Off the Deep End: An inexpert guide to dealing with climate change

This is an ongoing series of blog posts that will make up a majority of this blog for a while. For an explanation of what it’s about, you can check out the initial “announcement” post and the two prefaces, or you can just go to here and find all the posts I’ve made so far in this series. The most recent addition is likely to be either directly beneath this sticky, or not far below whatever IS there.

UPDATE 05/13/2014:
So it looks like weekly is a bit much to expect, given my attempt to maintain careers in science education and fiction writing, at least if I also want to retain my sanity.

That said, another series is upcoming on tiny-scale photovoltaics. Stay tuned!

Recommended reading: Global Weirdness by Climate Central. This book covers what we know about Earth’s climate. Scientists, almost by definition, are always working at the edges of our understanding. They’re more interested in what we DON’T know than anything else in the world, which means that they don’t tend to talk about what we DO know. As a result, a lot of what we hear about from scientists sounds uncertain. This book covers the things that ARE certain, and it’s a good primer in the basics of man-made global warming. It’s a relatively easy read, and well worth your time.

OtDE: Micro solar, episode 2

First impressions:

I ordered the three main components on Amazon:

The PV panel is a Renology 50w “solar starter kit” at $126.99 This comes with a charge controller, mounting brackets and screws, and 20 feet of cable to run from the panel to the charge controller. The 100w kit would have been a better deal per watt at $172.99, but it would not fit in my skylight, so that wasn’t an option for me.

The battery is a generic-seeming 12v battery (billed for scooters, wheelchairs, emergency lighting, and other stuff) at $74.90. This comes with a battery. Electricity goes in, electricity goes out.

The inverter was $65.99, and provides me with two standard U.S. three-prong outlets.

Shipping on all three items was free (the battery and panel advertise free shipping, and the inverter was free thanks to Amazon prime).

I bought these based on no knowledge whatsoever, other than that Amazon said they are frequently bought together.

My goal is to have this be as simple and painless as possible, since I’m not interested in becoming an electrician at the moment.

The immediate dilemma facing me at this point in time is the materials I still need to get, and the particulars of making all the connections. That, and ensuring that there is no way for the household animals (cat and dog) to zap themselves.

In addition to what I have, currently, I need cables to connect the charge controller to the battery, and cables to connect the charge controller to the inverter.

I’m going to seek advice on this, but the inverter DID come with a cigarette lighter adapter to take power from a car, and feed it to the inverter. Given that I do not have a car, and I hope never to have one in the near future, I may cannibalize that adapter to connect the controller to the inverter, but we shall see.

Total cost so far: $266.99

Off the Deep End: Micro solar power

A few months ago, I got ahold of a little extra cash, so I decided to take advantage of the skylight in my apartment, and use it to power a small photovoltaic panel, and see what things I can replace.

The panel has arrived, along with a battery and an inverter so I can plug appliances into it.

Over the next few months, I’m going to document my experience using this system, what I use it for, what I CAN’T use it for, what the ups and downs are, and how I can use it as a platform from which to make other improvements.

I’ll use photos, review the individual pieces, and post exact prices of how much all this costs me so any readers can, if they want, figure out what’s worth copying, and what they could do better or cheaper.

Off the Deep End: What can high school students do?

One of the problems that has confronted every teenager in recent history is that it’s the age at which you are becoming aware of the world around you and the problems in it, but according to the law, you are still a child, and have no power or money to make a difference. While that perception is not entirely true (you DO have the power to make a difference), there are many ways in which it is. Continue reading

Off the deep end: How to make a snowballing climate action fund.

The snowballing climate action fund is a way to start by spending a little money on climate action, and gradually increase the amount you’re able to spend on it by setting aside savings. I’m going to describe it at the level of an individual apartment, but as I’ll explain later, it’s really applicable at any level from individual households, to the entire globe.

The notion is pretty simple, and can be done in a set of easily definable steps. We’ll start with power consumption: Continue reading

Off The Deep End: How can one person influence politics?

In the last section, I talked about how artists and writers can help create a common vision of a better future that seems within reach. When this succeeds, and that vision takes hold, there are a number of reactions, and one of the more common ones is a desire to look at how to make that future a reality. Sure, we have the technology and know-how to create a better society, but do we have the collective will to do so?

Politics, in America, are daunting, to say the least. We live in an increasingly plutocratic society, in which the majority of legislators are far wealthier than the average American, and the cost of running for office seems to get higher with every election. So how can one person, or even a handful of people, make a difference in this arena?

There are a lot of possible answers to that question, so I’m going to start (as is my wont) with my own experience. Continue reading

Off the Deep End: Delayed post.

The downside of having a lot to do is that I have a lot to do. The next chapter will come by the end of Tuesday. Sorry for the delay – I should have time to make future updates ahead of time.

Tomorrow’s update will cover what one person can do REGARDLESS of their artistic or technical abilities.