Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Problem of Air Pollution

Air Pollution is Killing Millions of Americans by Gilles Coulombe

It is now a fact, Air Pollution is now killing millions of Americans, this year alone over 200,000 will die from various diseases linked to air pollution impact on health issues. The situation in Canada is not better, according to the Canadian Medical Association. An estimated figure is that over 21,000 Canadians will also die from Air Pollution. The situation will get worse in the years to come.

Nobody is immune and no community is safe from Air Pollution effects. There is no doubt now about the devastating effect of Air Pollution on American's health. Moreover, from now on till 2031, 7,000,000 Americans will die from long term chronic exposure, year after year, to Air Pollution. People will die mostly from cardio-vascular and respiratory illnesses, 42% and 11% respectively.

People over 65 years old are the ones mostly affected. This year alone this population segment will count for 80% of premature deaths. Considering the aging trend of the population, it means that there will be an important increase in the future of health damages from Air Pollution. There will be an increase also for children and babies with fragile health exposed to Air Pollution.


The Midwest population, where heavy industries are located, and population of Big Cities like New-York, will have the biggest share of premature and serious deaths caused by Air Pollution. Rural Regions are also affected because Air Pollution is dumped in those areas by the wind. Over this death rate increases, other deplorable consequences can be forecast. For example, it is estimated that 180,000 people suffering from Air Pollution shall be admitted to hospitals, this is an increase of 62% in the last 20 years and, for the same period, the increase for the people over 65 years old will reach102%.

A truthful evidence that the situation is aggravating is that around 6.000,000 visits to the doctors in 2008 are associated to the exposure of Air Pollution. This number should go over 9,000,000 by the year 2031 if the quality of air remains the same during this period of time, this is without mentioning the increase in the Emergency Rooms.


For 2008, the economic costs are estimated to 100 billions and this amount should go up to 3,000 billions by the year 2031, according to the model used by ICAP (Illness Costs and Air Pollution). It is clear now that the climatic changes have a direct impact on the public health and that Air Pollution should be addressed with adequate public policies.


According to Dr Becky Natrajan, a well known American Gastroenterologist, the only suitable way to alleviate this disastrous impact of Air Pollution on our Health is through Nutritional Cleansing. Body cleansing at an internal level is a hot topic, and for good reasons. Body cleansing is more necessary now than ever because we live in a very toxic world: air pollution, herbicides, petrochemicals, hydrocarbons, heavy metals, food additives, synthetic drugs etc...Body cleansing is much more necessary because those toxins can have an adverse effect on our cells, internal organs and state of health. Last year alone, over 20 millions pounds of antibiotics were injected into our farm animals.

Body cleansing is also more than necessary because many insecticides and pesticides have become part of our food pyramid and these noxious chemicals are mixed with our fruits and vegetables. We are chronically exposed to harmful substances. Finally, body cleansing is necessary because our soils are poisoned with chemicals and air pollution and foods are continually stripped of their nutrients-primarily minerals-to perform optimally. The nutritionally bankrupt body is an invitation to illness and disease. A Nutritional Cleansing program has been prepared by Isagenix and it really works. Bowtrol Natural Cleansing is also very effective.Take action, your health is the first priority. Press on the links below and learn more about it.

Article by Gilles Coulombe B.A. B.LL D.S.A. Gilles Coulombe is the webmaster of a site about a wide range of health problems proposing for each of them natural solutions for a longer and healthier life. For more information, go to My Site

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Environmental Health Sciences

The Expanding Field of Environmental Health Sciences by Darin Cozatt

Environmental Health Sciences can be defined as the assessment, evaluation and control of chemical, physical and biological hazards in order to protect public health. The sanitary revolution began in the late 1800s when it was determined that basic environmental sanitation and hygiene were necessary to prevent communicable diseases. Sewage disposal and water quality control were necessary to prevent diseases like cholera.

Today environmental health science is concerned with more global issues due to expanding populations. Such issues are: the pandemic flu and West Nile Virus. Also, global warming and ozone depletion are probably the two major global environmental health issues today, but yet the most controversial. The environmental health scientist must be well prepared to evaluate such controversial issues, as the ramifications do affect public health.

With globalization and exponential advancement in technology, the environmental health scientist must have broad knowledge of health sciences, not just sewage disposal and water quality control. An advanced degree in public health (MPH) provides the necessary general background as well as specific environmental health science knowledge.

Environmental health scientists must also be prepared to work in a team environment with other health scientists and professionals. Problem solving will require a team effort with: doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, epidemiologists, law enforcement and city/county/state/government officials. It is not acceptable to have technical knowledge, one must have a broad knowledge of related subjects.

The following subjects will provide basic public health knowledge as well as specific environmental health science knowledge:

environmental toxicology, public health and policy, epidemiology, statistics, global communicable diseases, public health infrastructure, fundamentals of air/water/land pollution.

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Everyday Conservation Tips

The Four R's That Will Save the Planet by Jennifer Carpenter

Conservation seems to be on everyone's mind lately. How to save energy, save money, save resources, and most importantly, save the planet (which is the only one we have at the moment). Going Green is definitely the trend and the term reduce, reuse, recycle is used over and over by eco-friendly crowds. Lately a fourth "R" has emerged to join the ranks of planet-saving steps. This article will discuss what these four "R's" mean and simple ways you can practice them at home, in the car and even at the workplace.


Reduce refers to reducing the amount of energy you use and the amount of waste you create. There are several simple ways to do this that don't cause much inconvenience to the average person. Being conscious of the package on the items you buy is one easy way to reduce your consumption. Avoid products with layers of packaging when one would do and purchase refillable products and their refills whenever possible. Plan your meals ahead and avoid wasting food that has gone bad waiting for you to cook it. Store or freeze leftovers for another day. Consider signing up for a service that will reduce, if not eliminate, the amount of junk mail you receive (this is a win-win for you and the planet). You can find such services by typing "junk mail" into Google. Also avoid buying magazines and newspapers that waste thousands of trees each year. Get your news online or on the television. Finally, plug all your appliances and electronics into power strips which you can easily switch off at night and when you're not using them to avoid "phantom drain" of your electricity. Not only will you reduce your energy use, you'll reduce your energy bill.


There are many products that can be reused instead of thrown away. Unfortunately, most of us were brought up in a disposable society and think nothing of tossing products away when we feel they have served their purpose. For example, if you currently buy individual liquid hand soap dispensers for each sink in you house, you can buy one large bottle of hand soap and refill the smaller containers over and over again. Giving donations are another way of reusing items. You are giving something you no longer find useful to someone who can use it without them having to buy it new and use up all resources that go into creating a new consumer product. Reuse the back of your printer papers by flipping them over and printing on them again (just make sure they aren't used for your kids homework, teachers find this annoying). If you grow a garden or would like to, you can use your old vegetable and fruit wastes for composting. Shredded paper, coffee grounds, eggshells and brown leaves can also be reused in this way. The resulting organic compost is like gold to gardeners so even if you don't want to use it, you can probably find a beginning gardener to buy it from you.


Recycling is similar to reusing in that the same item is used again. However, with recycling, the item is broken down into a more basic substance and reformed into something entirely different. For example, a pile of plastic soda bottles can be reformed into a child's sandbox. It's important to know your community's rules about recycling because every place is different. On plastic products, for example, you should find a number surrounded by the recycle logo (it looks like a triangle made out of arrows). Certain number plastics are more difficult (and more expensive) to recycle so many communities only accept the easier to process numbers. You should be able to find out you local laws either on your city's website or by calling your local city hall. Aside from plastics, which can be tricky, you can usually recycle any cans made from metal, any containers made from glass, juice and milk cartons (with the tin cans and glass jars), newspapers, magazines, any printed paper, and food boxes (like the ones pasta comes in).


New to the recycling scene, repurposing is my favorite step of conservation. I love the idea of finding a new way to use something old. For example, my daughter and I made shell people by painted some old quahog (large clams) shells and hot gluing some googly eyes and raffia hair to them. Similarly, we use old mismatched socks for hand puppets. I used an old dry sink that was falling apart for a makeshift gardening center and an old hose for a homemade irrigation system for my garden. Currently I am braiding some strips made from plastic bags into placemats that are easy to keep clean and rather attractive to the green at heart. As you can see, there are endless ways to look at old things with new eyes.

For more information on going green and saving the planet, visit

Jennifer Carpenter is a work at home mother of three, two teens and a preschooler. She is a writer and Internet marketer who is currently working towards financial freedom through working online. Read more about her incredible journey at

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Features of Green Property

Green Real Estate Features by Anita Koppens

As the health of our environment and our own personal wellness become issues of greater importance, the demand for eco-friendly homes continues to rise. Home builders and developers have responded to this rising demand, and are building "green" properties in greater numbers. According to McGraw-Hill Construction, a home must contain at least 3 of the following 5 elements to be considered green: energy efficiency, indoor air quality, resource efficiency, water conservation and site management (site management would refer to a home's exterior use of water resources and electricity).

Buyers can enjoy a multitude of benefits associated with the ownership of eco-friendly properties, not the least of which is significant annual savings on energy bills. Most of all, owners of green properties delight in knowing that they're effectively doing their part to contribute to a healthier environment.

Preserve Precious Resources

In order to conserve electricity, green properties utilize the power of solar energy. Installation of solar panels can provide most or all of the electricity that a home may need. While this solution is relatively expensive, homeowners can easily recover the cost of their initial investment over time by way of savings on their energy bills. Solar water heaters, which are relatively inexpensive to purchase and install, are a great way to heat your home's water without the need for electricity or natural gas. Green property may also include radiant roof barriers and upgraded insulation, which can also greatly reduce your home's consumption of energy. Low-E windows and exterior sunscreens are very effective in lowering the amount of exterior heat that your home absorbs. This heat would otherwise make its way inside, and would cost the homeowner more to keep it cool. If you can keep the heat out, you will use less electricity!

Discover Other Simple Solutions

Other, less expensive ways to "go green" include purchasing high-efficiency HVAC systems and Energy Star appliances. Install digital thermostats with timers to further maximize your HVAC system's energy efficiency. Outside, choose to plant trees and shrubs that require less water. Installing low-flow toilets inside the house is also a great way to conserve water. Buyers will find all of these features and more when they look into purchasing eco-friendly homes. Purchase a green property today, and do your part to contribute to a healthier environment for generations to come.

Find great green properties in these Arizona communities: Eco-Friendly Ocotillo and Cooper Commons Eco-Friendly.

