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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.

-Cara


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.

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Be Green Now’s web site hosts a cool Carbon Calculator for all you car drivers. Figure the size of your carbon shoe here.

How do they come up with the figures you ask…

Vehicles

Vehicle emissions are calculated by determining the quantity of gallons of gasoline you use annually and multiplying that number by the amount of kg/CO2/gallon emissions rate. The resultant kg CO2 emitted by you was then divided by 1,000 to determine metric tons of CO2 emitted.

* Once you input your vehicle Year, Make and Model, we look up the average MPG of your vehicle and use the average of highway and city miles to determine the estimated fuel economy of your vehicle.

Electricity

To calculate the CO2 emissions you avoid, we simply multiply your monthly electric usage times the CO2 emission rate of typical system power in your area. The CO2 emissions rate is determined using the EPA’s eGRID 2006, Version 2.1, year 2004 database.

Air Travel

When you provide your actual flight data, we are able to accurately calculate your emissions resulting from air travel. We look up your flight Flight leg miles were converted to flight leg kilometers and were broken-out by short hauls (< 452 km), medium hauls (452km < x < 1,600km), and long hauls (> 1,600 km).The total kms traveled for short, medium and long hauls were then multiplied by the appropriate emissions factor for each haul distance.

Natural Gas

We calculate your emissions from natural gas usage by multiplying the appropriate CO2 factor by the quantity of Therms used annually.

I do love calculators.

-Cara

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Bypass surgery requires that your rib cage be opened, your heart stopped, and your body hooked up to an external pumping machine so a vein from some other part of your body can be removed and grafted as a replacement blood vessel to your heart. Memory, language ability, and spatial orientation remain impaired in 10 to 50 percent of bypass patients six months afterward. Side effects for some never go away. Gloom and depression affect between a third and three-quarters of patients. Many will require a second operation. A vegetarian diet, regular exercise, and spiritual nourishment have proven to reverse heart disease–the biggest killer in Western countries.

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