Sunday, November 29, 2009

GREEN LIVING: Green Building - A Look at Water Efficiency and WaterSense

By Thomas Ajava

The green building revolution is often promoted with a focus on two subjects - energy efficiency and reduced emissions. While both are obviously important, the issue of water efficiency is one that should not be pushed aside.

What is the greatest threat to our way of life in the next 100 years? The idea of oil depletion is certainly a concern. In synchronicity with this is the idea of climate change radically changing the planet. Both of these ideas have a certain glamour to them, if horrifically so, and garner the most media attention. There is, however, another problem that we are facing even now that gets little attention - water shortages. Cities such as Atlanta, San Diego and a host of others all are suffering through such shortages to one extent or another.

How much water do you think you use in a day? 5 gallons? 10 gallons? 50? Not even close. If you are like the average American, you use a whopping 100 gallons a day. That is the equivalent of over 1,500 glasses of water each day! That's a lot of water. The demand has also put a huge strain on our current water supplies. One need look no further than the mighty Colorado River which is so overused that it no longer makes it the Pacific Ocean anymore.

Water usage is becoming a huge issue across the country and the globe. There are many federal and state issues involved, but green building advocates take a different approach. The basic idea is to label and support products that improve water efficiency in the home. The EPA has joined in and given the program the name "WaterSense".

Products that come with the WaterSense label are similar to those with the Energy Star label. They represent a high level of efficiency, with water use replacing energy use. The primary focus is on the two biggest wasters - toilets and faucets. WaterSense compliant products work on low flow concepts and can save as much as 18,000 gallons of water use in the average home each year.

More than a few people feel that small changes in the household really don't help that much when it comes to saving energy. In the case of water efficiency, this simply isn't true. We waste so much water each day that even small changes can save huge amounts of this resource that is under so much pressure. This is why water efficiency and the WaterSense program have become an accepted part of green building.

Thomas Ajava writes green building articles for the directory

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

SOLAR ENERGY: Future Solar Power - Will Our Cars Be Next?

By Keith Elliott

When it comes to solar energy of the future, we are going to have to start thinking outside the box. In fact, we are going to have to forget that there ever was a box at all. What we are used to seeing today, such things as roofs adorned with rectangular solar panels, or small garden solar lights, solar powered handbags and so on - all these things will become museum pieces.

Put on your thinking cap of the future and dream along with me for a few minutes while we sort out the world's energy problems.

We have become so used to having unlimited energy at our beck and call, that the first thing we will have to fix is our attitude. With the current energy systems that we use, continuing on the present path is nothing more than a recipe for disaster. Not only environmentally, but financially as well.

We seem to have some particular need to drive 300 h.p. vehicles. Why? Most cars could reach any posted speed limit with 20 h.p., so why the need for such excess. Don't believe me? Do you remember the old VW of years ago? It had a 36 h.p. engine and could easily exceed any posted speed limit of today. No, I'm not selling old VW's, but if it could be done 50 years ago, why could it not be done far more efficiently today?

The one thing we must not forget is this...every time we consume 1 gallon of gasoline, there will be one less gallon available for future use. We may find in future that gasoline will have a more beneficial use to us than moving a 3,500 lb car around with a single occupant. In fact, would you not think that future governments might ban such an activity? Think about that for a minute. What would you do if that happened?

In case you think that is out of the question, consider what has already been done with H.O.V. (high occupancy vehicle) lanes for the past couple of decades. The only single occupant vehicles (S.O.V.) which will be allowed will need to be powered by alternative energy. Is that really so bad? No, of course it isn't. In fact, we need to get behind anyone and everyone who is working in this direction.

There are plans afoot for several electric vehicles. All of these use present technology, and most can deliver a mileage cost compared to gasoline powered cars at about 75 cents per gallon. Depending on where you are gasoline may run anywhere between $2.50 and $4.50 a gallon (more in Europe) so the electric vehicle will have a considerably lower fuel cost. This cost is based on current utility prices (2009) being used to re-charge the electric vehicle's batteries.

The future will see not only electric vehicles in abundance, but they will be lighter, have better batteries for energy storage, and will be re-charged at home with personal solar power re-charging stations. All these things will go a long way toward reducing our carbon footprint, which, in case you have forgotten, is one of the primary reasons for getting away from fossil fuels in the first place.

And how about this for an idea, every exterior surface on the car would use some sort of energy absorbing material which would convert sunlight into usable power. So, while you are sitting in your favorite coffee shop, your car is being re-charged courtesy of the sun.

And no matter what store or mall you went to, a plug in would be available to charge your car while you were shopping. For free yet, no charge!

In case that sounds implausible, let's figure out why that would be really good for business. Can you imagine one mall offering free plug-ins and the next not? Where would you shop? Yes, that's right, your "fuel" to get home again would tip the scale in favor of the forward thinking mall. Not only that, there would be pride of place parking spots for electric cars, right in front of the store. Gas powered cars would be relegated to the back rows.

And where would this power come from? Why, the roof of the mall itself, which would be covered with the solar panel of the future. And for those windy days, pop-up mini wind turbines would rise up into the wind to capture extra kilowatts. Store windows will have embedded solar capacity right in the glass. Building materials used for cladding exteriors will have solar coverings, adding yet more energy to the mix. The very parking lots themselves will generate electricity. The list surely is endless.

When the day arrives that big cities adopt a more futuristic approach to street parking, what do you suppose might happen? You arrive downtown and wish to park your electric car. Your chosen parking space has an electric plug in for your car, there is no charge for this. Not only that, but the parking itself is free! Never happen you say? Not already is in London, England.

Do you play golf? Do you drive a golf cart? Where does it get re-charged? See if you can get your golf club to install a solar powered charging system. Everything that we remove from grid power is another step in the right direction.

None of these things will happen on their own. We all need to take stock of our present energy "load" and see what we can do to switch from fossil fuel to sun power. See what you can come up with on your own that can be powered by the sun. An electric lawn mower perhaps? You can get some help with generating electricity from the sun by visiting here.

Keith Elliott is a retired builder with interests in Astronomy, Architecture, Japanese Gardening, Photography, Writing, Woodworking and anything else that doesn't move. He has been living with solar energy for more than a decade.

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Do We Have a Water Crisis on Our Planet?

By Dave Bricks

To someone living in the Middle East, water is a precious commodity. To someone living in the United States, it is almost seen as an entitlement. We can see wars being fought in the future over water, just like they are now fought over oil. There may seem like an endless supply, but usable water is far different than the water in our oceans.

Global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps is elevating sea levels, some say, but this is salt water, and unless it undergoes desalination it is useless for most applications necessary for sustaining life. In the United States, there are efforts underway to conserve water.

There are systems which can take water which has been used for one purpose and make it usable for another, the so-called gray water. Sometimes this water can be used for irrigation, or in households it can be recycled and used for flushing toilets. Easier ways for us to conserve water are by getting low flow toilets and low flow shower heads. These use less water but still function the way they should. As time goes by, things which at first merely looked good on paper, but just didn't work that well, have gotten much better.

People aren't going to buy a low flow toilet if it doesn't flush that well! And water pressure is key for some people in their showers. Other simple things can be done to save water, like watering your lawn at certain times in the morning or evening to avoid the full impact of the suns rays. If you are washing your car, turn off that hose while you soap it up and scrub it! If you wash dishes in the sink and leave that faucet running, it is a total waste of water. If you have a leaky faucet, fix it or stick a bowl under it and catch that water, and use it for your plants!

We should think if the general population could see how much of an impact this wastefulness has, and if they could see people in other countries who don't have enough water, they would be more apt to try to conserve. Human beings everywhere need water to live, that's the plain and simple truth. The amount that is wasted is staggering. Unfortunately, its just another thing we take for granted.

Do you want to find the best tips and resources around home water coolers and much more? Then come to my website and find out.

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CORPORATE POWER: Green Airline - US Airline Tests Green Plane

By Rich Hessler

Thanks to the outrageous price of petroleum last year, airlines are now looking at ways to reduce fuel needs and consumption. The world's largest airline, Southwest, said it is testing a green plane. It is a modified 737 with green changes throughout the plane. Some of the changes include carpet and seat covers.

