Sunday, January 31, 2010

Capitalizing on the Environment?

Can capitalism and environmentalism coexist not only peacefully but also profitably? Can the big corporations and the green movement work together? Alternatively, is there some theocratic mandate that the two must always be at odds?

While profit margins and bottom lines are still the gods worshipped at the capitalistic altar, the followers of this dollar-based philosophy are not immune to, or unaware of, the destruction of nature all around them. And while the sight of the havoc industry is wreaking on mother nature might not reach deeply their hearts, swaying their actions in favor of a lower profit margin brought about by a lowering of their environmental impact, that negative effect they’re having on the environment does capture their minds, or it might be more appropriate to say, it grabs them by their wallet.

Now, few industries are finding environmental issues can work in their favor. Many companies are now spending lots of money moving in the direction of green, not out of a sense of duty, but out of a sense of greed. And, if their intentions are not so pure or altruistic as we might wish, at least the outcome benefits all the citizens of planet earth.

Big corporations find that converting their factories to run off fuels produced by neighboring landfills is not only a safe, cheap means of powering those supply houses for decades to come, but also a great way of earning brownie points with the environmentally conscious consumers who use their products. Their success taken in view, now major natural gas companies are selling “green” natural gas produced from those same sorts of landfills to heat homes and cook dinners. The idea may not be appetizing in some respects, but it does give them a go-green image that sells well with the public.

Interviewing consumers and then responding to their feedback was a major factor in the changeover from traditional methods of powering their plants to the new greener ones employed by many manufacturers. In fact, big name companies like Johnson and Johnson now have “environmental performance” standards written into their credo. And so far, at least on paper, J&J is doing pretty well at setting and realizing goals for lowering their negative environmental impact.

Of course, there will always be destructive industries and greed-driven companies ready to cut all sorts of corners at the expense of the earth and its inhabitants. These are the corporate monsters that we, the greenies, want to see felled in the same way that businesses of their kind are felling the great trees of our rapidly vanishing forests.

But we all need to bear in mind that all industry is not inherently evil nor are all businesses equally culpable. And while we might not totally agree with their rationale or find their use of our cause to turn a profit, we can agree that any progress in marrying the goals of both environmentalists and capitalists is the kind of progress that everyone and everything on earth can be happy about.

CASE STUDY: Coping With Increasing Energy Demands in the US

By Mike Dickinson

According to Red Herring Inc., energy demands in the US are likely to surge by 32% in 2015. But even after being one of the highest energy consuming economies in the world, the US has come full circle. It is now one of the more aggressive nations in promoting alternative energy technologies.

Growing environmental concerns like Global Warming and the need for energy self-sufficiency has introduced in the minds of many US citizens a need to be more energy-efficient. The last few years have seen the launch of several energy-efficient electronic appliances and automobiles.

The US now plans to put in place infrastructure for harnessing and distributing alternate energy like solar, wind, hydro and thermal. A lot of investment - both government and private - is also being made towards this end, bringing down the cost of alternate energy. In the 1980s the average price of energy captured with photovoltaics was 95 cents per kilowatt-hour.

With technological improvements and tax benefits, solar-electric modules have now become more cost-effective. In 2008, the price had dropped to around 20 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to the American Solar Energy Society. The US also currently has about 4.2 billion solar rooftops and as the popularity of solar energy increases, one can only expect the technology to become much more cost-effective.

The presence of wind energy in the US is also growing. According to the American Solar Energy Society, Wind power now competes with conventional energy at a price less than 4 cents per kilowatt-hour. In 2008 the US had roughly 300 million wind turbines. So industry and consumers can expect cost reduction on this front too.

The US is not alone in adopting many of these measures, as they are no longer an option; they are an imperative for a sustainable future. To be sure, there are many more problems to solve - for example, if 25% of the population switched to electric cars tomorrow, the demands on the power grid would be impossible to satisfy - and much thought and effort has to go into building the right infrastructure in a phased manner. Transformers, of course, will continue to play a crucial role in any power infrastructure.

Transformers currently contribute to a sizable amount of the energy lost in transmission, prompting the US Department of Energy (DOE) to come up with regulations to ensure that old transformers are replaced with more energy-efficient ones. This has hiked the cost of medium-voltage, dry-type transformers almost 13%, but will decrease electrical losses by as much as 26%.

It is in this area of building energy-efficient transformers that PCT plays a prominent role. PCT has years of experience in manufacturing customized energy-efficient transformers - in some aspects PCT has also been ahead of legislation. Currently PCT is also gearing up to meet demands of the wind energy sector with its specially designed, robust grounding transformers.

While the initial investment in energy-efficient transformers may seem high, so far it seems that utilities and industries are more than willing to invest in them, as the transformers pay for themselves very quickly over time.

