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The ECC Recommends working with the Clean Cities Coalition and New Urbanism, TOD - Transit Oriented Districts, Smart Growth as ways to decrease our dependency on imported oil, improve our environment and increase National Security! Achieving success will only happen if education is the cornerstone of every program we adopt. Criticism of US Dollar Hegemony Getting Louder at Oil Price

The ECC Recommends working with the Clean Cities Coalition and New Urbanism, TOD - Transit Oriented Districts, Smart Growth as ways to decrease our dependency on imported oil, improve our environment and increase National Security! Achieving success will only happen if education is the cornerstone of every program we adopt.
Criticism of US Dollar Hegemony Getting Louder at Oil Price

Criticism of US Dollar Hegemony Getting Louder
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Written by Ronald Stoeferle
Thursday, 17 March 2011 15:16
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The performance of the US dollar constitutes a central determining factor for the development of the oil price. The criticism of the US dollar hegemony is getting louder on a daily basis. The Chinese rating agency Dagong Global Credit has recently downgraded the rating of the United States to AA. According to Dagong the quantitative easing has sustainably eroded the legitimacy of the US dollar as global reserve currency . The agency saw the USA as lacking in willingness to pay off its debt and accused it of being ignorant vis-à-vis its creditors.

The following graph illustrates the fact that the US dollar index (a basket of currencies consisting of the euro, the Japanese yen, the British pound, the Canadian dollar, the Swedish crown, and the Swiss franc) is still locked in a long-term downward trend. The index has recently broken through the threshold of 80 points, which now has turned into a massive resistance. The dollar index has been caught in a secular bear market since July 2001 and has lost almost 40% since then. Therefore the dollar creditors’ efforts to diversify come as no surprise.

US dollar index since 1983

US dollar index since 1983
Sources: Bloomberg, Erste Group Research

Generally speaking, the criticism of the US dollar has become rather substantial on a global scale, as substantiated by numerous examples:

• In October “The Independent” reported that China, Russia, Brazil, Japan, and a number of Gulf States were planning to stop settling oil transactions in US dollar by 2018. The dollar should be replaced by a basket of currencies including the Chinese yuan, the Japanese yen, the Russian rouble, the euro, gold, and other commodities. The political implications of such a decision would be enormous.
• The Iranian oil exchange accepts settlement in many currencies except US dollar.
• Nine countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean have recently agreed on setting up a monetary union.
• Turkey wants to invoice international transactions with Russia, Iran, and China in local currency. On top of that, Russia will allow the settlement of transactions with China in yuan and rouble.
• Four Gulf nations (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar) have agreed to establish a monetary union. In the long term plans are to introduce a physical currency, the “gulfo”, and an own central bank is supposed to be set up. Within the region, oil contracts are not settled in dollar anymore. The GDP of the area amounts to USD 1.2 trillion, and it holds 40% of global oil reserves.

By. Ronald Stoeferle of Erste Group

Erste Group is the leading financial provider in the Eastern EU. More than 50,000 employees serve 17.4 million clients in 3,200 branches in 8 countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine). As of 31 December 2010 Erste Group has reached EUR 205.9 billion in total assets, a net profit of EUR 1,015.4 million and cost-income-ratio of 48.9%.

Are Heart Drugs Better for the Treatment of Cancer.

Are Heart Drugs Better for the Treatment of Cancer

Are Heart Drugs Better for the Treatment of Cancer

Digitalis is the right drug being used to treat the wrong disease.
Wayne Martin.


Several different types of drug, used or developed for the treatment of heart disease, have been found to have dramatic beneficial effects on a wide range of cancers.

Extracts of the foxglove have been documented in folk remedies for a number of conditions and for hundreds of years. Since William Withering published his book, An Account of the Foxglove and Some of its Medical Uses , in 1785, digitalis has been used by conventional medicine in the treatment of cardiac congestion and some cardiac arrhythmias.

As a student at Purdue University in 1930, Wayne Martin had as a tutor a seventy-year old medical doctor who had lost his money in the 1929 stock market crash and had taken a $60.00 a month instructorship at the university. Using the files of the Indiana University School of Medicine this doctor had done a survey between 1900 and 1930 of patients maintained on digitalis for life (digitalis was then used for heart patients). What he found was that not one of them had died of cancer. He was unable to get his survey published. At Purdue, Wayne says, the staff thought him to be suffering from dementia and he soon learned that if he wanted to keep his instructorship it was best not to talk about digitalis and cancer. (1)

In 1974, Dr Bjorn Stenkvist of University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden, made application to the United States National Cancer Institutes for funds to conduct a clinical trial of the therapeutic effects of digitalis in breast cancer. The funds were granted, the study done. In 1980, they found that tumours in patients on digitalis medication at the time of diagnosis of breast cancer seemed to develop much more slowly than tumours in patients not on such medication. (2) and the results, published in 1982, (3) were not just good, they were astounding. In this study forty-four breast cancer patients were maintained on digitalis from the time of surgery fro five years. Among them there was only one recurrence of cancer. The trial's control group consisted of eighty-eight breast cancer patients who were not taking digitalis. In this group there were twenty-one recurrences of cancer - 9.6 times as many. In other words, the digitalis reduced cancers by almost ninety percent.

In 1984 Drs A G Goldin and A R Safa, of the National Cancer Institutes (NCI), Bethesda, Maryland confirmed Stengkvist's results. Conducting a retrospective study of 127 cancer patients in their records, of a total of twenty-one deaths they found only one cancer death among those who had taken digitalis. (4)

For many years Martin was surprised that there was no follow-up to Stenkvist's most promising trial, particularly as it had NCI support. In the mid-1990s Dr Johan Haux of the Institute of Cancer Research and Molecular Biology at the University of Trondheim, Norway, had shown an interest in Coley's Toxins and Martin had had a correspondence with Haux on this subject. Martin asked Haux if he could find Dr Stenkvist which he did. Dr Stenkvist was in retirement. However, he reported that the Chief oncologist at University Hospital at the time took no interest in his work and he, Stenkvist, had been unable to interest any pharmaceutical firm in a cancer treatment on which they could not get a patent and which sold for fifteen cents a day.

