Madagascar land grab we’re not hearing much about in the news

Korea’s “Daewoo Logistics” is attempting to lease HALF the agricultural land in Madagascar for 99 years for the industrial farming of palm oil and maize (corn), some 1.3 million acres according to an article on Care2.com. Of all the stupid things a country could do at this time of environmental uncertainty is kill off habitat for some of the most diverse creatures on the planet. Madagascar is a treasure chest for scientists and holds a key to biological changes occurring as the planet’s climate changes.

But the biggest travesty is that the people on this island off the SE coast of Africa are already suffering a severe food crisis. Naturally they are protesting because they may soon be losing THEIR land. This in turn is causing a governmental crisis. The world needs to let the people of Madagascar and those CEO’s of Daewoo know we are watching and will not in any way stand around and let this happen. We know about the wonderful biodiversity there and the plight of the people. What business does Korea have intruding on an island off of Africa anyway? We’re worried about N. Korea, and S. Korea proposes to do this? This is just not getting enough media attention considering the biodiversity issue at stake. Some of the world’s most rare creatures are found in Madagascar ONLY.

Anyone with children has seen the animated features “Madagascar and Madagascar II.” Like “Charlotte’s Web” these animated animal icons in Madagascar films are far removed from the horror the creatures they imitate suffer in real life. Little pigs like the one in “Charlotte’s Web” more than not will be found rotating in their whole bodily form on some rotisserie barbeque somewhere this summer. And the animals in “Madagascar” are no different. The lemur is already endangered. We’ve watched the Discovery, Science, Nat Geo, and Sundance Channels, Jeff Irwin and Jack Hanna enough to catch presentations about Madagascar and hopefully comprehend that Madagascar is a biological wonder http://www.wildmadagascar.org/overview/FAQs/.
That notwithstanding, the hostile takeover of any people’s agricultural property by another country, especially a people already suffering a food crisis, should be a call for intervention by the U.N. if their own country doesn’t soon support them.

We’re hardly hearing about this advance on Madagascar in the news. Please sign petitions to let both Korea and Madagascar know the world is watching and protesting. The people of Madagascar have managed to keep the biodiversity of their island country in tact forever. Just last year they agreed to “sell more than nine million tons of carbon offsets to fund rainforest conservation in a newly established protected area. Conservationists say the deal protects endangered wildlife, promotes sustainable development to improve the economic well-being of people living in and around the park area, and helps fight global warming” according to the website “wildmadagascar.org.” And this is how they are repaid by the world community? Much of that biodiversity could be lost with one bad decision, the decision to look the other way instead of protesting along with the people of that country. The U.S. should have much to say to S. Korea about this proposed plan.

To sign petitions: http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/1172161.

http://www.regenwald.org/international/englisch/.

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Watch Eco-Tech Tomorrow Night

 

If you get the Science Channel, it’s running the series Eco-Tech tomorrow, Saturday, August, 23, 2008 at 06:00 PM ET. You won’t be disappointed but amazed at this series called  Future Fuels.”
 
Meet the chemists, engineers, and designers who are finding incredible new ways to power planes, trains, and automobiles. They are using everything from cooking grease, plant stalks and algae, to hydrogen, viruses and sunshine.”

Get the latest in science and technology at Discovery News. http://dsc.discovery.com/news/news.html

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The Chicken Little Crowd is Getting Bigger and With More Clout

I read Mitch Albom’s column in the Free Press this past Sunday, and although I agree with him, I think it was well, um, a little bit dated. His perception that environmentalists are a league of people still derided as Chicken Littles is a little off. As long as I’ve been writing this blog, I think maybe I’ve been called a Chicken Little twice. I had one opponent that appeared to be a drinker going off into raves eventually calling me a cur so as to not get axed from the website for calling me something worse. But that was long ago. Another opponent eventually came to terms with the fact that on a lot of levels we are simpatico. We agreed that we do indeed create trash and should be cleaning up after ourselves, whether or not it does or does not contribute to global warming. Isn’t this moment of agreement in the environmental argument all that’s needed? Because cleaning up after ourselves is the first step to realizing just how much garbage we actually create, which should logically lead to more conservation efforts regardless of global warming.

