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a convenient truth documentary review

Submitted by Dax on Thu, 2008-11-13 12:34

This was an amazingly uplifting documentary to watch. A Convenient Truth is about a city in Brazil called Curitiba, which is one of the most livable cities in the world. They look at various aspects of the city and show how they made them not only environmentally friendly and people friendly but also without using much money. Their ideas have since been used in various cities around the world.

I won't go into great detail but here is summary of some of the things I remember. The public transport system uses buses, which have their own dedicated lanes. This results in a bus stopping at the bus stops every minute (in the CBD). It's the quickest way to get around so 60% of the people travel only by public transport. The municipality pays people who live in the favelas (like our townships) for their (separated into recyclable and non) refuse with bus tickets. This has resulted in the whole city being cleaned up by people collecting refuse to hand in for bus tickets. They also employ homeless people to sort the recyclables which are then compacted and sold. The money is used to pay the homeless people and provide them with education and training so that they can find proper employment.

the power of community review

Submitted by Dax on Thu, 2008-11-06 11:52

I never get round to reviewing Hollywood movies I see, not that I watch many of them any way. There just doesn't seem to be much point. Basically all you need to know is the basic plot, who is in it and whether it is worth watching or not. But I love reviewing documentaries, they always provide new information and get one thinking.

Last night I watched The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil and it was very interesting. Peak Oil refers to the time when oil will become scarce and expensive and we will have to change the way we live because of that. When you realise how much of our lifestyle (food, transport, agriculture, etc) relies on oil, you understand the massive changes that will have to take place.

It's hard for us to predict how this will happen, but Cuba has already experienced it because of the embargo against it. In previous years they relied on the USSR, but when that fell, they had nothing except some Latin American countries to trade with. They had to deal with having almost no oil. It was very interesting to see what happened.

green transport for ct city bowl – phase 1 of the rapid transport system goes ahead

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2008-10-30 11:30

Great news for the thousands of people who live and work in the city bowl!

Tamboerskloof, Oranjezicht, Vredehoek, Gardens and the central station, V&A Waterfront, Long Street, Sea Point and Hout Bay will all be serviced soon by the new integrated rapid transport bus system, which was announced in May this year by Helen Zille.

The R1.3-billion ($130-million) phase 1A will link Cape Town International Airport and the inner city with the Green Point stadium precinct, in time for the 2010 world cup. The neighbourhoods and destinations above are regarded as ‘key destinations’ and nearby residential areas, for the first phase.

Phase 1A will also reach out to high-density residential areas and low-income communities up the west coast, including...

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greening it up – solar powered rickshaws, rooftop gardens & the financial crisis pales by comparison to the nature crunch

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2008-10-20 11:19

Solar-powered rickshaws take to India’s streets. The eco-friendly machine was greeted with applause by Delhi's 500,000 impoverished rickshaw pullers, many of whom work 12-hour days for as little as £2.50. The new solar-powered rickshaw can reach a top speed of 16 kilometres and keep going for about 64 kilometres before needing recharging. [dailymail]

Power stations in SA not on land zoned for that purpose. The farm Duynefontein, on which Koeberg Nuclear Power station is built, was not rezoned when the power station was built and retains its rural zoning. Further, it appears that no power stations in South Africa are on land that had been rezoned for that purpose. Now Eskom has applied to the City of Cape Town to rezone the land. [IOL]

Think the economic crisis is bad? It’s petty by comparison to the nature crunch, says Monbiot. As we goggle at the fluttering financial figures, a different set of numbers passes us by. On Friday, Pavan Sukhdev, the Deutsche Bank economist leading a European study on ecosystems, reported that we are losing natural capital worth between $2 trillion and $5 trillion every year, as a result of deforestation alone. []...

sa solar challenge video: japanese tokai university's leading team

Submitted by turbosprout on Fri, 2008-10-03 15:05

John from Zoopy interviews SA Solar Challenge 2008 leaders. Professor Hide ki Kimura, a professor in the electrical engineering faculty at Tokai University, and Ken jiro Ski

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solar powered car challenge leaves cape town

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2008-10-02 16:29

Japanese Tokai University: in the lead (more pics below)Japanese Tokai University: in the lead (more pics below)The solar powered vehicles arrived in Cape Town on the 30th Sept and left the Mother City this morning as part of the round-the-country South African Solar Challenge 2008.

We managed to get a quick peek last night as the cars were displayed at Century City's Canal Walk shopping centre near the MTN Sciencentre for the best part of yesterday. Some of the crew were working feverishly last night to get the cars ship-shape for today's leg of the race.

