Below is an amazing scene from an amazing movie, You Cant Take it With
You. About half way through to film, Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur sit
down on a park bench and have a five minute conversation that covers
the meaning of life, the politics of fear, the future of solar power
and falling in love. It's five minutes long and has no cuts, just Jimmy
and Jean acting their hearts out. The longest piece of the scene is the
bit about solar power.
It was 1938, and Jimmy's character, Tony Kirby, had been
forced to decided between his utopian research and joining in his
families bank. This scene says a lot of things, but it's worth watching
just for the little bit about solar power, quoted below.
"We wanted to find out what made the grass
grow green. Now that sounds silly and everything, but it's the biggest
research problem in the world today and I'll tell you why. Because
there's a tiny little engine in the green of this grass, and in the
green of the trees, that has the mysterious gift of being able to take
energy from the rays of the sun and store it up. You see, that's how
the heat and power of coal and oil and wood is stored up.
"Well, we thought if we could find the secret of all those millions of
little engines in this green stuff, we could make big ones. And then
we could take all the power we'd ever need right from the sun's rays."
A quick look at the work being done with porphyrins
that there's still a lot of work to be done. But, Tony Kirby, your work
Greenpeace has come up with a
Green Electronics Guide
which ranks 14 technology manufacturers based on reduction of dangerous chemicals in their products and recycling policies.
Nokia, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard are at the top of the list, while Acer,
Motorola, and Lenovo are the bottom three.
The list concentrates primarily on companies reducing their use of PVC plastics
and brominated flame retardants (BFR). Corporate recycling and take-back was
also a part of this ranking.
If you need to purchase new electronics (and sometimes the greenest choice can
be not to buy, or to buy used), this list can give you some comparison
Greenwash: To improve the public image of a corporation by funding environmental initiatives and public relations.
Here and now, EcoGeek asks an uncomfortable question: Is greenwashing a bad thing? When BP changed their name to Beyond Petroleum and began to spend twice as much money than any other energy company on renewables should we call them greenwashers and disparage their progress, or should we thank them. There is no doubt that public relations spurred BP in its rebranding. And, yes, the company still does awful dirty things (especially in Alaska) but we at EcoGeek are strong believers in the principle of multiple causes.
To say BP overhauled their brand, their mission and restructured their entire corporation solely for public relations is far too simple-minded. Greenwashing has multiple causes. Among them are public relations, long-term and short-term economics and concern for the environment. That's right, I said it, Concern for the environment. As much as the corporate world seems cash-crazed and heartless, there are still people running these things. And, occasionally, people care.
Wal-Mart just went through a green-up with pep-talks from Al Gore and audits from the Rocky Mountain Institute. This is the kind of thing that will make some folks hop up and down and scream "Greenwashers!" But, the truth is, when Wal-Mart puts compact fluorescent lightbulbs on sale, the world notices. They're doing it because it's making them money, it's saving them money, it's increasing brand loyalty and, maybe, because the Waltons come from a long line of traditional (hook and bullet) conservationists.
When call Wal-Mart and BP greenwashers, we punish them for doing the right things. When they're guilty, which they often are, we need to rub their faces in it. But when they change the way their companies operate and, thus, change the world, we have to say thanks. We have to shake their hands and print their press releases because, otherwise, they'll have one less reason to green-up. And we want them to have as many reasons as possible.
Why do we even discuss
personal electric cars when we could be talking about personal electric BLIMPS!
SkyYacht, a corporation consisting of two amazing EcoGeeks
who cite their motivation as "Pure Fun,
" has created a blimp for one or two passengers with electric propulsion. Imagine flying to work in your own personal air-ship with nothing in your ears but the sound of the breeze and the birds. On their website, I found an elegant summation
of the SkyYacht's capabilities, "no other aircraft can accomplish the seemingly straightforward task of picking off the top-most leaf from a particular tree." Now, not necessarily the nicest thing to do to a tree but, nonetheless, an amazing achievement.
The SkyYacht isn't completely environmentally friendly. It's a hot-air blimp and so must burn propane to fill with hot air, but it's certainly more efficient than any other form of personal air travel, and probably more efficient than most cars. Don't expect to be going too fast though, it has a top speed of 12 mph (and don't try and go anywhere if the wind is blowing faster than that).
While it might not be particularly suitable for commuter travel, it could be an excellent resource for aerial photography, and, with the ability to touch down lighter than a feather and just as silent, it would be ideally suited for monitoring environmentally sensitive areas.
Hat's off to "pure fun" and the Sky Yacht team.
Via Make: and Engadget