Sunday, August 30, 2009

CONSERVATION: Cap & Trade - An Economic Nightmare?

By Terry Connolly

The Waxman - Markey bill or better know as the Cap & Trade bill, is at this time working its way through the House of Representatives and Senate. This bill is designed to limit Americas carbon emissions and will end up being one of the largest taxes ever levied. The bill will in fact levy financial penalties against companies that churn out carbon dioxide and other gases. Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of burning wood, coal, gasoline, etc.

Who do you think is going to bear the brunt of these taxes? You guessed it you and I along with every energy intensive establishment in this country. Coal miners, especially those on the east coast will probably be put out of business. Coal power plants that produce more carbon dioxide than they're allowed will have to buy the right to produce more. That additional cost will be passed on to consumers, you and I.

US steel makers are large carbon emitters and will probably get crushed by this legislation also. Foreign steel makers won't be affected by this and steel imports will increase dramatically, which is just more bad news for our already fragile economy.

Then there's the refiners they're accountable for over 40% of carbon emissions and as such will be the biggest buyers of carbon credits. Many of the smaller and older refiners will go out of business and we'll be importing more foreign gasoline. More bad news for the economy and the price of a gallon of gas.

This whole nightmare amounts to a molehill compared to how insignificant it's going to affect 'global warming'. Let's all understand one thing right now, this 1,200-page bill isn't about saving the ecosystem over the next few decades, its all about dollars - yours and mine - right now.

According to analysis by the Heritage Foundation (a conservative think-tank), the combined cost of the bill would be $3,000 per family in 2012 and $20,000 per household by 2035. How can you or your family be expected to handle the burden of an added $20,000/year. What's that going to do for your standard of living?

The question you should be asking yourself is, can I profit from this fiasco? The answer is, I think you can.

Who stands to profit most? Probably the Green Energy companies. You can look for some green energy ETF's, that way you'll be more diversified than buying one or two of these small cap stocks. Nuclear power producers will probably be another winner, they don't produce carbon dioxide. They just keep getting paid to do what they always done, but now they'll have the added income from being able to sell their carbon credits.

Make no mistake selling credits will be big business. That brings to mind the brokers that sell these carbon credits, they'll also get a good boost to their bottom line.

So if you think our politicians are living in a Fairy Tale world, then dispatch them a wake up call and tell them your fed up with their nonsense, you can tell them here: http://www.Americansolutions.Com/energytax. Until they get the message it's just going to be more of the same with you and I carrying the load.

The author is an independent self directed investor for more than 30 years.

If you don't know where your money is - Who does?

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POLLUTION: Cigarette Smoking and the Planet

By Lisa A Mason

It's a known fact that smoking is bad for your health and the environment but how does it affect the planet overall. Smoking cigarettes does more than fill your lungs with harmful toxins that are dangerous to your health. This smoke, which has been linked to certain types of cancers and many respiratory problems, also pollutes the air that you breathe in everyday. There are many other problems caused by smoking as well.

How cigarette smoking affects the planet and its inhabitants:

  • Did you know that cigarettes contain over four thousand chemicals, all of which are released into the air you breathe each time a smoker exhales?

  • What happens to the cigarette butts that get throw in the garbage or on the ground? They account for roughly 1.7 billion pounds of the non-biodegradable trash found on the planet today. Many of them end up in the lakes and rivers that supply drinking water for the community.

  • Studies have shown that cigarette butts that end up in the water supply are toxic to the fish, causing them to die.

  • Growing tobacco requires the use of more pesticides per acre than any other crop grown, which greatly adds to the poor air quality the world faces each day.

  • Did you know that it can take a cigarette butt approximately twenty-five years to decompose? During which time all the chemicals found in cigarettes are slowly polluting the soil and plants in the surrounding area.

  • Trees are cut down and used as fuel to dry out the tobacco so it can be prepared to be used in cigarettes and for packaging purposes. It's estimated that 600 million trees are destroyed each year for this purpose.

  • Consider for one moment the amount of energy and water used to manufacturer cigarettes.

  • Cigarette smoking has even been linked to many wild fires that have destroyed homes and property throughout the years. When people throw their butts out the window of their vehicle or on the grown during dry seasons, this can start up a fire very quickly.

A smoke free environment has many advantages that reach far above the ones you'll notice personally. It will greatly improve the air quality inside your home and out but it will also help to improve the planet in many other ways.

Lisa Mason is a freelance writer with a specialty in Internet content and SEO articles and the author of How to Earn a Living Writing for the Internet. She has written thousands of articles, hundreds of ebooks and thousands of website pages and related content.

Lisa Mason, Professional wordsmith for hire: gamer, wife, mother, entrepreneur, published poet, co-owner of game guides company (, public speaker and Internet business consultant. You can learn more or follow Lisa's blog from her website:

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CONSERVATION: Why Bird Ecology and Conservation Are Important

By Philip Badeau

What makes bird ecology and conservation important? Ecology is defined as the study of animals and the environment the animals live in.

Bird conservation focuses on studying birds that are dying off due to a lack of natural resources. Bird ecology and conservation is an attempt to protect the birds by improving their habitat and improving the environment.

Bird ecology and conservation are the scientific efforts to preserve the bird population and the environment. Through research, it has been discovered that the way humans have lived has seriously affected the bird population.

There are many types of birds that are not extinct or are close to being extinct as a result of what we have done to the environment. Studying bird ecology and conservation allows us to make the environment more healthy and restore a good habitat for the birds so they can flourish.

Other than humans, bird populations and their environments are also affected by the natural predators that exist in nature and that prey on the bird population. Also, climate change has affected the bird populations as well.

By studying it scientists have a better understanding of what the environment should be like and what sort of habitat the birds need to survive. They understand their mating habits and how and where they migrate, which leads them to a better understanding of the what the environment should be like.

This allows scientists to recognize when things are not as they should be and offer suggestions on how to improve the world through their studies of bird ecology and conservation.

The bird population has distinct habits and routines that if changed would severely affect our environment. Their habits and routines change when they become extinct or when climate changes affect their behaviors.

When climate change occurs their migrating habits are disturbed because they do not know what to do with the new weather patterns. All these changes in bird behavior affect the rest of the environment negatively.

We need to understand bird ecology and conservation in order to be able to protect our bird population and keep them healthy. Everything the bird population does from mating, eating and migrating has an effect on the human environment.

That is why we need to understand why they do what they do and how we can protect them. Studying bird ecology and conservation can ensure the natural order is maintained and we leave our children a healthy environment.

Did you find this article on bird ecology and conservation useful? You can get more info on related topics at

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GREEN LIVING: Eco Towns in the UK

By Anna Barrington

You would be hard pressed in our current times not to be aware of the debates surrounding environmental change and the efforts of governments and individuals to encourage sustainable living.

The recent announcement by the British Government of four new eco towns to be developed around the UK creating 1000's of 'carbon neutral' homes is a good example of investment in this area. Surely a popular move, great for the environment and a vote winner? But has this really been thought through and what are the cost implications, and more importantly is there a better way to achieve carbon neutral housing in our communities?

Looking at one location: St Austell, Cornwall - a few unique factors are present which need to be considered alongside these plans. Currently in Cornwall there is a huge gulf between income levels and affordable housing. Affordable housing is one of the key elements that will help sustain local communities in Cornwall. It is hard to see how this site will be able to be affordable without very heavy subsidy; eco homes are more expensive to develop and the area for the scheme needs substantial investment to create an attractive living environment.

A few forward thinking developers in Cornwall are presently offering eco homes on the market; will these new eco towns make their efforts over priced? Surely it would be more effective to incentivize developers and individuals to use eco building techniques on any new house and development. By subsidizing solar energy, wind energy, rain water harvesting and similar product and techniques they will be more affordable to the mass market and used more widely.

To achieve carbon neutral housing a number of targets have to be achieved. Presently for a housing development to achieve this status they will be rewarded by saving themselves considerable sums of money through Stamp Duty Land Tax payments, a strong incentive for any canny developer. However there are problems that can rear their ugly heads as realised by Simon Williams from Percy Williams and Sons, developers of eco homes in Cornwall:

"The houses at Fairglen in Hayle with their huge levels of insulation and energy-efficient features are not actually zero-carbon, as there will inevitably be energy used for domestic appliances, lighting and other day-to-day uses, this can only be achieved by increasing the on-site generation. For Fairglen the economic option would have been a wind-turbine, but the sheltered location of the site precluded this option. So to achieve this we came up with the idea of purchasing some generating capacity at an established or new wind farm elsewhere, and passing this asset to the owners".

