From converting your lawn mower to solar power to brewing your own biofuel, there are plenty of steps the more industrious green citizen can take beyond recycling and CF bulbs. Get started below.
Boil Up Biofuel in Your Garage
Make your bad eating habits finally pay off. The Fuelmeister II, produced by Renewal Fuels in Nevada, converts used cooking oil into clean, efficient biodiesel that will run any unmodified diesel engine. Just pour cooking oil, racing methanol, lye and tap water into the machine's mixing cone and plug it in. The closed-system refinery will brew some 43 gallons of diesel in about half an hour.
At roughly 70 cents a gallon, the greasy stuff can add up to big savings and is even more cost-effective if you make it in bulk to share (or sell).
Level of difficulty: 7
Audacity Meter: 6
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Save a Flush or Two
If it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown . . . carry it into the backyard with last night's corncobs. Sintex Industries, a plastics company in India, has rolled out a small-scale methane digester that can produce enough gas to power a stove, washing machine or generator.
The 264-gallon digester takes in human waste as well as kitchen scraps. As the material composts, the digester routes the resulting methane into a storage tank. For now, the system is available only in India, but DIYers are already posting online about their own manure-powered versions.
Level of difficulty: 5
Audacity Meter: 7
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Convert Your Mower to Solar
You drive a Prius; why not mow with one? Gas-powered mowers can spew as much pollution in an hour as a car does in 100 miles. Guy Marsden, an electrical engineer in Maine, has come up with instructions for transforming a 22-inch mower into a silent grass-eating machine.
Step one is replacing the motor with a 12-volt electric one. Step two is making a home solar charger. Step three is taking your 1,750rpm, whisper-quiet mower out and baffling the neighbors. Too daunting? Marsden will convert a mower for you, for a little green of your own.
Level of difficulty: 9
Audacity Meter: 7
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And check out PopSci's complete coverage of the future of the environment at popsci.com/futurecity.
I am a life long reader and subscriber to Popular Science. In the past, it is has always been a source to me (and others of like mind) of great information about the interesting, exciting and positive aspects of scientific and technological advancement in our country and in the world, all presented in an easy to understand layman’s format.
However, recently, your magazine has, disturbingly, taken a distinctly liberal political turn in the type and kinds of articles its staff chooses to fill the page of the publication with. It seems to me that PS has lost its objectivity and embraced “junk science” as the basic premise behind many editorial decisions and articles.
One of the most striking indications of this left turn is the apparent total acceptance of the “man-made global warming” or “man-made global climate change” hysteria, which, fanned by a left-wing, agenda driven media, is sweeping our population. Many of these environmentalist minded citizens are poorly educated in science and have little idea of the scientific approach to analyzing an apparent problem. To them “green” is the fad of the day and is driven by perceived guilt over the evil they have been told they have done simply by embracing technological advancement. Their ignorance is their excuse… but what is yours?
All of these changes to the slant of your publication comes, ironically, just at the time when many real and intellectually honest scientists are starting jump off the “man-made global climate change” bandwagon. I am speaking of award winning scientists like top geophysicist and French Socialist Dr. Claude Allegre, who was once a true believer in the pseudo religion of man-made global warming (now called “climate change” to hedge all bets).
Allegre, who has written 11 books and received numerous scientific awards including the Goldschmidt Medal from the Geochemical Society of the United States, was one of the first scientists to sound the global warming alarm over 20 years ago. He changed from being an apostle of “man-made” climate change to a skeptic in 2006 and now considers the cause of climate change to be “unknown” from a scientific point of view. He accuses the prophets of doom, who push “man-made” global warming” of being motivated more by money and political power than by any true concern for the planet or its people.
Another “convert” from the “people are causing climate change” chorus is geologist Bruno Wiskel, builder of the famous Kyoto House to honor the UN sanctioned Kyoto Protocol of 1997. Once a strong supporter of the Kyoto concept of man-made climate change, after carefully examining the science behind the treaty, Wiskel’s intellectual honesty forced him to reverse his scientific views completely. He became such a strong skeptic, that he recently wrote a book titled “The Emperor's New Climate: Debunking the Myth of Global Warming.”
Another skeptic is Astrophysicist Dr. Nir Shaviv, one of Israel's top young award winning scientists, who believes "Solar activity can explain a large part of the 20th-century global warming".
Then there is mathematician & engineer Dr. David Evans, who did carbon accounting for the Australian Government and who said “When I started that job in 1999, the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty conclusive, but since then new evidence has weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause. I am now skeptical.”
Evans’ opinion of the current mixing of politics and science concluded “Unfortunately politics and science have become even more entangled. The science of global warming has become a partisan political issue, so positions become more entrenched. Politicians and the public prefer simple and less-nuanced messages. At the moment the political climate strongly supports carbon emissions as the cause of global warming, to the point of sometimes rubbishing or silencing critics.”
Climate researcher Dr. Tad Murty, former Senior Research Scientist for Fisheries and Oceans in Canada, also reversed himself from a believer in man-made climate change to a skeptic. “I started with a firm belief about global warming, until I started working on it myself.”
