Some facts to highlight the most beneficial smart money or government benefit to help our storm damaged neighborhoods, let’s hear it for sheetrock.
The U.S. Gypsum Company (USG) invented drywall in 1916. It was originally called “Sackett Board,” after the Sackett plaster company, a USG subsidiary [Source: Allen]. The material was first sold in the form of small, fireproof tiles, but within a few years, it was sold in multi-layer gypsum and paper sheets. In less then a decade, it took on the form we know, consisting of a single layer of compressed gypsum sandwiched between two sheets of heavy paper.
While it only took a few years for this board to evolve into the material we know today, it took 25 years for builders to begin using drywall in any substantial quantity.
With all its uses and benefits, why were builders hesitant to use something as simple as drywall? At the time, drywall was thought of as a cheap fix, with none of the fine art associated with making plaster. People didn’t want to live in homes that were shoddily constructed, so they stuck with the tradition and expense of plaster.
U.S. Gypsum eventually changed the brand name of the material to “Sheetrock” in an attempt to improve drywall’s reputation, but builders and homeowners still paid no attention.
It wasn’t until the United States became involved in World War II that builders came around to the benefits of using drywall [Source: Gellner]. As the country’s labor force became focused on war manufacturing and many soldiers were sent overseas to fight, quick and inexpensive building materials were needed to offset the labor shortage and war costs. Because the labor shortage was too intense for plastering to remain a viable building option, people began to use drywall instead. Houses and factories could be constructed in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the labor previously required. Cheap and efficient products were seen as patriotic because they allowed citizens to spend more time and money supporting the war effort.
By the time the war ended in 1945, drywall had become the dominant building material in the United States. During the post-war building boom, contractors knew they could construct homes and workplaces in one-tenth the time if they abandoned plaster for drywall, leading to higher profits. Over time, the use of plaster gradually faded as people all over the world turned to drywall. With net sales of over $5 billion in 2007, the U.S. Gypsum Company is still one of the world’s top producers and innovators of drywall and related product
The Energy Collective
Here’s one international contest we DIDN’T want to win. Sarah Battaglia on the US’s disastrous energy efficiency score.
US Now Leads in Energy Waste | The Energy Collective
The US has surpassed every nation, including China, in the category of energy waste.
span class=”post_sig”Today’s Post/span
Not a particularly earth shattering idea, that the Wind be considered as the “person” of the year, leading trend setter, the most universally and agnostic influential force of 2012.
It would raise the Wind’s profile in the public eye, give the Wind an opportunity to introduce the rest of this prominent family, especially the cousins, WATER, AIR and LAND, and allow the whole family to get some valuable face time, front and center, with the human consuming public.
It also would provide editors the world over interesting and creative concepts to consider when choosing the cover photo. #wind and lets see what this social media influence concept is all about. #wind on twitter.
Whatever one’s political leanings it is obvious that big government and big business have developed synergies over time that do not always, or often, represent the best interests of the “locals” those of us who just happen to live within a political designation that is governed from above us.
Today’s New York Times, 11/29/2012, had a front page story with the headline,” Post Storm Cost May Force Many From Coast Life Woes For NonWealthy”
The meat of this story is what has and is in the works to rebuild and refinance the National Flood Insurance Program; yes just like the National Crop Insurance program, the federal government is the payee for the administration and claim payments even though the both programs are administered by private insurance companies; the federal government with taxpayer money, all taxpayers, makes the private companies whole on a minimum of 80% of claims paid as well as allow the private companies to collect premium and administrative fees, in good times and bad.
The Times story suggests that many of the “nonwealthy” who live in coastal areas will not be able to rebuild and afford the already legislated premium increases that will be enacted January 1, 2013. For new construction premiums will double immediately and for existing homes they will increase a minimum of 25% per year for the next four years until their existing premiums have been doubled. This was before Sandy hit and it is universally being applied up and down the coasts, whether your town was affected by Sandy or not. One of the pundits consulted for the Times piece stated, “…barring intervention by Congress or the states, there would be, a massive displacement of low-income families from their historic communities.”
Massive displacement from their historic communities, quite a mouthful for just 6 words. And starting today nobody can say they weren’t told, it’s in the New York Times, front page to boot.
