Saturday, October 17, 2009

ZEITGEIST: Bikes, Finance, Local Food and Recycling - Doing Our Bit For the Planet

By Sarah Boothman

Many of us cannot understand the stark warnings made by scientists, environmentalists and geographers on the dangers of global warming. The realities of the phenomenon mean that we are likely to see few changes to the world within our lifetime, and so we do little to slow down the warming process. However, what is becoming more and more obvious is that our children and our grandchildren will be personally affected by global warming, be it financially, geographically or health wise.

If we want to preserve the planet for the next generation and the generation after that, we need to do our bit now. This does not mean a total change in our lifestyle, but there are a few little things that we can do everyday which can slow down the effects of global warming.

Push The Pedals

In the western world, one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions is motor vehicles. Cars, lorries, buses, trains and planes all emit harmful chemicals and gases that are contributing significantly to global warming. If everyone rode to work on a bike just one day of the week, tonnes of CO2 emissions would be reduced. It has never been easier to buy a bike with the great deals on bike finance that retailers are offering at the moment, so there is no excuse for not getting on your bike. If you have children you can encourage them to use greener methods of transport by taking them on bike rides at the weekends and on summer evenings.

Shop Locally

Cookery programmes have always been popular and recently we have seen a shift back to traditional ways of shopping for our food. Chefs and cooks on the television are promoting 'grow your own' and local produce, much as it was in the early twentieth century before the emergence of the massive supermarket chains. The huge impact that food production has on global warming is unbelievable, especially when you think that over half of all the food we eat in Britain has had to be transported here from a foreign country. Shopping at local farms and at your local market will have a big impact on your carbon emissions; you won't even have to drive to the supermarket. You will also be eating much fresher and seasonal food.


I know I know, recycling is boring, it is an effort and sometimes it can be a challenge trying to find the right coloured bin for your brown glass bottles, but you really can make a big difference by recycling some of your household waste. You don't have to sift through every item you throw away, but being aware of what is easy to recycle is important. Most households have got a wheelie bin with the sole purpose of collecting your goods for recycling. Paper, metal and plastics should all be recycled.

So, your daily mail, the tins and cans that you use and any plastic or cardboard cartons and containers that you would normally throw away can all go in the blue bin, or whatever colour yours is. You could also think about using less of the items that are bad for the environment, for example, if you drink a lot of water, re-use the plastic bottle instead of buying a new one every day.

These little things do not mean that life will never be the same again, but it will help in the world wide struggle to slow down and hopefully stop all together the process of global warming.

Sarah Boothman is a writer and marketing executive based in Yorkshire, England. She is an avid internet user and likes to share information with the rest of the world. I recently bought a bike using Bike Finance and now cycle wherever I can. Visit today.

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POLLUTION: Oil Pollution and What it is Doing to Our World

By Pauline Go

Among all kinds of pollution, oil pollution hurts the environment the most. Anyone, who has lived for more than fifty years, can easily tell that the world was a different place when they were growing up. Almost all the countries in the world depend on oil for the growth of their economy. If there is no gas derived from oil, then the world trade would come to a stand still.

Oil is a fossil fuel and the Earth takes some millions of years to make it. Oil pollution can be defined as a process of spilling crude oil into the environment. They have detrimental effects on the environment and can completely upset the delicate balance of the Earth. Here are some ways how oil pollution occurs on land and sea:

- Nearly 140 million tons of oil spills into the sea every year accidentally. It kills marine life and damages the environment too.
- Ships and other marine equipment release 511 million tons of oil as a routine maintenance into the sea.
- Fuel also enters the sea from land disposal units.

The amount of vehicular pollution is unaccountable and ridiculously high. Most of the vehicles do not have low emissions.

Oil pollution is occurring through air and water pollution. Highly populated countries like India, China and Russia contribute the maximum in oil pollution. Also, United States adds to the world's largest amount of car pollution.

Gases released while burning oil, adds to the green house gases and speeds up the global warming process. It can become extremely dangerous for us to live under such volatile circumstances.

About Author:

Pauline Go is an online leading expert in the environmental industry. She also offers top quality articles like:

Global Warming Causes, Climate Change Effect

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Growing Menace Threatens Amazon Forests

By Pauline Go

The rising carbon levels pose the biggest threat for the legendary Amazon forests. Amazon is the biggest rain forest in the world. Just like human beings breathe in oxygen, plants need carbon dioxide. However, right now, the carbon composition is 30 percent more than that actually required. It is accelerating growth and changing the composition of the forest.

A study showed that one part of Amazon forest trees started growing faster and they were also dying quickly. The accelerated growth may not at all be good for the trees. Small trees have several medicinal properties and they bear different fruits. However, most of it depends on the levels of carbon dioxide available. So due to the high ratio of carbon dioxide the smaller trees tend to become larger. They need shade to give fruit and flowers. This indicates that the ecology of the forest is changing and several unique species of trees will be lost in the process. Tropical rain forests have several thousands of unique species and are known for that. Even if one species of tree is missing then even the animals and insects that depend on it will become extinct. It sets off a chain reaction.

High levels of carbon dioxide also increase the episodes of forest fires. Also, the Amazon is facing the problem of deforestation in many categories. Villages that are developing are clearing forests. Several mining activities in the area also require clearing of forests. There are several factors affecting the Amazon rain forest system as of now.

About Author:

Pauline Go is an online leading expert in the environmental industry. She also offers top quality articles like:

Global Warming Causes, Climate Change Effect

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Siberian Thaw to Speed Up Global Warming

By Pauline Go

Siberia has several glaciers which are very important for the biosphere of the Earth. Now it has been discovered that these glaciers are melting and it can actually have devastating effects. The main reason for the frost to melt is global warming.

However, scientists did not expect it to happen so fast. They now think that they could have been wrong in calculating the amount of greenhouse gases like methane that being released into the atmosphere as the permafrost melts. As the temperature increases the glaciers and the frost will melt further.

Also, reports from the Antarctic show that the levels of carbon dioxide in the environment are rising at an alarming rate. In Siberia, methane is the biggest problem as the levels shown are very high. Methane can be produced in soil also due to decomposition of bacteria. However, in different environments like Siberia and Artic, which are permafrost regions, the methane producing bacteria tend to get locked in the soil. Over thousands of years, this methane becomes due reservoirs of gas.

In Siberia, it has been estimated, that more than 450 billion tons of methane and carbon dioxide could be trapped in the frozen soil. However, if the ice in Siberia or the Arctic melts, then these gases would be released into the atmosphere. As a result, global warming can take place at an express speed and we will soon see our end faster than we expected. The sea levels will rise ridiculously, and half the world will collapse due to extreme weather conditions.

About Author:

Pauline Go is an online leading expert in the environmental industry. She also offers top quality articles like:

Global Warming Causes, Climate Change Effect

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POLLUTION: How Does Mining Affect the Environment?

By Pauline Go

There are several different types of mining like oil, mineral, gold and coal mining. Almost all the processes have one thing in common and that is mining for fossil fuels. Mining is mainly done to extract the minerals and metals from the core of the earth.

Mining is a very profitable business and it also creates employment opportunities. It benefits everyone including the government and that is why the mining industry is widely supported. There are several negative effects of mining for the environment.

To make mining possible, several forests are cleared and this leads to deforestation. Most of the mines in Africa were created after cutting down forests. The vegetation is cleared in order to build the mining facility and laying roads. Several organisms and animals live in these forests. With the deforestation, these organisms and animals lose their natural habitat. So, they start looking for a new habitat in order to survive. However, most organisms and animals do not respond very well this change and end up dying. The biodiversity is lost in this process. A number of smaller plants and creepers that grow with the support of the trees also die due to deforestation.

Every single forest in the world is a biosphere of its own. It is impossible to create a biosphere artificially as the various processes and inter-dependence of organisms is too complicated.

In addition, mining causes a lot of pollution as a lot of chemical waste incurred due to the various processed involved. This waste is released into water bodies, rivers and sea. The chemical composition of the soil also changes in the mining area. It becomes a desert-like environment where nothing grows.

