Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Belated Earth Day Greetings
Yesterday was Earth Day, and I'm happy to see that so many of us celebrated the event. I thought I'd write a little post about some interesting earth-friendly ideas that I've read about lately. But first, let me make one thing clear . . .
The earth doesn't need to be saved. You read right. And I mean it. The planet is going to be just fine. But we're going to need to work a lot harder to preserve/restore our environment for one simple reason:
If we don't, HUMAN BEINGS (and our animal friends) are going to be in a whole lot of trouble.
So if you can't work up a great deal of sympathy for a big hunk of rock spinning through space, just think of all the human lives that will be happier, healthier, and longer if we clean up the messes we've been making.
Now back to business. The following two ideas are incredibly simple--but that doesn't make them any less ingenious. The first is a refrigerator that doesn't use any electricity. Its inventor won a big prize recently, despite the fact that the technology he used has been around for centuries. But his super-simple device could make a huge difference in the lives of poor people around the world who don't have access to electricity.
All you have to do is "take a smaller pot and put it inside a larger pot. Fill the space in between them with wet sand, and cover the top with a wet cloth. When the water evaporates, it pulls the heat out with it, making the inside cold. It's a natural, cheap, easy-to-make refrigerator."
How big a difference could this make? Aside from helping millions of people eat better, healthier food, in the communities in which the refrigerators are already being used, "more girls attending school as their families no longer need them to sell food in the market." How amazing is that?!? Read more here.
The second invention has also been around for a while. It's called a "hay-box cooker," and it can reduce the energy used to cook by 80%. They were used during World War II when fuel was in short supply, and they're still common in parts of the world where firewood is hard to come by.
According to the New York Times, "The first step is to find a box large enough to fit a good-size pot. Pad the bottom with about four inches of hay, pillow stuffing, shredded newspaper or anything else that insulates. Fill your pot with the ingredients for soup or stew, cover it tightly, bring it to a good hard boil and let it simmer for 5 or 10 minutes. Then transfer the pot to the hay box. Pack the sides and top with a thick layer of insulation, and close the box. Four to eight hours later, your low-carbon meal should be ready for eating."
So, as you see, simple ideas can go a long way. There's no reason that a single person CAN'T make a big difference. What would happen if each of us managed to come up with just ONE good idea?