From void into vision, from vision to mind, from mind into speech, from speech to the tribe, from the tribe into din.

Saturday, September 04, 2021

"Rejected Energy" and Heat Mapping the EU

 USAmerica generates around 100 quadrillion BTUs per year, more or less, and has plateaued at that level since 2000.  However, about 67% of the energy produced is characterized as “rejected energy,” energy that does no useful work, according to the annual energy report of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (  

We waste about 2/3rds of the energy we produce, each and every year.

A lot of that is waste heat which could be used for process heat in industrial processes and heating (and cooling) especially if we had district heating systems.  The EU does have district heating systems and is now beginning to maximize their use in order to reduce their own “rejected energy” and the climate effects it produces.  In fact, "This is how Copenhagen plans to go carbon-neutral by 2025” ( starting with Nordhavn, a district “designed to be the world’s foremost smart energy laboratory at full scale" demonstrating "how electricity and heating, energy-efficient buildings and electric transport can be integrated into an intelligent, flexible and optimized energy system."

They say, "We need to link district heating systems and expand thermal grids at scale. The next step in Europe is to make smart thermal grids that can harvest heat wasted from current and future sources such as power plants and data centres. Europe is wasting enough heat to almost cover the current heat demands in all its buildings. The Heat Roadmap Europe (HRE) project ( and World Economic Forum’s Future of Europe, Energy initiative sparked the idea of creating a smart thermal grid in all EU countries. As a result, the Pan-European Thermal Atlas (Peta) ( now pairs areas with heat demand and heat excess sources. In other words, it is preparing and planning the heat grid.”

Let me make this clear, the EU is mapping waste heat sources throughout their participating nations and developing plans to transform that waste heat into useful work.  I doubt there’s anyone in USAmerica who is even thinking along those lines at that scale.  Yet.

You can learn more about these ideas at the 7th International Conference on Smart Energy Systems ( on 21-22 September 2021 at Aalborg University and Energy Cluster in Denmark.
"After being forced by circumstances into holding the conference strictly virtually in 2020, we look forward to yet again welcoming our conference participants in a hybrid setting with the possibility to attend either online or in person – this time in Copenhagen.

"The conference establishes a venue for presenting and discussing scientific findings and industrial experiences related to the subject of Smart Energy Systems based on renewable energy, 4th Generation District Heating Technologies and Systems (4GDH), electrification of heating and transport sectors, electrofuels and energy efficiency.

"This 7th conference in the series cements it as a main venue for presentations and fruitful debates on subjects that are pertinent to the development and implementation of smart energy systems to fulfil national and international objectives.”

May there be USAmerican policymakers, scientists, and engineers in attendance at this conference who take good notes to bring back home.

PS:  "How much CO2 equivalent is offset if we whiten all eligible urban flat roofs world- wide?
Answer: 24 Gigatonnes (Gt) – 2/3 of a year’s worldwide emission – Gigatonne = billion metric tons
If implemented over 20 years (the life of a roof or a program) this is ≈ 1.2 Gt/year.”

"We remain alert so as not to get run down, but it turns out you only have to hop a few feet to one side and the whole huge machinery rolls by, not seeing you at all."
Lew Welch

"the war that matters is the war against the imagination
all other wars are subsumed in it."
Diane Di Prima

"Quite clearly, our task is predominantly metaphysical, for it is how to get all of humanity to educate itself swiftly enough to generate spontaneous behaviors that will avoid extinction."

R. Buckminster Fuller

Although, given recent and current events, there seem to be a whole hell of a lot of people who seem to be in love with the death drive.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Zero Net Energy - August 23, 2021

 Zero emissions drive would grow U.S. economy - Report shows meeting Paris climate goals would add trillions of dollars in economic growth

Zero net energy, waste, and water development in Albany, NY

NC net zero home

Carbon neutral, net energy positive ecodistrict for Lille, France

Toranomon-Azabudai Project - an urban village for Tokyo focusing on “green” and “wellness"

Positive net energy for Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

Tesla Energy, Brookfield, & Dacra Are Developing A Large-Scale Sustainable Neighborhood In Austin, Texas
Editorial Comment:  Anybody remember the 1979 Solar Community in Davis, CA (

Cantilever House - zero net energy design for India
Editorial Comment:  Finally some work on zero net energy designs for cooling as well as heating.  ZED Lab looks interesting as well.  They’ve been working since 2009.

