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Friday, May 29th, 2009 | Author: matk62

Sometimes you see an idea that just seems so obvious; you have to wonder why nobody thought of it sooner.  Treehugger has a story on a project called Wind-It.  If you take the time to read this story, I guarantee you will never look at an electrical tower the same way again.

Electrical TowerThe genius of this idea is their use of these existing structures.  By placing a wind turbine inside the empty space of an electrical tower, they solve 2 of the biggest problems facing wind towers.  One, where to locate wind towers.  Two, transferring the generated power into the grid.

According to the story, there are more than 157,000 miles of high voltage power lines in the U.S.  Incorporating wind power into this infrastructure would make even better use of the land already occupied by the towers and save lots of money by not having to build new structures.

I think this idea appeals to me so much because it capitalizes on a wasted resource.  They fill all that empty space of an electrical tower with a productive wind turbine.  There is a strong similarity here to Passenger Energy since we are trying to fill the empty seats in automobiles with energy saving passengers who can leave their cars at home.

Creative Commons License photo credit: the_toe_stubber

Tuesday, March 03rd, 2009 | Author: matk62

Last year I wrote about how hypermiling can dramatically cut your gasoline consumption.  Well, I recently learned that the New Oxford Dictionary announced hypermiling as the 2008 word of the year.  They discuss the history of the word, some of the methods and positive results of changing bad driving habits.  If you began keeping a log of your own gas mileage, then you could test hypermiling to see what kind of personal gains can be achieved.

In another story, you can see that web based tools and the internet can help cut vehicle emissions.  A pilot program in Denver configured 400 vehicles with greenhouse gas-tracking systems to provide the driver with feedback on their driving.  They could immediately see the impact of rapid acceleration, sudden braking and excessive idling.  This information resulted in reduced emissions and better fuel economy.

Automakers have also begun informing drivers with real time statistics.  The Toyota Prius already encourages drivers to seek more efficient energy use through a digital interface.  Now Honda is taking it a step further with their upcoming new car, the Insight.  This story on Earth2Tech discusses how the “Eco Assist” dashboard turns fuel efficiency into a video game.  They compare this to a Wii Fit for cars where drivers are rewarded with positive feedback for good driving behavior.

We should all strive to cut our gasoline consumption and reduce vehicle emissions with hypermiling, web based tools and enhanced driver instrument panels.  Good driving habits combined with advancement in technology could go far in improving our fuel efficiency.  Maybe someday all cars will be connected to the internet to help reduce our consumption, track carbon emissions and offer peer review through community.  I would like to add passenger energy as the next advancement in our fight for energy independence.  How ‘bout you?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Marcin Wichary

Sunday, March 01st, 2009 | Author: matk62

This weekend over 10,000 of our nation’s youth gathered for Power Shift 2009.  The goal of the conference was to allow the attendees to make connections, harness resources and take action to repower and reclaim their futures.

This historic gathering is one of the largest and most well-organized youth movements in years.  On Monday, they are marching on Capital Hill to protest dirty energy and call for a dramatic transition to alternative energy sources.  There is some excellent coverage from this weekend’s activities over at It’s Getting Hot In Here.

While reading about this conference, I found this great hip hop song that I am using for my song of the week.  I have never heard of any of the artists before, but I love the message.  The song is “Green Anthem” by Tem Blessed, First Be & Outspoken:

 

Everybody shine
Be solar powered
Speak your mind
That’s wind power
Move your H2O
Wavepower
Organize people power
We got the soul power

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Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 | Author: matk62

Are low gas prices diametrically opposed to our goal of energy independence?  It would seem so.  When gas prices were over $4/gallon, everyone was clamoring for alternative energy.  Now that gas prices have fallen below and remain under $2/gallon, the clamor has gone very quiet.

In a story from the Indianapolis Star, they say “We Can Only Dream About Low Gas Prices, Independence”.  The writer goes on to explain what it would take to achieve these two goals:

To Get Low Gas Prices

  • Encourage more domestic drilling
  • Give companies incentives to drill where oil is cheap (Middle East, Russia)
  • This would make us even more dependent

To Get Independent

  • Make gas prices really high
  • Large tax would anger many
  • Politicians fear voter backlash

Gas $1.41 per gallon: Afternoon of Dec 6, 2008

Given these assumptions, then yes, these two objectives do seem to be mutually exclusive.  The story goes on to say that we continue to gamble on innovation and technological advances in an attempt to solve these two contradictory goals.  So far we have been unsuccessful.  The electric car is the next such “fix” on the horizon and it faces an uphill battle.  Low gas prices mean that it will take a lot longer to recoup the additional $10,000 you have to spend to purchase one.  The new stimulus package will offer tax breaks, but this ends up costing us all in the long run.

In principle, I agree with this basic premise and it is hard to argue with history.  The problem I have with this thinking is that it never addresses conservation.  Instead of trying to reduce our wasteful consumption, we continue to focus on finding more oil at a cheap price.  We can keep gas prices low and reduce our dependence at the same time by simply cutting our usage.