To know more about Transformers check out Pacific crest transformers website:

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Destructive Greenhouse Gases

By Klaus H Hemsath

The Copenhagen Climate Conference in December of last year emphasized once more that climate changes are occurring because of advancing industrialization and of compounding population growth. Continuing combustion of fossil fuels, grazing cattle, deforestation, thawing permafrost, and beetle infestations are some of the leading causes of new greenhouse gas emissions.

The media report regularly on the effects of accumulating greenhouse gases by referring to only one of its many effects; the effect of global warming. It is not incidental that they report on the most minor manifestation of atmospheric greenhouse gas accumulation. During the last two centuries, average global temperatures have increased by less than one degree Celsius or less than two degrees Fahrenheit. Such a small increase is not perceptible to most humans. In fact, inhabitants of northern latitudes consider moderate warming as a most welcome benefit.

Instead, the destructive effects of greenhouse gas accumulation show themselves in several other, more convincing incarnations. Glaciers on mountains and in the Polar Regions are melting at accelerating rates and lead to worldwide sea level rises. These sea level rises are not negligible and are not trifling. Sea levels are rising much faster than predicted by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) of the United Nations. Much of Florida, Manhattan, and many other large coastal areas of the world will be inundated by seawater before the end of the twenty-first century!

Climate changes are another major threat. Climatologists are not quite certain about the extent of changes that very small deviations of historic local and global temperatures will have in the future. Observations over the last several decades have established clearly that the number and the effects of violent weather in the form of heat waves, severe floods, violent windstorms, and long-lasting droughts are on the rise.

Other consequences relate to changes that are still partially hidden. It is becoming increasingly clear that modestly elevated temperatures cause local climate changes and have a pronounced and undeniable effect on the local biosphere. Animal and plant species are driven to extinction by local and regional climate changes. This effect is still moderate but seems to become more widespread.

In view of all these observations many climatologists even are concerned that other, major "tipping points" can be induced potentially by the additive effects of accumulating greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. The deflection of the Gulf Stream, originating from the Gulf of Mexico and flowing towards the Arctic Ocean on the northern shores of Russia, is considered a realistic possibility. The climatic repercussions would be devastating for most of Europe.

Despite all these telling observations and despite independent, scientific computations that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will interfere with energy flows from the Sun to our Earth and with energy losses from the Earth to Outer Space, many individuals still deny the interference of greenhouse gases on global and local climates.

What can and must be done to eliminate the growing dangers of irreparable harm to ecosystems and to climate systems of planet Earth?

Unfortunately, there is only one realistic option. The world community must stop all fossil fuel burning in the very near future. Only by such drastic measures can major damages to world economies be prevented.

Early in 2010, there is nobody who knows the level of greenhouse gases that must be maintained for preventing coastal inundation and serious climate deterioration. Most likely, that level will be in the range of 300 ppm to 350 ppm carbon of dioxide in the atmosphere.

On the other hand, a sudden stoppage of fossil fuel burning will have ruinous consequences on world economies if not implemented very carefully and with much preparation and planning. It is mandatory that world economies continue their uninterrupted growth in view of growing populations. This means that plentiful and affordable replacement energies must become available before the use of fossil fuels can be halted.

Conservation measures, carbon taxes, and cap and trade measures cannot stop carbon dioxide emissions. Only the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy sources can accomplish that non-negotiable result. When committing suicide in a closed garage, it does not matter if one keeps a Rolls Royce or a Beetle running. Cap and trade measures can only delay but not prevent the day of reckoning.

The window of opportunity for preventing the worst consequences of an overheating Earth is closing fast. At best, world economies have fifty years left for stopping all carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. Emissions of other greenhouse gases must be halted by stopping them at the source.

There is only one other measure that may relieve greenhouse gas accumulation eventually; we must learn to retrieve carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Inventors need to be challenged and supported to develop a process for cleaning carbon dioxide from the atmosphere without using large amounts of energy.

In his latest book "Clean Energy for Centuries" Dr. Hemsath presents a comprehensive plan for stopping Global Warming and Climate Change. A coming book "Petroleum Substitutes from Biomass" will offer new concepts. For fifty years he has developed, designed, and installed advanced energy technologies as scientist, process engineer, inventor, CTO, CEO, entrepreneur, and author. He holds more than 60 US Patents. Visit

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History of the Green Revolution

By Michael Duggan

The green revolution is credited to the transformation of agricultural practises in the late 1940s in Mexico. It successfully increased crop yields throughout the country eventually spreading worldwide in the 1950s and 60s.
An American scientist, Norman Borlaug, is attributed with the birth of the green revolution as he developed disease resistant crop varieties that greatly increased the yield of Mexico's wheat industry. This discovery enabled Mexico to reduce its wheat imports and eventually become a major exporter of wheat worldwide.

Borlaug began experimenting with wheat varieties in the early 1940s and his work coincided with a nation wide food shortage in Mexico as a result of its rapidly expanding population. The improved wheat strains coupled with new mechanised agricultural practises allowed Mexico to meet its food demands. The techniques pioneered by Borlaug were soon adopted in America and a number of institutes were created in both Mexico and America to contribute to further crop development.