"We could have done this with the money saved on Stamp Duty Land Tax payments which would have been zero rated had we achieved zero carbon. However, we were barred from doing this by the regulations, which state that the generation would have to be 'hard-wired' to the development and not just owned by it in order to qualify. This in spite of the fact that a high percentage would then have been sold back and exported into the national grid, a great solution for the environment as a whole".

Encouraging eco houses is essential and these should be as close to zero-carbon as possible. However, as can be seen in the example above the legislation made it impossible for the developers to achieve the carbon neutral status. Their wind sheltered area did not lend itself kindly to wind generation.

Does this mean that all new developments will need to be at the top of hills so that they can benefit from increased wind-speed for generation? In spite of the fact that they will lose more heat up there and need correspondingly more energy. Why does the generating of power need to be 'hard wired' to the house? Any energy created in a green way surely is good for the environment as a whole.

Returning to our case study of St Austell Eco Towns, many questions remain unanswered. We are yet to see how these eco homes will truly impact on the local communities and how much investment will be needed from the government to make them affordable. Present legislation in the area of eco developments and carbon neutral housing needs to be reassessed, to provide practical solutions for eco house building. Ultimately we need to change the mindset of all house builders and show them that building an eco home will not be a pain in the wallet. Perhaps this is where the government should be directing their investment and not into grand scale vote winning schemes as seen in these new eco towns.

Anna Barrington writes for Cornwall house for sale. For more information about the eco homes in Hayle please visit houses for sale hayle.

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GREEN LIVING: Your Personal Home Energy Audit - Looking at the Outside

By Dan Bossenbroek

Typically most water and energy saving products and strategies focus on the interior of your house. However, if you start by taking a survey of your property and the spaces around it, you will gain a better understanding of the environment around your house and the natural resources that are available to help you make your home more energy efficient.

Before you pick up your tape measure and camera and head outside, you may want to search a little for some "official" information that may already be available. Many times mortgage documents will contain a legal survey of your property. This legal survey will indicate the specific size and orientation of your property and any improvements, also know as houses, porches, garages, drives, walks, patios, decks, pools, etc that are on the property.

If you can't find a legal survey of your property, you may have luck at your county auditor's website or map room. Many auditor websites have maps which show your property lines and have a rough dimensioned sketch of your house. If you strike out with your auditor, then it's time to start from scratch, take out a pad of paper and pencil and draw a rough sketch of your property.

This rough sketch should show the property lines and the outline of any improvements. Next you should add a number of other items such as: play structures, fences, walls, trees, gardens, site lighting, utilities, water features, slopes and any other significant features. Finally, you may also want to sketch the location of these types of items that are on your neighbor's property, especially if they might impact your property. For instance there might be a 100' tall oak tree 10' from your property line that casts a shadow on your front yard for most of the day.

Now it is time to grab a friend or two and a tape measure and measure everything. That being said, you don't need to be that accurate: take your measurements to the nearest foot. Make sure that you measure the distance from you house to the property lines and the location of any large trees.

Once you have measured everything it is time to transform this into a site plan. First get out a sheet of graph paper and then figure out what scale drawing of your site will fit on the page. One square may equal three feet or maybe even four or five. Take your time and sketch your new site plan according to the measurements that you took.

Finally, if you started your site plan from scratch you should verify how your house is oriented to the compass, in other words figure out which way your front door faces. You might think that it faces directly north, but if you are off by 20 or 30 degrees it could have a significant impact on some of the energy saving and alternative energy strategies that you might employ. The one easy way to verify this is to enter your address on Google Earth, or you could just get out your handy Boy Scout compass.

Once you have finished sketching your site plan it is time to photograph the outside of your house so that you have a better idea of how it relates to the site. The goal here is to get a straight on shot of each side of your house. Stand far enough away in order to get the entire house in the photograph if possible. If this is not possible stand as far back as possible and take several photos that can be spliced together to form one larger image. Along with this you will also want to photograph the various windows, doors and other openings or penetrations in the walls.

This site plan in combination with the photographs of your house will help you understand the resources and limitations that you have on your property. They will help to illustrate where you might want to plant a shade tree, wind screen or vegetable garden, and where you might place solar panels, rain barrels or sun shades.

The third article in this series, coming soon, will help you collect information on the building envelope that you will need for your personal home energy audit.

Dan Bossenbroek is a registered architect and has been incorporating energy conservation design strategies into his projects for over seventeen years. He has extensive experience in residential design, is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED™ AP) and his area of expertise is high performance buildings and sustainable design. Furthermore, he is an avid do-it-yourselfer having renovated several older homes. For energy saving products and home improvement advice he recommends and

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SOLAR ENERGY: Solar Kit Wiring Overview

By N. Olison

Wiring is an often overlooked, yet completely essential part of a functioning solar power system. It has ins and outs the same way inverters and panels do. No matter what your situation is, there is always a specific type of wire for the job. The effectiveness of a wire depends on how much of a charge it can handle and how much voltage it loses while carrying the maximum current you expect to be producing at one time.

Also, depending on what type of wire you purchase, you'll be looking at different levels of durability. Some wires are made specifically to resist sunlight. Others are made specifically to for use underground. You're going to want to make sure you use the wires that are going to last the longest under the conditions you're going to be using them in.

Without these wires, all the energy produced by your solar panels would be lost almost instantaneously. Proper installation is key, these wires must have solid, water-tight connections because chances are your solar panels are going to be exposed to the weather.

There are three ways to go about the actual wiring process once you've selected your wires. You can either hook up your solar panels in a series or parallel fashion, or the third method series/parallel. Solar panels that are hooked up in a series are connected positive end to negative end. When this happens, the voltage is multiplied by the number of panels in the series. If you have three solar panels in a series with 12 volts and 3.5 amps, the total voltage of the system would equal 36. But the amperage would still be 3.5.

The opposite is true for solar panels that are connected in a parallel. When hooked up in a parallel, it's the amperage that increases per panel and the volts that stay unaffected. When panels are wired in a parallel, the positive ends are hooked up to the positive ends and the negative ends are hooked up to the negative ends. Those same three solar panels from the previous example are hooked up in a parallel then the entire system would have 10.5 amps and 12 volts.

Depending on your preference, you can run your house with more voltage or with more amperage. However, there is a third option called series/parallel, where you hook up two or more series of solar panels and connect them together. This is a way to achieve high amounts of both voltage and amperage. Now that you know how wiring works you can pursue your eco-friendly system.

N. Olison specializes in residential solar energy topics and has published numerous articles on a range of related topics including solar panels, home solar kits and eco-friendly solutions. Mr. Olison is a writer by trade and has recently focused his efforts on reporting on the evolution of the solar power industry.

Read more about Residential Solar Solutions here and to learn about and shop solar energy products, please visit PV Power, a supplier of residential and commercial solar power products and information.

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ZEITGEIST: The Importance of Our Connection With Nature

By T. Payne

Many years ago, humans and nature coexisted in a harmony that has been missing in present days. We didn't live in the technical and sophisticated way we do now. We needed to connect to nature on a much more personal level because it was integral to our very existence.

Humankind's very survival depended on listening to and feeling our connection with nature. We relied on plants for our medicine, used the stars to navigate and tilled the land using animals to plant our crops. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

In years past almost everything people needed was tied to nature. These days, while nature is still present in our life, there is a certain disconnect for people. This is especially true for those of us who live in suburban, or urban environments. We have pills for our headaches, GPS units to navigate and we get our "crops" from the supermarket.

Our advances in technology and convenience aren't necessarily bad things. We should embrace the advances we have made as a species. There have been some truly impressive feats realized in modern times. We need to keep things in perspective though and not forget about our past. Our connection to nature should always be cherished and remembered.

There are many benefits to "getting back to nature". Past research has shown that a connection to nature has been shown to decrease stress levels and stimulate healing. Newer research has even drawn the conclusion that it makes people nicer!

A series of studies posted on the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that immersion in nature brings individuals closer to others, whereas human-made environments make people more interested in selfish or self interested ends. When you think about it, this makes sense. When you immerse yourself into nature, you get a feeling of being part of a community, of belonging to something "bigger".

We know that immersion into nature, can lead to a healthier, fitter, stress free and now friendlier personal lifestyle. Is that the most important outcome of connecting with nature though? Is personal growth the end all and be all or is there is actually more to it?