Click on the links below to see the price tag of our current commuting habits:

Instead of looking for the next “fad diet”, we need to focus on consuming less and conserving more.  For long term weight loss, you need to eat less and exercise, it really is that simple.  Can we curb our voracious appetite for oil and improve our energy efficiency?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Wesley Fryer

Friday, February 06th, 2009 | Author: matk62

On Wednesday, Google introduced a new mapping feature called Latitude.  This works with Google Maps to allow smartphone and laptop users to share their current location.  So if your friend wants to broadcast their location, you can check to see where they are.  Like Facebook or MySpace, you decide who to share this information with and it will not store past movements, only your current position.

In case you are concerned with privacy, Google has a good YouTube video showing how Latitude will offer you protection:

 

So how does this work?  In this story from PC World, they detail some of the technology involved.  They also walk through a couple of different examples and offer a few screen shots to illustrate the process.

This technology is not new, I wrote about this last year in my post, GPS – Where Are you?Many cell phones now have built in GPS capability with location-based service that is available from cell phone networks.  So Google is not the first to do this, they are just releasing it on a much bigger scale.

I definitely understand the privacy concerns, but I am very excited about the potential of this service.  Now you could allow family and friends to track your location while accepting a ride.  Would this help ease some of our fears about ride sharing?

Sunday, December 21st, 2008 | Author: admin

I have never been a big fan of Christmas music.  They start piping it into the stores in November and then every radio station proceeds to overplay their favorites.  By the time of Christmas morning arrives, I am sick of hearing the same dozen songs or so.

So when looking for a song this week, I wanted to select a Christmas song, but which one?  I chose “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” by Bing Crosby & David Bowie:

Recorded over 30 years ago, this unique combination stands the test of time.  You would be hard pressed to find 2 more diverse performers to bring together.  Bowie left his “glam” wardrobe behind and appeared on Bing Crosby’s television special to the surprise of many.

The true genius of this recording was to create counterpoint lyrics for Bowie to sing against the “Little Drummer Boy” background.  “Peace on Earth” was written specifically for this performance and it allows Bowie to perfectly compliment Bing’s Drummer Boy. 

Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
A new-born king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Our finest gifts we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum

Peace on Earth, can it be
Years from now, perhaps we’ll see
See the day of glory
See the day, when men of good will
Live in peace, live in peace again

Peace on Earth, can it be
Can it be

Back in 1977, the idea of putting Bing Crosby with Ziggy Stardust must have seemed a little crazy, but it worked.  It just proves that you never really know until you try.

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Monday, December 08th, 2008 | Author: admin

“I will open the doors of Government and ask you to be involved in your own democracy again.”           ~ President-Elect Barack Obama

This weekend I posted the idea behind Pay4Rides to www.change.org/ideas.  This is a place where anyone can submit an idea for consideration by the incoming administration.  Click on the “VOTE NOW” button to read and then cast your vote for my idea: 

From the Press Release “Ideas for Change in America”:

The 2008 campaign brought unprecedented levels of political participation and excitement, mobilizing millions of new voters. But with election over, the most pressing question has now become: What’s next? How can the millions of people inspired by the campaign work with the new administration to create real change?

In the lead-up to Inauguration Day, Change.org, MySpace, and their partners will hold an event in Washington, DC to announce the top 10 rated ideas and deliver them to a representative from the Obama Administration. Change.org and MySpace will also announce a formal nonprofit sponsor for each idea. Each sponsoring nonprofit will then launch a national campaign to mobilize the millions of people on both sites to ensure that each top idea gets the full consideration of the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress.

This is a unique opportunity where anyone can submit an idea and comment and vote on others.  Take the time to get involved, express your opinions and let your voice be heard.

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Sunday, December 07th, 2008 | Author: admin

On Monday, it will be 28 years since John Lennon was shot and killed.  I had just graduated high school and was in my first year of college.  It was one of those moments where you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing.  I was out with some friends and first heard the news during a Monday Night football game.  It was hard to believe, it didn’t make sense.  Why?

I drove home and sat in my driveway just listening to the radio.  It was amazing, no matter what station you turned to, they were either reporting the news of his death or playing a song by John Lennon or the Beatles.  I searched around and was surprised that someone recorded a scan of the radio dial that night.

Imagine is the song I would like to feature this week:

 

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I am not the only one

The idea of Pay4Rides is just a dream right now, but I am hoping that more people will join me.  Where were you that night?  Please share your story here.

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Sunday, November 30th, 2008 | Author: admin

I thought I would start adding a music video each week.  This first video is the Counting Crows doing a cover of “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell.

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t what you got ’till it’s gone
They paved paradise to put up a parking lot

I will include songs that I like with lyrics related to the topics here at Pay4Rides.  Here is a list of some other environmental songs that I may use in the future.  If you have any suggestions, post them here in the comments.

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Thursday, November 20th, 2008 | Author: admin

Denver Shuttle TrainA service that could greatly assist the adoption of Passenger Energy is zero-fare public transportation.  The services are funded in a way that does not involve collecting a fare from passengers.  The funding can come from taxes or corporate sponsorship, but the service is perceived as “free” by the rides.

Local zero-fare shuttles or inner-city loops that use buses or trams can fill short gaps in a transport network and ease bottlenecks.  We have all rode the Disney shuttles and seen how large crowds can be moved quickly and efficiently without charging a fare.

If we could travel longer distances with ride sharing, then shuttles could complete trips and get you to your exact destination.  We already have government subsidies for many of our mass transit systems, don’t you think this would be a good use of our tax money?

Creative Commons License photo credit: diongillard