In the 1960s India was on the brink of mass starvation and work from American and Mexican institutes resulted in the development of a rice variety that greatly increased the yield of India's rice paddies. This averted a nationwide famine and led the country to be one of the world's largest exporters of rice by the late 1970s. This modified rice strain was also introduced in the Philippines and a number of other Asian nations, providing a stable food supply and a source of income for each country.

The new strains of rice, wheat and other staple crops produced a greater yield of food than traditional varieties. However they also required fertilizers and additional irrigation to achieve these higher rates of food production. The intensive agricultural practises used to grow the new modified crop varieties required the use of more pesticides, which had negative impacts on the environment. Irrigation techniques have also led to environmental degradation of natural waterways and disruption of under-ground water supplies.

More recently the green revolution has concentrated on alleviation of food shortages in the world's developing nations, particularly African nations. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been instrumental in coordinating actions to combat malnutrition and bring global media attention to the issue. Its findings claim that another major advancement in crop yields and agricultural techniques is required to prevent global food shortages occurring on a large scale in the near future.

While some negative environmental impacts have resulted with the use of modified crop varieties and the agricultural practices required to grow them, the benefits have also been great. The increased production of food has allowed many nations to meet its food requirements and support a successful export market.

Michael Duggan is the Managing Director of the FWR Group Pty Ltd, a niche consulting, coaching, education and training business specialising in the emerging sustainability sector. Mike general manages FWR Group on a day to day basis, ensuring strategic development and business growth. Mike provides expertise in education for sustainability, sustainable development, business and strategic sustainability.

Mike is a young and motivated individual, and through his work with FWR Group, and his continuing role in education and development, he is committed to sustainability, and facilitating its uptake in the mainstream through the development of progressive, lifelong-learning and continued education in all areas of endeavour.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lion Country - Where to Help Lion Conservation in Africa

By Jeff Seams

Does the idea of working in "lion country" appeal to you? Well do you know you can spend anything from two to eight weeks helping with vital lion conservation work in Africa?

The well-known Antelope Park in Zimbabwe, which runs a lion breeding and rehabilitation project of international reputation, is just one of several place that you could help with these magnificent creatures. It's not just throwing a few bits of meat into a cage either, when they say "hands-on" they really mean it. You could be helping with delightful lion cubs just a few weeks old or be out in the African bush walking right alongside young adults as they become acclimatized in advance of their release back into the wild.

Other lion conservation centers can be found set against the stunning backdrop of Victoria Falls and in Livingstone, Zambia, where you could be taking that lion walk along the banks of the mighty Zambezi River.

Each of these very special lion conservation projects is run under the guidance of ALERT, the African Lion and Environmental Research Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the African lion.

They ensure that strict guidelines are adhered to and that the very best is done for these wonderful creatures. The captive breeding program isn't used to provide animals for other captivity, but to help with the re-population in areas which have seen an 80 to 90% decline in lion numbers in the last 30 years.

Of course it's not all hard work - if you can call spending every day in the company of lions hard work! There are also opportunities for you to visit national parks and track other African wildlife, to go bungee jumping near the famous Falls if that's your thing, or white water rafting or taking a safari on the back of an elephant, the possibilities are as vast as the African landscape!

Your time spent volunteering in lion country will be of incredible value to the preservation and protection of these iconic creatures. As an added bonus it will give you memories you will never forget and new friendships that will last a lifetime.

Want to be there? For the latest news on lion conservation opportunities visit Lion Country.

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Lion Conservation - What Does a Volunteer Do in Lion Country?

By Jeff Seams

Lion conservation and rehabilitation has been in the news recently. Not surprising really with an drop of almost 90% of the lion population in some areas of Africa. The publicity has brought up a number of opportunities for ordinary people like you to help with the conservation effort, spending anything from two to eight weeks in "lion country". But what does a volunteer working with lions in Africa actually get up to?

Let's look at a typical day. Not every day is like this, it's an exciting and constantly changing environment, but this should give you some valuable insight.

In Africa, the day tends to start quite early, usually with a lion walk. This isn't some pet on a leash, and you're not sat watching from a vehicle, this is walking right alongside lions that can be anything from four to eighteen months old - and an eighteen month old lion is a substantial creature! The job here is to get them used to being out in the bush, to build their confidence and to practice their hunting skills.

You'll stop for a hearty breakfast around 9 am, after which you could well be off to one of the local schools. Lion conservation isn't just about the lions themselves, it's also important to educate local children so that when they grow up they will help with the effort rather than persecuting these wonderful beasts. Alternatively you might be cleaning lion enclosures (yep, it has to be done - but don't worry, you won't be doing it every day) or you might be out in the bush with a local guide conducting a game census.

