We Can’t Stop Asteroids from Smashing Humanity into Powder

asteroid-killed-the-dinosaurs

With a headline like that, one would think this would be bigger news than anything Kim Kardashian might produce, even trumping what color baby bib little cranky monkey Justin Bieber might be wearing today.  But, you’d be wrong.

Here’s the fact of the matter:  all over Earth right now – scientific organizations, special lobbying groups, NASA, the European Space Agency, et al – are telling lawmakers and news outlets that we need to get a collective effort going to solve the problem of hey, what happens if a global killer asteroid smashes into Earth?  Can we protect ourselves?  After all, apparently it only takes one medium-sized asteroid, something around a kilometer in width.  You saw Armageddon, right?  Billy Bob Thornton’s character makes it perfectly clear what would happen if that big rock in the movie slammed into the ocean – and this is just the movies:

asteroids-coming-again copy

“Even if the asteroid itself hits the water, it’s still hitting land. It’ll flash boil millions of gallons of sea water and slam into the ocean bedrock. Now if it’s a Pacific Ocean impact, which we think it will be, it’ll create a tidal wave 3 miles high, travel at a thousand miles an hour, covering California, and washing up in Denver. Japan’s gone, Australia’s wiped out. Half the world’s population will be incinerated by the heat blast, and the rest will freeze to death from nuclear winter.”

Now, that’s just lines from a movie.  But even for a movie that’s pretty hardcore!  Can you imagine it?  I’ve had some bad days, but that sounds horrible.  Thank goodness it’s only the movies.  Are we actually supposed to entrust Billy Bob Thornton with our astrophysical safety, he was also the “french fried pertaters” guy in Slingblade?!  Of COURSE we are!

asteroids-coming copy

Back in the real world that I live in, I ask myself exactly what might happen if a thousand thousand tons of rock slams into the bedrock of Earth.  In that other movie about asteroids with Morgan Freeman (It’s called Deep Impact, and I hear that many a porno has been modeled after the title), astronauts were able to not exactly save Earth, but they were able to pulverize the asteroid enough so that only a smaller chunk of it smashed into Earth.  Still, that smaller chunk made the seas rise a few hundred feet, created a big tidal wave that made the Atlantic wash up into Tennessee and killing a few hundred million Americans.  But that was still just a movie!  Right?!

Asteroid 433 Eros, a planetary killer discovered in 1898, has a dimension of 34.4 kilometers by 11.2km by 16.84 km.  It's the size of a large midwestern city.

Asteroid 433 Eros, a planetary killer discovered in 1898, has a dimension of 34.4 kilometers by 11.2km by 16.84 km. It’s the size of a large midwestern city.  433 Eros is a potential Earth impactor.

What Do Earth’s Scientists Think?

Scientists are all over the freaking place about this very real issue right now.  Some people are deeply concerned, others think that there’s such a little chance that it would ever happen:

“Right now, based on our survey, we see no national imperative for this nation to be upset or excited about impending doom.”  – James L. Green, Director of NASA‘s Planetary Science Division, on Discovery

Perhaps the most daunting answer to come from the House Science Committee hearing with John Holdren was this:  “An asteroid of that size, a kilometer or bigger, could plausibly end civilization… from the information we have, we don’t know of an asteroid that will threaten the population of the United States.  But if it’s coming in three weeks, pray.”   – White House Science Advisor John Holdren

University of California Santa Barbara physicist Philip M. Lubin thinks we should start small on smaller asteroids first – ones we know are coming:  ““We need to be proactive rather than reactive in dealing with threats. Duck and cover is not an option. We can actually do something about it, and it’s credible to do something. So let’s begin along this path. Let’s start small and work our way up. There is no need to break the bank to start.”

Scientists don’t disagree that something needs to be done.  What they do differ on is how it needs to be done.  Some scientists feel that some sort of projectile, either nuclear or otherwise, should be thrown at the asteroid somehow.  Some think that attaching some kind of “solar sail” or assisted rocket takeoff device on a grand scale would be the best bet.  One scientist even suggests painting the asteroid in order to change the amount of light it reflects.  Others, seriously yet still funny enough, make jokes in Senate hearings about “calling Bruce Willis,” while actual scientists theorize about possibly making a huge laser and reflector work as our asteroid goalkeeper.  Lest we not forget that Bruce Willis was not only an asteroid killer in the movies, but also Died hard a whole bunch of times.  Like, a TON of times.  How many times can you actually die hard?  Maybe he can just tell the asteroid to go f*ck itself while shooting at it.  Since John Holdren pretty much summed our Earth-asteroid defense systems with “if it [an asteroid] comes in the next three weeks, pray,” then maybe some fictional help might not hurt!