About Author:

Pauline Go is an online leading expert in the environmental industry. She also offers top quality articles like:

Global Warming Causes, Climate Change Effect

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Ozone Layer Depletion - Effects and Causes of Ozone Depletion

By Pauline Go

One of the most discussed topics today is global warming and its negative effects on the environment. It is the top priority environmental issue for many countries. The process of global warming is speeding up due to the depletion of the ozone layer. It is very important for us to understand what the ozone layer is and what role it plays environmentally.

Ozone is one of the greenhouse gases which are present in the atmosphere. It exists in the form of a thick layer and is made up of oxygen molecules. Three oxygen molecules make one ozone molecule. The oxygen molecules present in the environment absorb the ultra violet rays from the sun and undergo a chemical reaction to form ozone molecules. Ultraviolet rays are harmful for human beings as they have destructive abilities. They can penetrate and breakdown the molecules.

The ozone formed due to this chemical reaction, in turn, absorbs the ultra violet rays from the sun. If not for the ozone layer, all living beings on the earth would be dying of skin cancer and other diseases. Because the ozone layer is absorbing all the ultra violet rays before it touches the land, we are safe.

The main reason for the ozone to deplete is pollution by chlorofluorocarbons or CFC. CFC is added to the environment by human beings in various forms. Several industrial processes like manufacturing medications, aerosols, and making other products which involve coolants can create these CFCs. Every time we spray a deodorant or open our refrigerators, we are releasing CFC into the atmosphere.

About Author:

Pauline Go is an online leading expert in the environmental industry. She also offers top quality articles like:

Global Warming Causes, Climate Change Effect

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GREEN LIVING: Green Buildings in San Diego

By Todd Jacoson

In today's world it is hard not to be aware of just how important it is to be Earth-friendly through the promotion of green energy and technology. People and businesses alike are trying to reduce their carbon footprint, recycle and find ways to be kind to the planet. That concept is very apparent amongst San Diego, California builders and construction companies. Many of these organizations are leading the way and spear heading the effort to be "green" in their everyday operations, making the community of San Diego stand out in the number of buildings that are being built with the best green technology science has to offer.

One of the reasons green building is so prevalent in San Diego is because the government in charge of the area has instituted a Green Building Program that is designed to encourage and motivate homeowners and construction companies to build homes and structures that are focused on environmentally centered practices and procedures.

In addition, the Green Building Program rewards those homeowners, construction companies and builders who choose to participate. There are numerous incentives offered when guidelines and rules are followed. For instance, if a builder chooses to participate in this program they will not be charged any fees associated with the building permit. In addition, builders can receive rebates on cost of supplies and other credits when they use green building practices.

Many builders have participated in this program ands some builders in San Diego have instituted a green "division" in their business, focusing specifically on environmentally friendly products for homeowners who wish to incorporate this into their new construction.

San Diego is standing out as one area of the country where green housing has caught on. In particular, certain communities are being highlighted such as the 2,500 home community of Del Sur in San Diego. This is one complex that was originally planned twenty years ago and the focus on environmentally friendly housing has earned this community a Platinum Certification from the United States Green Council for recognition as one of the world's most environmentally friendly communities.

There are many major benefits when focusing on green building in new construction or when updating your current house. While there is an initial expense to fit your house with a solar energy system, tank-less water heater or weather based irrigation system, there are also massive savings when your green energy based home begins to reap the benefits of being more efficient.

Studies show that water bills and energy bills are reduced dramatically. For instance, the community of Del Sur will save $58,000 per year collectively through the combined use of energy efficient products. That doesn't include the amount many of those homeowners will receive in tax rebates and credits not only from the local government but from the federal government.

Green energy is the way of the future and it is refreshing to see San Diego leading the way. Through the use of green energy, you will not only ensure that your home or office is beautiful, but you will also make sure it is friendly to the environment.

Before starting your next green building project speak with one of our green building San Diego experts to full explore all your San Diego home remodeling options.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

POLLUTION: Waste Generation From Alternative Energy Sources

By Daniel P. Martin

For many years we have been trying to get away from using fossil fuels and old inefficient electrical grinds. But, the move toward the widespread use of alternative energy sources has been a history of stop and go attempts. Research and development of new technologies are needed to find cost-effective ways to harness this seemingly endless supply of clean, natural energy.

The most talked about form of alternative energy is wind power. The development and engineering of wind turbines continues to improve as the popularity, aka capital funding availability, spreads among the business community. In fact "wind farms" have begun to spring up across the world. The biggest issues with these wind farms are the noise vibrations they emit and the danger to birds. No research has been completed to understand how the low ultrasonic vibrations may affect other wildlife or humans.

Growing in popularity is solar energy. It is abundant and easy to capture for alternative energy use. The manufacturing of solar cells has rapidly developed with multiple uses adapted for small and even large scale applications. These solar cells gather the energy given off by the sun which can be easily converted into electricity. It also is widely used to generate hot water. Solar energy joins wind energy as alternative energy sources that create zero pollution. That is if you don't count sound or landscape alterations as pollution.

The largest and most abundant alternative energy source on earth is water. Governments and scientists backed by investors have been studying wave energy and the potential to tap it for clean energy. France has been operating a generator for a few years to study this potential and initial reports are promising.

The ocean is not the primary focus for water based alternative energy. Electricity has been generated from hydroelectric plants for almost a century. Places on earth that have a ready supply of adequate water sources such as rivers and lakes are in perfect position to generate clean energy. The issue becomes more complicated when a dam needs to be generated to create sufficient water flow to power the generators. Dams are not friendly to the wildlife and organisms in the area where dams may be built.

More recent technological advancements have opened the door to consider new alternative energy sources.

The first of these energy sources is energy we can create from the waste that people generate every day. Consider the number of landfills and expended oils. Methane gas can be captured and used to power generators. Not exactly "clean" gas but cleaner than coal and heavy oil. Waste oils from industrial and food consumption are likewise usually dumped. These waste oils can be used to power heaters and boilers to produce heat and steam as power sources.

Though the use of ethanol seems to have a negative impact on the world's fuel supply it may prove beneficial in areas that can't efficiently tap into hydropower. We can't afford to use our food sources of wheat, sugarcane, grapes, strawberries and corn to provide us fuel when we need the nourishment for our personal source of energy. Likewise the consumption of soybean, rapeseed, and sunflower oils for bio diesel production is causing havoc on the world's food supply.

You can't discuss alternative energy without mentioning atomic energy from nuclear power plants. There is no alternative energy source that neither is as efficient nor can generate the enormous amount of clean pure energy than nuclear power. The waste product is the expended atomic energy that remains radioactive for hundreds of years. The amount of this waste product however, is minuscule relative to waste generated from other alternative energy sources.

You cannot create energy without some form of waste generation.

Daniel has spent his career helping people uncover the truth. The truth is the anguish of low quality lingers long after the sweetness of low cost is forgotten. Visit Daniel's latest website that explores oil filled radiators and various oil filled radiator heater products that every home needs for targeted warmth and cozy comfort.

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ZEITGEIST: Report Indicates That Renewable Energy Will Create More Jobs Than Coal

By Kevin Langley

The findings from the study released last week go against conventional thinking that the demise of the coal mining industry will be accompanied by a massive loss in jobs and the obvious negative socio-economic consequences that will come with it. The report set out that by 2030, a move towards renewable energy power generation could create up to 2.7 millions jobs compared to staying with fossil fuels.

The report stated,

"A switch from coal to renewable electricity generation will not just avoid 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, but will create 2.7 million more jobs by 2030 than if we continue business as usual."

With strong support for renewable energy, the report said that it was crucial that governments act to make power generation by renewable means, a viable alternative to fossil fuels. Where in the past governments were wary that the decline of traditional industries such as coal would have detrimental repercussions for employment figures, now governments are aware that with the right legislation in place, growing renewable industries can create their own job sectors.

This concept has been expounded by a number of world leaders, including Gordon Brown who announced at the beginning of the year that he would seek to implement a 'green new deal' in the UK, using new renewable industries as a means of revitalizing the stagnant economy.

Talking about the relationship between renewable energy and job creation, Sven Teske of Greenpeace commented,

"Renewable power industries can create a lot of jobs," going to add the caveat that, "renewables must be competitive in the long term".