Skeet Sutherland, of Sticks and Stone Wilderness training puts it best when he says "Wilderness Awareness Skills save more than one life but whole communities ... Sticks and Stones Wilderness School brings expert skills to the local community in the name of forest preservation and practical ecological initiatives. We help people feel at home with their habitat by giving them the skills to implement sustainable objectives that produce practical and reliable results that enhance biological diversity and ecological integrity."

When people learn more about nature, they will be more open to conservation efforts. If we connect with nature - we will be able to relate to things like loss of habitat, loss of wetlands and tragedies like extinction.

Although we don't rely on nature like we once did, we still need it. It is still part of what makes this Earth special. It can help us heal faster and makes us better people. The best way we can make sure our natural habitat is protected is by teaching ourselves and our children about nature and the wilderness. We need to feel the connection with nature that our ancestors once relied upon. That is the key to ecological conservation and preservation.

519 Biz is the 519 area code's most distinguished online business directory. It combines modern styling packed with features designed to optimize your internet presence. The 519 team combines over 15 years internet marketing experience.

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SOLAR ENERGY: Millions of Dollars Allotted to Solar Panel Inefficiency

By Nathan Lew

For solar energy entrepreneurs out there looking for a funding boost, the U.S. Department of Energy, or DOE, is now offering a whopping $117.6 million under the auspices of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to solar inventors or startups who have developed cutting-edge solar technologies.

Admittedly, $17 million is available only to DOE national laboratories like the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Argonne National Laboratory, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to name a few, but that still leaves the lion's share of the package open to solar startups looking to advance technological solutions in photovoltaic (PV) energy applications.

This $107.6 million is being allotted in packages: $51.5 million for advanced PV technologies like solar cells and modules; $25.6 million for concentrating solar power (CSP) research and development; and $40.5 million to fix the non-technical aspects of solar energy delivery like:

• A lack of information about solar technologies
• Poor consumer awareness
• Inadequate or conflicting product standards
• Insufficient and aging interconnections
• Net metering
• Diverse and conflicting utility rate structures and practices for solar systems
• Conflicting and deficient codes
• Complex, incomprehensible and expensive permitting processes
• Inconsistent and incommensurate state and local financial incentives
• Unequal, sketchy and deficient financing opportunities
• Untrained, inexperienced installers, salesmen and service personnel, and limited opportunities for obtaining appropriate education

President Barack Obama, speaking at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada - the site of the nation's largest solar array with more than 72,000 panels mounted on single-axis trackers on 140 acres delivering 30 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, or enough to power 13,200 homes - noted that the Nellis solar farm took about a half a year to complete, created 200 jobs and will save both the U.S. Air Force and the American people who fund it nearly $1 million a year.

According to the President, the solar farm will also prevent 24,000 tons of pollution by not using fossil fuels, and serves as a "shining example" of what America can accomplish by harnessing clean renewable energy to build a firmer foundation for economic growth.

And it is, but the $107.6 million in funding is needed to address some lingering issues in solar energy, namely solar cell efficiency, thin-film degradation, and tracking system mechanical failures, to name but a few.

Case in point: tracking systems, which can improve solar efficiency by as much as 40 percent, are still prohibitively expensive for most small-solar users. Their increasing complexity, from single axis to azimuth and even dual axis models, increases not only the cost and complexity of the technology, but the inherent tendency of machinery to fail.

Thin-film PV tends to degrade at high temperatures. In fact, a recent study demonstrates that the majority of thin-film degradation occurs within the first 100 hours after fabrication. This, in essence, defeats the fact that thin-film solar is less expensive to manufacture and thus cheaper to install.

Solar cell efficiency is another drawback to increasing solar installation. Though some entities like the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Germany are reporting conversion efficiencies of more than 41 percent on a triple-junction cell, few solar cell manufacturers (beyond Sanyo) are reporting efficiencies greater than 23 percent. That's a lot of wasted sunlight, and a lot of expense for a solar capture of less than one quarter.

If you're an entrepreneur, or merely a tinkerer with some expertise, visit the DOE's website at Fed Connect, or see the DOE's NREL solicitation page and apply for funding. Take your idea or invention to the next level. As politicians have been noting for several decades, the greatest threat to American security may be a reliance on foreign oil, and solar energy is one of the cleanest and most promising ways out of that dilemma.

Cooler Planet is a leading solar resource for connecting consumers and commercial entities with local solar Installers. Cooler Planet's solar energy resource page contains articles and tools about solar panels to help with your solar project.

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SOLAR ENERGY: Solar Energy Investments Crush Fossil Fuels

By Nathan Lew

In what has to be the best news of the new century for renewable energy sources like solar power, wind and biofuels, the UN came out with a new report on June 4 showing that, for the first time in history, investment in renewable energies topped fossil fuel investment, based on data taken from 2008.

This is surprising in view of the fact that the abysmal economy of 2008 saw stocks in general running for cover and renewable energy stocks taking double-digit losses in some cases. In fact, according to a report by the WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index, which tracks the ups and downs of 88 clean energy stocks worldwide, "green" energy took a dive from January to November of 2008 of more than 70 percent.

Fortunately, President Barack Obama's focus on renewable energy technologies, and recent incentives like the Department of Energy offering of $107.6 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for improved solar technologies, sent renewable stocks up again in 2009, recovering 45 percent of their value, according to New Energy Finance, which drew up the report for the UN.

On hearing the good news, Achin Steiner, the executive director of the UN's Environment Programme, said the figures are a "clear indication" that renewable energy technologies have reached that tipping point where they become as important as, or more important than, coal, oil and gas.

The biggest margins of investment came from developing countries like China and India, but smaller countries like Kenya and Angola also saw their fair share of gains.

The biggest winners were solar (at $33.5 billion) and wind (at about $52 billion), with biofuels taking a backseat at about $17 billion as a result of their being implicated, in 2007 and 2008, in global and national food-price hikes.

Europe was the biggest gainer, with $50 billion invested in projects across five countries (Spain, Germany, the UK, France and Denmark), while the U.S. fell 8 percent from its huge renewable energy gains of 2007, which saw solar stocks jumping to more than 150 percent of their pre-recessionary value.

To the United States credit, however, a report earlier in the week showed American laboratories leading the world in cutting-edge renewable energy technologies and environmental research.

The study focused on 3,000 research institutions and universities around the world, and saw NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland leading in solar cell technology from 2003 to 2007.

Other, less surprising, winners included Harvard, Caltech, and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado. A surprising winner in the category of fuel cells was Penn State.

In all, nine U.S. laboratories or schools placed among the global top 25. But James Pringle of Thomson Reuters warned that these kinds of analyses can be misleading, and added that no single publication has the final word on which entities have displayed the greatest competence in their fields.

Cooler Planet is a leading solar resource for connecting consumers and commercial entities with local solar Installers. Cooler Planet's solar energy resource page contains articles and tools about solar panels to help with your solar project.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

GREEN LIVING: Starting an Environmental Awards Program

By Rex Tubbs

The first thing is to "Develop an Environmental Awards Mission Statement". To be successful over time you need to define what you want to accomplish when giving environmental awards. Just saying you want to hand out some environmental awards to deserving people can lead to a disaster. Here are some ideas to give you direction:

1. Recognizing the role of innovative environmentalism with Awards

2. Recognizing outstanding achievement that directly impacts the environmental quality

3. An incentive to award companies who adopt pollution prevention strategies

4. Awards program recognizing environmental challenges by using innovative and environmentally sustainable practices or creative partnerships

5. Awards to empower educators for a healthier environment

6. Establishing an Environmental Hall of Fame

7. Developing an environmental stewardship awards

8. Keep (area) Beautiful Environmental Awards

9. Awards program to recognize individuals, organizations, and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable, voluntary contributions in conserving precious resources, protecting and enhancing our environment, building public-private partnerships and strengthening the area's economy.

10. When a teacher goes above and beyond the call of duty and truly makes an environmental difference in a child's life, they deserve special recognition.

Keep the mission statement short and sweet. I put in one long one. I think you can see what I mean.

What do you want to promote in the environmental movement?

Here are three goals to promote: Change people's attitudes - Awareness to environmental issues - Award those who have made a difference. I suggest picking one of these to start and have multiple award winners based on age groups or some other criteria. As time goes by, you may want add additional environmental goals. It is wise to develop a sharp focus to your awards. The test is: Does the general public understand what you are trying to achieve with your awards program. Also, will the public buy in to what you are doing?

What is the scope of your environmental awards program?

