OrganiTech: Vertical Robotic Farms

I’m not sure if I can really support this. It seems like there’s something evil about completely removing agriculture from the environment. I mean, agriculture is already extremely unnatural, especially the way industrialized countries do it, but this is just nuts!

The people at Organitech have been creating systems to create leafy vegetables in fairly sterile hydroponic greenhouses for some time. The plants grow extremely quickly, are entirely free from pests (and dirt) and almost all of the harvesting is done by robots, so there are no labor costs.

But now Organitech is looking to remove that last vestiage of nature…the sun. They’re thinking of turning the hundreds of thousands of discarded shipping containers that are too cheap to ship back to China into organic farms. The shipping containers could be filled with racks of hydroponically grown, pesticide-free, disease-free, low-water-using plants all controlled robotically for optimal yield.

The containers could then be stacked creating, in essence, vertical farms that would have a per acre yield of thousands of times more than conventional farms.

The container farms could be distributed throughout the world, and would produce food from Siberia to the Sahara as long as they were plugged in. This would signficantly reduce transportation consts, and make communities much less susceptible to global markets and climate change.

So I think I’m coming down on the side of good, though I will admit that I don’t want my species to be any more separate from the natural environment than we already are.

For more on Organitech, check out this awesome video (turn down the voice track and you could totally rave to it.)

Via Wired

Corporate Climate Response LiveBlog

The Corporate Climate Response conference has it’s own informative liveblog for the event. So far, the coverage has been fantastic with video interviews with businesses large and small and some excellent stories on what’s going on.

The Corporate Climate Response conference is basically an gathering of companies who are taking the lead on the climate crisis. I wish I could be there myself, but this constantly updated liveblog is certainly the next best thing.

New Dell PCs 78% More Efficient

A while back, EcoGeek’s Matt James asked Dell if they were looking to incorporate ultra-efficient, 80 Plus power supplies in their PCs. Dell said yes, and they weren’t lying.

80 Plus power supplies are at least 80% efficient at any level of drain. Normal power supplies can vary from 90% efficient at low drain to 60% at high drain. This means that up to 40% of poweris being lost before it even gets to your computer’s components!

While these new power supplies are a bit more expensive, they’ll almost certainly pay for themselves over the life of the machine. Dell has opted to include the 80 Plus power supplies in corporate models (the Optifast 740 and 745) but promise that they will be appearing in more models soon. I asked them if they’d be in the low-end models appearing soon on Wal-Mart shelves, but they aren’t commenting on that yet. The PCs will also be loaded with energy-saving software and default settings.

Dell also just announced that they will are pleased they’ll be meeting the EPAs new Energy Star 4.0 efficiency standards signficantly before they go into effect. It makes me wonder if maybe the standards aren’t strict enough.

But it’s good to know Dell is continuing its commitment to being on the forefront of environmental computing.

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Audi’s 2009 A4

Audi will show the B8 A4 in Frankfurt in September Sources at Audi have confirmed to AudiWorld that the next generation Audi A4 will make its worldwide debut in the fall at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Completely redesigned both inside and …

Clean Coal: The Myth Ends Today

We publish an astonishing amount of good news here at When I started this all up a year ago, good news was pretty hard to come by. But now it just flows in. The future’s so bright, I’ve got to wear photovoltaic clothing.

But there are some dark spots. One in particular looks like it could undo a lot of the work done in the last few years. It’s a dark spot that I’ve seen jaunting merrily across the screen on Grist and TreeHugger, a smudge supported by Barack Obama and myriad congressional Democrats: Coal.

For the last few years energy independence and the green movement have almost become synonymous. But coal threatens to break down that synergy. While recent forward progress that has been astonishing, coal is providing an opportunity for the United States to stagnate once again.

The technology to convert coal to liquid fuel has existed since the 1920s. If congress were to mandate and fund its implementation America would begin to slowly gain energy independence, Peabody Coal’s net worth would increase tenfold to roughly $3.6 trillion, the Appalachian Mountains would be destroyed and U.S. carbon emissions would double. This is a bad idea.

Unfortunately, there’s a bill working through congress right now that would give coal companies billions of dollars to help them build coal-to-liquid plants. It would guarantee coal companies government contracts, including a $40-billion, 25-year deal with the air force. Peabody coal is literally fighting for trillions of dollars here.

At the same time, there are also bills in congress that would cap CO2 emissions and make coal-to-liquid technologies instantly obsolete. But there’s not a lot of money behind the carbon neutral lobby, while Coal has millions to spend on congress. The unfortunate truth is, this bill has a chance of passing. For more in depth analysis, you can refer to the New York Times, as they’ve just done a marvelous write-up of the situation.

This could be bad news. This could be very bad news. We have been making some marvelous steps forward in the last few years. A large-scale conversion to liquid coal would a reversion, the exact opposite of what we need to be doing.

I invite everyone to check out, and to consider Illinois Senator Obama’s position on "clean coal." Hillary may not be an EcoGeek, but at least she doesn’t go around pretending like Coal can be good for the environment. And, if you’d like, download this GE ad, with the thought bubble conveniently blanked out, and submit Lumpy the Coal Nugget’s thoughts to the comments.