There are two basic lines of thought about the negative impact electric vehicles have. The first is that all the mining, refining, manufacturing and disposal associated with the required batteries comes with significant environmental costs, with special worries associated with the necessary lithium. The bigger issue argues that charging an electric car from a dirty, inefficient grid doesn’t reduce emissions, but rather simply shifts them to a new outlet, the power plant. That’s the “long-tailpipe” argument, and there are claims that under certain scenarios driving an electric car can be more environmentally detrimental than driving a fossil-fuel car.
The Los Angeles Times reports that we may be trading one evil for another with all of the potential waste generated from the life-cycle of a solar panel. While maybe not as harmful as mountaintop removal from coal or emissions emitted from the millions of cars on the road, the generation of electricity from solar does have its own dark side.Huge amounts of fossil fuels are used in the manufacture of the cells and, just like many other electronics, the waste metals not used in production also present their own disposal problems, mercury and chromium being two of the top problem-makers. We've also reported before that the installation of solar panels also includes toxic materials like the PVC and glues used in the conduit.
How Do We Know There is a Problem?
By looking at Asia, one of the leaders in solar applications, we see an area that is starting to have disposal problems from the use of all of the toxins during manufacture. In addition, the electronics industry generated 2.6 million tons of waste in 2005, most of which was ditched in landfills or incinerators, or shipped to developing nations for disposal. Meaning that either way it leached into groundwater, harmed the air or directly harmed people during the dismantling.
Sustainable Domes do not rot, rust, mold or burn. They are naturally highly resistant to natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes. They are manufactured in a controlled factory environment making them more cost effective than pre-cast concrete and site built homes. Eco Built Homes offer 100% non-toxic, “breathable” materials that provide good thermal insulation and indoor air quality.
Eco Built Systems materials are fabricated from abundant resources found in nature and require far less processing and long-term maintenance than traditional building materials. We strive to protect the families that live in them while preserving the planet we live on.
Sustainable Domes are designed to obtain the same benefits as Modular Housing through eliminating the headaches and potential pitfalls of the site built process. Our products are less or comparable in cost to Manufactured Homes and far more superior allowing you and your family the opportunity to live in an environment that supports your health and well-being.
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Solar Fares For Beginners
documentary on a possible scenario for a solar storm disaster
NASA Physicist, Ph.D./Theoretical Physics, University of Helsinki, Finland Antti Pulkkinen predictions for solar flares.
Professor of Theoretical Physics Micho Kaka of the City College of New York City, New York University, and the co-founder of the string field theory explains the likely effects of the upcoming solar flares.
By Claude Morgan
Household toxins? Look no further than your kitchen cabinets.
It's official: Staying home is hazardous to your health. Toxins found in the home injured 789,000 Americans between 1992 and 1995, and new research suggests that this figure is underestimated.
"Toxins in U.S. homes now account for 90 percent of all reported poisonings each year," says Ross Ann Soloway, administrator of the American Association of Poison Control Centers. That's an epidemic of hazardous living by any standard. And while these figures include everything from non-fatal aspirin overdoses to the deadly consumption of drain cleaners, they fail to include long-term exposure to toxins like lead and asbestos.
To address the climbing domestic injury rates associated with household toxins, Congress and the Centers for Disease Control in 1992 created the Unintentional Injury Center to focus on the health dangers of consumer goods and modern home living. Other federal agencies are following suit. The EPA now has branches which deal with home indoor air quality, lead exposure and ubiquitous low-level toxicity, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development publishes a pollution look-out list for first-time home buyers.
