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Letters and email from readers about Backwoods Home Magazine and the BHM website


Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category


The 7 core areas of preparedness

Saturday, January 28th, 2012
In the section about lights you neglected to mention chemlights.
I’ve used them in lots of situations from a 4 hour power outage to combat. They come in various colors, sizes, and light output.

Homemade electrical power

Monday, November 7th, 2011

It’s nice to see people trying out new things such as this cheap alternative to a more costly generator set.

My grandfather did similar things such as making his own string trimmer (weed eater) . This was back in the early seventies. He took an aluminum pole or something like that and attached a old vacuum cleaner motor to the end of it. Attached a pulley at the bottom and drilled holes along the perimeter of it and instead of weed eater plastic string he used sections of bailing wire. My dad said that thing would go through some pretty heavy brush. Heavy but it worked.

He also used to recycle bottles, cans, and scrap metal from his home, and bring it all in to town once a month in his VW van. He did all this before it was even a household word.

I remember working with him on his metal lathe in his shop and I noticed the lights getting dim then bright. I told him something was wrong with is light bulb and he just laughed and said that the light bulb was a 12 vdc type attached to a windmill he had built,and the power source was a 12 vdv VW generator. The cause of the flickering I guess was the wind was fluctuating.

I thought old Gramps was the coolest old dude. Glad to see other people try this stuff out and share with people so they might get an idea and try it out.

Kim Moe


Water wheel article

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Just wanted to say thanks on the great article. Just what I was looking for and what more people should be aware of.

Scott Barrett


Great website

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Just wanted to drop a short line.

I happened across your magazine articles online while researching alternative energy.  I wish you were a little easier to happen across. More people need to see what you’re working on.

Great info on the articles I’ve had a chance to read.  Keep up the great work, I’ll be referencing you in my classes from now on for sure.

Mike Dieckman


Len Torney Article

Thursday, November 19th, 2009


Me and two auto buddies used Len Torney’s info for a fleet upgrade. Gas saver idea.

Thanks, he’s a smart dude!!

If we save what he says, I guess we should send him a case of Foam.


Phi, James & Bill the (aka Fat Tire)


Meat and Potatoes – Thank you!

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Dear Editor,

I’ve been attempting to “educate” myself on an idea to “save the world” and happened across your article Is Steam Power in Your Future?

Just a quick note to thank you for your insight and down to earth approach to the subject. I believe it to be a key to what I am looking for. It is often hard to find good advice that points you in the right direction, i.e., educate myself!

Yours is one of the few meat and potatoes articles out there. Again, thank you!


Troy Bracke
Fort Worth, TX


Global warming

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Great piece – I enjoy the tongue in cheek approach.

But what if the environmentalists really are at fault?

Remember back in the 70’s when they were crying about the coming Ice Age. But then they got the EPA to clamp down on coal burning, especially for electrical generation. Soon enough, don’t you know it, the skies cleared up from all the soot and next thing we’re experiencing Global Warming.

Of course that might also mean that increased industrialization, especially of India and China, is responsible for the decline and reversal of Global Warming over the last 10 years.

Wouldn’t the watermelons* hate to admit that?

Phill Osborn
Hagerstown, Md.

*watermelon – green on the outside but red on the inside


Wind Theory

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Dear Mr. Del Signore:

I must first preface my comments by saying that I am somewhat of an agnostic regarding this whole global warming issue. While I believe the problem is real, I am still not convinced of it’s seriousness or whether we can realistically do anything to stop it. Nor am I a blind faith-based global warming denier. So, I will stick to the particulars of the theory you have proffered.

Your explanation of what causes wind and how it works is largely correct, in that the energy in the wind comes entirely from the sun, as the sun sets up convection currents between warm and cool areas on the earth’s surface. The kinetic energy in the wind eventually dissipates in the form of low-level heat as the result of friction effects when the wind comes in contact with the irregular surface of the earth (and to a lesser degree, as the result of turbulence within the wind stream itself). Because the sun continues to shine and continues to set up convection currents, a steady state is achieved, which is why the wind continues to blow.

Now, here are several areas where I think you run astray in your theory that wind turbines act to slow the rotation of the earth.