The carpet will be in pieces and made out of recyclable material, allowing Southwest to replace sections of the carpet instead of all the carpet. In addition, the seat covers are twice as durable, meaning that they will need to be replaced half the time, saving on carbon emissions and landfill-space. Also, the life-vests are smaller and lighter, saving on fuel costs and also offering more leg-space.

Although Southwest claims to be doing this to be green, the real reason is to save money on jet-fuel costs. By reducing the materials in each seat by 5 lbs, each plane will save approximately 9,500 gallons of fuel. This equates to $19,000 a year per place, or $10.3 million a year.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moved Southwest Airlines to number 23 on the Environmental Protection Agency Fortune 500 Green companies. In addition, the company purchased 16 million kW of renewable electricity.

With this commitment, Southwest is working hard to be green. Even if climate change is not happening (as many claim), it is still important to clean up non-carbon dioxide emissions such as nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide. By using clean electricity and reducing fuel consumption, Southwest is helping to make this a reality.
Green Airline - US Airline Tests Green Plane.

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ZEITGEIST: The Negative Effects of Technology on the Planet - Our Cultural Vision is Driving the Destruction

By Thomas Maurer

The negative effects of technology are numerous. In our march to progress we have degraded the natural world. Forests are chopped down, topsoil is washed away, rivers are polluted and our waste is dumped in the oceans.

On the surface this appears to be a relatively recent problem. If we went back 100 or 200 years it would seem that mankind treads quite lightly on the planet. On face value the culprit is industrial technology. However this is not the case. The culprit is our cultural vision; our cultural vision wields technology in a destructive fashion.

Prior to civilization all cultures on the planet saw themselves as belonging to the world; they were a part of it. These cultures had varying degrees of technology. Some were very primitive, others quite complex.

But the negative effects of technology were non existent. All technology was exercised within certain natural laws. Civilization changed this. Instead of seeing man as a part of nature people saw man as a separate and higher order of being. Thus the rest of nature merely existed as a resource for man's benefit.

Due to this world-view civilization used their technology to subjugate nature. Indigenous societies never did this. Using technology in order to bend nature to man's will is what creates negative effects. The negative effects of technology are not inherent in the technology itself; it is what we use it for that is the issue.

For most of civilization's history the negative effects of technology were localized. When the Phoenicians destroyed the forests of what is now Lebanon the trauma was local. When the Greeks and Romans collapsed due to the exploitation of their land with advanced technology the effect was local.

Destruction of the natural environment has been taking place since the birth of civilization yet it is only now that we are seeing it on a global scale. Our industrial technology has progressed to the point where we can do more damage in 100 years than we could in 10,000. But again this is not a problem of the technology. It is the fact that our cultural vision sees us as separate from nature that allows us to destroy it.

Nobody knows if industrial technology is sustainable because we have never used it in a sustainable manner. But perhaps it is possible to do so.

The way our culture operates is unsustainable. If we cannot find a way to operate a complex society within natural laws then we will inevitably return to a much simpler existence. We cannot blame technology for our own shortcomings. We are holding the technology so it is up to us to use it for good and not for the destruction of the planet.

About The Author

Thomas is a writer whose passion is Deep Ecology. This is a world-view that sees a value in nature regardless of its usefulness to humans. It is partly about saving the world but primarily about creating a better place for humans to live. Living as part of the community of life and not apart from it is a much richer and more satisfying way of life. When people live this way the effects of technology on society and on the planet are only positive.

For free articles, videos, books, interviews and more visit Deep Ecology Hub.

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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH: Carbon Offsets - The Voluntary Market and Its Failings

By Ben Beiny

Carbon offsetting is the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, through projects which range from planting trees to distributing energy-saving light bulbs. There are two main types of offset: Regulated and voluntary. As the name suggests, regulated offsets must be in line with the rules laid out by the Kyoto Protocol. These regulations are known as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and contain two important points:

1. The carbon offset must produce measurable and authentic reductions in the emission of greenhouse gases.
2. The carbon offset must be an activity which would not otherwise have happened (known as additional).

However, voluntary offsets do not adhere to a given standard. Instead, each voluntary offset provider will often write their own guidelines or rules. This leads to differences in quality and a rising controversy over many of the offsets within the voluntary sector.

Ultimately, carbon offsets are not going to stop climate change; besides every other issue, it just isn't a sustainable activity. To date, offsets have found most success as a marketing tool for corporates who want to go "carbon neutral". They can continue to emit, then offset in a way which is unclear, and finally claim carbon neutral status - adding green credentials to their products which show the customer how responsible they are. Carbon offset companies place disproportionate emphasis on the impact of the individual on the environment, constantly reminding you to "measure your carbon footprint", but neglecting to tell you that your emissions are minimal compared to say, the cement industry, which accounts for more than 5% of all man-made CO2 emissions in the world.

There are much more effective ways to have a positive impact, without 95% of your money going to profits and overheads of offset companies. Energy efficiency in your home, in your car and in your lifestyle is a good start. Investing in renewable technology for your communities or homes through a scheme like those in the grant section is another good option. Carbon offsets are becoming a distraction from major issues on climate change: campaigning for governments and the multi-national companies that fund them to sign up to binding targets which really carry some weight could well be a better use of your time.

For more information and insight into climate change, carbon offsets and energy - or simply to download the Spanish feed in tariffs visit our educational climate site here:

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CLIMATE CHANGE: America's Addiction to Oil

By Robert James Duvall

When President George W. Bush proclaimed that "America is addicted to oil" during his 2006 State of the Union address, he prompted a new national discussion of one of the country's most critical issues. Although Americans represent only 5 percent of the world's population, they consume 25 percent of the worlds oil production, mostly in the form of vehicle fuel. This consumption shows no sign off letting up; each year Americans use even more oil than the year before.

Although Americans are the leaders in global energy use, the rest of the world is showing signs of catching up. Growth in the populations and economies of China and India put them on course to rival the United States' energy use in the future. The global rate of oil consumption, some 84 million barrels a day and growing-will not be sustainable forever. Although experts debate how much oil remains, all agree that it will eventually run out.

Kicking the Fossil Fuel Habit

As Americans become aware of the need to find alternatives to oil to provide energy for all the activities of daily life, there are fears that this awareness may be too late. Even with a new call to action, many industry experts believe there may not be time to ramp up technology quickly enough to support energy alternatives by the time fossil fuels begin to run dry.

Despite fears that alternatives have been slow to catch on, many new energy technologies are gaining momentum, slowly eating away at fossil fuels' energy dominance. These renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, and geothermal power, are growing at rates of from 20 to 60 percent each year. If this growth continues, optimistic estimates show that it may be possible for renewable energy to account for half of the world's energy use by 2040.

Expanding the use of renewable energy is also considered critical for the long-term health of the plant. Fossil fuels have been responsible for a host of environmental ills from acid rain to global warming. Many environmentalists believe that kicking the fossil fuel habit before damage to the planet is irreversible should be a global priority.

The quest to develop affordable, effective alternatives to fossil fuels may be one of the most challenging technological tasks in human history. Fortunately, scientists all over the world are up to the challenge, working to uncover the next alternative energy breakthroughs. Supporting their efforts are individuals everywhere who do their part to conserve energy and limit their own use of nonrenewable fossil fuels.

Find out how you can help save the environment by living a greener lifestyle. Living Green helps people make their homes green with Solar Energy, for great prices on Kyocera Solar Panels, check out living green.

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ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS: Copenhagen at the Crossroads - Adaptation Or Mitigation?

By Klaus H Hemsath

The Copenhagen Climate Conference 2009 was intended to commit world governments to a common purpose and approach on reducing climate changes. Already before the meeting, it is becoming obvious that such an agreement cannot be reached. The reason is simple; the concept of the Kyoto Treaty is deeply flawed and more and more countries are urged by their citizens to find more effective and more agreeable provisions for a new treaty.