You'll have an hour, or an hour and a half for lunch and then it could be more lion walks, working with local ecologists, important maintenance tasks around the captive breeding and rehabilitation center, preparation for other educational trips ... you are guaranteed not to get bored!

Around 6.45 you will be briefed by managers about the following days adventures and then it's dinner. The rest of the evening is yours to socialize with other volunteers, maybe relax with a couple of beers or explore the local night life. This might be Africa and working with lions but they don't dump you in the middle of nowhere - except if you've chosen to spend a night out in the bush, which everyone ought to do at least once.

Out in lion country you'll get tremendous satisfaction from the important work you'll be doing, you'll create amazing memories and build friendships that you'll keep for the rest of your life - and anyone can do it. It's something that's popular with gap year student but you're equally likely to meet volunteers from all walks of life and a wide variety of ages.

Sound like your kind of thing? Want to be there? For the latest news on lion conservation opportunities visit Lion Country.

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BOOK REVIEW: Ecological Intelligence - How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything

By Heidi Thorne

Noted for his work on Emotional Intelligence author Daniel Goleman tackles the ecofriendly world with his book, Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything. In my opinion, this topic is a stretch for him, especially since he is noted for his books on psychological issues.

However, he brings a fresh, more behavioral perspective to the subject than some of the other books in the genre which drone on about their eco-political agendas, lapse into techspeak, see the ecofriendly debate as having no middle ground, or who advocate an unrealistic-for-the-masses "freegan" lifestyle.

Like many of us, Goleman expresses his frustration as a consumer with the lack of information about how, where, and by whom products are made, as well as about the ingredients in them. He illustrates his point with this almost unbelievable example of a glass jar.

How many distinct inputs or processes do you think goes into manufacturing a typical glass jar for pasta sauce?

  1. 19
  2. 195
  3. 1,959
  4. Impossible to know
Answer 3 is the correct one. Everything from the silica sand, caustic soda, limestone, a variety of chemicals, electricity, natural gas, and on and on - each with dozens of suppliers in their production chains. But if you answered 4, I think you probably were somewhat right, too, since it may be impossible to know every input. It just depends on how far back in the chain you want to go.

And that's a relatively simple product of a glass jar. Imagine what it takes for a computer or a car!

One of the great finds from this book was GoodGuide website. This site lists over 70,000 consumer products and rates them based on their ecofriendliness, safety, and accountability. The vision is that this info will one day become available at the point of purchase where most decisions about products are made. GoodGuide has taken on a huge, but oh so needed, task.

Three key points which I think are so important from this book:

  1. Nothing that is manufactured industrially can be totally green, only more or less so
  2. Green is a verb, meaning that we are constantly going to be working towards becoming more ecofriendly
  3. That we vote with our wallets. By buying more ecofriendly and socially responsible products, we are telling manufacturers that these issues are important to us
While presenting the dire consequences of our consuming behavior, Goleman does help the reader feel empowered to help make the small changes that will bring about a better world.

Heidi Thorne is a promotional products marketing consultant specializing in ecofriendly, USA and union made, and fair trade products. Her company, Thorne Communications, hosts a promotional product online shopsite,, featuring these product categories.
She is also editor of, a educational site to help B2B and association marketers learn more about ecofriendly issues relating to promotional products. Heidi has over 22 years in sales, marketing, advertising, and public relations, as well as over five years teaching at the college level.

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OPINION: A Pre-Boomer's Thoughts on Climate Change

By Don Potter

If politics and ideology were not part of the issue, I believe pre-boomers (the New Seniors) could come together and find a practical, common-sense solution for dealing with climate change, greenhouse gases and preserving our planet for the health and well-being of our grand children and the generations to follow.

We grew up in an era when factories belching out black soot from their smoke stacks were a sign that America was producing products to be purchased here and abroad. At the same time we were warned not to pollute, not to liter and to do our part to keep our country clean.

Yet over the years, more and more of the conveniences promoted via TV commercials either added toxic waste to our rivers and streams or were made from plastics and other non-biodegradable materials destined to crowd our landfills forever.

In recent years, controls over manufacturing plant emissions and the introduction of environmentally friendly products for the home and office have helped the situation, somewhat. Concurrently, cars have been made to burn cleaner and drive further on a tank of gas while the fuel itself no longer contributes the amount of pollutants it once did.

Progress has been made to where the US is not the culprit it once was. However, we use so much more energy per capita that the environmentalist, here and in Europe, continue to point their fingers at us even though the emerging countries such as China and India and the dozens of developing ones around the world have a long way to go before they began to approach the standards we have set for ourselves.

Now there's a movement to place a carbon charge on energy usage worldwide. If this succeeds, US companies producing products in this country and employing American workers will be at a disadvantage. They will, however, be able to purchase unused energy allotments from other firms or countries for a fee. Either way, the consumer will pay more for goods and more for their own energy consumption. The only ones profiting from this will be the federal government via taxes and the energy traders through their commissions made on both buying and selling carbon credits.