At that time Haux was looking for a subject for his PhD thesis. In May 1997 Martin sent Haux the digitalis story and suggested he pursue it. Haux started his work with two breast cancer cell lines, one oestrogen positive and one oestrogen negative. Using highly sophisticated testing methods, he treated these two cultures with digitoxin, the natural form of digitalis from the common foxglove ( Digitalis purpurea ), and in six days preparations used are digitoxin, and digoxin, saw an almost complete inhibition of growth of these two breast cancer cell lines. He determined that this inhibition was due to apoptosis (cell death). Haux also tested the more widely used digoxin, a preparation from the white foxglove ( Digitalis lanata ) the drug of choice in Britain and the USA today. This had very little anti-cancer effect. (In the Stenkvist report of 1982 one third of his patients were getting digitoxin, the other two thirds were getting digoxin. In the NCI letter of 1984 there was a cancer death in the patients taking digitalis but by then the vast majority of patients taking digitalis were getting digoxin.)

Haux then grew cultures of malignant human T cell line Jurkat and B lymphoblastoid cell line Daudi These cancer cell lines were inhibited to an even greater extent than the breast cancer cell lines, again by apoptosis. Digoxin was even less effective. Digitoxin and digoxin were also tested against a fifth cell line, K562, and against normal cells. With these there was no effect.

Haux sent his first report to the medical journal, Cancer Research . It was rejected. The first reaction from conventional medicine to the suggestion that digitoxin could be an anti-cancer drug was "ridiculous". He then sent it to the British Journal of Cancer . In this submission Haux only claimed that in a harmless concentration to humans, digitoxin will inhibit Jurkat cells. Again it was refused. The study was finally published in 1999 in the Journal of Oncology . (5)

The hospital where Haux worked were using a chemotherapeutic drug, Actinomycin D in treating cancer at the hospital. The belief is that if an anti-cancer drug will inhibit the Jurkat cell line, it has a bright future. Haux did a test that got the attention of the management at the Trondheim hospital. Haux tested Actinomycin D against his Jurkat cell line at a concentration used to treat cancer patients. It had almost no inhibitory effect at all. In September 1997 a decision was taken at Trondheim to begin treating breast cancer patients with digitoxin.

In a subsequent study, Haux tested digitoxin and digoxin against three brain cancer (glioblastoma) cell lines with similar results to his other trials. (6) He is currently studying whether the cancer rate is changed in a cohort of 8,000 cardiac patients on digitoxin compared with controls.

Encouraged by Hauk's research, Stenkvist conducted a long-term follow-up (22.3 years) of 175 of his previous patients with breast carcinoma, of which 32 were on digitalis treatment when their breast cancer was diagnosed. He found only two (six percent) of the thirty-two patients on digitalis had died from breast cancer compared to forty-nine (thirty-four percent) of the patients not on digitalis. Stenkvist says that although the few deaths in the digitalis group made statistical analysis difficult, nevertheless, "serious consideration should be given to the effects of digitalis derivatives on cancer cells in cancer drug design. This field of research is not sufficiently explored and holds promise to contain drugs superior to present-day adjuvant therapy both with respect to effects and side-effects". (7)

In the 1920s there were many doctors using an extract of the hawthorn berry for treating what was then called 'dropsy'.They were nearly all put out for business by 1926. The medical journal, Medical World , fostered unorthodox modalities. It carried a report in 1930 about how the glycoside in the hawthorn berry was much like digitalis. It also said that, unlike digitalis, the hawthorn glycoside was not toxic in an overdose. Thus it may be worthwhile studying the anti-cancer effects of hawthorn too.
Anticoagulation drugs

Cancers which do not spread are called 'benign' and generally not considered particularly dangerous. It is the 'malignant' ones which metastasise (spread) which are the killers, for once a cancer has metastasised, conventional medicine has no effective remedy. It is vital, therefore, that once a cancer has been discovered, it is not allowed to metastasise. Fortunately, there seems to be a simple way to stop, or at least inhibit, a cancer's spread. That is the use of an anticoagulation drug such as warfarin or heparin. These are cheap, generic drugs routinely used in cases of heart attack and blood clots (thromboembolism).

It was demonstrated as long ago as 1903 that distant metastases from cancer cells circulating in the bloodstream couldn't end up just anywhere, that for a distant tumour to form, it needed a thrombus (clot) at the site of the metastasis to be. (8) This was confirmed in 1915 (9) and 1956 (10) . In 1956 and 1957 (11) two groups of scientists also demonstrated independently that anticoagulants inhibited local tumour growth.

In 1958 Professor R A Q O'Meara of Trinity College, Dublin, showed that dividing cancer cells were surrounded by fibrils which gave off clotting factors just as platelets do, causing the deposition of fibrin. (12) He suggested that this was essential for tumour growth. In this way, he taught, a cancer colony becomes coated with fibrin which prevents cancer cell killing immunocytes from making contact with and killing it. When Martin met him in 1966, O'Meara had expanded his hypothesis in line with Schmidt and was teaching that a cancer cell travelling in the bloodstream could not form a distant metastasis without there being a small fibrin clot at the site of the metastasis to be.

O'Meara had a student, L Michaels, who when qualified went to Canada. In 1960, nearly all patients who had survived a heart attack or a thrombotic stroke were being anticoagulated for year on year with warfarin or other anticoagulation drug. These drugs prevented the formation of fibrin. Michaels reasoned that if O'Meara was right, then there should be far fewer cancer deaths among the several million anticoagulated population. So Michaels did a 1,500 patient-year study of these patients. (13) What he found was that they had only one-eighth the expected numbers of cancer deaths. He also found that in his study population there was not a single death from a metastasis. There was only one death and that was from primary lung cancer. Among the study group were two breast cancer patients. Neither developed metastases.
Streptokinase - the clot (and cancer) buster

When a person has a heart attack one of the first things that is done on his reaching hospital is an infusion of a fibrinolytic (clot-busting) drug, streptokinase. This is to break down any clot that may be blocking a coronary artery.

Professor Leo Zacharski, Department of Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, New Hampshire, has researched anticoagulant drugs extensively. He talks of a spectacular case of a woman who had widely metastatic endometrial cancer. She was already in a very bad way when she suffered a heart attack which may actually have saved her life. Because of the heart attack she was given streptokinase. "One week later" says Zacharski, "her tumor showed marked regression which has persisted for many months". (14)

Professor Zacharski wrote a comprehensive review of anticoagulant drugs in The Cancer Journal - Volume 6, Number 1 (January-February 1993).

