Friday, November 14, 2008

Al Gore's 10 Year Plan

Al Gore Says We Can Solve It - Global Warming - In 10 Years Time! See How by Lee M Hall

Our future fate with global warming

Awhile back, I had the pleasure of watching Al Gore speak to an audience at the Daughter's of the American Revolution about climate change. I was not just excited because it was free to attend, but I wanted to see him speak and here's what he had to say. As expected, Gore's speech started out sharing less than joyful news about our planet. He mentioned a few frightening statistics:

* In 5 years, there is a 75% chance that the polar ice caps will melt. Not only would the polar bears and other cute fury creatures suffer, the normally salty oceans will be diluted with an abundance of fresh water. Fresh water slows the natural flow of ocean currents, which greatly alters weather patterns (i.e. more powerful hurricanes hitting us).

* Surge in climate refugees - As cities are destroyed by tsunamis and hurricanes (like Katrina), people lose their jobs and livelihood, and have to move to new areas that can't handle a sudden influx of refugees causing an economic and infrastructural drain on resources.

* We can also expect to see more fires in Southern California and Florida, causing damage to homes and compromising personal health. One study mentioned talked about how a 1° rise in temperature brings a 10% increase in lightening strikes.

Gore did have more examples, but you get the point. He went on to say these global warming effects changes our prosperity in terms of our economy, national security and our natural environment for the worse. But then, he did something dramatically different. Al Gore used this speech to propose that America should embrace a goal of a 100% carbon free nation within 10 years.

At first, I was scared out of my mind. Does this man, with all sorts of connections to top level scientists, know something we don't? Why 10 years... it seems so bold that it's almost alarming. In the past, he has expressed our great need to get on the bandwagon and do something right today. But now, he gave a timetable... He also compared this goal to JFK's 10 year goal of putting a man on the moon. I immediately thought we could've always afforded to lose the race to the moon and still be OK. I shudder to think how badly we would be if we didn't achieve something on a measurable scale within that time frame. Forget capitalism, forget TV, and forget the comforts of our daily lives - our whole world would change forever. Suddenly, living in a poor African village would seem like nirvana.

An Eco-Driven Economy?

As much as it sounds like fear mongering, this shouldn't be a call for disbelief or to give up hope, but a call to action with a singular goal - become 100% carbon free nation in 10 years. This means no fossil fuels (well... maybe a little), and an enormous push toward solar, wind and geothermal. This challenge would force our government to embrace a new pathway, all the while giving up things that may seem trivial to global warming. Given our circumstances, it's the right thing to do. Besides, it would lessen our dependence on our shrinking supplies of oil, create more domestic jobs and give our economy a brand new direction and a reason to grow. Gore suggested several proposals that we would need to implement immediately.

Upgrade our power grid - already old, upgrading the US power grid will certainly improve operating efficiencies (more power from less fossil fuels, like coal) and lower costs.

Cap of CO-2 emissions - This is easier said then done. While a straight cap system or a "cap and trade system" may work over time, the government could be more effective by directly funding and building new, cleaner plants, while destroying older ones.

Help switch automakers to making only hybrid plug-ins for all vehicles - Plug-in hybrids can easily double to triple the amount of miles per gallon. This translates to at least a 50% reduction in gas, if not more. And by shifting our electricity to cleaner sources, like solar, wind and geothermal, plugging in our cars into an outlet won't be ecologically burdensome.

Home Conservation - use less power hungry technologies like LEDs, instead of LCD monitors, plasma TVs or conventional light bulbs, as well as have the government mandate the use of other such innovations across all products we buy.

Eco Tax - Gore also proposed an Eco tax on polluters, which I believe can be less effective. In the past, such taxes are just pushed back to the consumer through higher costs anyway. The energy polluters are not incentivized to stop their polluting.

Government - Eco-friendly government policies are a good step. But we need a massive effort on behalf of the government to pilot programs to actively reduce our dependence on fossil fuels that would need to be put into place now.

The Government Saving Us? Yeah, right!

To achieve such a monumental goal, the government would need to adopt an unrivaled massive effort to build fields and fields of solar, wind and geothermal stations across the Southwest and the Great Plains. Can it be done? Maybe not 100%, but the alternatives look bleak. We may not have the luxury of making a slow, calculated effort, nor will turning our heads and looking the other way do much to stop global warming. Besides, businesses are too small to make a massive and quick change possible. We need action and in a large and impactful way!