Kevin Langley is a leading knowledge in the Solar Investment and Renewable Energy world. Having worked with the subject for many years, he is fast becoming an expert on green energy and investments in green stocks.

He writes for many blogs and runs a range of Solar websites. He has a keen interest in green renewable energy and spends most of this writing time focusing on this subject.

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POLLUTION: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

By Tom Palmieri

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a 10,000 square mile area in the middle of the Pacific ocean. First discovered in 1997 by self trained ocean researcher Charles Moore, he named the stretch of ocean between the UK and China The Great Pacific Garbage Patch because of it's 30 foot deep and 10,000 square mile mass. The area is about twice the size of Texas. Since it's discovery, the area has been under study by environmental groups and Universities for it's negative impact on aquatic wildlife.

In an August press release detailing a recent 3 week expedition through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by research scientists from the University of California, led by Miriam Goldstein and fellow researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego, Goldstein commented, "It's pretty shocking - it's unusual to find exactly what you're looking for".

What they were looking for is the chemical breakdown of plastic, along with the toxic chemicals they contained, and their effect on marine life from the micro organisms and Plankton that are subject to the bio mass, to the predator fish that are higher on the food chain and consume the smaller aquatic life forms. The concern is that the chemically contaminated larger fish, end up on our dinner plates.

In recent studies conducted by Dr Frederick Vom Saal from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and with joint researchers from Japan, studies showed an increase in onset Diabetes, Liver and Kidney disease, and most alarming, Miscarriages they believe to be related to oceanic fish consumption contaminated with residue from plastic containers and the toxic chemicals they contained.

Thomas Morton, a journalist on Charles Moore research vessel, the El Quido, returned from a one week stay in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and reported on the area as an "Ecological Catastrophe".

Researchers on the vessel recorded a 6 to 1 ratio of Plankton VS Plastic and the normally soft saltwater in the area is a "Yellowish soupy mix".

Plastic in salt water, unlike on land, does not Bio Degrade, it Photo Degrades, breaking down into miniscule particles small enough for fish to consume. The chemical compounds in the plastic remain and the toxins are transferred in trace amounts to larger game fish.

When asked if there was a solution to the problem on the horizon, Thomas Morton shrugged his shoulders and stated there was not.

"What is happening in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a global catastrophe and until all countries adopt a safe plastics dumping regulation, the bio mass in the middle of the ocean will continue to grow, and until the world population stops using plastic containers filled with toxic chemicals found in household cleaners, the problem will only worsen".

Only a global co-operation of many countries taking immediate action, can minimize the health damage that will surely come from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Authors Note:

There has been over 85,000 new chemicals introduced to the American population since 1944 with little or no EPA regulations or testing for human exposure. 70% of these toxic chemicals are found in Household Cleaners.

Organizations such as Green Justice, a Law firm in New York have recently filed class action suits against 4 major cleaning solution manufacturers to disclose the chemicals used in their products. The case went public after the manufacturers were asked to disclose the chemicals used and they replied the chemicals were, "Company Secrets"

When asked for EPA intervention, the EPA said they have tested and approved only 4 chemicals in 2 years, citing claims the Budget Office of the White House is "Dragging their feet" and slashing the EPA budget for chemical testing, resulting in millions of Americans being put at risk of toxic chemical exposures.

To help us get EPA funding for future chemical testing, please do your part and sign the EPA Petition to force congress to make funding available to the EPA for chemical testing on products used in public schools.

Sign the petition here EPA Petition.

Thomas Palmieri is an environmentalist and internet author living in South Florida.

To view his web page and learn what you can do to go green, please visit Green Business Opportunity.

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CASE STUDY: A Chinese Solar Future

By Kevin Langley

The Olympic Games held in Beijing in 2008 highlighted to the world the problems that China is having with pollution in urban areas where population density and heavy road traffic have contributed to a situation where on some days visibility is severely reduced.

The televised images of the Beijing skyline obscured by a murky cloud of smog offered a grim reminder of the contamination which is of course an inevitable by-product of a rapidly industrializing economy. However, China has embraced the concept of renewable energy with a massive shift towards solar energy. Legislation introduced by the Chinese government has been designed to spark investment in renewable energies and has so far, proved to be successful.

As the largest manufacturer of photovoltaic (PV) components, China has been a market leader in developing new products for markets elsewhere. Certainly, the Spanish market which experienced its own boom following the introduction of a feed-in tariff in 2007 relied massively on Chinese PV imports with the market experiencing a glut of Chinese produced PV plant when the Spanish industry went through its downturn and failed to install the solar plant which had been ordered. However, in a bid to alleviate some pollution problems and help meet climate change targets, the Chinese government has recently sought to increase the number of solar installations within the country.

In order to do this the government introduced a feed-in tariff system. Essentially, the feed-in tariff (FIT) was designed to attract investment in the new solar industry by offering financial incentives to investors.

The FIT mechanism operates on the basis that the law guarantees a fixed, premium rate for units of electricity fed-in to the grid by solar energy generators. The utility companies are obliged by the legislation to purchase the solar electricity at above market prices, the costs of which are passed on to the consumers. In China this mechanism which has been successful in areas such as Germany, Spain and California has also proved successful in China. In July 2009, the New York Times ran with the headline, "Green Power Takes Root in China" heralding the arrival of the Chinese PV market on the world stage.

The arrival of the Chinese PV industry has come in the form of a national renewable energy law which decrees that utilities must generate 8 per cent of their energy by renewable means by 2020. The fact that this 8 percent figure does not include hydroelectric power adds to the importance which the Chinese are now placing on green energy. The growing awareness of the lack of long-term sustainability in traditional coal energy sources has prompted the Chinese government to take action to maintain China has a major industrial power well in to the future. There has also been somewhat of a frenzy among private companies seeing the opportunities that will undoubtedly present themselves in the Chinese renewable industry, with a growing activity particularly in sectors such as wind and photovoltaic technology which will inevitably boom in China in the near future.

The New York Times was keen to use this Chinese government action to make comparisons with the comparatively weak efforts being made in Washington to spur the renewable sector in the United States.

Indeed, in the United Kingdom, with the recent feed-in tariff legislation, members of the green energy industry will be hopeful that government action in the UK will have the same effect it has had on the Chinese market.

The New York Times asserted its almost neurotic view of Chinese renewable growth compared to that of the US by warning,

"You won't just be buying your toys from China, you'll be buying your energy future from China."

China has a target in place to produce 8000 megawatts of energy by wind energy by 2010 which they are set to smash. If China continues apace to move towards green energy, they will surely shame efforts currently being made in the West to develop their own sustainable renewable industries.

Kevin Langley is a leading knowledge in the Solar Investment and Renewable Energy world. Having worked with the subject for many years, he is fast becoming an expert on green energy and investments in green stocks.

He writes for many blogs and runs a range of Solar websites. He has a keen interest in green renewable energy and spends most of this writing time focusing on this subject.

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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH: How Cruise Ships are Becoming More Environmentally Friendly‏

by Musa Aykac

There has been a great deal of criticism in the press recently about the negative environmental implications that cruise ships have. Many people thought that cruising was a much better alternative than flying when it came to looking after the planet, but research of late has proved otherwise. Most experts now believe that cruising is one of the most inefficient and harmful ways to travel and have called for cruise lines to do something about it.

As cruising is big business and no organization wants to be given a fine or indeed be known as a non-eco establishment, many have been hard at working thinking of ways to make cruising a more viable option going forward. Here are 3 elements that have been put forward by the major cruise companies so far to help reduce carbon emissions, and it is thought all 3 of these will be implemented in new ship design in the next 5 years.

Lighter Ships: Previously all ships have been made of high grade steel and iron which has provided great strength, but has meant that they have ended up weighing vast amounts. Because the ships still floated well these materials continued to be used, but the extra weight causes the ship to sit deeper in the water and this increases drag, which pushes fuel usage up. New alloy materials have been proposed for the ships that are up to 30% lighter, but just as strong as the traditional materials. When you consider the size of the ships, this would work out as an incredible reduction in weight and therefore an equally large reduction in fuel usage.

