miriam english (miriam_e) wrote,
miriam english

fossil fuels, and reducing the need

Almost every technology we have relies upon fossil fuels. We need to work out ways to break that chain of dependency. I don't count using oil to make plastics as an example of a bad thing, but I do see the use of oil as fuel to run the processes in making that plastic as bad. Plastics are amazing materials that we should value more. Correctly used they are light, flexible, resilient, non-toxic, and can last thousands of years, potentially being handed down to our descendants. Using them for disposable items is obscene.

We could use solar furnaces instead of oil and coal for almost all industrial processes that currently require fossil fuels, but it does require effort. And it would help to have a government which is not corrupt and whose heads are not buried in the sand.

The most important change is to design our buildings properly. We've been building them badly for thousands of years and it feels like we've learned almost nothing over that time. They are our biggest standing consumer of energy -- much worse than transport. We need to insulate and light them sensibly so that they need as little additional heating, cooling, lighting, and shading as possible. It is actually easy to do.
● Clerestory lighting and skylights, and ponds or other reflective surfaces oriented correctly outside windows can greatly reduce the need for artificial lighting.
● Insulation and passive convection heating and cooling, can vastly reduce energy needs, especially if a sunroom is used to gather heat in cold climates, and appropriately calculated roof eaves ensure light is admitted in winter, but not summer. Strategic placement of deciduous trees can also help in this respect.
● Building underground, if designed with sensible lighting and heating/cooling can bring great improvements to many aspects of homes and commercial buildings:
- better thermally insulated
- greater thermal mass (so they change temperature slowly)
- much better sound insulation (play the drums without upsetting the neighbors)
- double use of your land (you can still use the land on the "roof")
- safety from bushfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and if designed right, even floods
- better protection from thieves and other hostile invaders

Any other thoughts?

(Crossposted from http://miriam-e.dreamwidth.org/328400.html at my Dreamwidth account. Number of comments there so far: comment count unavailable)
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
I'm a bit tired at the moment and can't say I have any additional thoughts, but wanted to say that I really appreciated reading yours! I agree on all counts here. After studying ecology, there are so many times I look around at the world I live in--and how we humans collectively live in it--and find myself shaking my head. I've got to get back on the advocacy train; I hate being defeated by how exhausting it can feel. (Though I tend to do better on the education side: if I could find roles to do more environmental education and get kids passionate/knowledgeable about it without throwing my body out of whack, I'd love it!)


May 9 2015, 03:47:57 UTC 3 years ago Edited:  May 9 2015, 03:49:41 UTC

Sorry to hear you're feeling tired. I hope it's merely because you've been doing lots.

I write lists like this as much for myself as anyone else. I think it is important that things like this are spread as widely as possible, though my little list above is pathetically incomplete and why I hoped for ideas from others... but everybody seems to be away on facebook and twitter (I have never liked facebook, but am growing to detest it).

Yes, it certainly can be exhausting trying to push for change. I go through bouts of trying to do lots for social justice or environmental causes, then spend a while recovering from that while investing my time more in other things -- programming, or writing, or drawing, or designing and making electronics, or building virtual worlds, or plunging into some other area of knowledge that has caught my fancy, but I never last long at any before I gather my breath and move on to the next. I'm probably a mere dilettante, even though a well-meaning one. If you could get kids passionate and knowledgeable about environmental concerns that would be wonderful. If you could do it without damaging yourself that would be much, much better.

Did I mention I'm writing another book? Sloooowwwwly. I'm plodding along. I keep trying to make myself keep to a strict schedule of writing each day, preferably in the morning (my most productive time), but I'm annoyingly the most easily distracted, the most procrastinating person in the world.

I hope you're bubbling with energy, ideas, and possibilities again soon, possum.
Oh, yes, I mean tired like that - in a way similar to yours, I mean. (: I put my all into 'the fight', so to say, and then I get tired and have to take a break. It's also because I have so many things I'm pushing for, from small things like wording in policies up to big things like systematic racism. There's always so much to take on that even thinking about it, in certain moods, can bring out the exhaustion. And thinking about ecological things can be downright depressing, because in the end it's really thinking about the apocalypse and how we're bringing it down on ourselves, from the poor who have caused it less than others right up to the rich who at the moment still remain sheltered. Makes me want to shake people - but of course I can't get to them to do the shaking, so I shake my head instead, and do all I can until I'm exhausted and have to come up for air for a bit.

Yes, everyone seems to be away on other platforms. Facebook drives me crazy; I'm really only on it to keep up with international friends. Half the time I use it to get someone's address in order to send snail-mail! It's also silly to me that people keep disappearing to these places as if it's impossible to exist in multiple places on the internet; I have accounts all sorts of places and still manage to stick to LJ (even if I get busy every once in a while and have to play the catch-up game).

Well, if you're a dilettante then I am too, so cheers to us in the club! Hah.

I'm lucky that I get the opportunity to get kids passionate and knowledgeable about environmental concerns on occasion. I can't always - a lot of the positions are full-time and too hard on the body - but as soon as I find myself with a group of kids, which happens fairly frequently, it seems to come up. I taught at a nature camp one summer and loved it.

I didn't know you were writing another book! That's brilliant. (: And slowly is better than not at all, so I applaud you! I'm still trying to get myself back into writing habit and create some sort of daily or weekly ritual of it. I tend to write in big chunks, so I can understand not being able to do it daily, but it's depressing how these last few years have been mostly writing deserts until November and December crop up, then I go back to not writing much.

And of course there are all the distractions... :P I'm with you on being easily distracted and one of the worst procrastinators around.

*Grins.* I'm sure I will be. Phyiscal therapy is firing me up, at least, and the spring-time. Not quite ready to take on the world yet but getting ever closer.