Total Pageviews

Monday, 21 January 2013

Applied environmental science: community discussion.

 Japan's government today approved a plan to spend $116 billion to jump-start the economy and set the stage for long-term growth. Sources in the Japanese press are hinting that research on renewable energy and on stem cells could land a significant chunk of the new cash. 
 Science Insider. Dennis Normille. 11 Jan. 2013

This is good news. There is so much new technology developing in research departments in Universities all over Japan right now and researchers are hoping to get the funding to put theory into practice, because without financial backing no progress can be made.

Two questions keep coming up here from community members mailing and phoning our research dept.
1.What is `Community Service and Science`?
2.What is there to discuss about it?

These questions are from community members who oppose the University`s mission of replacing conventional energy sources almost completely this half century with renewable energy (wind turbine and solar mainly) here in Sakata. which is already home to the largest solar panel/wind turbine combination campus energy supply system in Japan.

Answer to Q 1. It is the crucial connection point - the `and` between scientific theory and practical application.There is no progress in environmental development without co-operation of communities. There is no progress in community development without initiation and leadership. Initiation or change, follows understanding which in turn follows open minded discussion. No change, no evolution of mankind ever took place without it and no successful change can take place unless it is conducted with great delicacy.

Answer to Q 2. Discussion, at best leads to learning without as much reading. Discussion can of course also be a waste of time.. Discussion is oral thinking ground however always. It is not a place to voice opinions that are fixed, it is a time to listen to all the data from all relevant perspectives and mould opinions like putty or clay in the hands of a potter, so that the newly formed opinion is in touch with the latest theoretical data and fact. Opinions must be fluid in order for change to begin and this is the very first obstacle faced when we live in a society where people tend to have fixed formulated opinions and are relying on environmental science data that is already old as of one month ago..And community members must be involved and contribute.

First, a discussion has an agenda. It must have, in order to have direction. Just like energy sources. Starting with an explanation, remembering that the average human brain is capable of remembering only 3 main points in a speech of a 20 minute duration without interval, this initial speech must be finely tuned and honed to present only the key crucial facts necessary for continuing the discussion`s agenda.

A possible introductory 20 minute speech might include a quick description of the 3 main
types of wind power; mechanical power, electrical power, and sail power. Each one of them generates power by using something called an airfoil. Airfoils are surfaces that create an aerodynamic force – causing a boat to move or rotor blades to turn.Visual aids are an easy way to explain this.

A sail is a simple example of wind energy. It uses an airfoil; wind blows and creates a curved area of high pressure, pushing the boat in a certain direction which we can choose by adjusting the sail. A windmill is made up of several airfoils in the shape of a fan; the wind drives them around in a circle, which rotates the base shaft.Then there is an electrically powered windmill that follows the same concept, but instead turns a generator. Inside the generator, a coil is moved in and out of a magnetic field by the rotation, which is what generates a natural electric current.

Using wind rotation has the long term expedient of becoming almost free after the initial expense of installation, and does not contaminate or harm nature; that same nature world which we are trying to save and preserve to pass on to future generations. This respect is at the heart of the concept of renewable energy. In answer to the opposition of `unsightly` `noisy` and `bad for hearing` (3 commonly held opposition stances)  a power point presentation can compare pictures of comparison energy sources, nuclear power plants and electricity factories:electricity factory pictures

Then there are the stats and data. Best presented in graphs and charts for some audiences but better presented in terms of comparison to daily use of household appliances for most community people.

While discussion path develops along route it has to be led carefully. Some members will want to talk more and others will be silent but have voices that need to be heard. Discussion well led has the potential in this way of recreating community ideals as a team and also has the potential to create hatred and anger if the discussion is not led very cautiously. The most important sustaining line of discussion is to hold onto the validity of long term goals being the ultimate aim over short term gains and this explanation is not one that can be forced but something that dawns autonomously, to some.