Solar Panels Powering The World: True or False?


You hear a lot of myths permeating the solar industry: inefficiencies, storage problems, viability, costliness, conversion issues, output, etc. etc.

For this exercise, though, I want you to forget everything “you know” about solar energy, and for two reasons:

First, there’s a good chance it’s not true. There are titanic forces working against the solar industry, scrounging for any and all leverage against it. Thus, we must exercise caution.

Second, do not underestimate human ingenuity. Scientific inquiry is bound to change the solar game tremendously in the upcoming years. Especially when invested billionaires, like Elon Musk, are on the job.


These two flew around the world with a 100% solar powered plane.
(Wow, didn’t know that technology existed.)

Think about this, though:

“Each hour 430 quintillion Joules of energy from the sun hits the Earth. That’s 430 with 18 zeroes… In comparison, the total amount of energy that all humans use in a year is 410 quintillion Joules. For context, the average American home used 39 billion Joules of electricity in 2013.”

(Full Report Here)

The logical question follows:

If the energy exists – is abundant, clean, and storable – why aren’t we using it?

Well, it’s complicated. Forgive me to blame politics, and leave it at that. So, we’re going to concern ourselves with something different, today – addressing one of the most widespread myths about solar energy and industry viability.

One of the most common arguments combatting the solar energy industry is that “the earth would have to be COVERED in solar panels to completely replace our current energy consumption. Which, obviously, isn’t realistic.” 

False – this, is simply not true.

Assuming an average 20% efficiency from solar cells, powering the entire world with solar energy would require 496,805 sq. miles of solar panels.

Which, is more or less the size of Spain.

This map shows what that could look like (projections for 2030).


For larger Image: Solar Earth

Like proofing? Me too. Here’s the math:

“678 quadrillion Btu (the US Energy Information Administration’s estimation of global energy consumption by 2030) = 198,721,800,000,000 kilowatt-hours (simple conversion) divided by 400 kilowatt-hours of solar energy production per square meter of land (based on 20% efficiency, 70% sunshine days per year and the fact that 1,000 watts of solar energy strikes each square meter of land on Earth) = 496,805 square kilometers of solar panels (191,817 square miles)”

(Full Explanation)

Considering that 25% of that panelling space is in a single desert (the Sahara) and an even greater percentage of the necessary land usage is desert land — when adding those in North America, Australia, and Asia — a solar future just became quite viable.

What were we using those deserts for anyway?

Of course, it’s hard to fully grasp what each box would actually look like from a traditional, ground perspective. So those fields would be HUGE, but it’s not even close to “covering the earth.”

So it’s scientifically possible. Very possible.

But is it possible to push through in a world dominated by petroleum?

Well, that’s a different animal.

Posted in Climate Change, Solar Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas: A Consumer Culture Miracle

Christmas is right around the corner!


Or so the billions in advertising has convinced us to believe, anyway.

Now, I’m not here to tell you that the true purpose of Christmas has been buried beneath miles of discarded materials slowly decaying, or not, in an industrial dump in Ohio!

Well, for the record,

“Every year, Americans spend $100 billion discarding recyclable materials, including 59 billion pounds of paper, 63 billion pounds of plastic, and six billion pounds of aluminum. Instead of being recycled and reused, the waste is incinerated and stuck in landfills, polluting the air, water and earth.”

However true that may be…

No, I’m here to try something else (as if we could even wrap our minds around what 63 billion pounds of plastic means).

Instead of fighting culture — yes, my culture, a consumer addicted American culture — i’d rather redirect it.

Redirecting: in martial arts, refers to a defender channelling the energy of the attacker against them. Redirecting the opponent blocks the attack and conserves the defenders energy. For example.

So, this year, consider this my attempt to not confront my culture, but rather redirect it.


This holiday, why not redirect our inner consumer to a more pleasant, environmentally friendly company? They exist, believe me.

I’ll even categorize some for you.