Such a worldwide pact must treat every country fairly and must take into account past practices and missteps. Scientific evidence has become undeniable; the Earth is getting warmer and climate changes are proliferating. Consensus is building that a worldwide arrangement must be arrived at that initially halts further warming and that eventually restores historic climate conditions when such restoration becomes economically and technologically feasible.

The Copenhagen meeting is unable to decide on future countermeasures because many nations feel uncomfortable consenting to binding provisions that aim at the reduction of energy consumption in all participating nations. The general apprehension and distrust is based on past history; the wealthiest nations are pushing the hardest for energy reduction but cannot agree on energy reduction targets and cannot achieve targets previous agreed upon.

Additionally, there is general unease; will the rationing of energy lead to a slowdown of national economies? World populations are continuing to grow. National economies must keep pace and governments cannot dare to take the chance of strangling domestic growth. How should Copenhagen or a subsequent convention respond?

Fortunately, at least one workable solution is beginning to take shape. This is the concept of turning back the clock; reducing today's excessive carbon dioxide concentration back to historic levels. For thousands of years, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were maintained by Mother Nature at 280 ppm. Historic climate conditions can be reestablished with certainty if we can get back to this magic level and can do so in the near future.

A new environmental movement has sprung up that is trying to impress upon the world's governments that atmospheric concentrations have to be returned to 350 ppm. This movement, which calls itself, has the right concept. If we are able to reduce carbon dioxide levels to 350 ppm from higher levels, we will automatically be able to reach lower levels, too. The challenge of being able to save Earth from overheating, therefore, comes down to resolving several, important questions.

What technologies must be available for reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration? How can the world community agree upon an equitable and fair approach to significantly reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions, restore them close to historic levels, prevent the slowing down of world economies, distribute the responsibility for cleanup judiciously, and allow younger nations to catch up to energy use levels of industrialized countries?

Fortunately, scientists, inventors, and investors have accumulated an astonishing armory of technologies and equipment for converting and utilizing energy.

However, the assortment of technologies needed for first arresting and subsequently reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is not complete, yet. Several technologies must be advanced before they become usable. Others must be developed entirely.

Technologies for storing large quantities of electric energy, for reducing the cost of electricity from solar energy and wind energy, for growing huge quantities of biomass without threatening food crop agriculture, and for converting biomass into petroleum substitutes must be developed to stop the destructive use of fossil fuels.

Scientists and technologist can, however not stop there. Completely different technologies are needed for retrieving carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The very low concentration of carbon dioxide, which is so powerful in causing global overheating, is thermodynamically not suited at all for economic recovery and sequestration of this pollutant.

New inventions are required to provide such a much needed technology for restoring historic carbon dioxide levels.

Can scientists, technologists, inventors, and investors respond in time? This is a judgment call. This author believes that at least one decade is needed for getting missing energy technologies developed and readied for installation. Private industry will not be able to provide the early funding for developing very expensive and risky concepts. Industry will get involved only after developments have reached a stage, at which risks can be quantified.

A major national or international agency must be formed to tackle the formidable challenges, which need to be resolved before Earth can be saved.

The agency must be committed to a very tightly written mission: - Develop and prepare the implementation of a worldwide plan that will develop novel energy conversion systems, which will halt global warming and which will be capable of furnishing plentiful, affordable, and secure energy supplies for the next few centuries without slowing world economies or harming the environment.

Funding required for such an agency will be comparatively small when measured against past, huge, and worthless efforts related to technology developments for combating climate changes.

Dr. Hemsath's books, Climate Change-Gold Rush or Disaster? and Clean Energy For Centuries, offer a comprehensive plan for saving Earth from overheating. He is now writing a follow-on book, Petroleum Substitutes From Biomass. For fifty years he has worked on advanced energy technologies as scientist, engineer, inventor, Corporate R&D Executive, CEO, entrepreneur, and author. He holds more than 60 US Patents.


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Friday, November 20, 2009

CLIMATE CHANGE: Kyoto Protocol in the Limelight

By Klaus H Hemsath

Representatives of the 16 largest greenhouse gas emitting countries, who met in preparation for the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Conference 2009, concluded that they had settled on the architecture of an agreement in Copenhagen. They also admitted that a binding treaty was unlikely.

The problems in Copenhagen are proving once more that the concepts, which are the foundation of the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, are not suited for arresting continuing global warming and cannot be adapted to the realities of energy demands of fast growing economies at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Instead, world governments must find a concept that will solve several intertwined problems. Some of these issues are threatening the very existence of world economies and must be dealt with very soon or the world will experience severe and irreversible damages.

What are these threats? - Global overheating. - Worldwide recessions and depressions. - Rising sea levels. - Climate changes. - Species extinction. - Fast rising electricity and transportation fuel prices.

If the Kyoto concept does not work, what alternatives promise to deliver better, longer lasting, and more effective results for boosting economies?

The Kyoto Protocol is based on reducing energy consumption. Two consequences of this approach are inescapable; greenhouse gas emissions will be slowed but cannot be stopped. Energy costs will rise.

Global overheating can be prevented only, if all emissions from fossil fuel burning are stopped completely and permanently! Committing suicide in a closed garage will be as successful in an idling truck as in a compact car.

But how realistic is a total replacement of all fossil fuel generated electric power with nuclear heat, solar energy, marine power, and geothermal heat? How realistic is a complete substitution of all petroleum with non-polluting alternate fuels?

In a new book entitled "Clean Energy for Centuries" these questions are answered in greater detail. The book points out that a few energy storage and conversion technologies must still be developed or advanced before abundant and affordable electric energy and a petroleum substitute can be produced. A major challenge will be the development of techniques to grow the huge amounts of biomass that will be needed for the production of transportation fuels.

The book also admonishes that such a drastic changeover from fossil energies to clean, pollution free energies will take a very long time to implement.

On the other hand, scientific consensus is building that global warming should not exceed two degrees Celsius or three and one half degrees Fahrenheit.

When these two constraints are combined, one can conclude that the world has about fifty years left to completely change the production of its two major energy supplies.

Fifty years are not very many if one considers that the USA has been trying to deal with its untenable energy situation since 1973. During the last twenty six years, huge amounts of money have been spent on all kinds of energy related programs. Results have been few and far between.

The U.S. needs to establish an agency with a tightly defined mission. It must be charged with developing the plans and the technologies that will make the U.S. energy independent, will stop global warming, and will replace all air pollution emitting industrial and commercial processes. These types of technologies can make the U.S. again a leader in providing world markets with facilities that provide clean energies for centuries.

Once the most urgently needed technologies become available, an additional task needs to be tackled; the restoration of the Earth's atmosphere. Carbon dioxide can be removed from the atmosphere after novel energy conversion and restoration processes become available.

When related technologies become accessible and prove to be economically feasible, the major stumbling block of past climate negotiations can be removed. Each country can then be committed to remove the carbon dioxide emissions it has discharged into the atmosphere during its history. Realistically, such an effort will last decades. However, such an effort must be expended eventually.

Ice melting is only partly caused by increases of global temperatures. Historically high concentrations of carbon dioxide will independently increase heat transfer rates from the atmosphere to ice deposits on mountains and in Polar Regions and will accelerate melting.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and global temperatures must both be restored to historic levels, if a slow but continuing inundation of large coastal lands all across the world is to be avoided.

Dr. Hemsath's books, Climate Change-Gold Rush or Disaster? and Clean Energy For Centuries, offer a comprehensive plan for saving Earth from overheating. He is now writing a follow-on book, Petroleum Substitutes From Biomass. For fifty years he has worked on advanced energy technologies as scientist, engineer, inventor, Corporate R&D Executive, CEO, entrepreneur, and author. He holds more than 60 US Patents. Go to

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ZEITGEIST: Healing Mother Earth - What Women Can Do

By Padma Hassaram

Going green is the new mantra as humanity grapples with the most serious challenge to its continued existence. What can we, as women, do to save our environment?

In primitive times, women were the first environmentalists. Observing nature's growth processes, they harnessed this knowledge for agricultural practice. Since survival was precarious, natural resources were carefully husbanded. Waste was not an option. Now more than ever, it's time to hark back to those women of old, feel their respect and love for the earth and translate that feeling into action.