Is your scope local, regional, national, just within your own membership or open to the public? Are you only going to allow members of your organization or open to the public to be winners? Another idea is to partner with another group. This will give more prestige to the event.

How to promote your environmental awards program

It's not just the event and you feeling good for what you have done. The greater good is when you share to the world your winners and inspire others to do environmental projects, increase the awareness in environmental issues. This is also how you get people to apply for next year's awards.

A website showing the winners in previous years is a great start. It is up 24/7 and you can put your best foot forward. Make sure the site is search engine friendly. Many organizations just add a page to their present websites. That's OK, but I would have a separate site about your environmental awards. This site can also be used to download applications for next year's awards. Also have all your rules and regulations for entry.

Use the traditional Press Release. This should be used to announce the awards and also announce the winners. Make a list of newspapers, radio stations, TV stations and even magazines that would have readers (listeners) that would be interested in your event.. The head line is critical to your success. Your press release should read like a newspaper article. That first paragraph has to hook the reader. It also needs to hook the reporter to run your story.

Here is a secret on successful press releases - Make a list of questions of what the general public would like to know about your awards program and event. Then answer them. If possible, tell a success story how your awards program or organization has made a difference. Stories work every time in a press release.

So far I've only talked about traditional media. If your scope is national, place your press releases on internet press release sites. The last point use press releases, not just one press release. Change up your title on different releases. Change around the first paragraph that needs to catch the attention of the reporter. Send out a series of press releases over a months time. Yes, you can also place ads in different media, do Word of Mouth with Flyers, but the real success comes from an effective web site and PR program. Celebrity endorsements and celebrities handing out the environmental awards is a big plus for publicity and attendance for your event.

Developing fair criteria for choosing the winners

No good old boys making a decision. It must be made on which entry most closely matched the criteria that was given to win this award. The awards have to be fair, somewhat hard to win, but not almost impossible to win. Also you want environmental winners that will be able to champion your environmental cause. Maybe they can become a spokes person for your organization. Think big picture.

I hope this information stimulates thought. My goal is for you to launch a successful environmental awards program for your organization.

Engraving Connection - has been in business for 30 years. Rex launched a new web site for environmental awards: where additional information is available for starting an environmental awards program. Rex M. Tubbs can be reached at 734-459-3180.

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ALTERNATIVE ENERGY: Water Fuel - Becoming a Reality Now

By Mark P Brown

The Middle East countries and other world powers have been facing major political tensions which have made the stability of the crude oil prices very volatile. Each day the prospect of rising oil prices have become more and more inevitable.

Water fuel has been developed as an alternative source of fuel which has fast become popular around the world. This exciting technology has varied advantages. More than 70 percent of the Earth is covered with water and this fuel source does not produce any harmful pollutants or hazardous emissions either. They in fact also double the mileage of the cars that are powered by them.

Water fuel technology has been known to be the best additional form of fuel source for petrol and diesel or other fuel sources. However, any claims that this technology can be only an additional source and not a replacement is totally incorrect and misleading. Such notions have been implied upon by those who want to deride this technology. On the contrary, this technology has numerous benefits such as it does not emit any harmful emissions which can affect the climatic changes. It further helps to reduce the level of noise produced by the engines.

Various researches reflect that running costs on fuels for automobiles can be easily saved up to 40 percent with the help of water cell technology. This technology can easily work on host of various cars that powered by diesel or gas. It can also be used for trucks, SUVs, vans and other vehicles. The tap water can also be easily used directly and you do not need any special water that is specifically treated to be used for this purpose. You can easily find a large amount of details so that you can adapt your car to use the technology.

If you are really sick of paying high electric bills, I will show you how to successfully reduce them by the usage of natural and renewable sources of energy. Get a natural powering system at a cheaper rate, decreasing electric dependency and thereby turning to green energy solutions. Check out Home Made Energy Reports website now!

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Comments on Meeting the Energy Challenge - Part Two

By Najib Altawell

The challenges

The IEA figure of $20 trillion of investment may or may not result of what the IEA is forecasting for the next two decades. In fact this kind of forecasting, even if it is built on solid and accurate data, cannot be relying on. The reason (or reasons) for this is usually lies within various constantly changeable factors. These factors can range from the degree in which our climate is changing, the increasing of the earth's population, to the changing of politics worldwide, in particular when each individual country only concern with its own interests rather than the world as a whole.

All these contribute to a very difficult situation and can produce disunity, rather than the unity which is very much needed to solve the warming and the energy crises. Therefore, in the case of internationally vital decisions (where it concerns all of us on this planet), no country should consider their own interests alone, but rather how their decisions and laws/regulations may influence present and future global environment, in the short and long term.

Regarding the UK's future energy need, certainly there will be an increase in demand in this sector, and possibly higher than the figure of 30 - 35 GW mentioned in the 'White Paper'. The reason for this is simply because the UK population is increasing at a higher rate than at any other time in the UK history, according to the latest population survey and home office prediction. One of the reasons attributed to this is the number of East European countries which have joined the EU.

The possibility is that (for the next three decades) the UK will import most of their energy needs at a higher rate than ever before. Of course, this will depend mostly on the development taking place in the energy field within the UK.

Politically less stable parts of the world which may have higher fossil fuel reserves than the rest of the world should be encouraged constantly, if not directed and pressurised, to transform their unstable and unfair political systems into a genuine democracy, where every individual member of their society, regardless of their ethnic origin, religion, race or gender can have equal rights, including political rights. In this way, these unstable regions can form a much reliable and stable source of trade, in particular where energy trade comes into the picture.

In this way, the concentration of fossil fuel reserves should not be affected by the location or part of the world in which might be located, as long as there is a fair and reliable political system in those regions. If the West is sincere in this respect, then for their own future benefits they should not support under any form, directly or indirectly, any dictatorship and tyranny, by any means. Sadly, present and short sighted interests, as we see in daily politics, suggest that the reverse is the case.

The competition in itself, whether related to fossil fuels only or included within other types of environmentally friendly sources of energy, is good for the market and for the consumers. What this means is that more companies and/or businesses provide various types of fuels, the more likely the prices will fall rather than double, as the above report indicate. The increase of the prices of fossil fuels will only happen if there is nothing else available to compete with this kind of energy. As development in various parts of the world moves fast to find other alternative sources of energy, the scenario predicted then would not happen because of the factors mentioned in the 'White Paper' above, but rather because of the dwindling oil reserve and consequently the scarcity of this type natural resources in the future.

Najib Altawell

Altawell © 2009

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Comments on Meeting the Energy Challenge - Part One

By Najib Altawell

The challenges

Greenhouse phenomena are part of human activities. These kinds of activities will continue to affect the climate, long after any solution to the energy crisis has been found. The question here is what kind of 'Energy Policy' should be implemented and what kind of energy, therefore, we should all use to reduce greenhouse emission? Before it is too late!

Collective global effort should be directed first from the base i.e. from each country with its own initiative, according to its own ability. From the base, we can move to a collective group of countries such as the European Union, the African Union, the Arab league, G8, the Asian Group and so on. Then this should be followed by a higher umbrella such as the United Nations. Ultimately, the UN should have a vital and effective role in dealing with international issues such as global warming.

The climate will continue to change as emissions at the present are increasing and will continue to do so for sometime to come. The economy will take a new direction according to the degree/speed of the climate changes taking place. The economy may hit a low ground following the above changes but that depend not just on what is happening concerning global warming, but on how various countries try to adapt themselves and their economy to the new environmental situation in the future.

The cost can be distributed according to the amount of CO2 being emitted by each country. Poorer countries, generally speaking, have lower emissions of CO2 gas than more industrialised countries. Therefore, a fair way of distributing the above cost would be tabled according to this category.

The cost will be always lower if nations act together dealing with an international issues such as this one.

As the world population increase, the demand for energy will increase respectively. The USA and other so-called 'emerging economies', will, due to their new and expanding development, simply require more use of energy to achieve their demand and targets. The global demand for energy by 2030, according to the figures in this statement, means double the rate of fossil fuel production in order to be able to achieve the above target. From fossil fuel reserves, as well as from a technical point of view, this may not be possible to achieve within two decades. If this is the case, what is the solution? Is renewable energy the answer for this kind of demand? And how this possibly can be achieved within the above time scale?!

The cost in finding ways to reduce the emissions of fossil fuels can run into huge sum of money and it can take long time to find the solution we are looking for. The best way is to spend this huge sum of money on the development of other environmentally friendly sources of energy. As all the statistics and data available at the present time indicate, the reserve of oil and natural gas will be reduced drastically within the next two decades. On the other hand, coal reserves may last much longer than these two fossil fuels. However, we must remember that oil and natural gas are the life-line of various energy needs across the globe at the present time and in the not too distant future.