asteriods-coming-armageddon

A few of these ideas that scientists are kicking around still in theory format:

Yarkovsky Paint
asteroidpaintingmission

The long and the short of this idea is to change the amount of light that the asteroid emits in IR photos, eventually causing a miniscule “rocket thrust” in one direction.  The article at Wired explains this fantastically:

The Yarkovsky effect works by changing the amount of light an asteroid gives off. As an asteroid rotates, the surface that has been heated by the sun moves away to face space and radiates infrared photons. Though massless, these photons carry away small bits of momentum from the asteroid, essentially generating a tiny rocket thrust in one direction. The effect is very slight but over time can noticeably change an asteroid’s orbit. By making an asteroid lighter or darker, and therefore changing the amount of radiation it absorbs, we could turn up or down this miniscule rocket thrust. It’s a long haul-technique, requiring years, decades, or even centuries of advanced notice to alter an asteroid’s trajectory.

Will it work?  I have no idea.  I don’t think we have “decades or even centuries” to wait it out, though!

DE-STAR, or Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation

de-star

DE-STAR is basically a re-directing and re-purposing of the Sun’s energy into little laser blasts that might be able to either re-direct or completely vaporize an approaching asteroid over the course of a year.  From a post at Popular Science:

Described as a “directed energy orbital defense system,” DE-STAR is designed to harness some of the power of the sun and convert it into a massive phased array of laser beams that can destroy, or evaporate, asteroids posing a potential threat to Earth. It is equally capable of changing an asteroid’s orbit –– deflecting it away from Earth, or into the Sun –– and may also prove to be a valuable tool for assessing an asteroid’s composition, enabling lucrative, rare-element mining. And it’s entirely based on current essential technology.

The DE-STAR team also claims that their system might also be able to push a spacecraft at the speed of light into the unknown.  More on that in another post.

Surfing An Asteroid On Solar Sails

IKAROS-solar-sail

Solar Sails are something that have taken on validity in this race to figure out how to mitigate the asteroid threat.  This would basically consist of a huge solar sail deployed in space, making good use of the ever-present solar pressure that is exerted on objects in space.  From How Stuff Works:

The reflective nature of the sails is key. As photons (light particles) bounce off the reflective material, they gently push the sail along by transferring momentum to the sail. Because there are so many photons from sunlight, and because they are constantly hitting the sail, there is a constant pressure (force per unit area) exerted on the sail that produces a constant acceleration of the spacecraft. Although the force on a solar-sail spacecraft is less than a conventional chemical rocket, such as the space shuttle, the solar-sail spacecraft constantly accelerates over time and achieves a greater velocity.

Interesting.  The principle of solar pressure also kind of tickles me in that special place.  But again, another post for another time.

Potential Impact of Potential Impacts

Watch this – the recent asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, which exploded around 40 miles above the town with the force of 300 Hiroshimas, was 55 feet across, and injured over 1500 people.  This was in a sparsely populated area, so imagine the impact of an asteroid exploding over San Francisco or New York City:

Also, if you have some time (or want to skip through to where John Holdren tells the Senate Committee that if an asteroid comes to NYC in the next three weeks that we can only pray), check out John Holdren’s Senate Hearing en toto.  It’s actually pretty interesting right off the bat — it might also be interesting to hear the almost comical questions and answers from our elected legislators to these scientists presenting scary information to Congress, not to mention the entire House Science Committee turning every answer of these scientists into how much it would cost and all of the interrupting that these scientists had to endure:

Thanks to:
Mother Jones
Daily Mail
Red Orbit
Space Politics
The Register
NBC’s Cosmic Log
Wikipedia on Asteroid Impact Avoidance

Saturday for Sustainability News

There are so many stories out there in my newsreader today about sustainability in energy production that it’s difficult to parse them all without talking about every single one.  But if I did that, I cold have neither A) Laura or B) a life, so I have to sometimes cull the massive amount of information into manageable little chunks.  My buddy Greg told me once:

How do you eat an elephant?  One spoonful at a time.

Here’s some spoonfuls of elephant that we all need to see:

Glut of Solar Panels is a Good Thing

solar-cleantechnica

From CleanTechnica, is the market’s complete over-saturation of Solar Panels actually a good thing for the market?

