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Cobra Heads Shine Light Up Into Our 4th Floor Windows

Street lights are important for safety, so motorists and pedestrians can see better at night. Good lighting can help reduce crime. Sadly, most cities, including St. Louis, have bad lighting. Instead of lighting the road and sidewalks we also light up the night sky.

The International Dark-Sky Association estimates that 1/3 of all lighting is wasted at an annual cost of $2.2 BILLION dollars. The light projected directly upwards from a cobra-head streetlight is about 30% of the total light it emits! (James Mason University/John C. Wells Planetarium: Light Pollution: The Overuse & Misuse of Artificial Light at Night)

Our loft is on the 4th floor of our building, our windows don’t directly face Locust St. Still, a cobra head light across the street blasts our uncovered windows with light every night.

Looking South from our balcony toward Locust St, two cobra head lights can be seen -- one per side
Looking South from our balcony toward Locust St, two cobra head lights can be seen — one per side
This cropped version narrows down to the two lights
This cropped version narrows down to the two lights
Cropping again you can see
Cropping again you can see

The solution is to replace the old cobra head lights with more efficient LED lights, right?

The new plan for security was put in place before the recent robberies. It calls for four more surveillance cameras, license plate recognition cameras, and brighter street lights.

“What we want now are the surveillance cameras that have red and blue flashing lights on them so that people realize they are on camera and that is a really critical next step to make people realize this is a watched area,” said Missy Kelley with Downtown St. Louis, Inc.

The plan calls for all 3,000 downtown street lights to be replaced with LED lights that are brighter.

“Change out all of the cobra head lights downtown to LED lights which are brighter and whiter and will splash back onto the sidewalk. They will light the streets but also light the sidewalks,” Kelley said.

Areas around the Busch Stadium, the Peabody Opera House and Scottrade Center will see the new lighting first. (More security measures coming to downtown St. Louis)

The word “brighter” was used three times in the above quote. But, again, LEDs are the solution, right?

Not necessarily says the International Dark-Sky Association — they detail five myths about LED streetlights:

  • Myth #1: The use of LEDs reduces light pollution and is “good for dark skies” because they’re highly energy efficient.
  • Myth #2: The use of LEDs reduces light pollution and is “good for dark skies” because they make it easier to control where the light lands on the ground.
  • Myth #3: LED lighting increases traffic safety
  • Myth #4: LED lighting improves security by discouraging crime.
  • Myth #5: Energy savings from LEDs automatically means a lower carbon footprint, which is better for the environment.

Just like most regions, we’re replacing bright cobra heads that scattered light in all directions with brighter LEDs that scatter more light in slightly less directions. Brighter isn’t necessarily better or even safer.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Our Sprawl Means Lots Of Grass To Cut, Room For Urban Food Production

During the recent Board of Aldermen session where the budget was passed, a lot of time was spent discussing the cost of grass cutting. The discussion mostly focused on city/LRA-owned lots. We’re fortunate enough to have many parks throughout the city, but we also have many useless patches of grass that require regular cutting for months.

One example:

Waiting for the #90 MetroBus on Hampton Ave. I watched as at least three Forestry Dept workers were edging, April 15, 2016
Waiting for the #90 MetroBus on Hampton Ave. I watched as at least three Forestry Dept workers were edging, April 15, 2016
Seven minutes later one was up along Hampton
Seven minutes later one was up along Hampton

Throughout the city we have areas like the one shown above, a result of decades of suburban planning. The state mows the grass in the highway right-of-ways, but the city must cut it elsewhere. Before moving downtown I’d see Forestry cutting grass at Minnesota & Delor — see Google Street View. No telling how many total acres areas like this we’re cutting.

For the vacant lots the city has a new mow to own program, but there’s no easy solution to these scattered strips throughout the city. Some might work for food production, crops or fruit trees. In 2014, Seattle harvested almost 14 tons of fruit from public trees.

St. Louisans will come up with a laundry list of reasons why public land can’t be used to produce food.

— Steve Patterson

 

The Chemical Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) Is Everywhere In St. Louis!

We’ve all heard about the horrible problem of lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan, but silence on the problem here in St. Louis: Dihydrogen Monoxide

Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) is a colorless and odorless chemical compound, also referred to by some as Dihydrogen Oxide, Hydrogen Hydroxide, Hydronium Hydroxide, or simply Hydric acid. Its basis is the highly reactive hydroxyl radical, a species shown to mutate DNA, denature proteins, disrupt cell membranes, and chemically alter critical neurotransmitters. The atomic components of DHMO are found in a number of caustic, explosive and poisonous compounds such as Sulfuric Acid, Nitroglycerine and Ethyl Alcohol. (DHMO.org)

Despite the dangers, it is everywhere in our society. Where is the media on this? Silenced! At least with natural gas they add an odor so people can be aware of the danger it poses!

You've been warned!
You’ve been warned!

Turn on your tap and I guarantee you’re going to get DHMO — the same chemical Monsanto uses in many of its products. Independent test results have confirmed the presence of DHMO in taps in the St. Louis region.

Officials claim it is safe to drink — but they said that in Flint too!  Do you really want to take that chance?