First off, even if wind power were built out to some total conceivable maximum, the combined swept area of all the wind turbines would represent but a tiny fraction of a percent of the total area of all the obstacles on the surface of the earth that the wind would normally encounter. Furthermore, as the rate of global deforestation continues to increase, we are very likely decreasing the amount of obstacles to the free flow of wind, despite the building of wind turbines. In other words, for every wind turbine built, there are probably thousands of trees over a hundred feet high that have been cut down, thus providing a smoother path for the wind than it had when the trees were still standing.

Second (and this is far more subtle), being that the earth is a rotating sphere, and the wind a fluid moving on the surface of that sphere, the motion of the wind is far from uniform and takes on the form of distinct circular patterns (e.g., the ‘trade winds’ etc.) that interact with each other in complex ways. Thus, for every unit of wind-induced momentum transfered to the earth in the direction of the earth’s rotation, there is somewhere on the earth’s surface an equal amount of wind-induced momentum transferred in the direction opposite to the earth’s rotation. It can probably be mathematically proven that these have to cancel out (just don’t ask me to do it), and result in no net transfer of momentum to the earth.

Anyway, it’s a very interesting theory. You ought to look into it further, as I strongly suspect that somewhere in the geophysical literature someone somewhere has analyzed just this sort of thing.


Edmund Dohnert
Wilmington, Delaware

Sorry, Edmund, but I’m going to take a page from the Liberal Handbook and stick with my theory despite all the facts and evidence to the contrary.

It’s new world of hope and change and I’m going to be a good citizen and get with the program. I’m going to hope the laws of nature will change so I can be right.

And even if they don’t, perhaps I can get my congresscritter to introduce new legislation revising the relevant natural laws so my theory will be correct.

I mean, if they can revise the “natural laws” of economics and business and banking, why not those of other inconvenient things like physics?

Thanks for writing.



Your global warming article

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Undoubtedly many people have already written to you, explaining the fallacy of your argument about windmills and the speed of the earth’s rotation. But I couldn’t restrain myself from adding this email to the list.

The fact is that the earth as a whole – together with all its windmills and everything else – has a certain amount of angular momentum which, according to the principle of the conservation of angular momentum, on its own remains constant. The fact that the angular momentum of the earth is changing is due to the effect of the moon on the earth. The moon’s gravity gives rise to the tides in the oceans, resulting in a not perfectly symmetrical gravitational attraction between the earth and the moon. The result of this is that the earth slows down rotationally, while the diameter of the orbit of the moon gradually increases. That is to say, both the length of the day and also the length of the month are becoming longer. By studying the rings on fossilized mussels, this phenomenon can be verified. Another effect is of course the fact that the extra movement of the water in the oceans given by tidal currents converts a tiny amount of the kinetic energy of the earth-moon system into heat in the earth.

However despite all this, it is equally obvious that the arguments of the “global warming” enthusiasts are also false. While your article causes only amusement, the fallacies of the global warming people are causing very real suffering in the world.


Geoffrey Hemion


The whole idea was so foolish, I thought, as you did, that many people would write to dispute it, or at least curse me for making fun of the global warming wackos. It was not to be. Maybe they figured I was too much of a wacko to bother with…and maybe they’re correct.

I did notice that, right about the time I put that online, I started hearing less and less about global warming and more and more about “climate change.” Perhaps Al Gore finally thought to check and discovered the planet has been cooling recently. Perhaps if this cooling continues for a few more years we can look forward to a new Gore movie about glaciers reaching the equator if we don’t do whatever he thinks we should do. Hmmm…I wonder if he’ll start buying back all those carbon credits his company has been selling?

I guess only time will tell.

Thanks for writing.




Thursday, August 6th, 2009


I was wondering if you all sent a copy of the Three Part Article “Our Energy Crisis” to our new Administration at the White House?

This article has many great topics and many point that America needs to know.  Especially the nuclear portion, since they don’t now what to do with the waste. I do like the idea of dropping it in magma.

I know that nuclear is the way to go with are energy, if only the American people could see it.

I love your magazine and all the helpful articles!!


