Ten Hopeful Technologies, Ideas, and Orgs

These are not “gifts” as such, but they do provide a kindly light amid the encircling gloom. Some folks are thinking hard, with what we hope will prove to be useful results. Here are my choices. Feel free to add your own, and to critique these if I’ve got it wrong. Chins up, and best feet forward! (All 8 of them, my fellow Octopi..)
Saltworks Technologies Thermo-Ionic technology produces sustainable energy efficient water by harnessing solar energy and heat.” As one of the looming problems is a shortage of clean, fresh water, a technology that can provide it cheaply and using only Solar would be most welcome.

Living with Lakes Centre, Sudbury: And speaking of water, here comes a brand new facility for studying it, regenerating it, living with it, in a fully biothermal and solar-conscious building with a Blueberry Roof. (Hey, the bears can’t get up there, eh?)

Global Thermostat: This is a potential game-changer. If you can attach this tech to a heat-emitting source, it removes CO2 from the ambient air, taking out two times as much as the emitting source churns out. For instance: giant internet server farms can serve as carbon-reduction engines…

World Book Night: On March 5, 2011, a million books will be given away in the U.K. and Ireland. These tiny carbon sinks will circulate through the population, impelled by a passion for reading… the gift that will keep on giving, one hopes.

Poetry in Voice: www.facebook.com/GriffinPoetryPrize High school kids show a renewed interest in poetry out loud… The bards revive…

Forest Bathing. It is as your mother said: a walk in the woods WILL make you feel better.

Physiological Tests Confirm Therapeutic Effects of ‘Forest Bathing
We are happy to announce that JFS has started offering web videos with selected written articles on the JFS website. The video links are provided by NHK Eco Channel.

City of Toronto Biodiversity Series: We need something hopeful in Toronto. This series may not survive the city’s new mayor, nor may the birds it celebrates — other life forms being notorious pinkos, especially those dadblatted robins, and hey, if there weren’t any trees that would be the end of those pesky treehuggers — but meanwhile…

Do!Nation. This hasn’t happened yet, but it will. Let’s just say I found myself donating my organs – despite their elderly condition – live on a Quebec TV show watched by 2 ½ million people, so I can’t exactly get out of it eh? But Do!Nation will take awareness to a whole new level. Trust me. (David Cronenberg is involved. ☺ )

Electric Vehicles: From a correspondent: “Nissan has the Leaf coming this year, and GM the Volt. They are the urban way to go, if you must go by car – and electric vans are on the way as well. As you are no doubt aware, the skeptics wrongly point to the energy having to come from somewhere, but miss the fact that if you plug in at night, you are using power that is currently “wasted”. And if you don’t use your charged-up vehicle any day, you sell its juice back to the grid when need is highest, and reload again at night – I love the prospects of a million EVs acting together as a huge battery, selling power to the grid by day at peak demand time, and replacing with fallow cheap power at night…”

Longer and/or More Eyelashes. You may think this is frivolous, but try doing without eyelashes on a hot and gritty day. Help is at hand:
http://latisse.com/ May guard against the ravages of the dreaded
eyebrow mite

Add your own hopeful technologies, ideas, and orgs…
Any really good ideas about what to do about the huge floating island of discarded plastic in the Pacific Ocean would be more than welcome…


Filed under 1, YOTF Tour Blog

12 responses to “Ten Hopeful Technologies, Ideas, and Orgs

  1. Provocative post. I personally have often wondered why plastic bags in the ocean couldn’t be harvested like we for fish and put to some useful purpose. Surely the science wizards can come up with somthing that used plastic could be converted. Being only a quilter and a repatterner my thoughts run to objects like insulation, or perhaps it can be remelted into lego bricks or building material.

    Curious to hear what others think.

    All the best,


  2. Margaret Mair

    Thank you for this hopeful post – my hope lies with passionate organizations like http://www.350.org, which bring people together to work toward making a difference, individually and in groups. Like you, they use imagination, creativity and just plain hard work to get their message across.

    The real hope lies with all of us; our choices make a difference.

  3. Emil Cessan

    What difference do our choices make but ease our conscious, the question is why do you need it to be re leaved? Maybe because we have surrendered to the man in his suite, with his rules of profit being more important than life itself. Would we dare kill a monster before he reveals himself? Oh but then we would have had different problems today. “Take him out, he looks like a kid wanting to wear a suit.” Lets face it, man is so manipulative even to himself that he cares for animals yet eat an uncountable number up each day year after year. Stop eating the animal and you wont have to care for them, thats how our mind tricks us, stop polluting and voilá ladies and gentlemen there is no pollution. Kill him before he grows up, but be prepared for other helping organisations if we´d ever come upon that path.

  4. Keith

    It was this time last year that we were really looking forward to the new year. The two previous years were nightmares. I lost two siblings and a step-father. My daughter was in a car accident with my 2 grand-daughters on board (only my daughter was injured… lots of metal, but they saved her leg). My brother-in-law was going through a nasty divorce. In 2010 my wife and I were going to concentrate on completing our sustainable living project. Living sustainably also means living cheaply. Since we’ll be living on my pension in a couple of years, my retirement date is the date we set to have everything in order.

