More Tesla Solar Powerpacks Arrived at Puerto Rico Airport

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Since our blog titled, “Elon Musk Willing to Power Puerto Rico” of 6 October, a few hundred Powerwall battery packs for solar power energy arrived in Puerto Rico.

According to *Frederic Lambert of Electrek.co, “The new shipment arrived not long after Musk spoke with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello last week to talk about ways for Tesla Energy to help rebuild the power grid destroyed by the two hurricanes that recently hit the Caribbean.”

That’s not all. Elon Musk is now putting extra effort into bringing power back to Puerto Rico AND other affected areas by unveiling his new Tesla Semi truck earlier than planned:

Tesla, the automaker, is changing the planned revealing date of its electric truck, the Tesla Semi, from October 26 to *November 16 (according to Electrek.co) as it focuses on Model 3 production and aiding “power-less” Puerto Rico.

Tesla Semi, Model 3 truck image from trucks.com

Currently, less than 20% of the island has power and some areas may experience months without electricity. That is why Tesla plans to first focus on helping hospitals and medical centers to get stable power.

Puerto Rico and Tesla seem to be committed to work together beyond short-term solutions and rebuild the power system to be more sustainable with solar power and energy storage. Continue reading “More Tesla Solar Powerpacks Arrived at Puerto Rico Airport”

Aruba Without Plastic Bags since January 2017

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Photo by Liz Strauss at Casa Del Mar Resort, Eagle Beach, Aruba.

ARUBA. It’s been nearly a year since January 1, 2017 where all retailers and vendors in Aruba were no longer allowed to distribute nor sell carry-out plastic bags at supermarkets and retail shops.

This then allows tourists and locals alike to bring or buy a re-usable bag or use a carton box to put their groceries in.

Government or city inspectors can fine retailers 10.000 Aruban Guilders (which is about $5715) if they don’t abide by the law to ban plastic bags. This law was created and accepted on 30 June 2016. However, the government gave the community until the new year to adjust to the new rules.

So far this ban and its strategy have been important in a mind- and behavioral change toward increased corporate responsibility from retailers as well as locals and tourists.

You may ask how much of a difference does a plastic bag ban can make to the environment?

It’s estimated one can save 500 to 700 plastic bags from the ocean and landfills each year by bringing your own plastic bags when shopping, according to the Plastic Pollution Coalition. If you consider these facts: Plastic is a substance the earth cannot digest and 8 million tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year, we’d all better start refusing single-use plastic.

According to Juliet D. Carvalhal, special coordinator of the Aruban government’s Green Agenda project, “managing waste on islands, especially those heavily dependent on tourism, has been an ongoing challenge. But then again, being an island in itself also presents the community with added motivation to apply concepts of “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Respect” seeing there is limited or practically non-existent access to “Recycling” facilities.”

Reducing not only your use of plastic bags, but managing your trash can also have a big impact if it is carried out daily. Take for example founder of Trash is for Tossers website, Lauren Singer of Brooklyn, New York. Lauren has proved that she could live in one of the biggest cities in the world for 4 years without producing more than one mason jar of waste.

She suggests composting and separating trash effectively, investing in a re-usable water bottle and mason jars and making sure you pack enough bags when you go out shopping to reduce your day-to-day waste. Every little bit helps, especially if everyone does their part.

In the words of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, “let’s make plastic bags go extinct!”

Continue reading “Aruba Without Plastic Bags since January 2017”

Post-Hurricane Aid: Solar Filter Can Turn Sea Water into Potable Water

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By Lizpiano

So much sea water but nothing to drink?

As part of our Post-Hurricanes Irma and Maria CoolestCarib.com series, Sustainable Solutions, we introduce a solar still with an open source design (see below article links about the design.)

It is called Eliodomestico and it is a solar-powered water filter, can be made from simple and easily accessible materials, and can purify 5 liters of (sea) water per day (according to India Times.)

Pic from gabrielediamanti.com

Created by Italian designer Gabriele Diamanti, this “solar still” delivers clean and pure drinking water by boiling water and separating it from other elements. Eliodomestico is made from materials like terracotta, anodized zinc, and recycled plastic, operates without filters or electricity, and requires minimal maintenance.

The open source design was named as one of 12 finalists in the Prix Émile Hermès 2011 competition.

There are actually a lot of new products like this, specifically geared towards aiding residents of developing – and now disaster-struck – areas with no clean drinking water. Monash University graduate, Jonathan Liow’s, Solarball is a glass ball that purifies water using the sun.

Diamanti’s solar powered water filter works, in short, like this:

  • Water is poured into the terracotta section of the filter in the morning.
  • Steam is formed as the day develops because the still heats up and later begins to boil the water.
  • The steam that was formed into the nozzle at the top condenses against the lid then drips down into the catch basin below.
  • Provided it was a warm enough day outside, voila! – in the evening there will be 5 liters of fresh drinking water available in the catch basin.

The Eliodomestico can work without fuel, electricity, filters, and needs no maintenance.