  • SVILU: Luxury Women’s Fashion.
  • Conscious Collection with H&M.
  • MinaOlya: Flowing skirts and cut out jumpers!
  • EcoPlum: With every purchase, customers earn “EcoChipz,” which are redeemable for either rewards or a donation to environmental causes. Each product sold also carries a third-party green certification. In addition to selling sustainably sourced products, EcoPlum produces educational content, such as monthly columns by industry experts, local green business listings, recycling information, eco-tips, and book and video recommendations.

House Products:

  • Seventh Generation: Inspired by an Iroquois Law – “in our every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” Shop here for recyclable trash bags, eco-friendly disinfectants, surface cleaners, laundry detergent, and more!
  • Method: Want environmentally sound baby products, hand and body soaps, air fresheners, or sanitizers? Try them out.

Outdoor Equipment:

  • Patagonia: High-end outdoor equipment and clothing. 3/4 of their products are either organic, recycled, or otherwise environmentally friendly.


(Also, check out their “Don’t Buy This Jacket” Initiative)


  • New Belgium Brewing:  “It monitors and records all of its energy use, waste production and emissions and recycles, reuses or composts more than 75% of the waste it produces in manufacturing. It also makes bikes and a Prius available to employees to run local errands. One hundred percent employee owned, the company has more than 480 employees.”


Pet Toys:

  • West Paw Design: They make eco-friendly dog toys, mats and beds that are filled with fiber from recycled plastic bottles. They also use recycled paper and soy-based inks and encourage customers to send used products back for recycling.

Solar Panels: Why not go big this year?

  • Try Sungevity or Namaste Solar. Both can do home, business and government building installations and are top rated companies in their industry. Can’t go wrong, here.


Lo and behold, environmentally conscious companies exist! And in many industries! Who knew?

Best part is, there are many, many more companies out there that deserve your business more than others. For this Christmas, give ’em a whirl! Or, take your family out to an environmentally conscious restaurant!

Why not try something new? Could be fun🙂

Put 5 more minutes into choosing where you get your products. Spend a couple extra bucks and feel good about your decision. I guarantee you will.


Your mother thanks you.

P.S. Though, it wouldn’t feel right finishing on such note, as I, deep down, must expose the reality of redirecting, at least to some degree. Redirecting your consumption won’t save the planet, only slow the process of its destruction. So please, consider how much you consume and work to reduce it. Perhaps, on a yearly basis and work to cut that in half. Reduce and reuse, not simply recycle. Try in 2016. Or, start today.


For More Eco-Friendly Companies:

Posted in Consumer, Environmentalism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Climate Change, Heating Up The Syrian War

It’s an ugly truth to a dawning reality.

A new study confirms climate change contributed to the Syrian War.


The predicted disastrous effects of climate change are no longer ideologies of an impending future, but realities on our doorstep, today.

According to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,

“Compiled statistics show… that water shortages in the Fertile Crescent in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey killed livestock, drove up food prices, sickened children, and forced 1.5 million rural residents to the outskirts of Syria’s jam-packed cities—just as that country was exploding with immigrants from the Iraq war.”

The combined pressure of food scarcity and overpopulation in Syrian cities, mixed with high unemployment and poor government management, helped plunge the country into armed conflict.

This research has provided the first deep look at how global warming may already influence armed conflict, and brings about new thoughts regarding climate change.

Documenting recent irregularities in climate — extreme drought, high winds, heat waves — has produced a new sentiment. Effectively, dawning a scarier reality.


Climate change is no longer solely an issue facing future generations, as many are led to believe. Climate change was an issue yesterday. And it’s worsening, today.


Full article here.

We can rather safely assume right extremists will continue to ignore its call, as denying scientific study has become normal practice. But, perhaps, it will give a new tangibility to the previously impalpable, for others.

Instead of uniting behind, “think of your children’s children!” — the common call for climatologists — the game has changed. Indeed, this increased urgency should tremendously change our outlook.

The common phrase must reposition itself, then: “Think of your life.”

But what do we do with this information? Where does it bring humanity? The fight for a livable future? Appropriate action?

I have an idea, albeit small and a selfish one, in using think of your life.

