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The history of solar power is of interest to me, because again for some reason I have an innate interest in all things solar. In this entry I wrote about some of the forefathers of the solar power movement and in future entries I will bring us up to the present time.

Humans and the earth have used the sun as some sort of energy source since the beginning of time, but it was not until 1838 that Edmund Becquerel observed and published findings about the nature of certain materials to turn light into energy. This in itself did not really create much commotion, but it did bring the thought of harnessing the sun’s energy source to people’s mind.

Thirty years later between 1860 and 1881, Auguste Mouchout, a mathematics instructor at the Lyce de Tours, became the first man to patent a design for a motor running on solar energy. This invention was born out of his his concerns over his country’s dependence on coal. “It would be prudent and wise not to fall asleep regarding this quasi-security,” he wrote. “Eventually industry will no longer find in Europe the resources to satisfy its prodigious expansion. Coal will undoubtedly be used up. What will industry do then?” Well we know what they do, they discover other nonrenewable sources of energy like oil and natural gas to use up, and once that is gone then will we turn to sun and wind for our main source of energy? The issue “they” see with that is they have not figured out a way to turn an obscenely grandiose profit off the sun and air, but I would not worry too much as I am sure General Electric is working on buying the sun as we speak.

Anyway, Mouchout received funds from the French Emperor Napoleon III and with those funds he designed a device that turned solar energy into mechanical steam power and soon operated the first steam engine. He later connected the steam engine to a refrigeration device, illustrating that the sun’s rays can be utilized to make ice, for which he was awarded an awesome French Medal of Super Freshness [I tried to discover, briefly, what medal it was he won, but to no avail, so yes I did invent the French medal of Super Freshness incase you weren’t sure.]!

Unfortunately, his groundbreaking research was cut short. The French renegotiated a cheaper deal with England for the supply of coal and improved their transportation system for the delivery thereof. Mouchout’s work towards finding an alternative source of energy was not considered a priority anymore and he no longer received any funding from the Napoleon V3 [ah, isn’t that the way things go?].

I will end our solar history lesson there for today and hope you have enjoyed it so far, more to follow!

Let the sun shine in.


Reason 80 from, 101 Reasons Why I Am Vegetarian:
In the early twentieth century man learned how to extract nitrogen (fertilizer) from the air, cheaply and in large quantities. The discovery ultimately allowed 2 billion more people to inhabit the Earth and has given humans the luxury of feeding crops to livestock. Yet what gives the world abundance has, by way of nutrient runoff and acid rain, poisoned waterways from the Chinese countryside to the Ohio Valley. (Excess nitrogen promotes algae growth, robbing the water of oxygen.) In North America and Europe, lakes and rivers contain 20 times the nitrogen they did before the Industrial Revolution.

Here are tips that are so simple that I can’t believe people don’t do them.

1. Bring your own drinking cup or coffee cup to work and stop using the plastic/paper ones provided. I don’t have official statistics, but let’s just say according to a recent Cara Poll, you can save 68585.73 acres of land a year if you do it and your carbon foot print will be a size 3. [If people listen to you at work, tell them to do it to and tell your office organizer to stop the insanity and no more paper/plastic cups. It so you will save a fafillion acres and no longer have a carbon foot. Nice…]

2. Do e-bills and e-bank statements and e-whatever…no more paper! Let’s say for this one, you will not lose the cure for cancer and aids located in the Rainforest, where they are cutting down the trees to print your bills on. If you are worried about all your personal information being on-line, where someone may hack into and steal your identity, don’t worry, it’s already there. If you think your bank and credit card company have all your information on papers hidden in a vault, you are incorrect. I believe the World Wide Web is probably a bit more secure than your mailbox, so stop with all that.

3. Last, but not least, it is one I struggle with because I am impatient and hate waiting for a computer to boot up, but turn off your computer when you aren’t using it. Standby is not good enough. It uses almost the same amount of energy, and I hear all of you out there saying, but doesn’t she know it uses more energy to start up a computer than to leave it on??? Lies, that is not true, an urban myth, ancient history, etc. It is not true, so turn it off.

I think these three tips are easy.



Reason 70 from, 101 Reasons Why I Am Vegetarian:
The number of foodborne outbreaks involving produce more than doubled between 1999 and 2004. But before you blame the veggies, it’s important to know that the contaminating pathogens are invariably those that hitch a ride on fecal matter. And we know plants don’t defecate. So what’s the story? It all gets down to one simple fact: Feedlot operators cannot afford to properly treat all the waste that their mammoth-size facilities generate, so they often divert the muck to the nearest waterway. Down stream, produce processors use the water as a rinse.


I’m really into solar right now, so I decided today will be the day to gather and share ten cool solar facts from around the World Wide Web.