When the solar powered car challenge was announced last year it was expected that a field of forty competitors would take part; twenty from SA and twenty international teams. This unfortunately dwindled down to only 6 teams entering, three local ones and a Malaysian, Indian and Japanese team. By yesterday evening there were only two teams actually competing - the South African Divwatt team and the Japanese Tokai University team. Ian from Divwatt told me that the Japanese team was leading by far, but he was very proud of Divwatt's second position!

The Tokai University's car is able to reach speeds of

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sa's electric car joule: official pics

Submitted by turbosprout on Wed, 2008-10-01 00:00

Joule:: look at those curvesJoule:: look at those curvesDevelopment of South Africa's first battery-operated electric car has been kept strictly under wraps, but a few weeks ago some journalists were given a sneak peak. An IOL journalist let the cat out of the bag ahead of the media embargo (and urban sprout and others unwittingly took up on the story), but as of today it's official: private SA company Optimal Energy has unveiled a full electric vehicle named the Joule and it will be presented to the public at the Paris Motor Show in a few days time.

We're proud to release these never-seen-before pics (more after the jump).

The zero emission Joule is a six-seater MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) and Cape Town based Optimal Energy has spent over two years and R50-million in funding from the National Research Foundation's innovation fund developing the car.

According to IOL a working prototype was given a spin by Minister of Science and Technology, Mosibudi Mangena, at the Killarney Race Track nearly three weeks ago. "This car is simply gorgeous, and many of us would love to drive it", the Minister said.

SA's first electric car is designed by SA-born Keith Helfet, designer of the iconic Jaguar XJ-220 supercar - which was for a time the world's fastest car - and the XK-180 and F-Type Concept cars.

Kobus Meiring, head of Optimal Energy, and formerly of Denel Aviation and the Sutherland African Large Telescope project, said

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greening it up – future milk bottles, solar power for india, plug-in hybrids & more…

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2008-09-23 13:26

The future milk bottle – made from recycled paper. The GreenBottle has developed a green solution to milk containers, to replace plastic milk bottles. The outer shell is made from recycled paper, which can be further recycled, or if left will simply decompose within a matter of weeks. Greenbottle consumes about a third of the energy used to make a plastic bottle and has a carbon footprint that is 48% lower than plastic. Now all we need is a local version… [ecolibris] via [hugg]

Plug-in hybrids the way to go? Hybrid engines like those used in the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, or Ford Escape use a combination of petrol and electric power. Plug-in hybrids, on the other hand, use electric power for a range of thirty to sixty miles, and rely on a combination of petrol and electric power for longer trips. Chelsea Sexton, a former GM employee featured in Who Killed the Electric Car? who promoted the electric EV1 until it was discontinued, says that plug-in hybrids are "the best of both worlds" between hybrids and electric cars. [alternet]...

president gets on his bike

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2008-09-22 09:32

Whilst our country’s president has been sent packing, President Lee Myung-Bak exhibited the type of humility seldom seen by leaders anywhere and rode his bicycle to work this morning, whilst commuters took public transport for free, in South Korea’s bid to help the environment.

Today is World Car Free Day – an annual global movement to encourage us to try and live without cars. It’s become a tradition in a number of cities to celebrate with street parties, mass bicycle rides and free public transport. The idea behind it is to show “… how liveable modern cities can be when free from the noise, stress and pollution caused by cars”. Around the planet, there are an estimated 600 million personal vehicles driving around. Each litre of petrol used by a car produces 2.3 kg of carbon dioxide; the average 4x4 or bakkie emits around 8.2 tons over a year…

peugeot's hybrid racer for le mans

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2008-09-18 13:36

Peugeot 908 HYPeugeot 908 HYPeugeot unveiled a hybrid diesel-electric powered racer at the final round of this season’s Le Mans Series. Based on the existing 908 HDi FAP racer, it was shown off to packed grandstands at Silverstone this past weekend.

The hybrid, called the Peugeot 908 HY, features a similar kinetic energy recovery system to that which will be allowed in next year's Formula 1 series.

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest – the organisers of the Le Mans Series – announced a raft of aerodynamic and air-intake changes to 2009's regulations to even out the advantages of diesel over petrol over the weekend. Unfortunately for Peugeot, no plans were announced to incorporate hybrid powertrains in the 2009 season.

Nevertheless Peugot will enter the 908 HY into next years Series as a "Double Oh" class non-competitor to evaluate the car's hybrid technology.

"As a car manufacturer we can use motor sport as a research and development tool for the Peugeot brand as a whole," said Michel Barge, Peugeot Sport’s director. "Running a hybrid car in endurance racing would give Peugeot a chance to gain extremely valuable experience that would benefit the development of production cars."

The hybrid setup comprises three key elements:

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