Isn't this the same government that is spending us into bankruptcy? Aren't these the same commodity brokers and Wall Street opportunists cited for driving up the price of oil not long ago? They were responsible for pushing junk bonds, risky derivatives and hedge funds that helped lead to the bubble bursting in our once booming economy? Why would we trust these institutions to do anything in our best interest?

If we haven't learned from the health care reform debacle, then when are the American people going to finally say, "Enough is enough?" Yes, we need to do our part to improve the world's environment; but, no, we can't derail the economic engine that has made this country great - otherwise, we lose the strength to affect change. It's up to pre-boomers to lead the way, as we tried to do on health care, and make the American public aware that actions have consequences.

Don Potter, a Philadelphia native, was born in 1936 and is a 50 year veteran of the advertising agency business. Now living in Los Angeles, he has written two novels in retirement, frequently writes on marketing issues, and has a blog dedicated to pre-boomers (those born between 1930 and 1945).

Read more articles for and about pre-boomers with thoughts, comments and opinions designed to spark thinking, foster discussion, and stimulate debate by logging on to

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CASE STUDY: Pollution in Kolkata - Why a Whole City is Turning Into a Health Hazard!

By Surajit Ray

Pollution levels across India are some of the highest anywhere in the world. And on top of this pile of polluted places sits Kolkata. A once beautiful city has been reduced to a huge garbage yard with tons of plastic waste strewn on every square inch of the city. Along with the number of aging buses and trucks spewing smoke - the various coal fires and dusty construction sites, have made the landscape a wasteland. But what has conspired to create this situation? Why has the West Bengal government turned a blind eye to the transport contractors?

Politics has always been a prominent part of the Kolkata culture. However the excessive politicizing of every issue has made it extremely difficult for legislation to be formed. The government in its quandary chooses to sleep over the various bills in the interest of protecting the environment - rather than irk the contractors who pay for the party funds.

This has led to an unhealthy environment of government apathy and general callousness, especially in taking care of the living conditions. In its mandate to "provide rights to the poor" they have totally neglected the harm being caused to the environment by the millions of poor in the city.

The classic case of rampant pollution in the city of Kolkata are the buses and trucks plying the roads. In a recent move, a number of NGOs had petitioned that the pollution norms be strictly applied to the errant bus contractors. However the ministry decided to make the announcement with a rider that "people with genuine reasons can get a reprieve from the pollution control measures"!! This kind of obvious molly coddling of the transport contractors have further emboldened them, making it impossible for the police on the ground to fine the law breakers.

Plastic bags is another area where the West Bengal government has failed to check pollution. Elsewhere in all other major cities of India, plastic bags are banned as they cause widespread pollution which is difficult to remove. But not in Kolkata - where the "poor" have to carry their daily bread in plastic bags! The result is that the drainage system is choked in the city and the roads look like an unending garbage yard. Filth and disease accumulate in this waste causing diseases and generally making the whole city an unhealthy place to live in.

The present CPIM government is on its way out. They lost in all the by-polls. Here is hoping that the new government when it arrives, will be able to get rid pf the lethargy and inaction. If the laws are not implemented soon this city is going to become uninhabitable in the next few years! It is time the West Bengal government understood that "giving rights to the poor" does not mean that the environment can be abused!


Surajit Ray is an avid art and handicraft enthusiast. He works with rural and indigenous artists from various parts of India. He likes creating customized art pieces for discerning buyers.

Surajit is also interested in coding in Java and for the Android platform. His main interests are in the realm of machine learning and simulated neural networks. He is a strong supporter of the open source software concept and works with the various open source groups in Delhi, India.
(c) Copyright - Surajit Ray. All Rights Reserved Worldwide

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Dioxin - A Toxic Environmental Pollutant

By Dr. Sloan Charles, M.D.

Dioxin is a hazardous chemical that has its origins in chlorine and detergent production. Over the decades, it has accumulated in the environment leading to toxic levels. It is dangerous to health, as it affects a number of the human organs and body systems. Once these poisons are inhaled or absorbed by the body, they stay there a long time because it is absorbed by the fat tissues and stored in the body. Due to the stability of the chemical compound, it can stay in the body for more than a decade!

There is growing global concern as dioxins tend to accumulate in the food chain. As humans are arguably the highest in the food chain, the dioxins accumulated and consumed by humans is also in the highest concentrations.
Reports released by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that exposure of humans to high levels of dioxins may result in skin lesions, such as chloracne and patchy darkening of the skin, and altered liver function.

Pregnant mothers must take exceptional care to avoid coming in contact with this toxin, whether through inhalation, consumption or touching contaminated surfaces, as it can affect the fetus inside the womb, causing disabilities, mutations or stunting growth. Newborn babies are also particularly vulnerable to this chemical contamination, as their immune systems have not been fully developed.