What? You’re welcome! :P

  1. As for solar energy history as we know it, it wasn’t until 1839 when French physicist Edmond Becquerel first discovered photovoltaic activity.
  2. This discovery was followed by another Frenchman, Auguste Mouchout, in the 1860’s who invented the first motor to be powered by solar energy.
  3. In 1883, Charles Fritz turned the sun’s rays into electricity!
  4. In 1990, a aircraft powered solely by the sun crossed the United States.
  5. It takes only about 8 minutes for solar energy to travel from the sun to the earth.
  6. Solar energy is measured in kilowatt-hours. One kilowatt hour (kWh) is the amount of energy needed to burn a 100 watt light bulb for 10 hours.
  7. If we covered a small fraction of the Sahara desert with photovoltaic cells, we could generate all the world’s electricity requirements.
  8. Enough sunlight falls on the earth every minute to meet the world’s energy demands for an entire year.
  9. Two billion people in the world have no access to electricity. For most of them, solar photovoltaics would be their cheapest electricity source, but they cannot afford it.
  10. Solar energy will not pollute our air with carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gases and bad emissions which is one of the main causes of global warming.

In 5 billion years the sun will run out of fuel, so let’s use this baby while we still can.



Arsenic has been a common additive in factory chicken feed for nearly 50 years. It is used to kill parasites, reduce stress, and promote growth in the birds. The practice has long been deemed safe. Recently, however, scientists have found that the substance turns carcinogenic rather quickly after application. Arsenic-imbued manure becomes toxic to the environment when spread as fertilizer. The risk for those who ingest the meat of treated birds is, in fact, worse than once thought, particularly since exposure to arsenic is cumulative and people are eating three times the chicken they once did in the 1960s.

What I learned today on was how to turn organic waste into energy.

Waste Not Want Not

Here’s what I know…

Why Waste=Fuel?

Current waste management practices in New York City are environmentally and economically unsustainable. Every year, the city landfills over 7 million tons of food and other organic wastes. According to the EPA, this biodegradable waste discharges over 1.8 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. The collection of this waste requires hundreds of diesel trucks, which both damage the city’s transportation infrastructure and further pollute the environment. In addition to these environmental costs, the financial expenditure of waste collection exceeds 1 billion dollars per year.

What is Anaerobic Digestion?
In a controlled, oxygen-free environment, naturally occurring anaerobic bacteria break down matter and produce energy-rich biogas (over 60% methane), which can be used to generate renewable energy or to power clean fuel vehicles. Anaerobic treatment has proven effective with a wide variety of organic wastes, including agricultural waste (animal manure), municipal solid waste (food and yard waste) and wastewater (sewage sludge, industrial sludge, and food processing waste).

Having recognized the environmental and economic impact of food and other organic waste, some governments —most notably those of the European Union, Japan, and Australia—have imposed restrictions and landfill taxes on garbage disposal to divert waste from landfills. These restrictions, in addition to government incentives, have led to the installation of hundreds of Anaerobic Digestion (AD) facilities that divert biodegradable waste from landfills, generate renewable energy, and mitigate the release of greenhouse gases. Over 125 European AD facilities produce more than 300 Megawatts of electricity (enough to supply 300,000 households), divert millions of tons of food waste from landfills each year, and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Benefits of Anaerobic Digestion:

  • Substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions, odor and other pollutants from food and other organic wastes.
  • Is a source of renewable energy: 1 ton of organic waste can generate over200 kWh of electricity—a day’s supply for 10 average U.S. households.
  • Creates a pathogen-free, humus-like fertilizer, superior to chemical fertilizers.
  • Reduces food waste volume.
  • Is compact and sanitary, and can be used in urban areas.
  • Employs a proven technology, with several facilities in operation since the late 1970s and close to one hundred more that have been constructed since the early 1990s.
  • Diverts municipal wastes from landfills, reducing the amount of fuel used and pollution generated by waste transportation.
  • Enables communities to recycle and reuse waste locally.

Initiative Information

Earth Pledge’s Waste=Fuel initiative aims to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions produced by urban, rural, and commercial organic waste, while supporting the development of a new source of renewable energy.

Waste=Fuel Objectives
Waste=Fuel proposes the use of AD technology to combat air and groundwater pollution, improve solid waste management, and reduce energy consumption. By promoting the use of AD—a sustainable waste management technology—to a range of audiences, and spearheading a variety of pilot projects, we aim to position AD as a viable and popular alternative to conventional food waste disposals methods.
Our objectives:
•Demonstrate the environmental and social benefits of AD application to our private and public sector communities.
•Encourage the adoption of AD technology by large-scale producers of organic waste.
•Work with cities and municipalities to create incentives around the adoption of AD.
•Use AD to divert 7 million tons of organic waste annually in New York City, generating significant 1.4 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, and preventing the release of 3.5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

Digesters in the Private Sector implementation
With input from engineers, we are advising companies on the installation of an AD facilities at their locations. We are focusing these feasibility studies on companies that handle large volumes of organic waste, such as food wholesalers, compost farmers and restaurants. These facilities have the potential to divert a large fraction of their waste from landfill and provide energy in the form of heat or electricity as well as a compost material. In the process, these companies will improve their environmental portfolios by achieving greenhouse gas reductions.

Target Audience
Waste=Fuel Initiative reaches stakeholders in the food, waste, and energy industries. In particular, this initiative targets the hospitality industry, solid waste industry, energy suppliers, renewable energy investors, natural gas vehicle developers, academic institutions, and federal, state, and local agencies.