Najib Altawell

Altawell © 2009

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CONSERVATION: Panda Bears - No Need to Be Extinct

By Jessica Vandelay

The panda bear, also known as the giant panda bear, is native to central-western and southwestern China. Panda bears have distinct physical features including large, patches of black fur around their eyes, over their ears and across their round body, which is covered in white fur.

Their bodies are round due to their diet. Though classified as a carnivore, the panda bear has a diet which consists mainly of bamboo; panda bears will occasionally eat other foods like honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges and bananas.

The average panda bear eats as much as 20 to 30 pounds of bamboo shoots a day. Because panda bears consume a diet low in nutrition, it is important for it to keep its digestive tract full. The limited energy input imposed on it by its diet has affected the panda's behavior. The Giant Panda tends to limit its social interactions and avoids steeply sloping terrain in order to limit its energy expenditures. To learn more about the panda bear's diet and behavior, read environmental magazines like Smithsonian, Audubon and Preservation magazine.

In the wild, panda bears' life expectancy is about 14 to 20 years; in habitats managed by humans the expectancy goes up to approximately 30 years.

Panda bears are listed as endangered species. The latest estimate of pandas living in the wild is 1,600, according to National Geographic magazine. The greatest threats to the panda species is habitat loss and a low birthrate. Poaching by locals and by foreigners is also a threat to the survival of panda bears.

Efforts to sustain the panda bear population are international. In China there is a panda sanctuary called the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries in the province of Sichuan, protection by law from the Chinese government and other wildlife reserves. In the U.S., researchers at zoos like the San Diego Zoo are studying pandas' behaviors and needs in hopes of learning how to better care for the animals. Some of the behaviors and needs being studied are panda bears' scent marking, nutritional needs and how they communicate with each other. In addition, worldwide environmental organizations like the World Wide Fund for Nature are working on saving pandas.

For more, visit

Jessica Vandelay is a freelance writer in New York City.

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CONSERVATION: What is the UK Carbon Reduction Commitment?

By Daniel Stouffer

The UK Carbon Reduction Commitment may sound fairly innocuous yet it represents legislation with some fairly significant and sharp teeth. The Department for Energy and Climate Change is quite serious about the implementation of this new law and there are hefty penalties ahead for those who, either way, do not fully understand or do not fully comply with its requirements.

Over the last few years there has been a lot of activity as part of a rush to address the issues of global warming and climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions must be curtailed, it is reasoned, or significant additional harm will be caused to our overall environment, impacting all forms of life on the planet.

The UK Carbon Reduction Commitment is a British based initiative, which is anticipated to provide a model for the rest of the world. The US Environmental Protection Agency announced shortly after introduction by the UK Department that they plan to introduce a similar scheme.

The new laws set out to ensure that the greenhouse gas reduction targets established by the Climate Change Act are adhered to. The Commitment establishes an auction-based emissions trading scheme and its reach is mandatory.

Many commercial enterprises within the UK seem somewhat confused. It is estimated that 20,000 UK firms will have to submit an information disclosure and a significant portion will have to pay fees and participate in full by the summer of 2010. As such, to avoid hefty penalties, all enterprises within the United Kingdom should consider whether they are are affected by these new regulations.

The government requires that it be notified by eligible businesses about their energy consumption needs and it will be necessary to buy credits from the government to cover anticipated requirements. This process will take place on an annual basis. For each credit that is purchased, one credit will be lost per tonne of greenhouse gases admitted through the enterprise's use of energy. It will be possible to trade the company's unused credits to other participants in the scheme or to put them into a "bank" for future use.

All participants are encouraged to demonstrate a saving in their energy consumption and will be eligible for a cash bonus provided by the government should they do so. Either way, performance records will be made available in a highly publicized set of reports. The entire concept is expected to be "revenue neutral" to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the British government's revenue chief.

Companies, charities and government bodies should sit up and take notice to see whether they are affected by these regulations. Even though the full details of the regulations are still not 100% clear, each enterprise should immediately determine whether they are affected, whether they must participate and then should start to prepare for the collection of necessary information.

The UK government is fully committed and intends to ensure that the business world is similarly engaged.

Energy Management Services (EMS) provided by Verisae help to manage the emissions tracking and the CRC Reporting requirements of Carbon Reduction Commitment across an entire organization. Verisae makes it easier to report carbon emissions and track energy usage. To learn about effective CRC Reporting strategies, download the Verisae white paper covering the Carbon Reduction Commitment today.

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SOLAR ENERGY CASE STUDY: Community College Leads Solar Energy Initiative

By Nathan Lew

Founded in 1967 and located on 35 acres of the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, Western Massachusetts' Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) is the only technical community college in the state. Now, with the addition of an 82.9-kilowatt solar array on the roof of Building 20, STCC is claiming another first; the largest solar energy setup in the region, and one of the largest in the state as well.

Building 20 houses 14 health programs running 24/7, a bookstore, a stream of traffic that would make New York City envious, and 272 photovoltaic (PV) panels on its roof poised to turn sunshine into electricity. The panels' architecture is such that the installation did not even penetrate the roof's membrane, and no building permit was needed.

It certainly outshines that of nearby Technology Park, where three years ago the school put in the first 33-kilowatt solar array.

In spite of its status as the only technical college in the state, STCC didn't have a lot of money lying around, so it funded the newest project with a $407,000 grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the state's economic development agency for renewable energy, the innovation economy, and e-health initiatives.

This reduced the cost of the project to $256,000, which the school financed by issuing a like amount of zero-interest, clean renewable energy bonds, or CREBs, from the Internal Revenue Service.

This newest solar installation will save the school about $19,000 per year in utility costs, or 1.7 percent of the total outlay needed to run the school, which has a more than one-million annual energy bill, but as STCC President Ira Rubenzahl observes, it's a step in the right direction on a planet faced with increased global warming as a result of fossil-fuel power plants emitting carbon dioxide.

The system will pay for itself in 18 years (or less, if electricity prices continue to rise), but also adds value to the school's academic program, since the earlier installation in Technology Park provided only limited access to students interested in pursuing a career in solar energy design, manufacture and installation.

Perhaps more important, the solar array on Building 20 feeds directly into a Web-based databank which students can access to monitor the system's performance, including ambient temperatures, power output, and accumulated power production, and students can use the accumulated records - stored over five years - to evaluate output, savings and solar efficiency figures year-over-year.

This input is valuable to school programs that deal with building design and construction, offering students the opportunity to see first-hand how solar arrays relate not only to installation techniques but, down the road, to architectural parameters and civil engineering specifications like roof loads and stress factors.

Sitting on a natural elevation, with tall buildings equipped with flat roofs, the STCC campus is an ideal location for solar power arrays. Which means, of course, that the school has plans for more solar, the next units likely equipped with solar trackers or involving concentrating solar energy via parabolic mirrors.

Similar solar initiatives, backed by ARRA, are popping up all over the country, leading many renewable energy experts to conclude that 2009 may be the year in which solar makes an indelible mark on the energy sector - an opinion not supported by Forbes Magazine, which sees renewable energy as having had its heyday from 2006 to 2008, when such huge financial institutions as the now-defunct Lehman Bros. financed renewable energy in exchange for tax credits.

Cooler Planet is a leading solar resource for connecting consumers and commercial entities with local solar Installers. Cooler Planet's solar energy resource page contains articles and tools about solar panels to help with your solar project.

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GREEN LIVING: Car Donation - A Green Idea!

By Alfread George

Want to save the environment? Car donation can be a very effective option in hand. Yes, that's right. There are plenty of causes that should encourage you to donate car and this seems to be one of the worthiest ones.

In fact, the time has come when we should start thinking whether driving the car is an environmentally friendly action. In fact, the statistics present quite an adverse scenario. Almost every American spends around 1600 hours per year in the driving seat. Naturally, that involves a huge amount of money and time. Now, the drivers add around 300 pounds of carbon dioxide in the air in an average.

Of course that is a damaging aspect as far as the green house effect is concerned. In fact, the drivers are the greatest contributors of the green house gas in the atmosphere. Now, it will not be a surprise if you associate yourself as one of the culprits. There are different hybrid fuels that are available in the market and they all assure you of protecting the environment. However, that hardly seems to be the reality.

