Water. In a bottle.

I don’t think many people consider the implications of drinking bottled water. I’m guilty of it too but usually only when there isn’t another source available. While it’s a scourge to the planet, it’s a great example of the power of marketing when big brands like Coke get behind something. If you think about it, it’s not too dissimilar to the idea of buying bottled air (and I’m not talking the scuba type). So next time you reach for a bottle of Valpre think about the bigger picture. And let’s not kid, if you live in Joburg the water out the tap is pretty damn good.

Why all the kids?

This is a serious post. It’s one of the posts that should be posted. It’s one of those posts that you should read.

With all the less important stuff that you see on STM, it’s kind of like watching a soapy and then changing the channel to a David Attenborough narrated doccie. You get the picture…

Pollution, destruction of biodiversity, climate change, massively depleted fish stocks, inhumane livestock farming, and dwindling of all finite resources. All serious issues we are currently facing on earth, all interlinked, and all essentially because of one underlying problem – a human population that is set to hit 7 billion in 2011.

A little population timeline:
C.E. 1000-1100 – 300 million
1200-1300 – 380million
1300-1400 – 420 million (Bubonic plague kills more than a quarter of the population)
1500-1600 – 500 million (African slave trade begins, Europeans create trading posts in Africa)
1700-1800 – 720 million (vaccine for small pox created, population increases by 40%)
1800-1900 – 1 billion
1900 – 2000 – beginning of the century 1.7 billion, end of the century 6.1 billion

How the hell did it explode like this you ask? Well modern medicine, better living conditions, commercial farming and then pure mathematics. The power of compounding – wonderful when it comes to your investments but not so good when it comes to population numbers. According to the World Bank’s most recent figures the global population is growing at 1.2% annually. Doesn’t sound like much does it, but when you calculate how many years it will take to double the population, the answer is shocking. 58 years.

Here is a brilliant analogy by Dr. Albert Bartlett about steady growth in a finite environment that makes the problem blatantly clear:

“Bacteria grow by doubling. One bacterium divides to become two, the two divide to become 4, the 4 become 8, 16 and so on. Suppose we had bacteria that doubled in number this way every minute. Suppose we put one of these bacteria into an empty bottle at 11:00 in the morning, and then observe that the bottle is full at 12:00 noon. There’s our case of just ordinary steady growth: it has a doubling time of one minute, it’s in the finite environment of one bottle.

I want to ask you three questions.
Number one: at what time was the bottle half full? Well, would you believe 11:59, one minute before 12:00? Because they double in number every minute.

And the second question: if you were an average bacterium in that bottle, at what time would you first realize you were running of space? Well, let’s just look at the last minutes in the bottle. At 12:00 noon, it’s full; one minute before, it’s half full; 2 minutes before, it’s a quarter full. Let me ask you, at 5 minutes before 12:00, when the bottle is only 3% full and is 97% open space just yearning for development, how many of you would realize there’s a problem?”

So how many people can the earth sustain? This is an extremely complex question to answer because it is less about space, like the bacteria’s bottle, than about consumption of resources. The majority of the word’s population in Africa and Asia currently live off very little but this is changing rapidly in places like India and China (Africa not so much, ag shame) and more people start living like, well, you and I.

According to Dr. David Pimentel (Cornell University) the earth could only sustain between 1-2 billion people living like Americans. So it’s clear that the world cannot all live like us, but that is what everyone is striving for, and can you blame them. How much do you think you would enjoy life if it didn’t include a bed to sleep in, running water, flush toilets, a fridge full of food, TV, a car, internet access etc?

So what do we do? We use science to increase resources – we find renewable sources of energy to take over from fossil fuels, clever biotechnologists make plants that produce more food, we desalinate water and many other, less honourable things, but it is not enough if we don’t turn population growth negative.

And it’s intellectually dishonest to talk about saving the environment without stressing the obvious fact that stopping population growth is a necessary condition for saving the environment and for sustainability.

Here is an awesome list of things that will reduce the population:
Disease, war, murder, famine, natural disaster…

Now I am a fan of some of the above, but if you are a little more humanitarian, you really only have one choice.


