Happy Holidays…

I want to wish all visitors to this site, those that celebrate Christmas or any other event during these days, a very happy holiday. Myself, this is a cherished opportunity to spend time with my wife and two young daughters, to relax, to reflect on the year and consider the future, and to… well, eat lots of food. I also get a chance to read things other than newspapers and blogs and Internet news sites. I just finished reading John Steinbeck’s classic The Grapes of Wrath and enjoyed it immensely. Talk about struggle and the importance of family. The book also illustrates in great detail how humans, even during the 1930s, can ruin the land and how vulnerable we are to the weather. In a way, the book is also a lesson for conservation during times of struggle. The Joads — the family in the book — let nothing go to waste.

Reading this book, you can’t help but feel tremendously fortunate — and guilty — for the way we live. We are wasteful, parasitic creatures who take far too much for granted.

Another book I just started reading is an advance copy of Joseph Romm’s Hell and High Water, which is about global warming and follows after other works that include The Hype about Hydrogen. The book is officially released on Dec. 26th — Boxing Day — and I expect it will get a lot of coverage. I interviewed Romm before heading away for the holidays and will have a podcast of that interview posted on New Year’s Day, complemented by a Clean Break column that discusses the main points of the book. Unlike The Weather Makers, Romm doesn’t go into great detail discussing the scientific evidence behind global warming — it’s a given as far as he’s concerned. The book seems to focus more on the politics of inaction in the United States and what could be done, if there was the political will, to curb emissions and at least minimize the inevitable damage and devastation to come. I’ll tell you one thing: Romm doesn’t hold any punches or sugarcoat the situation. We’re in deep trouble, as far as he’s concerned, and the U.S. will become a global pariah if it doesn’t wake up and take serious action soon.

One thought on “Happy Holidays…”

  1. Your statement about “Hype About Hydrogen” reminded me of the error in the December Scientific American. The text below was my response to the magazine article:
    There’s a lot of MISinformation about battery cars and batteries. For example, Scientific American got it wrong on Lithium Batteries, Dec 2006 issue
    [below is the text of a Letter To The Editors of Scientific American magazine]
    Dear Editors,
    Thanks for the colored cutaway diagrams of lithium ion and single-use lithium coin batteries in your December ’06 issue, although I’m writing you to respectfully dispute the Scientific American article and the “Battery University” website.
    Several years ago, an energetic scientific Canadian named Larry who runs a photo shop in Vancouver once drowned a non-rechargeable (so-called “primary”) lithium battery, to test the urban legend that they would explode when wet. Well, it didn’t, and one toilet bowl was thankfully spared.
    We were shocked by that initial discovery. Electrified, I continued Larry’s playful experiment, and tossed (grenade-like) batteries in varying depths of water, this time in a weapons-testing grounds, otherwise known as a summer camp. Again, contrary to the manufacturers’ dire warnings, they did not turn into a Fourth of July spectacle that most SA readers would have expected. Thus, I, too became a disbeliever of commandments of fear handed down by the Battery Church.
    Seems like heresy directed at Battery Church, doesn’t it?
    So, being more Densa than Mensa, I and my colleagues proceeded to discount the warnings on batteries totally. Some of us waded into the uncharted waters, real depths of electrolytic solutions and successfully revived every kind of primary batteries, including coin cells.
    By now, the heresy has gone far and wide against the “It’ll explode” orthodoxy, and hundreds of people (not including the viewers of a community TV newscast, that videotaped and showed it) have been shown, by gifted kids, how to revive primary batteries.
    Thousands of dollars of free batteries have already been given away in greater Vancouver, too. Where? Revived primary batteries have also been given away at Perpetual-Motion Inventors and Gadgeteers meetings, as well as other events. Contrary to the Battery Pope’s infallible edict (historically called “Papal Bull”), these recycled batteries didn’t explode or leak.
    Was your writer aware that solar-powered (lithium) coin cell chargers have been sold for many years? I recall a model sold by Real Goods at one time. (That’s a center of energetic heretics, too.)
    Why am I telling you all this? Your article, imho, does a disservice to the battery revivalists around the world (the heretics) engaged in a cottage industry aimed at reducing metals in landfills by allowing the ReUse of batteries, including the just-released Oxyrides. How nasty are small batteries? Mountain Equipment Coop alleges that 50%-70% of all heavy metals in landfills comes from small household batteries.
    And, there’s even a heresy currently aimed at the Battery Church’s papal bull (another infallible edict, eh?) that NiMH batteries are just “deplete” after so many hundred cycles, but that’s another story, one that Battery University got right, since its dean is the manufacturer of one battery-revival machine.
    Thank god, there’s a separation of state-of-charge and the battery church, eh?
    Bottom line is this: Every type of used battery, except lithium ion, has been successfully revived to full power. You’ll likely be Goggling this subject, so here’s a start:
    Rob Matthies
    Vancouver, BC

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