Anyone who thinks the inclusion of “low-income” as an adjective of who will be among the displaced excludes them should think again. What is low-income in New York City, along the Jersey Shore, what would it cost anyone displaced from their “historic communities” to start over somewhere else in the vicinity and not have the amenities and quality of life that you have built up at your beach over the generations or decades?
This unfortunately is to be expected. An error by the government created a flood insurance program that was not sufficient to handle the floods of today. Private industry, insurance, development and real estate interests may not yet have been caught in public drooling over the now cleared expanse of seaside real estate coming on the market but they will be before year’s end.
People need to get organized and involved at their local town, region and county level, start demanding the local officials keep their eye on the coming storm of a bit of change here, a little change to construction code here, and keep the interests of their current residents paramount as the powers that are; start planning to “rebuild”; our communities into their visions of the hi-rise future and doubling down on the real estate we occupy today.
It will be difficult to keep together, people have had to relocate and there is no focal point for them to meet, discuss and plan for their futures. While the cat is away looking to find a warm bed and a good meal, the mice and rats will be playing.
It is important to understand that the technology works and that we are not being used by hipsters and frauds taking government money like some later day Elmer Gantry’s. The most difficult adjustment needed is that people open their minds and think of what can be and should be.
Rolling Sunlight And SolaRover Aid In Sandy’s Wake | Earthtechling.
The draw back of a divided national government has been obvious, in every area of our society for far too long. It is more important than ever that we remember that citizens are supposed to rule in a democracy. Rather than sitting back complaining and remaining complicit in the abdication of responsibility at the national level, take the ideas and the tools to your local government where it is easier to get and maintain contact and start at the grass-roots to build a just and resilient society.
The “grid”, those wired byways, substation defined routes,running over and under public lands and private property until it is brought to each individual user, home or business, and your mainline fix is handed over to you, for you to finish your now perpetual and forever connection, you pay the dealer, you the junkie pay for your final connection, pay the monthly fee and at the same time the dealer, the utility company is paid an average 13% return on their infrastructure investment. That “grid” everyone is talking about and seems to keep failing and at its best loses 30% of the energy ir carries every minute is a carry over from the old economy practice of “yes, you may have built it but we the people certainly have paid and paid again for it.” Yes, this money is guaranteed, guaranteed, by you me and the government body closes to the utilities main office.
Except for the 22% expected and averaged by hedge funds in the giddy days of the past, very few investments have a GUARANTEED 13% level of return.
Now, knowing the math, ask yourself the same question, why, if a strong wind blows, do we lose power over such widespread areas?
Why do the head honchos at every public utility keep their jobs?
Because they can do nothing, nothing, and still return 13% on infrastructure construction whether it be new or repairing the old, to their stock holders and ultimate bosses.
Time to change this system.
Time for cash starved and overburden local governments to get working on creating more revenue for their constituents and a more dependable and locally administered power supply.
Community-Owned Transmission? | Earthtechling.
Recently I was driven to seek out some medical attention, not one of my more frequent activities. But after several weeks of living with the aftermath of Sandy and more than a few years of realizing that I no longer had the body of a 40-year-old, I am 64, my mind could not avoid the fact that my body was less willing.
After checking in, and taking one of the available seats in the pop music enhanced waiting room, my eyes settled on one of the piles of available reading matter. On the top of this pile was a Sports Illustrated with Lebron James in a Cleveland uniform and I was stopped dead in my tracks, “What the hell else have I missed in the last few weeks? Lebron James is back in Cleveland?” My brain, still able, did kick in and sent my eyes to check on the month and year of the issue and calm returned to my soul when I saw that this issue was from more than a few years ago.
Several more vintage Sports Illustrated and Vogue’s further down the pile I came across a National Geographic from August 2005. With the headline, “After Oil- Powering the Future” and the usual well framed and detailed cover picture of two vintage fuel pumps from some anonymous 1930′s gas station. My, suddenly not so removed, childhood memories of other waiting rooms and other copies of National Geographic had me choose this copy to read among all the other vintage possibilities.
