Digitizing the Environment

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I’m getting really excited by all the activity buzzing around alternative energy. This was something I was pushing for as an activist in college, back in the late 80s. Way ahead of my time? You bet. Frustrated? Oh yeah.

We knew it would take more than us do-gooders, even back then. We knew there’s have to be money in it. And, of course, the world has wised up over the last 10 years, especially over the last three. For my part, I’m thrilled to report that we’re going solar at my house! We don’t have the bucks to buy a system, even though our house is very small, but between the government subsidies right now (they’re going fast!), and the ability now to lease a system for a couple decades, the up-front cost is minimal and the whole thing begins to pay for itself within 5 years. We did this with our Takagi tankless hot water heater three years ago. Yes, it cost more to buy and install, but it’s already paying dividends three years down the road. Our heating bills are remarkably lower than our neighbor, who has the same size house but a traditional “on-all-the-time” hot water heater.

I’m going to be live-blogging the install of our solar system in a couple months once it begins, but if anyone who lives in Sungevity’s service range is interested, I can hook you up with a $500 Amex card, in your pocket, just because you read mentalfloss.com! (not shilling, just using our site’s clout to pay it forward).

What I’d really like to do is start getting involved with wind, because that, by my way of thinking, is the most exciting option coming on the grid. Just today, there’s this great piece in the New York Times reporting that Google, Good Energies and a New York financial firm have each agreed to invest heavily in a proposed $5 billion transmission backbone for future offshore wind farms along the Atlantic Seaboard. The 350-mile underwater spine, which could remove some critical obstacles to wind power development, has stirred excitement among investors, government officials and environmentalists who have been briefed on it,” says the piece.

Not sure how many of you have driven through parts of California, Nevada, Arizona or other states where we’ve got lots of wind turbines spinning already, but it’s a one-of-a-kind experience. This video below does it a bit of justice, but you don’t get the true emotional impact as when you’re driving through for real. For me, it’s combination of awe (at the size and engineering feat) and excitement for the future. The clean future.

It's like when I was 13 and recording music on my Tascam 4-track on a cassette tape. After ping-ponging tracks a couple times, there was so much tape hiss, it was sort of pathetic. But we knew, one day, not so far off, digital 4 tracks would come along and clean it all up. It was just a matter of time. And so I feel today this renewed sense of optimism about the environment. It's just a matter of time... and all that activism back in college will one day pay off—is already starting to pay off.

If you're interested in the Sungevity cash-back deal, shoot me an email: david 'at' mentalfloss.com.

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October 12, 2010 - 10:05am
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