Waste=Fuel Resources and Links

General Information About Anaerobic Digestion:

ATLAS Project
The ATLAS Project, a European research initiative on energy technologies, details the history, uses, and benefits of anaerobic digestion. The website also notes the existing barriers to widespread implementation.

Biogas Works

An excellent introduction to the process of anaerobic digestion.

California Energy Commission
This site is an excellent source of information on energy issues facing California. The research & development section of the site discusses a number of innovative energy efficient technologies that are being explored for California, including anaerobic digestion.

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
This site explains the significance of methane, its cultivation and its uses.

University of Southampton
The University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, UK, offers extensive information on anaerobic digestion systems with illustrative diagrams.

Related Publications:

Biocycle Magazine

This journal about composting and organics recycling has a particular focus on cutting-edge waste management technologies including anaerobic digestion.

Environmental Business Journal
A publication that provides a strategic overview and an independent perspective on the different segments of and issues within the environmental business community.

Solid Waste Digest
A monthly newsletter providing the industry with strategic market information, data, and analysis on issues such as waste disposal pricing.

Waste News
Waste News reports on waste management, hazardous waste disposal, landfilling, waste generation and reduction, and recycling.

Waste not, want not. :)



Approximately 800 million people today live with chronic hunger, and 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes every day. Yet the world cycles nearly 43 percent of all the grain that is harvested through animals to produce meat. To get a feedlot steer to gain a pound, you need 7 pounds of corn. Likewise, additional pounds of pig, chicken, and farmed fish will cost you, respectively, 3.5, 2, and 3 pounds in feed. Of course, large portions of the added weight turn into inedible tissue, such as bones. The meat industry does endeavor to increase feed-to-flesh efficiency, but the “improvements” sadly come via genetic tinkering, growth enhancing drugs, and questionable feed.

I went to a billion different websites to find tips I thought were simple enough not to stress over. Maybe just some time is needed to get into the grove with some of them or a plan to make it super simple. Plus saving money is always a good thing.

Enable the “sleep mode” feature on your computer, allowing it to use less power during periods of inactivity. In Windows, the power management settings are found on your control panel. Mac users, look for energy saving settings under system preferences in the apple menu.

Configure your computer to “hibernate” automatically after 30 minutes or so of inactivity. The “hibernate mode” turns the computer off in a way that doesn’t require you to reload everything when you switch it back on. Allowing your computer to hibernate saves energy and is more time-efficient than shutting down and restarting your computer from scratch

Shut down your PC if it will be idle more than 2 hours. The idea that turning a computer off and on shortens its life is a relic of the mainframe era.

Plugs and Switches

Unplug Your Cell Phone Charger. A charger left plugged in is a continual drain of energy, whether the phone is attached or not.

Unplug Appliances When Traveling. If you plan on being away for an extended period of time there is no need for your appliances, especially those with clocks, such as your stove and microwave, to continue to be plugged in and run up your bill.

Turn Off Those Lights. With just two lights on in unoccupied home, you are wasting precious money. If you feel a light must be left on when you come home in the evening, invest in a solar-powered light or battery-powered nightlight to show you the way in. The minimal amount spend will be saved in a very short period of time.

According to, “Many devices — including anything with a remote control or clock — continue to draw current when they’re not in use. This graph shows how many watts of electricity common devices use when they’re at work, standing idle or turned off. On average, idle machines use 11 percent of a home’s electricity. Want to reduce your footprint? Get unplugged.”



There are power strips they called Smart Strip. According to, “The Smart Strip monitors power consumption and can sense the difference between when computers and other devices are on or off. Upon figuring this out, it shuts off the power, eliminating the idle current drawn from them. There are a couple different models and options (including fax/modem and something called “extended sensing”) and they run from US $32 to $35; Smart Strip claims it will pay for itself in as little as six weeks, and it’s available from their website.


Keep your refrigerator or freezer full; it operates more efficiently that way. Low on food? Keep a container of ice in the freezer.

Don’t “peek” inside the oven more than necessary. Check the seal on the oven door.

Wash only full loads in your dishwasher, using short cycles for all but the dirtiest dishes. This saves water and the energy used to pump and heat it. Air-drying, if you have the time, can also reduce energy use.


In your clothes washer, set the appropriate water level for the size of the load; wash in cold water when practical, and always rinse in cold.

Clean the lint filter in the dryer after each use. Dry heavy and light fabrics separately and don’t add wet items to a load that’s already partly dry. If available, use the moisture sensor setting. (A clothesline is the most energy-efficient clothes dryer of all!)

Water Heater

Turn off your water heater while you are on vacation. No need to heat the water when there is no one to use it. When you are home, lower it to 120º

Ok, that is all for now…I don’t want to get overwhelmed. :P

Lights out.


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March 2023

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I start many things with good intentions, many, many things. This time I intend to stay focused. This time I will not leave behind what I started. This time it is larger and more important than my obsession with Martha Stewart, all design shows, and Teresa Witherspoon. :P This time it is about the greater good...this time I am serious.

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