So, the only possible way to help out the environmental causes is to abandon the car and go for car donations. Though it may seem impractical, it is absolutely possible to live without the car. You can use the public transport systems for transportation. That will reduce the need of private cars and in the process decrease pollution. A bus or tram can carry a number of people, which a number of private cars are required. Naturally, the latter option will exhume more green house gasses in the air.

Now, the problem of getting rid of the private cars is how to dispose them? Of course keeping an old car in the house without using it is a ridiculous plan, all the more so when you have the option of getting rid of it profitably. No, selling is not the option. After all, there are so many hassles in selling the car.

You have to put advertisements, wait for the client to arrive and then, more importantly, convince the client to buy your car. Now, the most important point here is that when you sell your car to another person, you are not helping the environment anyway. This is because your client will drive the car and that hardly improves the condition of the environment.

Car donation is of course, the ideal solution. Here, you don't have to spend money on ads and there is no agony of waiting for the clients. The entire process is simple too. All you have to do is to visit the websites of the organizations and pick up the one that you think is most deserving. While making the choice, you have to ensure that the site is authentic and it has the eligibility to accept the donation.

Another great advantage with the car donation is that the amount that the car owes in the market is completely tax deductible. So, there is no need to spend bucks, and in return, you get a complete tax deduction. Of course added to it is the satisfaction of getting yourself in to the greater causes of humanity.

There are many benefits of car donation and it is just a great choice. Are you keen to exercise this choice? Then just log on to Cars Helping America. They are authorized, affordable and hassle free. With them, you can always expect to make the most of your car donations.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

GLOBAL WARMING: Sea Level Rise to Be Higher & Faster Than Predicted by IPCC

By Paul Andrew Roth

Recent research suggests that global warming-related sea level rise will be faster and greater than previously forecast. The poles are experiencing disproportionate warming and are undergoing accelerated melting. The amount of this melt will largely determine the degree of sea-level rise over coming centuries.

Melting is proceeding at an unprecedented pace that already exceeds the worst-case scenario in the 2007 IPCC report, and there is a growing scientific consensus that the IPCC wildly underestimated the rapidity and extent of glacial melting.

Over the coming centuries anthropogenic warming will be the main driver of sea-level rise, even if emissions decreased and atmospheric levels of CO2 stabilised at 450ppm. If we burn all remaining fossil fuel stores then sea level will be over 10 metres higher than it is today.

While the single biggest contributor to sea-level rise during the twentieth century was the melting of non-polar glaciers (such as those in the Himalayas and Andes), polar ice is predicted to rapidly overtake it. Thermal expansion of the oceans will also play a role but will pale into insignificance compared to the amount of water currently locked up in Greenland and Antarctica (which will raise sea level by 70 metres if it all melts).

There are three main mechanisms contributing to the accelerating loss of polar ice.

Glacial lubrication by meltwater (where melting freshwater infiltrates through cracks in the glacier, reaching the bedrock and acting as a lubricant that accelerates glacial flow) is one mechanism. Initially thought to be the most important mechanism, it is probably not the primary factor that will lead to accelerated sea level rise.

A second mechanism is the break-up of floating ice shelves (like the Antarctic's Larsen B shelf). While not increasing sea level directly (because they are already floating), they appear to act as a "cork" for the glacier behind them. Once they disappear, glacial flow accelerates significantly - This was observed at Larsen B where immediate glacial acceleration (of eight times normal speed) followed its demise.

The third (and probably most important) mechanism of ice loss has only just been discovered - the melting of Antarctic ice by the upwelling of warmer water from several hundred metres below the surface of the sea. This is occurring in increasingly greater amounts due to global warming. A warming pole has changed the pattern of wind flow around Antarctica, in turn changing sea currents and directing warm water towards vulnerable ice shelves.

This process is already happening to some ice shelves (notably the ice shelf holding back the massive Pine Island glacier) and could cause a sea-level rise of 3.3 metres over the next few hundred years.

Summary: Ice at the poles is melting much faster than predicted, and the majority of sea level experts are expecting at least a metre of sea-level rise by 2100.

Paul Roth is a health professional concerned about human-caused global warming and climate change. He is the founder of Climate Change Health, a blog dedicated to documenting climate change and its effects on human health.

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CORPORATE POWER: At What Cost? The Killing of Orangutans For Palm Oil

By Karley Ziegler Mott

I am a proponent of natural ingredients. In most cases, I believe using natural oils, butters, and plant-based ingredients in our beauty products is best. There are exceptions to this rule when it comes to animal cruelty and deforestation. Palm oil contributes to both.

If you're using natural products and regularly buy cold processed soaps, chances are palm oil is on the ingredients label. It is also found in "eco-friendly" candles and tarts. Palm wax is growing in popularity over the past couple years because it delivers a unique shiny appearance to candles. While it may be naturally derived, it is a leader in terms of cruelty to animals and harming the environment.

Palm oil is everywhere

It is used in most soaps, as it is gentle to the skin and makes for a hard bar. It is used in lipsticks and in lip balms, as it is softening and nourishing due to the high saturated fat content. I have looked at the boxes of so many lipsticks, including major brands from $3 to $30+ many contain palm oil.

Palm is in hand soaps, in nearly every single melt and pour base (some don't say palm oil; many simply state "vegetable oils"). The one all-natural palm oil free melt and pour base sold in the US that I can find on the net contains peanut oil instead, which isn't a good option for soap. Palm oil is in many shampoos and shower gels as well.

It is not just in our cosmetics

Do you want an incentive to eat healthier if your habits are poor? This is your time to do something! It is in our processed foods. Just go to Wegmans and take a glance at the back of the package of any major brand of crackers, chips or cookies. Palm oil is in packaged biscotti and treats for gourmet bakeries, too. Some chocolates also contain palm oil, as do many kinds of toothpaste. It is estimated that more than 10% of products in the store contain this cheap oil.

Palm oil, by the way, is high in saturated fats and raises your risk of heart disease. As heart diseases is our nation's #1 killer of women, shouldn't that be reason enough to stop consuming it?

This oil is also used for biofuels. One would think a "green" alternative to the emissions from standard diesel gas would be more beneficial. Fuel has been produced to be used instead of traditional diesel in farming equipment in the United States. That sounds wonderful, but to get this "green" fuel in terms of emissions, thousands of acres of rainforest have been destroyed. Countless wildlife have perished in an effort to be more "green" in eco-speak.

It is a catch 22, almost, in that particular situation. Nobody seems to be aware of HOW that type of "green" fuel comes to be. No one speaks of the effect of animals and the the quality of air. So, yes, using this as a diesel alternative is better for the environment when you talk of emissions alone. No one wants to talk about at what cost this came to be.

As a note, we import a great amount of palm oil in the United States. We have plans to import more. In the UK alone, they import over 1 million TONS of palm oil each year.

Palm or petroleum?

When I was reading an article not long ago, there was an interview with reps from Greenpeace. It was said that palm oil is worse than crude oil. I agree. I don't use products derived from crude oil. Yes, they may be "natural" (so is Poison Oak), but that doesn't mean it is good. Truth be told, I'd sooner burn a paraffin candle or rub Vaseline on my lips (which is banned in the EU, by the way) than use a product containing palm oil.

What is so wrong with how we get palm oil?

Palm oil is brought to us by literally destroying the habitat of animals, particularly orangutans. Thousands of orangutans have died because of this trade. In fact, five particular mammals are endangered (3 being on the "critically endangered" list) because their habits have been cleared away for palm oil. These are the Sumatran and Bornean Orangutans, Asian Elephant, Sumatran Tiger, and Sumatran Rhinoceros.

This is happening all over Southeast Asia, but the majority of the palm oil (over 80%) comes from Malaysia and Borneo alone. Something needs to be done, and soon. If this continues, the Friends of the Earth predicts that in about 10 years, orangutans will be extinct. Extinct.

Why is this the case? In their natural habitat, these animals are losing their homes to fires, the logging industry, and more specifically, the palm oil industry. Palm Oil plantations abound, and animals are facing the truth that their travel patterns are cut off, their homes are vanishing (ie: the rainforest in general). Animals are much more vulnerable to poachers because of this.

Plantation workers have also been discovered to kill these animals to get food, or to just get the animals "out of their way". Numerous cases of killing these animals essentially "for the sport of it" have been reported. Another way the animals are dying is because the plantation workers often set fires to clear space and the fires often burn out of control, destroying a large chunk of the natural habitat of these animals.

