Tag: energy (page 1 of 2)

Live map of electricity production highlights carbon criminals

This live map of electricity production and consumption is really interesting, on a number of levels. First, it’s great that it exists! It really helps show, for example, that Poland needs to get its act together.

But also, design decisions matter. For example, the focus on carbon, while important, obscures the fact that nuclear might help get us out of the current mess but is really storing up problems for future generations.

Map showing Europe coloured different shades of green, yellow, orange, and red

electricityMap is a live visualization of where your electricity comes from and how much CO2 was emitted to produce it.

Source: electricityMap | Live CO₂ emissions of electricity consumption

A low-tech solution for personal warmth

My family, especially the female members, have always been big fans of the hot water bottle. So much so, in fact, that one of my wife’s favourite presents was receiving a long snake-shaped hot water bottle that she can use in various configurations.

As we face a bit of an energy crisis, hot water bottles are definitely something more people should be using, as this article explains.

A hot water bottle is a sealable container filled with hot water, often enclosed in a textile cover, which is directly placed against a part of the body for thermal comfort. The hot water bottle is still a common household item in some places – such as the UK and Japan – but it is largely forgotten or disregarded in most of the industrialised world. If people know of it, they usually associate it with pain relief rather than thermal comfort, or they consider its use an outdated practice for the poor and the elderly.

As early as the 1500s, people started to use all kinds of portable containers filled with hot coals from the fire. These were used as foot warmers, hand warmers, and bed warmers. Most were made of metal, either brass or copper, and placed inside wooden or ceramic enclosures to prevent skin burns. Over time, hot coals were replaced by hot water, which is a cleaner and safer heat storage medium.

Initially, these first “real” hot water bottles were made from hard materials such as glass, metal, or stoneware. It was only with the invention of vulcanised rubber in the nineteenth century that more comfortable lightweight and flexible hot water bottles became an option. Spanish friends told me that hot water bottles used to be made from animal skins, but I could not verify this. It may well be true, because all over the world there’s a long tradition of using “water skins” for storing liquids.

Source: The Revenge of the Hot Water Bottle | LOW←TECH MAGAZINE

Aimless wandering in search of the unknown catalyst

It might not be too much of a stretch to describe Edward Snowden as a hero of mine. I’m not sure what he’s still doing in Russia, but the moral conviction it took to do what he did is staggering.

He writes in exile through a newsletter which is well worth subscribing to. In his most recent missive, he talks about lacking what he calls “origination energy”. On a much smaller level and more insignificant level, I lack this too — especially at this time of year.

So as the young people say, I feel seen.

Edward Snowden poster

For a long time now, I’ve wanted to write to you, but found myself unable. Not from illness—although that came and went—but because I refuse to put something in your inbox that I feel isn’t worth your time.

The endless stream of events that the world provides to remark upon has the tendency to take on an almost physical weight, and robs me of what I can only describe as origination energy: the creative spark that empowers us not simply to do something, but to do something new. Without it, even the best of what I can produce feels derivative and workmanlike—good enough for government, perhaps, but not good enough for you.

I suspect you may know a similar struggle—you can tell me how you fight it below, if you like—but my only means for overcoming it is an aimless wandering in search of the unknown catalyst that might help me to refill my emptied well. Where once I might have had a good chance of walking away inspired by the empathy I felt while watching a sad, sad film, achieving such inspiration feels harder now, somehow. I have to search farther, and wander longer, across centuries of painting and music until at last, when passing by a dumpster, yesterday’s internet comment might suddenly pop into my head and blossom there, as if a poem. The thing—the artifact itself—doesn’t matter, so much as what it does for me—it enlivens me.

This, to me, is art.

Source: Cultural Revolutions | Edward Snowden

Image CC BY-NC-ND: Antonio Marín Segovia