Thankfully there are grassroots efforts to raise awareness and ban this harmful chemical:

The National Consumer Coalition Against DHMO (NCCADHMO), not affiliated with the Coalition to Ban Dihydrogen Monoxide, was founded in 1997 in an effort to raise public awareness about the dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) in our daily lives. The secondary goal of NCCADHMO is to act in the public interest as a lobbying agent in Congress to affect public policy regarding the safety and uses of DHMO. Although we are not funded by the EPA, we are loosely affiliated with the US Environmental Assessment Center’s Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division. This affiliation was created in an effort to make information available to the public in an expedient fashion, and to provide a public forum for the ongoing DHMO debate. 

But DHMO has found its way into everything: food, beverages — even our own bodies! Yes, the chemical sprays on commercial crops & golf courses is in the food we eat daily.

— Steve Patterson

 

Above-Average Temperatures, Humidifier Kept Us Comfortable During Winter

March 23, 2016 Environment, Featured 5 Comments

The past winter was the warmest on record, from March 8th:

The Lower 48 states had its warmest winter in 121 years of record-keeping, NOAA announced this morning.

Temperatures averaged over the country between December and February were nearly five degrees above the 20th-century average. Every state but two were warmer than normal and all six New England states set winter records. (Washington Post)

From the NOAA:

  • The December–February average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 2.03°F (1.13°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for December–February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.52°F (0.26°C). December 2015–February 2016 also marks the highest 3-month departure from average for any 3-month period on record, surpassing the previous record set last month, November 2015–January 2016, by 0.16°F (0.09°C).
  • The globally-averaged land surface temperature for December 2015–February 2016 was 3.47°F (1.93°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for December–February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record of 2015 by 0.83°F (0.46°C). December 2015–February 2016 also marks the highest 3-month departure from average for any 3-month period on record, surpassing the previous record of November 2015–January 2016 by 0.70°F (0.40°C).
  • The December–February globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.51°F (0.84°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for December–February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.40°F (0.22°C).

Though we had some cold spells, it didn’t seem as cold as last year. Here are the results from the non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Winter is over, how were your heating bills compared to the previous winter?

  • Substantially higher 0 [0%]
  • Higher 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat higher 2 [7.41%]
  • About the same 6 [22.22%]
  • Somewhat lower 6 [22.22%]
  • Lower [7 25.93%]
  • Substantially lower 6 [22.22%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 0% [0%]

More than two-thirds reported lower heating bills. Our heating bill was substantially lower — it was zero! Yes, we went all winter with our HVAC system turned off. Our loft has three floors below and above, plus units on each side. With windows only on one side, we’re well insulated. An advantage of multi-family living.

For comfort I worried more about the inside humidity level — dry Winter air feels colder.

Most of the Winter was like this -- 69 degrees. The humidity level was maintained by the regular use of a humidifier, boiling a large pot of water, and doing laundry. January 10th
Most of the Winter was like this — 69 degrees. The humidity level was maintained by the regular use of a humidifier, boiling a large pot of water, and doing laundry. January 10th
Both the interior temperature & humidity dropped when we went away for a few days in mid-February. This is from the 13th as we returned pm Amtrak. Upon returning we didn't turn on the furnace to take out the chill -- we raised the humidity level;
Both the interior temperature & humidity dropped when we went away for a few days in mid-February. This is from the 13th as we returned pm Amtrak. Upon returning we didn’t turn on the furnace to take out the chill — we raised the humidity level;
A few days ago we were back to the natural interior temperature for when we're home and maintaining the interior humidity
A few days ago we were back to the natural interior temperature for when we’re home and maintaining the interior humidity

Many sites suggest 40%-60% relative humidity for healthy air quality, but that depends on the outside temperature:

If outside temperature is 20 to 40 degrees, humidity indoors should not be more than 40 percent. (Source)

In the Spring & Summer we do need to use air conditioning, but largely to lower the humidity. Eventually we’ll get a dehumidifier.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Winter Heating Bill Compared To Previous?

March 20, 2016 Environment, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Winter Heating Bill Compared To Previous?
Please vote below
Please vote below

Spring is here!

Astronomically speaking, the equinox (March 19/20) marks spring’s beginning begins in the Northern Hemisphere (whereas it announces fall’s arrival in the Southern Hemisphere). At this moment, the Sun crosses the celestial equator on its way north along the ecliptic. The equinox happens at the same moment worldwide, even if our clock times reflect a different time zone. 
Did you know this is the earliest spring of our lives thus far? Do you remember when spring started on March 21? It’s due to leap year madness.  Read more about, “The Earliest Spring of our Lives.

Meteorologically speaking, however, in the Northern Hemisphere the official spring season always begins on March 1 and continues through May 31. Summer begins on June 1; autumn, September 1; and winter, December 1.

Weather scientists divide the year into quarters this way to make it easier to compare seasonal and monthly statistics from one year to the next. The meteorological seasons are based on annual temperature cycles rather than on the position of Earth in relation to the Sun, and they more closely follow the Gregorian calendar. Using the dates of the astronomical equinoxes and solstices for the seasons would present a statistical problem because these dates can vary slightly each year. (Old Farmer’s Almanac)

Today’s poll question isn’t about Spring, it is about the Winter that just concluded:

The poll is open until 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

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