US Residential Solar Financing to Reach $5.7 Billion by 2016

res-tpo-providers

The fact that residential solar financing is expected to reach into the near six billion dollar mark in the US alone should warrant some jubilation.  Right?  GreenTech Solar thinks so.

President Obama:  ‘We Must Do More on Climate Change’

obama-climate-change

Another one from CleanTechnica, Obama stated that we must do more on climate change.  But he slipped the word “pipeline” in there.  We’re to assume that Obama means the Keystone XL Pipeline; are we also to assume he;s going to cave to Big Oil like he did Big Pharma?

As a side note, Consumer Energy Report also did a nice article on Obama’s climate change talk, well worth the read.

Hydro Beats Coal and Nuclear, Which Beat Oil and Natural Gas Plants, says A Recent Study

arguments-against-cartoon

This article is awesome, from Next Big Future.  It’s to a PDF link of a study talking about different scenarios for environmental stability.  It’s extremely nerdy, but that’s what you should expect here!
(thanks to TreeHugger for the photo!)

And now, time to sit and enjoy life with my wife.  I swear I am going to get that right this time.

How to Get Anything Through TSA’s Nude Body Scanners?

Oh my.

I’ve been pretty critical of the TSA and the Millimeter Wave technology in the past, but I’m nothing like this guy – this man took it upon himself to prove that Millimeter Wave tech doesn’t work.  Check this out:

This video is here to demonstrate that the TSA’s insistence that the nude body scanner program is effective and necessary is nothing but a fraud, just like their claims that the program is safe (radiation what?) and non-invasive (nude pictures who?). This video is not intended to teach anyone how to commit criminal acts, nor is intended to help “the terrorists” — if I could figure this out, I’m sure they’ve long figured it out, and by exposing it to the public, we now have an opportunity to correct it. The scanners are now effectively worthless, as anyone can beat them with virtually no effort. The TSA has been provided this video in advance of it being made public to give them an opportunity to turn off the scanners and revert to the metal detectors. I personally believe they now have no choice but to turn them off.

Please share this video with your family, friends, and most importantly, elected officials in federal government. Make sure they understand that your vote is contingent on them fixing the abuse that 200,000 passengers face from the TSA on a daily basis.

Crazy.  How do you feel now?

(Also, I wonder how long before I get the dreaded ‘SSSS‘ on my boarding passes…)

A Guide to the Lamp Phase-Out

I have mixed feelings about this subject, but it’s important to spread the news about what’s going down and how it’s gonna go down with respect to this incandescent phase-out happening in our time.  Sylvania has an awesome guide to this phase-out, showing the whats and the whens of this thing.  Check it out here.  Also, Sylvania’s website has a link to some of the political and law items of this phase-out.  It’s worth a look.

Click on the image, it opens up full-size.  Also, check out the PDF from whence it came.

Lemme just ask you this:  knowing what we know about how the government is handling things right now, do we really want them messing in what we use to see?

SOPA and PIPA, FAH Q from JOL

Today is a pretty interesting day in political history.  Today is the day that Reddit goes black from 8am to 8pm EST to protest the Protect IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act.  This is also the day that a hearing is taking place about these two bills being pushed through Congress – and there are a lot of amazing brains testifying today in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about how these two bills are going to kill the Internet as we know it.

From an article in The Hill, House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa:

“An open Internet is crucial to American job creation, government operations, and the daily routines of Americans from all walks of life,” Issa said. “The public deserves a full discussion about the consequences of changing the way Americans access information and communicate on the Internet today.”

Also, from an article at Ars Technica, Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro:

“The bill attempts a radical restructuring of the laws governing the Internet,” said CEO Gary Shapiro. “It would undo the legal safe harbors that have allowed a world-leading Internet industry to flourish over the last decade. It would expose legitimate American businesses and innovators to broad and open-ended liability. The result will be more lawsuits, decreased venture capital investment, and fewer new jobs. The significant potential harms of this bill are reflected by the extraordinary coalition arrayed against it. Concerns about SOPA have been raised by Tea Partiers, progressives, computer scientists, human rights advocates, venture capitalists, law professors, independent musicians, and many more. Unfortunately, these voices were not heard at today’s hearing.”