Murty was one of the 60 scientists who wrote an April 6, 2006 letter to Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, urging him withdrawal of from Kyoto. The letter stated, in part, "If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary.”
There are many, many more scientists I could cite. They number in the thousands and the number is growing. The point is, man-made global climate change does not have the unanimous agreement of the scientific community and is far from a proven concept, regardless of popular political and environmental hysteria, that is mainly fuelled by a leftist media.
This leads me to ask the editors of Popular Science: Why do you stuff your magazine with articles that assume man-made global climate change is a proven, unquestionable fact? What has happened to your scientific objectivity? Why aren’t there articles expressing the alternative view?
To read Popular Science today, one would think that man-made global climate change is a given that no one of any stature in scientific circles objects to. As I have pointed out already, this is blatantly untrue. So, my final question to you is: Are you still a magazine of science and technology or have you become just another contemptible echo of political correctness? From what I’ve seen recently, I am saddened to suspect that the latter may be true.
St. Louis, MO
I will not argue that anything you have just stated is false. It was rather enlightening to read your response. I am glad to finally see such a detailed view from this side of the issue. I do, however, have a few questions:
The people you have noted to be skeptics are at this point merely as stated: "skeptics." So, since "man-made global climate change" has not been totally debunked yet, why not respond with solutions? Sometimes it's not a bad idea to respond to an apparent problem attentively.
What's the problem with this "green" trend? (I do agree that it has become a trend). Going "green" in most cases can save people lots of money on daily expenses (such as gasoline). Also, maybe the world needs an excuse to transition away from petroleum fuels... The price at the pump will argue that we're running a bit low.
Finally, I would like to see the scientific fact that has turned these scientists away from the "man-made global climate change" crowd. I am not trying to be rhetorical in any way. If you could respond to this with links to their research, I would appreciate it.
...although, I don't think the world is ready to just forget about such a thing.
Thanks for your response Larry,
First: Why is it when people want to denigrate something they call it a liberal agenda?
Second: I am always stunned to hear someone talk as though the global warming was still being debated. It is no longer theory.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's comments were not that global warming didn't exist, but that the concept of carbon trading is not viable. If you actually listen to the man speak, besides just hearing what you want to hear, you'd notice he takes the issue of global warming very seriously.
The Geochemical Society is a lobby group, so of course they'd award someone's book that backs up their mission.
Dr. Nir Shaviv's position that solar activity accounts for a large part of 20th century global warming doesn't argue against man-made global warming at all, unsurprisingly since the two topics are unrelated but often confused by both the doom sayers and naysayers.
In the end your response is something I see as being very typical of people still clinging to mistaken thought that climate change is still a theory to be proven. Highlighting little bits of statements by some and ignoring the rest of the discussion in a vain attempt to leverage your view.
By the way, I vote conservative.
There certainly is a possibility that the jury is still out on climate change.
However, there are an infinite number of good reasons not to waste oil by burning it when it is so important for so many applications.
It will never be rediculous to use renewable energy where possible, and be as energy efficient as possible everywhere else.
okay, here's what i see in the "green initiative", we need to get off the addiction of gasoline and things like that anyways, so why not do it in a way thats environmentally sound. i mean even if we don't take care of the carbon dioxide buildup we would still be using a cleaner fuel, let the earth heal itself, let's concentrate instead on not destroying our collective minds by using unhealthy fuels. unless you want your grandchildren to live in a bubble... thats fine as well...
I dont have a problem with the green trend, but i do think people are being misguided by it. Why would you build a electric mower for 1500? Have the writers never been in a Home Depot, if they had they would realise they do sell electric mowers and even the old push mower like the one pictured. All for alot less. http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Navigation?Ntk=AllProps&N=10000003+90401+528365&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053&langId=-1
Why not write a article on the Scotts company and there reason on still selling them. Why its it that popsci then to think that money will fix everything?
It does appear that PopSci has gone for the "green" koolaid. I have to agree that it is a liberal agenda, which the left should own up to. These are the same folks who think the UN should run the world. Imagine how far back that would send humanity! As for articles in the green issue, I was surprised you were showing off a sleeping bag that gave off carbon dioxide on page 24 and as another writer mentioned a $1500 electric mower conversion. I just bought an electric mower for practical reasons for $459. It's a nice mower, which always starts when the family goes to use it. A spare battery was about $90. That's a lot less than the conversion on page 45 and it comes with a 4 year warranty. The hairy plant article on page 41 reminded me a Kurt Vonnegut story, Ice 9, that I read many years ago. It was a story on scientific manipulation gone wild.
How about sticking to the facts and the practical, not unproven pie-in -sky fantasy?
I love how almost every single post questioning global warming attempts to demonize the subject by referring to it as either a political or religious movement.
Here's the news people, nature doesn't care which political party you support, how much you pay for gas, or what faith if any you believe in. Global warming theories will succeed or fail on science alone, public opinion is irrelevant to the truth of the matter.
In an attempt to stem global warming, Al Gore demands that all pesky humans stop breathing in precious oxygen and exhaling filthy carbon dioxide.