Here's what you can do today to help

While I happy that Barack Obama won since he had an excellent environmental voting record, make sure that Obama and your Congressmen hold to their promises. And if they happen to be off to a slow start, call or email them about the promises they made.

Keep focused on what's important. There are many issues to decide upon, but if we don't have an environment, we don't have an economy, or a war in Iraq, or other issues to debate.

Become your own Eco-warrior. There are plenty of things you can do and sites you can explore to become more ecofriendly, like Earth911, The Green Guide and Treehugger. You can also support political organizations like We Can Solve It (Al Gore), Environmental Defense, the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council. Get involved and Make it happen!

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The Ancient Forests of Scotland are Dying

The Endangered Caledonian Forest in Scotland by Kimberly Edwards

If you've never heard of the Caledonian Forest, it's time to listen up. Basically, the Caledonian Forest is like the "Rainforest" of Scotland. It used to cover 1.5 million hectares of the Scottish Highlands, and now, only about 1% of that remains in 35 isolated areas. This is devastating, not only to Scotland and it's amazing wildlife, but to the world in general. We depend upon trees to survive. The species like beaver, tarpan, wild boar and the lynx are that inhabited these forests are gone.

This forest is a unique ecosystem in the British Isles and is home to some of the rarest wildlife:

1. There are 13 bird species that breed here that are found nowhere else in the British Isles.
2. 8 more bird species breed here that are considered rare in the British Isles.
3. There are 8 mammals still present in the remaining Caledonian Forest.
4. 8 mammals are considered extinct here, including:

  • European Beaver
  • Wild Boar
  • Gray Wolf
  • Elk
  • Aurochs
  • Eurasian Lynx
  • Brown Bear
  • Tarpan (wild horse)

What an awful shame!

What do we do now? Well, programs have been instituted to attempt to reforest the Great Caledonian. You can volunteer in replanting, or support these endeavors. Be sure to search online for organizations aimed at regenerating the Caledonian Forest in particular. At least spread the word, so that people are aware of the situation in Scotland. Some of the Scottish landowners have been planning to build game reserves on their estates to release some of the species that are now considered extinct in the area, as listed above.

by Kimberly Edwards

Kimberly Edwards is the founder of - Keeping Up The Fight To Preserve The Planet's Wildlife. Find awesome information about animals from all over the world, exotic animal news, updates on conservation, and anything else "Animal". For all of you who are exotic animal lovers, you know who you are...Check out:

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Using Industrial Hemp as a Building Material

Eco-Friendly Hemp Homes by Bob Randooke

Although industrial hemp is very well known all over the world even in the United States where it is banned there are some countries that are starting to utilize the incredible properties of this amazing eco-product. In Spain for example newly built ecological homes are being made from industrial hemp. The outer walls of these eco-homes are being made from a substance called eco-bricks which is also manufactured in a part of Spain under the name Cannabric. The material Cannabric is made from the fibers of industrial plant and the combination of line and mineral materials.

These materials are just as fire resistant as stone bricks but the beauty of this material is that it doesn't require any added insulation at all on the outside or inside of the walls so it is perfect for keeping the home warm in the winter time as well as cool in the summertime and when the minerals are added they also give the Cannabric it's extra strength as a material. To finish this off the lime is added in as a binder, and it's job is to hold these materials together as a brick but the lime also has another function. It is also used as a filler material that basically protects the Cannabric against any entry of water by rain or by any pipes in the wall, plus it also provides an added strength protection for the fibers against the fungal attack or a parasite attack. Industrial hemp was nothing new in this part of Spain as it has been used for many materials dating back to the Franco regime many hundreds of years back. The only negative thing about the industrial hemp being made during this time was that it took a lot of jobs from the agricultural workers in that area of Spain and this resulted in many agricultural workers leaving the country and settling outside of the countryside of Spain and making new lives in the city.

I think that we should put major consideration into looking into this product as a substance that can be used in homes all over the world. Think of the savings that it would bring by not needing to use regular insulation products to keep us warm or to keep us cool. In addition to this certain areas in Canada are starting to wake up to the incredible properties that Cannabric has and are actually using Cannabric as an insulation product for the insides and outsides of old stone homes that cannot do the job that this substance can.