Low levels of dioxins in the air in the indoor environment, such as the home and office, can be eliminated in a simple step by way of using indoor air purifiers with a carbon filter and certified by the AHAM (Association of American Home Appliances Manufacturers).

Get your FREE Report on the "7 Deadly Invisible Killers in Your Home", and find out how a good indoor air purifier can destroy deadly viruses (including H1N1), bacteria and clean other harmful pollutants and chemicals (such as dioxin) in your home and workplace that can cause diseases. Dr. Sloan, MD., is an experienced and qualified practicing medical doctor with a passion for the promotion of a healthy lifestyle and the prevention of illnesses and diseases.

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CASE STUDY: Massachusetts Solar Energy Rebate Program Hits a Wall

By Nathan Lew

If you go to its website, the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust, which administers the state's solar rebate program (the Commonwealth Solar Rebate Program) simply says it has gotten enough applications to meet the state's current goal; 27 megawatts of installed photovoltaic (PV) power by 2012.

The program, launched in January 2008, is an expression of Governor Deval Patrick's ultimate goal; 250 megawatts of solar power by 2017. But with slightly more than seven years, and 223 megawatts still to go, it seems odd and unfortunate that the program has run out of money, leaving many unapproved applicants in the lurch and on the hook for solar systems they have installed (or for which they have pending installation contracts).

This effectively ends the state's $68-million program for now, presumably until new funding can be arranged through the legislature. The program was originally funded through a $4-per-month fee on Massachusetts customer's utility bills, as well as penalties paid by utility companies operating at a deficit in terms of renewable energy generation.

That the money is all gone may be reassuring news for solar manufacturing firms and solar panel installers, proving yet again that solar energy, rather than being an energy fad destined to fail, is actually moving into the mainstream of energy production nationwide. It is very negative news for those who want to participate in solar energy.

The funding failure was apparently propelled by an Oct. 6 notice saying that the state was planning to reduce rebates, which spurred an influx of so many applications in a single week that the $26 million remaining in the fund was completely depleted, according to Massachusetts energy czar Philip Giudici.
Giudici called it a "surprise", happening as it did at a time when the state's consumers were demanding solar energy. For homeowners and small businesses looking to get some funding toward solar energy systems - whose prices are still too high for the average American - the announcement was more like a heartbreak.

At the time the fund failed, the state's energy executives were looking to switch incentives to renewable energy credits, or RECs. Now, with the solar energy fund $12 million over budget, and 142 new solar businesses in the state this year looking to capitalize on the state's solar energy incentive through new customers, the collapse of the incentive spells very bleak news for many.

Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust director Carter Wall has said that some of the state's ARRA funding may be used to bolster the solar panel incentives, in order to honor as many applicants as possible, and promised that the next round of funding approved by the legislature will more closely match needs. Since the legislature is out from Nov. 23 through the first of next year, the odds of getting anything supplemental passed in the interim is astronomical.

Homeowners and small businessmen aren't the only ones complaining. Last week, Yarmouth Public Works Director George Allaire dispatched an angry letter to Guidici, saying that power purchase agreements - critical to keeping the town's waste treatment facility viable - would now have to be amended or cancelled unless someone could tell the purchasers what kind of incentives to plan on in budgeting systems, costs and financial payback.

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

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The Debate on Solar Farms

By Jim Accardi

When first mentioned there sounds nothing more green and healthier for the environment than a solar farm. It is a renewable source of energy and the greenest form of commercial energy. Solar Energy has become the leading alternative to costly and eco disasters of fossil fuels. The true nature and cost of large arrays of solar farms on the environment has yet to be decided. Now that it has become profitable for companies to venture into this modern day oil rush some people are thinking twice.

Everyone pretty much agrees that we do need cleaner and renewable sources of energy. The cost of the modern day industrial age has taken a great toll on the planet. The natural resources that have fed the technological age are dwindling while the planet heats up from its pollution.

Solar energy is a must if we want to save our planet from the devastating factors causing high pollution and the sociological disaster that would happen if we were ever to run out of source of fuels. Solar energy is abundant and as long as the sun shines we will have an endless supply of it. It is clean and no waste comes from it. So the question is what is the problem?

The debate over solar farms is not that it produces clean reusable energy but what the exact impact these giant farms will have in the immediate surrounding environment. The most logical choices so far for energy or wanna be energy companies have been the western deserts of California, New Mexico, Nevada, etc.

Though they appear to be a barren landscape, life teems within. A whole ecosystem strives here that cannot be simply destroyed over solar panels. Doing so would push back decades of conservation efforts already made against standard logging, development and energy exploration and mining. The fact that no giant solar farms have ever been built before is also a huge concern.

The question to be answered is how big a solar farm has to be to produce enough energy to be profitable and suit the needs of consumers. How big can they be without totally destroying the surrounding environment and changing the landscape of a community? They answers will be hard; the problems lay also among residences that have the notion of Not in My Backyard. People will have to make sacrifices; environments will have to be destroyed for the greater good.