Not only are there moral issues when it comes to the loss of life of these animals, but there is a huge environmental impact. Tropical rainforests are being cleared away. Because of the palm oil plantations (made by clearing away the rainforests), over 600 million TONS of carbon are leaked into the air. Pesticides and herbicides are in the air because of this practice. Let's also think about the fish dying each day from what is being leaked from the processing plants there.

What is being done?

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004. Its mission was to promote awareness for the use of sustainable palm oil. Strict guidelines were set in place to ensure that changes were made in the palm oil trade. It sounded like a good thing.

Unfortunately, many environmentalists and animal rights organizations have come out and made statements criticizing the RSPO.

Greenpeace, for example, has publicly called the RSPO "a farce". This is because it was discovered that several members of the RSPO actually engage in unethical practices which have caused more death and deforestation. The RSPO has not taken action against these members. When members of a committee pledging to clean up this industry as the very ones causing harm, something needs to change.

When something billed as "sustainable" palm oil was brought to the marketplace by way of contributing to global warming and killing innocent animals, it can't truly be called sustainable.

I really had high hopes for the RSPO as it continued to make strides in cleaning up the industry. I thought I one day would buy items containing "sustainable palm oil." That is no longer an option in my mind. Pretty much any company can "buy" a membership to the roundtable and there isn't much of verification process. That in itself isn't unique - it is much like PETA in that respect.

Are cosmetics companies listening?

Not really. Lush, a rather unnatural "natural" products company, has taken steps to eliminate palm oil. They came out with Green Wash, a palm oil free melt and pour soap. There was all sorts of hoopla, but when you consider that this also was made of propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, and EDTA, I would not try it. All of their other soaps contain those harsh ingredients and palm oil.

Burt's Bees, a company I used to love and have so much respect for, used to list this oil on their soaps. Now the ingredients list simply begins with "vegetable soap base"... a clever way to avoid saying "palm oil" for less savvy consumers.

What can you do?

*You can read the ingredients labels religiously. If ingredients are not listed, don't buy. There are options. You just need to spend a bit of time exploring them.

*You can ask your favorite company to consider replacing other oils for palm. It truly isn't necessary to make a good bar of soap.

*You can use beeswax or soy wax instead of palm when buying candles and tarts (although I no longer recommend soy wax. Read here to learn why).

*Don't eat margarine or shortening, is palm oil is often used in this. You typical "vegetable oil" at the grocery store almost always contains palm as well.

The Bottom Line:

If you are an animal lover, chances are you avoid companies that conduct animal testing. You may not use products with carmine (crushed insects used to color lipstick and blush). Why is palm oil any different? The bottom line is that we need, in my opinion, to educate ourselves when it comes to what we rub into our skin, put on our faces, shampoo or hair with, etc.

A conscious effort is made by most of us to pay attention to the foods we put into our bodies. We want to be healthy. We want to be eco-friendly. We don't want animals to be killed so our soap can be firm.

At what cost, though, to have softer skin or a longer lasting bar of soap? Is it worth it? There are so many fats (oils) out there derived through humane methods that we could choose to use instead. Olive oil...coconut oil...rice bran...sweet almond...grapeseed....apricot...jojoba... macadamia many more! Hemp Seed Oil is a wonderfully nourishing, yet cruelty-free and eco-friendly oil.

I had a favorite stuffed animal as a child, Herman. Herman was a stuffed orangutan from Washington, DC's National Zoo Gift Shop. I wanted that one because I always thought orangutans were "cute". I would hate to think that because I wanted a harder bar of soap or a creamy, yet firm lipstick that I would be contributing to the probable extinction of animals within my lifetime.

Karley Ziegler Mott

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GREEN LIVING: Organic Farming vs Conventional Farming

By Richard Murray

Organic Farming is at a Crossroads

Organic, holistic, natural, back to the earth, and homesteading, are all disciplines of agriculture that are growing in popularity each day. People all over the world are extremely concerned about our environment especially as how it relates as to what we put into our bodies and also how it affects our earth and our lives.

Agribusiness and the multinational food producers over the years have done an excellent job of providing substantial amounts of nutritious food for a growing world population, but is this scenario of farming sustainable? Currently there is a tremendous amount of debate between organic farmers and conventional farmers who are looking for common answers to this question.

Organic farming largely excludes the exclusive use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. Organic farmers rely on crop rotation, crop residues, animal manure and mechanical cultivation to maintain the soil and to control weeds, insects and other pests.

In many countries including the United States, China and most of Europe, organic farming is defined by law, so that the commercial use of the term "organic" is regulated by the government.

Organic farming began as a reaction against the industrialization of agriculture in the early 20th century. Research produced hybrid seeds, fields grew in size and cropping became specialized to make efficient use of machinery, irrigation, fertilization and the use of pesticides. Nitrates which were used during World War II as munitions became an abundant and cheap source of nitrogen. In 1972, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM); was founded in Versailles, France. IFOAM is dedicated to educating the public on the principles and practices of organic agriculture across national and language boundaries.

The retail market for organic farming in developing economies has grown at about 20% annually due to increasing consumer demand. While most of the early producers were small, the popularity of organic food is rising as the volume and variety of organic products become available at an increasingly larger scale.

Enhancing and maintaining soil health is the mainstay of organic farming. Many methods are employed including crop rotation, green manure, cover cropping, application of compost and mulching, Organic farmers also use certain fertilizers such as seed meal and mineral powders such as rock phosphate and greensand which are naturally occurring forms of potash.

Organic pest control allows for an acceptable amount of pest damage, it encourages or introduces beneficial organisms, utilizes careful crop selection and crop rotation and mechanical, thermal and mulch controls for weeds. Organic pesticides; which are usually derived from plants and not chemicals, allow for the use of natural methods of protection.

A major point of contention is the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO), human growth hormones (HGH), sewage sludge and antibiotics in the production of our food supply.

Opponents claim that the impact of genetic engineering on food quality and plant and animal health is not yet fully understood, although evidence is starting to show that GM food has a seriously negative effect on test animal reproductive organs. Proponents argue that genetic engineering is vital to create higher volumes of produce in the fight to end world hunger without requiring additional land. Often forgotten in this debate, is the fact that genetic engineering is a technique, also known as selective breeding; that has been used for thousands of years, and has done much good for mankind.

The pro-organic point of view regarding the environment in is that conventional agriculture is depleting our natural resources such as soil, fossil fuels and fresh water and is seriously polluting the air, soil and water. The large quantities of agricultural chemicals, water wastage through high-volume irrigation and the heavy use of fuels for the farm machinery and long-distance transport are some of their arguments. On the other hand an organic farm using natural compost and manure on a large-scale may cause as much damage to groundwater and soil as does manufactured fertilizers.

Conventional farming allows farmers to precisely apply only the necessary fertilizers to the soil in order to minimize waste pollutants. Organic farmers on the other hand do not have that option because they depend on fertilizers such as manure which contains fixed amounts of various elements which cannot be adjusted. The most common problem is over application of these organic fertilizers because of their relative lack of potency. These over applications can very easily lead to pollution of the water supply.

The quality of organic food versus conventionally grown food is also extremely debatable and is being studied by various governments with no conclusive evidence either way. One critical exception to this are studies that show that infants, who are exposed to pesticide exposure during the first two years of their lifetime had a 50 percent of chance of developing risk cancer and had their risk levels drop dramatically when they switched to an organic diet. This explains the growing sales of organic baby food because parents know that their infants are especially vulnerable to potentially dangerous food.

Organic farming is at a crossroads. Even though there are laws that ensure that the playing field be level for producers and consumers, these laws have been found to be full of loopholes that have led to serious charges being leveled against the major certifiers in our government such as the FDA and the USDA as well as agribusiness corporations.

Can agribusiness convert to large scale organic farming and still be able to make a profit without raising the consumer cost to unacceptable levels?

The current food distribution system favors high volume production with large farming corporate operations and cannot be easily altered. What we know as organic farming may change very dramatically in the coming years. A growing consumer market is normally one of the main factors encouraging conventional farmers to convert to organic agricultural production methods. I believe this trend will continue.

While this debate goes on, home gardeners are making their own decisions regarding this debate by doing the sensible thing; growing their own foodstuffs. The Green revolution is more than a slogan. It has become a way of life for those who are choosing to join in to make this world a better place to live.

Dick Murray is a retired urbanite who has kept his passion for gardening alive with the creation of an informational web site

More and more families are beginning to grow their own fruits and vegetables due to their increased concern regarding the quality, price and safety of our food supplies.