The short list of toxins under your roof may surprise you:
- Formaldehyde offgasses (evaporates) from cushions, particleboard and the adhesives used to manufacture most inexpensive wood-based products. Carpets and carpet cushions may also offgas formaldehyde, causing eye and upper respiratory irritation. According to the EPA, formaldehyde may even cause cancer;
- Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, warns the Surgeon General. Radon is a natural radioactive gas that can seep into homes through cracks in the basement, the surrounding foundation and in well water. It enters the body quietly through the airways;
- Lead keeps epidemiologists returning to the drawing board, says Soloway, "mostly because we know more now about the adverse effects of low-level exposure." Levels once thought to be acceptable are now known contributors to learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Lead is found in paint in older houses, old plumbing and soil near highways and busy roads. It causes neurological and kidney damage, high blood pressure, disrupted blood cell production and reproductive problems;
- Carbon monoxide will kill an estimated 660 Americans this year. Don't look for exhaust fumes in the attached garage; the biggest culprit is the unserviced furnace burning propane, butane or oil; Arsenic is still lacing many household pesticides and is increasingly used as a wood preservative. Low levels of inorganic arsenic "may cause lung cancer risk," according to the CDC. The Department of Health and Human Services agrees, adding arsenic compounds to the list of unknown carcinogens;
- Vinyl chloride is the source of "new car smell": The plastic interior of a new car offgasses this known carcinogen. Water sitting in PVC pipes overnight may also be steeping into a toxic tea. Very large exposures can lead to "vinyl chloride disease," which causes severe liver damage and ballooning of the fingertips;
- Hydrofluoric acid "can cause intense pain and damage to tissues and bone if the recommended gloves happen to have holes in them," says Soloway. This highly corrosive substance is the active ingredient in many household rust removers.
- VOCs But even the most liberal list of known toxins pales next to the order of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs comprise hundreds of natural and man-made, carbon-based agents. They react quickly with other carbon-based compounds, and evaporate easily, making them ideal solvents. VOCs can be found in disinfectants and pesticides, too.
- Solvents: Benzene and methyl ethyl ketome traverse cell walls unchecked by normal cell defense. Both are known carcinogens. Cousins toluene, xylene, 1,1,1-trichloroethane and trichloroethylene make up the lion's share of the solvent market;
- Disinfectants: Phenols, which include biphenyl, phenolics and the preservative pentachloraphenol, are found in disinfectants, antiseptics, perfumes, mouthwashes, glues and air fresheners;
- Pesticides: Chlordane, aldrin, dieldrin, though all banned for nearly two decades, continue to show up airborne in older houses.
When the Grid Goes Down, You Better Be Ready!
by Tess Pennington
It is a fact that our country is more reliant on electrical power today than at any time in its history. Our way of life – from everyday conveniences and the security of local emergency services to commerce and communications – is contingent upon an always on, always available flow of electricity. But an aging infrastructure coupled with a rise in natural and man-made disasters threatens our entire modern day digital infrastructure. According to many experts from the private and public sector, we’re just one major catastrophic event away from a complete meltdown of life in America as we know it today.
So, what happens if and when the grid goes down for an extended period of time? Aside from the aggravation of not being able to determine what is happening through traditional media channels, for the Average Joe, his problems have only just begun. Our dependency to the grid doesn’t just stop at lack of electricity in our homes to power our appliances or an inability to charge our cell phones; it is much broader and affects every aspect of our lives.
We are regularly inundated with news reports covering outages that last several days or weeks resulting from inclement weather like snow storms or hurricanes, or heat waves in southern states that threaten to overload the system. During those times, when entire metropolitan areas or regions experience black outs, we get a glimpse into what a truly widespread emergency might look like. It is often the case that the first thing residents of affected areas do is rush to grocery and hardware stores hoping to acquire critical supplies like food, water, batteries, flashlights and generators. And while these supplies acquired at the onset of crisis may provide short term sustenance, any long-term grid-down situation that lasts for many weeks or months will prove dangerous, and perhaps fatal, to the unprepared.
Consider, for a moment, how drastically your life would change without the continuous flow of energy the grid delivers. While manageable during a short-term disaster, losing access to the following critical elements of our just-in-time society would wreak havoc on the system.
- Challenges or shut downs of business commerce
- Breakdown of our basic infrastructure: communications, mass transportation, supply chains
- Inability to access money via atm machines
- Payroll service interruptions
- Interruptions in public facilities – schools, workplaces may close, and public gatherings.
- Inability to have access to clean drinking water
Neil Swidey, in his article What If The Lights Go Out?, indicates that the grid may be ill-equipped to meet all the enormous challenges it faces in this day and age.
The last widespread outage in the Northeast, the great blackout of August 2003, showed how intimately interconnected and alarmingly fragile our power grid is. How else to explain the way a problem starting in northeastern Ohio quickly cascaded into a blackout affecting 50 million people across the northeastern United States and parts of Canada? How quickly? Between the moment a power surge came rushing out of Ohio and the moment Manhattan began to go dark, exactly 10 seconds had passed.