Catch 'em young

Small children are the most receptive to ideas - teach them early to think green:

· Get your toddler to turn off the tap while brushing his teeth and open it only for rinsing his mouth.
· A mug and one bucketful of water is all she needs for a bath. When your child learns to soap and wash herself, not only will she have saved several litres of water, she'll also have boosted her self-esteem.
· School craft project? A kitchen-towel cardboard holder becomes a kaleidoscope; an aluminium can becomes a colourful crayon holder. A paper soapbox morphs into a camera, an orphaned sock into a hand puppet. Strips of decorated cardboard make pretty picture frames. Fire your child's creativity, while instilling in her the lifelong habit of reusing materials.

Green kitchen

Adopting green practices in the kitchen will help save both the environment and your health.

· Why not bake cakes and cookies at home or have a go at jam making? Also, get yourself a juicer and make fresh fruit juice. When you buy these products form stores, you also pick up a whole lot of throwaway packaging. Besides, the products are also loaded with chemicals and preservatives - say no to them.

· Buy organic food products. Is there a local farmer's market? Support them in their enterprise. Organic is more expensive, we know. But saving the earth will be cheaper in the long run!

· Large-scale agriculture to feed animals is a wasteful, energy-gobbling enterprise. Dump the corned beef and go vegan with a vengeance. Experiment with new cuisines; surprise your family and friends with your newfound expertise, and do spread the word.

· Your kitchen cabinet can double up as an occasional medicine chest and cosmetic counter. Ginger-infused tea eases a sore throat; water of boiled cumin seeds helps indigestion. Chickpea flour makes a chemical-free facial scrub, while a mash of oatmeal, papaya, yoghurt and honey is an instant skin softener. The result: great skin, no trash!

Energy and Water

· Do an 'energy audit' of your home and put in fuel-and-power saving measures. Besides going in for big energy-savers like CFL bulbs or solar panels, the simplest acts - switching off lights and not leaving gadgets on standby power - can save enormous amounts of energy. Also, maximise the use of dishwashers and clothes washers by ensuring a full load.
· Is your home leak-proofed? Use low-flow toilet cisterns - a brick in the cistern will save even more water. Use water conservatively even when staying at a hotel.

Garden green

· Using mulch around plants helps them to retain moisture effectively.
· Watering plants early in the morning or late evening minimises evaporation.
· Create a vermicomposting pit. Wet garbage gets disposed of, and your plants get Grade-A, organic fertiliser for free.

Kudos to these ladies who have done their bit

Over the years, women around the world have contributed enormously to the growth of environmental consciousness and the urgent need to address those issues that threaten to destroy life on earth.

Rachel Carson, scientist and writer, authored Silent Spring, the book which jolted the world awake to the terrible impact of pesticides on environment. Every year, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd, thanks to her seminal work.

Wangari Maathai's battle against deforestation in Kenya and her efforts to organize poor village women in reforestation, fighting soil erosion and pollution of water so as to achieve a sustainable livelihood, won her a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

There are others, unknown and unlettered women, who have battled against the degradation of their environment by powerful governments and corporates. The women of Minamata, Japan, who battled against mercury poisoning in their fishing village. The poor village women of Uttaranchal, India, who hugged trees to prevent their forests from being clear-felled by contractors, asserting their primary right to use forest produce sustainably...the list goes on.

Most of us are not activists. But we can all contribute in our own ways. Whether it's organizing carpools, choosing to walk, bike or use public transport and remembering to carry a cloth shopping bag to the grocery, there's no area in our lives where we cannot think green. You may start small, but remember, every little effort gives the earth a chance to heal.

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ZEITIGEIST: Deep Ecology - An Old Idea That Could Save Us All

by Thomas Maurer

Before the rise of civilization the world was populated with tens of thousands of different cultures. Each one of these cultures had a common thread. They all believed that man belonged to the world. Not a single one of them thought that the world belonged to man. Although they would never have used this term all of these cultures had a deep ecological view of the world.

They saw value in nature for its own sake. The world was not cut up, divided and measured into how useful it was for man. The forests were good in their own right regardless of the fact that they provided us with firewood and building materials.

Civilization changed this. One culture out of the tens of thousands decided that the world belonged to man. It was ours by right. Suddenly in their eyes the world became one big farm for human food. A new way of life was born. The people of civilization sought to turn as much of the land as possible into producing human food. The more food they produced the more people they could support. As their population grew they expanded geographically. From one tiny starting point in the Fertile Crescent civilization spread across the entire globe. All in a mere 10,000 years.

Tribal cultures were sustainable because their vision meant they did not devour the world. They did not see the world as theirs so they did not turn the world all into human food. Their vision of man belonging to the world meant they were happy just to take what they needed and let the rest of creation do its own thing. They did not seek to control nature and obtain mastery over the planet.

Our civilization at its very core is unsustainable. Our destructive nature is caused by this vision that the world is ours by right. Whenever we cut down a forest to turn it into farmland we are displacing other life forms. But we do not think about that. Of course we can cut down the forest. Who cares about the birds and insects; they do not own the forest, we do. For 10,000 years we have been adding more human mass to the planet and at an equal rate non-human life has been disappearing.

Now as the human population grows faster than ever other species are dying out at an alarming rate. 200 species a day are becoming extinct. Our place at the top of the food chain is preserved only by maintaining the integrity of the earth's ecosystem as a whole. The more we destroy the other life forms that support us the more likely it is that the structure of the ecosystem will crumble. The straw that breaks the camels back is not that far away.

What To Do?

Most of the environmental messages you hear today are messages of shallow ecology. Recycle, ride your bike, do not use plastic bags, do not waste paper etc etc. Shallow ecology realizes that we are destroying the planet. So it encourages us to refrain from that - but only so we can continue to own it and exercise our control over it.

Deep ecology advocates a change at the fundamental level of our culture. Recycling will not save us. Changing the vision, seeing ourselves as a part of the community of life is what needs to change.

Change the vision and the actions will naturally follow. But try and mitigate a destructive vision with minor actions like Eco-friendly light bulbs and you will fail.

Thomas is a writer whose passion is Deep Ecology. This is a world-view that sees a value in nature regardless of its usefulness to humans. It is partly about saving the world but primarily about creating a better place for humans to live. Living as part of the community of life and not apart from it is a much richer and more satisfying way of life.

For more free articles, videos, books, interviews and more visit Deep Ecology Hub

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ALTERNATIVE ENERGY: Implementation of Alternate Energy - The Role of the Government

By Ron Harene

However much the people of America may appreciate the need to switch over to alternate energy sources, it cannot become a reality unless the federal, state and local governments work in conjunction to make several mandatory programs.

These include that all homes that are under construction or being remodeled must use alternative energy sources. Ultimately a time would come when all homes as well as corporate buildings would use alternate energies for 100% of their energy needs. The other important mandate that is expected from the government is that all new vehicles built in this nation must be hybrid and be powered by hydrogen fuel cells by the year 2020.

Such mandatory compliance from the citizens would only see the light of the day if the government enforced laws on construction and utility providers. The government should also ensure that all the utility companies in the 50 states of this country, invest in the research and development of alternate energy as well as buy back at reasonable rate all the excess energy produced by homeowners using alternate energy resources.

All new start up companies engaged in producing alternate energies should be given attractive incentives for their effort in developing green energies. With these mandatory programs in place, the country would have three major benefits: it would become self reliant in alternate energies faster; the economy would get a fresh stimulus for growth; the initiatives would create immense number of jobs for the people.

The government would have to pay equal attention to the several sectors within alternate energy industry: in the generation of different types of energies including solar, wind, hydroelectric, biofuel, geothermal and atomic; its storage systems like more efficient batteries and hydrogen fuel cells; and, development of infrastructures. All these efforts should ultimately result in more affordable prices and easier usability of alternate energies. Yet, we would remain where we are now, without government help.