In this light, how the pro-environmental argument is presented seems to make a heck of a lot of difference. Finding common ground brings people to agreement faster, and that’s what seems to be happening. Unlike Albom, I’m seeing a huge surge of environmentalism on TV and the Internet lately. My 85-year old mother pointed it out to me about 2 weeks ago. I paid closer attention after that and she’s right. There are all types of commercials on TV that are telling people to buy in bulk, don’t shampoo their hair every day, you know insidious mantra that eventually gets an entire population moving toward conservation without knowing it. Admit it. We’re herded more times than not and industry with the help of the media is like the rancher.

I blogged about industry moving the green market quite a while back. Industry’s push to go “green” is getting increasingly stronger because they can’t afford high energy costs either. GE can hardly keep up with the demand for its industrial wind turbines. Green rooftops are appearing on city buildings everywhere thanks to newly formed environmental organizations like Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. And just look up companies growing in leaps and bounds like Sun Edison, who provides an affordable way for industry to benefit from rooftop solar panels, that is, if they aren’t already planted green. Retail giant Wal-Mart starting moving to go green, and now companies like SC Johnson are looking to supply those big stores with their “totally” green .products. Even Conoco Philips (Big Oil) threw in the towel, and joined Tyson Chicken to create biofuel from chicken fat at no real profit, just because it’s the right thing to do for the environment. And when moguls like Ted Turner make statements that it’s absolute suicide to continue to pollute and consume the way we do, well, try calling terrible Ted a “CL.”

I’ve lost count of all the home improvement shows that tout “green,” as well as, media outlets like PBS, Discovery, Science, and National Geographic channels that consistently show the latest findings and discoveries regarding the environment and man. I’ve even watched Canadian TV like “The Outsider,” or “The Fifth Estate” air documentaries about U.S. government cover ups of scientific reports relative to global warming. I’m seeing more and more green shows coming out of Canada now. And I can’t say enough for organizations listed as links on my blog like EarthJustice, The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Union of Concerned Scientists, and many others that don’t think twice to take on the U.S. Government or anyone else over the environment and wildlife. While we sleep, or go about our usual day, these guys are out on cold oceans, at the edge of public forests, in congress, and everywhere they need to be to stop bad things from happening to our world and everything in it.

But best of all when I see Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich in a commercial urging citizens to contact congress to push ahead to embrace environmentalism, it’s a clear indication that forces are looking to gather against the old energy lobbyists and the spin machine. This was topped off last week when Henry Waxman, Chairman of the Committee for Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Johnson, that he need be prepared to testify regarding the recently released Union of Concerned Scientists Report documenting extensive and widespread political interference with the work of scientists at EPA. Yes!!!

Add to that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the EPA should be regulating CO2 emissions from autos as part of the Clean Air Act, and the U.S. Court of Appeals vacating the EPA’s “Clean Air Mercury Rule,” literally throwing out the EPA’s cap and trade system for mercury, and demanding the EPA set new standards for the coal burning industry within two years. Concurrently, it also vacated the EPA’s “Incinerator Rule.” This bodes exceptionally well for the Chicken Little movement.

The timing is uncanny, but unlike Mr. Albom’s perception of environmental efforts, this past Sunday, for the first time in a very long time, I was optimistic about environmentalism, my faith in America restored. After researching the onslaught against our parks, our air, our water, animals, and their habitat for so long by the Bush/Cheney administration, I finally sensed a real, hardy shove back by the other powers that be, which is American industry and ingenuity. They don’t seem to suffer low self-esteem as a “Chicken Little” crowd at all. Had Mitch written about the “CL” complex a year ago I might have wholeheartedly agreed. But now, all I see is the “greening” of America, like it or not. As for “Chicken Little” calling, sticks and stones…

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All the Power We Need From What Looks Like a Satellite Dish?

I caught the end of a program on the Science Channel tonight that featured Stirling Energy Technologies. Stirling has been around since the 80’s relative to alternative energy sources. Stirling is not selling retail to the public on an individual basis yet, but considering I have a large satellite dish out here in the boonies I would have no problem owning a solar dish in the future.