One more poignant one, from Representative Zoe Lofgren, regarding the expert opinion letter that she asked Dr. Leonard Napolitano, Internet Security Expert and the Director of the Sandia National Laboratories’ Center for Computer Sciences and Information Technologies to write on the SOPA and PIPA mess:

“This analysis from one of our nation’s top cybersecurity experts is the definitive word that this legislation would undermine Internet security efforts and would harm the Internet. Dr. Napolitano and his team are tasked with securing our cyber infrastructure. Their assessment as experts at our national lab gives us the final answer as to whether these bills would endanger our security. They would.” 

You know, this affects us all.  If you use the Internet, if you’re reading this message, the SOPA and PIPA affect you.  If you like JimOnLight.com (which, quite frankly low on the totem of importance in this issue), this affects you.  As PIPA is written now, if we were to post even a link to something on the site and someone disagreed with me linking to them or to their content, they could just sue us, and then block the site from the web.  How far are we all gonna let this go, folks?

Watch this:

Then check this out – from AmericanCensorship.org:

Where do YOU stand?  How do you like your internet?

Are you FOR or AGAINST the SOPA and PROTECT IP Act?

  • Against (93%, 14 Votes)
  • For (7%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 15

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Here are some additional resources on SOPA and PIPA – get yourself informed.  Ignorance is not an option or an excuse, not anymore.

Thanks to Questionable Topic for the photo!

Canadians Also Get Skin Cancer in Tanning Beds

It’s a not-so-funny thing, this whole skin cancer and tanning beds thing that’s been going on since the advent of tanning beds and human vanity.  Actually, way way way before that – we humans have been sunbathing for millennia, too, to satisfy our vanity.  I always found it amazing to ask the question, “how many of you use tanning beds?” in my Stage Lighting classes.  Showing research in class about the dangers of tanning beds was always a wide-eye-opening experience for some of my students, but there are some who don’t really give a sh*t what you say about it because Vanity Fair is too deeply engrained in their young dancer brains.

I digress.  Not even the initial point of the article, really, but that I Can Has Cheezburger photo was too, too funny.  Oh well I suppose, when chickens can’t come in out of the rain, what are we really supposed to do?

So in Canada right now there is a conservative member of Canadian Parliament who is pushing to ban the use of tanning beds by people under 18, and to add warning labels to the beds.  Canadian MP James Bezan introduced the bill this week – from the press release at James Bezan’s website:

Ottawa, ON – James Bezan, Member of Parliament for Selkirk-Interlake, today tabled a Private Member’s Bill (PMB) in the House of Commons to combat harmful radiation from tanning beds. The bill is designed to promote consumer awareness about the cancer risks of tanning especially for youth under 18 years of age.

“Too many Canadians remain unaware of the cancer risks from tanning and artificial tanning,” said Mr. Bezan. “My bill will help protect Canadians against this hidden health risk by introducing tougher labelling requirements on tanning beds and by prohibiting youth under18 years of age from using tanning beds.”

The bill requires that current radiation warning labels on tanning beds explicitly state that tanning equipment can cause cancer and may be carcinogenic.   In addition to having warning labels affixed to the tanning equipment this bill will require that large warning labels also to be placed in all commercial establishment providing artificial tanning.

Mr. Bezan stated there is good evidence to suggest that tougher labeling is needed.

“According to a 2007 study, 87% of tanning salons radiation warning labels could not be seen,” said Mr. Bezan. “Canadians need to know that the cancer risks are too high from using tanning beds.”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization has classified tanning beds in their highest cancer risk category, calling tanning beds “carcinogenic to humans.”  They recommended that youth under 18 years of age avoid use of tanning equipment.

Both the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) and Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) recommend that persons under the age of 18 be prohibited from using indoor tanning salons. 

In 2011, approximately 5,500 Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer and 950 will die of it.  Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common form of cancer among Canadians, with 74,000 cases expected to be diagnosed during 2011.

Mr. Bezan said the inspiration for this bill came from a personal experience with his wife, who was diagnosed with two melanomas over several years.

I’m sorry to hear that repeated experiences with the MP’s wife and her diagnosed melanomas had to catalyze this attempt to throw the kibosh on underage tanning, but frankly and honestly no I’m not if it stopped her and other people from tanning in a tanning bed.  If it was tanning beds that caused the MP’s wife’s melanomas, then she’s lucky that her poor choices didn’t end up in her death from cancer.  I’ve reported on the dangers of tanning/sun beds a good handful of times on JimOnLight.com, and each and every time I get a mix of emails from readers and surfers about how either A) we’re totally right on because tanning beds are bad; B) we’re totally wrong about tanning beds and I should keep my #$%^$%^& mouth to myself.  I even got an email back in 2009 from an advocate for a tanning bed manufacturer asking me to take down my opinions on the subject.  Yeah, I’m not doing that.

