Category Archives: earth

Remembering the Man Who Planted Trees

Last night, I had the good fortune to sit in the town hall square of Tartu over a glass of wine with a friend. She is an author of children’s books, and now writing a novel for adults. And we share a passion for nature. She is more active in realizing that passion, and I respect her for it.

But I was able to offer her something she had not experienced yet. A film that was made of a story written many, many years ago called “The Man Who Planted Trees“.

The Man Who Planted Trees (French title: L’homme qui plantait des arbres) is a short story published in 1953 by French author Jean Giono. An allegorical tale, it tells the story of one shepherd’s long and successful single-handed effort to re-forest a desolate valley in the foothills of the Alps in Provence throughout the first half of the 20th century. It was written in French, but first published in English.

L'Homme qui plantait des arbres.jpg

I first saw this short film back in the 1970’s as a university student, and I never forgot it. There is something about its dreamy celebration of the simple pleasures of life —something  that man can, but rarely enjoys — that stuck with me, all through the years I spent in Boston, Washington, London, Philadelphia and now Tartu.

Here it is. Enjoy!

David Attenborough has an Urgent Message: Act Now or We are Screwed!

Of course, Sir David would not use such crass language.

But he does make a strong case that the world as we know it is falling apart. And the causes is us.

“We are facing a crisis. One that has consequences for us all. It threatens our ability to feed ourselves, to control our climate. It even puts us at greater risk of pandemic diseases such as Covid-19,” he warned in Extinction: The Facts on BBC One primetime, receiving five-star reviews.

This is the reality that we leave to our children, unless we wake up and act.

Do we dare?

Nuclear Power Aint Dead Yet – and Read This before You Groan

At least 4 issues arise when one says the words “nuclear power”. First is safety. After the types of meltdowns we have seen, one would have to swallow hard before agreeing to allow a Nuke to be built nearby. Second is waste. We still don’t have a great way to deal with spent fuel. Third is proliferation. It aint hard to enrich uranium from fuel into weapons grade stuff. Fourth is cost.

So could a nuke project deal with all four? Check out this post on TerraPower. It uses spent fuel rods for fuel, and looks to be safer and cheaper than earlier nuke designs.  Bill Gates is sold on it, and I will keep an open mind about it — especially if it dovetails with increased use of renewable sources so that we can decarbonize faster.

What about you?

A Reminder: Battery Prices are Falling

The story starts this way

The first solar-plus-storage installations started about a decade ago on a small scale in sunny states like California, Hawaii, and Arizona. Now they’re spreading across the country, driven by falling prices of both solar panels and lithium-ion batteries the size of a shipping container imported from both China and South Korea. These countries have ramped up production efficiencies and lowered labor costs, leaving many US manufacturers in the dust. In fact, the price of building a comparable solar-plus-storage generating facility is now cheaper than operating a coal-fired power plant, industry officials say. In certain circumstances, the cost is equal to some natural gas plants.

Very cool!

“This is not just a California, New York, Massachusetts thing,” says Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of the Energy Storage Association, an industry group in Washington. She says more than 30 states have renewable storage on the grid. Utilities have proposed and states have approved 7 gigawatts to be installed by 2030.

There is more! Check it out!