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Great Tips for a Green Home

Building an Energy Efficient Home - Top 10 Tips by George Meates-Dennis

  1. Choose an architect who understands low energy efficient house design
    • Be sure that builders are aware of the low energy aim of your house
    • Choose tradespeople that have both knowledge and experience in energy efficiency
    • Remember many architects/builders don't go beyond minimum building standards and regulations but minimum isn't the most efficient.
  2. Minimize Your Heat Loss:
    • Keep your house plan simple and compact - A house that is compact and without extensions will have less heat loss due to the reduction in the external walls and roof area. Remember that single storey houses such as bungalows lose more heat through the roof than two or three storey houses where the rising heat is used throughout the levels before reaching the roof.
    • External walls should have high level insulation
    • Ensure there is good controlled ventilation and draught-proofing
    • Your architect can provide energy calculations of expected annual fuel bills
  3. Maximize Your Solar Heat Gain:
    • Build along the East West axis - An energy efficient house will capture the free energy from the sun to heat your home and water. Ideally where possible choose a site where your house can face the sun (external blinds can prevent overheating in the summer months) and be sheltered from prevailing winds.
    • Houses in the northern hemisphere should locate most windows on the south side with reduced window size on the north side, and vice versa for houses in the southern hemisphere - Most windows should face the sun side to benefit from solar gains. However, some windows will have to be on the non-sun side to enable good daylight in all the rooms in your home.
    • Kitchens and breakfast rooms are mostly used in the mornings, so for houses in the northern hemisphere a south-east orientation will take advantage of the morning sun. For houses in the southern hemisphere then a north-east orientation will take advantage of the morning sun.
    • Halls, stairs and bathrooms can be located on the side that doesn't get much sun as there are less frequently used.
    • Locate living rooms and main bedrooms on the sun facing side
    • In two storey houses consider having your bedrooms on the lower level (cooler for sleeping) and your living rooms on the upper level further reducing your heating requirements as upstairs gets warmer
    • Use the sun's energy
      • Wind Turbines can take full advantage of wind power generation
      • Heat Pumps use the sun's energy - all renewable energy systems are complementary to an energy efficient house design
  4. Install Energy Efficient Heating And Hot Water System:
    • Renewable energy systems
    • Solar heaters
    • Use a condensing boiler if using gas or oil
    • Install easy to use controls
    More information on these can be found at the Home Heating Systems and Solutions site.
  5. Consider Thermal Mass
    • When thinking of an energy efficient house remember that the use of certain materials will also improve the 'thermal mass' of your house by their ability to slowly absorb solar heat during the daytime and then slowly release this free heat through the night - The common materials used for thermal mass are:
      • Adobe bricks (mud or earth bricks)
      • Rocks and stones
      • Concrete (preferably concrete with stone)
      This is because they have:
      • High specific heat - able to store a large amount of heat for a long period of time like the heat bricks in a sauna
      • High density - basically the weight (mass) of a material in relation to it's volume (it's size) - the greater the mass per unit volume the greater the density
      • Low thermal conductivity - slow absorption and slow release of heat
    • Thermal mass is not insulation, it is the amount of specific heat that can be stored in a material (water has high thermal mass by being able to store a lot of heat). Insulation materials have a lower thermal conductivity to restrict the flow and absorption of heat.
  6. Insulation
    • The percentage of heat loss from a house is approximately:
      • 42% Roof
      • 12% windows
      • 12% Unblocked chimneys and draughts around doors
      • 24% walls
      • 10% Floor
    • So when thinking of building an energy efficient house understand that installing insulation at the build stage is the easiest and cheapest way of improving your homes energy efficiency.
      • You can upgrade standard timber framed walls by using 140mm studs instead of 90mm studs - this will allow you more insulation. Masonry cavity walls can be improved by being filled with polystyrene insulating foam and by using lightweight thermal blocks.
      • You should have at least 250mm of loft insulation, 100mm of insulation between the joists and 150mm of insulation laid across the top. Loft conversions require careful attention especially if dormer windows are installed but a high standard of insulation can still be achieved.
      • Heat loss from the floor varies with different floor types. However, ground floor insulation is pretty easy. Generally a 125mm layer/sheet of polystyrene is used this size will be increased if installing underfloor heating to minimize heat loss.
      • Ensure insulation overlap between elements, e.g, between the wall and loft/roof cavity
      • Ensure air gaps such as wall cavities are clear of debris that can bridge therefore compromising the insulating air gap
      • Make sure fibre insulating materials are not compressed (packed tightly) as this will undermine its ability to properly insulate
      • Make sure that all insulating materials are kept dry
      • Be sure to seal all holes where services such as water and gas pipes enter your home
  7. Windows And Conservatories
    • You're always going to lose more heat through windows than through walls especially single pane windows. To minimize heat lost through windows 'Low-E' coated double glazing should be installed in all new houses.
    • Double glazing does not only reduce heat loss, it also offers some sound insulation. With double glazing the two panes are generally vacuum sealed. However, you can get argon-filled units (gas filled), and triple glazing which are well worth considering if you can afford them.
    • Conservatories can save you a little energy by acting as a buffer between the adjoining wall by trapping the heat from the sun, thereby reducing the heat loss from the room separated by the adjoining wall. To be effective, conservatories should be located on the sun facing side of the house and preferably not overshadowed by trees or other buildings.
    • Conservatories correctly placed should not require any permanent heating, but the doors that separate the house from the conservatory should be double glazed and shut when not in use.
  8. Efficient Home Heating
    • A well insulated house is a low energy consuming house meaning that energy efficient house heating requirements are lower than a similar sized house which is poorly insulated.
    • Your heating system should take into account:
      • Fuel source and availability
      • The time you will spend in your home - quick or slow response systems
      • Construction material - timber framed houses should have responsive heating, such as radiators or air heat pumps, as the timber retains less heat than concrete, for example
      • Underfloor heating systems are not suited for houses built from lightweight construction materials, like timber frame, because of their slower heating response
    • You can have hydronic underfloor heating (wet or water based) systems combined with radiators. These are usually designed with the underfloor heating downstairs and radiators located upstairs.
    • Tiled solid screed floors work the best with underfloor heating. If you prefer a softer floor finish rather than tiles you should consider rugs rather than fitted carpets for better heat transference/output within the room.
    • Renewable energy systems such as heat pumps and solar heating are perfectly suited for energy efficient house designs.
  9. Ventilation
    • Ventilation is an important aspect not to be overlooked as it provides both fresh air and removes stale air and moisture. Removing moisture prevents bacterial growth thus maintaining a healthy living environment.
    • Kitchens must have extractor fans or passive stack ventilation (PSV). PSV works using the principle of 'rising' warm air carrying stale air up and out.
    • Mechanical ventilation systems with heat recovery do offer filtered air and a reduction in noise intrusion as windows can be kept closed. However, unless you are using a renewable power system such as photovoltaic (PV) or wind turbines, then the power required to run the fans rules it out as a feature for an energy efficient house. Also, for a heat recovery system to work efficiently the house must be well sealed.
    • All rooms should have trickle ventilation - allowing air to come in at a trickle rate to provide required room air change rate per hour (ACH).
  10. Lighting and appliances
    • These should be low energy rated (low-wattage) saving you money in running costs and helping the planet by reducing CO2 emissions.

So now you can save the planet and save yourself running costs by building an energy efficient home.

George Meates-Dennis is a heating engineer who provides easy-to-understand comprehensive information on home heating on his site Home Heating Systems and Solutions, including information on using green energy to heat your home.

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Recycled Paper

How is Recycled Paper Made? by Linda Dowdy

With the rising cost of gas getting so much attention we are beginning to take a more serious look at our environment. Everyone has heard the term "recycled paper" but how many of us really know what that means? Here is a brief explanation of how recycled paper is made.

In very simple terms, recycled paper is made much the same way as brand new, virgin paper. The basic difference in taking paper that has been used previously and reusing or recycling it is that the used or waste paper must first be cleaned.

1) Collection. Waste paper is collected or recovered by collection or recycling centers. It is then sorted by grade and forwarded to paper mills to be used in the recycled paper making process.

2) Breaking it down. Waste paper is put into large vats to which water and chemicals are added. This mixture is stirred by large beaters to separate the paper fibers that are then forced through a screening process to remove the large contaminants from the pulped fibers. The remaining mixture or pulp as it is now called is put in a centrifuge that spins the mushy mixture to separate the dense or even more undesirable foreign particles from the mix.

3) Washing it clean. Almost clean, it is time to remove the ink from the pulp in a process called deinking. This is done much like your laundry. Detergents called surfactants are added to wash the pulp and air is injected that causes bubbles to float through the mixture taking the ink with it. The resulting foam layer is removed from the top to leave the now cleaned and deinked pulp behind. If necessary, further bleaching may be required to produce even whiter paper.

4) Remixing. At this point the recycled fiber can be added to new or virgin wood fibers if desired. You will notice that recycled paper is often labeled as 100% recycled with a certain percentage of post-consumer waste. Pre-consumer waste is material that was discarded before product made its way to the consumer such as scrap from the paper making process at the paper mill. Post-consumer waste is material discarded after the consumer used it, such as old newspapers. Mixing post-consumer and virgin wood fibers assures a strong paper bond.

5) Making the paper. The mixture is now ready to be made into paper just as it would be if it were totally new fibers. The pulp is mixed with water and chemicals and refined by spreading it across a fast moving screen, allowing water to drain. A series of felt rollers and heated metal rollers force even more water from the mixture leaving what looks almost like paper behind. A coating may be added at this point to add a certain finish to the paper, like a glossy or dull coating for example. The finished paper is then wound on huge rolls.

The next time you see the recycled or chasing arrows symbol on paper products you will have a much better understanding of the process that went into the making of that product. You might also be interested in noticing the percentage of post-consumer fibers used. Paper products like holiday cards usually print that information on the back of the card. Take a look and do your part by recycling your post-consumer products and by buying products printed on recycled paper.

Linda Cress Dowdy is a professional author, editor and copywriter and avid greeting card enthusiast. For a great selection of holiday cards and greeting cards for all occasions, visit

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The Smart Grid - Useful or Not?

Are Smart Grids the Wave of the Future? by Gary W Patterson

For years now, economists and environmentalists have been questioning the traditional transmission system used to collect and distribute electric power. Given world overdependence on oil, compounded by the large amount of energy waste associated with current electric system, the creation of a smart power grid is being touted as the next big thing. Want to conserve energy and save money? Think Smart Grid!

That said, here is the simple description of the traditional energy grid. The traditional grid transmits voltages of electricity through cable wires (overhead and underground) from beginning to its destination. After the power gets near its destination, the voltage is then decreased, which is a needed safety measure to make the energy safe to enter our home or office buildings.Therein lies the problem. Increasing and decreasing voltage requires more power, hence more money coming out of consumer pockets.

Enter the smart power grid. A smart grid compelling feature to consumers would be its ability to control and regulate the electric power usage, which in turn will help users conserve energy and save money. While the process is quite complex (much like the traditional grid), the concept is simple. The concept of a smart grid is to create a system that allows electricity to move to its destinations in a more efficient and cost-effective way. We can not underestimate that smart grids require sophisticated communication capabilities to help consumers make the adjustments needed to save on peak energy consumption while saving money.