Mr. Bezan is a lucky guy.  He has a beautiful wife and three beautiful daughters.  None of the four of them look like they need a tan.  Here’s why – because you don’t need a tan from a tanning bed or hours in the sun to be sexy.  Ladies (and many men too, I aspire to be thin and awesome soon!), you have beautiful bodies and there is no need to put yourself into cancer jeopardy in order to impress some douche who won’t pay attention to you unless you’re the color of a decorative autumn squash.  This is fundamentally flawed.  Our visions of ourselves cannot be so occluded that we will do this to ourselves, people.  This is crazy – the obsession with vanity, it’s gonna lead to your death.

Right now in Nova Scotia, you have to be 19 to tan, and 18 in Victoria, BC.  In Nova Scotia, for example, there is something called the Tanning Bed Act which curbs the use of such equipment and regulates their usage.  From the Doctors of Nova Scotia website on the Tanning Bed Ban:

The Tanning Bed Act [a PDF link, only 3 pages, check it out] which governs the use of artificial tanning devices, went into effect on June 1, 2011.  Doctors Nova Scotia, along with partners such as the Canadian Cancer Society, Cancer Care Nova Scotia and Sun Safe Nova Scotia Coalition, lobbied government to ban tanning beds for use by youth.

Doctors Nova Scotia made its stand on artificial tanning during its 2010 annual conference when doctors voted to lobby government to ban the use of artificial tanning devices for youth.

Banning tanning beds for youth is an important step in reducing rates of skin cancer in the province.  Overexposure to solar ultraviolet radiation has long been known to increase the risk of skin cancer. In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer reclassified artificial UV radiation (tanning beds) to a Group 1 category (carcinogenic to humans). This is the same categorization used for tobacco.

One in three cancers worldwide is skin-related. The highest rates are found in countries with fair-skinned populations with strong tanning cultures. Canada falls into this category.

The known consequences of excessive UV exposure include:

  • skin cancers
  • eye damage
  • premature skin aging
  • reduced effectiveness of the immune system, possibly leading to a greater risk of infectious diseases

Several organizations around the world have established position statements discouraging the use of artificial UC tanning equipment by everyone and youth in particular. These include the World Health Organization, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Dermatology Association. 

The Tanning Bed Act received royal assent on Dec. 10, 2010.

OK – now let’s go over this one more time, for now at least:

  1. Tanning beds cause cancer.
  2. You are beautiful and don’t need to put yourself at such reckless risk of skin cancer
Here’s some melanomas for the road for you!

POLL: Who’s Your 2012 Presidential Hopeful?

I’m traveling a lot this month.  Something that gets even worse as I travel is my addiction to the complete waste of time we Americans call “politics.”

I watch and listen to a lot of CNN while I’m traveling – it seems like every airport television is tuned to either CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News.  Right now there is a lot of talk on the news about how no one in the US Senate and House of Representatives can agree on anything (even though their own people assigned a select committee on solving our fiscal crisis and failed straight up);  how the American people are getting the short end of the stick on every path imaginable while the seven or eight people who have all of the money get to do anything they want anywhere;  last and perhaps most vomitous is the travesty that the Government is about to throw down to the American people that will then be spoon-fed with a silver spoon to the Telecomm giants – the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Ah, memories.

So, all of that being said, have you been watching the Presidential Candidates’ Debates lately?  Who are you rooting for at this point to lead our country down the mountain peak road we’re on with no guard rails and no brakes on the bus we’re all riding?  Please participate in the poll, I am very interested in the political leanings of the huge group of people across this great planet that is the JimOnLight.com Readership!

Who's Your Presidential Hopeful for 2012?

  • Current President Barack Obama (D, IL) (56%, 14 Votes)
  • US Representative Ron Paul (R, TX) (36%, 9 Votes)
  • Former US Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R, GA) (4%, 1 Votes)
  • Some write-in like Paul Hogan (4%, 1 Votes)
  • US Representative Michele Bachmann (R, MN) (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Texas Governor Rick Perry (Republican) (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (Republican) (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Former Senator Rick Santorum (R, PA) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 25

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Thanks Wikipedia, Central LA Politics, and Redwood Coast!

$300,000 to Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse Victims

Yeah, it’s not any easier to see.

