Monday, April 30, 2007

To Market To Market

I just got my official Powur of Citizenre poloshirt (made from bamboo!) today, and had to get a picture ot it with the familiar background! I have my shopping cart all decked out to tell about solar power at the local farmers' markets - in Upland Thursday nights, which is more of a street fair, and the very popular organic market in Claremont Sunday mornings. John and I usually bike to the Claremont Market (about 7 miles round trip,) but that will be difficult with my cart. I guess I could put the flyers on the bike instead.

I'm very excited about being able to help lots of people "join the solution," with solar panels that everyone can afford - as long as they own their own home and it has a good unshaded preferably south-facing roof! People pay for these panels by renting them at a rate equal to the electricity the generate times an average price per kwh based on their current rate - locked in for 25 years!

When I start talking about it, people's face lights up, and then they say "someday..." thinking it will cost them the current $20 -$40 K (minus good subsidies in some states like California.) When they hear it's not going to cost them more, their ears perk up! And when they hear that they get a deduction in their bills for all their friends they sign up, it gets very convincing.

The only real problem right now is that the factory won't have any produced for about a year or so, so we have to wait a bit. But that is a good time to work on making our homes energy efficient, which will cut out bill even more.

Solar energy is great, less energy consumption is even better!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The sun and our food

I chose the picture of the nasturtiums, because they are the only edible plant in my garden right now (besides some herbs) and they are yellow like the sun.

All of our food derives from the sun. Plants need the sun to perform photosynthesis, animals eat the plants, and we eat both. I know, of course, that there are some organisms that live way deep down in the ocean, and others that live in caves and the like. But the ones in the oceans consume organisms that have been higher up. Plants in caves at least get nutrients from the air that have come there because of solar conversions of nutrients.

We've all seen pictures of the sickly chickens whose entire life is spent indoors in cages. The yolks of their eggs are uniformly yellow because of chemical additives. Chickens who have access to the outdoors and green plants tend to have paler yolks in the winter and brighter ones in the summer, reflecting the amount of sunlight that has reached their food.

I am reading an interesting book these days: Introduction To Air in California by David Carle. There is an interesting explanation of photosynthesis in the first chapter, and how this regulates the amount of O2 Co2 and N in the air.

One thing I read here (and in the Feb/March 2007 National Wildlife magazine) is that more CO2 might produce bigger plants, but probably not better ones. The amount of other nutrients will remain the same, so animals (and we) will have to eat more to get the same nutritional value.

The article also says that plants like ragweed and poison ivy will produce more pollen and toxins, making life more miserable for those of us who cannot tolerate these.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sunny day

It seems like I've been away from my blog for a long time. Busy I guess. I did take a few pictures that I will be using to illustrate the next entries.

We had a few weeks that were cooler and slightly rainy, which brought out the best of our patio garden. The winter poinsettias are competing now with the new roses and yellow nasturtiums to provide nourishment to the hummingbirds, who are less interested in their red feeder!

It's wonderful to be able to sit out on the patio under the umbrella (parasol, of course) and see the sun glowing through the poinsettias. Later in the year, the pomegrate branches will also provide shade from the sun.

The sun gives us light and life, but it also gives us fire and death. We mourn its absence on a gray wintry day and complain that we can't go out when the sun brings our outdoor temperature to over 100 F in the shade. The winter sun cheers us up, but it is so low in the sky it blinds us. Complain, complain!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Power of Green Power

In Sunday's New York Times Magazine, journalist Thomas Friedman wrote (and talked in a video) about The Power of Green , which I highly recommend.

He talks about the new "Green" that is a positive economic force, which was right along the lines of a conversation I had with my son today. He had just written an article called Hummer vs Prius on his blog, which ends up in a very reasonable conclusion (we don't always agree on these things!) He believes that economic forces will manage to save the planet, where I (and Thomas Friedman) think that a little nudge of policy would help get things moving.

At any rate, we all know we can't stop China and India from economic growth, which means millions of new middle class people wanting cars and all the other materialistic things none of us want to give up! But who says that their materialistic things have to be as polluting and energy consuming as ours? They might as well learn from our mistakes and get the really good life.

What I didn't mention to my Libertarian son was that China is in a great position to do this, with its totalitarian background. They don't need to convince 2 parties in 2 houses of Congress (not to mention the President) to do the right thing, they can just declare it. Already, vehicle standards in China are said to be so high that Ford and GM can't sell American models there. Maybe if they got their act together, they could find a whole new market for hybrid American vehicles.

Organizations like Environmental Defense are working with the Chinese government to bring solar power as fast as possible (which can be brought online much faster than CO2 belching coal fired plants.) Just see this list of Solar businesses in China to see what a little government influence can do.

Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark has received a large order for China and established a local blade factory, showing that business can work with a totalitarian government and convince it to do the right thing.

Now if the US government had signed the Kyoto agreement, maybe we would have seen Ford, GM and American wind and solar factories in China. A little nudge from the government would have helped.

Saved by the Sun

I just looked at the website for a new NOVA science program to be shown on PBS.
The Saved by the Sun show (and the website) explore how Solar energy is going to be the new energy source.
On the website are several informative features with an interactive graphics,
I look forward to watching the show, Tues April 24 at 8 PM on KCET in Los Angeles (Sunday and Monday April 19 and 30 on the New Hampshire PBS station that my family watch.) You can find your own local station on the site.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Easter Sunday I had to get up really early, because the Claremont Chorale was participating in a sunrise service at a nearby Forest Lawn. Unfortunately the weather was cool for southern California, and very misty, so we got sort of damp, but it was lovely watching the sky brighten. We competed with many birds when we sang, and by the time we got to our closing piece, Handel's Halleluja Chorus, the sky was bright enough to read the music without our flashlights.

This is how I'm beginning to feel about people's awareness of how they can participate in ensuring the sustainability of our planet. We are gradually moving out of the darkness, and into the light, although the sun isn't really shining yet. All the many people who participated in the Step It Up campaign are just one indication.

In this blog I will share my thoughts about how we can use the sunshine to sustain the earth rather than to destroy it. I hope you will add your comments (which I will moderate.)