~Meniscus Archives~

Summer 2004
Issue #4

May - August 2004

Visual Art and Spiritual Evolution
Andy Gmür
Biological evolution has advanced to the point that a 'spiritual evolution' is taking place. This natural process is happening, no matter if we are aware of it or not.

The Dehydration Epidemic
Jaime Larese
Our first step to improving a myriad of health problems is understanding dehydration and how much water we need to be drinking daily to maintain our fragile health.

What's Endangering Our Earth?
Jeff Hernandez
The everyday items that are meant to facilitate our lives, in fact may be harming us more than we bargained for. Organic chemicals are extremely cheap to produce and are very effective in their job functions.

Looking Forward to Clean Energy
Jon Heinrich
Fortunately, solutions exist and if we are able to raise awareness and convince our policy makers to consider it a priority, we can all look forward to a bright, energy-rich future instead of one marked by environmental, political, and social disaster.
Aaron Ades
You don't need to save for a rainy day if you create a system that is in harmony with the needs of the human animal. Create what you need and eliminate the reliance on things you cannot create.
Ten Things You Can Do to Help Your Earth
Chrystie Hopkins
Whether you live in New York City or Big Fork, Montana, everyday decisions that you make can impact the environment. The revolution starts at home. Here are ten things that you can do to help save YOUR world.
Derek Gumuchian
We are all one. In this article we explore the idea of the Earth as an entire entitiy and as our mother.
The Fabulous Sylvan Sisters
Dan Berthiaume
An hour later, Donna was lazily reclining in the passenger seat of Melinda's cherry red Volkswagen New Beetle, consuming a brunch consisting of a can of Diet Pepsi and a low-tar cigarette...
è bella Designs in Peru
Michael Weintrob
Photographer Michael Weintrob travels to Peru with è bella Designs, to capture how è bella has helped to revive the art of weaving and the Peruvuian economy.
Rough Around the Edges
Jonathan Alsop

Technically, first thing in the morning is the very best time to taste wine since your palate is fresh and unviolated. But I don't do it: the sight of daddy in his bathrobe on a Sunday morning slogging down a half-dozen bottles of wine could stay with a child.

Show Review:
Pete Pidgeon & Arcoda—Six Years of friends, funk and crack horns.
Jon Heinrich
Pete Pidgeon & Arcoda celebrate six years as a band by playing at Boston's Harpers Ferry. Opening up for Arcoda was Color and Talea and Caveman. 4/4/04.

CD Reviews:

Empty Food
Kerry Rumore
Fish Pond &
The Little Prince Discovers a Rose
Katie Molnar

Selections by Brian Gagné:

  • [It Fails to Pass]
  • Fever/Lever
  • Grief
  • Smallness annihilated in the scope of puzzlement
  • Untitled A

Spring Issue Launch
Club Europa,
Feb. 19, 2004

State of the Art,
Oct. 23, 2003

Portland, Maine
Aug. 30, 2003

Premier Launch,
Zeitgeist Gallery,
Aug. 14, 2003












Aside from the complex politics involved, the world is simply running out of fossil fuels. The U.S. is already well beyond our peak production, hence our reliance on foreign oil. Once peak production is reached worldwide—when half of the recoverable reserves have been tapped—the price of oil and gasoline will dramatically and irreversibly rise. You think $2.00 a gallon is bad, wait until we reach $4, $5 or even $6 a gallon. According to geologists, we are likely to hit peak production somewhere between 2008 and 2018.















Detrimental environmental effects characterize our fossil fuel economy. There are many side effects from burning massive amounts of fossil fuels, such as global warming, species extinction, glacial recession, and melting ice caps—which could equate to land mass in popular urban areas going under water.

Bye bye Manhattan!


Photo by Will Springfield
(See more of Will's work in the gallery.-->)


Looking Forward
Clean Energy

Jon Heinrich
Published 5/15/04


Green capitalism,"Make it work!"
We as a nation are blessed with a brilliant population of intelligent professionals. It has come time that we focus our collective intellect on solving the looming shortage of oil. By sparking an already budding industry we can focus on bringing the solution all the way to the root of our problems.

