Rate of environmental degradation puts life on Earth at risk, say scientists

Sunburst over the Mojave Desert

Sunburst over the Mojave Desert

“Humans are ‘eating away at our own life support systems’ at a rate unseen in the past 10,000 years by degrading land and freshwater systems, emitting greenhouse gases and releasing vast amounts of agricultural chemicals into the environment, new research has found.”

This is from two studies, published in Science and Anthropocene Review.  An article on the studies can be found at The Guardian.

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Air Source Heat Pumps — Water Heating

(This is an expanded version of an article published by Green Energy Times in their Dec. 2012 issue #17)

If you have not heard the term ‘heat pump’ before, you will be soon.  Most people who are familiar with heat pumps associate them with ground-source or ‘geothermal’ systems that move heat from underground into a building using pumped water.  This article is about a much less familiar, less expensive and rapidly growing family of technologies called air source heat pumps (ASHP’s).

Heat pumps are actually quite common and include refrigerators and air conditioners.  They collect heat in one space and deliver it to another through the use of special fluids, a compressor and usually a fan.  The fluids are designed to evaporate within tubes in the space to be cooled, and condense in tubes in the space to be heated, all made possible through certain laws of thermodynamics. Continue reading

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Oyster Mushroom Cultivation

oyster photo 2 2 copy

Oyster Mushroom Totems in West Brattleboro

In 2012 I learned a new technique for oyster mushrooms from the folks at Field and Forest.  It’s done using large diameter logs cut into 6-8″ lengths and stacked, with a ‘top plate’ about 2″ thick.  It’s called the ‘totem method.’  Spawn is layered between the rounds and the totem is kept moist, one way or another, for as long as possible.

Continue reading

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Air Source Heat Pumps — Space Heating

(This is an expanded version of an article published by ‘Green Energy Times’ in their Oct. 2012 issue, #16)

By Tad Montgomery

Rosenbaum HP Outside

Marc Rosenbaum’s Fujitsu 12RLS single zone ductless ‘mini-split’ heat pump (energysmiths.com)

Most people either have not heard of an air source heat pump (ASHP) or do not know how common they are. Most of us own one or more already, because they include nearly all refrigerators and air conditioners.

Continue reading

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Inspiring School Biofuel Project

Soybeanbus copyHere’s a wonderful TED Talk video of a student project on biofuels:


They started without even the benefit of an idea, just an intention.  Through a beautiful process of dialog, building allies and collaboration they enlisted restaurants, grease collectors, a biofuel producer, scientists, legislators, fuel distributors, and organizations dedicated to helping the poor and came up with a very inspiring project.  I can’t help but wonder how that kind of vision and self-confidence could be engendered in every high school student.

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Cargo Bicycles

Here’s the future of everyday people getting into bicycling.  It’s beautiful.  Dave Cohen is a psychologist here in Brattleboro with a strong inclination towards connecting people with nature.  We had lunch today and talked about his work pushing the culture shift towards bicycles, especially electrical assist cargo bicycles.  He ran a cargo bike transport business in Berkeley for a bunch of years and has recently gotten Burrows Specialized Sports here in town to carry the Yuba Cargo Bikes.  Later in the day he sent me this video link.


I’ve recently been blessed with a new custom bike that was pulled together very gracefully by local mechanic Nik Perry, but more on that on another post.

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The Living Bridges of India

Living BridgeIn the depths of northeastern India, in one of the world’s wettest places, bridges aren’t built — they’re grown.


Imagine working with your daughter or son, maybe your grandchildren, to build something that will last 50 generations?

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The End of Peak Oil?

Building Green logoAlex Wilson of Building Green has recently written an opinion piece disputing the urgency of peak oil.  He believes that all of the new discoveries of oil reserves, from offshore Brazilian fields to recent discoveries in North Dakota, combined with new ‘fracking’ technologies that squeeze more oil from existing fields, have pushed back peak oil by decades, at least.  This is good news for all of those who, with some justification, believed that we were on the precipice of a civilizational collapse with the end of oil.  It is bad news from the perspective of climate change.  We at TM&A have felt that peak oil was overblown for some time, both for the reasons that Wilson documents in his article but also because of energy technologies that we know to be feasible which could dramatically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.  The Energy Amplifier is just one such technology, described in some detail under the Energy section of this website. 

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Lifecycle Effects of Biodiesel

According to the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standards Program Regulatory Impact Analysis, released in February 2010, biodiesel from soy oil results, on average, in a 57% reduction in greenhouse gases compared to petroleum diesel, and biodiesel produced from waste grease results in an 86% reduction. See chapter 2.6 of the EPA report for more detailed information. Continue reading

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Maitake Mushroom Inoculation

It’s high summer, and a good time to inoculate hardwood trees with edible and medicinal mushrooms.  Lately we have been focused on maitake, or ‘hen of the woods’ mushrooms in and around Brattleboro.  This is part of an agro-forestry initiative that we have been engaged in, developing value-added forestry crops.  Maitake have both tremendous culinary value and have been shown to provide substantial health benefits as well with research showing that they boost the immune system and help to combat cancer.

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