Ron is an avid article writer who has written articles for over 3 years. Visit his site that has helpful information on travelocity promotional codes and life insurance for seniors.

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GREEN LIVING: Preventing the Global Warming Ice Age

By Brian Steven

Politicians and other individuals find it all too easy to dismiss the "global warming myth," citing that it is all just doomsday rubbish concocted by crazy loons. First of all, these 'crazy loons' are experts in climate change; who dedicate their entire lives to studying our planet and where it's going in the near future.

Second, this 'doomsday rubbish' is not rubbish: it is happening today. More than 2,500 researchers who plan to attend 2009's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Copenhagen will assess the situation. And they will be presented with the inevitability that water levels may rise as much as 100m in the near future, a 75% loss of tree cover, and millions (if not billions) will be displaced by the changes in climate. All this leads to one conclusion: we are in serious trouble.

If a convention of such size and with conclusions so resounding does not catch the attention of the world, then no amount of global warming proof will convince otherwise, unless we experience the results for ourselves. But the responsibility does not fall solely on governments and corporations. We have a role to play in keeping our environment safe and habitable. Here are two simple things we, as normal people living our normal, every-day lives, can do to help:

Waste Management - from merely reducing our needs to meet our needs to sorting trash and bringing empty cans to the recycling center, this is the first and easiest step we can take to help ease the burden on our environment.

Of course, proper disposal of garbage is something that takes top priority in the list of things that we can do to help our environment, as evidenced by the numerous categories of trash bins dotting street corners. But waste management involves not just properly handling the leftovers and garbage in our bins. It also follows the idea of minimalism, where we buy and use only what we need. Excess consumption results in excess waste and this waste will have to go somewhere in the system. Why create more headaches for our waste-disposal services when we can minimize what waste we produce in the first place?

Clean Energy - alternative energy sources like windmills and photovoltaic solar panels will not just help us prevent global warming, but it will actually help us save money in the long run. We can inspect what source of energy we can most easily tap: the wind, the sun and methane are particularly convenient and easy-to-access sources of energy. Once we find the alternative energy source most suited to our available resources, we can then place an investment into buying, installing and maintaining these alternative energy sources. Produce enough electricity and the power companies will be paying you for the energy you are sending back into the grid.

There is not much we normal every-day citizens can do to effect political, industrial and economic change to address the environmental problems, but we do have a hand in preventing a global warming future from choking the life out of us, our children, and our planet. Let's make it count while we still can.

For more information go to to see what all the fuss is about.

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GLOBAL WARMING: Some Startling Statistics - CO 2 Emissions

By Keith Elliott

There are so many segments to our energy producing and consumption pie, it is hard to know where to begin a discussion. This report deals strictly with the per capita carbon dioxide emissions purely from fossil fuelled electricity, provided for domestic use. Remember, this is on a per capita basis, not on a nation by nation basis.

If you were thinking that the U.S. leads the way, fortunately you aren't even close.

Maybe it should not come as any surprise to discover that the worst offenders are oil producing nations. After all, the fuel supply is dirt cheap for them, therefore why not use it to provide power? Obviously that makes sense, but it comes with a hefty environmental price tag.

The top three nations are:

* Kuwait, at slightly under 8,000 KG of CO2 emissions per capita
* Bahrain, at roughly 7,000 KG per capita
* The United Arab Emirates at around 5,300 KG per capita

Estonia in Europe follows with 3,900 KG, slightly ahead of the U.S. at 3,800+ KG.

Next in line is Australia, then Qatar, Luxembourg, Saudi Arabia, Denmark, Russia, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Serbia, Oman, Poland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium and Israel. At this point we are down to 2,200 KG per capita.

Please note that five out of the top nine per capita emitters are Asian oil producing nations.

Where does China sit in this mix? The bulk of power generated in China comes from coal fired generating plants, and coal is included in these statistics. China ranks 71st, behind such countries as Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Lithuania, Moldova, Jordan, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, New Zealand and the list goes on.

Somebody has to be at the bottom of the list, an enviable accomplishment indeed - or is it? You decide if you would like to live there.

Here are the bottom five starting with the winner:

* North Korea
* Zambia
* D. R. Congo
* Mozambique
* Ethiopia

There are 134 nations included in the original report, which was provided by the International Energy Agency. The lower twenty nations have basically no emissions per capita for this use only, the production of domestic use electricity.

This information was assembled for information purposes only, therefore you will not find a link to any other website. I trust it may give you food for thought. Thank you for reading.

Keith Elliott has long been a proponent of solar energy and has tried to reduce his carbon footprint.

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POLLUTION: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch - A Primer

By Michael Arms

In recent months, media outlets and some celebrities have turned the spotlight on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Last August, a team of scientists, oceanographers, researchers, and ocean-lovers set sail in an expedition, known as the Project Kaisei, to the area to find out more about the severity of this threat to the ocean ecosystem.

What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

The Great Pacific Patch is a large swath of the ocean, estimated to be twice the size of Texas containing as much as 100 million tons of plastic garbage. In 1997, Captain Charles Moore, a California-based sea captain discovered the area, while passing through on his way home from a sailing race in Asia. The documentation and samples brought back by the researchers of Project Kaisei confirmed our worst fears - the area is much larger than was originally thought, it is filled with so much debris, and it is growing.

How was it formed?

The plastic now trapped in the patch have accumulated gradually through several decades from debris thrown or washed to the sea from the surrounding coastlines and from passing ships. This is garbage coming from every country in the northern Pacific basin from North America to east Asia to Australia. The garbage is drawn to what is known as the Northern Pacific Gyre, a system of currents in the northern Pacific, forced into the center of the huge vortex, and trapped there by the peripheral circulating currents.

Why should we be concerned?

Recently, a documentary film featuring Sigourney Weaver, explained the gradual acidification of the oceans from uncontrolled carbon dioxide emissions. It is estimated that by 2100, if the trend continues, the oceans' acidity will be twice that of the pre-industrial era, effectively killing much of the marine organisms that form the base of our food chain. The plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is doing that already.

It is estimated that a million organisms die each day from ingesting the minute fragments of plastic floating around in this lethal soup. The toxins released by the decaying plastics are also ingested by these organisms that are served on our dinner tables - the plastic we carelessly threw away has come back to us through the food that we eat!

What can we do?

One of the tasks of the Kaisei scientific expedition was to determine the viability of extracting the plastic from this area for commercial recycling. Until that is possible, it would be too expensive for any one country to undertake the clean up of this veritable mess. What could be done at present is to try and reduce, if not stop altogether, the flow of garbage that gets added to the patch each year. We need strict solid waste disposal policies to prevent more garbage from spilling into the ocean. More and more cities are now banning completely the use of plastic bags and polystyrene containers, and this is an important step.

On the individual level, we can intensify recycling and reduce, if not eliminate, our purchases of plastic. BYOB - "Bring Your Own Bag" - is not just a catchy slogan but a significant factor that would greatly help the ocean, if we all do it.

Out of sight, out of mind. That's the Great Pacific Garbage Patch for most of us. But it is real - as real as the plastic keyboard in front of you, right now - it is out there growing by the day from all the garbage we throw away so heedlessly. Time to put a stop to this killing of our ocean. Let's all do our part.

Michael Arms writes about recycling and other environmental topics for the Pacebutler Recycling Blog. Pacebutler Corporation is a cell phone recycling and trading company - you can sell, recycle, or donate cell phones through Pacebutler.

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CLIMATE CHANGE: How is Food Waste Adding to Global Warming and Poverty?

By Stephen William Moore

There's a simple way to reduce global warming and save money at the same time - don't waste food.

In his book, 'Waste - The Global Scandal', Tristram Stuart, calculates that British households consign 5.4 million tonnes of edible food to the bin each year. That's 25% of all the food that Britons eat at home. It hits them in the pocket as well. That means that it costs each British household, on average, £8 ($14) a week.

Stuart quotes some more amazing British food waste statistics. Among other other perfectly-edible items that go in the bin annually are:

- 2.6 billion (yes, billion!) slices of bread;

- £370 million worth of bananas;

- 1.6 billion uneaten apples;

- 484 million opened pots of yoghurt.

