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New gear for energy efficient people


Crank dat

LA is famously known for its endless summer. The first day of autumn was 100 degrees and sunny. For the transplant experience his or her first LA change of season, that person might be caught off guard by the lack of change of season. While this might take some getting used to it does bring about an appreciation of the beautiful weather and raises ideas on how to best take advantage of it.

With energy issues put on the back burner by the federal government despite their pressing urgency, the ball now seems to be in the court of individuals and businesses (read: not corporations that stall energy reforms but SMEs). Trends and technologies are developing, not from the giants of industry and politics, but rather new entities that were not around 5-10 years ago. This phenomenon in energy is following the path laid down by similar projects in other spheres such as banking (micro-lending), political activism (grassroots campaigning) and news media (Ye Olde Blogosphere).

Angelenos can now harness the benefits of their environment with a growing collection of goods and technologies that are now on the market for the energy conscious individual. One item that is becoming increasingly more popular is the photovoltaic backpack. Why suck up electricity from your house when you can charge your iPod, cell phone or laptop from your backpack whilst you laze on the beach or in a park? To think 10 years ago you needed a fistful of double A batteries to keep your CD player from dying out. Now with this backpack, a person is afforded unlimited power to most electronics anywhere the sun shines.

Backpacks are not the only portable devices that are hitting the market. You want to skip charging your phone by plugging it anything, be it an electrical socket or photovoltaic backpack? No problem. Japanese inventors have developed a solar cell phone. This will be manna to anyone who has left their cell phone charger in a hotel room and had to shell out $30 for a new one. Those days are over. Domo arigato to those Japanese developers!

Photovoltaic products arguably hold the most promise, but there are other very simple and clever products for those people who live in parts of the country where the sun does not shine year round. Crank chargers are being developed for items such as chargers and flashlights. Simply by turning a crank, one generates friction that is converted into electricity for small hand-held items. With a Soulja Boy endorsement, these things would fly off the shelves.

Waiting for the government to act on energy policy is starting to get the feel of Waiting for Godot. Once he arrives, we will be saved. Thing is, the public can wait forever and he will never arrive. The grassroots movement is a true form of direct democracy. It is the best way to enact change in the way energy is used in this country. The individual rules.

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