Essentially, while the traditional power grid requires that electricity flow over long distances, a smart grid reduces that requirement. A smart grid will have the capability to deliver electricity closer to consumers directly from the points of generation. This reduces the need to have to increase and decrease the voltage multiple times before it enters our homes or offices. That alone saves money and energy.

Smart grids can also adjust to current weather conditions, thereby reducing costly blackouts. Also, if a natural disaster were to strike, a smart grid would be better able to ensure that the electricity will stay on, even in the midst of trauma. This can save people, including lives, from some of the problems that a power outage causes.

Smart grids will also allow for energy to be recharged and reused. For example, new technology has been created that allows for plug-in vehicles to help return power to a smart grid, at peak demand times. This causes peak demand energy to be better managed by charging the vehicles during low demand periods.

In addition, smart grids are expected to ease the wear and tear on current power systems. The voltage changes and the high expectations described earlier create major stress on traditional grids.

As you might imagine, smart grids will be expensive to get up and running. But once installed, they are expected to be more cost effective than the traditional grid. As concerns grow regarding reliability of the current power system, environmentalists and advocates believe smart grids will gain in popularity and become more widespread. In particular, as more utilities move to time of service pricing (think air conditioning in the middle of the afternoon costing more than at night) where the cost of power varies depending on the time it is used), consumers will be even more motivated to monitor their energy requirements.

Moving to a greener world will require expensive transmission lines for permitting process and other costly solutions on an aging electric transmission infrastructure to solve some of the issues noted earlier. And the time has come to address our overtaxed power grid as it exists today. Businesses and consumers must begin planning NOW for a greener economy. The winners will be those who bite the bullet earlier than later.

Bottom line? - Apply this information to improve your profitability, reengineer business models, and strengthen or gain competitive advantage in the marketplace. And apply the free Fiscal Test at

From Gary W Patterson, - Copyright 2008

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Current State of the World's Wind Power

Availability of Wind Energy in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Rest of the World by Evangeline Cortez

The availability of wind energy may be measured through resource inventories conducted by the respective departments of energy in various countries. For instance, in the United States, three states namely Kansas, North Dakota, and Texas have been identified as rich sources of wind power by the US Department of Energy. Although this inventory has been released over 17 years ago, it must be deduced from the facts that by now - considering the modern technologies available - the potential in these states may have increased even more. Back then, the wind power produced from the three states could well supply the electricity needs of the entire country.

Europe, on the other hand, is the leader when it comes to the availability of wind power. According to the European Wind Energy Association, the energy producing capacity of Europe can meet the electricity needs of half the population when the year 2020 approaches. There are several countries in Europe which make a lot of monetary investment in these projects. The United Kingdom invested more than $12 billion dollars in order to finance projects that will supply electricity to one-sixth of its country's population. Germany and Spain also increased their wind power projects and has been getting electricity from the wind more than the United States does. Denmark gets twenty percent of its electricity from the wind.

This is also an endeavor looked into by Canada. They also have organizations that look into the energy producing capacity of Canada. These groups include The Canadian Wind Energy Association in Ottawa, Canada, the Solar Energy Society of Canada in Winnipeg, and the National Research Council of Canada. Projects supporting these types of energy, more particularly the so-called Windmill Projects, are pursued globally. The United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada are the three leaders in this endeavor. There are many reasons why a lot of countries choose to explore its availability. For once, it is cheap and renewable. Moreover, it is pollution-free. It also has a high energy-conversion efficiency.

It is unfortunate, however, that there are some regions in the world where the availability of wind energy is poor. Their wind speeds are unreliable and poor. Countries with an annual wind speed under 3m per second cannot sustain wind power system. Therefore, there are regions around the globe which cannot explore this potential, nor can they rely on windmills and wind turbines to supply electricity to their households. On the other hand, regions with annual wind speeds of more than 4.5m per second are those which have much potential for wind energy systems. These projects that they may assume are promising to be economically competitive.

Do you know that plenty of people are now using solar power and wind power for their home?

Go to to know more on the top step-by-step and friendly guide that you need to use solar and wind energy.

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Green Whitegoods!

Energy Star Appliances by Anne Clarke

By purchasing energy star appliances consumers are doing their part to live a green lifestyle and preserve the environment. The energy star label is not placed on all appliances. It is a specialized label that was created and developed by the Environment Protection Agency and the United States Department of Energy for specific appliances that are made for home use.

An energy star label is a small label and it can be difficult to find on some appliances. The label itself is white and blue and has a simple design. It consists of a blue star and the words "energy star." It is important for all concerned consumers to look for the label when purchasing new appliances. If the label cannot be found most sales people are knowledgeable on which appliances meet the energy star specifications.

The environmental energy star specifications are rigorous. They are meant to find the best products that are efficient to use and earth friendly. Each product is tested for its consumption and energy use. For example, with appliances that use water, they use less water than other appliances that are not energy star rated. Every appliance that is awarded an energy star label offers significant energy savings, pollution reduction and economic savings. In fact, the energy star label usually certifies that an appliance will use up to ¾ less energy than regular non-energy star items.

An entire house can easily be outfitted with the best energy efficient appliances. Owners sometimes choose to get new appliances during a remodel or during construction of a new home. Other property owners simply upgrade their existing appliances one by one.

Almost every home appliance can be certified with the energy star label. Some of the most popular types of household items that can be energy star appliances include: clothes washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers.

There are also some energy star household items that many consumers do not realize exist. These items include: battery chargers, air cleaners, water coolers, water heaters, dehumidifiers and air conditioners. All of these items are great to include in an energy efficient home.

Not every environmentally conscience person owns an energy star certified appliance. One of the largest reasons for this is cost. Energy efficient appliances are not the least expensive appliances that are available on the retail market. In fact, the energy star label can often mean a higher price for a household appliance or other item. The higher initial price is worth it to most. A person's cost of energy can easily go down with that addition of even one energy efficient appliance in their home. With more than one appliance, the savings in energy costs in usually more than noticeable.

For those of us that can still not afford a large upfront cost for a green appliance, there are in-store sales and used appliances available. Some stores even offer additional discounts on appliances that have been slightly damaged. The damage is most often cosmetic and does not affect the workings of the machine. A cosmetically damaged product is a great way to get an energy star appliance at a lower cost and still be able to benefit from its energy efficiency and savings.

Anne Clarke writes numerous articles for Web sites on renewable energy, parenting, fashion, and home decor. Her background also includes teaching, gardening, and health and fitness. For more of her useful articles on energy conservation, please visit Energy Evolutions.

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What Happened to the Recent Economic Crisis?

Wag the Dog - How to Conceal Massive Economic Collapse by Ellen Brown

"I'm in show business, why come to me?"

"War is show business, that's why we're here."

- "Wag the Dog" (1997 film)

The first week of August 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had just announced record losses, and so had most reporting corporations. Unemployment was mounting, the foreclosure crisis was deepening, state budgets were in shambles, and massive bailouts were everywhere. Investors had every reason to expect the dollar and the stock market to plummet, and gold and oil to shoot up. Strangely, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 300 points, the dollar strengthened, and gold and oil were crushed. What happened?

It hardly took psychic powers to see that the Plunge Protection Team had come to the rescue. Formally known as the President's Working Group on Financial Markets, the PPT was once concealed and its very existence denied as if it were a matter of strict national security. But the PPT has now come out of the closet. What was once a legally questionable "manipulator" of markets has become a sanctioned stabilizer and protector of markets. The new tone was set in January 2008, when global markets took their worst tumble since September 11, 2001. Senator Hillary Clinton said in a statement reported by the State News Service:

"I think it's imperative that the following step be taken. The President should have already and should do so very quickly, convene the President's Working Group on Financial Markets. That's something that he can ask the Secretary of the Treasury to do. This has to be coordinated across markets with the regulators here and obviously with regulators and central banks around the world."

The mystery over what was going on with the dollar the first week in August was solved by James Turk, founder of GoldMoney, who wrote on August 7:

"[T]he banking problems in the United States continue to mount, while the federal government's deficit continues to soar out of control. So what happened to cause the dollar to rally over the past three weeks? In a word, intervention. Central banks have propped up the dollar, and here's the proof.

"When central banks intervene in the currency markets, they exchange their currency for dollars. Central banks then use the dollars they acquire to buy US government debt instruments so that they can earn interest on their money. The debt instruments central banks acquire are held in custody for them at the Federal Reserve, which reports this amount weekly.

"On July 16, 2008 the Federal Reserve reported holding $2,349 billion of US government paper in custody for central banks. In its report released today, this amount had grown over the past three weeks to $2,401 billion, a 38.4% annual rate of growth. So central banks were accumulating dollars over the past three weeks at a rate far above what one would expect as a result of the US trade deficit. The logical conclusion is that they were intervening in currency markets. They were buying dollars for the purpose of propping it up, to keep the dollar from falling off the edge of the cliff and doing so ignited a short covering rally, which is not too difficult to do given the leverage employed in the markets these days by hedge funds and others."

Just as central banks manipulate currencies in concert, so gold can be manipulated by massive selling of central bank reserves. Oil and any other market can be manipulated as well. But markets can be manipulated by only so much and for only so long without fixing the underlying problem. There is more bad news coming down the pike, news of such magnitude that no amount of ordinary manipulation is liable to conceal it.

For one thing, roughly $400 billion in ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages) have or will reset between March and October of this year. Assuming 3 to 6 months for strapped debtors to actually hit the wall with their payments, a huge wave of defaults is about to strike, continuing through March 2009 - just in time for the next huge wave of resets, in option ARMs. Option ARMs are loans with the option to pay even less than just the interest on the loan monthly, increasing the loan balance until the loan reaches a certain amount (typically 110% to 125% of the original loan balance), when it resets. The $800 billion credit line recently opened to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may be not only tapped but tapped out, at taxpayer expense. The underlying problem is little discussed but impossible to repair - a one quadrillion dollar derivatives scheme that is now imploding. Banks everywhere are facing massive writeoffs, putting the whole banking system on the brink of collapse. Only public bailouts will save it, but they could bankrupt the nation.

What to do? War and threats of war have been used historically to distract the population and deflect public scrutiny from economic calamity. As the scheme was summed up in the trailer to the 1997 movie "Wag the Dog" -

"There's a crisis in the White House, and to save the election, they'd have to fake a war."

Perhaps that explains the sudden breakout of war in the Eurasian country of Georgia on August 8, just 3 months before the November elections. August 8 was the day the Olympic Games began in Beijing, a distraction that may have been timed to keep China from intervening on Russia's behalf. The mainstream media version of events is that Russia, the bully on the block, invaded its tiny neighbor Georgia; but not all commentators agree. Mikhail Gorbachev, writing in The Washington Post on August 12, observed:

"What happened on the night of Aug. 7 is beyond comprehension. The Georgian military attacked the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali with multiple rocket launchers designed to devastate large areas. Russia had to respond. To accuse it of aggression against 'small, defenseless Georgia' is not just hypocritical but shows a lack of humanity. The Georgian leadership could do this only with the perceived support and encouragement of a much more powerful force."