If our society is more reliant on power than at any time in history – without it, we’ve got no commerce, no communications, no clean water – and if power becomes less reliable in the future, the big question is: Will we be able to hack it?
THE TROUBLE with the future of power isn’t that there is one big problem that could croak us. It’s that there are a host of them, any one of which could croak us.
Neil Swidey has grouped these potential grid-down antagonizers into three categories:
1. Extreme Natural Disasters
This includes earthquakes, hurricanes, snow storms, thunderstorms as well as massive solar storms that have the potential to seriously damage the electrical grid. You don’t think it could happen? In the article provided above, the author states, “It took just 90 seconds for a 1989 solar storm to cause the collapse of the Hydro-Quebec power grid, leaving 6 million Canadians without power for up to nine hours. A 2008 NASA-funded report noted the risk of significant damage to our interconnected grid in light of the forecast for increased solar activity. The 11-year solar cycle is expected to peak in 2013, and just two weeks ago we saw one of the biggest solar-radiation storms in years.
2. Acts of Terrorists
This category includes, but is not limited to a physical attack on the bulk power system, either at its source of generation or somewhere along its transmission route, cyber attack on the computers controlling our interconnected grid, electro-magnetic pulse, or EMP, weapon. Have you read One Second After by William R. Forstchen? EMP’s will create long-lasting damage that would incapacitate electronic systems across the country and forever change our way of life. Cyber-threats are another concern and someone with serious hacking skills could easily take out computers, networks or information stored therein to cause lasting damage to our way of life.
3. The Ailing Grid
Our ailing power grid is almost as sick as our failing economy. With one malicious event, be it man made or by natural means, it is down. Swidey compares the grid infrastructure to being as old and stooped as a pensioner. As it is upgraded and its capacity is expanded, our rapacious need for more electrical power races to max it out once again.
A wide-spread emergency, such as a massive power surge, solar flare or rogue electromagnetic pulse (EMP) detonation have the capacity to render our entire power infrastructure useless. Transformers and other key elements on which the grid depends could be permanently damaged as a result of massive electric surges.
In an event such as this our immediate problem will be finding a way to order, manufacture and take delivery of the components needed to replace the faulty ones. Most of the parts made for our electrical grid are made in China – and many are decades old. According to Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, who recently warned people to get their families out of major cities because of concerns about the stability of the grid, it would take months to get the parts shipped to this country and replaced.
During the outage, millions would be adversely affected, with some like Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, suggesting that within a year 9 out of 10 Americans would be dead from starvation, disease and violence.
Ladies and gentleman, if there’s one thing that can cause the veritable “S” to hit the fan, this is it.
So how do we remedy and/or prepare for a grid down scenario? Think retro – like pioneer retro- and by that we have to go way back to when we were not so dependent on the luxury of on-demand energy in its various forms. When preparing for a grid-down scenario, we must comprise different contingency plans for short-term and longer-term issues. That being the case, we have to admit to ourselves that it could last longer than we expect and much more than just a minor inconvenience. Therefore, the best way to prepare is to start with your basic needs. That is the need for light, heat, water, and food. Some preparedness items to stock up on are:
- Alternative fuel sources such as solar and diesel, wood for burning.
- Food preservation supplies – dehydrators, canners, smokers, fermenting/pickling supplies. To learn more, click here.
- Bulk food – Canned, freeze-dried, dehydrated or dry goods.
- Water filtration supplies, rain harvesting supplies and large quantities of stored water.
- Light sources: Lanterns, flashlights, candles and matches and alternative light sources
- Batteries and chargers
- Emergency stove – solar oven, rocket stove, camping stoves, etc.
- Wood burning fire place – Central air heating systems, even if they use natural gas or propane, depend on electricity for the blower that will circulate the heated air. When the grid is down, this system will not work. Having a wood burning fire place is an alternative to central heating systems.
- Cash money and/or silver or gold currency.
The vulnerability of our grid is nothing new to preppers. Some have seen this problem coming for a long time and changed their entire ways of life by going off-grid. They have found alternative sources such as solar, wind and diesel to power their homes and machinery. A majority of us, who have not gone off-grid, are making a concerted effort to avoid dependence on this ailing infrastructure and preparing for life without it. That being said, all we can do is stay the course, prepare accordingly and continue on.
This article has been contributed by Tess Pennington of Ready Nutrition.