The FAQ page for Stirling describes: 

Our Solar Dish Stirling system is shaped much like large satellite dishes (approximately 37’ in diameter) and covered with curved mirrors. These solar dishes are programmed to always face the sun and focus that energy on a collector in much the same way that a satellite dish focuses radio waves on a tuner. This collector is connected to a Stirling engine, which uses the thermal power generated by the focused solar energy to heat liquid hydrogen in a closed-loop system. The expanding hydrogen gas creates a pressure wave on the pistons of the Stirling engine, which spins an electric motor creating electricity with no fuel cost or pollution. This technology is referred to as solar thermal or concentrating solar power.

The company also says that at a “power plant producing 1,000 MW, the cost per kWh would be less than ten cents,” and “[o]ne dish on an annual basis can produce 55,000-60,000 kWh of electricity. This is equivalent to the total energy required for 8-10 homes in the U.S.” ChaChing!

Stirling may save the Western part of our country in the future. Right now Stirling is planning a solar field 5 miles square in the desert that will supply the entire city of San Diego with electricity. Of course as more of this type of technology is utilized, the more the engineers can improve and modify, modify, modify. Remember computers back in the 70’s? I used to do keypunch and then worked on a desktop computer in U of M hospital’s personnel dept. The mainframe to those computers back then took up a whole room. We had to type the info on forms with 7 carbon copies first, then input the data too because we couldn’t trust that the system wouldn’t go down and dump everything. The miracle of innovation, and modification is apparent as I type this on my little laptop that I can take anywhere and doesn’t even require a mouse. See what I mean?

The sooner we unleash all the technology that is out there to see what we actually can come up with, the sooner it gets modified down to convenient personal size. Right now it would take 20,000 dishes to equal a coalburner or nuke plant. But with future innovation and modification in no time we could see that number down to hundreds as the size of the equipment is reduced. Better yet our own personal dish, and mini power station no bigger than a small boiler that produces everything we need with absolutely no fuel used or pollution produced to keep us nice and cool as the sun sears on.  Am I taking it too far? I don’t think so.

Read more about Stirling: http://www.stirlingenergy.com/faq.asp?Type=all

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Earthquake and Tsunami Prevention 101

I’m addicted to the Science Channel. The topic of interest tonight was tsunamis. After the one in Indonesia that killed a quarter million people it should be of interest to everyone who lives on a coast somewhere. There are many shifting plates around the world known for their activity that can cause earthquakes. I had no idea how many there really are. There is a Eurasian-African plate, Indian Australian plate, the Alpine plate, Caribbean plate, a lot of plates for a lot of earthquakes.

Australia is particularly concerned. It seems the most likely place a tsunami will hit as it has before is the East Coast of Australia where sits Sydney. There is a huge public beach there with thousands of beachgoers in the summer season. A simulated video showed how a Tsunami like that in Indonesia would travel up an inlet there and really cause trouble because the coastline is lined with boulders. Imagine a wall of water coming at you full of boulders. If the water doesn’t kill you the debris does.

Australia has suffered two large tsunamis near Sydney and a bunch of small ones in the past. Earthquakes along the Alpine Fault next to New Zealand are to blame. Earthquakes there happen every 500 years and guess what’s overdue? It was stated that just because it hasn’t happened does not mean it’s not going to. It means it will really be big when it does. Sounds like giving birth doesn’t it?

Hawaii has been hit by tsunamis in the past also. But now Hawaii has the NOAA Tsunami Warning Center to give notice as soon as possible. But will it be soon enough? Right now Dr. Stephen Hickman, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Society is involved with drilling down and across the San Andreas Fault off of San Francisco in order to secure seismic meters there in an attempt to have the earliest warning possible of any and all earthquakes. I was reading more about this project on the Southern California Earthquake Center website and the author, part of a film crew, says he was standing on the drilling platform of the SAFOD or San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth project when an earthquake hit. Now that’s reporting firsthand. It was a 6.0 and the comment was that this was probably ‘the most well-recorded earthquake in history.’