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power, commented in OpEdNews on August 11:

"The U.S. has long been involved in supporting 'freedom movements' throughout this region that have been attempting to replace Russian influence with U.S. corporate control. The CIA, National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House (includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, former CIA director James Woolsey, and Obama foreign policy adviser Anthony Lake) have been key funders and supporters of placing politicians in power throughout Central Asia that would play ball with 'our side'. None of this is about the good guys versus the bad guys. It is power bloc politics. Big money is at stake. [B]oth parties (Republican and Democrat) share a bi-partisan history and agenda of advancing corporate interests in this part of the world. Obama's advisers, just like McCain's (one of his top advisers was recently a lobbyist for the current government in Georgia) are thick in this stew."

Brzezinski, who is now Obama's adviser, was Jimmy Carter's foreign policy adviser in the 1970s. He also served in the 1970s as director of the Trilateral Commission, which he co-founded with David Rockefeller Sr., considered by some to be the "master spider" of the Wall Street banking network. Brzezinski, who wrote a book called The Grand Chessboard, later boasted of drawing Russia into war with Afghanistan in 1979, "giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War." Is the Georgia affair an attempted repeat of that coup? Mike Whitney, a popular Internet commentator, observed on August 11:

"Washington's bloody fingerprints are all over the invasion of South Ossetia. Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili would never dream of launching a massive military attack unless he got explicit orders from his bosses at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. After all, Saakashvili owes his entire political career to American power-brokers and US intelligence agencies. If he disobeyed them, he'd be gone in a fortnight. Besides an operation like this takes months of planning and logistical support; especially if it's perfectly timed to coincide with the beginning of the Olympic games. (another petty neocon touch) That means Pentagon planners must have been working hand in hand with Georgian generals for months in advance. Nothing was left to chance."

Part of that careful planning may have been the unprecedented propping up of the dollar and bombing of gold and oil the week before the curtain opened on the scene. Gold and oil had to be pushed down hard to give them room to rise before anyone shouted "hyperinflation!" As we watch the curtain rise on war in Eurasia, it is well to remember that things are not always as they seem. Markets are manipulated and wars are staged by Grand Chessmen behind the scenes.

Ellen Brown, J.D., developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In "Web of Debt," her latest book, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and "the money trust." She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her websites are and

Her eleven books include the bestselling "Nature's Pharmacy," co-authored with Dr. Lynne Walker, which has sold 285,000 copies.

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Chinese Struggle with Renewable Energy

China's Renewable Energy Plans - Shaken Not Stirred by David DuByne

The May 12th earthquake in western China's Sichuan Province will have effects reaching further outside China than Beijing is letting on. Sichuan Province holds the key to China's hydroelectric power generation plans in its renewable power targets and the area is also a hub for worldwide outsourced wind turbine equipment. Both were badly damaged.

This infrastructure will take months or years to repair, but in the meantime Chinese media report that "The quake in dollar terms is minimal and it seems unlikely to set back China's economic growth by very much." I beg to differ.

This earthquake cracked dams and roads, but at the same time it cracked holes in the myth that an ever-expanding China can accommodate an infinite number of companies wanting to open facilities there. We have been hiding behind a wall of outsourcing dependence to solve our domestic pollution and economic problems and that great wall is about to collapse.

The hydroelectric crutch: The quake zone area generated 62 percent of Sichuan province's total electricity production by way of hydroelectric dams, of which "396 dams were believed badly damaged and many of the power stations on the river systems were damaged and several major reservoirs are being drained to prevent their dams from failing. The seismic safety of these dams is a concern and it is expected that many of them will need repair and strengthening," according to Ministry of Water Resources minister Chen Lei.

Even before the quake, Beijing had admitted there are major flaws in many of the country's 87,000 dams. "Roughly 37,000 dams across the country are in a dangerous state," Ministry of Water Resources deputy minister Jiao Yong said earlier this year, noting that many had been built decades ago.

Two weeks after the quake, the Water Resources Ministry acknowledged that 69 reservoirs and dams were on the verge of collapse, and nearly 3,000 throughout China had sustained damage.

If the always secretive central government is publishing this type of information, I can only conclude that reliable power from that region is no longer assured. This single set of facts revolving around hydroelectric production in western China is a link in a chain that stretches from China right around to your back yard, and that link has broken.

Don't count your renewable energy eggs before they hatch: China has more dams than any other country - about half the world's total. And the 11th Five Year Plan pins its hopes on rapid and massive development of every metre of flowing water in the rivers of Yunnan, Sichuan, and Gansu Provinces in the west to satisfy the insatiable power demand for factories and homes. The Chinese government will now have to reconsider its aggressive dam-building program.

If hydroelectric projects are scrapped there will be continuous permanent electric shortages throughout the country. China's hydroelectric consumption was around 7% of their total prime energy consumed in 2007.

Pre-quake, the central government was thinking: 'Sichuan possesses the country's largest possible reserves of hydropower resources, estimated at more than 110 gigawatts. Yunnan has a number of hydropower stations under construction on the lower- and middle-reaches of the Lancang River, with 11 GW and plans for dozens more projects between now and 2016. Gansu's abundant Yellow River hydropower resources can provide electricity for the neighbouring provinces of Qinghai, Shanxi, Sichuan and Ningxia, and their further potential is great.'

Not anymore.

The China Electricity Council believes less than 20 percent of the country's hydroelectric resources are being utilized. According to the pre-quake governmental plan, the hydroelectric installed capacity should have reached 125 GW in 2010, accounting for 28 percent of total installed capacity; in 2015 it could have reached 150 GW and by 2020 the goal was 300 GW. These plans are not likely to go forward as planned. This will leave China far behind its electrical generation goals and far short of the capacity it needs to attract manufacturing businesses to that part of the country.

The slow decline: China's Go West Campaign is designed to lure college graduates and businesses to western parts of the country, thereby spurring the economy in China's less affluent interior.

The bait most frequently used by the central government is in the form of Major Economic & Technological Development Zones, Special Economic Zones and City Industry Zones, which confer tax-free status along with preferential transportation and wage agreements. This is great when there is a continuous power supply, but now in the western region that is anything but assured. China's State Power Grid announced Sichuan's electricity grid is running at 76% of pre-earthquake levels. Notice how they conveniently leave out the surrounding provinces, which also sustained damage.

A recent article appearing in the China Daily - "China expects power shortages amid surging demand" - quotes the State Electricity Regulatory Commission general office as saying "Guangdong Province would be short of 5.5GW, Guizhou 1GW, and Yunnan 1.5 GW." Yet again they left out shortages in Sichuan, Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Shanxi provinces to get a reliable total. This will be the fifth consecutive year of power shortages countrywide. Now consider this: the last four years were short with all of the country's hydropower up and running.

This year, power is likely to be 10 GW short, so keep an eye on the power ratings - "normal shortage", "severe shortage" and "power crisis" - to see how your favourite town or industrial zone is getting along.

It seems there is a masking of the real numbers. What business would want to set up in a country with consistent electrical shortfalls?

Devastation in Beichuan: Combine electrical shortages with the amount of factories that need to be relocated now that fewer enterprises will want to rebuild on an active fault line and the veil begins to lift on what they are hiding. Labourers are refusing to return to work until government inspectors sign off on the integrity of the buildings, despite the fact that it might take months or years before they get around to every company. The psychology of danger for the worker and investor is the overlooked factor X in the Chinese equation. Now, how appealing are the Regional Development Zones in western China??

As for us living outside China, outsourcing heavy industry to China is the norm. Even the worldwide renewable energy sector has many of its wind turbines and solar panels produced in China. Unfortunately, Deyang - a town about an hour and a half north of Chengdu - had wind turbine operations including majors from Europe, Australia and North America carrying out some of their production at Dong Fang Turbine. In the same area there were also carbon fibre blade, wind tower and ball bearing operations supplying parts to Dong Fang. Buildings in the surrounding area from Deyang to Mianyang were heavily damaged or flattened.

Business Week sums it up in an article titled "Dongfang Turbine Badly Hit." The operations of Dongfang Turbine, China's largest steam turbine producer and third largest domestic manufacturer of wind turbines was virtually wiped out. Dongfang, which produces 30 percent of China's locally made turbines estimates direct losses from the earthquake will reach $1 billion. Its parent company, Dongfang Electric Corp., has seen its stock price plummet as the steam turbine business accounted for 20% of its operating revenues in 2007.

Although Chinese media reports suggest that facilities for its wind turbine business was unaffected, sources inside the company said that most of their wind business' senior engineers have unfortunately perished and one of their wind components factory was badly damaged.

The electric shortage earthquake triangle: Where does this leave us? Peak Oil is apparent and can no longer be denied. We as a world need to begin a transition to renewable power and these circumstances will set the wind industry production in China back a year or two. China's answer to the electrical shortage will be to build more coal-fired power plants. As outsourced production is now being limited by fault lines and electrical shortages, what will our answer be?

The electric shortage earthquake triangle from Kunming in the west to Chongqing in the east and Lanzhou to the north with Chengdu in the centre is all sketchy territory from now on. The central government was funneling new business to this exact area because there is very little space along the east coast. That's why there is a massive push to send the economy west. If you have been to coastal China you have seen how densely packed a society can be.

Price is the main reason we buy Chinese goods and have our industries there. However, when something is in short supply it costs more. Electricity is no different. There are now daily diesel shortages along the east coast, electric shortages in the west and along the coast. Add in the recently appreciating yuan and China is no longer the utopia for business it once was. Until the damage in western China is repaired, increased usage of oil, natural gas and coal will replace hydropower to an extent. This in turn creates higher prices in China's manufacturing sector. You will pay at the check out counter.

Please understand: The rest of the world is far less dependent on China's exports than China is dependent on the rest of the world. We need to prepare to take care of ourselves again. As oil prices continue to rise and the global economy declines, I believe we will see a resurgence of light industry returning to our home countries. China's electric problems could be partially solved if light industry moved elsewhere and left heavy industries in China. Unemployment is going to become more and more ferocious over the next few years as our fossil fuel based economy declines.

What a great way to put millions of people to work: Bring companies back home. This will take one link out of the globalization dependency chain, and save energy along the way.

Until recently, David DuByne taught business English in Chongqing, China - near the epicentre of the earthquake. He has returned to the United States.

David DuByne is from the United States and is presently living and teaching Business English in Chongqing, China. His website is devoted to oil depletion in an English as a Second Language (ESL) format for students around the world to discuss energy issues.

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Plastic Pollution

Plastic Pollution by Becky Odenkirk

The United States produces millions of tons of waste every year. Nine out of every ten tons of plastic waste are not recycled.