Anyone who has more than one child, to replace each parent, is contributing to population growth and to the destruction of the earth and should, in my mind be, be shunned and publically ridiculed for their ignorance.

I will leave you to think about whether you want to have any children at all with this excerpt from an interview with Isaac Asimov (the science fiction writer you cretin).

Asked of Asimov, “What happens to the idea of the dignity of the human species if this population growth continues?” and Asimov says, “It’ll be completely destroyed. I like to use what I call my bathroom metaphor. If two people live in an apartment, and there are two bathrooms, then they both have freedom of the bathroom. You can go to the bathroom anytime you want, stay as long as you want, for whatever you need. And everyone believes in freedom of the bathroom. It should be right there in the constitution. But if you have twenty people in the apartment and two bathrooms, then no matter how much every person believes in freedom of the bathroom, there’s no such thing. You have to set up times for each person, you have to bang on the door, ‘Aren’t you through yet?’ and so on.” And Asimov concluded with one of the most profound observations I’ve seen in years. He said, “In the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive overpopulation. Convenience and decency cannot survive overpopulation. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies, the more people there are, the less one individual matters.”

Thanks Ang

The world is filled with amazing creatures!!

If you havent seen this thing take a look – I mean as far as animals go this creature is the closest thing we have to a ‘shapeshifter’! This amazing thing can change into atleast 15 different kind of under water creatures – just far too cool and ive decided when i grow up – i wanna be one!


I then started doing a bit more looking around at the animal world and stumbled back onto an old favorite of our called BOSTON BIG PICTURE – now if you havent seen this site it really is worth it. They have masses of independent photographers working freelance for them so they get to pick out the best of the best and each week they have a different theme from around the world.


Here are just a few from the newest batch . . . .

Salvation. Appreciate life to save the world

Praying Mantis - Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii. This beautiful whalbergii evolved through two of its nymph-stages on the Barberton Daisy at left, surviving because of its bright color which blended so well with the flower. Towards the end of its growth into an adult, it became a little more adventurous (but not much more) as pictured here. Once it had shed the layer in this picture, it became a fully-fledged adult, and departed after about two weeks. Total stay in this tiny ecosystem was approximately six weeks
The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil is considered a wildlife sanctuary, but today, even in this isolated archipelago dolphins are victims of the bad habits of consumption.


Think you’re a vegan? Think again!

So a lot of my friends (and in fact some here at STM) are going the ‘vegan route’ not because it’s the new done thing but because they truly believe they are saving the planet slowly (or the fact that humans are the sickest things on earth when it comes to treating animals!)!

So the question is – are these people right?

Well simply NO!

The bottom line is that by stopping your meat fixation you are merely creating a microscopic speed bump in the global empire! The facts are below and I know this is a satirical look at it but the truth is the truth! If you have turned ‘vegan’ you are actually only kidding yourself because you may have stopped scoffing down rib eyes but you actually are still supporting the evil empire in millions of other ways without even realising it!

The only way to stop whatever it is you ‘vegans’ are trying to stop and for whatever reason whether it be to save the earth or save the animals – stop whining to me that meat is cruel and start understanding the bigger picture – start making some noise about the millions of ways animals are exploited for thousands of different uses and get a bit angry for FKS SAKE!

You may be on the right path but sometime you need to wake up and realise you need to stop fighting a tiny little skirmish and – if you are serious – start fighting a proper war because if I have to hear one more sob story as to why I must quit eating meat I think I may shove a lamb on the spit through your eyes!

I give you . . . the truth!

Power generating roads

The idea of roads that create solar power is one I’d love to see take shape. The fact that the roads would have to made from glass seems a little crazy and makes one question the cost and practicality. I suspect that the bulk of the solar we see in future will come in other forms.


From here.

This is really sci-fi

Just in case the world goes through some major event disaster that destroys large amount of our flora, the guys at the Global Crop Diversity Trust have built a $7m seed vault in the side of a mountain on the Arctic Archipelago called Svalbard (which also happens to be a place in Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights).

