to be electric (until they can perfect a solar paneling system for energy), and the large masonry stove that will be built in a central location of the house to provide heat. He chose to exclude natural gas from the house and actually discourages its use  because he believes the hydrofracking methods used to extract the fuel source from the ground are threatening our water supply.

The reconstruction on the property is slowly taking shape, starting with the landscape and agriculture. The front and back yards are being tested for growth ability. This first season of planting will show Cetera which plants will grow best where, and what soil may need more attention than other parts of the yard. Cetera’s backyard permaculture was the site of a demolished home, so some parts of the yard are inhospitable to growth as of now, due to the rubble buried within. Cetera is remedying this by building raised beds for planting. The knowledge gained from this will assist the homesteaders in planning their growth space and landscapes appropriately, making the most from the available space for the next growing season.

The renovations to the home itself have begun with demolition to the interior; Cetera is tearing out the drywall, to be replaced by clay plaster on top of the original lath. Some electrical work will have to be done, which Cetera is leaving up to the professionals along with the plumbing.

“Sustainability means moving past current regenerative practices, which means not just using what you put into the system, but producing more,” he notes. “Reduce, reuse, recycle—recycle is the last step. First, we reduce, then we reuse and when we can’t reuse, we recycle.”

Since part of Alchemical Nursery’s mission is to educate, the collective holds workshops throughout the year, covering such topics as ecological design, creating synergy, even gardening. This past spring, Cetera conducted a workshop in the future homestead’s back yard, during which he and eight helpers built an herb spiral using urbanite, or recycled concrete, blocks. The spiral configuration was deliberate; it occupies vertical growing space to minimize the use of horizontal space.

Cetera attended the seventh annual Northeast Permaculture Convergence, July 22 to 24, held in High Falls, N.Y., where he met Kaplan, who was speaking there. Considering that the eighth version is in the works, urban homesteading is clearly more than just a passing fad. Rather, it is a well-supported, educated transformation of communities based on pure ideals, with the earth, its inhabitants and future generations in mind.

“Homesteading encompasses your life.” Cetera says. “If it doesn’t, there is a disconnect. It’s a way of life; not just a piece of it.”

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Environmental activism of nuns profiled


KU researcher finds Concordia convent both spiritual, practical


Posted 13 August 2011, by Jan Biles, The Topeka Capital-Journal,



Lawrence resident Rachel Myslivy, as part of her participation in the Religion of Kansas Oral History Project, went to the Nazareth Convent and Academy, the mother house of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, to document the lives of nuns living there. JAN BILES/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

LAWRENCE — Over the past several months, Lawrence resident Rachel Myslivy has taken an interest in the environmental activism of nuns.

As part of her participation in the Religion of Kansas Oral History Project led by Tim Miller, professor of religious studies at The University of Kansas, she initially decided to travel to Nazareth Convent and Academy, the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, to document the lives of nuns living there.

Myslivy, a research assistant at The University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning, interviewed Sister Bernadine Pachta.

“Environmental themes kept popping up in our conversation. She started telling me about the importance of recycling, composting, eating low on the food chain and so on,” she said.

“The effects of environmental degradation, over-consumption and pollution are most directly felt by the poor. The sisters see protecting the Earth as a primary means of protecting those who need it most.”

Myslivy also learned about the sisters’ environmental efforts, including an organic community garden where local citizens can rent space to grow their own food or flowers and screening of films about the world’s food supply.

“At the end of the day, I thought I needed to follow-up on that,” she said.

Also at that time, Myslivy was taking a grant proposal writing class and decided she would write a grant proposal for a Green Sisters in Rural Kansas project to document the Concordia nuns’ environmental activism.

Her proposal won a grant from the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. The grant allowed her to travel to Concordia at least twice this summer to document the nuns’ environmental and spiritual work and gather other related materials from the convent’s archives. The information will be used for a future written project.

During visits to the convent July 6-9 and Aug. 4-6, Myslivy learned about many of the nuns’ rural backgrounds and how they became interested in environmental issues.

Sister Judy Stephens, member of the alternative energy committee and leadership council for the Sisters of St. Joseph, said the nuns have had a long-standing concern for the environment.

“For us, it not only makes good sense (but also emphasizes) how no human being is separated from all of creation,” Stephens said. “It’s a way of looking at reality.”

In addition to the community garden, which has 26 lots that are each rented for $13, the nuns have replaced half of the windows in the 102-year-old motherhouse to conserve energy, replaced light bulbs with energy-efficient ones and, when needed, purchased energy-efficient appliances, she said.

The sisters also have explored the use of solar panels and wind turbine engines.

This fall, Myslivy will be a graduate student at KU studying religion in Kansas, with an emphasis in environmental and social justice.

She wants to apply for another grant to “upscale” her Green Sisters in Rural Kansas project to include other convents in Kansas. She has learned of nuns doing similar work in communities such as Atchison, Great Bend and Wichita.

Myslivy is trying to find funding sources for the project, which has a budget of about $4,500. Already expressing interest as a partner is Ecumenical Christian Ministries at KU.

“They’re amazing women,” she said of the Concordia sisters. “Throughout history, nuns have always been at the forefront of working for what’s right. It only makes sense that they’d be fighting for the Earth now.”

Jan Biles can be reached at


For more information about Rachel Myslivy’s project to document the environmental activism of convents in Kansas, or to donate money to the project, email, call (785) 764-2055 or send a letter to her in care of the Department of Religious Studies, Smith Hall, Room 109, 1300 Oread Ave., University of Kansas, Lawrence, 66045-7615.


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