So where do those tons of discarded plastic go? Eventually all trashed plastic ends up in our oceans. Then add nurdles. Nurdles are small plastic pellets that are part of the manufacturing process. In 1992, approximately 60 billion pounds of these plastic pellets were being made annually. The American Chemistry Council, that represents the nations' largest plastic and chemical manufacturers, reports an estimated production of 120 billion pounds in 2007. Production doubled in five years. Nurdles are shipped by trains, trucks, and ships. Some of these tiny pellets escape on the wind and rain, floating down storm drains and rivers to the ocean. There the nurdles join other plastics, such as water bottles, gas and oil cans, and even kayaks on their way to the ocean.

As the plastic floats along in the sun, it becomes brittle and begins to crack into small pieces and particles as fine as dust. Once in the ocean some plastic dust is deposited on our beaches. The remaining plastic moves to any one of five ocean gyres. A gyre is a rotational dead zone in the ocean. All debris flows into these gyres and is trapped there. The debris and the chemicals it brings with it are poisoning the water and causing the ocean temperature to rise, worsening the problem of global warming. Estimates are that the debris covers an area twice the size of Texas and weighs three million tons, mostly plastic.

There is also the problem of choking and starving birds, turtles and other animals who have mistaken the bits of plastic for food or been snared by abandoned fishing nets and other debris. Recent testing shows a ratio of 6 to 1 of plastic to plankton in the water.

The EPA has been studying the problem for more than a decade and we still have no regulations to control it. Keep in mind that there are five gyres in the world.

Charles Moore is a marine researcher at Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach. He has been studying the North Pacific Gyre for 10 years. Moore says, " The ocean is downhill from everywhere. It's like a toilet that never flushes."

New technology is coming that will improve or nearly eliminate the problem of garbage. But it isn't in the main stream, yet. More testing, permits, and financing needs to happen. Plasco, a company in Ottawa, Canada, uses a plasma torch process to burn waste in a completely controlled environment, with no hazardous emissions. This is called plasma gasification. This process is 2/10ths of one percent away from zero waste. Hydrogen is one of the byproducts of gasification, and could be a future source of power. Plasco has applied to build a facility in California. But permits and building, all takes time.

Now is the time to make recycling a way of life. When we recycle waste plastic, we can create new products, such as carpet, and lumber, without creating more nurdles. We should also stop polluting our natural resources. It is time to reuse what we already have instead of making new nurdles and tossing away reusable material.

For more information please look at, and


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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tips for Being Green

A Green Site - What Does This Mean? by Rachael Z. Ikins

In these tough economic and environmentally challenged times, it is really important for an artist to "practice what she preaches" to borrow from a commonly heard adage. Artists by their very connection to detail and condition of rawness that allows art to form, are in a position that no others share. We interpret the world around us in a way that makes our viewers feel something. And hopefully the feeling will inspire action. That is the responsibility of an artist to her or his audience. To live a balanced life that gives thanks to the earth which supports and inspires the artist's life itself.

How can we accomplish this? Well, first of all, recycle. We don't "need" state of the art technology as long as whatever it is is as energy efficient as possible.. An old printer works just as well. Pass on your extra PC to a younger artist coming along who maybe can afford little. Visit an area on "trash day" and see who has put what gem out for the recycling truck that might be useful in the creation of a work of "found art" or used in one's own house with a cleaning and a new blanket laid over the rough spots.

When not using it, turn your computer equipment off. Even when the switch is off but the power source continues to be plugged in, this uses a constant supply of electricity. Which, in turn, creates waste gases at the production site and releases pollutants in the air. Even keeping your computer unplugged 6 hours a day can reduce YOUR contributions to greenhouse emissions significantly and lower your electric bill. None of us is in such a hurry with a reader dying because of having to wait to read one's newest poem, that we have to leave the computer in "sleep" mode 24-7.

Used recycled paper for your printer. And if you print out something that isn't exactly the way you want it, turn the paper over and use the other side instead of simply tossing it. Odd-ball pieces of odd sized paper from projects sized and stapled together, make a note-pad for groceries and rough drafts of poetry.

Don't be afraid to use a notepad and pen or pencil--remember those? instead of solely working on the computer. Writing giant Stephen King wrote "The Green Mile" on little notepads he kept in a back pocket while he was sitting in Fenway Park waiting to see if the baseball game was going to be rained out.

These are some other things that we do as a household to make our life a "green life". We raise chickens. Chickens are the vacuum cleaners of the bird world. We save kitchen scraps as compost for the garden. Chickens eat a lot of it and move it along yet one step further in the compost process from scrap to manure.

They are good eaters of garden pests and insects as well and by their scratching even contribute to the weeding efforts of the gardener. My chickens all have names, not recommended if your plan is ultimately the stew pot. Ours just give us wonderful eggs. We use the egg whites to freeze as our own "Egg Beaters". Eggs also supplement our dogs' food instead of canned.

If you keep a fish tank, use a vacuum hose or buckets and empty the rich water at changing time directly into your garden area. If you raise pet birds or rodents such as gerbils or hamsters, their cage materials can be added to a compost pile when necessary as well.

We also share our life with two pot bellied pigs. These fellows create wonderful manure in handy to collect pellets which, even fresh, seem to please every variety of plant I have dug it in around. If their enthusiasm is corralled and channeled, they can "help" break ground with their strong snouts and shoulders. They also work mulch in as they root through its fascinating scents and textures This aerates the soil and provides a talkative gardening companion who get some much needed stimulation, too .

We eat primarily a vegetable diet, most of which we raise ourselves and share with our animal friends.. The weeds from the garden go to the chickens to sort through with much commentary and joy. What we do not grow ourselves, we try our best to purchase from local and county farmers. We freeze or can produce each summer . One of our small annual goals is to serve a Thanksgiving dinner comprised only of things we raised ourselves. From potatoes to squash to pumpkin pie and jams.

Hang the laundry to dry. A recent statistic from the paper cited energy use from drying clothes to be higher than any other source in an average household. Sun is a great natural bleach. Rain a great fabric softener. Air costs nothing and wind doesn't make greenhouse gases. And you yourself get a break from typing at the computer. You get some weight lifting exercise and walking. And if your cats are like ours, we have two who enjoy nothing more than climbing up the laundry posts and being "wild" or snuggling in the basket of clean laundry as it is folded, while we hang clothes up or take them down.

These are just a few examples today of how this writer's household stays "green". Look forward to more and an informative reference of books and sites for further info.

Rachael Ikins is an award-winning photographer of dolls at play; creating images that that mimic life and entice the viewer to take a closer look. Additionally, she writes children's books and illustrates them with her photos to enchant her readers. You can be touched and amused by her life-like photos by visiting

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Opinion: Oil and Government

Oil, Energy, and Congress by Xander Anderson

Now that Congress has recessed for the end of the summer, what are we to make of the energy situation? At this point, I'm getting tired of hearing that $4.00 gasoline is good for me. How can it be good when Americans are spending less of their money on other goods and investing in their gas tanks? Is it good that transportation costs have sent my food bill sky rocketing? Is it good that many Americans have shortened their vacations and cut back on their entertainment spending? Is it good that the working poor are struggling between putting groceries in their home and fueling their cars to get to work?

Apparently our Congressional leaders and one presidential candidate say the answer is yes. While our Speaker of the House is trying to "save the planet", the rest of the world is out trying to find more oil & energy. Let's look at few recent examples:

  • Egypt announced last week the start of a 9 billion dollar oil refinery and petrochemical complex, which will be located on its north coast. The complex is expected to begin operation in 2010 and will be completed in 5 years. The facility will refine 350,000 barrels of oil per day.
  • The Tupi deepwater oil field is located offshore of Rio de Janeiro, one of Brazil's best tourist destinations. Last November, the Brazilian government announced that the location could contain five billion to eight billion barrels of oil. The Tupi oil field is expected to begin producing 100,000 barrels of oil in 2010, according to Petrobas, Brazil's national oil company. Petrobas hopes to bring production to one million barrels a day in about ten years.
  • Finland is building a 1600 megawatt nuclear power reactor. The country currently gets 28 percent of it electricity from nuclear power.
  • Japan is working to increase its nuclear power production of electricity from 30 percent to 37 percent by 2009 and 41 percent by 2017.

Now, besides threatening to sue the Saudi's and adding more taxes to oil, what has the United States government energy policy done? Let's look at a few examples:

  • From 2000 to 2007 domestic crude oil production fell 12.4 percent
  • Through a congressional mandate, 85 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf is off limits to oil exploration. It is estimated that the Outer Continental Shelf contains 90 billion barrels of oil
  • The Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is estimated to have 10 billion barrels of oil; in 1995 President Clinton vetoed a bill authorizing oil production on 2,000 acres out of 19.6 million.
  • U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, Colorado, inserted language into the omnibus spending bill last December that places a moratorium on enacting rules for oil shale development on federal lands. The Green River Formation is estimated to have as much as 1.1 trillion barrels of oil shale.
  • As mandated by the 2007 energy bill signed by President Bush, the U.S. is now required to mix 9 billion gallons of biofuels into the gasoline supply. The mandate is met primarily with corn-based ethanol. At the start of the biofuel mandates, corn was $2 per bushel. The price of corn now is a little over $6 per bushel.

It seems the more our government gets involved, the worse the situation becomes. And where did common sense go? If I see that you need water, I wouldn't send you to a desert to find it. Yet, that's what we do with our oil exploration. Try to find it where we don't know if it exists.

From 2000 to 2007 American oil companies increased the drilling of exploratory wells by 138 percent (on those 68 million acres of existing leases); oil production still fell to its lowest level since 1947. The American Petroleum Institute reported that oil companies had the highest second-quarter oil well activity since 1986.

The United States has successfully developed other forms of energy; clean coal plants, nuclear power, natural gas plants, solar & wind energy. Our most efficient and cheapest forms of energy production are under constant assault from the environmental movement. The U.S. uses 760 gigawatts of power plants to meet current needs. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) estimates that we will need 135 gigawatts of new capacity in the next 10 years. As of now, only 57 gigawatts of power plants are planned. Why?

  • 59 coal-fired plants were canceled in 2007 because of anticoal activist.
  • U.S. production of natural gas is beginning to decline because of environmental restrictions on exploration.
  • The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) succeeded in stopping 13 natural gas power plants in southern California.

We have the best scientist, engineers and technicians in the world. Give them the opportunity to solve this challenge and they will. There are many private companies working on new technology to bring to the market. If our government is going to pick winners and losers through subsidies, many companies will not get into the market.

For example, NuScale Power, an Oregon-based startup company, is seeking federal clearance to begin its project to build a mini nuclear reactor. The reactor can power 45,000 homes, is 65 feet long and has no visible cooling tower. NuScale states that these reactors require no maintenance and do not need to be refueled. At the end of its useful life of about 30 years, the plant is returned to the factory.

This type of technology should be welcomed and encouraged by all. With a small footprint & no carbon emissions, these plants could replace many traditional coal and gas-fired power plants.