Hot Heart - artifical islands to supply heat to Helsinki and support a tropical forest

Greenhouses for extreme climates

Austin, TX’s Whisper Valley "a net-zero capable community, and every home has a geothermal HVAC (it’s a very unique* geothermal system – it’s the first of its kind and the largest in the world)”
Editorial Comment:  My old English teacher, Mr Neilsen, would want me to remind people that “unique” means “one of a kind” which is difficult to modify.  There’s no such thing as “very one of a kind.”

Toyota’s Woven City - a programmable city and a test bed for a hydrogen energy system (?)

Monday, August 16, 2021

The Carbon Coin

 from Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

Page 294: They [a consortium of all the big central banks, with open access for more central banks to join] would issue together a single new currency, coordinated through the BIS [Bank for International Settlements]: one coin per ton of carbon-dioxide-equivalent sequestered from the atmosphere, either by not burning what would have been burned in the ordinary course of things, or by pulling it back out of the air. They promised to establish a floor in the value of this carbon coin, which exposed them to great danger from speculators trying to scare money out of the plan; and they foretold a rise in the value of the currency over the coming decades. By doing these things they made this investment a sure thing, assuming civilization itself survived.

Page 295: In fact, at the end of the agreement they all lent some fiat money of the ordinary kind, pooled into a fund administered through the BIS, which would be enough to pay for this new bureaucracy of verification that would have to be created to certify that carbon was rally being sequestered. This was a bureaucracy so vast no single bank could afford it, nor of course the ministry, not even close. It was almost a full employment plan all by itself.

Here are some programs that exist now which point in that direction:

Global Carbon Reward ( is looking for a central bank to trade and manage a "carbon currency,” their “Global Carbon Rewards,” for a demonstration project.  "The central bank will need permission from their regulators to establish a temporary swap line for buying the carbon currency during the demonstrations…”

Regrow ( does “Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV)... to ensure data is transparent and reliable” in terms of carbon sequestration, among other things.

There are other models at other scales and I believe Ralph Borsodi’s “Constant,” an inflation proof local currency, could be adapted to carbon:

Many more alternative currencies, even carbon coin possibilities, in Barbara Brandt’s Whole Life Economics (1996, New Society Publishers).

The Carbon Coin According to The Ministry for the Future (more quotes):

Previously:  How Do You Pay for the Green New Deal:  The Cost of Fuel

Monday, August 02, 2021

To Catch the Sun: DIY Solar Handbook

To Catch the Sun ( is a book of inspiring stories of communities coming together to harness their own solar energy, with the nitty-gritty details so you can do it too!

Learn how to design and build a photovoltaic system for engagements like:

A small home in a financially rich country

A few homes in a financially poor country

School rooms and community spaces 

Zombie-apocalypse equipment

Laptop and cellphone chargers 

A tiny home or #vanlife 

Glamping and backpacking equipment 

Emergency supply, e.g., powering an oxygen machine during power outages

Isolated loads like electric gates, pumps, greenhouse fans, backup generators, and telecommunications equipment

You had me at "Zombie-apocalypse equipment" (and I wonder why none of the zombie shows I've seen take renewables seriously - it's all motor vehicles and dirty clothes).  

Then again, I believe that Solar IS Civil Defense (

Saturday, May 29, 2021

A Speech from Her Speeches Greta Thunberg Never Made

I recently read No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference  by Greta Thunberg (NY: Penguin Books, 2018, 2019  ISBN 9780143133568), a slim book of her speeches since she started her Friday School Strike, "that idea was inspired by the Parkland students, who had refused to go to school after the school shootings.  [More on Parkland at]

"And sometimes NOT doing things - like just sitting down outside the parliament - speaks much louder than doing things.  Just like a whisper sometimes is louder than shouting."

As usual, I flagged passages as I read and then copied them over to my computer when I was finished.  Then I thought about how to share what I learned from this remarkable young woman, finally deciding that my collection of notes from her words could make one coherent speech.

What follows is my cut-up of her book to present what I believe are her core concepts.  All the words are hers joined together with ellipses (...) and my own commentary in brackets ([ ]).

We want you to follow the Paris Agreement and the IPCC reports. We don’t have any other manifestos or demands - you unite behind the science, that is our demand... 

Right there (page 108, chapter 2, in the latest [as of July 2019] SR15 IPCC report) it says that if we are to have a 67% chance of limiting the global temperature rise to below 1.5ºC, we had, on 1 January 2018, 420 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide left in our CO2 budget. And of course that number is much lower today. We emit about 42 gigatonnes of CO2 every year. At current emissions levels, that remaining budget is gone within roughly 8.5 years. [3.5 gigatonnes per month, 0.80769 gigatonnes per week, 0.115 gigatonnes per day] And now that figure is already down to less than 360 gigatonnes [in 2019, the May 2021 figure is 276 gigatonnes and falling according to]...