It’s an interesting and humorous story, and quite a fluke that the author was actually there on top of the quake shaking violently on the drilling platform. This is quite a new and innovative project, but in the end may save millions of people if it can forecast big and small, upcoming quakes, and broadcast threats of any resulting tsunamis. I wonder how or who is placing those seismic meters in the tunnels? Considering what happened, not a good job to have. Kind of like putting the first construction cone out on the highway.

http://www.scec.org/education/041007parkfield.html
 

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New Campaigns Look to Secure Federal Funds for Training for Green Jobs

Ever since I watched the series “Eco Tech” on the Science Channel I’ve been optimistic about going green in America relative to a new economy, one that most of America desperately needs. Along with thousands of other Americans who are embracing a new future, and huge corporations like GE that is having trouble keeping up with wind turbine demands, I see very little drawbacks to forging ahead in the world of green. I’ve listed all the positives before and it appears that others are trying to put all those positives into action.

An Oakland, California based human rights activist named Van Jones is seeing the future in green also. He believes it will be power for the people by the people, that there is a need in the green industry for blue collar workers redubbed “green collar.” Jones says, ‘Polar bears, Priuses, and Ph.D.s aren’t going to do it alone’ according to an article about him in Time magazines Dec. 3rd, 07 issue called “Bring Eco-Power to the People.” Green jobs need to find a way to expand to the rest of the economy.

Jones is a Yale educated lawyer who founded the Ella Baker Ctr. for Human Rights in Oakland. He sees the need to: ‘Give the work that most needs to be done to the people who most need the work.’ This man is figuring that many unemployable workers could easily be retrained for green jobs like installing solar panels, organic gardening, and green construction.

The article says that a study by the “Cleantech Network, which tracks green investment, found that for every $100 million in green venture capital, 250,000 new jobs could be created.”  Jones along with Majora Carter recently started a campaign called GREEN FOR ALL to secure one billion in government funding to train a quarter-million workers in green fields. Carter says in the article: “We’re looking for an environmental Marshall Plan for the 21st century.” Jones sees this as a way to reunite a very separated left and right. He wholeheartedly believes in bringing together the business, tech, and racial-justice communities. From that there will be no more blue and red division in America. We’ll all be working toward the green.

This is not the only article I’ve read about future green collar jobs. My husband’s skilled trades paper had an article about union trades people volunteering their own time to help learn as they constructed an environmental house with Lawrence Tech students for the Solar Decathlon 2007. The interest in green is there, but as the article stated, global warming must relinquish its narrow focus as just an existential threat and embrace the new look of an “enormous economic opportunity.”

Read my blog on Eco Tech if you haven’t done so. If you ever get a chance to catch the weeklong series again please do. There are green companies and inventions in place and ready to go. An example: Centia which plans on mass producing jet fuel from the thick grease, some 4 billion lbs. of it, discarded annually by restaurants. It is indistinguishable from the real stuff at only $2.23 per gallon, and creates far less pollution while eradicating the greasy, gobby stuff. And like Jones’s idea, another company RWA employs the homeless and unemployable to collect the grease for Centia. I’m waiting for Centia or RWA stock. Another company that is set to purify water from sewage came up with the same figure of 250,000 for new jobs in a green economy just to start.

Going green does not mean doom and gloom for the world’s economy, just ask Germany, the world’s leader in going green and quickly.  It’s a time of great opportunity because it is a time of great need. Every country must utilize their most ingenious, most intelligent citizenry for new invention, but there will still be the need for everyday people to finance, layout, truck, construct, assemble, and create those new ways to power the world.  It is truly “power for the people by the people.”

http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/?p=120

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1686811,00.html

To hear interviews with green movement leaders goto: time.com/going green also.

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Why is Natural Gas Priced So High?

Over the weekend a discussion about prices of natural gas came up. Why is natural gas so high priced? It isn’t a petroleum by-product or anything. And we’re supposed to have plenty of the stuff. Well by time I looked everything up, it turns out we have a natural gas shortage on the way. Production of natural gas has been declining for a while. Hurricane Katrina didn’t help the offshore drilling for natural gas in the gulf either.

