This week at TreeHugger: NEC has developed a bioplastic made from kenaf for notebook computers that has better heat conductivity than stainless steel; that means you can not only compute with cooler hardware, but you can fry eggs on your computer. Laptops, printers, iPods, cell phones and other electronics are an integral part of the lives of many a busy TreeHugger, but what happens when they break? The coming week offers New Yorkers the opportunity to learn more about the e-waste problem and also a chance to recycle their once beloved, but now defunct, electronics. The EPA has recently released several draft task reports on data center and server energy efficiency. Not only do they make for some fine technical reading, but offers a look at real democracy in action: if you are knowledgeable about these issues, the EPA welcomes you to help populate this report. Lastly, in an extremely bizarre and ironic twist, fake cities in the massively popular multiplayer game Second Life were submerged this week by widespread floods caused by cataclysmic climate change. Might it offer a glimpse into the not-so-distant future?

Notebook computers sure are great, but it is hard to keep them cool when there is so little room to move the air around inside. While Intel and AMD giveth by making cooler, more efficient chips, the video card makers taketh away by cranking their components up trying to keep up with graphic-intensive software and games, and the manufacturers want to keep making them lighter and thinner. One alternative is to use heat conductive materials for the case, to radiate the heat away and keep the insides cool. NEC has developed such a material: a bioplastic made from from kenaf that has better heat conductivity than stainless steel, so you can not only compute with your laptop, you can fry eggs on it. Fortunately they have also figured out how to make it fire-resistant with non-toxic fire retardants, all while keeping you warm and toasty. Remember, men, a study by State University of New York researchers says heat generated from using laptops on your lap can significantly elevate the temperature of the scrotum, potentially putting sperm count at risk.

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Laptops, printers, iPods, cell phones, and other electronics are an integral part of the lives of many a busy TreeHugger and Gizmodo-phile alike. These gadgets allow us an unprecedented amount of flexibility and mobility. But what happens when they break? Full of hazardous materials, toxins and heavy metals, machines that once were indispensable become potential toxic waste. The coming week offers New Yorkers the opportunity to learn more about the e-waste problem and also a chance to recycle their once beloved but now defunct electronics. Drop off your unwanted or broken electronics for recycling this Earth Day, Sunday April 22nd at Union Square North Plaza from 8am-2pm.

The EPA has recently released several draft task reports on data center and server energy efficiency. The reports are posted on the Energy Star Web site and make for some fine, if technical, reading. The consumption of energy in data centers is a growing concern among industry and government officials; it's a regular black hole. In 2005, for example, U.S.-based data centers consumed 4.5 billion kilowatt hours, using over $3 billion in energy, so it's understandable why they'd want to cut back a bit. The neat thing is the government's willingness to embrace real democracy in action; if you are knowledgeable about these issues, the EPA welcomes you to help populate this report. They don't promise your name in lights, but if you've ever wanted to see what government work is like, this may be your big chance.

Lastly, to help remind computer addicts (and bloggers?) everywhere that the real world exists beyond their glowing screens, fake cities in the massively popular multiplayer game Second Life were submerged at the cataclysmic hands of global warming this week. Rather than accept their avatar's premature demise, many Second Lifers took the floods in stride. A few pub-goers just converted their tables to boats and kept drinking their pints, though the topic of conversation had shifted...to global warming. What would you do if the floods came?

TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.