Many, if not all, of the drugs used to prevent or control heart attacks have a long history of efficacy in the fight against cancer. Despite this few, if any, are used for this purpose. The problem, I believe, is that the clinical trials required by regulatory bodies today before any drug can be licensed for use are so costly that no drug company, with no chance of a patent on the drug, would be willing to sponsor such a trial. It is left, therefore, for the cancer patient to hope that he or she develops heart problems along with the cancer so that he/she gets the better treatment than oncologists offer.

1. Martin W. Personal communication, 1997.
2. Stenkvist B, et al. Evidence of a modifying influence of heart glucosides on the development of breast cancer. Anal Quant Cytol 1980; 2: 49-54.
3. Stenkvist B, et al. Cardiac glycosides and breast cancer, revisited. N Engl J Med 1982; 306:484.
4. Goldin AG, Safa AR. Digitalis and cancer. Lancet 1984;1:1134.
5. Haux J, et al. Digitoxin, in non toxic concentrations, induces apoptotic cell death in Jurkat T cells in vitro. Germ J Oncol 1999; 31: 14-20.
6. Haux J. Digitoxin is a potential anticancer agent for several types of cancer. Med Hyp 1999; 53: 543-8
7. Stenkvist B. Is digitalis a therapy for breast carcinoma? Oncol Rep 1999; 6: 493-6.
8. Schmidt MB. Cited by Iwasaki T. J Path Bact 1915; 20: 85.
9. Iwasaki T. J Path Bact 1915; 20: 85.
10. Wood S jr, Holyoke ED, Yardley JH. Proc Am Assn Cancer Res 1956; 2: 157.
11. Lacour F, Oberling CH, Guerin M. Bull Assn Franç Cancer 1957; 44: 88.
12. O'Meara RAQ. The coagulative properties of cancer. Irish J Med 1958; 394: 474-9.
13. Michaels L. Cancer incidence and mortality in patients having anticoagulant therapy. Lancet 1964; ii: 832-5.
14. Leo R Zacharski. Fax to Wayne Martin, 7 February 1994.

Last updated18 December 2000

Foresight Green Drinks **Come tonight and pay at the door!** - Foresight Design Initiative

Foresight Green Drinks **Come tonight and pay at the door!** - Foresight Design Initiative

Foresight Green Drinks **Come tonight and pay at the door!**

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November 16, 2011

Jefferson Tap & Grill
325 N Jefferson St
2nd Floor
Chicago IL, 60661
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Biomimicry: Designing From Nature's Innovations

Biomimicry, the practice of learning from nature to solve human design problems, is emerging as a powerful tool for creating more sustainable solutions. Applied at a variety of scales, from individual products to buildings to organizations, biomimcry brings nature's 3.8 billion years of innovation experience to the design table.

This month's panel examines this quickly evolving practice, reviewing what it is, how it is being applied, the tangible advancements it has already produced, and the powerful potential for the future. Of specific interest to designers, architects, entrepreneurs, biologists, and related others, the conversation will be wide ranging and inspiring to anyone with a concern for a more vibrant and resilient future. Come learn more about this exciting field, and the new emerging network, Biomimicry Chicago.


Amy Coffman Phillips
Architect and Sustainability Consultant, Liquid Triangle Sustainability
Amy Coffman Phillips is an architect, sustainability consultant, and biomimic-in-training working to integrate humanity and nature through the built environment. At firms in both Chicago and New York, she has integrated sustainability into projects ranging from a high-rise tower to a single family home. She is working toward a Biomimicry Professional Certificate, a master’s level program devoted to learning from nature to inspire design, and is a registered architect and sustainability consultant with Liquid Triangle Sustainability. A Network Leader at Biomimicry Chicago, Amy is collaborating to develop an emerging network of local biomimics, looking to inspire and educate the local market about naturally inspired design.

Lindsay James
Director of Strategic Sustainability, InterfaceFLOR
Lindsay is the Director of Strategic Sustainability for InterfaceFLOR, where she is responsible for strategically leveraging and expanding Interface's thought leadership in sustainability. She is passionate about the potential to harness our economic system to improve our natural systems. As an early adopter of the business case for sustainability, she is a vocal advocate and teacher for both the “why” and “how” of sustainable business. Combining rigorous business acumen with innovative problem solving abilities, Lindsay has earned a reputation for successfully distilling complex issues into accessible frameworks.

Colin Rohlfing
Sustainable Design Leader & Director of Sustainable Consulting, HOK
For the past 7 years, Colin has worked with local, regional and firm-wide HOK project teams to facilitate sustainable design integration and building certification for various projects throughout the firm. He oversees the execution of sustainable solutions for HOK clients, which include green work place solutions, sustainable operation plans, Green House Gas emissions benchmarking and mitigation, occupant engagement and behavioral programs and broader sustainability planning for campuses, cities, municipalities and real estate portfolios. Notable projects include; King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the world’s largest LEED Platinum project and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the world’s largest LEED NC Platinum project.

5:30-8:30pm Socializing/Networking
5:45-6:15pm Power Networking (optional)
6:45-7:45pm Discussion
7:45-8:30pm Socializing/Networking

Power Networking (optional 5:45-6:15pm)
By popular request! Every month, we include a period of time for you to meet a number of other like-minded people in a structured, fast-paced format. Bring your elevator speech and business cards! Not in the mood? Spectators welcome as well.

Important Notes

**Pre-registration required. Register here.**
Cancellation Policy: All Foresight tickets and/or event registrations are non-refundable. If an event is canceled or postponed by Foresight, participants will be offered a full refund. Please contact us if a personal emergency keeps you from attending an event. At Foresight's discretion, a refund may be offered in these cases.
Green Drinks panels and speakers are planned up to a year in advance. If you would like to suggest a topic for a future event, please email and your idea will be taken into consideration.


$7 General Admission, $4 Students/low-income, $20 Friends of Foresight Donation


Werner Sobek - People - Dwell

Werner Sobek - People - Dwell

Werner Sobek

Werner Sobek has seen the future, and it’s high-tech, green, and efficient. The architect, engineer, and teacher’s wandering intellect and belief in the power of design have left their marks across disciplines and continents.