What I found while looking to find why natural gas prices are high is that most of our power plants are fueled with natural gas. So when we use electric, natural gas is used in massive amounts by that industry. An article in Rolling Stone about all types of fossil fuels stated: 

 American natural-gas production is also declining, at five percent a year, despite  frenetic new drilling, and disasters at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and the  acid-rain problem, the U.S. chose to make gas its first choice for electric-power  generation. The result was that just about every power plant built after 1980 has to  run on gas. Half the homes in America are heated with gas. To further complicate  matters, gas isn’t easy to import. Here in North America, it is distributed through a  vast pipeline network. Gas imported from overseas would have to be compressed at  minus-260 degrees Fahrenheit in pressurized tanker ships and unloaded (re-gasified)   at special terminals, of which few exist in America. Moreover, the first attempts to  site new terminals have met furious opposition because they are such ripe  targets for terrorism.

Not good. I also caught an article about Conoco Phillips being prepared to fund a new natural gas pipeline off the north slope of Alaska through Canada to us down here. It would cost over 30 billion dollars. But it wasn’t clear the route they plan to take and the environmental impact this pipeline would make. The article made it appear CP wasn’t concerned with government funding for the project, which usually means they can circumvent any major regulations, by the government.

The NRDC had an article particularly about any proposed pipelines for natural gas out of Alaska. Are they on their toes or what? Until everyone gets the details of just how Conoco Phillips plans on building this pipeline and through where, everyone needs to rethink yet another unrenewable fuel.

Despite everything I read, our demands are so high that if the energy source is not renewable on a mass scale, we are just buying ourselves a quick fix not a cure. Read all the articles below. They each give a perspective. I can see that there just may be an alternative in the mix that will keep the environment safe, offer a tremendous service that will give us enough natural gas until we come up with a permanent fix, not to mention a lot of jobs will be created for that pipeline. It’s little too early to tell if this is a good feasible idea.

I know I like to stay warm in the winter, and prefer gas because I live in the country. My mother always said to have a gas stove in the country. You will always have food and warmth if the power fails. We also have a wall unit with no electronics. If the pilot is on, I have heat even without electricity.  But I’m hoping that with so many incredible advances I’ve seen and read about, we might not need a pipeline anytime soon. I have to think that maybe by time that pipeline is finished, it could end up being an outmoded energy solution. What I do know is that we better get moving on something we can all live with well into the future.

http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/7203633/the_long_emergency

http://www.nrdc.org/air/energy/rep/chap3.asp.

http://enews.earthlink.net/article/bus?guid=20071130/4750ea50_3ca6_1552620071201-448662628.
 

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Green Investment Stocks Website

I’ve been interested in investing in “green” business and/or stocks but didn’t know who or where to look for these particular type of stocks and ran into this great website, InvestorIdeas.com, that lists almost 400 “green” stocks in 16 categories. There are a handful of mutuals featured too.

Every company listed is an active link and has a little description and history about the company. I especially liked the categories. Already people have preferences. I know I lean toward hydrogen fuel cell technology and yup it’s a category. There is the basic solar, wind, geothermal, and hydrogen technologies along with biogas, ethanol, and clean power plants to the companies that supply parts like turbines and flywheels.

So there are a lot of choices out there already. I guess I lean toward hydrogen fuel cells because Daimler-Chrysler was the company that supplied Iceland with their first commercial hydrogen buses back in 2003, and recently GM said that was an avenue they will pursue. Just yesterday I saw the commercial for Honda’s new fuel cell car that emits only “clean water vapor.” Hydrogen is on its way. If you ever get a chance to catch the Eco Tech series on the Science Channel watch for the engineer that invented hydrogen pellets that supply power on demand. He commented that we may be putting pellets in our tanks before long.

While I don’t know about that one, automakers are leaning toward hydrogen. Hopefully we will utilize hydrogen power and clean our water in the process. Now I would like a piece of that!

Check out this informative investment website: http://www.renewableenergystocks.com/Companies/RenewableEnergy/Stock_List.asp.
 

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Google Investing in the “Green”

Google announced it would spend millions of dollars annually in search of alternative energy sources like geothermal, solar, and wind power. And no they aren’t doing it for the money, or the power. Google is worth $208 billion and has no debt. Boy I wish I would have caught that wave. Anyway the guys at Google have at least $13 billion in loose change to play with and why not? They earnestly want to slow climate change with alternative sources as cheap as coal within 10 years.