Unfortunately, the message of food waste has been passed to our children - about a third of school packed lunches end up in the bin.

The repercussions of this waste are serious on a global scale. The developed countries' demand for food pushes up global food prices. In 2007, average global food prices rose by 23 per cent. By the following year, prices had gone up by a staggering 54 per cent.

This matters. The result of increased food prices is that up to an estimated 100 million extra people were pushed into chronic hunger. Chronic hunger in turn increases the child mortality rate amongst this group. It's estimated, according to Stuart, that the rate has risen to 25 per cent.

And waste food contributes to the pressure on scarce land resources. 8.3 million hectares of land are needed to produce just the products wasted in the UK and the US. That's seven times the amount of Brazilian rainforest that was destroyed in 2008 to produce food.

As food prices rise, the greater the financial incentive to deforest the rainforests. But they're vital to deal with global warming.

So what can you do to reduce your food waste?

Don't buy too many meat and dairy products at once. These products are more perishable than other foods and take up to four times more land to produce and result in more greenhouse gas emissions (particularly from cattle).

Use a shopping list. With the massive variety of foods available in the supermarkets, it's easy to make impulse purchases. Make a list and stick to it. Only buy 'buy one, get one free' deals if it's something that you regularly use and will finish.

Keep an eye on what's in the fridge. Much food is wasted because we've forgotten that it's in the fridge or cupboard.

Use leftovers. You could put leftover meat in a sandwich to take to work the next day. This also saves money. Or turn leftovers into curries, soups and stir-frys.

Food waste is easy to avoid and saves money. Will you change your shopping habits?

Stephen Moore writes about global warming and other environmental issues at

Find out more about Tristram Stuart and his book, 'Waste - The Global Food Scandal' at

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SOLAR ENERGY: The Argument For Solar Subsidies

By Keith Elliott

Why should there be any consideration given for subsidizing solar power? Why should there be any consideration for subsidizing fossil fuelled power? How about nuclear power subsidies?

In case you think there are no subsidies for nuclear power, you would be wrong. And as much as I am a proponent for solar energy, I can understand that nuclear power requires a large investment and the end product serves the general public. True, nuclear power has been around long enough now to be considered reliable, but one catastrophic event might be sufficient to alter our opinions about that very quickly.

The events at Three Mile Island nearly became a disaster, but fortunately it never quite escalated into a full blown event. Chernobyl was not quite so kind to us however, and the effects of that disaster are still being felt to this day. Had an event such as this happened in the U.S., I doubt that nuclear power would be looked upon quite so kindly.

Can anyone tell us why fossil fuelled power is still being subsidized to such a huge degree? Are you aware of the billions of dollars every year given to the fossil fuel lobby? That is something that needs to stop right away. Whatever the real cost of fossil fuelled power is should be borne by the consumer.

In that case, why should solar power deserve to have any subsidization at all?

Quite simple really. Everyone on the planet will end up being the beneficiary of any and all solar developments. The sooner we get to the point where solar power costs are reduced, the sooner we will all start using it.

Unfortunately, we still have that nagging tendency to always want to take the cheap way out. If it is going to cost us another dime, we aren't interested.

Why can we not all stand up and face the fact that we must change this attitude. So what if it costs a couple of bucks more. Wouldn't you rather have a lot cleaner air and better health? Can we not understand what other costs are being generated by our continued overuse of fossil fuels?

It seems such a shame that the great financial powerhouse that the U.S. is seems unable to get behind solar energy in a more meaningful way. The latest subsidy figure I have obtained for alternative energy is a paltry $1 billion per year. For fossil fuelled power, multiply that by 70.

Fossil fuel is on the way out. It is inevitable and only a matter of time before we run out. Tomorrow will be too late to fix everything. Today is when we need to act. And whatever it takes in the way of subsidies to see to it that this happens now, needs to be addressed by our politicians.

Can you imagine what could happen if the fossil fuel subsidy was switched over to solar energy tomorrow? Wow! What a great idea!

Subsidies are available for you right now to have your own system installed, did you know that? In many cases these subsidies are often in the 45% range of the system price. Think about it. Why not go for your own system today? Why wait for the government to get around to doing it?

If you are even more ambitious than that, you can make your own system. There is more information which you can find by going here.

Keith Elliott has been living on solar energy since 1997. Unfortunately, the government has not yet seen fit to give him a billion or two towards his solar system!

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

CONSERVATION: Animals in Trouble in Tropical North Queensland

By Jen Thames

Tropical storms are threatening the wildlife in this incredible region. An area that is filled with tropical rain forests and unique wildlife is threatened to become extinct by the current changes in weather. Magnified by human development, cyclones of the current day are much worse than those of the past and many rare and unique animals call this region home.

The tropical rain forests have been moving toward recovery but the weather is causing a decrease in the bird food resources such as nectar, pollen and fruit. This also impacts other creatures within the rain forest.

The FNQ Wildlife Rescue is trying to help save the creatures in this region by providing supplemental foods. They are a volunteer organization that receives no funding from the government and they rely on donations to help keep these creatures alive.

Ways you can help the animals is by donating money or volunteering your time to help them in their effort. You can be trained to be a wildlife rescuer and learn about handling the rain forest animal. Being a pet owner who is responsible and keeps their pet contained is useful also as one of the problems is pets killing the native wild creatures.

We have to continue our efforts to be more environmentally conscious as these efforts go far in helping the creatures of the world, not just in Tropical North Queensland. There are many simple things you can do in your life to change the way we live, and when you help the animals you're ultimately preserving your human environment.

Come visit the inspiring beauty of Tropical North Queensland. For all the information you need about cairns hotels click on today, if you have questions there are representatives available. will also have the answers you need regarding all tnq accommodations.

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GREEN LIVING: Composting Made Easier - The Coolness of a Worm Farm

By Tracey J Smith

Retailers are now selling in-house composters that speed up the composting process by heating the materials. Picture a kitchen appliance that you plug without the smell which spits out usable compost in 14 days. Now, I don't know about the environmental benefit of using electricity to speed up composting, but the reports on these devices seems to say the cost of electricity to run them is about 50 cents per month. I still favour the outdoor method.

Now, the hard part about composting is that there is a chemical science behind the ratio of nitrogen and carbon (the ratio of veggie bits to leaves for example). The typical time to get good compost is several months up to a year and one must make the effort to occasionally move the material. One recent innovation in this area which claims to speed up the process is a spherical ball with aeration holes that stays on a stand in your yard elevated slightly above the ground. For mixing, just roll the ball around in the yard a bit and roll it back onto the stand.

If you're ok with worms, there are a variety of worm factories which consist of layering trays of worms and material to be composted. I think you will find worms to be quite efficient. Did you know you can buy worms online?

Most of the devices sell anywhere from $59 to about $300. I think some cool worms would be worth if for $100, but what happens when I travel and don't feed to worms for a while, hmmm, do I ask the neighbours to worm-sit?

Tips for a good compost process:

  • The finer your shred the waste material, the faster it will decompose.
  • Add water to dry material.
  • Turn the material in your bin often.
  • Try to have a carbon to nitrogen ratio around 30:1 (for example 30 times as many leaves as green kitchen waste).
Note: Check local subsidies in your area and some municipalities have subsidized compost programs.

Tracey J Smith is an author for You can receive notification of new articles by following "envsummary" on Twitter or find us on FaceBook under "Environmental Summary"

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GREEN LIVING: Some Green Transportation Options

By Harold Baldwin

There are plenty of transportation options other than owning a car and driving it everywhere you go. Some of these options can even be more convenient, not to mention more economical and often more fun not to mention better for the environment.

If you must own a car, and I certainly do, try to multiple combine trips into one - it simply requires some planning. Carpooling is wonderful, and reduces the need to always drive yourself. You also may be able to carshare, where several people own vehicle. You might setup arrangements with friends, although normally people do it via programs like Zipcar or Flexcar, which cost about $10 an hour. Another option is renting a car if you only need one occasionally.