By: Sally McGrane, Published in: May 09

Growing up in postwar Germany, Werner Sobek learned a resource-conscious approach to architecture, but his "radically engineered" buildings owe less to the hard lessons of the 20th century than to the technological possibilities of the 21st.
werner sobek altar roof for benedict xvi exterior frontview in slideshow

Werner Sobek’s voice drops to a low, rhythmic pitch as he articulates each word, slightly exaggerating the alliteration. “His soul swooned slowly,” intones the 55-year-old architect, “as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe.” He pauses, glancing at the ceiling of the classroom in the basement of S. R. Crown Hall, Mies van der Rohe’s glass-and-steel masterpiece that houses
the Illinois Institute of Technology’s architecture college, where Sobek currently holds the Mies teaching chair. He blinks. Then, eyes bright, hands flitting back and forth like an orchestra conductor’s, Sobek concludes his on-the-spot recitation of James Joyce’s last line in “The Dead.” “And fain-tly fall-ing, like the descent of their last end...upon all the living and the dead.”

Never mind that Sobek, who is German, can spontaneously quote any number of literary classics in other languages. (“Do you want more?” he asks, helpfully, when he finishes his favorite line of Dubliners. “I can recite plenty of others.”) This architect-engineer, perhaps best known for the entirely recyclable house he built for his family near Stuttgart, is a true polymath. Equally at home in the cutting rooms of Milanese fashion houses (“If you ever want some advice on clothes, I can give it to you,” he says, conversationally) and the production line at Mercedes-Benz, he also learned how to hike glaciers in Austria after being thwarted by the ice on an ascent in the Himalayas. He could read Turgenev forever, has a solid understanding of textile weaving, knows all about the use of titanium aluminum in superlight airplane construction, and spends two to three weeks a year motorcycling alone through Patagonia to clear his head.

It is precisely this omnivorous approach that has made his 200-person firm, with offices from Stuttgart to Khartoum, so good at sustainable design—though, he insists, environmental efficiency is not a goal in itself but simply a by-product of good building. “I do not want to talk about green, green, green, and so on,” says Sobek, who nonetheless includes the information that SUVs are not welcome right beneath the RSVP line on invitations to his dinner parties. “Why use more energy or materials when you could use less? This is a self-understanding thing. It’s as important as that the building does not fall down and that it is built on time.”

Citing Buckminster Fuller’s question of architects he met (“How much does your building weigh?”), Sobek calls for “radical engineering” to slim down today’s structures. He defines it as leveraging the know-how of a wide range of specialists, from civil, structural, industrial, and machine engineers to chemists and couturiers in the building design process. The positive consequences of such an approach, he says, could be enormous. Modern advances in materials technology and manufacturing processes have opened up possibilities for entirely new kinds of buildings where, for example, a textile roof soaks up energy during the day and releases it at night; a glass house embedded with electrified liquid crystals grows opaque on demand; or a facade “breathes” without the need for windows. In the future, buildings will assume any shape you want; exert complete control over things like light, air flow, heating, and humidity; and do it all so efficiently that you might never have to pay a heating bill again. “Reduction equals refinement,” he says. “Look at Porsche.”

But Sobek is quick to add that all this is possible only if architects start working differently. “We have to establish a way of planning buildings that’s integral,” he says. “A lot of architects talk about new possibilities, but they can’t apply them. For many architects, the world is still limited to concrete, masonry, wood, and steel.”

The solution? “You must understand the materials, and that has to be interdisciplinary,” Sobek says, adding that in order to explore what he calls the “terra incognita” that exists between highly specialized fields of knowledge, the old model of the architect as generalist and engineers and contractors as order-taking specialists must give way to a more equitable exchange between parties.
To help his employees develop a common language, Sobek sends his engineers to Paris fashion shows and his architects to tour the Airbus factory. “It’s so boring I don’t even want to bring it up,” he says, shrugging. “But it’s the idea of a team.”

Working alone and with star architects like Zaha Hadid and Jean Nouvel, Sobek’s firm has designed bridges, high-rises, offices, airports, a tent for the Pope, automobile exposition structures, industrial design products, and, in the last decade, six private residences that take energy efficiency as seriously as aesthetics. The first of these, finished in 2000, was Sobek’s own family home. The now-famous four-story glass house, dubbed, not unlike an Audi or BMW, the R128, operates according to what he calls the “triple-zero approach: zero energy consumption, zero emissions, and zero waste.” One source of inspiration for both the house and the rest of Sobek’s work was the German auto industry: Under German law, automakers must produce cars whose component parts are recyclable. “I thought, Why don’t we have this in the building industry?”

With the German auto manufacturers’ recycling mandate in mind, Sobek designed so as to render
the building’s high-quality materials reusable in the event the structure is ever torn down. Like German cars, the entire house is constructed using only two kinds of bolts and thus can be disassembled with just two kinds of wrenches. Drawing on an as-yet-unrealized proposition for Ford Motor Company that cars be put together with a special glue that dissolves when you dump the car in a vat of chemicals at the end of its life, he stuck his bathroom ceiling’s wooden laminate to a sheet of aluminum with a very similar sort of adhesive.

Next, inspired by the load-bearing capacity of sports shoes, he Velcroed this paneling to the ceiling’s steel rafters. “I call it ephemeral architecture,” he says, acknowledging that growing up in postwar Germany, where many places still show the damage inflicted by the Second World War, shaped some of his ideas about architectural permanence. But accepting impermanence is not the same as embracing the “throw-away society” that, Sobek says, is antithetical to his basic philosophy. “Ephemeral architecture can go today or it can stand for 1,000 years. But if it goes, it can go with honor, even the day after the opening ceremony.”

The five other triple-zero residences he has designed are all in Germany. A seventh is planned in France (only two have been published, due to the owners’ reluctance to join the sustainable architecture tourism circuit). In these delicate, understated domiciles, whose spare, modern lines stand out against their natural surroundings without overwhelming or being overwhelmed by them, he has included innovations he would like to see implemented across the board in new construction.
“Why are all the electrical elements still buried in the walls?” he wonders. “There are five layers of materials, and nobody will ever take that apart. The copper embedded there is gone forever.” Energy-saving measures he has implemented include sensors that respond, when someone opens a window, by automatically turning off the heat.