More Efficient Engines: Cruise ships need to have powerful engines to even get moving, let alone transport thousands of tons of weight across an ocean. The engines in an average cruise ship generate around 50,000 horsepower and if these engines are not efficient, they will burn fuel at a staggering rate. The engine designs in many cruise ships have not changed much in the last 10 years and after calls have been made to generate more power using less fuel, most of the big companies are researching new ways of generating power, including utilizing renewable wave energy to help drive pistons.

More Hydro-Dynamic Shapes: Much like engine design, ship hull design has not changed much either over the centuries. The priority has always been with stability first and hydro-dynamics second, which has led to ships being designed that do not cut through the water or deal with waves as well as they might. Designers in Scandinavia have been working on a radical new hull design that is more rounded at the top, rather than the traditional V-shaped hulls that split the water and push it aside. The rounded hull instead causes the water to glide over its surface and this reduces the amount of energy lost by the ship. The designers say the new design is up to 20% more efficient, which is again a very promising figure and one that will go a long way to help make cruising more environmentally friendly. - Luxury Cruises

Saturday, October 10, 2009

SOLAR ENERGY: Solar Energy Storage - Pros and Cons

By Ezra Drissman

The development of an adequate, cost effective way to store solar energy cannot come fast enough. Different methods are being used currently, and others are being experimented with and explored. Some home solar energy users have had great success with their systems, but solar systems may not be appropriate for all areas of the world, nor would they be good on a larger scale. If solar energy is to be the replacement for other less environmentally friendly energy sources, then there must be a way to store it on a larger scale that is still safe and affordable for everyone.

The Pros to Solar Energy Storage

Solar energy is renewable, non-polluting, and easy to harness for use. A new home that is built with solar panels or an existing home that adds them can qualify for a tax credit or other financial incentives. This makes the concept even more attractive. The current systems for solar energy storage include a photovoltaic system and a molten salt system, but each has drawbacks.

Solar power can be used to offset or replace electrical costs from the utility company. This, in turn, forces the utility company to become more competitive in their pricing. If one family in a neighborhood sets up solar panels and reduces their energy costs by half or more and the utility company increases the rates for the next door neighbors, it is not long before the next door neighbors are going to consider going to solar power as well.

Solar power is safer to use than other energy sources, especially those that rely on coal which must be mined from the earth and then transported around the country, or oil which is expensive and must be obtained from foreign countries. Harnessing the sun's heat may be the easiest way to store the energy for later use in solar thermal systems.

The Cons to Solar Energy Storage

The sun is not entirely predictable or reliable. Clouds can block the sun's rays for seconds, minutes, or even hours causing a storage system to lose megawatts of energy. The loss of megawatts can result in power loss for the users. If the system in place is not big enough to store enough energy for these times, it will not be useful in the long run.

The sun is not a good choice in certain parts of the world where the weather is generally cloudy and overcast. Even in places where there is a lot of sun, days of rain and clouds could shut down a system in a matter of hours.

The salt tank systems are adequate on a small scale. On a larger scale, they could face the same NIMBY protests that other types of energy plants face whenever a new one is proposed.

Solar panel systems can be expensive, especially at start up. A photovoltaic system that is large enough to run an entire household can cost $50,000 -far out of the reach of many budgets in these times.

Eco20/20 is a cutting edge informational site. The primary focus of the site is clean energy. For almost two year Eco20/20 has been a leader in forward thinking articles.

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CONSERVATION: Helping Conserve the Elephants and Leopards of Sri Lanka

By Mark Bottell

Wildlife conservation holidays are becoming an increasingly popular option for travellers tired of the same old beach or ski trips, or students looking for an adventure to fill their gap-year. This unique brand of ethical tourism can take you to some of the most beautiful places on Earth. It will allow you to become involved in some vital wildlife conservation work and contribute in a truly meaningful way.

These holidays are definitely hands-on and you can look forward to some hard but extremely rewarding work. Every day will be different and you could find yourself collecting important research data in the jungle one day, and mending fences or machinery another. There is a wonderful team spirit amongst the volunteers, and everyone is working towards the same goals. Some people go on to take up full-time careers in wildlife conservation and many life-long friendships are formed.

There is a range of different projects throughout the world where you can offer your services. Working as a wildlife conservation volunteer on the exotic island of Sri Lanka will enable you to experience the culture and lifestyle of the country, and assist in the research and preservation of two species of animal in particular - the Sri Lankan Elephant and a sub-species of leopard endemic to Sri Lanka. On this project you will need to be very fit as there is a lot of hiking through the jungle in order to collect data, and there is also an element of danger due to the presence of wild animals. Living conditions are basic but comfortable and you will stay in either a central house at the research station, or one of a number of cabanas dotted around the station.

Elephant Research

The Sri-Lankan Elephant is currently threatened mainly because of habitat loss due to human interference. The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society is working towards creating and sustaining projects which concentrate on this conflict, as well as educating the local communities in solution strategies. There is a wide-spread problem with crop-raiding by the elephants, and the farmers need assistance in methods of preventing this. It is hoped they will then become more tolerant of the elephant and therefore willing to aid in conservation efforts.

Your work will be out in the field assisting more experienced researchers in the tracking and monitoring of the elephants. You will see these magnificent creatures interacting in their native habitat and collect vital information for future education programmes.

Leopard Research

While the exact number of the elusive Sri Lankan leopard is unknown, it is known that their population is decreasing. The projects on leopard research in Sri Lanka have been established for two main purposes. The first is to collect data on the density of the population in various areas, and the second is to research the effect of the human-leopard conflict. You will work as part of a team with highly skilled Field Scouts who will educate you in the methods of research, as well as teaching you about the local culture - a vital element to understanding the conflict.

You will travel to various National Parks in Sri Lanka and take part in data gathering and photographic survey work, as well as tree-hut observation work and data entry. The work with the leopards is one of the most exciting wildlife conservation projects in Sri Lanka, and to see these magnificent creatures in the wild is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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

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BOOK REVIEW: Real World Sustainability, Simple Steps to a Better Life - By Andy Macdonald

By Steve Thornton

The purpose of the book is to provide you with strategies to improve your surroundings, protect your health, ways to save money and strategies to positively make a difference for the health and well being of our planet. The author begins with the simple question of: What are the cost and benefits to me and the environment of this action? The intent is to have the reader focus on how simple and effective changes can help oneself while ensuring the health of our plant.

Your war on waste is the third chapter. The author presents the three "R's": reduce, re-use and re-cycle used items. These are the most important rules to follow when making an effort to reduce your carbon footprint on our planet. There are strategies to implement for home, work and in your personal space in the community. The author looks at books, magazines, toys, paper products and clothing and provides websites for additional information on where and how to recycle.

In chapter four the author assists you to develop a process to audit your home to ensure it is free of fiberglass, asbestos, and other hazardous materials. There is information on how these materials can effect your health as well as our planet.

The next section is dedicated to lighting; the good, the bad and the ugly. There is important information regarding switching from traditional incandescent light globes to alternative light sources. The author lists government recommendations and possible deadlines for the switch. There is a website listed which provides additional information on the efficiency, explanation and advantages of switching to Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL's). Along with the advantages, the author also lists some of the drawbacks to CFL's.

The next chapter focuses on appliances. The author provides pointers on how to shop for and purchase the most cost effective and safe appliances. A must to read before buying any major appliance. There is information on how to determine energy ratings, switching off appliances, which ones, when not in use and suggestions on low-cost options. There is a lot of valuable information which will assist in cutting your gas and electricity bills provided in this chapter. The author includes additional information on how to cut costs related to using washing machines, dryers, computers, and water heaters.

There is a full chapter on cleaning products such as the effectiveness of baking soda, white vinegar, citrus oils as well as cleaners to avoid. The next chapter takes an in-depth look at cosmetics and personal care products. The author points out the importance of how the cosmetics and personal care items are packaged; what ingredients are in the products and the negative effects; how to determine if the products contain animal products and where they are tested on animals; lists possible long term effects of the products and discusses the basic claims to "natural" or "organic".