According to an article by Bridgette Meinhold of Inhabitat.com: “these devices can also be built anywhere from readily available materials – anyone who can throw a pot can handcraft the main elements necessary for the water filter… Eliodomestico could be made for $50 and produce 5 liters… The design is available as an open-source project for anyone who wants to make one and is licensed under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.”

Continue reading “Post-Hurricane Aid: Solar Filter Can Turn Sea Water into Potable Water”

Elon Musk Willing to Power Puerto Rico

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By Lizpiano

Picture of Elon Musk by Getty Images.

That is, if given the green light to go ahead. Elon Musk has helped many smaller islands, like Ta’u Island in Samoa, with his solar power devices and tweeted this yesterday:

“The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too. Such a decision would be in the hands of the PR govt, PUC, any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR.”
@elonmusk

Above is a video about the SolarCity created with Tesla’s Microgrid Solar Power in Samoa.

In response to this, Puerto Rico Governor Ricky Rossello showed interest, tweeting “Let’s talk” to Musk, saying “PR could be that flagship project.”

Musk has already done his part for Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria left the island’s power grid in tatters, so Tesla reportedly sent hundreds of Powerwalls — battery systems designed to store energy — along with employees to install them in an effort to restore power.

Powerwall batteries can be paired with solar panels to help restore the grid. According to Fortune.com “the Powerwall, which was first introduced in April 2015, is a battery designed for homes that store the energy generated by solar panels.”

Musk also donated $250,000 of his own money to the relief effort.

In the meantime, President Donald Trump said on Fox News in an interview with Geraldo Rivera, “the island’s debt will have to be wiped out.” Puerto Rico owes over $70 billion to creditors while the total storm cost is between $45 and 90 billion dollars.

Continue reading “Elon Musk Willing to Power Puerto Rico”

Caribbean Must Do Now: Dirty Energy to Clean Power

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NECKER ISLAND, BVI. According to British billionaire, Richard Branson, low-carbon renewable energy conveniences should substitute old fossil fuel-dependent forms when the Caribbean islands are being rebuilt now.

Photo from @richardbranson

Reuters stated he approached the British and US governments and is mustering help from financial institutions like the Inter-American Development Bank and other philanthropists to set up a fund to help Caribbean nations.

“As part of that fund we want to make sure that the Caribbean moves from dirty energy to clean energy,” he said.

It has generally been the norm in Caribbean islands to create power by diesel burning – that forms global warming carbon dioxide, which will increase the frequency of freak weather events.

“I’ve been involved in talking out about climate change for a number of years now… I never thought I was going to be in the front line in quite the way I was two weeks ago,” he said at an event on fuel efficiency.

Branson has been a longtime champion of clean energy. Head of the Virgin Group conglomerate, he co-founded the Carbon War Room in 2009 to accelerate the implementation of business plans that reduce carbon discharges.

In reference to the U.S. program that helped rebuild Western Europe after World War Two, Branson mentioned in his blog that the Caribbean needed a “Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan” to aid in restoring and in long-term economic renewal. Continue reading “Caribbean Must Do Now: Dirty Energy to Clean Power”

St. Maarten/St. Martin Getting Back on Track

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PHILLIPSBURG, St. Maarten. It has been 22 days since the island was mauled by Hurricane Irma. People in St. Maarten have been vowing to stand strong and build the island back up in no time. Well, today grocery stores and restaurants are re-opening on the island in the Dutch part.

Today we celebrate St. Maarten standing strong and forging ahead!

Photo courtesy of @teamsxm.

If you’ve been to Simpson Bay on the Dutch side, you couldn’t miss the Buccaneer Bar on Kim Sha Beach. They are open again with a limited menu. Other well-known places like Pineapple Pete’s and both Greenhouses on the island are serving cold drinks and hot food.

These recovery efforts have not been an easy process. Thanks to Dutch and French government aid, people are slowly starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel again.

Photo courtesy of @teamsxm.  French Air Force arriving with supplies at Maho Beach airstrip.

By Pocahontas.

Sax Car Rental Sint Maarten   B52 Kitesurfing School in Saint Martin SXM Caribbean

An Incident Involving a Tree on a Beach

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I recall an incident involving a tree on a beach in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. I was taking a late evening stroll on the beach and came across some small, green apples (about the size of a small plum) that were washed up on the sand. I kept going and found the tree that carries these fruit. I picked it up and smelled it. It smelled sweet and as I put it in my mouth to taste it, realized what I was doing – it could be poisonous!

Turns out they are very sweet and extremely poisonous too. Dubbed as the ‘Death Apple’ tree by Columbus, it is also known by islanders not to even come in contact with these trees. They call it the Manchineel Tree. Stories of people who were hiding under these trees from the rain and had sap of these trees drip on them and who then died are well-known in the Caribbean.

Obviously I lived to tell the story, thanks to a wonderful doctor and nurse (I vaguely remember they were the only on the island) who had to be called late that evening because I was suffering from dizziness. A cortisone shot and some activated charcoal had me better within 10 hours, thankfully. But they assured me it could have been deadly.