Sobek thinks for a moment and traces his belief that “it is unethical to throw things away” to growing up in Aalen, a small town in southwestern Germany where he earned pocket money in high school by painting Jimi Hendrix in his death throes on the walls of local nightclubs, then read Nietzsche into the wee hours. “You are influenced by the spirit of the place where you grow up,” he says. “The area is very, very poor in natural resources. Growing up in these surroundings, you treat everything carefully.” Carefully, indeed, though as any good architect will note, care must be tempered with trial and error. At R128, for example, the magnets that held the bathroom mirrors to the wall so that, if the building is dismantled, they can be removed with a simple suction device, didn’t work perfectly at first. “Of course there was a crash at three in the morning,” Sobek says ruefully. Then he smiles. “But we fixed it.”

Read more:

Tonight: Nov.17 at 6:30 pm, Location: The Smart Living Center, 297 Boston Post Rd, Orange, CT, (FREE Family Fun!) Your Invited to attend “The ECC’s Sustainable Inventors Club”with a Biomimicry Twist!

Tonight: Nov.17 at 6:30 pm, Location: The Smart Living Center, 297 Boston Post Rd, Orange, CT, (FREE) Your Invited to attend “The ECC’s Sustainable Inventors Club”with a Biomimicry Twist!

It’s open to the public, join us!
At 6:30 Enjoy an introduction to the exciting world of Aeromodeling. It's the world’s most affordable STEM educational activity. On YouTube I saw a digital-video of an orphanage in India. Young, under nourished children were answering science questions that would stump the majority of American middle school and high school students. They all held gliders in their hands. Living proof that “Real World Applied Learning, Teaches Best.” Kids love to talk and hear about what you did or are doing. Tonight at 6:30, Nov 17 at the Smart Living Center in Orange, we are having a free model airplane show & tell with The Milford Modelers from 6:30 until 7. Followed by Max The Motivational Speaker at 7pm: he’s innovation on legs. His vast multidisciplinary skills make for a funtastic inspirational conversation. At 7:40pm Meet America’s Nurturing Tiger Mom! She’s a local mom who home schooled two exceptional sons. She will be on hand to discuss STEM Education during our Open Forum see link: Her two sons attended Ivy League schools a testament to her fine ideas on education and parenting. Her ideas on education are illuminating. The ECC is going to organize a Conversation with this Brilliant Woman. She has interesting ideas on improve education in America. She once taught an informational college course on Home Schooling.
Come get inspired from 6:30 to 9pm! Our December’s Inventor’s Club will feature a speaker on Biomimicry. He's also an architect, Don’t miss, Designing with Randy Anway!

Why is Milford ECC Inventors Club interested in Biomimicry? How could anyone not be interested in trillions of sustainable designs, which have been field-tested for millions of years? All adapted to living sustainably on planet earth! It’s the biggest Green-Gold-Rush in human history! It’s the Magic bullet, the marriage of business and sustainability. The first step of a long sustainable journey for mankind! It may even hold solutions that will help us restore the messes that we have made of planet Earth! & Your invited by DD Vasseur, ECC Chair

Why is the ECC interested in STEM aeromodeling? Because it’s the World’s most popular, inexpensive, enjoyable STEM activity. Come Learn How To Start one in your community, schools and churches. Werner Sobek's highly recommends aeronautical engineering! Sobek is the embodiment of sustainable inspiration: See season one “Design e2” Deeper Shades of Green - episode 6. He believes that aeronautical design is necessary to build & design sustainably with minimum materials.

Why the ECC interested in America’s Nurturing Tiger Mom, She is such a great mom and her kids will never work a day in their lives because they love what they do. She was only able to give them this gift because she provided them with a great foundational education. She is an amazing wealth of information and ideas. Every time we discuss education, I realize that every new parent should know what she knows. I would have started tutoring my children much earlier. She should have a job giving inspirational advice on how best bring up and inspire a life long passion for learning. America’s Tiger Mom is a very private person; she loves talking about education but not her sons. Please respect her desire for privacy and feel free to ask her about her ideas on education…

STEM Trends that are Driving a Crisis for America | Hispanic Blog Network

STEM Trends that are Driving a Crisis for America | Hispanic Blog Network

STEM Trends that are Driving a Crisis for America
David Olivencia
on Mar 24, 2011 in *English, Education | 1 comment
STEM Trends that are Driving a Crisis for America

In my last blog post I discussed the growing and accelerating demand for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) talent. One thing that I did not mention is that if America wants to maintain its historic strong levels of growth, economic prosperity, and national security it is IMPERATIVE that we meet and exceed this STEM demand with a workforce educated in these fields.

We are in a global, flat, interconnected world where this demand for STEM talent can and will easily be supplied by other nations (China, India, Russia…) . If this future supply of STEM talent comes from outside the U.S. it can put our nation on a downward spiral that produces less talent in this area, gives more economic prosperity to other nations, less prosperity to the U.S., less U.S. tax revenue, less investments in infrastructure and innovation, increasing threats from cyber-terrorism, and so on… as these outside and competing nations gain more momentum and strength in this digital world.

Some discouraging data points that highlight this crisis:

We are falling behind at Elementary and Secondary STEM Education – “Despite our historical record of achievement, the United States now lags behind other nations in STEM education at the elementary and secondary levels. International comparisons of our students’ performance in science and mathematics consistently place the United States in the middle of the pack or lower. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress, less than one-third of U.S. eighth graders show proficiency in mathematics and science.”*
High School Drop-out Rates – The dropout rates in various cities across this country are a travesty. Some major cities across the US have dropout rates as high as 50%. Additionally, if one looks deeper within growth populations (i.e., Hispanics) and dropout rates within these growing populations, this trend does not get any better. (Here is a link to some data from 2008).
Low Attraction to STEM Careers –Sadly too many who graduate High School do not find pursuing careers in STEM fields attractive or valuable. “There is a large interest and achievement gap among some groups in STEM, and African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and women are seriously underrepresented in many STEM fields. This limits their participation in many well-paid, high-growth professions and deprives the Nation of the full benefit of their talents and perspectives.” *
China and India Producing More Engineers – 15 years ago China and India awarded half as many degrees in these technology fields as did the United States. Today they graduate more than two times the number that we do in the US. Although they have larger populations than the US, this trend is not encouraging. “Only about a third of bachelor’s degrees earned in the United States are in a STEM field, compared with approximately 53 percent of first university degrees earned in China, and 63 percent of those earned in Japan.” *
Cyber-attacks/terrorism Increasing – As our global competitors (and enemies in some cases) gain more competencies and strength in STEM and in the digital world, our U.S. dependence on digital infrastructure further increases (think about how much of your world is now digital). This sadly increases the probability that over time our nation becomes more and more susceptible to cyber-attacks/terrorism on our infrastructure. Why should we care about Cyber-attacks, Cyber-Warfare and Cyber-Terrorism? World history is filled with examples groups and nations who have been defeated (or worse) by other nations with stronger technology competency in respective tools, weapons, inventions, etc. Do our enemies see this as an opportunity?