This situation does not require a billion dollar bail out from our government. Nor does it require raising taxes on the oil companies. Remember, we tried the windfall profits tax with President Jimmy Carter. That led to a 6 percent drop in the production of oil and a 15 percent increase in oil imports, according to the Congressional Research Service.

If congress would step back and allow all of the energy companies to explore and develop energy in a responsible way, we would not have to struggle with high energy costs. Take away all of the subsidies and let the market decide which means of energy is cheapest, environmentally sound and durable. American technology is more than capable of producing efficient energy and protecting the environment.

Instead of trying to spend more of my tax dollars, why doesn't congress spend more of their time, which we pay them for, to fix the regulatory landscape of energy production. Congress needs to enact some common sense environmental regulations. If they do, the market will give us a diverse supply of energy that is reliable - American made - and affordable

It's time to streamline & simplify this process, now.

Xander is a writer & researcher of current events. For more information, visit his blog at

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Corporate Power in All it's 'Glory'

Oil, Sugar, Shale and Profit by Philip Harris

What do oil and sugar have in common? The answer is simple, addiction. Americans are addicted to sugar and oil. Americans have reached pandemic levels of obesity on sugar through its insidious use in virtually every food product and oil has led to an addiction to complacency. Unfortunately, our addiction to oil is fueled by short-sighted politicians and those who seem to have a vested interest in keeping hooked on this dwindling, climate altering product.

WASHINGTON (AP, 7/30/08) - President Bush is turning up the heat on congressional Democrats over offshore oil drilling...Bush says if Americans care about the price of gas, "then we better get after finding some supplies of oil and gas."

Critics worry about blackened beaches and argue that any extra oil is years away from hitting the market. They also say oil companies should use the leases they have first.

In addition to this push from the White House, Presidential hopeful John McCain is also a supporter of searching, drilling and mining for more oil. States once avidly opposed to off-shore drilling are beginning to cave into the unquenchable American thirst for oil as prices at the pump, while having backed off a little for the moment, are still double what they were a year ago. To make matters even worse, we want to ravage the west to get oil from shale. But as the Denver Business Journal said recently, "Since the 19th century, we in the West have been trying to extract oil from the vast oil shale riches that lie under our feet. It's no easy task, and past efforts have failed miserably. Commercial oil shale development would require not only immense financial investments but also an undetermined quantity of (scarce) water from the Colorado River basin and the construction of several multi-billion-dollar power plants." To make matters even worse it is said that producing fuel from the shale would add some 21% to 47% more greenhouse gasses than conventionally produced fuels. It is further noted that production of oil from shale would require massive amounts of water from the Colorado River, a system already under immense pressure just to meet drinking demands.

And according to both government and environmental sources, any added supply would not even hit the market until somewhere around the year 2030. What is the point? Increased oil demands from places like China and India will more than consume any increase in production, doing nothing to alleviate gas prices, but doing everything to increase oil company profits.

Speaking of profit, Exxon Mobil Corp. reported second-quarter earnings of $11.68 billion Thursday, the biggest profit from operations ever by any U.S. corporation. Hess Oil reported a 62% jump in second quarter profits and both Shell and BP recorded a 33% increase in profits. It is obvious that increases at the pump have nothing to do with increased costs of production but everything to do with profit. While record profits are made, the average person is sinking deeper and deeper into debt, small businesses are closing and we are nearing a state of economic depression.

If the billions upon billions of dollars scheduled to find and produce more oil were spent on renewable energy resources, our energy problem would be solved and not just delayed. Those in power and those seeking power must push hard to end our addiction to oil. It is running out and the cost to squeeze out the last few drops from the planet are not worth the environmental costs and the effort will accomplish nothing. Too few are making money and too many are losing money in our continued addiction to oil. Any candidate I choose for upcoming elections needs to have a program that focuses on ending this oil addiction pandemic. Keep in mind, off-shore drilling and shale oil are only placebos, and placebos are made from sugar.

Mr. Harris was born in Massachusetts. He attended The American University in Washington, D.C. and received his degree in Political Science. His graduate work was done at the University of Northern Colorado and Howard University. He spent several years working for local and regional and state government agencies. He worked on a White House Task Force and served as Rural Policy Coordinator at the FRCouncil of New England.

Mr. Harris is co-author of the novel WAKING GOD and is a nationally syndicated / featured writer for The American Chronicle. His second novel, A MAINE CHRISTMAS CAROL was released by Cambridge Books, his third book, JESUS TAUGHT IT, TOO: THE EARLY ROOTS OF THE LAW OF ATTRACTION (Avatar Publication). He is author of the book, RAPING LOUISIANA: A DIARY OF DECEIT and his two most recent self-growth titles, the "MESSAGES" series were just released by Avatar. See his book titles at

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What is the Greenhouse Effect?

What is the Greenhouse Effect and the Importance of Methane to Climate Change by Steve Evans

The greenhouse effect, also called the "greenhouse phenomenon" or "global warming", has recently been receiving a great deal of scientific and popular attention. The term refers to a cause-and-effect relationship in which "heat blanketing" of the earth, due to trace gas increases in the atmosphere, is expected to result in global warming.

By global warming we mean an increase in the average temperature of the planet. Actually global warming is rather a confusing term because global warming does not mean that everywhere will be hotter all of the time, it just means that on average the globe will be warmer.

Now we just mentioned that “heat blanketing” is taking place, and that this is due to trace gases in our atmosphere. There are a number of so called ‘trace’ gases, which simply means gases that are present in the atmosphere at low levels, such that there is only a trace present (a small amount in proportion to the other gases). So it is these trace gases that are producing an effect which is like wrapping the world in a blanket. Just like any blanket, it has a net effect which holds the heat in.

These trace gases are increasing as the result of human activities. Scientists know this. It is easily measured historically by analyzing things like pack ice which was deposited in layers which layers can be readily dated and go back hundreds of thousands of years.

Carbon dioxide (chemically shown as CO2, which is simply a chemist’s shorthand way of telling us that it is a molecule made up from two Oxygen (O) molecules to each Carbon (C) molecule), is a trace gas.

The principal gases in approximate order of importance, are carbon dioxide, methane, the chlorofluorocarbons (considered collectively) and nitrous oxide.

Carbon dioxide is the trace gas scientists believe is contributing most to the "heat blanketing" and currently receives the most attention. However, Carbon Dioxide is not the only trace gas which is implicated in climate change and methane is another which some have estimated to be over a third as much as that of carbon dioxide.

Gas from natural sources, cows and other ruminants, and natural sources where natural decomposition by fermentation produces methane, all contribute to the blanketing which is the cause of the greenhouse effect. However, human activity is also responsible for a lot of methane gas production and Municipal Solid Waste Landfills have in turn been recognized to be a source of methane which is contributing to the atmospheric buildup.

However, the magnitude of the landfill methane contribution and the overall significance of landfill methane to the greenhouse effect have been uncertain, and the subject of some debate. But, as time goes on the evidence becomes stronger, and the fact of climate change is now accepted by the vast majority of scientists working in this field. So, it appears that methane (using US waste generation data and remembering that the methane from United States landfills is a very large quantity) makes an important net contribution to the greenhouse phenomenon.

Landfill produces a lot of landfill gas which is largely methane. Measures to reduce landfill methane emissions are thought to be among the most economical steps which could be taken to address a component of this problem.

So now you know more about this subject, and we hope you appreciate the danger posed by uncontrolled climate change. We have explained, and hopefully ‘demystified’ some of these details – so now you can visit our web sites armed with enough knowledge to help you to find out more...

Steve Evans is a regular contributor of environment related articles.

There are more essential details about climate change and the importance of methane at The Landfill Gas Web Site

See also our New Blog about renewable power sources which do not cause global warming: Renewable Energy News

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Wind Farms

How Do Wind Farms Work? Basic Advantages and Facts About Wind Farms by Evangeline Cortez

In order to understand how do wind farms work, you must first familiarize yourself with what a wind farm is. When wind turbines are grouped together and set up in the same location to generate more electricity, they form what we now refer to as a wind farm. The wind turbines are connected to each other, with a minimum of a couple dozen wind turbines to as much as one hundred turbines.

An off shore wind farm is usually highly recommended, as this ensures more wind power as there are more strong winds over ocean surfaces. When wind turbines are assembled off shore, then they are set up on the sea bed. The wind turbines will pick up wind direction through its sensors. And then, the wind turbine head will absorb the maximum amount of wind energy. This energy will be passed on to a generator that is connected to the turbine. The energy will be converted into electricity by a generator, and the same generator will send it to the grid.

The first key step in how do wind farms work is that piles are installed into the sea bed once you have decided on an optimum location for your wind farm. At the base of the piles, erosion protection is installed so that there will be no damage to the sea floor. The topmost part of the wind turbines are colored with bright use so that nearby and arriving ships can see them and avoid accidents. Once the group of wind turbines have been installed on the sea bed, the sensors turn the nacelle - which is the head of the turbine - towards the wind direction they have detected. The blades must face the wind so that they can collect as much wind energy. How the wind moves over the blades directs the blade rotation over the hub which is connected to the shaft of the nacelle. A gearbox is installed inside this shaft and this powers the generator for energy-conversion purposes. There are cables found in the sub-sea which brings the power from the generator to the offshore transformer. Thereafter, the wind power is converted to electricity in high voltage. This process basically answers the question of how do wind farms work.

Although people are concerned with the appearance of wind farms, the aesthetic appeal of these constructions could well be overlooked in the interest of considering the power these wind farms generate. Because of the noise created by the movement of the blades as well as the generators, sometimes, making sure that the wind farm is located in areas that will not disrupt peace is highly recommended. The environmental benefits of wind farms, as always, cannot be overemphasized.

Do you know that plenty of people are now using solar power and wind power for their home?

Go to to know more on the top step-by-step and friendly guide that you need to use solar and wind energy.

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Alternative Fuels - Are we Making Any Progress?

The Future of Alternative Fuels - A Research Study Into America's Transition Away From Gasoline by Micah Toll


Since the 1970s, America's fuel imports have almost tripled. The country is now importing over 12 million barrels of crude oil a day. That's just over half of the oil we are currently using in America -- over 20 million barrels a day. The majority of this fuel is going to power transportation, most of which is used in consumer motor vehicles. The more America increases its dependence on petroleum, the faster oil reserves become depleted. We are only decades away from the point at which there is too little petroleum left to make gasoline a feasible fuel. Americans cringe at $4.00 per gallon gas prices, but cringe is all we do. We continue to pay the asking price for the only fuel that can make our cars run. But what happens at $10.00, or $25.00 per gallon? The rate that gas prices have raised in the past couple years show us that these extremes are chillingly close [1].

While several fuel alternatives have begun to show promise, they all seem to also have distinct drawbacks. Some fuel alternatives could be too costly to become a commercially viable alternative to gasoline. Other more cost effective fuels do not appear to meet the range of requirements demanded by consumers. Few of these sources currently appear to be capable of matching the energy output of gasoline. Best estimates suggest that within 40 years, crude oil resources will be sufficiently depleted as to render gasoline commercially unviable. It is crucial that we quickly find an acceptable replacement for gasoline.

