America is addicted to filthy energy; this is no secret.
First, it is vital to define the word filthy as it applies to the ability of our Earth to sustain life. Two meanings offered by the Oxford Dictionary are: "disgustingly dirty" and "obscene and offensive." Frighteningly enough, most of the energy that keeps our country running affects living creatures in such negative ways that it is accurate to call them simultaneously disgusting, dirty, obscene and offensive.
According to Sierra Magazine, the United States consumes "19.54 million barrels per day of liquefied plant and animal matter from the Mesozoic era." This is an enormous amount; remember the tragic BP oil spill, whose heartbreaking effects still float at the surface of the Gulf? We as Americans consume more than that disturbing quantity of oil every day. Refining and drilling for oil are both environmentally invasive, and the effects of our mass-consumption are tangibly destructive. The same Sierra article notes that burning petroleum (the gasoline that goes into our automobiles) is the cause of 42 percent of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. Although many question the validity of human-based carbon dioxide emissions as the cause of "global warming," the climate's behavior indicates a hurting ozone layer. According to records kept by the United Nations, 2010 was the hottest year on record (tying with 2005 and 1998). To place this figure into context, though, the 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1998. Is this mess really worth pouring our money into dangerous foreign markets, and potentially "drill, baby, drill-ing" in what's left of our own pristine wilderness?
We are are shameless consumers of coal, as well; the burning of coal releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, causing acid rain , smog, and many other environmental disasters. According to the UCSUSA, the average coal plant generates as much carbon dioxide as cutting down 161 million trees, every year!
There is, thankfully, a metaphorical "ray of sunshine" in this sea of toxic darkness. This hope exists in the innovations made by good-hearted, clear-headed scientists and entrepreneurs to develop pragmatic "Green Energy" solutions. Solar power, while one incredible harness for energy, has been so overstated in the media, lately, that other methods may have drifted out of the public consciousness, for the moment. Two of these important sources of clean energy-- Wind and Vortex Hydro Energy -- have inspired incredible advances in environmentally-stable energy production.WindMade is the striking new face of wind-generated energy. The concept is simple; significant energy can be generated through the turning of windmills and turbines by naturally-occurring wind. What is cutting-edge here is that Wind Power is truly a "green" source of energy, as it does not produce any greenhouse gas emissions whatsoever— this is a stark contrast to the filth generated by burning gas, coal and oil. The WindMade brand itself is geared at encouraging corporations to utilize Wind Power to manufacture their products, and to communicate honestly with their consumers regarding this positive energy choice. As the headline of a Grist article on the subject put it quite eloquently, "WindMade is the next Fair Trade." In other words, by spotting that snappy blue logo on the back of a foodstuff or other product, consumers can choose to purchase-- and thus encourage the production of-- products of a cleaner origin. The concept is explained further in the WindMade video below: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndbqguUKHsM] A few large corporations, notably LEGO and Bloomberg, have already adopted WindMade as a way to communicate to their consumers that their products are produced with planet-friendly energy. If you are a business owner or simply a consumer with a voice, help participate in the WindMade movement here.
Vortex Hydro Energy is a new energy-production method altogether. University of Michigan scientists and entrepreneurs invented a device (shown above) called VIVACE. The VIVACE functions by capturing energy in cylinders, in the form of vortex induced vibrations, through the hydrokinetic energy produced by rivers and oceans. Unlike conventional hydropower, though, the VIVACE does not use propellers, thus creating far less danger and disturbance for the surrounding ecosystem.
Vortex Hydro Energy is an extremely new technology, (still undergoing some tests, in fact) but has already garnered support from government agencies such as the United States Navy, Best Buy, and the United States Department of Energy. However, expansion into other, broader markets will be necessary for Vortex Hydro Energy to displace dirtier energy-production methods. For more information, visit the "Markets" section of their website, located here.Watch this video, as well; this journalist explains the dynamics of the VIVACE with astounding clarity:
Much like a pack-a-day smoker switching from cigarettes to gum, it will take many gradual steps before we can break our addiction to Filthy Energy. Brilliant minds like those behind WindMade and VIVACE work hard every day to craft new ideas that can fix the problems suffocating our Earth. However, we don't have to sit around and wait. We are gloriously free in this country; through our choices as consumers, voters, and sentient beings on this planet, we possess amazing power to improve our world.
Please check back next Friday for more exciting, Earth-centered news!
The Cornucopia Corner