I have detailed a couple points of this STEM crisis we face. What areas do you see as crisis points that we face as a nation by not meeting this demand for STEM?

In my next blog post I will discuss some solutions to this complex problem.
David Olivencia is an international business strategy, technology, and public policy executive with 20 years of diverse leadership experiences achieved via leadership roles within Global 300 organizations and prominent national non-profits.

How to save the bees | OpenFile

How to save the bees | OpenFile

Reported on
October 28, 2011

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It’s been blamed on everything from stress to wireless internet, but microbiologists and beekeepers around the world still have a lot to learn when it comes to the decline of honeybee populations.

Ongoing research led by Dr. Leonard Foster at the University of British Columbia will at least offer beekeepers a few new tools for breeding more resilient bees. By identifying “genetic markers” of more hygienic bees, Dr. Foster hopes to save populations from collapse through selection.

“We hope we’ll see fewer bees dying,” says Dr. Foster. “But another impact it should have is to wean beekeepers off some of the harsher chemicals they’ve had to use.”

In 2006, the number of worldwide bee deaths jumped from 15 to 30 per cent, a rate that hasn’t slowed down since. “It is pretty clear now that most of the losses are due to diseases we already knew about,” says Foster, noting that parasitic Varroa mites are the most common problem.

Student beekeepers
Student beekeeper Rizan Abu-Remaileh tilts a frame of bees into sunlight at the Means of Production community garden in Strathcona. Photo by Ander Gates.

Dr. Foster says that between 2005 and 2007, those mites became increasingly resistant to three major strains of pesticides used to treat bees. “This pesticide resistance meant that beekeepers who used particular pesticides for pest control would have continued to use them, but suddenly they would have become ineffective.”

Dr. Foster is cautious about pesticide use, but says chemicals are still a necessary part of maintaining healthy bees. “It’s not something you want to put on that insect or livestock if you don’t have to,” he says. “I’d like to get beekeepers thinking more in terms of gene pool value.”

Last weekend Dr. Foster presented his $5.7 million project "Next-generation integrated pest management tools for beekeeping” to a conference of B.C. honey producers. But his approach isn't the only idea currently in vogue for curbing the loss of bees.

With awareness spreading about the plight of bees, small-scale urban beekeeping is booming in Vancouver. Often with an intent to learn more about colony collapse and experiment with more organic and sustainable methods, local food junkies are taking up beekeeping in swarms.

“Young people are certainly catching on,” says Brian Campbell, an urban apiarist who founded a hands-on beekeeping apprenticeship program in Strathcona. “The median age used to be 90 not long ago,” he jokes.

To encourage pollination and honey production in the city, hives are kept on the roof of City Hall and the Convention Centre, as well as at many of the city’s community gardens. Many urban agriculture enthusiasts are even choosing to keep bees in their backyard.

“A hobby beekeeper has less than 20 different colonies,” Dr. Foster says, highlighting the difference between small-scale operations and the thousands of hives used to commercially pollinate crops. Although Dr. Foster is a supporter of urban ‘swarming,’ he says the overall affect on colony collapse is minimal. “The number of colonies in North America is not influenced by what hobby beekeepers do.”

Dr. Foster says a lack of information among small-scale beekeepers can actually have some negative effects. By ignoring disease treatments altogether, Dr. Foster says one colony can reach and infect hundreds of neighbours.

“It can affect more than just your bees,” he says, adding that bees can travel up to five kilometres from their hive. “The bottom line is that hobby beekeepers often don’t use any of these things [antibiotics, pesticides] and then they often don’t have very healthy bees because of it.”

Both Dr. Foster and Campbell encourage prospective beekeepers to access as much information on the subject as possible, to avoid disease in the first place. “Our class is quite extensive,” says Campbell. “It’s 14 weeks of hands-on training, which I believe is unique across Canada.”

As many Vancouverites take on the practice, Dr. Foster sees new opportunities for growth in urban ecosystems. “Just about any ecosystem you care to look at probably doesn’t have enough pollinators in it—and that definitely includes urban ecosystems,” he says. “Hobby keepers have a lot of value in various aspects like maintaining genetic diversity.” These urban swarms are generally positive initiatives, but they're not likely to save the bees.

Biomimcry : Zooillogix

Biomimcry : Zooillogix

Mimicking Mother Nature: Biomimicry — Features — Utne Reader

Mimicking Mother Nature: Biomimicry — Features — Utne Reader

Mimicking Mother Nature Biomimicry via @addthis “If we could capture nature’s efficiencies across the board & decrease dependency on fuel by at least 50%
Despite these potential energy savings, Harman says, he’s long faced stubbornness among industry engineers, who believed efficiency was synonymous with the sort of cookie-cutter design and manufacturing that’s been around since the industrial revolution. It’s only recently that mainstream companies have begun to equate biomimicry with the bottom line. DaimlerChrysler, for example, introduced a prototype car modeled on a coral reef fish. Despite its boxy, cube-shaped body, which defies a long-held aerodynamic standard in automotive design (the raindrop shape), the streamlined boxfish proved to be aerodynamically ideal and the unique construction of its skin—numerous hexagonal, bony plates—a perfect recipe for designing a car of maximum strength with minimal weight. Companies and communities are flocking to Janine Benyus, author of the landmark book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature (Perennial, 2002) and cofounder of the Biomimicry Guild, which seats biologists at the table with researchers and designers at companies such as Nike, Interface carpets, Novell, and Procter & Gamble. Their objective is to marry industrial problems with natural solutions. The Helena, Montana-based consultancy also offers a headhunting service for companies seeking inspiration from nature or to put biologists on the payroll. The guild, which presents companies with natural models in hopes of encouraging sustainable business practices, also flags substances that might soon be banned and presents companies with scientific research regarding benign, natural alternatives.

