Prospering from advanced technology

After years of watching the advances of various “green” technologies, now seems like a good time to re-visit an idea one of my old college professors talked about roughly a decade ago.  His idea was simple:  he wanted to build a house that was completely self-sufficient, so he wouldn’t have to pay for or rely on any outside utilities whatsoever.

Of course, it was possible to build such a home even back then.  College professors, along with the overwhelming majority of the rest of us, just didn’t seem to have that kind of money laying around at the time..  In theory, it should be much cheaper to accomplish such a goal at this point–but sadly, the entire scope of the problem has gotten much worse.

While it may not be ideal to get your electricity from the local power grid, there is actually a much more imminent threat to your and my survival lurking in our homes:  our food!

“Average waistlines have swelled roughly an inch every ten years since the 1960s.”

Read more:

On average, produce in this country (the U.S.) travels 1500 miles or more depending on whose statistics you want to use.  Not only are these plants harvested early to keep them fresh for their long journey, they are also saturated with petroleum-based pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and gas fumes along the way.  After they finally arrive on our plates, they have very little nutritional value or flavor left to enjoy.

But not all news in regards to our food supply is bad; the following is a clip taken from “The Food Movement, Rising”, by Michael Pollan:

“..So far at least, Michelle Obama is the food movement’s most important ally in the administration, but there are signs of interest elsewhere. Under Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, the FDA has cracked down on deceptive food marketing and is said to be weighing a ban on the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in factory farming. Attorney General Eric Holder recently avowed the Justice Department’s intention to pursue antitrust enforcement in agribusiness, one of the most highly concentrated sectors in the economy.3 At his side was Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, who has planted his own organic vegetable garden at the department and launched a new “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative aimed at promoting local food systems as a way to both rebuild rural economies and improve access to healthy food…”

Since something like 97% of us rely on the other 3% to grow our food at this point, it seems doubtful that many people would have any interest in growing their own food–yet that is exactly what is happening all across the country, perhaps mainly because it is also a hell of a lot cheaper to grow your own food than buy it at the supermarket these days..

The problem has been that most of us don’t have the time or space to grow enough food to make a difference.  A simple fact, which has suddenly been turned on its ear with the recent advances of various technologies.

Utilizing cheap hydroponic gardens like the one pictured above (click on the photo for more info) can have an immediate and drastic effect on an individual’s health, along with their pocketbook and their carbon footprint.  As advanced hydroponic and aeroponic techniques become more refined, they are sure to play an important role in developing a truly sustainable society.

Getting back to my old professor’s original goal of a self-sufficient home, the solar and wind energy collection systems are not the problem.  The real trick is finding a way to economically store energy for future use.  Chemical batteries are not only harmful to the environment, they are expensive and not well-suited for such applications.

Flywheel technology continues to show promise, however it is in desperate need of major government funding if it is to be scaled up to the sizes necessary for our current power consumption.

Another recent development in the world of energy storage came from a group of researchers in Israel who have developed a battery from a simple potato.

The researchers say the boiled potato battery produces electricity between 5 and 50 times cheaper than its commercial equivalent and is at least six times more economical than kerosene lamps used the world over.

It may still be far-fetched for most of us to imagine being completely independent of government utilities and unsafe food, but there is no doubt that the tools are now available for us to prosper from advanced technologies which are beneficial to us and the environment we still rely so heavily upon for our basic needs.


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