For two reasons:

First, foresight is not the strongest attribute of the average world-goer. And second, people are self interested. Many pawn the responsibilities of sustainable living on future generations to the thought of “it doesn’t affect me.”

Both points are more than evident through observing mainstream addiction to consumption and profits. As long as THIS quarters sales revenues are 4 % larger than last quarters, who cares to look 10 years down the road?

Now, I don’t endorse selfishness, but there is a hard and heavy lesson for ideologists hidden within this advocacy. As much as we would all love to believe in a quick and total elevation of human consciousness; an explosion of altruism, it’s just not likely. Although I believe it possible, I believe there are quicker and easier ways to address human habit.

It’s called aligning incentives.

If we properly align incentives, the “average world-goer” need not strain his or her brain with heavy foresight or altruistic thought (although advised!). If we can lead others to believe climate change is already an issue for THEM then all they need to do is act in their best interest.

Fortunate for us, THEIR (individual) best interest is OUR (community) best interest, and here’s why:

Solar, wind, and geothermal energy, permaculture, localized, urban and community farming, intelligent design and resource use, electric trains and cars, recycling, reducing, reusing, environmentally friendly technologies and products, etc. etc.

Are now viewed as tools to allow the individual, acting in self interest, to survive. This, subsequently, allows the community to thrive.

And that’s the funny thing about individualism. I’m of the opinion that individualism serves socialism quite well. In the sense that the individual, if truly and supremely concerned with the self, will recognize that the best way to personally sustain is through communal action. Thus, community thrives on self-sustaining thoughts, for it is through community that the strongest sustaining forces exist.


So, it’s no longer some giant, unsolvable issue with the earth, but rather a direct attack on your — and your family’s — life. If you didn’t believe in your “green” responsibility before, you do now.

When you have a stake in your life, you’re invested.

It’s a shot in the dark, and something rather undeveloped. But it gives me hope.

If we can convince everyone into believing they have a unique and personal claim in humanity’s future, properly aligning incentives, then, well, there’s no limit to that sort of community.

And that’s an encouraging thought.

For more articles:

Posted in Climate Change, Syrian War | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

League of Conservation Voters Endorse Clinton, Not Sanders. Why?

MTE4MDAzNDEwMDU4NTc3NDIy“‘When it comes to fighting the climate crisis, the stakes couldn’t be higher—and we are confident that Hillary Clinton is the right person for the job,’ said Gene Karpinski, President of LCV Action Fund… 
‘With her proven history of leadership, strong environmental record, and a campaign committed to building a clean energy future, Hillary Clinton is without a doubt the most effective leader to stand up to Big Polluters and push forward an aggressive plan to tackle climate change and get it done.’”

(See endorsement)

Given that Bernie Sanders has openly endorsed immediate climate change action for decades now, and recently recognized it — publicly stated — as the greatest threat to national security, I’m shocked.

But then again, not really.

There’s much going on behind the scenes here. Classic politics, we’ll say.

Some rather fishy and predictable findings have presented themselves from the unprecedented move by LCV which bring into question the integrity of the traditionally grassroots-lead organization.

First, Bernie Sanders has received a 95 percent lifetime rating from LCV compared to Clinton’s 82 percent (“Lifetime Rating” referring to a ranking based on historical political support, passed bills, advocacy, etc. for environmentally progressive policy work).

And, second, Clinton — characterized in a notoriously Hillary way — refused a hard stance against the Keystone pipeline until September – long after Sanders. Demonstrating a most frustrating and obvious objection when considering her fundamental principles:

What the hell are they?

And because LCV themselves rated Sanders so high, what gives? He has the greater merit and obviously supersedes Clinton as the true environmentalist, especially given her platform volatility. Bernie is clearly the right choice…

Ah, but wait…

Reviewing LCV and Clinton history, two irregularities — or perhaps normalities, in this field — make the mirky endorsement crystal clear:

  1. LCV Chairwoman Carol M. Browner served as the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator under President Clinton. And,
  2. Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair­man, John Podesta, is a former LCV board member.

So we find politics heavy at work – and Clinton simply had the network to snag the endorsement.