Can we really stall progress forever? Will everyone be pleased by outcome? No and we should not expect it to be otherwise. At the same time we cannot ignore the impact that large solar farms will have on our environment, we cannot solve one problem by creating another. We must learn to conserve our land and develop it properly for green energy. In the next few decades the need will be greater, the debates and opposition stronger and yet science must continue. If not now when?
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Replacing Kyoto With a Universally Acceptable Treaty

By Klaus H Hemsath

The Copenhagen Climate Conference of 2009 was doomed to failure before it ever began. The division between the major polluters and the rest of the world was just too wide. Even the two largest polluters, the USA and China, could not agree with each other.

In hindsight, it is good news that the meeting failed. The concept that is underlying the Kyoto Protocol is fatally flawed. It is not suited to deal with the conflicting concerns of industrialized nations and their large historical greenhouse gas emissions, the self-serving interests of the newly emerging, atmosphere polluting states like China and India, and it cannot relieve the apprehensions of many underdeveloped nations that are trying desperately to make increasing amounts of energy available to their struggling economies.

Eventually, they all need to agree on one inescapable, unified approach to preserve Earth for future generations. World governments must unite in declaring unanimously that they are committed to finding a permanent, sustainable solution to restoring Earth to its historic, pre-industrial conditions. This is not an idle fantasy. This can become a realistic goal that can be achieved by a united world community.

The world must find a workable approach to saving Earth. Such an agreement must treat all countries fairly and must distribute past and future responsibilities realistically. Ideally, a new concept for saving our Earth should strengthen all world economies.

Recent proposals of imposing taxes on energy consumption are very dangerous because they will lead to a wide range of unintended consequences. Highly industrialized nations like the USA, the European Union, Japan and even newly emerging economic world powers like China, India, Russia, and Brazil will have to export manufacturing processes with high energy consumption and related jobs to countries without prior experience in commodity industries. Such dislocations are without economic benefits for the world economy.

Taxation, rationing, and interference with energy consumption will result unfailingly in the distortion of markets. Rationing of energy utilization will inescapably create unwieldy and expensive bureaucracies. Manipulation of markets by government entities always begets higher costs for the consumer. Distortion of natural economic processes always leads to corruption. Governments must create the rules for assuring fair play in natural markets. Governments must referee when necessary, but must never influence market outcomes.

World economies are facing two unstoppable and immutable developments. Populations are growing and energy consumption must increase to give lesser developed economies the means to grow and provide food and increasing wealth to their citizens. Demanding a reduction in energy consumption from any countries will slow all world economies and will sentence many lesser developed countries to continuing poverty. There must be a better way.

In fact, there is a better way. The world, its citizens, and its governments must decide to make four major changes to world energy supplies.

1. Plentiful and affordable energy must be made available to every country on Earth
2. All emissions from fossil fuel combustion must be outlawed during the next fifty years
3. All fossil fuels must be replaced by renewable and sustainable energy supplies
4. Each country must commit itself to retrieve all its historic carbon dioxide emissions

None of these changes can be implemented quickly. Some are not even technologically feasible, yet. Nevertheless, the nations of the world have to agree to execute these changes during the next fifty years. During this agreed upon period, all countries must stop their carbon dioxide emissions completely and permanently.

During the same fifty years, the world has to continue its growth at a healthy rate. Only growing economies can take care of growing populations. Only prospering economies can make the unavoidable and inevitable changes to their energy supply structures.

There is only one way to realize these demanding goals; the world must join and combine the best available energy technologies into an entirely new industry that is capable of supplying clean energy for several centuries. Most importantly, technologists have to find ways for retrieving carbon dioxide, which has accumulated over one century, from the atmosphere.

World economies can continue their economic growth by advancing and developing a short list of critical energy technologies. Because there is not much time left, these technologies cannot be created by private industry or the capitalistic market place. Instead, the world must find the will and the funds for establishing a politically independent, global agency that is capable to plan, explore, develop, and demonstrate these critical technologies within the next ten years.

The world needs to develop an entirely new approach for supplying unlimited amounts of clean, affordable energy. The world needs leaders that have the vision and have the will to create advanced world economies that can confidently rely on ample supplies of clean energy for centuries.

Barely any papers, articles, or books have been published that deal with this topic. Hopefully, the failure in Copenhagen will lead to more publications that introduce, investigate, and explain the most important energy technologies, which the world needs in the near future.