Along with several articles on Cave Art Mystery, China Fossil Marvels was another with the title, Hurricane Warning page 72. Here I am in a doctor’s waiting room wrestling with some obvious signs of aging, battered most recently by living at the Jersey shore during the arrival of Sandy and staring at a National Geographic from August 2005 that has a cover story on alternative energy sources and a nice spread entitled Hurricane Warning. One of those non linear experiences that remind us that life may not be as logical and running in straight lines as we would like to believe it is.
The “Hurricane Warning” drew me first to page 72 where the sub head on the story stated, “One in five homes in Florida was damaged by hurricanes during August and September 2004. Tens of thousands of people were displaced”.
August and September 2004? The story hit the light of day in August 2005 and I am sitting in a doctor’s waiting room in November 2012, a wee bit over 7 years later, and my home, my body, my mind and my neighbors are in the same circumstances as these people in Florida, in 2004. Absurd, can’t be, must be something I’m missing.
But after reading further, some sections of the article several times, I was not at fault in my reading.
I and most of us and especially those who were and still are in charge of our common efforts in disaster planning and recovery are most egregiously at fault in facing the obvious.
The snide commentary on how many times the word climate change or carbon level were and were not mentioned in the 2012 campaign, by both candidates, went from being a minor irritant to have to endure to a bucket, a bushel of reasons why every member of the powers that be, government, business and media, should be indicted for criminal negligence, as well as callous disregard for their constituencies, customers and audiences, personal and collective health and well-being.
Starting several days before Sandy hit the New York/New Jersey coastline the major media outlets all had stories detailing the distinct climate events that were coming together to make this storm, one for the ages. Distinct and unique confluence of normal climate occurrences contributing to another of the expanding list of every hundred year storms.
It wasn’t till after the storm passed and water had shut down the city that never sleeps that those same major media outlets started to try to explain the extent of the damage to the area with crude illustrations of rising sea levels, speed and surge of water higher up and further away from the ocean floor and from the natural friction between water and sea bottom that would normally slow the velocity of the surge.
All they had to do to cover their earlier failure to inform their viewers and readers was pull out the August 2005 edition of National Geographic. It was all right there with the usual great photos and informative graphics.
I live in a small “working” class town on the Jersey shore. My town is not as well-known as Seaside Park, Point Pleasant and Atlantic City, my town has a history as a commercial fishing and smuggling hub dating back to the early 18th century. Today it still has an active shellfish industry and is home to one of the few shellfish cleansing plants in New Jersey.
We got hit pretty good-by Sandy, the “downtown” area, a generations old community of summer bungalows converted over the years into all year round residences had over 1/3 of the existing homes destroyed. Estimates currently sit at 1300 homes destroyed out of 4500 or so total dwellings. The “uptown” area of the town sits on a series of hills 220 to 246 feet above sea level, homes in the uptown area suffered some damage from wind but little from water.
The historical nature of my town and several other neighboring towns devastated by the storm is important to remember by the powers that be when planning for rebuilding.
My town and several of its neighbors were not multi million dollar, second home, shore house, half-yearly destinations. My town like the Rockaway area of New York City was and is home to working class people who turned their families bungalows into future generations year round residences. Many of these dwellings did not have mortgages or if they did they were smaller than average and thus many did not have extensive insurance coverage. The location and the bungalow history made my town and many in both New York and New Jersey with similar historical and infrastructure histories the most efficient living sites for many first responders police, fire and non MD medical and emergency care givers. For extra income there was shellfish and charter boat work to accommodate tourists. For working class people my town and many others along this section of the Atlantic coast were the best of affordable choices for them and their families.
My town and it’s doppelgänger along the East Coast required special skills, personalities and the ability to off set the expected amenities of modern life with the traditional and known rewards of living; within their means; where others extend their credit and strive to spend 3 months or a few weeks each year.
The tradition and facts of these towns needs to be a prime consideration in planning for rebuilding in the most efficient and sustainable way for to meet the challenges of our new reality. For those who actually “did build it”, protect it and care for others homes as well, we need to make sure those devising their best take on redevelopment don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.
Some practical suggestions and on the ground available technologies and tools to meet the new challenges presented by the weather will be suggested over the next several days.