I’ve been following the progress of Formula E for quite some time now, so I thought I’d finally find the time to write about it ahead of the first race this Saturday.
The FIA Formula E Championship is intended to create a fast-paced car racing series using pure electric cars whilst retaining similar levels of technological innovation, driver skill, and spectator excitement that Formula 1 enjoyed in its prime. But beyond racing and entertainment, Formula E serves two other important purposes:
It’s the perfect development platform for car manufacturers to experiment and deploy new battery and electric drivetrain technologies
It’s a fun and engaging way to educate the public on electric mobility and the future of both racing and transportation
As both a fan of racing and a huge proponent of electric mobility, the announcement and development of Formula E has been extremely exciting to follow. It represents a new way forward at a time when spectator viewership numbers are diminishing and the format has seen little change in years. The new series is a fresh (although by all means not perfect) take on the sport - for one, the quiet electric drivetrains means that races will be hosted within city centres as opposed to dedicated circuits. This will likely attract an entirely new audience, one that historically would have had little interest in either racing or sustainability.
10 teams have signed on to the first series, representing some of the largest names in motorsport racing. Each team has 2 drivers and 4 cars; drivers will swap cars halfway through the race (due to battery limitations). Races will take place in 10 cities around the world, and the tracks will be between 2.5km and 3km long.
Nobody quite knows what will happen to Formula E, given that the first race hasn’t yet taken place. Will the tracks be too boring? Will the cars be reliable enough? Will it keep audiences interested? Whatever happens, it’s going to play a part in shaping the future of motorsport racing - one where innovative sustainable design plays a central role and where electrons, not fossil fuels, win races.
The first round begins this Saturday (the 13th) in Beijing, and I would encourage anyone with a slight interest in the series to give it a watch. It’s being broadcast on many major TV sports networks, and there will likely be some live web streams available too. It won’t be for everyone, but we won’t know if we don’t give it a fighting chance.
It’s interesting that the majority of people cite health and taste as reasons behind purchasing organic food. The other benefits mentioned - avoiding chemical residues, reducing environmental impact, and improving animal welfare - are undisputable and scientifically accepted. However, I haven’t yet found a peer-reviewed paper that proves conclusively that organic food on the whole is either healthier or better-tasting than conventional food.
Buying organic is important and has a lot of advantages, but it’s important that people understand what these actually are. We should encourage people to make informed purchasing decisions, not mislead their judgement.
Composting—like jam-making—is one of those activities I tend just to read about. Nice idea, but too much hassle to actually carry out.
Until I somehow became one of those people who processes kitchen waste on her balcony, producing nutrient-rich soil and saving the environment one banana peel at a time.
I am not an urban hippie or a even a DIY type, much less a person with any sort of practical skills. Instead, my worm-filled adventure started (as these things often do) with guilt. I read too many articles about how choking landfills with organic matter is terribly harmful for the environment.
I finally caved and bought a cute composting crate (bag of worms sold separately). Composting doesn’t require worms, but vermicomposting sounded like less effort, as it does not require you to regularly aerate your pile of kitchen refuse. My modest goal was to collect just my food scraps and let them rot in a semi-responsible fashion.
Tiny Singapore imports almost all of its food. From gardens on deserted car parks to vertical farms in the vanishing countryside, a movement is afoot to help boost its agricultural production.
Singapore relies on imports for over 90% of its food. Having lived in the city, fruits and vegetables are expensive to buy and are often of mediocre quality. A plan by some forward-thinking startups is set to change all that, however, by making use of underutilised and abandoned structures to grow produce locally using a combination of vertical farming and more traditional rooftop gardens. Beyond fresher, cheaper, and more local food, the rise of farming in Singapore will provide increased food security and resistance to price spikes from supply issues in addition to boosting the local economy.
I think it’s a terrific idea, and I’m excited to see this kind of innovative thinking in a nation where people have traditionally paid little attention to where their food is coming from. I’m looking forward to seeing how the rise of modern food production develops over the next short while, and hopefully I’ll have the chance to buy some local produce during my visit next summer!
Over the past week I’ve been in the process of moving to an apartment closer to UBC for the coming academic year. My new place isn’t actually that far from the old one - it’s just under 5km up a slight hill. This gave me the perfect opportunity to conduct a little experiment and see how much stuff I could move without the help of a car or moving truck.
I rented a homemade bike trailer from the AMS Bike Co-Op at UBC for a couple of days (at a modest cost of $5/day) and packed it with as many bags and smaller objects as I could (I’d estimate the trailer weighed about 80-90kg fully loaded). The two round trips I did involved less effort than I had feared, although I wasn’t able to manage riding any faster than a slow jog up the hill. I was pretty pleased at how simple a solution it was though - just hook up a trailer to your bike, throw whatever you want in it and off you go.
Is it a feasible or even realistic way to move an entire apartment or small house? No. Not with a single rider and trailer at least. In my case these two trips only represented about 20% of my possessions, and I still ended up having to throw everything else (including all my furniture) into a moving truck. But for someone with no furniture to worry about who only wants to move their personal possessions a short distance, moving by bike is not only totally feasible; it’s probably also one of the quickest and cheapest ways of moving I can think of.
In my case this solution turned out not to be suitable for my needs, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work out for others. I’d be more than willing to try again next time given a few volunteers and more trailers. I’d just have to dig out those IKEA manuals and disassemble all my furniture first.
Dropped off 5 years worth of my family’s old / broken phones at the Nokia Care centre in Singapore last week. They’re a lot better off being recycled than sitting unloved at the bottom of desk drawers.
According to Nokia, just 9% of phones are recycled worldwide. If you’ve got a few phones just sitting around, I’d encourage you to drop them off for recycling to turn them back into useful and valuable materials. :)