Benyus, who hopes companies will ultimately transcend mere product design to embrace nature on a more holistic level, breaks biomimicry into three tiers. On a basic (albeit complicated) level, industry will mimic nature’s precise and efficient shapes, structures, and geometries. The microstructure of the lotus leaf, for example, causes raindrops to bead and run off immediately, while self-cleaning and drying its surface—a discovery that the British paint company Sto has exploited in a line of building paints. The layered structure of a butterfly wing or a peacock plume, which creates iridescent color by refracting light, is being mimicked by cosmetics giant L’Oreal in a soon-to-be-released line of eye shadow, lipstick, and nail varnish. The branchlike structure of bronchial tubes in human lungs inspired engineers at Morgan Fuel Cells to invent an efficient solution for administering oxygen and hydrogen gas flow in fuel cells.

The next level of biomimicry involves imitating natural processes and biochemical “recipes”: Engineers and scientists are now looking at the nasal glands of seabirds to solve the problem of desalination; the abalone’s ability to self-assemble its incredibly durable shell in water, using local ingredients, has inspired an alternative to the conventional, and often toxic, “heat, beat, and treat” manufacturing method. How other organisms deal with harmful bacteria can also be instructive: Researchers for the Australian company Biosignal, for instance, observed a seaweed that lives in an environment teeming with microbes to figure out how it kept free of the same sorts of bacterial colonies, called biofilms, that cause plaque on your teeth and clog up your bathroom drain. They determined that the seaweed uses natural chemicals, called furanones, that jam the cell-to-cell signaling systems that allow bacteria to communicate and gather. Most antibacterial products on the market, such as soaps and coatings for contact lenses, are eventually susceptible to bacterial resistance, which is why Biosignal is now working to develop products that incorporate furanones in a wide range of applications, from medical equipment to cosmetics.

Read more:

Ultimately, the most sophisticated application of biomimicry, according to Benyus, is when a company starts seeing itself as an organism in an economic ecosystem that must make thrifty use of limited resources and creates symbiotic relationships with other like organisms. A boardroom approach at this level begins with imagining any given company, or collection of industries, as a forest, prairie, or coral reef, with its own “food web”(manufacturing inputs and outputs) and asking whether waste products from one manufacturing process can be used, or perhaps sold, as an ingredient for another industrial activity. For instance, Geoffrey Coates, a chemist at Cornell, has developed a biodegradable plastic synthesized from carbon dioxide and limonene (a major component in the oil extracted from citrus rind) and is working with a cement factory to trap their waste CO2 and use it as an ingredient.

Read more:

Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives (ZERI), a global network of scientists, entrepreneurs, and educators, has initiated ecoindustrial projects that attempt to find ways to reuse all wastes as raw materials for other processes. Storm Brewing in Newfoundland, Canada—in one of a growing number of projects around the world applying ZERI principles—is using spent grains, a by-product of the beer-making process, to make bread and grow mushrooms.

As industries continue to adopt nature’s models, entire manufacturing processes could operate locally, with local ingredients—like the factories that use liquefied beach sand to make windshields. As more scientists and engineers begin to embrace biomimicry, natural organisms will come to be regarded as mentors, their processes deemed masterful. And our culture at large will be more likely to see nature not as an exploitable resource, but as a source of information that’s worth protecting

Read more:

The CEO of the Women’s Business Development Council in Stratford, CT, Fran Pastore, joined the hearing. In her testimony, she talked about the importance of Federal investments in Small Business Administration Women’s Business Development Centers, as well as how we can support aspiring entrepreneurs and existing small and medium sized businesses to help stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Posted by DD Vasseur, I just wanted to add a comment of my own. To all of you in CT that lost your power but had natural gas. If you install a cogeneration you would have had heat and some electricity. Honda cogeneration is a good investment in these turbulent weather patterns that we are experiencing. Apartment buildings would also benefit!

Warm Regards!

November 9, 2011

Sign up for periodic email updates from Congresswoman DeLauro

Dear Friends,

I am writing to highlight some things happening in Congress and our community that you might find helpful.

The Storm
Connecticut Events
Small Businesses, the Engine of Our Economy
Reining in Oil Speculators, Lowering Oil and Gas Prices
Job Training Grants Announcement

The Storm

Winter Storm Recovery Efforts
If you or someone you know needs more information on emergency shelters, call 2-1-1 or visit For more information on utilities, you can contact Connecticut Light & Power by phone (800) 286-2000 or visit To contact United Illuminating, call (800) 722-5584 or visit

In the aftermath of the recent winter storm, I visited emergency shelters in Seymour, Naugatuck, Durham/ Middlefield, and Middletown to meet with local mayors, officials, and residents. The storm left Connecticut with an historic number of power outages, over 850,000 customers were without electrical power at the high point. Representatives John Larson, Joe Courtney, and I, Governor Daniel Malloy, and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman met with Bill Bryan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration at the U.S. Department of Energy. At our urging, additional utility crews were made available to Connecticut. In addition, the delegation sent letters to the President supporting Governor Malloy’s emergency disaster declaration request for Connecticut, which was granted, and his request to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for additional federal aid for the state.

Connecticut Events

Congresswoman DeLauro discusses the jobs crisis with Brown Stonehouse Restaurant owner, Greg Klonaras, during her tour of small businesses in Hamden, CT.
Investing in Our Schools
I recently visited West Haven High School to discuss the Fix America’s Schools Today (FAST) Act, which would modernize America’s schools, improve the quality of education, help schools to save money through energy efficiency upgrades, and create jobs. This initiative is included by President Obama in the American Jobs Act, and would invest $30 billion in American K-12 schools and community colleges. With so many school districts facing budget cuts, these funds would enable schools to make needed renovations, improving the learning environment for our kids and putting people to work on labor-intensive jobs.