But perhaps the most dangerous misconception about the climate crisis is that we have to “lower” our emissions. Because that is far from enough. Our emissions have to stop if we are to stay below 1.5-2ºC of warming. The “lowering of emissions” is of course necessary, but it is only the beginning of a fast process that must lead to a stop within a couple of decades, or less. And by “stop” I mean net zero [Greta and others are strongly interrogating the idea of "net zero" as accounting tricks have been used in some current "net zero" claims] - and then quickly on to negative figures. That rules out most of today’s politics... 

And our main enemy right now is not our political opponents. Our main enemy now is physics. And we cannot make “deals” with physics... 

The fact that we are speaking of “lowering” instead of “stopping” emissions is perhaps the greatest force behind the continuing business-as-usual... 

If the EU is to make its fair contribution to staying within the carbon budget for the 2ºC limit, then it means a minimum of 80% reduction [in greenhouse gases] by 2030 and that includes aviation and shipping. So, it is around twice as ambitious as the current proposal... 

If the emissions have to stop, then we must stop the emissions... 

We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground and we need to focus on equity... 

To do your best is no longer good enough. We must all do the seemingly impossible. [Be realistic, demand the impossible - a Che Guevara quote used as graffiti on the walls of Paris in 1968 and by Prof Donald Sadoway of MIT, the developer of the Ambri flow battery and a way to decarbonize steel production, to inspire his students]...

We should no longer measure our wealth and success in the graph that shows economic growth, but in the curve that shows the emissions of greenhouse gases. We should no longer only ask: “Have we got enough money to go through with this?” but also: “Have we got enough of the carbon budget to spare to go through with this?” That should and must become the centre of our new currency... 

In Sweden, we live our lives as if we had the resources of 4.2 planets. Our individual carbon footprint is one of the worst in the world. This means that Sweden steals 3.2 years of natural resources from future generations every year: Those of us who are part of these future generations would like Sweden to stop doing that. Right now... 

Now we probably don’t even have a future any more. Because that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once. [The sky WAS the limit and now it’s striking back.]... 

Many people say that we don’t have any solutions to the climate crisis. And they are right. Because how could we? How do you “solve” the greatest crisis that humanity has ever faced? How do you “solve” a war? How do you “solve” going to the moon for the first time? How do you “solve” inventing new inventions?... 

“That’s still not an answer,” you say. Then we start talking about a circular economy and rewilding nature [or geotherapy, see for more] and the need for a just transition. Then you don’t understand what we are talking about... 

Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling. [Sacred]... 

And yes, a transformed world will include lots of benefits. But you have to understand. This is not primarily an opportunity to create new green jobs, new businesses or green economic growth. This is above all an emergency, and not just any emergency. This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. This is not something you can like on Facebook... 

We already have all the facts and [some of the] solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Solar Public Service Announcements

The first solar video I produced was for the Urban Solar Energy Association [USEA] back in the early 1980s. One of the 10 second public service announcements was “A south-facing window is already a solar collector. Learn how to use it.” with the contact information for USEA. Another was “A south-facing porch can become a solar greenhouse. Learn how to build one.” We got a few hundred dollars in a grant from a group that was refusing to pay war taxes to make 3 inch tape copies and I took them around to the TV stations. Even saw the spot, once, late at night, I think on Channel Five.

The next round of solar videos was a set of 30 second spots I did with a graphic designer, Ed Hill, for the successor organization, Boston Area Sustainable Energy Association in the 1990s when I was doing a lot of public access TV, including videotaping and cablecasting the monthly talks that BASEA hosted. There is still a lot of information to be mined from that archive but it is just gathering dust in a storage area in my house in the form of VHS and 3/4 inch tape.

My favorite of that second series was the one on solar history which showed photographs of local solar buildings since the 1940s and back a few thousand years to the solar techniques of Greek houses (

Unfortunately, when I took these solar PSAs to the local TV stations they had no time available. Only one local UHF station (remember UHF?), Channel 56, took a copy but I’m not sure that it ever made air.

Since then I’ve made some of my own short Youtube videos on simple solar principles as I have always believed that you can teach the basics of practical solar energy, at least for emergency/survival electricity and heat, in a half hour or less.