Did you know that by law in the State of Indiana, the State cannot pay out more than five million dollars for one single tragedy, and it can pay no single victim more than $700,000?!  Ah, legislation.  If you can’t solve a problem, screw the constituents and remove the State of all fault.  That’s the Corporate way.

My source in Indiana says that all of the wreckage has been moved to a warehouse somewhere for “further study,” and that there’s a news story on every night or every few nights about how a reimbursement deadline has passed, or some other nightmare part of this mess has happened.  We’ve just come across a story here about how today is the last day for reimbursement deadlines if you’re taking the state’s offer of $300,000 for a death in this collapse.  A lot of people seem to think that $300,000 is a pretty rough lowball estimate on what their loss of life is worth.  Some people received just a small amount of money for injury, and some received a lot more – like a 17-year-old victim who is now paralyzed from the waist down.  He’s getting just $182,000 and change extra for his expenses.  He is paralyzed from the waist down.  Forever.  Not just until the just under $500,000 he’s being given runs out.   He’s paralyzed forever.  I guess he’s lucky that he’s not dead.  Life’s not getting in his way though – check out this article on how he’s doing, as he just learned to ski without the use of his legs.  Kinda awesome.

Somewhat of a schedule of payments was posted in an article at the Indy Star:

Families of each of the seven people who were killed will receive at least $300,000.

Surviving victims with physical injuries will get compensation for 65 percent of the medical expenses they accrued through Nov. 15.

A 17-year-old who is permanently paralyzed will receive an additional $182,476 for extra medical expenses.

All told, 65 victims — or families of Sugarland concertgoers who died — will receive state money, with payouts ranging from $109 to $503,042.

What gets left out? Future medical expenses and any expenses for psychological treatment.

Feinberg said the victims “have legitimate concerns about the amounts” they will receive, but he praised Zoeller for achieving, “with fingers crossed, (a) general consensus as to how the money should be allocated.”

However, that “consensus” doesn’t satisfy Kenneth J. Allen, the Valparaiso-based attorney who has already filed a lawsuit over the $5 million liability cap and the way the money is being handed out.

Allen, who represents six victims of the stage-rigging collapse, on Tuesday called the procedure “rash and not well-thought-out . . . just like the planning for the fair.”

This is a pretty ugly situation still, and I can only speculate that it will be one for a long, long time to come.  Right now, payouts for medical expenses stop for anything that happened after November 15, 2011.  So what happens if all of the medical expenses don’t stop for this thing until a year from now?  What if you’re paralyzed from the waist down forever?

You’ll be happy to know that truss collapse survivor and IATSE #30 member Steve Stover is alive and well, having had his entire face reconstructed.  As you can imagine, he’s slowly recovering and working through everything he’s experienced and survived.  Obviously he’s one of the lucky ones, being still alive and being mobile.

You know what makes me want to hurl about this whole thing?  All of the news is now about how the money is being doled out, or how the tort payments law in Indiana is unfair, or how “we need to revisit the law.”  People are dead.  There is a transparency that has been masked by the need to sink teeth into the money aspect of the incident, the need to get the restitution that I know I would feel if I were in any of these victims’ situations.  I didn’t want to be right about this, I wanted this one to be different.

Some additional linkage for this mess:

Talk about hindsight biting you directly on the tukkus – an executive from WLHK-FM came onstage right before the storm hit and gave a weather announcement.  Watch the video, read the transcript:

WLHK-FM (97.1) executive Bob Richards spoke on behalf of fair executive director Cindy Hoye and State Police Captain Brad Weaver.

Richards spoke for 55 seconds, and the statement is transcribed here:

“Good evening.  How are you?”
(cheers in crowd)
“As you can see to the west, there are some clouds.  We are all hoping for the best — that the weather is going to bypass us.  But there is a very good chance that it won’t.  So just a quick heads-up before the show starts:
If there is a point during the show where we have to stop the show onstage, what we’d like to have you do is calmly move toward the exits and then head across the street to either the Champions Pavilion, the Blue Ribbon Pavilion or the Pepsi Coliseum.  And then, once the storm passes and everything’s safe, we’re going to try our best to come back and resume the show — which we have every belief that that’s going to happen.”
(cheers in crowd)
“So please get ready, because in just a couple of minutes we’re going to try to get Sugarland onstage. Have a great show.”