Another pioneer in the production of industrial temp as a building material is a man known as Steve Allin who coincidently has a new book out on this material which is called "building with hemp". Steve has come out with his own hemp brick but he does not collect Cannabric. The name he gets to it is Hemphab. This incredible material can be changed and molded into many different shapes and finishes. This gives Hemphab a great advantage over other building materials as it is very eclectic in the ways that you can use it around your home.

Cannabric isn't the only material made from industrial hemp that can be used as a building material. They are also learning how to make paints from industrial hemp. Industrial hemp paint has many superior advantages over regular paint and some of its advantages are that it has a superior coating that is very durable and can keep its coat from eroding over time.

Author has written many articles on the environmental properties of industrial Hemp and how it will make our earth more green friendly.

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Saving Energy in Your Home: Exposing the Myths

Energy Myths by Peter Ottowitz

Duct Tape - Myth: Duct tape is good for sealing heating ducts. In reality, sealing ducts with mastic or metal tape is the answer because the heat from the ducts dries out the duct tape and it eventually stops adhering to the ducts.

Lights, Computers, Appliances - Myth: Leave them on and you will use less energy than if you repeatedly turn them on and off. The small power surge created when turning on lights, computers, and appliances takes less energy less than when you run the device when it is not needed. Of course, use power management software for your computer and turn lights off when you leave the room.

Florescent Lights - Myth: Florescent Lighting is unhealthy - Claims that florescent lights "sapping people's energy" has no merit. Today's lights have improved color quality and flickering and hum have been eliminated.

Refrigerator Coils - Myth: Cleaning Refrigerator Coils Saves Energy- in most cases this has no measurable effect on energy conservation.

Appliances - Myth: Appliances that are turned "off" are truly "off". There are a number of devices that sometimes consume as much power "off" as when they are "on". Products such as computers, VCR's, phone chargers etc. cannot be completely turned off unless they are unplugged. These products use "standby" power 24 hours a day.

Windows & Doors - Myth: Installing new windows will dramatically reduce your energy costs. Windows and doors are less of an air leakage problem than most people believe. Most existing homes have hidden air leaks in the floor, ceiling and wall cavities that far overshadow the leaks around windows and doors. The exceptions to this generalization are old windows or doors that are falling apart from neglect or are poorly installed. Contrast this to sealing the supply and return registers of a warm air heating system or insulating walls with dense-pack cellulose which often reduces air leakage by 15-30%.

Boilers & Furnaces - Myth: When replacing old units, install a device that has more capacity in order to save energy and obtain quicker results. Newer Energy Star devices are much more efficient. Many times the new units are oversized for the application. So when purchasing an Energy Star device, consider purchasing a smaller one.

Air Conditioners - Myth: Buying a bigger room air conditioning unit will make you feel more comfortable. A room air conditioner that is too big for the area it is supposed to cool will perform less efficiently and less effectively than a properly sized unit. This is because room units work better if they run for relatively long periods of time than if they are continually switching off and on. Longer run times allow air conditioners to maintain a more constant room temperature. Air conditioners that bear the Energy Star label may be twice as efficient as some existing systems.

R-Value - Myth: All insulation materials of the same R-Value perform equally. While insulations of equal R-Value perform the same in the controlled conditions of a laboratory, they do not all maintain the same R-Value in the walls and ceilings of a home. Some "off-gas" over time thus they diminish in thickness and efficiency. If there are air gaps between the insulation and other building materials, the effective R-Value of the insulation can be reduced by as much as 50% from the maximum R-Value rated on a product.

Halogen Lighting - Myth: Halogen lighting is super-efficient. While halogen lights use slightly less energy than standard incandescent bulbs, many halogens require transformers that can use extra energy, even when the light is off. They also tend to generate a great deal of heat, which may add to the cooling load of the home during hot weather. Halogens can also pose a serious fire hazard. By comparison, compact fluorescent lights are nearly 3 times as efficient.

Electric Efficiency - Myth: Energy efficiency and energy conservation are one in the same. Energy efficiency means getting the same job done while using less energy. On the other hand, energy conservation means reducing the level of services such as reducing lighting, reducing the temperature of your water heater settings etc.

Electric heating - Myth: Electric heating is more efficient than fuel-based heating. While almost most of the electricity that goes into an electric heater is transformed to useful heat, producing the electricity is an inefficient process. As much as two-thirds of the input energy to generate electricity is lost in the process. This is why electricity is typically much more expensive for the consumer than direct fuels.

Peter Ottowitz, Certified Master Inspector, New World Home Inspections and Energy Audits

Peter Ottowitz

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