Google also plans to cut or offset its greenhouse gas emission by 2008. Joining Google is Yahoo and News Corp. If this chain reaction keeps occurring, it will really add up. There are many corporations and businesses with a conscience that are really trying to contribute like Google. I’ve run across more and more articles about businesses looking to both cut emissions and find ways to incorporate alternative energy into their daily usage. I already blogged about business pushing the environmental movement. Many are doing so because of the high cost of fuel. It worked for me. A few changes and I lowered my gas and electric bill combined to $114, $115, and finally to $103 this summer. I didn’t suffer for it either.

Meanwhile Silicon Valley is filled with start up companies working on green energy. After watching a week of Eco Tech with batteries made from viruses, and hydrogen on demand pellets, I’m keeping my eye on what comes out of Silicon Valley. Not long ago investing in anything technical was very profitable. Like I said, I wish I caught the Google wave early. Now is a very good time to keep an eye on the stock market for signs of “green.” I can’t find too terribly many things wrong with going green along with the opportunity to watch some really great inventors come forward. It’s exciting to work toward such a noble goal, to slow global climate change. Whenever there is purpose, there is passion and that usually results in amazing innovation. 

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Techie Venture Capital Flowing Into Alternative Energy Technologies

I just read an interesting article in U.S. News and World Report called “Power Revolution.” It says that due to Silicon Valley’s money, ideas, and push for alternative sources of energy they may make the green movement happen faster and with better alternatives. Vinod Khosla, founder of Sun Microsystems and venture capitalist, is one that is interested in promoting alternative energy now. He believes the government will move when entrepreneurs get interested and start moving. One estimate shows venture capital funds for green investments tripled last year to $2.4 billion working toward a clean future.

In the solar arena, there is Pacific Gas and Electric that announced it will install 5 times the amount of solar power available in the U.S. Their motto is cheaper, bigger, and faster. One of its partners, Solel, an Israeli firm will use mirrors much like the Kramer Junction solar plant, but PG&E is looking to reduce the silicon used for conductivity down to an ultra thin film. It will lower costs. The plan is to concentrate the energy reflected by the mirror film to one point. By increasing the energy and lowering the cost, the flat lands of the desert should provide enough solar resource to provide six times what California uses today.

One of the most promising renewable energy sources is one that isn’t often mentioned–deep geothermal heat. And how do you like this?  Bush’s Crawford ranch is heated this way. He’s killing us with his thrust for more oil exploration, and more money in his civilian pocket, but uses geothermal energy himself. Anyway, MIT is working on improving this technology. Cold water is pumped down miles into the earth causing fissures in hot molten rock; the cold water is heated when it enters the fissures. The heated fluid flows back up to the production wells at the surface. The steam from this hot fluid is separated and used to turn a turbine generator. The article said that MIT stated it “could provide 10% of the U.S. base energy needs if the nation would spend $1 billion on its development over the next 15 years—less than the cost of one coal plant.” Hear that DTE?

As far as keeping ethanol in the equation, everyone pretty much agrees corn isn’t going to cut it. But, Range Fuels, founded by Khosla, received Dept. of Energy grants to make cellulosic ethanol fruition soon. A new commercial plant is set to go up outside a Georgia forestland in order to use all the timber waste wood. Range plans on using heat and pressure to change the wood into gas. Range’s senior exec used to be a VP for Apple Computer. Techies aren’t just providing capital; they’re on the job too.

Finally, not to be left out of the successful techie trek to the renewable energy market is Google. Google is sticking its money into plug-in hybrid cars. Google figures this is the quickest fix to lower our CO2 problem.  It has a lofty goal of getting 100 mpg out of some cars. They want to see the big automakers mass produce plug-ins. From a program that I saw on Eco Tech on the Science Channel, there is the possibility that a plug in car can have a spare charge. When it’s plugged into an outlet again, the excess power goes back to the grid and shows up as a credit on the homeowners electric bill! That’s just too ingenius!

For the whole article: http://www.usnews.com/articles/business/economy/2007/10/26/power-revolution.html.
 

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