“I’m in your dispos-all.”

landfill

Some time ago I posted some information about “The Electric Pig,” an article which came out in the early days of the garbage disposer.

I was interested to see an article at The Atlantic entitled “The New Alchemy of Waste,” in which the ecological benefits of disposers was flogged in terms glowing enough to make you feel like a traitor if you didn’t use one. I thought that was significant, until I noticed that the article was sponsored content written by Emerson, the makers of the InSinkErator.

Apparently the debate continues. Many cities have banned disposers altogether – New York, for one, although it rescinded the ban for private residences in 1997. Much of the support, of course, comes from disposer manufacturers, including shilled “science” articles, and it’s not easy to cut through the marketing noise. That said, it’s important to remember that funding source does not automatically invalidate research.

I was able to find a 2008 article over at Slate that seems to discuss the competing factors in a balanced way. Their consensus? Compost if at all possible, but otherwise a disposer seems to put less net ecological strain on the environment than landfilling, with the caveat that you should check first to make sure your community isn’t running out of water.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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Movie Review: Tomorrowland. The best film I’ve seen so far in 2015.

Caution: Mild spoilers ahead. I’ll try not to give too much away.

Here’s a review of “Tomorrowland” by some pretentious soul who holds himself or herself out as a film critic:

“An aggressively optimistic script admonishes the lazy and irresolute and urges humanity to end war and save the environment; the proselytizing burdens an already onerous plot.”

This is exactly the type of person that the film’s conceit addresses: nothing is wrong, all is well in Zion, and those who dare to dream are optimistic fools.

The plot of the movie revolves around a young girl who was taught by her father to feed the wolf inside her that stands for light and goodness, not darkness and evil. She is shown a vision of a future that could be, and encounters people who are dead set against allowing that future to happen. And she has to make some difficult choices along the way.

George Clooney stars, but the characters that swirl around him, notably Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Thomas Robinson, and the ever-curmudgeonly Hugh Laurie, turn in performances that carry the film along in a convincing and delightful manner.

The effects are stellar and imaginative. Not much more can be said.

And the message of the film is one that is desperately needed in the world today. We need more dreamers, people who are willing to step up to the plate and do something about the pressing issues that face our world. We need more Elon Musks, more inventive kids like the ones out there who are figuring out better ways to provide clean water and cheap power to impoverished areas, provide better lighting, clean up the plastic in the oceans, diagnosing diseases quickly and cheaply, and countless other wonderful things.

Instead, our own country is arming police departments like they were SWAT teams, killing people with abandon, taxing the poor in favor of the ultra-wealthy, allowing robber barons to get off scot-free, cutting science, arts and literacy programs in favor of standardized testing and cookie-cutter education, and generally doing everything it can to cut creativity off at the ankles.

NoChildLeftBehind

The last movies that made me feel this good were The Peaceful Warrior and The Ultimate Gift. We need more messages like this in the world, despite what the self-appointed naysayers preach.

I recommend this movie wholeheartedly. Not a perfect show by any means, but I left the theatre with my heart singing.

Overall rating: Eight out of ten stars.

8Stars

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Wind power? I’m a big fan. But not as big as this one.

Berlin’s Godzilla-size windmills, 1932

wind_turbine_0

wind_turbine_1

 

“Berlin rests in the shadow of a monstrously tall steel tower with a hydra head of spinning fans, each about 500 feet in diameter. A medium-sized town’s population climbs over the 1,400-foot-high structure, noshing in a cavernous cafeteria and peering off a cloud-shrouded viewing deck. The city is aglow with great gouts of energy pouring out of the windmill – as much as 130,000,000 kilowatt hours a year – illuminating the anguished faces of once-profitable oil barons now crying into their beer.

This was the ambitious 1930s-era vision of Hermann Honnef, a German engineer with a lifelong obsession with high towers and wind power.”

Found this interesting bit over at The Atlantic – Cities – click through for the full article.

On the other end of the scale, scientists are working on windmills so tiny that 10 of them could fit on a grain of rice, with a view toward using such small devices to recharge cell phones and such.

windmill

 

More on the idea can be read at The Verge.

While some ideas are phantasmagorical and others are yet futuristic, thinking out of the box and along these lines is both admirable and necessary. Anything we can do to get the oil industry crying into their beer steins is a good thing.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Think of this the next time you gas up.

I was led to this sad video by AmazonWatch via one of my friends, found on his blog “Chevron Shills.”

Because Marina Aguinda Lucitante was singing about Texaco, I had to ask him what the relationship between Chevron and Texaco was, and he kindly explained that Chevron purchased Texaco in 2000. He wrote to me,

“When they purchased Texaco’s assets, they also took on its liabilities. They were warned from the get-go that this would make them responsible for the catastrophe in Ecuador, but they didn’t care. So, although it was technically Texaco that destroyed the rain forest, Chevron still has plenty of blood on its hands, because its army of lawyers and its PR team have fought tooth and nail to prevent Chevron having to perform the kind of cleanup or make the type of reparations that could/would have prevented the many cancer deaths which have occurred over the last few decades.”