The seeds are preserved at a temperature of -18C (-0.4F) in two secure store rooms located 130m (426ft) inside a mountain.

The vault has been designed to store duplicates of seeds from collections from all around the world.

If the nation’s seeds are lost as a result of a natural disaster, such as widespread flooding, the seed collections could be re-established using the specimens stored in the Arctic.

Read more.

Moon power

The guys at the Shimizu Corporation are thinking big. So big in fact that their concept revolves around a solar array stretching along the 11 000km lunar equator, built entirely by robots, and transmitting clean energy down to earth in the form of either microwaves or laser (pew pew)!

While the idea is incredibly far fetched at this point, it’s this kind of thought that inspires and helps drive development. Maybe we’ll see something similar (even if on a smaller scale) in our lifetime. We can only hope.

The ultimate munchies

It sounds better when you say haute stoner cuisine. It’s quite a long article about weed fueling a new kitchen culture. It’s a case of recognized chefs (not your super blazed dig’s mate) creating amazing meals that would be heightened in a marijuana induced altered state. While they may be made with a certain mindset, this is not to say that the meals aren’t fantastic regardless.

Read the full length article at the New York Times.

Some more green boating

Yesterday we spoke about The Plastiki, the boat made from plastic bottles. Today we bring you another cleaner alternative to water transport.

This boat called “Float” is a solar-powered double motor boat that runs solely on the power of the sun. The sun only. Only the sun. It can carry six people and runs at a slow sail of 7-10km/h. Cruzin only!

It’s time for a marine picnic. Float comes equipped with a table, grill for grilling up your foods, and a small refrigerator to keep the ice in check. It’s a flat-surfaced boat so you can go wild with different activities.

Beating waste one bottle at a time

This is the message given by the Plastiki Expedition, a group of people who are sailing the oceans in a boat made partly out of 12 000 plastic bottles.

The boat has been at sea for 1440 hours. In this time 3 600 000 000 bottles were used in the US alone! If you consider that nearly every plastic bottle ever made is still in existence today, you get an idea of what a huge problem this is. Check out their site to track the voyage.

There are some amazing photos of the expedition over here.

The message is clear:

Thanks Suzie

Going with the green-tech flow

A new type of tidal turbine which its creators describe as an “underwater kite” has taken a step closer to becoming commercially available.The technology comprises of a turbine attached to a wing and rudder which is tethered to the ocean floor by 100 meters of cable.

Anchoring “Deep Green” and steering the tethered “kite” enables the turbine to capture energy from the tidal currents at ten times the speed of the actual stream velocity. When operational, the turbine is expected to generate 500 kilowatts of power.

Sure, we may have access to large amounts of coal locally, but should we as a nation not be investing in alternate energy and not in more dirty coal fired plants?

We’re carbon negative!

The guys who host STM (and do a great job of it) have put in place measures to offset 110% of their carbon footprint. It’s the right thing to do after all. If you host any sites and also want to do the right thing, check them out by clicking on the banner below.

Gary Neville goes green

It’s no secret that STM supports Man United in club football. So it was with great pleasure that we found another reason to like Gary Neville. His new 8000 sq ft bunker in Bolton is a zero carbon home. Designed by Make Architects the home is made primarily from local materials and uses a heat pump, solar power and wind turbines to keep energy consumption to a minimum. Nice one Mr. Neville.

Every drop counts

Access to clean drinking water, while already a huge problem for millions of people, is going to become an increasing global problem in the future. That’s why more of these simple (and very stylish) ideas are needed. The W+W is basically a Washbasin + Watercloset combined into one. The water used in the basin is filtered and then used to flush the toilet. Easy. Brilliant.

Soccer Power

With the approach of World Cup, we’ve been bombarded with all things soccer. In amongst all the clutter, this idea really stands out for me though. The sOccket harnesses the power of kicking the ball with the stored energy being able to charge cell phones or electronic devices. I’m just not sure how long one of these will last given the heavy use and bad “fields” they’d be subjected to. From Springwise.