Archive for February, 2013

Sustainability, but how? Think like Turere

February 28, 2013

Save the cattle!  Save the lion!  Predator and prey saved, thanks to the innovative thinking of a 13 year old.

A young boy, entrusted with the task of protecting the family cattle, observed animal behavior and improvised using some material he had access to – LEDs, batteries, wires, and solar panels.

“At the age of 11 Richard decided to do something about his family’s losses. He observed that the lions never struck the homesteads when someone was awake and walking around with a flashlight. Lions are naturally afraid of people. He concluded that lions equate torches with people so he took the led bulbs from broken flashlights and rigged up an automated lighting system of four or five torch bulbs around the cattle stockade.  The bulbs are wired to a box with switches, and to an old car battery charged with a solar panel that operates the family Television set. The lights don’t point towards the cattle, or on any property, but outwards into the darkness. They flash in sequence giving the impression that someone is walking around the stockade.”  Read more about it at AfriGadget

The young boy has since helped neighboring homesteads (bomas?) protect their own cattle.  And, he has been on a TED talk in California.

Followup seems to be at Friends of Nairobi Park.

There are a couple of things I would like to draw attention to: “Now we need help on scaling up this idea.” says the AfriGadget blog.  My thought is, scale for sustainability.   Retain simplicity.  Retain affordability.  Retain employment opportunity.  Retain ‘reuse’ philosophy.

The other thought is back to the lions – if the lions had been finding easy prey, which is now deprived, what would they to find food?  Will their attacks become more aggressive?  Should there be a plan to voluntarily provide occasional cattle as prey so that the lion population does not adapt to these protective measures negatively.

May the chant “Think like Turere” resound everywhere evoking simple sustainable solutions!

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Solar – the next phase

February 14, 2013

Here is what is catching the headlines in the Solar Industry :

Sustainable Business Reports : Hazardous Waste Weighs on Solar Industry’s Footprint

“There’s no comparison between the hazardous waste produced by the solar industry and fossil fuel industries, however. Gas and coal-fired power plants create more than 10 times the amount, according to Mulvaney.

Although solar advocates see this as an issue, they point out that at least this waste goes approved facilities – it doesn’t enter the air and water. In contrast, a coal plant sends all those chemicals straight into the air, which also pollutes the water and land. ”

Associated Press Reports : Solar industry grapples with hazardous wastes

” Fueled partly by billions in government incentives, the industry is creating millions of solar panels each year and, in the process, millions of pounds of polluted sludge and contaminated water.

While there are no specific industry standards, Smirnow, head of the solar industry association, is spearheading a voluntary program of environmental responsibility. So far, only seven of the group’s nearly 81 manufacturers have signed the pledge.

“We want (our program) to be more demanding, but this is a young industry and right now manufacturing companies are focused on survival,” he said.