Jake Kistler


Alternative Energy article

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Hello Mr Silveira

Your article Our Energy crisis: Part 3 was very informative.

Just wanted to tell you that about a year ago I invested in a mutual funds that only includes businesses world wide that involve alternative energy,
called New Alternatives (NALFX on the stock exchange).  Like ALL businesses, it took a hit last fall, but is rebounding.

I truly believe that alternative energy will be a profit maker someday, I just hope I live long enough to see it.

Kindest regards,

Coleen Czechowski
Alden, NY


Our Energy Crisis

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Thank Heavens – At last, a balanced, well written, factual article on “Alternative Energy”.

Useful data that was clearly well researched and presented in an unbiased manner that is nearly possible to pull off these days with this heated topic.

Congratulations to Mr. Silveira for providing a reference I will save and use for some time to come.

Katonah, NY


“My View” was right on

Monday, February 23rd, 2009


I was recently gifted (by a friend) with a subscription to your magazine.  Similarly, I received a gift from my (liberal) Mom to another back-to-the-basics magazine with the acronym M.E.N.  I have read a couple of issues of both and wanted to commend you on a job well done.  Frankly, if it was not a gift from my mother, I would cancel my subscription to the ever so liberal “mother”…incidentally, not my mother.  The deciding factor was Dave Duffy’s “My view” in the March/April 2009 issue.  As a degreed (not armchair) ecologist, I applaud a scientific discussion of the supposed global warming/climate change issue as opposed to the litany of politicians espousing their vested and hypocritical opinions.

When I see the multi-trillion dollar global impact on international food prices caused by the recent push for ethanol, I shudder to think what will happen to global natural gas and other commodity prices if we continue down this misguided and corrupt path to CO2 cap & trade.

It is also the height of hypocrisy for the elitist liberal community (political, social and Hollywood) to be spouting concern about the plight of the down-trodden world-wide when cap and trade will most drastically and directly impact the global poor–as was the case with ethanol.  And to think that all of this nonsense is based entirely on the false assumption that anthropogenic CO2 liberation is the root cause of “global warming”.

Anyway, thank you for allowing me to vent, and again, Mr. Duffy hit a grand slam with that one!!

Mark Vanoni
Divide, Colorado


Mandated switch to CFC bulbs

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Thank you for your article on various types of cfc bulbs (“Dim Bulbs in California“)

I came across it while looking for information on why I can no longer purchase an incandescent reflector flood R20 60-watt (apparently, federal law) even though the replacement of 45-watt bulbs puts out insufficient light for our kitchen.

What nobody mentions in articles about CFC’s is that, efficiency aside, the quality of the light put out by incandescent is far superior to CFC. Light is such an emotional thing. Even the “warmer” (ie, yellow) CFC bulbs are cold and depressing. I appreciated your sensitivity to governmental “strong-arm” tactics, and your implicit understanding that some consumers may just prefer incandescent bulbs for various reasons.

I have been advised that I should just “learn to like” CFC’s. But I don’t like the light they produce. It’s a flat and creepy effect. Things illuminated lose their depth and shadow and nuance. Things illuminated take on a weird color. It’s unpleasant.

We’re in the process of starting a home remodel, and with all the cost and effort involved in Northern California, even in a down real estate market, we are dismayed to learn that we will be severely limited in the kind of illumination we will be forced to live with. Sheesh!

Edith Lavin
Berkeley, CA


Hydrogen as a car fuel

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

I think we are taking the wrong approach by thinking of hydrogen being transported in liquid or highly-compressed form. Natural gas has a high hydrogen content and the infrastructure for distribution is already in place.

If we use intermittent electricity sources (such as wind or solar energy) to generate hydrogen and distribute by existing pipes we can use hydrogen for domestic heating (in here in the UK, that would make us less dependent on Russia as a supplier).

If we are to move towards the use of hydrogen as a car fuel, the logical step would be to supply the hydrogen at a normal pressure to filling stations and carry out the compression there. Sure, it’s costly, but compare it to the cost of transporting liquid hydrogen, not to mention the safety aspect of working with large quantities of highly compressed hydrogen.

As a byline, remember that the other product of electrolysis is oxygen which also has a fair market value.


Ian Sinclair



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