In a statement released by Al, all humans are to emit 20% less carbon dioxide by the year 2010, or face mandatory government regulations on breathing. Furthermore - all outside breathing should be outlawed by the year 2030. Al further stated - "Every breath of oxygen you use is one breath of oxygen the polar bear, or the penguin, or the marmot, can't. Also, when you breath out, the carbon dioxide goes right into our atmosphere and causes climate change. - shame on you."
The $1500 mower is solar powered. Totally renewable resource. Electric mowers bought at Home Depot still use energy. They may be worse for the environment than a well-tuned gas-powered mower due to the coal being burned to create the electricity, and the inefficiencies of power transmission.
I am a biochemist and work with a number of environmental biologists, ecologists, and other scientists. Though many of use do indeed see a trend towards increasing global temperatures, none believe that a humanity-induced induced increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is a contributing factor, let alone the cause. Any minor affects that could be attributed to carbon dioxide are greatly diluted by water vapor, a green house gas two to three fold more potent. Think of a toddler urinating in the Pacific; it doesn't matter.
Though all these ideas for reducing humanities impact on the environment are worthy of applause, many of us scientists are not yet convinced that a net increase of global temperatures would be nearly as drastic as the public has been led to believe.
Some things to think about:
An increase in temperature will increase the rate of evaporation of water from the oceans, a driving force for the water cycle, leading to an average increase in rainfall across the globe.
A geologist I know pointed out that the ocean floor is pretty soft compared to the continents. If all the water in the polar caps melted and flowed into the oceans, there would be a huge increase in the weight pushing down on this soft part of the crust, and it would deform accordingly, making the predictions of 200 plus feet increase in sea levels a lot less plausible than you would think. This extra weight pushing down on the crust under the oceans would have to be distributed elsewhere, like squeezing a balloon and having the ends puff out. Perhaps, then, the continents would be pushed up, resulting in a net increase in land mass.
Hugely vast areas in Canada, Greenland, and northern Russia, that have an amazing store of nutrients, would be available for agriculture where current cold temperatures prevent it.
The key is, we really don't know what is going on, or why, or what really to do about it, and a lot more needs to be understood before any realistic declarations based on science can be made.
Larry (and other naysayers),
It's a RESPONSIBLE view and has nothing to do with politics.
We have the responsibility to ensure the continued habitability of our planet... because as far as we know, it IS the only one that supports life.
Just amazes me that people can't grasp the bigger picture... that 7,000,000,000 people acting together CAN and DO devastate entire ecosystems every day.
Until the industrial revolution, the planet was able to keep up and heal itself. Now we have billions of people and heavy machinery that literally move mountains and clear forests in a matter of days.
A century ago, traveling 70 miles in a day was a rare feat. Now, it's a average daily commute for tens of millions of people. People only worked 50 hour weeks during harvest and spring planting. Now it's an average American work-week. People slept when it was dark. Now we have a 24/7/365 lifestyle.
In the 70's, ignorance was a valid defense. These days, it's just that.... ignorance.
While I hate that Madison Avenue is greenwashing everything from detergent to nuclear waste... you can't honestly believe that we can keep polluting our air and water forever without consequence.
Being green starts with the three R's... reduce, reuse, recycle. You can't buy your way green as wasteful is wasteful... and replacing things that don't need replaced is wasteful.
To those arguing against global warming, especially those basing their argument on the premise that humanity can't possibly be affecting the climate in any meaningful way, let me ask a question: I live in central Bangkok, and on any given day, it very often is several degrees warmer here than it is 100 kilometers outside Greater Bangkok -- why? The concentration of pollution (some of it coming out of tailpipes hot), the paving over of green spaces, the felling of trees -- I guess none of that has the slightest effect, right?
And just why does this discussion have to almost invariably be cast in *political* terms? -- and I fault both sides on that, at least those individuals who do so. President Bush is just about as conservative an American politician as we'll find -- yet look at how much he "greened" his ranch in Texas. That makes him some liberal/socialist/commie greenie in disguise, I suppose?
Even worse than the politicization is the descent into personal attacks -- both sides have guilty adherents there, too. I remember the only time I got genuinely upset with an ad hominem attack against me. I spent several days drawing together quite a few links to organizations, public and private, that practically *everyone* on *both* sides respect, and responded to an anti-GW diatribe someone had posted. I was polite, especially in the sense I carefully avoided any language that might cause personal offense, providing those many links to that person (and anyone else interested, of course), links supporting the notion that global warming is real and that people are contributing to it to a significant degree. His reply? He called me every filthy name in the book, concluding that I was a "commie liberal who doesn't deserve to live" for even *daring* to question his unsupported claims -- he had not cited a single source to back his argument. I held my piece, but noticed later his post had been pulled; I guess someone complained to the people who run the website. But it did offend and anger me.
Aren't there plenty of excellent reasons to take some green measures that don't have anything whatsoever to do with global warming -- even if, that is, GW is but a wild rant emitting from Al Gore's fevered brain?
You can put me in the "yes" column on that one.
By the way, I'm quite conservative and vote mostly Republican. And I grew up on a ranch in Texas. Kinda hard to stick a commie label on me.