Back to Nature (Published on - April 17, 2008)
Waste not, want not
Photo by Rick Tremmel
A fallen tree in the forest ... provider of new life.
In human silence we continued our hike along the Appalachian Trail. Except for the occasional plane overhead and boot tracks pressed deep into the softened trail below, there were few signs of civilization.

I pondered what it might be like to live in a remote village unexposed to the modernized world.

If one walked a similar path, but had never seen an airport, or moving sidewalks, or baggage handlers or armed security guards, how would one process the existence of huge, noisy, silver birds swooping above? We all see the world through different lenses based on the knowledge and experiences we own.

A cumbersome, rotting tree slumbered crossways on a narrow path. Ferns sprouted along her lengthy ribs of decomposing bark. Insect excavations created gaping holes and nutrient rich wood pulp pyramids upon the moist ground underneath. Thick groves of pink and white mountain laurel stretched toward the new found, bright light.

In a different time a giant stood here firm against the cruel winds, withstanding rains, lightning and the burden of snow-laden branches. To some the tree is simply an impediment upon a path on a long journey. To others she’s a fallen soldier ... now provider of life, a renewable source of energy. We all see the world through different lenses. How do you view your world?

As Floridians demand a new vision for the future, Florida politicians are jumping on the “green” wagon. Taking baby steps forward, Florida legislators are testing fertile new ground.

In February, the newest and largest solar power facility in sunny Florida was switched on at Rothenbach Park in Sarasota County. Business Wire & Environmental Experts said in a press release, “The array, the second-largest in the Southeast, consists of 1,200 solar photovoltaic panels mounted at ground level, covering more than 28,000 square feet, or about half the size of a football field. The solar panels convert sunlight into electricity, producing 250 kilowatts of clean energy, enough energy to power 55 average homes. Operating them prevents the release of more than 654,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, says FPL. Governor Charlie Crist joined Florida Power & Light President Armando Olivera for the dedication ceremony of FPL’s Sunshine Energy Solar Array.

“I am thankful for the leadership of the Sarasota County government and Florida Power and Light in partnering to provide alternative methods of powering our homes and businesses,” Crist said. “The economic future of our state is linked to our maintaining its natural beauty and this solar power facility is an excellent example that other communities can work to achieve.”

In March, Sanford was the first municipality in North America to adopt the MaxWest gasification system as an efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to dispose of biosolids. MaxWest Environmental Systems of Houston developed the gasification system, which converts sludge from the municipal wastewater treatment system into renewable, green energy.

Here’s how it works: the end product of a sewer plant, wastewater sludge, also called biosolids, will be gasified in the enclosed primary gasifier to produce syngas. In a continuous integrated process, the syngas will be oxidized in an enclosed thermal oxidizer to produce renewable thermal energy. For Sanford, the thermal energy will replace natural gas to power a new dryer.

What once was considered wasted space or wasted byproduct is being reviewed as renewable sources of energy. Viewing our world through different lenses our perceptions are changing. What may have seemed an impediment along a path is now realistically becoming a solution for our visions toward a brighter future. Waste not, want not ... back to nature.

Karen can be reached at

Copyright © 2004-2017 Karen Mitchell Tremmel, All Rights Reserved.
All text in this site is original and copyrighted by the author, who writes for a living. Please do not reproduce in whole or part without permission, except for brief quotations covered under the "Fair Use" provision of U.S. copyright law. Thanks.