The author follows this chapter with a focus on your garden. This section discusses and provides suggestions on how to start your own garden, the benefits to you and your family. A website is listed for the reader to find additional information to encourage and motivate you to begin a garden. The author recommends you start with what makes you feel comfortable and expand the garden as you acquire more confidence and information.

Chapter ten focuses on transportation strategies to cut costs, increase efficiency and how fuel consumption is impacting the planet. The author lists the eight steps to minimize fuel consumption which no automobile owner should be without. There is information on how to help your car's fuel consumption when going up hill; where to take your oil for recycling; alternative fuel sources; and other helpful hints.

The next chapter looks at the "water wars". The author points out the importance of water for the human body ; how drinking other liquids negatively impact the human body; suggestions on how to cut down on water consumption and still meet the body's needs; strategies to use water more wisely; and the hidden costs of bottled water. The author discusses how to install a system to re-use grey water from your laundry, shower, bath and kitchen in your garden.

Chapter twelve focuses on sustainable choices you can implement at work. There are suggestions on how to cut down the use of paper through telecommuting; the advantages to telecommuting; and some of the disadvantages.

There is a chapter dedicated to the issues of choices and challenges to power sources. Here the author provides information on various sources such as wind, solar, nuclear energy; and several websites for the reader to review for more information.

The author has also written a chapter on what can't be recycled, why and what to do with these items.

Another chapter lists useful and interesting links for the reader to review, such as:

Green-e Climate; Natural pest control for lawns; Building Green; Bureau of International Recycling; Governmental website listing publications.

For More Information visit:

Steve Thornton offers a insight into the information product market, researching a number of niche topics and resourcing products in those areas. Please take time to visit the estore at:

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GREEN LIVING: The Interlace Condo - Living Green in Singapore

By Winston A Yap

The Interlace Condo, Singapore's latest condominium complex has been touted around the world as the new icon for Architectural and Engineering development. These numerous accolades have been popping up in blogs all around the internet and in design magazines worldwide.

The city-state's traditional form of boxy and rectangular apartment buildings will see a dramatic redesign for this new landmark. It is composed of 31 apartment buildings built to form a hexagon. This huge scale development is roughly the size of 16 football fields and will be constructed on the southern part of the city.

The greenery surrounding Alexandra Road and Ayer Rajah Expressway is the perfect background for this new condo. The 170,000 meter square compound will house 1,040 units ranging in size from 2 or 3, 3 plus study and 4 bedroom units. Units can be in a townhouse or penthouse style. This eight hectare belt of greenery will stretch from Kent Ridge, Telok Blangah Hill and Mount Faber parks.

This breakthrough design highlights and takes advantage of Singapore's natural environment. The massive size of the development has allowed designers to incorporate a multitude of greenery to give the complex a tropical feel to the overall effect of the venture. Above ground vehicular circulation has been minimized, freeing large green areas within the condo building itself. The project is more than just a residential development. The designers have integrated environmental sustainability features via a careful calculation, study and analysis of factors such as sun, wind and micro-climate conditions coupled with low-impact passive energy strategies and other energy saving features on site.

Why is this development unique? Because it is a breakaway from the typical Singaporean building or skyscraper. Buildings in the city-state are typically isolated, vertical apartment buildings, complexes and towers with little or no outstanding features to distinguish one from the other.

This new venture takes a different and unique approach to tropical green living as the building complex is composed of interconnected hexagonal buildings designed to highlight Singapore's natural environment. Identical six storey buildings stacked to form a hexagonal pattern with courtyards and spacious greenery and lawns, making this the perfect style to incorporate swimming pools, hanging balconies, sky gardens, miniature parks and rooftop gardens.

In a typical apartment or condominium complex, privacy can sometimes be compromised. However, at this new development, privacy is balanced with green open spaces for recreation and generous spacing in between units. There are also other amenities residents can enjoy that were integrated into the natural greenery aside from the number of indoor and outdoor recreation areas built for fun and relaxation.

This project situated in residential Gillman Heights has challenged the traditional way apartment buildings and condominium buildings have been designed. The breakaway design does not only have a dramatic external facade, it has also addressed the issue of having green and comfortable internal spaces. The name Interlace itself reinforces the feeling of unity between the community while complimenting the surrounding natural environment.

This exciting new condominium development will be launched in October 2009, so be among the first to register and get generous pre-launch discounts before the public. Hurry and register at: The Interlace Condo.

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GREEN LIVING: Offsetting Air Travel Emissions As a Green Business Practice

By Manda Trevarthen

We all know that air travel has impacts on the environment and a number of companies now include offsetting their air travel carbon impacts as one of their green business practices. However this is not as easy as it seems. Carbon emissions are not the only impact from air travel and different offset calculators use differing methodology to determine how much should be offset.

Aside from this, the level of your personal emissions also varies depending on flight distance, the type of plane and whether you are flying business or economy. This article will help you understand some of the different factors that contribute to your personal air travel carbon emissions.

Aeroplanes burn fossil fuels to operate which release CO2 into the atmosphere. There are different opinions on how much air travel contributes to global CO2 emissions with figures ranging from 2% to 10%. Not only are CO2 emissions an issue but aeroplanes also release water vapour, nitrogen oxides and methane. The environmental impact of these is greater when released at high altitude than what it would be at ground level. While these impacts are not entirely understood, it is generally agreed that a radiative forcing factor should be used when determining the impacts of air travel. Radiative forcing is the rate at which a given atmospheric gas alters radiation that is entering the atmosphere.

Not all emissions calculators include the radiative forcing factor in their calculations which underestimates the environmental impact of the flight. To make it even more complicated there are differing opinions as to what the radiative forcing factor should be set to. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommend a radiative forcing factor of 2.7 and this seems to be most commonly used. So for a more accurate assessment of your flights impacts, you want to choose a calculator that includes radiative forcing but the story does not stop there.

There are a range of other variables that affect your individual emissions. First is the distance traveled and whether this is long or short. Short distance flights are less fuel efficient overall due to the fuel consumed during takeoff and landing but they also generate less condensation trails (water vapour) due to the shorter time spent at high altitude. The type of plane will also impact the level of emissions from the flight as newer model aeroplanes tend to be more fuel efficient.

As for the emissions each passenger is responsible for, this will vary depending on whether the flight is full and whether the person is traveling economy or business. If the flight is not fully occupied, each person will have to offset a higher level of emissions to offset the whole impact of the flight and if you are traveling in business class, you are taking up more space and will be responsible for a greater percentage of the emissions.

As you can see calculating the emissions to offset air travel is not as straight forward as it first seems, in spite of this an understanding of the factors that contribute to your personal emission levels from air travel gives you a better idea how your travel decisions impact the environment.

Want to find out more about green business practices and air travel emission calculators? Check out Lets Do It Green for a discussion of different emission calculators.

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CASE STUDY: Burns Bog and Its Importance to Environmentalists

By Sylvia Behnish

Located near the mouth of the Fraser River in lower British Columbia, it is the largest raised bog on the west coast of North America and is one of the largest in the world. It contributes to global biodiversity because of its storage of greenhouse gases, its importance as a nature reserve, and as a wilderness area.

In the early days, the First Nations People set up temporary villages in the bog during the summer months coinciding with the salmon runs. They hunted and gathered food and used many of the unique plants in the bog for many of their day-to-day requirements.

These plants were used for medicinal purposes such as removing corns and warts; for the treatment of skin ailments and as a medicinal drink; for ailments such as sore throats and colds, and for making tea. Many of the berries found in the bog were either eaten fresh or were dried into cakes. They were an important staple of both their summer and their winter diets. Many of the forty species of peat moss were used for their absorbent qualities as feminine hygiene products, diapers and bedding.

Burns Bog is home to more than 150 species of birds, insects, butterflies and a rare dragonfly population. Black bear, blacktail deer, red fox, bobcat, coyote, beaver, muskrat, snowshoe hare and porcupine also inhabit the bog. It is a habitat for many threatened and endangered species such as various Heron, Falcon, Trumpeter Swans, Caspian Tern, Barn Owl and the Greater Sandhill Crane whose numbers are down to between 9-11 per year, at last count.