    We’ve already converted to geo-thermal heating. We converted to a high efficiency submersible pump for the well. Our old farmhouse was completely gutted, sealed and re-insulated. We already have the composting toilet. We grow and can our own vegetables. Raise free-range heritage chickens. I’ve never owned a vehicle with more than 4-cylinders. We only jet once a decade as opposed to once a year. Went from PC to laptop. We buy as local as possible. Our next project was a small wind turbine and battery bank to serve our own electricity needs. Over the last couple of months we had been researching the various designs and sizes to see which one would be best for us.

    Sometimes Fate gets together with Irony and both will give you a slap in the face. Just after Christmas we discovered we were going to be smack-dab in the middle of fifty 49 storey high wind turbines. At first we didn’t think much of it. We’ve always supported renewable energy. We had heard some local people (we live in Ripley) claimed they were getting sick from the turbines. We thought you’d always get complaints like that from neighbours of wind turbines, but just the same we thought we would dig in a little more. We were horrified. Absolutely horrified. These weren’t neighbours of wind turbines. They were people that had signed contracts with the wind companies. These families cannot live in their homes. We discovered many more people suffering in silence; either not willing to upset their neighbours or silenced by the contracts they’ve signed with the wind companies.

    Horror soon turned to outrage. We’d been had. Hoodwinked. Duped. Conned. Fooled. The wool over our eyes was starting to itch. The ONLY way we can reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the potential devastating effects of global warming and climate change is by leaving fossil fuels right where we found them: buried underground or deep in our oceans.

    Harnessing wind energy could help us achieve that goal, but ONLY if the energy produced is somehow stored so it can be used when needed; such as in a battery bank. That is not happening.

    Without storing the energy produced by wind we are actually making matters worse. We are actually INCREASING our dependency on fossil fuels. That sounds pretty stupid when you first hear it, but when you look at how the electricity grid works it becomes crystal clear. Wind turbines need to be paired with fossil turbines to make it work. Supply has to match demand or the grid collapses. Only fossil fits the bill. The more wind turbines that get erected the more fossil generation we need. The hope is that “one day” we’ll solve the storage issue. Problem is, if we don’t, we’re stuck with fossil generation because of wind energy. Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

    The locals in Oakville may have stopped the gas plant in their neighbourhood, but as the Project Manager for the plant itself said “We need… gas fired power plants to generate during peak times or when the wind doesn’t blow”. The province plans to erect 10,000MW of Industrial Wind Turbines. This will have to be matched by gas turbines. The Oakville plant was only 900MW. The only place they can put these new gas turbines is where the gas lines are big enough and where the energy is needed most: in the cities. This project wasn’t stopped, it was just delayed. That doesn’t include the fact that we’re shutting down the coal stations. But wind isn’t replacing coal. Gas is replacing coal. One fossil fuel for another.

    There are alternatives, conservation being number one. What would be wrong with many more small scale wind turbines that don’t bother anyone but yourself? Excess energy would go down the same lines your electricity comes in on, serving your neighbours first instead of going half-way across the province with billions being spent on new lines. Roof-top solar panels in the cities. At least the sun shines the brightest when people are using electricity the most.

    My hope for the New Year is that we re-think Industrial Wind Turbines and the province’s Green Energy Act.

  5. I live in a seaside town north of San Diego called Encinitas. I want to add an item to your list but first, I enjoyed the hell out of your book. The sardonic philosophy and the mix of current culture with saints days, every day is a saint day, was brilliant, IMM.

    Any way . . ., I didn’t think I had any suggestions but then my old friend the god Serendipty stepped in as it has so often done in the past.

    Last week the LA Times, whose money strapped business plan lets me receive my daily dose of newsprint for a dollar a week, ran a story in the business section about a new news venture
    Patch.com that was turning out to be a source of jobs for journalists and others of their ilk across the country with over 700 patches, (small community online news sites) open and counting: A collective of news, ideas, insights, pictures, and jobs networked across the country. Of course, come to find out it’s Corpse funded by AOL but hey, that’s their problem.

    Anyway, what do you think? Do you see where I’m going with this?

    • marg09

      Thanks … Very interesting concept and could help people see their communities ascommunities.. there is evidently a desire, as Patch is growing so fast…

  6. Hi Margaret,

    I’ve been inspired by a note on your blog for the latest word throw down on my new poetry blog. Check it out at http://writehearted.blogspot.com/2010/12/word-throw-down-2.html

    Always a fan, (latest favourite poem: Morning in the Burned House)

    Brandy Lynn

  7. Francesca

    I was excited about the Iphone, Ipad and Kindle. Hope you had a great Xmas Margaret. Happy New Year too.

  8. Michael March

    Hello Mrs. Atwood,
    Don’t forget the e cigarette. I’ve read many stories of people giving up smoking for this, carbon monoxide-less, additive-less, and noncancerous since nicotine is not in itself cancerous, alternative. Smoking without the risk. Course there haven’t really been many tests, and it’s only been around a few years.

  9. susanpastorek

    did Margaret Atwood know the waterless flood would be radiation?

  10. PONS Idiomas

    Hola, quizás os interese saber que tenemos una colección que incluye el relato ‘Death by Landscape’ de Margaret Atwood en versión original conjuntamente con el relato ‘The Progress of Love’ de Alice Munro.

    El formato de esta colección es innovador porque permite leer directamente la obra en inglés sin necesidad de usar el diccionario al integrarse un glosario en cada página.

    Tenéis más info de este relato y de la colección Read&Listen en http://bit.ly/nkaASi

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