Bravo, Hillary.

But, not only is this an obviously powerful move for Clinton — advancing her campaign tremendously — it’s a strategic move for LCV.

LCV has close ties to the Democratic party and is lead to believe the nomination of Clinton is much more likely than Sanders. Clinton, entrenched in party politics, provides safety, its understood. The early endorsement — with Sanders hot on the Clinton campaign trail — was a giant favor surely to be repaid in full *when/if Clinton wins office. And given her historical political success and vast Democratic network, well, the choice was obvious.

Thus, Clinton is unanimously recognized not as the right choice, but as the smart choice.

And then again… Perhaps not.

What I think, is LCV’s eyes glazed over when considering the potential output of an early and widely publicized backing of Clinton – priority legislation? office seats? money? who knows… Surely some backs are being supremely scratched.

So, I suppose, then, the logical thing to do now is show LCV they made the wrong move.

If a historically grassroots, progressive organization is going to turn their backs on the true grassroots, environmentalist candidate for a promised bigger slice of the political pie, compromising values of integrity and merit, then the real grassroots organizers — the millions organizing behind the Bernie Campaign — just got a bigger work-load.

I buy into the power of that which is true organization – and that means it’s up to you and me to turn the political process on its head by winning the Democratic Primaries and Caucuses for Bernie. That’s the first step.

So lets get busy – and here’s how.

It’s easy: the Bernie Campaign has created a map to show and explain how to register to vote in the primaries and caucuses! (Click and follow the steps) And while we’re on the topic, it’s yet another reason to vote for him – he actually wants people to vote!!


(Seriously. So serious, i’m including the link twice:

But it won’t do to simply register,


Get there. Keeps your dates organized. Show up! This is an unforgiving process, and if you want Bernie to be the next president of the United States, well, there’s no way around it.

So get there. Vote.

For more info concerning Clintons endorsement, LCV, and the Democratic Party:

Posted in Bernie Sanders | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Futuristic Homes: Earthships, Shipping Containers, Tiny Homes… What?

It seems like most believe an environmentally conscientious future home goes either two ways:

  1. Everyone lives in a basic hole in the ground, or
  2. Full-scale technological overhaul (“smart home”).

But there’s a balance, as always; a combination of simplistic living and green technology.


Yeah. That’s it.

Because it might not be what you expect, I wanted to spend some time investigating what future homes might look like, today.

1. Earthship Home

“a type of passive solar house that is made of both natural and recycled materials (such as earth-filled tires)”


The genius behind the earthship is that, theoretically, it can be 100% impact-less: built from recycled or discarded materials, solar powered and heated, south wall windows act as an indoor greenhouse for growing edible plants, water is recycled three times, the list goes on…


The best part: earthships can be as simple, complicated, dull or elegant as the designer wishes. Spend $ or $$$. You have near complete freedom.

Here’s an example of some friends of mine seeking to build one near Breckenridge, Colorado. Their website, here. If you want to make one, you can, too.🙂

2. Shipping Container Homes


Heard of this movement? Build one today, with MEKA.

I believe the attraction here is with the simplistic design, that it’s easily modified, the ability to reuse an old shipping container otherwise wasting away in some dump in China, and/or that you can build your home as if it was made of legos: just stack and expand!

Pretty neat.

Again, spend little or a lot.



If you want to see some more designs and awesome photos, check out THIS site. Very cool.

3. Mobile Tiny Homes

Not only can you affordably build a tiny home, now, but there’s a company that can ship your home anywhere! Your home can now travel with you.

Talk about the future, today.

Now that is amazing: small, affordable, efficient, mobile.

So we have options. That’s my point. We no longer see the future as a pristine, white, electronic home. No, its a recycled shipping container; a house framed with dirt and tires; a small, solar-powered home; a mobile apartment.

Thats the future of sustainable living: efficient, recycled, mobile.

Posted in Future Homes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eliminating Waste Through Design

Ever heard of the 3 R’s? Well, there’s a 4th one, too.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Regenerate. Great concept, and a thoughtful way to help people work to diminish waste.