Obama VS Perry On Energy Policy [INFOGRAPHIC]

I gotta tell you all…  I am NOT looking forward to this next round of political hoohaa that we’re about to experience full-force over television, radio, the web, and pretty much every other place that advertising for candidate A, B, C, or backwards R.  (Sorry, I was thinking about my friend Tatiana from outside of Moscow, I thought I’d throw a joke in for her)

One thing that we all need to keep an eye on is energy policy.  Holy crap is this important, folks.  In order to shape the future of lighting and energy consumption, grid improvements and distribution, sustainable collection and storage, we need to know where everybody stands on this stuff that wants to be our “president.”  We’ve been shown over the last long few years that we need to have a larger collective role in making decisions because unfortunately the people we keep choosing just can’t be trusted to do what’s right over what’s most lucrative.

I find this infographic pretty interesting – here’s a link to the full-size infographic, the one I’ve posted here is smaller.  Check it out:

Part L of the Building Regulations Code in the United Kingdom – A Mini EISA Scenario?

Here at JimOnLight.com, sense is trying to be made of the current labyrinth (movie starring Jennifer Connolly and David Bowie) that is the Energy Independence and Safety Act (EISA).  As we dig deeper and deeper into a piece of legislation that could actually do some good if it wasn’t so heavily balanced on income, news of some changes in a similar-but-not-same legislation in another country has some interesting components that need discussing.  it’s called PART L of the Building Regulations in the United Kingdom.  Ever heard of it?

PART L is a bit of legislation in England and Wales that generally tries to legislate the consumption of fuel and power in buildings.  Obviously there is a lot to this document; and in a document that has a lot, it’s bound to have flaws.  How many of these flaws will be allowed to get through?  A lot of people think time will tell, but the time to act to change some of the absurdity is running out to affect a change to get implemented any time soon.  The next opportunity to make a change?  2016.

If you’re interested in checking out the actual verbage of PART L, here’s a link directly to it.  Here’s the latest changes to the PART L document, too.

Basically, PART L is broken up into four parts.  L1 pertains to dwellings, L2 pertains to non-dwellings:

  • L1A:  New dwellings
  • L1B:  Existing Dwellings
  • L2A:  New Buildings other than Dwellings
  • L2B:  Existing Buildings other than dwellings

From what I understand, one large portion of the hullaballoo with PART L right now is in the way it deals with “energy efficiency.”  Generally, the issue is in the way that said energy efficiency is actually legislated.  Right now, PART L deals with a luminaire’s efficacy, and people involved in wanting to improve the legislation want to move to a lighting systems-based efficacy.  Doesn’t that kinda make more sense?  It does seem like we should be done with relying on the good ol’ toggle light switch, it is 2011 after all.

I had a quick conversation with lighting designer and Twitter persona Liz Peck about this PART L business – to get more information on it from someone who’s right in the middle of it.  Liz gave an excellent PowerPoint presentation on the PART L Regulations, and has been published in LUX Magazine.  Liz is also principal at LPA Lighting, her lighting design firm.

The interview:

JOL:  Liz, can you fill me in on what PART L means for people living where PART L would be implemented? What would an outside observer to PART L need to know?

Liz Peck:  Part L of the Building Regulations governs the “conservation of fuel and power” and it applies to all new and refurbished buildings in England & Wales. Scotland & Northern Ireland have different building regulations but in essence they all follow the same pattern. It’s divided into domestic and non-domestic buildings, but for both, compliance with Part L is based almost entirely on luminaire or lamp efficacy. This means that the application of lighting is often lost, especially in projects where specialist lighting designers are not involved – the principle is that as long as the luminaire complies, then it’s an energy efficient scheme.

As a lighting engineer, what does PART L mean?
It means very little as it’s so easy to comply with. I don’t think it really influences how we approach the lighting of buildings; most lighting designers would comply with Part L without even trying.

PART L seems a little like the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) here in the United States.  EISA has a lot of very confusing aspects to it, and people in the US generally have no idea what it means.  Is PART L a lot like that with respect to its complex nature? What could be done to alleviate confusion?
From what I know of it, the ambitions of the EISA are a little greater, though they certainly have some similarities in the use of energy efficient light sources. The confusion in Part L lies predominantly with its flaws, of which there are many. For instance, in non-domestic buildings, it allows an efficient luminaire to be left on in an empty building because there is no need for controls beyond a manual on/off switch. How can that ever be thought of as efficient? Equally, for some areas in the building, the targets remain on lamp efficacy with no regard to luminaire performance, so in theory you could have a ‘black box’ luminaire with zero light output but if it contained T5 lamps, it would be compliant! In domestic buildings, it’s not much better: the requirement is for 75% of “light fixtures” to be energy efficient (40 l/w) but there is no requirement for the fixtures to be dedicated, so the reality is that the plans get approved with either CFL or LED lamps specified in traditional lampholders and then as soon as the occupants move in, they switch the lamps to less efficient sources that they prefer!

