Utah Div. of Oil, Gas & Mining’s Earth Day Poster Contest Theme: Where Would WE Be Without Oil, Gas & Mining?

Clean energy rally in UtahStealing a page from the Westboro Baptist Church’s handbook on being dickish, the Utah Division of Oil, Gas & Mining is now promoting a poster contest for elementary school age kids with a “Where Would WE Be Without Oil, Gas & Mining?” theme and the winners will be announced at (drum roll)… an Earth Day Awards luncheon on April 26. The timing is no accident and the contest sponsor list is a veritable who’s who of the fossil fuel industry operating in Utah (Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Arch Coal Sufco Mine etc.). Here are more details about the contest from Climate Progress:

“Any child in Utah between Kindergarten and sixth grade is eligible. The contest’s primary objective is ‘to improve students’ and the public’s awareness of the important role that oil, gas, and mining play in our everyday lives. Last year’s contest winners made posters that detailed how dependent we have become on fossil fuels. To their credit, the grand prize winner detailed both ways we use products created by fossil fuels and ways we can reduce our consumption.

The children were not asked to make posters about the climate impacts caused by those same fossil fuels: drought, wildfires, and warmer winters.”

Fair enough. The contest by itself is not too extreme – especially when Utah’s economy depends so heavily on the fossil fuel industry. But what is unfortunate is that they’re making it a state-sponsored Earth Day Poster Contest that is about everything Earth Day isn’t – the benefits of oil, gas & mining. It’s like they’re attempting to hijack Earth Day. Why do it? Maybe they’re just dicks.

In related news: Monty Burns wants to promote the positives of nuclear power with a poster contest for the schoolchildren of Springfield. Finalist will be announced on August 6 and the winners will be announced on August 9. [Climate Progress]

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Home Energy Efficiency (1993 vs 2009): Homes Are More Efficient, Gadgets/Electronics More Prevalent.

Home Energy Consumption chart from the EIAI think this home energy consumption chart shows what we call a hug-punch or a tickle-slap – homes are more efficient through weatherization [the hug] but we’re eating up those savings with our appliances, gadgets and electronics [the punch]. According to an article on Greentech, homes built between 2000-2009 were 30% larger than previous years and yet home energy consumption has stayed pretty much flat. We must be buying a shitload of appliances, gadgets and electronics because Energy Star can’t save us.

Even as we move towards efficient home appliances, we seem to be over complicating it. We posted a story about WiFi controlled LED lighting system that allowed homeowners to remotely control their lights via a remote, iDevice app and required a separate router. It’s the hardware stupid! Since most of us have mastered the on/off switch – use it and skip the energy consuming gadgets in order to truly save electricity. [Greentech Media]

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Australian Study Finds That Groups Opposing Wind Farms Are The Cause Of Wind Farm Sickness.

Wind farm sickness.

Do you speak cow? The anti-wind farm lobby may need you to spread the word.

According to a study from Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Health at Sydney University, the spread of the non-illness known as wind farm sickness is via anti-wind activists and lobbyist. From the Guardian:

“[Professor Chapman’s] report concludes that illnesses being blamed on windfarms are more than likely caused by the psychological effect of suggestions that the turbines make people ill, rather than by the turbines themselves.”

Sounds like the anti-wind lobby is sending out wind farm syndrome Mary and wind farm syndrome Harry to use some magic, a little voodoo and the power of suggestion to spread the unrecognized, not-illness. Sounds about right. [Guardian]


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Engineers At Lockheed Martin Create Perforene: More Efficiently Converts Saltwater To Clean Freshwater.

John Stetson - Lockheed MartinLockheed Martin has announced that they’ve created an atom-thin carbon membrane that will significantly reduce the cost and energy required to convert saltwater to freshwater. It’s called perforene and its one-nanometer sized holes are large enough to let water flow through but small enough to filter out salt from seawater. From Lockheed Martin engineer John Stetson:

“It’s [perforene] 500 times thinner than the best filter on the market today and a thousand times stronger. The energy that’s required and the pressure that’s required to filter salt is approximately 100 times less [than reverse osmosis].”

Perforene, if it reaches the market, would be a great solution for coastal areas that have limited access to freshwater and that may not be able to afford building and operating an expensive desalinization plant. The downside: mo water mo people. [Reuters]

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Non-Food ‘Cellulosic’ Ethanol Could Be Price Competitive With Gasoline By 2016.

Cellulosic ethanol production.According to research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), ethanol produced from non-food materials (inedible parts of plants, woods, and grasses) will be price competitive with corn-based ethanol and gasoline by 2016. It’s a second generation biofuel called cellulosic ethanol and for years, figuring out how to cost effectively produce ethanol from non-edible plants has been a challenge. From BNEF:

“The survey collected data and predictions on the production costs of 11 leading players in the cellulosic ethanol industry. All use a technique, commonly called enzymatic hydrolysis, to break down and convert the complex sugars in non-food crop matter, and a fermentation stage to turn the results into ethanol. The results showed that in 2012, the cost of cellulosic ethanol production was $0.94 per litre, around 40% higher than the $0.67 per litre cost of producing ethanol from corn, which dominates the US biofuel market and is competitive with US gasoline. By 2016, respondents thought the price of cellulosic ethanol would match that of corn-based ethanol.”

Why is the move to cellulosic biofuels so important? From BusinessGreen:

“Cellulosic biofuels are widely regarded as critical to the development of the biofuels industry, as they allow developers to produce fuels from waste material or fast-growing grasses removing the need for energy crops that have been blamed for eating into agricultural land and driving up food prices.”

Another benefit of cellulosic ethanol is that its production can reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by up to 85% over reformulated gasoline according to a study conducted by Michael Wang of the Argonne National Laboratory. Starch-based ethanol made from corn reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 18-29% over reformulated gasoline. [BusinessGreen and BNEF]

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West Virginia Family Living Well Off The Grid.

Living off the grid in West Virginia - Sonny and Linda Jobe's Solar Powered Pothole FarmEntering retirement age, Sonny and Linda Jobe decided to make a change and live entirely off the grid by purchasing and outfitting a farm house in Doddridge County West Virginia with 20 solar panels. The solar panels produce most of the power they use – 18 panels for electricity and 2 panels dedicated to powering their hot water heater. How do they do it? By owning a small home and adapting their lifestyle. From Sonny Jobe:

“If it’s gonna be sunny, it’s when we’ll do most of the cleaning and things – between vacuuming and 3 or 4 loads of laundry.”

Check out the full story to find out how the Jobes are further adapting during the winter months. [MNN]


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