Except, it doesn’t exactly approach the problem from its source… And the source of waste is often hidden within its means of production, not in the last phase of the product life-cycle.

Don’t get me wrong, we need to do all of this. And it helps tremendously. I still recycle, work to reduce, and reuse whenever I can. And it’s making a difference. Truly is.

But there are better ways to approach the problem of over-consumption and waste.

Although the idea behind recycling — the one most focused on, not reduction or reuse — is seemingly sustainable and intelligent, it proves rather futile. Instead of addressing the problem (consumption) from it’s source (production), companies have ingeniously thrown the burden of environmental responsibility on the consumer. It’s YOUR responsibility to be environmentally friendly, not the company’s.

So lets think…

… do you know how much Walmart is wasting? What about petroleum giant, BP? What about plastic bag companies? Ever looked into what the process of making a plastic bag does to the environment? How about Apple or Microsoft? Ever wondered what happened to electronics once discarded? Greenpeace can tell you.

“Bring your aluminum can back, get 5 cents! (wink, wink)”

While that may work and help for many, it’s not enough. Not by a long shot.

Thus, for example, we find the same companies advertising recyclable — perhaps, “environmentally friendly” — water bottles doing great environmental damage, regardless. Its not their responsibility, nor in their interest, to create reusable water bottles, as THAT hurts their sales. And that’s what capitalism is predicated on; consumption.

Well, damnit, that sucks. But what else can we do?  

Try this one for size: 

What about eliminating the possibility of waste — the very existence  — through design? 

Probably sounds like a load of crap to many; and perhaps too good to be true for others.

But be assured, my friends, it is possible.

One of the best and most common examples is with water. Check out this diagram:


  1. Rainwater is caught and filtered, and used in sinks or showers.
  2. The sink/shower drains into edible plant garden beds.
  3. This “grey water” is caught, filtered and used in toilets.
  4. After flushed, the “black water” drains into non-edible plants.
  5. The black water evaporates and the process repeats.

Boom. Water reused 3 times. Waste averted.

Ever thought of a bicycle in this way? You should.


But, what about other systems that we can change to eliminate waste? Can we extend this concept elsewhere? If so, where and how?

Let’s think about modern gardening and farming.

Today, large-scale industrial farms pour hundreds of tonnes of chemicals: growth chemicals, pesticides, fungicides, and/or herbicides, onto large swathes of mono-cropped lands. Not only do these chemicals destroy the micro-ecosystems of the surrounding lands (and maybe farther), but large fields of a single crop effectively drain the soil of its nutrients – the lifeblood of the earth.

This turns into a vicious cycle: mono-crop, spread chemicals, soil degradation, add chemicals, super-bugs, add more chemicals, further soil depletion, even more chemicals, etc.

A truly vicious, abhorrent cycle.

We have discovered, through tedious observation of nature, that humans can do much better. Much, much better.

Lets switch to modern permaculture and building a guild for some ideas.

“A “guild” in Permaculture is a system of efficiently grouping different plants together in order to use everything to its fullest potential. When planting a guild there are several things to keep in mind:
Nature plants in steps: Large plants depend upon the smaller plants around them.
Nature always plants a variety: Observe the large diversity of plant life that occurs in an undisturbed forest, each plant has a specific purpose.
Nature “stacks” plants in both time and space: A natural forest is comprised of many layers of plants that grow and die according to the season and which extend from high above the earth to deep below it.”


Use nature, don’t fight it: save energy, labor, and soil, all by design.

Want more? Click here.

I also wanted to share something I discovered 4 years ago; a project lead by a man called Jacque Fresco – and he’s determined to create a bright, intelligent, and technology based future.

It’s called, The Venus Project. Now, it might see far off… but then again, getting to the moon seemed impossible until John F. Kennedy said we would do it. And we did.

Mr. Fresco is full of ideas for creating the future: check out the Venus Project website.

Sounds a little out there, doesn’t it?