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GREEN LIVING: Think Green Cuisine

By Lisa A Mason

With the acute awareness we all now have regarding protection of our environment, restaurants and food outlets are now getting on the bandwagon. With your contribution to it, there should be a substantial difference in the near future.

Order your pizza from a place that uses organic ingredients. Even better, does their delivery driver use a hybrid car? Do they have solar or wind devices to cut electrical costs? Do they uses recycled materials for their packaging?

Suggest to your favorite restaurants that they use the local farmers for their fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Don't let them serve you foods or beverages or take out in styrofoam. Ask them to buy and serve only organically grown and fair traded coffee, tea and hot chocolate. If your favorite place has outdoor seating, encourage them to use recycled outdoor furniture, and reusable dishes, glasses, and cutlery.

You can do your part at home in your own kitchen. Check the seal on your refrigerator. You don't want cold air leaking out. Replace the seals if they are not tight. If you rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, do it with cold water instead of hot. All you are trying to do is remove debris, not grease ... the dishwasher will do that.

Convection ovens conserve more energy than the standard variety, because they use less cooking time and lower temperatures. Self-cleaning ovens are good because they have tighter seals and much better insulation. And use the light to peek at your food. Every time you open the oven the temperature drops 25 degrees, and has to warm up again.

Lisa Mason, Professional wordsmith for hire: gamer, wife, mother, entrepreneur, published poet, co-owner of game guides company, public speaker and Internet business consultant. You can learn more or follow Lisa's blog from her website:

This article is part of an exciting collection at Unique Decor Online. You can see more articles like this at: or

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WIND POWER: Playing With the Design of Wind Turbine Blades

By Ray Kari

Supported by a generous grant from one of the world's leading electric-appliance manufacturers, researchers are looking for "advanced designs" for wind turbine blades. The search is on for a more durable, efficient, productive, relatively low cost set of advanced blades.

The background and objective seem simple enough: Find a lightweight, durable wind generator blade design suitable for use in suburban residential settings.

Although wind-power experts long ago denounced and abandoned the whole idea of mounting a little windmill on every single American roof, encouraging village-sized wind farms instead, nevertheless the big corporations want a product for the consumer marketplace. Buy a refrigerator; get the matching wind generator half price might be the future advertisement.

Not surprisingly, the grant-givers want to develop wind turbine blades with the right aerodynamic properties to spin efficiently even in light winds, so that just about every North American home can generate enough power for energy-efficient appliances.

They just want the math to work-out properly. It is an easy concept but almost impossible project. No matter how ingeniously aerodynamic we make the wind turbine blades, it seems the blades just will not turn if the wind is too light. We cannot balance the equation-design of the wind turbine blades should balance with wind density, and we cannot quite get it. Air density gives the wind its push.

Advanced Materials for Wind Turbine Blades

Composite materials reduce the problems with 'lightweight' and 'durable', and they make it easier to get more spin from less wind. In some tests, teams have stretched composite wind turbine blades to three times the length of older models with no increase in weight, and some experiments have shown their designs not only can match but actually can exceed the wind's speed. But it might be more horoscope than weather and design because we cannot consistently duplicate our results. We just cannot control or plan against all the variables.

Buildings and Beauties Do Not Quite Satisfy the Requirements

With the benefit of great hindsight, we see exactly where we went wrong. If developers had planned suburbs with as much respect for the sun's and wind's power as for profit potential, they easily could have expanded most American cities to maximize the possibilities for solar power. If the average house were turned about 45 degrees, we could attach towers to their chimneys, catching the best breezes for spinning our best wind turbine blades, because the prevailing winds would blow right along the roof ridges."

It should also be pointed out how the 45 degree turn would maximize the roofs' southern exposure, making solar panels or new solar-ceramic shingles exceptionally productive. We can imagine ways to pitch the roofs so that they would enhance her wind turbine blades' speed and productivity. But developers built these homes in the late fifties and early sixties when people imagined fossil fuels would last until 'safe' nuclear power could take over.

Ray Kari is an alternative energy enthusiast. For more great tips on wind turbine blades please visit

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ZEITGEIST: Benefits Associated With Joining an Environmental Group?

By Lisa A Mason

The concern over the condition of our planet is growing all the time. People all over the world are searching for ways to make a difference. Perhaps you've remodeled your home to make it more eco-friendly or maybe you walk as much as possible instead of driving.

Everything you do to conserve energy does reduce the carbon footprint that you leave behind. However, if you're searching for a more dramatic way to make an impression, then consider joining an environmental group.

If this is something that you haven't thought much about in the past then you may be wondering, what benefits are associated with joining an environmental group? The fact is that joining an environmental group can help to make major differences. There truly is strength in numbers and when you join a group, you're increasing the number of people that make a stand each time you take on a new task.

Another advantage would be having the opportunity to be with others that share an interest in the same things that you do. It's a great way to help educate others on different issues concerning the environment. It also provides you with one of the best ways to help protect the planet and its natural resources.

Joining an environmental group is easy. All you have to do is search for the one that suits you and your personality the best. There are many different types of groups available in which you can be a part of. Some of them get their point across by taking action through protesting and rallies while others use letters and lawyers. There is a group for just about any type of environmental issue that you can think of.

It's recommended that you choose a group that addresses the issues that you're the most passionate about. This way, you'll truly have an interest in the group and you'll make more of an effort to support them. Once you choose the group you want to be a part of, contact them to find out what steps need to be taken to become a member. You may even want to go to a few meetings before you make your final decision. Once you're sure you've found the right environmental group, you're ready to sign up.

Lisa Mason, Professional wordsmith for hire: gamer, wife, mother, entrepreneur, published poet, co-owner of game guides company, public speaker and Internet business consultant. You can learn more or follow Lisa's blog from her website.

This article is part of an exciting collection at Unique Decor Online. You can see more articles like this at: or

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CONSERVATION: Turtle Conservation

By Mark Bottell

The turtle is a creature with widespread appeal. It is seemingly peaceful and graceful in the water, slow and charmingly ungainly on land. It is always a treat for scuba divers when they encounter a turtle around reefs or swimming in the open sea.

The sad truth for wildlife conservation is that many turtle species are struggling to survive in the wild as their habitats are disrupted by human activity. The better known Loggerhead and Green turtle species are endangered, with many lesser known species critically endangered. Some, like the black soft shell turtle, are already extinct in the wild.

Turtles in Goa

An example of the animal conservation work being done to counter this is a turtle preservation programme in Goa, where wildlife conservation activists at the Turtle Protection Centre have reported that thirty five turtle nests have declined to just seven over the last ten years.

Nesting sites are where turtles are particularly vulnerable because newborn turtles must brave the short but difficult route from the nest to the ocean, and because the sites suitable for nesting are themselves declining in number. Accordingly the focus of animal conservation work is protecting these nesting sites. Only around one in a thousand of newborn turtles will grow to become adults, which means succeeding generations are dwindling in size.

Encroaching Tourism

Goa is a prime example of a place where tourism is having a negative effect on turtle populations. As the area develops to enhance the capacity for the tourist industry, the turtle's natural territory is reduced. Furthermore, with increasing visitors to the area, the turtles suffer disruption on beaches that were previously peaceful enough for them to settle.

Part of the wildlife conservation effort in Goa involves guarding nesting grounds where pregnant turtles and their young are most vulnerable. If this kind of work appeals to you, you might be interested to hear that you can take part in animal conservation work of this type as part of a gap year for adults trip.

Light Pollution

Light pollution is traditionally a concern for nocturnal animals, but it can be critical in the lives of turtles, too. The timing of hatchings often coincides with a full moon, because the newborns instinctively head towards the light to reach the sea. As a result, newborn baby turtles can be confused by street lights and houses, which cause them to head away from the sea when they should be crawling towards the relative safety of the water. On a gap year for adults wildlife conservation project, you will take part in campaigns to educate locals about ways to reduce the impact of artificial light on the turtles.


The litter created by tourists or careless locals is often mistaken by turtles as food. Plastic is especially hazardous because it cannot be digested and it resembles the favourite food of turtles: the jellyfish. This means that turtles are often found starved to death with plastic coating their stomachs. Wildlife conservation schemes usually involve collecting rubbish from areas of beach near turtle nesting sites.

On gap year for adults trip of this kind in Goa, you get to enjoy the beauty of the local environment while helping the efforts of a conservation project to preserve it.

Mark Bottell is the General Manager for Worldwide Experience, an online tour operator offering extended breaks focusing on wildlife conservation and various adventurous gap years for adults.

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