In First Nations mythology, it is said that the Sandhill Crane "darkened the skies" with its large numbers during their annual arrival to the Lower Mainland each spring. The bog is also inhabited by 22 species of raptors, 10 species of amphibians, 6 species of reptiles, 48 species of small mammals and several species of larger mammals. To the present time, Burns Bog continues to be an important part of First Nations mythology and also in terms of cultural, traditional and current uses.

As well as the diverse and rare wildlife in the bog, there are many plants that are remnants left following the retreat of ice during the last ice age. Several shrub species found in the bog are normally found much further north. Also unique is a rare moss, the 'sphagnum fuscium'.

During World War II Burns Bog was controlled by the United States Army with the plan of using the peat moss to refine magnesium to be used for artillery shells although it never was used for this purpose. Between the 1930's and 1984, a thriving business was conducted in the harvest of peat moss. Unfortunately, this business threatened the many beautiful and rare plants within the bog.

Over the years Burns Bog has been threatened with many development proposals such as a deep-sea port, a housing development for 100,000 people, a thorough-bred race track and an amusement park. The outside edges have already been disturbed with a landfill site, drainage ditches and blueberry farms. The damaged portion, due to its slow growth could take 50-100 years to renew itself.

As well as farming and other development damaging the bog, non-native plants such as scotch broom and blackberry bushes are becoming intrusive on this area. Visitors walking on other than designated trails also impact the bog.

Burns Bog's history has been diverse and the opinions concerning its future are many. Its a future that at many times has been uncertain. Many organizations, such as The Burns Bog Conservation Society, as well as private citizens, are bitterly opposed to development of the bog.

The Burns Bog Conservation Society was officially established in 1988. It has focused its efforts on protecting the bog, fighting further development and attempting to preserve the ecological integrity and viability of the bog.

The bog has international importance and is known world-wide by environmentalists. It traps greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methan and if released, would be a huge contributor to global warming. Many feel, therefore, it is important to keep the bog intact to assist in slowing the acceleration of global warming. Bogs are also important for filtering the air and water, releasing oxygen and for releasing nutrients into the river for the fish.

It is each of our responsibility to protect the bog and other areas like it to ensure that there is a continued habitat for the many endangered species and animals that have found refuge in the bog. Civilization should not be allowed to intrude on an area that offers so much to our community. In March of 2004, the Government of British Columbia purchased 5,000 acres of Burns Bog. But the need to protect this unique bog is far from over.

Sylvia Behnish has published her first non-fiction novel entitled "Roller Coaster Ride With Brain Injury (For Loved Ones)" which tells of their journey along the path of progress during the year following her partner's brain injury. Her first fiction book entitled "His Sins" will be out late fall. She has also had numerous articles published in newspapers and magazines in both Canada and the United States.

To order "Roller Coaster Ride With Brain Injury (For Loved Ones)" go to:



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CASE STUDY: DC Moves Toward Plastic Bag Tax

By Chris Kodama

A definite indicator that reusable bags are growing in popularity is the presence of plastic (and green) bags in the news. In a recent blog post by U.S. News and World Report's Maura Judkis, the green blogger talked about a recent decision in which the D.C. City Council voted unanimously to tax both plastic and paper bags. The bag tax was pre-approved June 2 and includes a 5 cent tax on bags used in the city. The bag fee still faces a secondary vote later this month and if passed will become the first bag tax implemented in the state.

Larger cities including Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco have already approved or implemented plastic and paper bag taxes to encourage the use of grocery tote bags instead.

Proceeds from the DC bag tax will go to the Anacostia River, a high polluted body of water in the state. In fact, the legislation, The Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act, is named after the river. Overall, the council estimates the tax will cost consumers between $7 and $15 per year, depending on how often they shop.

"There is not a river I go to, a park I go to, where I don't see plastic bags everywhere," Councilman Jack Evans said prior to the vote. "The fact is our country is becoming inundated with plastic bags and plastic bottles. This is the first step to try to address this issue."

Opponents of the tax claim the expense, however, is too much for poor consumers to absorb during the global recession. Judkis tends to disagree citing the successful plastic bag tax in Ireland that significantly reduced the use of bags by 94 percent within the first few weeks.

Even the New York Times chimed in on the green movement citing in a recent editorial, "Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable - on par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one's dog."

Chris Kodama is the co-founder and co-owner of Ityse, an online retailer specializing in stylish, reusable grocery bags.

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ZEITGEIST: An Optimistic Solution to Global Warming - A Motivational Approach

By Mark P Knight

The issue of global warming is one which is starting to attract worldwide global attention; which, as public awareness increases, the potentially catastrophic effects of our changing climate is beginning to sink in. The realization of this ongoing and 'real' threat to our environment and way of life is creating a stir within the community, causing a demand for change to be taken.

Currently, focus is being emphasized on the damaging effects and worst-case doomsday scenario, which many scientists and global warming enthusiasts predict, may arise. This however is non-motivational, and does little to encourage those who experience a high-carbon, polluting and environmentally-damaging lifestyle from changing their behaviors.

The purpose of burdening individuals with the hugely overwhelming, and almost incomprehensible problem of global warming was meant to strike fear into recipients, upon which our natural survivalism instinct would inspire us to react to resolve the underlying cause due to the threat of losing our livelihood, money, life, friends/ family, our life as we know it. However this is both energy sapping and demoralizing as significant focus on resolving issues through reaction to negative emotions is more emotionally demanding; resulting in less energy to appreciate and welcome in a new era of environmentalism as Jerry Gillies mentions:

"It takes a lot more energy to fail than to succeed, since it takes a lot of concentrated energy to hold on to beliefs that don't work".

It is also true that at present, the current measure for motivating individuals into acting and changing their behaviors is not working, as many have feelings of powerlessness and inadequacy to make a difference. It needs to be identified that the sum of our cumulative effort as a community will make an impact; and it is only by embracing this concept, as a group entity will we ever be likely to succeed in our goal of reduced CO2 levels and a sustainable lifestyle.

It is apparent that a rethink of the Government's approach needs to be undertaken, in regards to advertising, broadcasting and distribution of information in relation to global warming, which facilitates a positive reaction and not an inflammatory, defensive and negative counter-response. We therefore need to increase awareness of the benefits of a low-carbon society, which adopts a localized, low-energy and sustainable lifestyle.

These benefits include:
  • Improved sense of community and belonging in your local area, due to more close-knitted communities, and the need to work together (similar to during the War period).
  • Reduced commuting/ travel times arising from localization encouraged through mixed-use developments.
  • Reduced bills through use of renewable energy technologies including solar panels and wind turbines.
  • Improved understanding and relationship with food and drink through greater use of self-grown fruits/ vegetables.
  • Greater emphasis on family, friends and relationships, reducing our obsession with technological goods/ products.
  • Health benefits, through reduced stress related to SBS syndrome, work related illnesses.
  • Sense of well being, satisfaction and positive optimism in light of response to achieving a sustainable lifestyle.
  • Diminished social pressures to attain a level of wealth through acquisition of material objects.
We need to make a conscious effort as individuals to adapt and change our lifestyle, shifting from one which is highly technological, and consumer driven, to an era of low energy, localized resource sourcing, stimulated by the need to reduce our carbon footprint to counteract the threat of global warming.

The article was written by Mark P Knight at Energy Measures, where more information on renewable energy technologies and articles can be found.

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CONSERVATION: Ecological Effects of the New Zealand Brushtail Possum

By Russell Dalzell

The Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) was first brought to New Zealand from Australia in 1837 with a view to establishing a fur trade. Until 1940 the possum was protected from hunting to maintain the population. However the possum was a very successful animal in New Zealand conditions. Without any natural predators the population quickly rose and the animals spread across much of the country.

With the rising numbers of possums the destruction of the native and exotic habitats which it invaded became more and more clear. When studies began to show that the possum was a major carrier of bovine tuberculosis and was implicated in the spread of the disease to farm animals, such as cattle and deer, the possum was finally recognised for the pest it certainly is in New Zealand.

Possums are omnivorous, feeding on trees, shrubs, pasture and even bird eggs and insects. They are selective browsers of native trees and alter the ecosystems in which they live. Possums strip the foliage from mature trees and then return to eat the new growth frequently with the result that the tree dies. They have also been filmed attacking Kiwi nests and eating the eggs and young.

