I’m not sure where this photo originated, but I found it posted on the Up With Trees (Tulsa based organization) facebook page.




Obsolescence of Edison

Let there be Light.   And there is light, just not inefficient light anymore.  In the United States, incandescent bulbs ranging from 100 Watts edbulbto 40 W are being phased out in the name of energy efficiency.  100 W incandescent bulbs were phased out late last year and the manufacture of 75-Watt lamps halted yesterday.  This has been a move heralded by environmentalists, energy officials, and CFL/LED light manufacturers and a move despised by incandescent producers, consumers wary of alternative lighting (quality, application, safety, Mercury), and ruttists (see a previous entry).  Sure, Compact Fluorescent Lamps and Light Emitting Diode bulbs produce comparable light, require less energy, and run longer than incandescent lights.  But why give them up?

Why should we stop incandescently illuminating our homes and businesses?

While we’re at it, we might as well ask why Ford Model T’s aren’t produced anymore or why doctors  no longer ‘bleed‘ patients to cure illness.

In an age where information and technology evolve at a blinding pace, the new and the better replace the old and the obsolete.  Advances in automotive fuel efficiency are generally commended instead of shunned as too fancy.  No one is complaining about owning a laptop that doesn’t take up an entire room.  And who looks at their smart phone and thinks, “This should be the size of a brick!?”  Lighting technology has surely improved enough that we shouldn’t want or need a century-old relic anymore.  Incandescent lighting produces 90% heat and 10% light….extremely inefficient unless you try to market light bulbs as winter heat lamps.

Don’t get me wrong.  Without incandescent lighting, we might’ve had a difficult time in the lab advancing fluorescent and LED technology.  Incandescent lighting has a long and diverse history; incandescent light has had vast impacts on life and society.  But it’s time to bow out and let CFL and LED technology illuminate society.   As for me, I’m investing in LED lighting.  Life spans of 25,000-60,000 hours, 5-10 Watts comparable to 30-75 Watt incandescent, NO mercury like CFLs…a worthwhile investment for me!

Think about it this way.

Comparison by

Comparison by

I think this is a slightly older study, as LED and CFL technologies have improved while cost has declined.  But you get the picture.  There certainly is a bright future in LED lighting. LEDs even work for specific situations now, like Candelabra fixtures or enclosed fixtures. (Just be aware of myths about LED lightingDSC_1195a.)

I suppose some folks aren’t so much opposed to alternative lighting as they are outraged that the government has shattered their lighting trends.  To that I don’t have a correct answer.  But I will say we are simply joining the growing list of nations that are phasing out inefficient lighting in efforts to reduce energy use, stifle pollution production, and minimize waste (think bulb lifespan).  Thank you light bulb and thank you Mr. Edison for brightening up our days.  But it is time.  Switch off!

Muir’s Biblical Reason for Praising Plants

On his 1,000 mile walk from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico, not long after the Civil War ended, John Muir encountered a man who questioned his motive to study plants, or ‘botanize’ as he often put it.

The man said, “You look like a strong-minded man, and surely you are able to do something better than wander the country and look at weeds and blossoms.  These are hard times, and real work is required of every man that is able.  Picking up blossoms doesn’t seem to be a man’s work at all in any kind of times.”

John Muir asked, ” You are a believer in the Bible, are you not?”  The man replied, “Oh, yes.”

Muir then responded, “Well, you know Solomon was a strong-minded man, and he is generally believed to have been the very wisest man the world ever saw, and yet he considered it was worth while to study plants; not only to go and pick them up as I am doing, but to study them; and you know we are told that he wrote a book about plants, not only of the great cedars of Lebanon, but of little bits of things growing in the cracks of the walls.

“Therefore, you see that Solomon differed very much more from you than from me in this matter.  I’ll warrant you he had many a long ramble in the mountains of Judea, and had he been a Yankee he would likely have visited every weed in the land.  And again, do you not remember that Christ told his disciples to ‘consider the lilies how they grow,’ and compared their beauty with Solomon in all his glory?  Now, whose advice am I to take, yours or Christ’s?  Christ says, ‘Consider the lilies.’  You say, ‘Don’t consider them.  It isn’t worth while for any strong-minded man.'”

[Passage from A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf by John Muir]

This is one of many reasons I enjoy John Muir’s work and inspires me to be a steward of Earth.
It is indeed a worthy and prudent cause to understand God’s masterful craftsmanship on this Earth.  Knowing what’s out there is enjoyment in itself. However, benefits to humanity can be gained by studying flora and fauna, which can be used for healing, relaxation, shelter, or nourishment.  Protecting that which we need now, and that which we need for later, seems far wiser than exploiting the world unchecked, unknowing, and unrelenting, without regard for ‘later.’

If we understand what we have, we understand what can be lost.  However this world came to be (whether you wish to debate creation/evolution is irrelevant), it seems appropriate to study and care for it.

[Learn more about Creation Care and Restoring Eden]

More Prairie, More Fall Color

One more photo from our trail walk at Shaw Nature Reserve on Prairie Day.

I almost NEVER edit my photos beyond the occasional crop and resize.  The first photo, however, I thought Looked pretty good.  Here are both.



Well, almost fall.

A Call for Candelabra LED Lighting

I’ve recently moved into a place with several ceiling fans.  I think ceiling fans are fantastic for air circulation and important for reducing the need for constant air conditioning.

But now I have a problem with the lighting situation.  In many rooms, these fans also serve as the primary light source.  Unfortunately, all of my fixtures can only use candelabra style bulbs.  What about my cool LEDs?

WHY?  Why can’t I put in my medium-base LED lights into these fixtures in the name of energy conservation?  It turns out Uncle Sam has changed lighting regulations for ceiling fans in an effort to conserve energy (See the Reg Info).  Not all medium-base fixtures are technically banned, but manufacturers are exploiting a loophole by switching to an almost completely candelabra-based ceiling fan market  (See the point of contention).