Recently, I compiled a playlist on Youtube of all my simple solar stuff at

Some of the products mentioned are no longer available but I believe the basic solar information is still good.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Geotherapy Not Geoengineering, Please

 Geotherapy not geoengineering, please.

“Geotherapy refers to the process of restoring the earth’s health by strengthening natural biogeochemical and physiological mechanisms that regulate the earth’s planetary life support systems and control global temperature, sea level, atmospheric composition, soil fertility, food, and fresh water supplies.”
Source: Geotherapy: Innovative Methods of Soil Fertility Restoration, Carbon Sequestration, and Reversing CO2 Increase

Geoengineering “is the deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climate system, in order to moderate global warming” and “the most prominent subcategories of climate engineering are solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal.”

Geotherapy is based on working with existing natural systems and starts local, adapting to the different biomes in which a geotherapeutic technique works. Geoengineering tends to be global from the get go and the “engineering” is emphasized much more than the “geo,” at least so far. Geotherapy is systems solutions, working within ecological boundaries. Geoengineering is engineering, tools based, and usually mechanistic.

The resources I used to learn about geotherapy are
Geotherapy: Innovative Methods of Soil Fertility Restoration, Carbon Sequestration, and Reversing CO2 Increase

Proceedings of the recent conferences organized by Biodiversity for a Livable Climate on a wide variety of geotherapeutic solutions

John Todd’s history of his lifetime building healthy and healing ecologies, Healing Earth: An Ecologist’s Journey of Innovation and Environmental Stewardship

According to the Guardian (, John Todd is working with a Dutch company, the Weathermakers (, developing a plan to make the Sinai Desert green. They are using John’s “eco machines,” greenhouses with an extremely biodiverse environment reflecting “the aggregate experience of life on Earth over the last 3.5bn years.” They will distill salt water while growing plants, fish, and animals, all powered by the sun. “The idea is that you may have 100 of these structures,” says John Todd. “And they’re spending five years in one site and then they’re moved, so these little ecologies are left behind.”

One proof of such a regreening the desert concept is a permaculture experiment near the Dead Sea over a decade ago

Another is Wadi Attir ( in the Negev Desert, a Bedouin sustainable farm.

The Weathermakers are also following the successful methods Li Rui developed in regreening the loess plateau of northern China in the 1990s, collaboratoring with John D Liu who documented the process for TV and film and is now associated with the Ecosystem Restoration Camps (, part of a growing group of environmental restoration and regeneration projects now launched around the world.

Just as focusing on cities drove climate politics from Copenhagen to the Paris agreement, I believe ecovillage restoration will drive practical climate solutions using geotherapy, which works at every scale from a flower pot on a window sill to thousands of hectares of land, in the next few years. 

Here are some upcoming events which offer ways to participate in the action:
Smart Village Summit (, powered by Future Thinkers and RegenVillages.
This monthly virtual summit is for people interested in the many aspects of Smart Villages and ProtoB communities. We’ll be joined by experienced guests to discuss earth regeneration, permaculture, community building, governance, education, social dynamics, funding, economics, organization and leadership, affordable housing, natural building, information sharing, innovation, technology and other important subjects.
March 31, 2021 04:00 PM GMT (Vancouver)
April 28, 2021 04:00 PM GMT (Vancouver)
May 26, 2021 04:00 PM GMT (Vancouver)

Global Just Recovery Gathering (, April 9 to 11, is a three-day online event featuring interactive workshops, cultural sessions, and hands-on trainings. The events will include appearances by Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Naomi Klein, Brianna Fruean and others. Build your skills, strengthen relationships, and hear from a powerful line-up of climate leaders, artists, and musicians in every corner of the world.

The GEN Ecovillage Summit – Living Solutions for a Regenerative World ( will take place from April 9-15, 2021 and will showcase how ecovillages contribute to the mitigation of climate crisis and function as resilient communities of practise bringing concrete solutions and actions for earth restoration, economic revival, social regeneration and cultural celebration.

Recently, L Hunter Lovins said that reputable scientists believe we could return to 280 ppm CO2, pre-industrial levels, in 30-60 years IF we used holistic grazing practices on the existing grasslands of the world ( Now, think about how quickly we could draw down atmospheric carbon IF we added marine ecosystems, which can sequester much more carbon (15 -20 times) more rapidly than terrestrial ecosystems, to the mix all while rapidly reducing our emissions to zero.

We are surrounded by insurmountable opportunities, when we think in terms of geotherapy, not geoengineering, please.