The fur is quite unusual in that it is essentially a hollow tube that traps air which makes it by weight one of the lightest yet warmest natural furs on the market today. Possum fur won't freeze and is very similar to the fur of the Polar Bear. Unlike wool fibres the fur of the possum is smooth which gives that silky luxurious feeling like Mink.

The New Zealand Government through the Dept of Conservation has an active control programme mainly through the use of strategic drops of 1080 poison (sodium monofloroacetate). The bulk of the possums however are killed by private enterprise through trapping, poisoning and shooting. It is by this method that we see the biggest benefit to our flora and fauna as there is no bi-kill of other species. 1080 does tend to kill other species. Especially at risk are pet dogs or Wekas (native ground dwelling bird) feeding on poisoned carcases.

It is extremely important that private enterprise is encouraged to continue and by your purchase of a possum product you are doing your bit to help stem the tide of destruction in New Zealand. It is our intention that by educating people about the damage the New Zealand Brushtail Possum is doing to our environment we can help to save and protect many endangered species.

Russell Dalzell Possum Pam NZ Ltd October 2009. We are New Zealands leading supplier of possum products and we are actively involved in promoting the reduction of possum numbers in New Zealand.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

GREEN LIVING: Greensizing for Productivity - Green Strategies for Business Productivity

by Laura Stack

We all want to do our part to help the environment. But if you can give the Earth a break and increase your productivity at the same time, that's a real no-brainer! Luckily, a lot of the things you can do to help sustain the planet can help sustain your productivity as well. Read on for tips on how to green-size your life and get more done at the same time.

Use less paper. About 80 percent of papers that are filed are never referenced again. What a waste! A good solution? File less. An even better solution? Produce less paper to begin with. That doesn't mean you have to constantly inconvenience yourself or feel guilty about every sheet that comes off the printer. It just means you should think twice before you hit "print." Do you really need a paper copy of that e-mail message or status report?

Why you'll get more done: The less paper you allow into your day, the less time you'll spend managing it. I'm talking about filing things, shuffling them around, and tearing through the heaps to find what you need. Keeping less paper means you'll have an easier time finding the things that really matter and also eliminate some of the stress that inevitably comes from stacks of paper clutter.

Give your PC (and yourself) a rest. When was the last time you gave your PC a break? Letting it sit with the screensaver on doesn't count. I mean actually shutting it down, all the way. The next time you finish working for the day, turn your computer off (black screen, no blinking lights). You'll save energy and let the machine cool down for the night.

Why you'll get more done: Shutting down your PC at the end of the day not only saves electricity, but it can also work wonders for your personal energy level. It's easy enough to leave a computer untouched at the office, but I'll bet your home computer is buzzing away whenever someone is nearby.

This leads to technological burnout. You're constantly checking e-mail. Mindlessly surfing the web. Compulsively scanning social networking sites. The next thing you know it's deep into the night and you never really took time to unwind. Shutting the computer down means you'll be less likely to plop down in front of it for "just a minute" and more likely to accomplish things around the house, spend time relaxing with family, or go get some exercise.

Drive smart. Does it ever feel like you're losing time every day running errands or zipping around from appointment to appointment? If you think ahead, you might be able to consolidate all those quick trips into one or two longer outings, especially if you can batch them together based on where in town you need to go. Also consider making your regular commute outside of rush hour. You'll travel the same distance in a shorter time and pollute less along the way.

Why you'll get more done: Driving smarter isn't just going to save gas, money, and harmful emissions, but it's also going to save you time. Planning ahead and spending less time running around or stuck in traffic will do nothing but add precious productive minutes (or hours!) to your day.

Recycle and declutter. Don't you always feel better after getting rid of stuff? It doesn't matter if you're at home or the office, getting rid of clutter is always a liberating experience. Tackle problem areas one at a time by identifying clutter and dividing it into "storage," "trash," and "recycling" piles. Recycling can mean sending junk to a traditional recycling facility or simply passing items along to those who can make better use of them than you can. Sites like can help you find a good home for your unused stuff and local schools and libraries often have a need for any extra office supplies you may have lying around.

Why you'll get more done: Getting rid of clutter is just plain good for your state of mind, which is good for overall productivity. On top of that, getting rid of clutter will have the same effect as getting rid of paper - less junk to sort through, fewer storage hassles, and more space to live and work.

Travel less. Lots of companies learned this lesson from the recession, but there's an environmental impact as well. Is all of your business travel necessary? Think about the trips you take, whether they're across town or across the county. Would it be possible to get the work done remotely? Technology allows us to accomplish an awful lot from afar, from conference calls to complete virtual presentations. If you can manage to stay in town in a few instances where you'd usually pack up the car or hop on an airplane, you'll be doing Mother Nature and yourself a favor.

Why you'll get more done: Business trips can eat a lot of time. Sometimes you'll literally need to spend days on the road for the sake of engaging in a few hours of productive activity once you're there. Sure you can get work done on the go, but it isn't the same as being close to home base. Skipping an out-of-town trip or two can free you up to make a serious dent in your workload.

When you get down to it, greensizing is just a matter of paying a little more attention to the habits that you wouldn't usually give a second thought. Often, productivity is the same way. I hope you'll join me in thinking twice and finding simple ways to conserve not only precious resources but valuable time as well. The planet will thank you and you'll get more done. That's what I call a win-win.

Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, bestselling author, and professional speaker who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier(R) with Maximum Results in Minimum Time(TM). The website link MUST be clickable to receive permission to reprint the article.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

CONSERVATION: Tips For Landscaping In a Desert‏

by Jack Landry

Water is one of the most valuable resources in desert locations. By implementing xeriscaping in your yard you can use the problem of lack of water to your advantage, rather than fight against it.

Using xeriscaping in dry climates requires attention to various techniques such as proper plant selection, soil types, composts, mulch, and plant placement in an area. Below are some of the various aspects that need to be considered when deciding to use xeriscape landscaping.

We are all attracted to beautiful yards and gardens. But often grass, plants, and trees require vast amounts of water, a substance that is in short supply in desert locations.

To combine our love for nice yards and gardens with the need for water conservation we can turn to the technique of xeriscaping. The term xeriscaping, refers to an ecologically sound way to reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental irrigation.

The term xeriscape can be dissected down to a combination of two words. Xeros is Greek for dry.

Then it is combined with a portion of the word landscape. When you put these two parts of the word together you can identify that the word means "dry landscape."

Xeriscaping involves planning gardens that conserve water, or in other words, dry landscapes. Conserving water has become increasingly important as many desert areas are becoming more arid.

The first and most obvious way to conserve water in planned gardens is to select plants that do not require more water than the environment can naturally provide. Often the best choices are native plants.

The most practical method of landscaping in a desert is through use of native plants. Pick plants that are native to the place in which you are landscaping and they will easily take to the soil and grow in the dry climate.

The next important consideration involves soil type. In the past, landscaping in the desert meant replacement of a vast majority of natural soil and plants.

This was done so the selection of non-native plants and soil could survive in the arid climate that they might not be used to. When planning a garden using the xeriscaping method, it is important to choose soils or soil additives that can retain water.

On top of choosing a soil that can retain water, soil can be further improved by adding compost. The natural bacteria and fungi in compost will help to conserve water and give nutrients to the plants.

Composted soil becomes aerated when compost is mixed into the soil. Compost benefits soil by creating better water absorption and retention, increasing soil nutrients, and conserving water, which is the ultimate goal of xeriscape.

To help the soil conserve water and adhere to the purpose of xeriscaping it is also important to cover the areas near plants with mulch.

The purpose of mulch is to provide a barrier to the burning desert sun that can dry the soil and cause it to lose water through evaporation. In other words, the mulch holds the moisture into the soil that is below it.

In a desert setting, xeriscaping can save as much as fifty percent of water that could have been used in their garden. This can be accomplished when the right soil is combined with the right native plants.

After choosing native plants, you need to set out a plan. The new plants have to be divided according to their own level of water use and placed together. This is so that you can water just one area, which will save you time and money.