Short-Lived Compact Fluorescent Candelabra

I understand these regulations were changed for the greater good, but what good are they if they stifle innovation in energy efficient lighting  (i.e., LED technology)?  I’ve posted about LED lighting before (Bright Future in LED Lighting), and the technology is here and improving dramatically.  There are several options out there for several fixtures, including candelabras.  However, most R&D has been devoted to medium-based bulbs (Edison Bulbs, E26 / E27).  These efficient bulbs could easily work with the Wattage restrictions if the medium-base fixtures were reintroduced  en masse.

Please let me know if you’ve found a candelabra that puts out adequate light (at least ‘equivalent’ to a 45 W incandescent).  I have yet to find suitable LEDs or even CFL candelabras that work.  And the few CFL candelabras bright enough for my applications generally have much shorter life spans than would be expected.

Anyway, enough of the fist shakery.  I simply want to enlighten anyone in the LED lighting industry that there is a niche that desperately needs to be filled!

Living Wall Prezi

I recently experimented with the innovative presentation tool called Prezi.  This is an amazing way to visualize presentations, get the bigger picture, and allow for a less linear look.  This is a presentation I made last week outlining the basics about living walls

“Introduction to Living Walls”

Let me know what you think.  If the embed code didn’t work…view it on Prezi.

Getting ‘Sustainably’ Involved in Saint Louis

I like St. Louis, although it’s not my hometown.  I did not grow up here.  I can’t answer ‘the high school question‘ with a name St. Louis natives can readily recognize.  In the name of graduate school at SIUE (studying Environmental Sciences, living walls, green roofs, etc.),  I left my home in southwest Missouri and became a transplant.   Ever since I arrived to the region, I’ve been looking for stuff to do.  I’m not a typical bar fly or a sports nut or a shopping addict.  I prefer more intellectually engaging conversations about interesting topics, like sustainability, green building, environmental issues, ecology, green stuff, conservation, etc.  I also want to be active in some way to promote those ideals.

Cool and Touristy

Unfortunately, I found it extremely difficult to find out about green events, at first.  Google searches brought up events from months and years ago.   Eventually, though, I started to find groups with an internet presence, as well as online sources for all things green.  Now, it seems, I’m finally making it to events as they happen.  Hopefully I can get more involved with the planning and promoting of future events!

So, this is for anyone out there with an interest in green things around STL but clueless about where to begin.  The following is a (by no means complete) list of helpful websites.  Some websites are for organizations, and others mainly promote certain events.

One of the primary sources for all things green is St. Louis Green.  This site lists various sustainable businesses, events, job and career opportunities, educational institutions, recycling opportunities, and teaching tools for various grade levels.

Another excellent website represents the Eastern Missouri Group of the Sierra Club.  This is an active chapter with several educational events, nature outings, volunteer opportunities, and networking activities.  On the Illinois side of the river, the Piasa Palisades Group is also recommended.

OK, so when I said I wasn’t a bar fly, I didn’t mean that local brews were out of the question.  I discovered the St. Louis Chapter of an organization called Green Drinks.  This website is helpful in reminding you about their monthly gathering to learn something, network, make friends, and maybe have an adult beverage or two.

Are you looking to learn more about environmental damage and progress in Missouri?  Consider the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.  There is a lot of information on events, Missouri-related goingson, and political issues.

There is an excellent sustainability-minded group called the EarthWays Center, affiliated with the Missouri Botanical Garden.  Their website offers lots of educational tools and various information on events and other sustainability-centered organizations.  These folks host the annual Green Homes and Great Health Festival on the last Saturday in September.  The event features a Green Marketplace, various workshops, solar car races, electric vehicles on display, live music, and exhibitors from several groups and businesses.  I had the pleasure of volunteering with on of the recycling booths last year, helping folks sort recyclables.

Electric VehicleDid your ears perk up when I said electric vehicles?  If they did, check out the Gateway Electric Vehicle Club.  They showcase their projects, help one another, and educate others about the pros and cons of unconventional automobiles. (If you still prefer your internal combustion engine, you can learn about other things you can do to save on gas in an older post.)

Are you interested in sustainable building design and engineering or LEED certification and credentialing?  Consider checking out the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter.  This is a very active chapter of the US Green Building Council.  They have regular events like the Lunch n LEED program.  Update 01/13:  I took an excellent exam prep course through this chapter.  I’m now a LEED Green Associate!

Are you interested in urban watershed conservation and restoration?  Consider checking out the Deer Creek Watershed Alliance.  Learn about stormwater issues and management, water quality concerns and solutions, rain gardens, RainScaping Rebates, and nature in the St. Louis area.

If you’re big into hiking, the Ozarks offers plenty of terrain for you.  Visit the Ozark Trail, learn about activities and events, and consider volunteering to maintain or build trails.  I know it’s a bit out of St. Louis proper, but volunteer groups from St. Louis (like the Sierra Club) regularly help out on these trails.

Do you want to learn about native landscaping, gardening, urban farming, etc.?  Check out the Sustainable Backyard Tour.  This is an annual event put on by residents who are happy to showcase their yards and to try to inspire us to rethink the standard, boring, American lawn.

One large example of native and natural landscaping lies just outside of St. Louis in Gray Summit.  Shaw Nature Reserve, encompassing over 2,400 acres,  has examples of home gardening, rain gardens, wetlands, prairies, and woodlands.  There are also miles of relaxing trail to hike.  Update:  I volunteer out here once a week, learning more about native plants and natural landscaping!!

Anywho, there is a lot more, but I’m out of steam for now.  Happy hunting!

Please comment if you are aware of other regional green things.