Of course public transportation exists in most parts of the world, although in many parts of the US it's pretty mediocre yet improving. I have several friends who take the train to work for example, and reading or relaxing on a train certainly beats fighting rush hour traffic twice a day!

Of course you can use totally green options sometimes too! I walk a lot, for example to do errands during lunchtime at work. And I bicycle a lot, even doing the 38 mile commute to the office occasionally by bike.

Vacations are another area to consider. Although traveling to exotic locals by plane, train, and automobile is fun, there may also be relatively local and also fascinating places to explore. It doesn't need to be a jetplane ride away in order to be exotic and fun!

Harry writes on environmental issues, wine, and more. Read his latest, Best Wine Opener and Oster Wine Opener.

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Reasons for Deforestation‏

by Brian Jones

Deforestation is the cutting down of trees in a forest. With the current emphasis on climate change, deforestation has become an important global issue. It has been estimated that half of the world's mature forest have been cleared from 1947 up to the present. This means that an area almost as large as Brazil has been cleared of trees. In numeric value it is an area between 7.5 million square kilometers to 8 million square kilometers. Some scientists have estimated that by 2030, only ten percent of the forests will remain.

Nature's capacity to absorb greenhouse gases have been greatly diminished since there are less trees to absorb carbon. It is one of the compelling reason scientists worldwide have pointed out that the world is experiencing climate change. Also, the loss of the trees has changed forest topography. Erosion occurs more often and more easily. Another effect of deforestation is the loss wildlife living in those forests. Rare plants and animals have become extinct or face extinction because their forest habitats have been destroyed.

Why do people cut down trees in the forest?

One reason is that the wood in those trees are needed for human consumption. Paper, cartons and other paper products are processed from wood. Also, wood is used to build pieces of furniture like tables, chairs, cabinets, beds, etc. Wood is also used as a construction material. Sometimes wood is used as floor boards, walls, ceilings and house frames etc.

Another reason for deforestation is the demand for land. With the world's population growing by leaps and bounds, there is growing demand for land use for residential, agricultural and commercial purposes. Golf courses, resorts, housing projects, farms etc. have replaced some of the areas where there used to be forests.

Forest fires are another reason for deforestation. This occurs mainly in areas where there is little rainfall. Naturally occurring phenomena like lightning can cause forest fires. On the other hand, some forest fires are not naturally occurring. Activities like camping, hiking and mountain biking has made forests accessible to people. Irresponsible behavior inside the forest like not tending a camp fire or throwing a lighted cigarette are some of the reasons for forest fires.

Corruption of government institutions, the unequal distribution of wealth, overpopulation, urbanization and globalization are some of the root causes of deforestation. Another underlying issue with the first two reasons is that some contend that there are few incentives to shy away from logging and forest conversion. Government policies and the economic situation has made deforestation in some areas unmanageable.

Please visit these sites for more information about why deforestation happens: or when is the next leap year: in particular.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Who Will Win in Copenhagen?

By Klaus H Hemsath

Recently, large U.S. corporations have voiced their displeasure with the declared position of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the controversial subject of Climate Change. Several large and well respected companies and their representatives as well as the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Dr. Chu, have questioned the position of the Chamber. Their opinions have found extensive media coverage. What are these issues about?

Continuing burning of fossil fuels increases the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and changes irreversibly the energy flows from Sun to Earth and from Earth to Outer Space. Planet Earth is warming, ice on mountains and in Polar Regions is melting, and coastal areas across the world are slowly but indefensibly submersed by rising sea waters.

Countermeasures like the Kyoto agreement, cap and trade, carbon taxes, hydrogen economy, and electric cars are fool's gold. Instead world economies must stop all fossil fuel burning and must produce electric power by converting inexhaustible solar energy and nuclear heat. Scientists must imitate nature and must produce petroleum substitutes from biomass. Only natural photosynthesis processes can recycle carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by utilizing solar energy and by recycling carbon dioxide while not increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas accumulation.

World governments have only one single option for defending Earth against overheating. Simultaneously, they must assure that world economies continue their growth and prevent politically risky recessions and depressions.

World economies cannot continue with past practices of using fossil fuels for generating electricity and burning petroleum for powering their huge transportation fleets of automobiles, trucks, trains, ships, and airplanes. Accelerating the discharge of greenhouse gases into the Earth's atmosphere will irreversibly result in continually rising global temperatures.

Cap and trade measures, carbon taxes, electric cars, and energy conservation efforts will unavoidably lead to more expensive energy supplies. Energy supplies will become more and more unaffordable. Costs of doing business will skyrocket.

In addition, living conditions will become less bearable due to ever increasing temperatures and more violent windstorms, more severe and frequent droughts, and more powerful and destructive floods.

The only acceptable and long-term viable option is the exclusive use of solar energy and of nuclear heat for electric power generation and the conversion of naturally grown biomass into petroleum substitutes by imitating natural conversion processes.

Our Earth receives from the Sun an inexhaustible amount of energy, which can be converted into unlimited amounts of electricity. The world also has plenty of arid, barren, or fallow lands for growing virtually inexhaustible and infinitely sustainable amounts of biomass. Nature has proven that biomass can be converted into petroleum.

Now comes the time when world governments must choose between these two, very well defined options.

Continuing with century old practices of burning ever increasing amounts of fossil fuels will sentence world communities and economies to a slow but certain death by global overheating in the near future. This solution is fiercely supported by the folks that brought us the last financial crisis and that want to continue with their obscene exploitation of the politically less powerful citizens of the world.

The more benign, more promising, and permanently viable option is the complete changeover of fossil fuel based energy sources to the exclusive utilization of renewable energies from the Sun.

Replacing fossil fuel based energy supplies completely with solar energy is becoming technically possible. Sun energy is inexhaustible and will last forever. Best of all, solar energy based energy conversion processes do not result in global warming and will not harm the environment. Better yet, it is conceptually possible to restore the lower carbon dioxide levels, which were prevalent during the last, the twentieth century, and to reduce contemporary global temperatures. This cleanup process is, however, dependent on the availability of inexpensive and abundant, clean energy supplies. It can be applied only after the changeover from fossil fuels to solar energy is complete and after world economies are growing strongly and are prospering predictably again.

A total conversion from fossil energy supplies to solar energy will have huge benefits for world economies. The fear of overheating will be banned, energy costs will remain affordable even for less wealthy countries, and world economies can be sustainably provisioned with renewable and affordable clean energy for centuries.

Steady economic growth can be maintained, a huge number of new jobs can be created, and the threat of skyrocketing petroleum prices can be eliminated effectively.

Most of the required energy conversion technologies are already available. However, not all are economically viable, yet. The outlook for solar power and wind power to become cost competitive is excellent. There is one caveat. A few auxiliary, more advanced energy storage technologies still await development. The world will become independent of fossil fuels as soon as these new technologies will be available.

Hydrogen conversion and storage, which at one time was promoted as a new energy supply option, can become such an urgently needed, intermittent energy carrier and storage option. Other storage technologies for the temporary sequestering of mechanical energy and heat energy are conceivable and must find application.

Copenhagen is the next meeting place where world governments and citizens must make a choice between two very different energy supply options.

Do they want to choose a world of haves and have-nots? A world, where the haves collect billions of dollars for gambling, get paid by governments when they lose, and then buy themselves palatial retreats in Wyoming or the Alps, where they can endure the effects of global warming joyfully?

Or are world citizens more concerned about the generations that are following us, believe "that all Men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights", and are willing to fight for the rights of their offspring?

Science and technology have given us centuries of global industrialization and unimaginable economic growth derived from fossil fuels. But growth was tied to a Faustian provision; the threat of Global Overheating.

Science and technology are now offering again a better future for mankind based on inexhaustible solar energy. Unfortunately, there is again a Faustian provision; the world must manage nuclear proliferation during an interim period when electricity generation must be powered by nuclear energy instead of energy from fossil fuels.