When using xeriscaping for landscaping in desert locations it is important to group plants together according to their water needs and place the plants with the greatest water consumption nearest the water sources. Xeriscaping requires careful selection of watering methods.

There are different ways to think of watering methods when planning landscaping in desert locations. The watering methods center on how to avoid water loss due to the burning sun.

The first method that is highly recommended is a drip system. This drip system allows water to be placed nearest the plant without having to travel through the air.

This method decreases evaporation, which decreases water consumption. On the contrary, sprinkler methods that shoot water through the air waste a considerable amount of water due to evaporation.

Water waste can be minimized by regulating the time of day when plants are watered. During midday when the sun is highest and the temperature is hottest the greatest water loss occurs.

In order to conserve water, it is best to avoid this time of day for watering. Xeriscaping is a great way to landscape your yard and will most likely save you time, money, and water.

Jack R. Landry is a former landscaping architect and has authored hundreds of articles relating to landscaping. He recommends ( as a landscaper in Las Vegas.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

CONSERVATION: The Eastern Shore of Virginia - Bringing Back the Natural Habitat

By K. Tucker

The Eastern Shore is the Virginia portion of the Delmarva Peninsula which separates the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. This area of land primarily consists of rural farmland which produces a multitude of agriculture products. Being located on the coast, the Eastern Shore is also a major producer of seafood in Virginia.

In order to protect and preserve the natural plants and animals in this region the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has set aside many areas of land, to include all of the barrier islands, as well as two areas of land located at the southern tip of the peninsula which are called the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge and Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge.

This land is being preserved to be a haven for plants and wildlife. These refuges are important to native and migratory land birds and waterfowl. It is imperative that this natural habitat be restored and preserved in order to sustain healthy wildlife populations in these areas.

Exotic invasive plants and organisms can be detrimental to any habitat because they can outcompete and drive away native species. One such invasive plant that has done this is Phragmites australias. When Phragmites invades a wetland it out competes and suffocates the native marsh plants, eliminating that vital habitat for wildlife. Phragmites itself, because of its dense patterns of growth, provides a generally poor habitat for wildlife. It tends to dominate and create a monoculture, thus eliminating essential plant diversity.

In order to restore this habitat, a program of herbicide applications to affected areas has been undertaken to minimize and ultimately eliminate the Phragmites populations in these areas.

By design, these areas are uninhabited and in some cases, completely off limits to man, so accessibility is quite challenging. Amphibious vehicles and other specialty equipment are an essential part of any ground attack on this vegetative invader.

A certified aquatic pesticide applicator in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, and as such, was contracted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in a partnership with helicopter applicators to provide the ground application resources required to treat the areas of Phragmites growth that was not able to be treated through aerial applications. They used GPS mapping technologies to document and provide detailed maps and aerial photography of the areas in which the Phragmites was treated.

Not only did this allow the customer to quantify the acreage of areas treated and evaluate the costs of the project, it also allowed them to track the progress of the program as compared to previous years. The density of the Phragmites after the first year's treatment has been decreased, and much of the natural vegetation has started to recover and return to the areas that were once dominated by Phragmites.

As anyone familiar with Phragmites, its durability, and its extremely aggressive patterns of growth can attest, this will be an ongoing effort that will likely take many years. However, with the right treatment, and the proper tools and technology, we are able to make great strides towards our goals of eradication of the Phragmites and the restoration of this beautiful natural habitat.

Kevin Tucker is the president of Virginia Lake Management Company, specializing in pond and Virginia lake management. VLM also controls pond management interests in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and North Carolina.

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ZEITGEIST: What Does the Green Movement Mean to You?

By Barret Hudson

What does the green movement mean to you? This may seem like a silly question, but it's a question I have been asking myself lately. There is really no rite answer to this question; it is simply a way of thinking about the hundreds of different things that have become part of the green movement and what is most important in them. An interesting experiment I did was to Google the terms green movement and my home town and sees what comes up. Here in Austin Texas this Google search brings up an interesting series of results.

The first thing that comes up is an article about a concert celebrating the green movement in Austin. If you know about Austin this makes some sense, as the self proclaimed music capital of the world we have a concert for just about everything. The sponsor of this green concert was the Yellow Bike Collective, a local group that advocates for bicyclist rites and increasing the ease of transit by bicycle around town. They are a great organization and have done good things for the local biking community here in Austin, but I don't know that they would qualify as the epitome of the Austin green movement in my mind. While increase the number of people using bikes as a primary means of transportation does take cars of the road and decrease pollution, it is just one piece of a large puzzle.

Second on the list is the Travis Count Green Party. Clearly they should be high on the list as they appear to be leaders in the local green movement from a government standpoint. However I was disappointed when I looked at their sight and found out that none of their top three key values are related to the environment or environmental concerns. Shouldn't this movement be about the environment more than anything else? Several of their other key values are environmentally related but are very vague on exactly what their stance is on important environmental issues. The green party seems to be taking it's namely loosely and not sticking to a platform of environment first, more like environment fourth. While none of its key values are anti-environment, the green party is perhaps not as green as I would have liked.

All in all someone trying to find out what the green movement in Austin is all about wouldn't get a very good picture from the first page of search results on Google. They would certainly understand that there are several local groups supporting bike transportation and delivery to reduce emissions. They will also find responses from Realtors to the recent home energy regulations put in place, most of which are critical of the city's plan to increase energy efficiency. What does this say about our lovely little city that likes to think of itself as a haven for green living in Texas?

I think the Austin green movement is more than these search results would tell you, and I did skip over one brief article that talks about Austin as a leader in the green building sector, but the fact still remains that the information available online largely doesn't match up with what I think of when I think of the green movement. This is a symptom of an ever increasing ambiguity in the movement and this problem is only going to get worse. With the predictions for a coming "greenconomy" and more money being pumped into anything that can spin itself as part of the green movement by the day, the race is on to get in on the green goodness.

The green movement, whatever it is, is growing. The zeitgeist of the times is more environmentally minded then anytime in recent history and it shows. I encourage you to think critically about what the green movement is, what it means, and what it should be. Let us not forget in the rush that the movement should be about the environment above everything else.

About the Author: Barret Hudson is a representative of Green Collar Operations, a home weatherization company in Austin, TX. We specialize in home energy efficiency improvements. More information at

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ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS: The Importance of Developing Countries in Climate Change Initiatives

By Barret Hudson

There has been a lot of talk surrounding the recent G8 summits and the unwillingness of developing countries to join in on environmental programs. It may not seem that important to include these developing economies in a climate control plan. Given the current statistics about energy use and pollution creation in which the US and other developed countries top the list it stands to reason that what the developing world is doing isn't that important. However, there are several key factors that are not being considered that make the developing countries of the world a very important part of any global climate change discussion.

First off, as we in the US are seeing now, once you have an established method of power generation, it becomes more difficult to change. The life cycle of a power plant is very long and it takes much of this lifecycle to recoup the costs of development. This means that power plants being developed today in developing countries to meet their growing electrical needs will still be in use 25 years from now. It is much easier to start out producing clean energy then it is to transfer to it after the fact. If developing countries continue to use dirty power generation to meet demand today, everyone will pay the price in the long run.

The second reason that we must be concerned about power generation in developing countries is the size of the populations in many of these countries. As countries like India and China start using more energy on a per-capita basis and approach the levels of more developed countries there is going to be a huge demand for electricity generation due to the massive size of their populations. If allowed to continue to meet this demand with dirty power generation methods they will over time create a huge pollution problem, the effects of which will be felt everywhere in the world.

If allowed to continue unchecked, the increase in dirty power generation in the developing world will offset any reductions in pollution made in developed countries. The world cannot afford to continue producing pollution at current levels, the goal of any environmental plan as to be to reduce global emissions. These developing countries are therefore a huge threat to any environmental program that is really trying to fix the problem. This is not to say that the developed countries in the world shouldn't reduce their emissions if developing countries don't agree to as well. Any effort to reduce emissions is better than none. However, it is important to get the support of developing countries in stopping global climate change. Without their help, nothing we do can truly stop the problem, it will just put it off.

About the Author: Barret Hudson is a representative of Green Collar Operations, a home weatherization company in Austin, TX. We specialize in home energy efficiency improvements. More information at

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