When we stick that nozzle in our car, we don’t think about the human carnage left in the wake of oil companies. It’s difficult, too, because our entire  world runs on fossil fuels, despite small advances being made in various places. One can’t curl up in a cave and not be part of society. But spreading awareness and promoting alternate energy sources wherever possible can be done.

I now live in a small community whose power is provided by natural gas – still a non-renewable resource, but less polluting than coal. But when I lived in Salt Lake, I took full advantage of their Blue Skies program which allowed consumers to pay a small surcharge, guaranteeing that their energy would be purchased from wind power.

I purchased a Prius to keep my gasoline usage down, and although there are numerous analyses that show the net carbon footprint is not significantly less because of the costs and impact from manufacture and disposal of the battery technology, I still feel that over the 7 years that I’ve owned it, my gas consumption has been significantly less than it otherwise might have been.

While an eGallon is significantly cheaper than gasoline, even in the most expensive states, fully-electric vehicles still have issues, since that electricity has to come from largely fossil sources at the moment, but we can’t let that stop us from continuing to push for renewable and non-polluting energy sources.

Windmills, then and now Somewhere in the Great Uni
Image ©2009-2014 Old Wolf Enterprises

 

Wind power? I’m a big fan.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Be sure not to do this to bypass federal law

This post started with a memory. I was thinking about a vacation trip my wife and I took this summer, and a humble motel in South Paris, Maine. I wrote about Goodwin’s Motor Inn over at Yelp, and one of the things I said was:

“The bathroom was well-cleaned. The shower head must have been installed back in the days before the government took to shoving its nose in everyone’s business, and to Pluto with water-saver fixtures, thank you… the absolutely Amazonian cascade of hot water that greeted me when I turned it on was enough to make me cheerfully forgive any other shortcomings the room might have had.”

It really was nice. And I’ve never liked water-saver shower fixtures from the time they became federally mandated; you can certainly get clean with 2.5 gallons per minute, but most of the time I just don’t feel like I’ve had that real cascade experience I grew up with in the 50’s.

I know I’m not the only one. Here’s a shot from the instruction sheet of a WaterPik shower head:

Other companies have tapped into consumer frustration with low water flow; Zoe Industries, realizing that the DOE regulations were written on a per head basis, began manufacturing some lovely multi-head devices, some with up to eight nozzles.

Unsurprisingly, the government was not happy with this arrangement, and not only did they re-write their regulations to bypass the per-head loophole, they levied fines of close to half a million dollars against Zoe for non-compliance. Even though that particular emmerdement was “settled” and Zoe only had to pay around $30,000, the company will have to stop manufacturing its multi-head fixtures at the end of 2012, and the company is fighting for its life. If you want one, you’ll have to hurry.

There’s something fundamentally annoying about government interference in private life and private business; an early cartoon dealing with income taxes still resonates today:

In the case of water, however, it’s quite plain that more is at stake than just personal convenience, because water is a global concern.

The special Water Issue is available online.

71% of earth’s surface is covered with it, yet wars are fought over access to enough. As the population of our planet continues its more than exponential growth, ensuring access to clean water for the world’s population will continue to become more difficult.

As Americans, we belong to the 8 nations that consume over 50% of the world’s fresh water resources:

That usage is not just based on personal consumption, but also on the amount of water required to produce food and other products; our hunger for beef and other meats is responsible for a large percentage of our overall use, as outlined in an article Treehugger.

In the case of water, the science is clear; we have to conserve, or we’re going to run out; living in a desert state drives that message home on a daily basis.

Coming full circle, technology is doing all it can to produce products that save more water without sacrificing performance; the EPA’s WaterSense program is just one example.

I understand the need for conservation, but dang, that shower at Goodwin’s was nice.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Payson needs a “Blue Sky” program

This sig appeared on someone’s emails back around 1992, and I used for a long time.

O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
THIS EMAIL MOVED STICKY BLACK FILTH FROM THE BOWELS
OF THE EARTH, AND SET IT ON FIRE IN YOUR AIR
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O

When I lived in Salt Lake, I was able to sign up for the “Blue Sky” program: “When a customer commits to buying one or more blocks of renewable energy under the program, the utility promises a similar quantity of electricity generated from wind farms or other renewable resources will be put onto the regional distribution grid.”

At that point I was able to change my Livejournal signature to:

This journal entry brought to you by 100% clean renewable wind power.

Unfortunately, Payson, Utah has its own power generation system; while they do use natural gas, which is cleaner than coal, it’s still not the same – I’m still burning carbon in the atmosphere.

I wish there were a way I could get back to renewable power.

The Old Wolf is Sad.