Environment Future Building Society

Re-doing the Industrial Revolution

Replied to The industrial re-revolution by Ed ConwayEd Conway (Ed Conway)

But here’s the thing. Every one of the discoveries I’ve mentioned above has a dark side. Because each of these revolutions entails the creation of greenhouse gases. There is carbon dioxide created in the manufacture of Portland cement, of steel, of glass, in the making of most chemicals, in the production of nitrogen-based fertilisers, in the electrolytic reaction at the heart of the Hall–Héroult process that creates aluminium, in the refining of most metals, in the minting of silicon chips and solar panels and the making of lithium ion batteries. I could go on.

The point here is that if we want a truly zero carbon world we don’t just have to replace power stations. We have to re-imagine how to do all of those processes above that comprise centuries of innovation. We have to re-do the industrial revolution all over again. And, as you can see above, that means far more than just working out a way of making green steel.

I would also add, reinventing what we do along with how we do it. The electric car, for example, has lower emissions (after production) (assuming electricity is from a green source), but roads and sprawl are part of our challenge. Simply updating our cars and the concrete we use to build roads won’t fix the stupid way we’ve designed communities and work that forces lots of time traveling to and from distant job centers, which requires us all to have cars that take a lot of energy and materials to produce in the first place. We have to change, which is perhaps even harder than reinventing green forms of existing technology, because everyone wants things to stay just as they are, simply greener.

That’s a big hurdle in my professional work: people want to recycle more, not buy less. To keep doing what they’re doing instead of adopting new ways. (I get it, change is hard, and when you’re barely keeping your head above water you can’t even think about doing things differently, especially when it might be just the little bit harder to drag you under the waves.) Convenience produces lots of waste, and we can’t always have it both ways. I’m not going to argue against convenience products given the lack of support structure for caregivers (usually women) – I’m not going to fault anyone for doing what they need to make their lives manageable.

Again, we must rethink how we do things to stop climate change from getting any worse than it is already going to be. The more I see how all pieces of society fit together, the more I realize that environmental justice and feminism and racial equity underpin our success in reducing emissions, because those shape how our society runs. The nuclear family, often run and fed and cared for by mom, isn’t working. We need to support caregivers. We probably should rethink single generation / single family households and embrace cohousing and broader concepts of family groups. We need a technological re-revolution on one side, and a social revolution on the other.

Future Building

We Want Solarpunk

Replied to

Except this isn’t a great choice either, because if we don’t do anything we’ll get dystopian cyberpunk, when what is sustainable and needed is solarpunk… so the real question is how can we shift our cities away from becoming cyberpunk towards solarpunk? (Though to be fair the original comparison is also dumb, a lot of our current problem is trying to convince homeowners that townhomes and apartments aren’t scary in their neighborhood…)

Environment Future Building

Greener Solar Panels

Liked How to Build a Low-tech Solar Panel? (LOW←TECH MAGAZINE)

George Cove, a forgotten solar power pioneer, may have built a highly efficient photovoltaic panel 40 years before Bell Labs engineers invented silicon cells. If proven to work, his design could lead to less complex and more sustainable solar panels.

If this is true, it makes me mourn for the future that might have been. Solar powered electricity in 1910?! Think about how many emissions and how much pollution could have been avoided from coal powered energy. If we hadn’t bought into the coal and gas system, if we’d built green from the start, it wouldn’t be such the battle today trying to replace the polluting monstrosities. If we didn’t have coal and gas in our minds as normal, as the baseline to measure everything against without accounting for the externalities of climate change and air pollution causing health conditions like asthma and premature deaths. It wouldn’t have stopped transportation emissions and pollution but a sizable portion of emissions come from power generation.

End of life is an important consideration in new technology, and not just because I work in the waste world. I installed solar panels at my house, wanting to support the technology, even knowing that there isn’t a good solution yet for disposal, hoping that someone will figure it out in the next twenty years when I need to get rid of them. Maybe it’s hypocritical of me? I’m anti NFT / crypto because of the environmental impacts, not trusting that they’ll resolve the energy issues in the future — is it fair that I trust the solar industry is investing in developing better disposal options? Maybe because one is a green industry with many benefits and one key drawback, whereas the other is focused on making money and doesn’t seem to want to deal with the externality of the energy costs (and environmental/ climate implications) associated with their ability to make money?

Both have the potential to decentralize systems. But crypto is disruptive to the power structure and distribution of money, not to the system of capitalism — money, and lots of it, is still the ultimate goal. Solar has the potential to be disruptive to the current system of literal power production by decentralizing and localizing it, giving individuals more control over where their power comes from and shifting away from mega power projects that have significant local impacts like dams destroying the salmon runs (and with them native ways of life, and potentially violating their treaty rights) and wind farms wreaking havoc on migratory birds and bats.

Environment The Internet

Went to Homebrew Website Club

RSVPed Attending Homebrew Website Club – The Americas

One big HWC, for anyone in the Americas(or who is just available) who wants to dial in. Let’s talk about what we would like to do in 2021 now that it is here. What’s Homebrew Website Club?
Homebrew Website Club is a meetup for anyone interested in personal websites and a distributed web. Whether you…

Brought up an article I came across with a “manifesto” for “low impact” websites that we all agreed seemed like a bit of an odd way to come at it. Consensus seemed to be that there’s some overlap between designing a streamlined, user-friendly, fast website and “low impact” website but the energy use of our websites wasn’t something we tended to do. I’m on the side of using the tools needed for effective communication and engagement, which are often visual on the web.

Indie Web: Green Computing

Solar-powered version of Low Tech Magazine website

See also: Hands-on Sustainable Web Design

Discussed building a lightweight mini solar-powered computer with a sim card and leaving it somewhere out in the world random. I thought maybe on peaks as a digital manifest. Someone suggested pushing a button could send a log to your website that you reached it. Could be a cool art project somehow I think (maybe as a temporary installation) — but the concern that once they got easy enough to make they might pop up anywhere and everywhere is valid 😉

Environment Science

Monitoring water quality with clams

Bookmarked Someone Explains How Poland Uses Clams To Control Its Water Supply And It’s Pretty Crazy by Judita K (Bored Panda)

While it seems that various technologies are completely taking over many different parts of human life, it appears that even some man-made things are better left to nature… Turns out, some places in the world trust clams and mussels to detect the cleanness of water. Despite most of us being used to seeing clams on a fancy dinner plate, some of them get a more important mission – monitoring the purity of drinking water.

Cool Future Building History

Persian Desert Ice Storage Structure

Liked Yakhchāl (
Yakhchal of Yazd province

“A yakhchāl is an ancient type of evaporative cooler. Above ground, the structure had a domed shape, but had a subterranean storage space. It was often used to store ice, but sometimes was used to store food as well. The subterranean space coupled with the thick heat-resistant construction material insulated the storage space year round.” Wikipedia

“In most yakhchāls, the ice is created by itself during the cold seasons of the year; the water is channeled from the qanat (Iranian aqueduct) to the yakhchāl and it freezes upon resting inside the structure.”

“Sometimes equipped with a system of bâdgirs (ancient design of windcatchers or wind towers) that could easily bring temperatures inside the space down to frigid levels even in summer days… Bâdgirs catch the slightest breeze by the vents at the top and funnel the cooling air down through internal, vertically-placed wooded slats to the water or structure below. Alternately, the bâdgir can function as a chimney, expelling warm air upward to pull cool air in from a base opening…”