Dr. Hemsath's books, Climate Change - Gold Rush or Disaster? and Clean Energy For Centuries, offer a comprehensive plan for saving Earth from overheating. He is now writing a follow-on book, Petroleum Substitutes From Biomass. For fifty years he has worked on advanced energy technologies as scientist, engineer, inventor, Corporate R&D Executive, CEO, entrepreneur, and author. He holds more than 60 US Patents. Go to

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What is the Sea Shepherd and What Are They Doing?

By Barry Lycka

What is the Sea Sheperd? The Sea Shepherd is essentially an international non-profit organization working towards the preservation of marine wildlife. Named as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the organization was established in 1977 and was formally incorporated in the state of Oregon, United States in 1981.

The Sea Shepherd is involved in various activities. As of last year, their activities included calling for a 20-year closure of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland to protect endangered species which include the cod among others. They have also been involved - and won - in a legal battle concerning the illegal fishing operations in Brazil. They have even convinced Hakkasan, one of the world's most famous restaurant's in the world, to no longer include shark's fin on their menu.

The Sea Shepherd has a number of campaigns towards which they gear their energy and resources. One of their campaigns involves the dolphins and negotiating an end to their slaughter which is done on a yearly basis in Iki Island, in Japan. They are also working hand-in-hand with the National Marine Park Service in the Galapagos Island (located in Ecuador)in order to thwart poaching activities.

The Galapagos Island is especially important as it is home to a very diverse ecosystem. The Galapagos Island has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In line with their campaign on Galapagos Island, they have also a number of projects lined up. Some of these projects include Longline Confiscation and Protection of Sea Cucumbers.

So, what is the Sea Shepherd doing to sustain their operations? The Sea Shepherd is sustained by volunteers and by donations from people sharing the same advocacy. They have opportunities both at sea and on shore for those who wish to contribute their time, skills and talents to the cause.

At sea, volunteers can fill in various positions ranging from navigators, to sailors, to cooks and even photographers and medics. There are also whale defenders on board - a position for those who may not have much specialization in any one area. On shore, an individual can volunteer to become fundraisers, researchers and information disseminators.

There are many other activities held by Sea Shepherd designed to raise awareness and to give every possible opportunity for participation in the preservation of marine wildlife. There are fund-raising events, rallies, and launch parties. There are also conferences touching on different topics concerning marine wildlife. Trainings for NGO's and environmental agencies are also offered. There are also certain advocacies that have been done such as what happened in the case of Giles Lanes, an anti-whaling hostage whose family was denied audience at the Japanese Embassy.

For those who wish to know more what is the Sea Shepherd all about, they have their own website where a wealth of operations regarding their mission, operations and how to get involved in their advocacy are contained. Indeed, saving marine wildlife is not just a job exclusively for them but for all of us as well as they continue to raise our awareness.

Dr. Barry Lycka is president of the number one source of internet guidance.

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Is the International Market System Sustainable?

By Tom Hawkins

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away ... oh all right. In 1973, but it feels long ago and far away! Anyway, in 1973, the British economist E F Schumacher wrote Small is Beautiful. He was praising small enterprise at a time when big companies and the newly globalising economy were apparently failing to deliver what people wanted. He was miles ahead of his time in arguing that big business, the fossil fuel economy, and internationally unfair trade were unsustainable. And the subtitle of his book- which has been hugely influential since it was published (but maybe not influential enough!) - was "Economics as if People Mattered".

Today, the sustainability of the international market system looks just as doubtful as it did in 1973. The fossil fuel economy is widely agreed to be a major contributor to global warming. And if individuals in the west feel helpless in the face of a big business financial crisis, how much more helpless must people in the developing world feel? How can we believe that "people matter"? Schumacher argued that people needed to work together in human-scale groups, where they could express their identity, exercise autonomy, and not be exploited by the technology of mass production.

In the world we see about us there is not much evidence of human-scale, autonomous production, but there is some. One ray of sunshine in a troubled world comes from the co-operative phenomenon. In Europe we tend to think of co-ops as retailers, part of a movement founded in the 19th century to help poor people buy healthy food at fair prices.

In the developing world there are production co-ops; groups of people, often from a single village, working together to make something for sale locally, or occasionally internationally. Mainly they use relatively simple, sustainable technology, local resources, and basic handcrafting skills. By banding together in a co-op the workforce gets autonomy, avoids exploitation, and offers work where there may otherwise be none. All they need is a route to market.

Here's an example: Katundu is a group of women, mainly orphaned by the AIDS epidemic in central Africa, making beautiful beaded cotton and linen clothes and cushions on an island in Lake Malawi. Please have a look at this site to get an idea of how inspirational a small enterprise in an unknown corner of Africa can be.

Now how about a route to market? There are people who share Schumacher's belief that "small is beautiful". People who know how to use the Internet to create a business, and who have taken the time and trouble to forge links with small producers, co-ops and family firms wherever they may be. And people who appreciate the beautiful things that can come from small and hard to find places.

Here's a link to a small company who can sell you some of the lovely things made by the ladies of Katundu, as well as a wide range of ethical and eco friendly tableware and gift ideas.

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Growing Food - Options For the City Dweller

By Joseph A Knight

There has been much publicised attention on the increasingly popular option of growing your own food, as it is only through making ourselves more self sufficient are we able to strive for increased resilience within our communities; becoming more independent whilst minimising our Carbon Footprint.

However, achieving this self-sufficiency through production of your own food is for many impractical and time consuming; consequently if we are as a society to achieve reduced reliance on governing constraints such as 'Just in Time' production strategies, action needs to be taken.

There are a number of options, which you as an individual and homeowner can do; as the personal choices we make now, such as choosing organic to locally sourced food dictate our relationship with food, influencing supply, and thus shaping environmental conditions for future generations to come.

Acquiring our food at locally produced sources will greatly reduce the carbon emissions, as the product has a much lower embodied energy, whereby the total energy which has gone into its production and subsequent transport. Foreign imports, now dominating our supermarket shelves are in effect very high carbon foods, due to substantial miles travelled, predominately by air to get there.

Options for the City dweller

For many, the choices we make about food are greatly dictated by our built environment, in terms of where and how we live. As for many, living in an urban location, the option to grow your own may seem unfeasible, uneconomical and impractical; however although you may not be able to meet all your needs, it is possible to supplement your existing weekly shopping trip with some home grown fruit and vegetables.

If you are living in an urban location; a number of options are available depending on your current circumstances, e.g. type of property, amount of space, availability of private or communal garden.

  • Use of indoor pot plants - through 'Hydroponic gardening' which is simply a pot filled with water, inert material and a combination of differing nutrients essential for growth - these may be bought at most conventional plant stores such as Home base.
  • Hanging Baskets - provide an attractive feature outside your home, require minimal maintenance and are great for growing spices and herbs.
  • Green Roofs - For many with limited floorspace, or whom have recently built a new flat roofed extension or have a garage, there is an option for homeowners to grow food on their roof. This is only applicable to those whom have ownership of their roof fabric; due to significant structural implications/ cost constraints. Those in apartments may need to obtain communal consent to carrying out such a scheme. A number of plants can be grown, which can supplement food bill, may be grown, depending on whether you opt for extensive or intensive roof systems. More information found at Green Roofs.
  • Balconies - Those in apartments may benefit from a balcony, which depending on your orientation, as you ideally need 6-7 hours of daylight for growing edible plants.
  • Garden plants - Many plants are suitable and capable of growing in small plots in soils of poor fertility, including even contaminated soils, or those suffering from high levels of leaching.
  • Greenhouses - provide shelter during winter and maximises daylight through a magnifying effect, allows a range of plants to be grown, although more costly and requires sufficient land.
As the UK is increasingly becoming a warmer, more mediterranean climate, the options for growing your own food become much more diverse and varied, allowing a wide array of different and often traditionally associated as tropical crops/ foods to be grown.

To attain complete self sufficiency, we need to combine home grown food with localised electricity production if we are to continue our high energy consumer lifestyle. There are a number of elements which can be implemented into the home to supplement your fuel bills whilst reducing your carbon footprint, including wind turbines to the use of solar panels.

This article was written by Joseph A Knight at Energy Measures, where more information on renewable energy technologies and articles can be found.

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