In addition, it takes no stretch of the imagination to understand what levels of pollution are being created by our nation's oil addiction. One only has to look at the skies above New York City or Los Angeles to see where we have come in past century of automotive transportation. It is easy to see that alternative fuels will be needed very shortly to replace gasoline. Still, it is equally important that the next fuel we rely on does nothing more to pollute the environment. In the best-case scenario, our next national fuel should assist in alleviating our current levels of pollution.


Because of the booming industries that alternative fuels are creating, many more engineers will be required for research and development. These engineers will play principle roles in the biggest breakthroughs in alternative fuels in our lifetime. Furthermore, engineers will be needed to design the new infrastructure that will be used for the transportation and delivery of new fuel systems. With this in mind, it is imperative that engineers continue to invest time and intellectual capital to further scientific developments of alternative fuels. The research of today will be the answer of tomorrow.


Research in the field of alternative fuels is a booming industry. There are dozens of potential fuels that show some potential as a viable alternative to fossil fuels. For the purposes of our paper, we will review the six fuels that we believe to have the greatest likelihood of replacing traditional fossil fuels. These are: biodiesel; hydrogen; methanol; ethanol; electricity; and natural gas. Each of these fuels has had extensive testing to demonstrate substantial potential as an answer to America's quest for a replacement of gasoline.


For a credible comparison, it is important that a standardized basis for evaluation be created and applied equally to each of the six fuels. To of this, we will be evaluating the fuels on the following criteria:

-Power output
-Cost and ease of production
-Environmental effects

We have rated each fuel in each of these categories on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest. This will allow quantitative comparison. Renewability is double weighted in our comparison due to its importance in solving the energy crisis in a sustainable manner. Continuing below is a full analysis of these six alternative fuels on the abovementioned dimensions of comparison.


Biodiesel is a fuel created from organic oils, such as vegetable or seed oils. The production process uses chemical reactions to create the liquid fuel. Biodiesel is an alternative to petrodiesel and can be substituted for petrodiesel in most diesel engines with little or no modifications to the engine itself. The fuel is already commonly added to diesel fuel in small amounts. B20, a common fuel mixture, is 80% petrodiesel and 20% biodiesel. Many countries already have laws requiring specific percentages of biodiesel additions to petrodiesel [2].

Biodiesel: Power Output

100% pure biodiesel (B100) has a power output of just slightly less than that of standard petrodiesel. B100 has a power rating of 118,296 Btu/gallon, about 8.5% less than petrodiesel's 129,500 Btu/gallon rating. B20 (20% biodiesel) has a power rating only 1.73% less than petrodiesel. Because pure biodiesel has slightly less energy density as compared to its petroleum-based counterpart, a slightly larger volume of biodiesel is required as compared to petrodiesel to travel the same distance [3]. Because of the relative energy density of biodiesel as compared to petroleum-based fuels, we have assigned biodiesel a rating of 7 for power potential.

Biodiesel: Cost of Production

Biodiesel is most commonly and efficiently produced using a process called transesterification. Through transesterification, the alkoxy group of an organic ester compound is replaced by another alcohol, usually methanol or ethanol. The process of creating biodiesel is relatively simple, but not nearly as cheap. Best estimates put B100 at about $3.50 per gallon [4-5]. Even though $3.50 is currently comparable to gasoline prices, the efficiency ratio of biodiesel to petroleum fuels must be taken into account. A gallon of biodiesel just doesn't go as far as a gallon of petrodiesel. Therefore, it would cost more to travel a set distance using biodiesel as compared to gasoline. For these reasons, we have assigned biodiesel a value of 5 for cost.

Biodiesel and the Environment

Biodiesel is an environmentally friendly fuel. The liquid fuel itself is biodegradable, and therefore does not pose the risks associated with petroleum based oil spills. Biodiesel is actually 10 times less toxic than regular table salt, which makes the fuel much safer to handle than gasoline.

The combustion of biodiesel produces significantly less harmful emissions than petrodiesel.

Emissions from B100 have reductions of 67% unburned hydrocarbons, 48% less poisonous carbon monoxide and 47% less particulate matter, as compared to gasoline. However, biodiesel has around a 10% increase in nitrogen oxides, which are a large factor in the creation of smog [6]. Because of the reduction in poisonous emissions, we have rated biodiesel an 8 for environmental effects. Biodiesel has many environmental advantages, but the increase in nitrogen oxide emissions has kept us from rating it any higher.

Biodiesel: Renewability

Biodiesel is an excellent example of a renewable resource. The material components used in the creation of biodiesel are entirely organic. In addition, there are hundreds of diverse plant species that have known potential in biodiesel production. As long as there are oil-producing plants in existence, as well as the organic material needed to create alcohol, there will be the means for producing biodiesel. We have therefore given biodiesel a 9 for the category of renewability.


Hydrogen powered fuel cells have often been touted by advocates of alternative fuel. In fact, when one thinks of alternative fuel possibilities, often the first image to come to mind is a hydrogen car. However, hydrogen fuel has problems under the surface, which could limit its use as a fuel in the future.

Hydrogen: Power Output

There are two ways to harness energy from hydrogen. The first, and less efficient method is through combustion of hydrogen, similar to the internal combustion of gasoline or diesel. The more efficient use of hydrogen is in a hydrogen fuel cell, in which the hydrogen reacts with oxygen to produce water and electricity. The electricity is then used to power electric motors that propel the car. Through this method, a hydrogen fuel cell would have 25% greater power efficiency than gasoline [7]. Because of this high efficiency, we have rated hydrogen a 9 for power.

Hydrogen: Cost of Production

Hydrogen can be produced in various ways. Most production procedures for hydrogen gas involve fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and petroleum gas. A more renewable method for creating hydrogen is through a process called electrolysis, which releases hydrogen from water. This is also a much cleaner process for collecting hydrogen [5].

Hydrogen production is prohibitively expensive. To make matters worse, the cheapest method of producing hydrogen is through using fossil fuels. Using renewable resources for hydrogen production is a very inefficient process, around 25% efficiency at best. In addition, fuel cell costs are enormous due to the fragility and the high cost of rare materials, like platinum, which are vital to their construction.

Some non-fuel cell type hydrogen cars are already on the road, thanks to the efforts of a small number of private entities. There are a few small companies that sell custom internal combustion engine hydrogen cars with fees well into the six figures. For example, one start-up company offers to convert a Hummer to hydrogen power via the less efficient internal combustion method for $60,000, not including the price of the Hummer [8]. Because of the inefficiency of hydrogen production, as well as the price tag for the fuel alone, we have assigned hydrogen a 3 for cost.

Hydrogen: Environmental Impact

A car running on a hydrogen fuel cell releases no harmful pollutants in its emissions. In fact, the only compound leaving the tailpipe of a hydrogen fuel cell powered car is pure water. As good as this sounds, one needs to asses the 'cradle to grave' effects of hydrogen on the environment. The easiest and most common process for the production of hydrogen, which is through fossil fuels, actually creates more pollution than just running a car on that same fossil fuel. Therefore, a car running on hydrogen would produce more pollutants than a car running on gasoline [7].

On the surface, hydrogen might appear to be the best alternative fuel for the environment. However, it will take a significant technological breakthrough before an efficient process for hydrogen production can be developed to eliminate harmful emissions. Because of the total pollution caused in the hydrogen process, we are rating hydrogen a 4 for the environment. One day there may be an environmentally friendly and cost effective way to produce hydrogen. For now, that day is not in sight.

Hydrogen: Longevity

Hydrogen is a basic and common element on this planet. It will always be around in some form or another, and thus, will always be a possibility for fuel. However, the most common collection processes for hydrogen utilize fossil fuels. This means that there will come a day where the only means for hydrogen production is through the very inefficient and costly renewable process of hydrolysis. At that point, it will be much more advisable to put that energy into more efficient methods of transportation. For these reasons, we rate hydrogen as a 6 for sustainability.


Over 100 years ago, Henry Ford described ethanol as "The fuel of the future." His famous model T was originally designed to run on pure ethanol. However, because of oil reserves discovered in Texas, ethanol soon took a back seat to the less expensive and better performing petroleum based gasoline. But because ethanol has been used as a fuel for so long, the benefits are well understood. With gasoline's days numbered, ethanol is beginning to look much more attractive, and is one of the front-runners in today's race for alternative fuels [9].

Ethanol: Power Output

Testing shows that ethanol has a lower fuel density than gasoline by about 33%. That means that a car capable of achieving 30 miles per gallon on gasoline would only get 20 miles per gallon using ethanol [10]. However, the production and costs associated with ethanol could help to offset this lack of energy potential. This will be covered in more detail in the next section. We have assigned a value of 5 to ethanol for power output.

Ethanol: Price and Production

Ethanol is most commonly produced in the United States using domestically grown corn in a process where sugars from the plant undergo fermentation with yeast. The process is around 40-50% efficient. However, the amount of farmland needed to grow enough corn to supply our country's fuel needs is enormous. Estimates suggest that about 70% of America's farmland would need to shift to corn production, with the entire crop going to ethanol instead of human consumption or animal feed. While corn is the predominant plant for use in ethanol production in the United States, there are several foreign plants that yield much higher levels of ethanol. For example, Brazilian ethanol production is much more efficient than American ethanol production, as their Brazilian sugar cane produces five times the organic sugars found in corn [5].

While efficient, in certain climates it can be difficult to run a car on 100% pure ethanol because the fuel is not volatile enough to start an engine at low temperatures. To combat this problem, ethanol is often sold as an 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline mixture known as E85. E85 costs about $2.50 per gallon, though the price will most likely fluctuate as corn prices fluctuate with demand for ethanol [11]. The $2.50 per gallon figure is already substantially less expensive than gasoline, and the cost margin will only increase as gasoline prices rise. We have rated ethanol a 7 for production and costs.

Ethanol: Effect on the Environment

Ethanol is a small, simple biodegradable molecule and therefore does not pose the same threats as petroleum-based fuels, or the crude oil they are derived from. Ethanol emissions consist of two main products, carbon dioxide and water. While carbon dioxide is not a poisonous gas, it does contribute to global warming through the greenhouse effect. Ethanol combustion however does reduce many of the harmful emissions that are created from gasoline combustion. As compared to gasoline, ethanol creates 40% less carbon monoxide gas, 20% less particulate matter, 10% less smog forming nitrogen oxides, and 80% less sulfate emissions [12].

Even though ethanol combustion emissions are lower in mostly all of the toxic gases found in gasoline emissions, ethanol production releases air pollutants. This has to be factored into the overall environmental effect of ethanol use. All things considered, we have assigned ethanol a 6 for environmental concerns.