But if you don’t believe any of this is possible… lets review some badass sustainable technologies already created:

  1. 3-D Printers: printers that can build homes 4 x faster and use 1/3 the material, by Dini.
  2. Transparent Solar Spray that “turns windows into watts” by EnSol As.
  3. Piezoelectric floor tiling system converts energy from human foot traffic into electricity – applied to train stations, sidewalks or even inside homes to harness the wasted energy from our footsteps into power for the grid, by POWERleap.

Although many are prototypes, people all across the world are proving that new, sustainable, and creative technologies are not only possible, but likely to be produced and shared… soon. And the best part is, we’re just scratching the surface. Just last week I watched a video of a team of scientists eating the first “plant based omelet.”

The unimaginable is now imaginable.

And that’s good news for our environment. And in turn, us.

Posted in Intelligent Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bernie Sanders: Our Environmental Champion?

During the last Democratic Debate — on Tuesday, October 13 — the candidates were each and individually asked,

“What do you believe to be the greatest national security threat to the United States?”

There were many and varying responses, with Hillary rattling off a handful of groups: the NRA, Iranians… Republicans. Overall, though, rather typical and *cough* expected answers from them all… Except for one candidate.

Can you guess whom that might be?

You got it, Senator Sanders.


His response? Climate change.

“Well, I will tell you this. I believe — and Pope Francis made this point. This is a moral issue. The scientists are telling us that we need to move extremely boldly.

I am proud that along with Sen. Barbara Boxer a few years ago, we introduced the first piece of climate change legislation which called for a tax on carbon.

And let me also tell you that nothing is going to happen unless we are prepared to deal with campaign finance reform because the fossil fuel industry is funding the Republican Party, which denies the reality of climate change and certainly is not prepared to go forward aggressively.

This is a moral issue. We have got to be extremely aggressive in working with China, India, Russia; the future of the planet is at stake.”

(Full article here)

Wow. I mean… Wow.

Environmentalists across the world let out a resounding cheer — and Capitalists grimaced.

Has climate change ever been discussed by a major U.S. politician with such certainty and rawness? What politician do you know that would identify climate change as the greatest threat to national security? On national television during a presidential debate?

In the case of novelty, Bernie, my man, you are taking the cake.

Perhaps the environment just recognized her biggest — and most influential — advocate.

It’s music to my ears.

Too long has the influence of corporate lobbying controlled a static country wishing to address the very real and troubling realities of human induced climate change.


And Bernie is leading the march to upheave this monstrous corporate development.

Not only does Bernie’s record addressing climate change stand firm, he’s right there with you and me, advocating and fighting for real action, today! No bullshit from some crony politician misleading their populous with bills without backbones.

Bernie means business, and he’s ready to Bern the malevolent tie opposing climate change action between our government and industry.  

And the greatest part is, he’s not alone.

With the newly elected leftist Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, creating a new post — Minister of Science — and hiring Kirsty Duncan, “a medical geographer at the University of Toronto in Canada… who contributed to the 2001 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (link),” combined with a freshly passed Seattle law purging corporate lobbying in local government elections (link), we notice a change in tides — and the waves are crashing far beyond Bernie.

The pendulum is swinging. Leftist policy is gaining territory in the hearts and minds of millions. Maybe even billions. And people are organizing like never before! A real movement for the environment has begun.

It’s a cultural shift; an assembly of community; a true political revolution.

How lucky are we to participating in this change? I think about it every day…

One more thing…

Last night, Thursday, November 5, national organizers for the Bernie campaign came and spoke in Denver about the national campaign and discuss how Colorado needs to organize to win the democratic caucus.

Let me tell you, it was extraordinarily encouraging.

So encouraging, in fact, that I have to share two points stated last night that resonated me to the core:

  1. The 2008 Obama Campaign broke records with over 1 million donations. Right now, a year before election, Bernie has nearly 2 million donations.
  2. From one of the national organizers: “This is the first time that I, an organizer and activist for social and economic justice working for CREDO Action for 3 decades now, have felt that true reform is possible.”

So chin up.


With the right organization — the type that Bernie’s campaign is creating — anything is possible. And I mean anything.

Posted in Activism, Bernie Sanders, Environmentalism, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment