Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Forests to Serve as Fire Sentinels

Researchers at MIT’s Center for Biomedical Engineering have discovered that trees carry an electric charge due to a difference in acidity between the tree and the soil it sits in. This electrical charge can be harnessed to power a web of sensors designed to measure temperature and humidity and broadcast the data from tree-to-tree.

Current Forest Service fire sensors are spread too widely to cover all localized temperature and humidity changes. A network of existing trees can be used to fill in gaps where needed without the use of additional batteries.

This is truly green technology that supports itself. Using nature to work with us without destroying any of it.

The group's results were published in the science journal Public Library of Science One (PLoS ONE), and they’ve already started a commercial company to develop the sensors that can harness that tree-power. The sensor network, being developed by Voltree Power, is slated to begin in spring 2009 on a 10-acre plot of land provided by the Forest Service. The coverage area would consist of four trees per acre.

Sensing changes in climate could also give advanced warnings of severe weather, or the sensors could be altered to detect human activity in off-limits areas, or smuggling activity.

Monday, September 1, 2008

More Doom and Gloom from Global Warming Scientists

We have all become too familiar with the incessant prophecies of how our planet is going to heat up to the point that global geography is going to change. The debate is about what is causing it and when will it happen.

Now scientists have come up with yet another prediction: the earth’s oceans will rise 1-2 feet over the next century instead of the previously predicted 1-4”.

The bottom line is we just don’t know the extent to which melting ice sheets are going to change the face of the earth.

Modern scientists have developed computer models to predict all sorts of outcomes but there still remain too many factors in order to reach a clear conclusion. And this isn’t taking in account a host of unknown factors.

Should we change our lifestyles based on unknowns? Historically, no one but the truly freaked-out alarmists ever has. This situation is becoming too reminiscent of the “chicken little” syndrome which will quite possibly lead many people to ignore these predictions altogether.

I say we rid ourselves of fossil fuel dependency because it is good for the environment and our health.

Global warming has been shown to be a part of the natural cycle throughout planet Earth’s existence. We are either going to experience it within the next 100 years or 1,000 years, but it will happen.

In the meantime, while the finger pointing continues and while scientists gather and calculate new findings, let us all individually concentrate on not contaminating our water, air and land and develop habits to the keep the Earth clean and humming along for the benefit of us and the planet.