Here are some pics of the tree’s fruit and an example of a sign that some resorts and authorities may place on the tree to warn people.

LizpianoLizpiano is a journalist, health lover and piano entertainer/singer who travels the world. She holds a B.A. degree with Music and Psychology as well as an MPhil (Masters) of Journalism. Follow her on Instagram: @lizpiano, Twitter: @thelizpiano,  Facebook: lizpiano.  www.lizpiano.com

Remembering Virgin Gorda, BVI, post-Irma and Maria

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VIRGIN GORDA, BVI. There was a saying on the island of Virgin Gorda that you should leave the key in the ignition of your car as someone might need it. Sadly, the British Virgin Islands, BVI, and the wonderful people who would create such a saying suffered a double blow with hurricanes Irma and Maria this year.

I’ve visited the island of Virgin Gorda, the smaller of the two most famous BVI islands. Tortola is the capital of the BVI and the biggest one.

The former beauty of Virgin Gorda lay not only in its spectacular scenery, but also in its friendly, peace-loving people and, consequently, also how safe it was to stay there. There weren’t any lock and keys on the doors of the house we stayed in – island people asked us: “why should there be?”

Photo of the Baths in Virgin Gorda
Virgin Gorda Baths (image from weddbook.com)

There were no traffic lights in Virgin Gorda, just some speed bumps. These included, it would still take you about 45 minutes to drive from one end of the island to the other. The resorts and beaches were spectacular, especially the signature  swimming pools formed naturally in rocks, called the Baths, and its nature reserve.

You may note this blog speaks of Virgin Gorda in the past – that is because many of its houses, businesses and resort hotels are no more.

Virgin Gorda after effects from Hurricane Irma and Maria
Virgin Gorda after Hurricanes Irma and Maria (image from Caribbean Buzz Helicopters)

But our good memories of this island are not gone – crystal blue oceans, pristine beaches, seafood dining on the ocean, yachting and diving, meeting some celebrities in a night club (which often does happen here), cute donkeys that rove the island and even a personal near-death experience involving a ‘Death Tree’ on a beach.

Now, after hurricanes Irma and Maria, it was BVI resident and Virgin Group owner, Richard Branson, who tweeted that we should act now and help restore it to its former glory:

@richardbranson: “As Mother Nature is so clearly telling us, we need more resilient, safer community planning. The time to act is now.

Fischers Cove Beach Hotel in Virgin Gorda’s Facebook post on September 25 reads: “Fischers Cove received substantial damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria but all of our staff members survived the storms. We have limited rooms available and are on limited generator power. Our Terrace restaurant is open from 11-5:30pm with a daily special as well as our famous pizzas and wings. Sorry no phone service yet! We thank everyone for your kind thoughts and blessings.Fischers Cove Beach Hotel Continue reading “Remembering Virgin Gorda, BVI, post-Irma and Maria”

Aruba – One Happy Island

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By Lizpiano.

ARUBA. This week Arubans are celebrating the return of the wind! One of the most beautiful islands you’ll ever see, here the wind never stops blowing in a, mostly, northerly direction. It is advised to wear a hat to prevent your hair from being blown into a wild, vagrant-like style. And make sure you hold on to that hat or tie it with a string to your head, naturally.

Picture of Eagle Beach

But if it weren’t for the wind, this island would be very, very hot. Unless, of course, there are hurricanes in the rest of the Caribbean occupying, so to speak,  all wind space. That is why Arubans have grown to celebrate the wind, make the most of it, they even miss it when it’s gone: “Aruba has been very hot and windstill lately, so now that the breeze has come back, the sails are out!” (Posted by @dushiyoga)

It’s been said that many a serious water sport enthusiast in Aruba have been very close to Venezuela at some point in their lives. That is, because the northerly wind might have taken them off-shore easily, especially if they are kitesurfers. It’s not that far away (about 17 miles), in fact you can see the country from Aruba.

Another good thing about Aruba is that its located at the southern edge of the Caribbean hurricane belt. So it avoids most of the hurricanes and storms that blow through the Caribbean from the Atlantic Ocean each year. So the best time to visit the island is always.

Some businesses listed on CoolestCarib.com include Casa Del Mar Aruba Beach Resort & Timeshare and Vela Aruba for kitesurfing, windsurfing, kayak rentals and lessons.

Vela Aruba

LizpianoLizpiano is a journalist, health lover and piano entertainer/singer who travels the world. She holds a B.A. degree with Music and Psychology as well as an MPhil (Masters) of Journalism. Follow her on Instagram: @lizpiano, Twitter: @thelizpiano,  Facebook: lizpiano.  www.lizpiano.com

Frederiksted St. Croix – After Hurricane Maria

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Local Perspective! Posted by WSVI Ch8news

Earl Morris, veteran videographer is out and about looking around St. Croix on Day 2 after Maria and has sent Channel 8 TV some pictures from his journey

Posted by WSVI Ch8news on Thursday, September 21, 2017