Think of a world free from pollution, free from war and global strife; a world where even the poorest countries have enough energy for basic services we take for granted like plumbing, clean water, sewage disposal, and electricity. Imagine pulling our energy from natural resources such as the sun and the earth, putting it into an energy dense liquid or gas and “burning” it only to create pure water as exhaust.

It doesn’t take the threat of global chaos to see opportunity. Capitalism is an amazing vehicle for passing energy throughout society, enabling all the advancement we have encountered over the past 200 years. At this amazing epoch in history, it is time to apply our economic motives to creating a cleaner, more energy-efficient world.

Money is the life blood of capitalism; the flow of currency allows the world to unite as one collective entity and grow civilization together instead of individually. The system set in place allows the western world to live in decorated, gas-heated apartments with hot showers, sewage disposal, and all elements of comfortable survival. Isn’t it time we stop polluting the world by using these luxuries? By focusing the next economic revolution on developing inexpensive alternative energy sources, we can make this a reality.

It is critical that our leaders recognize the power that the flow of money has. Every new day represents the next pinnacle of achievement because of it. Right now, there are several options advancing everyday to help us contribute to conservation and move towards a green future.

History, Energy and Civilizations—per Jeremy Rifkin
In his book, The Hydrogen Economy, Jeremy Rifkin explains the historical development—and downfall—of civilizations around energy. In the days of the Roman empire, Caesar’s regime annexed land in order to gain riches and land resources. At the peak of their conquest the Roman Empire had accumulated so much booty that coins were freely handed to the plebeians of Rome in grand celebration.

In 1859 when oil was first discovered in the early days of the industrial revolution, it became the hottest commodity on the resource market. Such a compact portable source of energy allowed advancements which otherwise would not have been possible with oil’s predecessors, wood, coal and whale oil. The world was so quick to embrace this energy source that by 1916, 3.4 million “horseless carriages” were on the road in the U.S. alone.

Oil was a critical factor in World War I. Not only did it enable the British to stave off the Germans, but from that point onward, oil became a central element to all future military conquests—the newly developed tanks and warplanes could not do their job without it.

In 1941 when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, Hitler had his eye on the Baku oil fields in Caucasus. At the time, Germany relied on synthetic oil extracted from coal—an inefficient and costly process. Fortunately for the allies, the Soviets destroyed the oil pumps by the time the Germans arrived, thus stranding German troops far from home and without fuel. Who knows what would have happened had the Germans succeeded.

Now, in 2004, not much has changed. Despite the fact that the U.S. represents only 5 percent of the world’s population, we use almost 26 percent of the world’s oil. This creates an interesting dynamic given that the U.S. is about 30 years beyond peak production. Got oil? No.

Oil rich real estate, Bush as our agent
Take a look at a map of the real estate the U.S. moved in on since 2001 in regards to the five leading OPEC producers—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, and Abu Dhabi (in the United Arab Emirates.)

We used our military might to secure political control over both Afghanistan and Iraq. That makes sense. With 60 percent of the oil depleted from our homeland, and industrialized nations like China working to raise their standard of living, the competition for oil will be fierce.

Good, bad, or indifferent, George W. Bush’s decision to secure Iraq in the hands of the U.S. will enable us to drive our gas-powered vehicles for a few more years while the rest of the world is forced to other options. Despite the heated debate over the justification of the war in Iraq, each time an American fills his or her gas tank, they support Bush’s actions through economics.

Because of political uncertainty, impending shortages, and the detrimental environmental effects of CO2 emissions, America needs to look for solutions for the future before we find ourselves left in the dark—literally. Fortunately, solutions exist and if we are able to raise awareness and convince our policy makers to consider it a priority, we can all look forward to a bright, energy-rich future instead of one marked by environmental, political, and social disaster.

Hybrid Electric
The most immediate option to help lessen the effects of depleting and polluting fossil fuels is hybrid-electric cars. Car makers have incorporated an electric motor with an internal combustion engine to drastically increase the gas mileage and reduce emissions of passenger vehicles.

Employing a series of batteries, the car is charged by the engine and never needs to be plugged in to recharge. Additionally, the brakes attach to a feedback mechanism that channels the car’s kinetic energy back to the batteries during breaking.

Typically, gas mileage in popular models range from 45 - 65 mpg. Current models available include the Honda Insight and Civic; Toyota Prius; and several new SUV models due out in late 2004 are the Ford Escape, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Lexus RX 400h getting about 28 mpg.

While the technology is very effective in boosting gas mileage, it is still costly—and it still uses fossil fuels. As it becomes more mainstream however, economies of scale will drive the price down as we enjoy the benefits of reduced emissions and middle eastern demand.

Another solution that is entirely viable today is bio-diesel. With absolutely no modification, any diesel engine produced after 2000 can run on this remarkable renewable fuel. (Older cars need a slight modification to refit the plastic belts and hoses that are corroded by bio-diesel.)

What’s known as bio-diesel is refined vegetable oil, such as soy oil. Amazingly, the oil used to cook french fries at McDonald's can be put into your vehicle. The emissions are significantly less toxic than that of pure petroleum diesel and even said to have a pleasant smell.

Bio-diesel has several advantages that make it a prime short-term solution to a long-term energy dilemma. The first and most significant advantage is that consumers can use their current vehicles with little or no capital investment. Whereas hybrid electric cars are very limited in model choices and availability, anyone can go out and buy any car that takes diesel fuel, like the Volkswagen Gulf, and begin using renewable energy immediately.

The second greatest advantage of bio-diesel is the ability to grow it. As petroleum prices rise higher and higher, it will be more difficult for farmers to stay on the profitable side of the very thin margins they maintain. This will be more and more difficult as oil prices inevitably rise. If they were able to grow their own fuel however, operating costs would actually go down instead of up. In the grand scheme, this translates to producing our own fuel, which would have far-reaching political ramifications.

Currently the United States spends millions of dollars annually maintaining military bases in the middle east to protect our supply routes. To eliminate the Achilles heel of dependence, would allow the U.S. to reroute all those millions of dollars to education, healthcare, or any number of pressing social areas.

Another major advantage of bio-diesel is the compatibility with the current petroleum infrastructure. As you will see when we discuss Hydrogen, supply infrastructure is a major factor in the feasibility of any fuel source. The fact that we can simply fill up the same tanks with bio-diesel as we do with petrol-gas eliminates a tremendous potential cost of entry.

The exciting news is that bio-diesel is being looked at for large-scale use right now. On May 5, 2004, Boston City Council began researching the use of cooking oil to power public works vehicles. Rather than paying disposal fees, local fast food restaurants are giving their used grease to the city for free. The waste product is then processed and put into city vehicles. Now we have less grease to dispose of and carbon-neutral energy. What more could you ask for?

Jeremy Rifkin, in The Hydrogen Economy, envisions a world where the entire structure of centralized energy economy is changed. Fuel cells will be installed in various geographic regions and set up as mini power plants. Many people will connect to create a Hydrogen Energy Web (HEW) where power is freely shared to and fro from within the web. Much like the worldwide web, it will not rely on the now outdated, command-and-control hierarchy of the fossil fuel era but rather will be a distributed energy network where we all contribute and reap the rewards of the renewable energy.

Hydrogen produces power via a chemical process unlike conventional power generation used today. First of all, hydrogen is separated from the oxygen in water by electrolysis. The electricity introduced to the equation breaks the covalent bond holding the water molecules together and creates pure hydrogen and pure oxygen: H2 and O2. When the hydrogen is reintroduced to oxygen and an activation energy in a fuel cell, H2 combines with O2, releasing one molecule of H2O, and one extra electron in the form of usable energy. The only by-product is pure water. This release of energy can be used for anything we currently use fossil fuels for, in home, office, commercial applications, and also in automobiles.

In order to break through to the hydrogen economy, one of three main constraints we must over come is creating a fuel tank that will safely contain enough hydrogen to take a car 400 miles—the standard range of a passenger car. Not only must this fuel tank contain the high-pressure gas or super cold liquid (-423 degrees Fahrenheit!), it must be strong enough to withstand a car accident and light enough to keep the vehicle efficient.

Once a fuel tank solution is fine-tuned enough to become an industry standard, we can tackle the second constraint, mass production of fuel cell vehicles. Until auto makers produce roughly 10 million cars, the price of such vehicles will be significantly higher than that of conventional autos. Mass production is therefore crucial; economies of scale will get these vehicles to the public at a reasonable cost.

Finally, while fuel tank and mass production opportunities are being resolved, we need to bring fueling stations on-line—because a hydrogen car is no good if you can’t get fuel for it. Luckily oil companies like Shell, Exxon, and BP have been working on this technology for over a decade. In California, this is already underway. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed an order to create a network of 150-200 hydrogen filling stations throughout California by 2010. While this is very optimistic, according to some experts, the important thing to realize—this is happening now!

These three constraints—fuel tank viability, a mass production plan, and refueling infrastructure—are significant obstacles. However it is time to make it happen.

Currently, the nation of Iceland is showing the world how to create a non-polluting hydrogen energy economy. To support their commitment to become fossil-fuel free, the vast geothermal energy of Iceland is now being used to power hydrolyzers, machines that use electrolysis to produce hydrogen from water. The country is already launching its first hydrogen-powered fleet of busses and installing prototype fueling stations.

In addition to geothermal energy, many other techniques are available to create electricity for electrolysis. Photo voltaic solar cells, wind generators, and hydroelectric plants are prime examples of how energy can be pulled from the earth and sun and store it as clean energy.

What now?!?
What needs to happen to make this happen? First the opportunity must be recognized. We have to get the word out—and the full understanding—to people who are making decisions.

Think about what we’re spending right now on this war. For $87 billion we could build for the U.S., a hydrogen-friendly supply line, overcome the technological constraints, and set up the basis of the hydrogen economy that would grow self-sufficiently along the same lines the fossil fuel economy grew—by supply demand economics. Once we get past the upstart, we’ll be a society pulling clean energy into hydrogen and then dispersing it equally and cheaply to everyone. The dramatic portability of power plants and energy will enable a non-geographically central grid of electricity supply. We will drive hydrogen powered cars emitting pure distilled water which would moisturize the world instead of chocking it in carbon exhaust.

Once the technology hits a useable level, millions of people could be employed building the new infrastructure of vehicles, filling stations, and hydrogen production plants—where energy is taken from wind, sun, geothermal, and other natural sources to perform the electrolysis reaction where hydrogen is extracted and water is turned into super dense liquid energy.

Energy will be extracted on the user’s end via a fuel cell—another product that will need to be manufactured and improved, hence employing our stateside knowledge workers.

We’re quickly coming to a point where there will be no oil left. But if we adjust our economic focus now, we’ll all be thriving off energy from the earth. Energy will be captured from the sun, wind, and geothermal sources, converted to hydrogen, then “burned” to release only pure water. Wouldn’t that be nice?

The Hydrogen Economy awakens
This is a world where everyone wins. Instead of invading countries to secure political real estate, we can ease up on our concern for the middle east, because the reliance will be over. Just imagine what happens when we stop shipping that region millions of pounds of bombs, tanks, and other war implements that never come back. No bombs being dropped is a good place to start to end war. If we no longer need the black gold under Saudi Arabia and Iraq we can withdraw hundreds of thousands of troops worldwide as we no longer will have critical supply chains to protect. The U.S. will become totally energy independent. And we can let those people be free!

But before this happens we need to start thinking about it now, today. Each time you fill up your gas tank think about how you can do it less. Can I find an alternate technology to get me around that doesn’t take petroleum fuel? How can I conserve more?

Take just ten minutes out of your day to send your congressman an email telling him that you want the next $87 billion to go to hydrogen research and not tanks, missiles, bombs and soldiers. Support the Liberman-McCain climate stewardship act going through congress right now.

Marley was right, there’s “so much trouble in the world.” But we have the opportunity to attack the problems at the source. This is really worth thinking about—for all of us and for our children’s children. “We the people can make it work!”

Jon Heinrich

Schwartz, Peter, Doug Randall, “How Hydrogen Can Save America.” Wired, April 2003.
“Schwrzenegger promises California ‘Hydrogen Highway’ by 2010,” Salon, April 20, 2003.
Rifkin, Jeremy, The Hydrogen Economy, Tarcher/Penguin books, 2002.
Harris, Lissa, “Grease Guzzlers: City Looks to Convert Used Fat to Clean Fuel.” Boston’s Weekly Dig Vol. 6 Issue 19 (May 12, 2004): 7.



Meniscus Magazine © 2004. All material is property of respective artists.