Energy Efficient Solutions to the Jobs Crisis
Lighting Quotient, a lighting manufacturer, has led the way transitioning to a cleaner, greener, and more energy-efficient economy and creating jobs. But, there is more we can do to strengthen our economy, save energy costs, and protect the environment. That is why I recently joined Representatives Russ Carnahan (MO-3) and Peter Welch (VT-D) in introducing the Job Creation and Energy Efficiency Act, which will create jobs and support private sector growth through the retrofitting of existing buildings to increase their energy efficiency. This legislation will create a program through the Department of Energy to give businesses and local governments access to low interest financing for energy efficiency retrofits of existing buildings. The loans would be paid off by the energy savings generated. By incentivizing energy efficiency retrofits, the Job Creation and Energy Efficiency Act will create millions of jobs in the construction and manufacturing industry, stimulating the private sector while helping businesses and local governments reduce their energy consumption and save money.

Small Businesses, the Engine of Our Economy

Nothing is more important to our economy right now than creating jobs and putting Americans back to work. Small businesses are the engine of our economy.

I recently visited three businesses in downtown Hamden, talking to small business owners to find out what the federal government can do to help them weather the dismal economy. The first and second stop included a visit to D’Camm Ltd and Brownstone House restaurant to discuss initiatives and policies that will directly help grow their businesses and hire more people. The third stop was Quinnipiac Bank and Trust to discuss difficulties in obtaining bank financing, health care costs, payroll taxes and the availability of tax credits that could help spur hiring and expansion. To create the conditions for prosperity and foster a meaningful and sustained economic recovery that reaches all Americans, we can start by doing all we can to support our small businesses, where 80 percent of new jobs in Connecticut are created.

To highlight small business success stories that encourage innovation and create good paying American jobs, I recently co-chaired a Small Business Entrepreneurs: Engine for American Jobs hearing in the House of Representatives. The CEO of the Women’s Business Development Council in Stratford, CT, Fran Pastore, joined the hearing. In her testimony, she talked about the importance of Federal investments in Small Business Administration Women’s Business Development Centers, as well as how we can support aspiring entrepreneurs and existing small and medium sized businesses to help stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Molecular Neuro-Imaging, LLC has used early stage Federal investments through the Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) program to expand their business. I also co-hosted a forum with Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochburg to provide our local small businesses with the information and support they need to export goods, create jobs, and help Connecticut fully recover from this historic recession.

Reining in Oil Speculators, Lowering Oil and Gas Prices

Congresswoman DeLauro encourages students to eat healthy meals in honor of Food Day this past month.
With cold weather fast approaching, I recently joined my colleague, Peter Welch (D-VT) in announcing the Anti-Excessive Speculation Act of 2011 to limit the ability of energy market speculators to seek profit at the expense of consumers. This legislation would for the first time put into law a limit on the amount of oil and other energy futures speculators can buy, greatly reducing the ability of speculators to manipulate prices. Oil and energy price increases are driven, in part, by speculation, and this legislation will give the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) important tools to eliminate excessive speculation in this market.

Job Training Grants Announcement

The Connecticut delegation recently announced $9.9 million in workforce development grants for the Workplace Inc. and Capital Workforce Partners to target long term unemployed populations by providing them with education, career skills, and job placement assistance for jobs in the health care industry. These grants will have an enormous impact in helping unemployed men and women get back on their feet and find good, well-paying jobs to support their families. This new program will provide workers with a new set of useful, profitable skills in the health care industry, and ensure that our hospitals and health care providers have access to a highly-trained workforce.


Rosa DeLauro
Rosa DeLauro

Are we doomed by democracy?

Are we doomed by democracy?


Pros and Cons of Natural Gas Cars: Phil/Phill Cng Appliance and More

Pros and Cons of Natural Gas Cars: Phil/Phill Cng Appliance and More

Of the next 900 power plants to be built in the U.S. 800+ will use Natural gas. So if you buy a natural Gas Vehicle a CNG Car or buy a EV electric Vehicle it will be powered in-part by Natural Gas. National Security almost demand it. If the dollar is no longer the currency used to buy oil internationally

Pros and Cons of Natural Gas Cars: Phil/Phill Cng Appliance and More
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Since the beginning of fuel driven transportation, vehicles have been fueled by petroleum, but now things are beginning to change. Natural gas has hit the spotlight with the rise in popularity of compressed natural gas cars (cng cars). There are several reasons why these cars are becoming so popular: Natural gas sources are available in North America rather than Saudi Arabia, natural gas costs two to three dollars less than gasoline, vehicles run on natural gas just as well as gasoline, if not better and natural gas produces nearly no pollution.

According to Natural Gas Vehicles of America (NGVA) there is an estimated 150,000 natural gas vehicles operating in the U.S. today and over five million worldwide. News has spread that it is possible to convert used vehicles to run on cng and the phones at NGVA have been ringing off the hook from consumers that wish to convert their cars to natural gas.

Cng cars are sold overseas by all the major automobile manufacturers but only Honda sells them in the U.S. At present the only model they sell is the Honda GX at a suggested retail price of $25,190 U.S. In some parts of the country such as Utah, where cng is only sixty four cent per gallon, the company is having a hard time keeping up with the demand for the vehicle.

Although the Honda Civic GX costs more than regular Civics, the car is eligible for thousands of dollars in tax credits. The range of the Honda Civic GX is only between two hundred and two hundred and fifty miles because compressed natural gas occupies more space in the tank than gasoline.

Therefore, if you were planning a long distance trip you would have to make sure there there were enough cng stations along your route. Most cities typically have about three cng stations in a metropolitan area and all are usually located in industrial areas far away from residential areas.

Now more than ever consumers are considering the purchase of a natural gas car because it is possible to fuel the vehicle from home. A new appliance named Phil, marketed by Fuel Maker allows you to fuel your car from your home’s natural gas supply for $1.00 to $1.50 per gallon. All you need to do is attach the nozzle to your gas tank and turn it on. When the tank is full, Phil shuts off automatically.

The installation cost for Phil is about four thousand dollars but in some parts of the country you can get a lot of that money back through tax credits. The only downside is that home supplied natural gas is under low pressure so if your tank is empty it may take up to twenty four hours to fill up.

The best way to avoid this problem would be to top off your tank over night on a daily basis. When it is convenient to fill up at a CNG station it will only take minutes because the gas is under high pressure.

The supply of natural gas in North America is abundant and growing. New technology is allowing for the release of natural gas found in coal fields. There are also a number of untapped areas off the east and west coast, around Florida and in the Rockies. There are both pros and cons to operating a natural gas car. They may not be the answer to all of Americas energy needs but they are definitely a step in the right direction.