Ethanol: Renewability

Ethanol is a good example of a renewable resource. Created from plant sugars and fermented with yeast, the production of ethanol is an organic process that can be repeated as long as these basic biological building blocks are available. So for as long as we can grow corn, we have the ability to produce ethanol. We have rated ethanol as an 8 for renewability.


Methanol is an alcohol fuel similar to ethanol. The fuel is produced primarily from methane gas, which is the chief constituent of the fossil fuel natural gas. Recently though, there has been considerable research into using various forms of biomass to create methanol in a renewable fashion. This would increase the renewable production of methanol.

Methanol: Power Potential

Methanol's energy storage is only about 60% of the energy capacity of gasoline. However, it does have a higher octane rating (123) as compared to premium gasoline (93). This allows for higher compression ratios of the fuel in the engine cylinder, making the fuel burn hotter and more efficiently. Because of the significant difference in potential energy between methanol and gasoline, we have rated methanol a 5 for power potential.

Methanol: Production and Expenses

Methanol is most commonly produced from methane gas, often coming from natural gas. However, it is also possible to produce methanol from a "Biomass-To-Liquid" process using renewable resources with efficiencies reaching 75%. Similar to ethanol, methanol is not sufficiently volatile to ignite at low temperatures, so an 85% methanol and 15% gasoline mixture (M85) has been developed to solve this problem [13].

Methanol currently costs about 40% less than gasoline (assuming a national average of $3.50 per gallon of gasoline) in equal amounts, but because the fuel is also about 40% less efficient, the price saving is negated. That is to say, $1.00 will buy a greater volume of methanol, but it will take you about as far as $1.00 of gasoline. This simply means that for a car to travel as far as one could with gasoline, the same car would have to store a larger volume of methanol onboard [5]. Methanol was assigned a 6 for cost in our rating system.

Methanol: Environmental Concerns

Methanol fuel in its liquid form is extremely poisonous -- four times as toxic as gasoline. Less than a cup is enough to cause blindness or death. The fumes can be inhaled during the pumping process, and methanol can even be absorbed through the skin directly into the bloodstream. The fuel can also be very corrosive to vital engine parts such as hoses and injectors, meaning that a revamping of engine components is required to convert a gasoline powered car to operate on methanol.

Emissions testing of M85 have shown that it does perform well in reducing the toxins produced by gasoline emissions. As compared to gasoline, there is a 36% reduction in nitrogen oxides, 53% reduction in carbon monoxide, and 74% fewer hydrocarbon equivalents [14]. Even though methanol does perform well in emissions testing, the extreme toxicity of the fuel has to be taken into consideration. We have rated methanol as a 5 for environmental safety.

Methanol: Renewability

Because methanol is currently being produced through the use of the fossil fuel natural gas, the process is not renewable. However, there are alternative production methods that use biomass and fermentation to create methanol in a renewable way. The biomass used in this process can even come from consumer waste, such as sewage and landfill gas. Further research needs to be performed to continue to expand the base of materials that can be included in this "Biomass-To-Liquid" process, but at 75% efficiency so far, methanol could become a viable renewable resource [13]. We have assigned methanol a 7 for renewability.


Electricity powered transportation isn't new. The first electric trolley was built in 1835, with an electric carriage following a few years later. The technology is well know, and constantly improving. In the past two decades, several concept and production cars have been created by large car companies such as GM, Honda and Toyota to demonstrate the feasibility of electric cars. In the future, electric power could be one of the most sustainable alternative fuels [15].

Electric Power

The power of an electric car is directly related to the power of the battery. Battery power is measured in kilowatts, with 100 kW approximately equaling 135 horsepower. Historically electric cars have received criticism for having poor range on one battery charge. Many earlier electric vehicles released in the 1990's had ranges of only 50 or 60 miles on a charge. New innovations in batteries, with the most recent being powerful lithium ion batteries, promise to drastically increase the range of electric vehicles. Some of the newest batteries have storage capabilities of over 120 kW, and can allow a car to travel hundreds of miles. We have rated electricity an 8 for power potential [16].

Cost and Generation of Electricity

Most electricity in the United States is still being produced through coal-fired power plants. However, there is an increasing amount of electrical energy being created through completely renewable resources such as solar, wind and hydropower. Electricity production through electric companies is low cost in the United States. Last year the average price of electricity was under $0.10 per kWh. The cost of electricity to power electric vehicles is only about 25% of the cost of alternative liquid fuels. In addition, electric motors that are responsible for providing the mechanical power for electric vehicles achieve around 90% efficiency [17]. Because of the high efficiency and low cost of electric power, we are rating it a 9 for production and cost.

Electric Power: Environmental Effects

Electric vehicles produce no emissions. The only emissions created from the electrical process are from the production of electricity. Electricity produced from coal burning power plants continues to release toxic sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However, when electricity is generated from renewable resources, there are no emissions in either the production process or the use of electricity in the electric vehicles. That means that a car can drive any distance with absolutely no emissions of any kind [5]. Because of the increasing amount of clean electricity being generated as well as the lack of emissions from electrical power, we have rated electricity a 9 for the environment.

Electricity Doesn't Grow on Trees

Electricity still has to be generated in some form or fashion. The best hope for electric cars will be to continue to invest time and resources into research of renewable sources for electrical energy production. Because of the lack of emissions of electric cars, they could pose the best possible replacement for gasoline. It will only require the development of more renewable electric energy to have a completely emission free means of transportation. We rate the renewability of electricity at 9.


Natural gas is another alternative to gasoline that has already seen some use in cars today. Honda created a Civic GX in 2005 that runs on compressed natural gas, and can be refilled at home with a compressor. The fuel itself does indeed represent a viable alternative to gasoline, but there is no disguising the fact that it is still a fossil fuel doomed to extinction [5].

Natural Gas: Power Efficiency

The power generated by natural gas is just below that of gasoline, by approximately 1%. However, the higher octane rating of natural gas (120) allows for higher compression ratios in combustion engines, which contributes more efficient burning of the fuel, and generates more power. This helps to make natural gas combustion slightly cleaner as compared to standard gasoline combustion as well [18]. We have rated natural gas as an 8 for power effic

Natural Gas: Costs and Production

Natural gas can be obtained from several sources. It primarily comes from underground oil fields in either a dissolved or isolated form, but also from its own separate natural gas fields and from coal beds. The gas then goes through a processing plant where several of its natural constituents, such as acids, mercury, sulfur and water are removed. The gas can then be pipelined for delivery.

The cost of natural gas in the United States is currently around $7.00 per 1000 cubic feet. This is roughly equal to 1 million BTUs. The cost per gallon equivalent to gasoline would put natural gas at about $1.50 per gallon equivalent [19]. The relative ease of purification and transport of natural gas, combined with the cost equivalent to gasoline leads us to assign natural gas an 8 for production and cost.

Natural Gas: Environmental Aspects

Natural gas has mixed benefits and drawbacks when it comes to emissions. The benefits are that many of the smog and global warming compounds that are generated from gasoline combustion are found in much lower levels in natural gas. To start, natural gas emissions produce about 25% less carbon dioxide levels, 75% less nitrogen oxides, and almost no sulfur or mercury compounds. However, burning natural gas produces slightly higher amounts of carbon monoxide gas than gasoline [18]. All things considered, we have rated natural gas a 7 for environment effects.

Natural Gas: Renewability

There is no escaping the fact that natural gas is a fossil fuel. Once natural gas has been depleted, any engines that ran on natural gas will have to be modified for use with other combustible gases if their use is to be continued. There are no processes known to exist that are capable of producing synthetic natural gas. For this reason, we have rated natural gas as a 0 for renewability.


After thorough research and careful analysis, we feel comfortable in making a prediction as to the potential future of these fuels, as well as their sustainability in the long run. We have concluded that while each of these fuels may have advantages that make them appealing in one form or another, the next couple of decades will show a shift towards cars that operate on biodiesel and electricity. Eventually, we believe that electric cars will become the most commonly used form of transportation, surpassing biofuel cars as the mainstream used in daily driving.

However, we also predict that for many years there will be a combination of fuel sources powering transportation. We feel that it is possible that a typical family might have several differently powered cars for separate purposes. A smaller electric car could be used for the daily commute or to pick up the groceries, while a biodiesel powered SUV might take the family on vacation or perform other long range driving tasks. Differences in these fuels result in niche markets in which they perform well for their given duty.


We predict that biodiesel will continue to undergo development as an alternative fuel, and will catch on in the next decade or so as a viable option for a versatile fuel based on its good performance and environmental benefits. B80 will probably become a common fueling option, as its power output is close to gasoline, and its price will continue to become increasingly attractive as gasoline costs rise. However, our country will not be able to produce enough biodiesel to establish it as the sole fuel to power our nation. Because of the limit on the amount of biodiesel we can produce, it will not be able to independently replace gasoline as our nation's sole transportation fuel.

Hydrogen powered fuel cells would be a great way to power cars -- if the technology were available. Use of hydrogen will continue to undergo research and development, but it will be at least 10-20 years before fuel cells are commonly sold in cars, and even then the high prices will keep most buyers away. Slow incorporation of hydrogen fueling stations as well as the cost of hydrogen fuel will also be a deterrent to hydrogen-powered cars becoming commonplace. We acknowledge that, in theory, hydrogen fuel cells are a highly efficient method of fueling transportation. Because of this, it is only a matter of time before the technology catches up. However, by the time fuel cells are simple and affordable enough for the daily driver, electric cars will have become everyday vehicles on America's roads, and by then their efficiencies could even be better than that of hydrogen.

Ethanol and methanol are both potential fuels, but limited supplies of source materials and limited power output will not allow these alcohol fuels to be used as a primary consumer fuel. However, they may live on as specialty fuels for buses and other forms of public transportation due to lower demand and the ability of their vehicles to carry more liquid fuel on board.

Electricity will most likely be powering the transportation of the future. In 1996 GM introduced the EV1, a two-seater electric car that could be charged at home in 8 hours and driven for up 150 miles on one charge using the batteries available at the time. While not commercial successes, as only about 1000 cars were built, the EV1s proved that electric cars could be produced and used effectively for daily travel and were a strong competitor to gasoline powered cars. New battery developments will dramatically increase the range of electric vehicles while keeping the efficiency and low cost benefits of the cars intact [20].

Natural gas works well for powering cars today. A few cars have been produced that run on natural gas, as well as a line of city buses. The technology works well, and the emissions are an improvement as compared to gasoline. However, natural gas won't last. It will eventually meet the same untimely end as gasoline, and thus does not provide a sustainable alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles. Natural gas may, however, provide a grace period during the transition away from gasoline.

Finally, we cannot be certain as to what the future will hold for alternative fuels. There are a number of other unpredictable factors including climate change, industrial research and political instability that could play key roles in the great fuel race. However, based on what we know now, we feel that our conclusions represent reasonable conjectures for the future of alternative fuels. One thing is certain, engineers will definitely be at the leading edge of this exciting and important period in history.

Thank you for your time. If you'd like to learn more, cruise by my website or my blog at

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