Are there cons to PART L with respect to the way it legislates luminaires instead of systems?
I think it’s the lack of need for controls which is its biggest flaw; we’re a decade into the 21st Century and the ‘recommended’ controls strategy is a manual switch. We really need to move on; the controls aspect is so out of date, it’s almost unbelievable. To have a situation in 2010 when absence and daylight sensors are considered advanced lighting controls for new buildings is a joke. These are basic controls which no new building should be without unless they have very good reason. The old adage of the most efficient luminaire is the one which is switched off when it’s not needed doesn’t apply to Part L. Things have to change.

What else should people know?
Trying to get most people to understand lumens per watt is fruitless; most people running a building, whether it’s their own home or a commercial office understand only two metrics: energy and money. Metering is becoming more prevalent in commercial buildings and is being introduced into the domestic market – maybe when people can see just how much energy they are using through lighting, they will start to think about improving it, but all the time the Building Regulations only require the use of efficient sources and not their application, we will (sadly) continue to see inefficient lighting schemes being installed. We must move to a systems-based approach, with targets on energy consumption, if we are to really make a difference in the future.

I also did some digging and found an interesting article at LUX Magazine on this subject, written by Iain Carlile of DPA Lighting Design.  Iain’s article, entitled “Why We Must Fight for PART L,” had some very direct commentary on PART L legislation.  In reference to why PART L needs changing:

Part L is correct in its requirement to reduce energy consumption, but the metrics used for lighting are quite crude and predominantly only cover the efficacy of the luminaire — not the total energy consumption of the lighting system.

This leaves us in a ludicrous situation. The lighting scheme can comply with the requirements of Part L but still waste energy through the unnecessary lighting of unoccupied or daylit areas.

For example, look at many commercial properties where all of the lighting is on throughout the night when the space is unoccupied. These installations can have efficient luminaires and lamps, achieving low installed electrical load per unit area and high luminaire efficacies. But the absence of simple occupancy controls means the lighting can remain on for more than twice the required operational hours, wasting a huge amount of energy.

The installation may meet the requirements of Part L, yet in fact the installation can be quite wasteful of energy because the lighting is not switched off when it is not required.
Recent advances in technology make it possible to specify LEDs for ambient lighting that emit an excellent quality of light across the visual spectrum, with a colour temperature and colour rendering properties that compare favourably with tungsten lamps.

Iain’s resolution to PART L?

For this situation to be resolved, future revisions of Part L must change the metric used for measuring the energy efficiency of a lighting installation.

We must as an industry challenge the existing legislation and push for a suitable metric that considers not just the efficacies of lamps and luminaires but also includes factors such as lighting controls, dimming levels, hours of operation, daylight linking and presence detection.

Only then will we have legislation that allows the intelligent application of the ‘right light, right place, right time’ philosophy.

Personally, I am glad to see that the Society of Light and Lighting is pushing for a move to systems-based targets in the next revision of Part L.

If you’re looking for a quick five-minute overview on PART L, check out this video below:

Do you think that the public would feel good about PART L if they had someone explain it to them so that it made sense?  As far as EISA goes, that seems to be a lot of the problem.  Perhaps if more people knew about the legislation that the government was trying to put in place they could make a more informed decision.  It’s nice to know that at least America isn’t the only country in the world in which its people have to actually TRY to find out the real truth about things in which its government is involved.

Something I found pertinent and relevant from the LUX Mag article was a quote from Martin Valentine, a lighting expert in Abu Dhabi City.  He talks about the way we need to go forward:

‘We need to be looking at controls and overall limits as well as luminaire efficiency. But we also need to not lose sight of light quality. The four things work hand in hand.’

Valentine warned that the danger with complicated legislation is that nobody really knows what is going on. He believes Part L is a good thing but needs to move with the times, rather be caught behind.

He said: ‘It needs to evolve and it needs to be clear cut. People need to know what’s going on and benchmarks need to be in place.’

Thanks to LUX Mag, Liz Peck, iRed, and Wikipedia!