In "Clean Energy for Centuries" Dr. Hemsath presents a comprehensive plan for ending Global Warming and Climate Change. "Petroleum Substitutes from Biomass" is in progress. For fifty years he has developed, designed, and installed advanced energy technologies as scientist, process engineer, inventor, Corporate R&D Executive, CEO, entrepreneur, and author. He holds more than 60 US Patents. Visit for more information.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

How Does the Earth Purify the Water - The Answer May Surprise You

By Troy Truman

It's an interesting question. How does the earth purify water? Seeing as though natural spring water originating hundreds, sometimes thousands of feet below the earth's surface is the cleanest, healthiest and most delicious H2O ever to be tasted, it might be a good idea to understand just how that happens.

How can water that comes from the dirty ground be purer and safer than what comes from my kitchen faucet? Perhaps the notion appears counter intuitive. But it is true. The water that has filtered through many layers of sediment and gravel is purer than even some filtered, bottled H2O.

When investigating the answer to the question "How does the earth purify the water?", I like to imagine that the layers of the earth are really just giant filters that help to eliminate contaminants in water as it makes its way down through the rocks, sand and gravel. This is not a quick process. In fact, you might go crazy sitting there waiting for it to turn into pure, underground spring water.

In a given one square foot area, H2O passes through layers of dirt, sand and gravel at a rate of 0.1 gallon a minute. That's 0.4 liters a minute. By the time you had enough water to quench your thirst, you might be old and gray.

Natural springs found deep below the surface of the earth has naturally filtered out 99.9 percent of contaminants that could harm a person's health if ingested. As the water moves through the various porous layers of the earth, foreign particles are trapped in the sediment while it passes freely, but slowly, down to deeper layers. Even microorganisms that can cause disease and death in ingested by humans or animals are filtered out of the water through this natural process.

How does the earth purify water in other ways?

Another way in which the earth naturally purifies is through the water cycle. You probably learned about this in elementary school. The cycle starts with the large bodies of waters such as oceans and seas. Great volumes evaporate off the surface of these bodies of water and become gas and drift up into the earth's atmosphere. Most particles are not able to evaporate and stay behind. The water then reconstitutes as a liquid and falls to the earth as rain or snow. Of course pollution in the air and water has devastated this process.

Ready to learn more about earth water purification? Visit today to find out more!

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

CASE STUDY: Hydroelectric Energy at What Cost? - Three Gorges Dam in China

By Yvonne Mustafelli

Dams have been used as sources of hydroelectric energy for many years. In 2006, the body of the largest hydroelectric plant was completed in Yichang, China. By October of 2008, the original plans for the dam were complete with 32 generators working to create energy. Additional turbines were added to the original plans and should be complete no later than 2011. From October of 2008 until September of 2009, the plant produced enough energy to cover nearly 1/3 of the total production cost at nearly 350 terawatt hours of electricity, but what is the price local people and ecological systems have to pay for this energy?

Flooding caused by damming up the Three Gorges river caused more than one million people to lose their homes. Local ecological systems are being damaged and destroyed and the risk of landslides has increased dramatically. Still, the dam remains the single most productive hydroenergy plant in the world. The damage to local ecosystems defeats the purpose of producing alternative energy.

Ultimately, the world needs the power water can create, but destroying the Earth in the process is not an environmentally friendly option. In addition to the damage created by the dam itself, substations and super electrical lines need to be installed in order to move the created energy to the people who can use the power. This results in an even larger carbon footprint on the earth.

The United States, Canada and British Columbia are learning from this type of destruction. Micro-hydropower plants are currently the focus of these countries. Microsystems may provide a fraction of the total output, but local environment is preserved.

Read all about hydroelectric energy.

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How Will Melting Glaciers Affect Us?

By Scott Noble

It's difficult to ignore the news about melting glaciers. We see it on television and read about it regularly. Who can forget the recent news about polar bears and their shrinking habitats? The basics, however, are that the earth's glaciers are melting at a pace faster than in the past, causing various concerns related to the environment.

Will melting glaciers cause the earth's oceans and rivers to rise? Will melting glaciers result in habitat loss for plants and animals? What does the melting of glaciers mean to drinking water-its availability and its safety?

These and a variety of other questions all are related to what's going on in the coldest areas of our planet.
Perhaps the most talked-about issue and the one of greatest concern is the potential rising of waterways affected by melting glaciers. In an Associated Press story that appeared on, the author writes, "Glaciers in Antarctica are melting faster and across a much wider area than previously thought, a development that threatens to raise sea levels worldwide and force millions of people to flee low-lying areas."

If the current melting rate continues, sea levels could climb three to five feet by the end of the century, according to the same report. Those are huge numbers, especially for communities located near beaches and rivers. And while many people should be concerned about rising water levels from melting glaciers, a longer-term problem will be decreased spring run-off due to shrinking glaciers, according to a report in the Guardian.

So while immediate affects of melting glaciers might revolve more around rising sea levels, an equally significant longer-term effect will be reduced water, which results in its own problems. Issues like the melting of glaciers point to the intricate balance that exists on our planet and to the essential nature of water to our survival.

Scott Noble is the official spokesperson for http://www.WaterFilters.NET - Our store stocks water filters, replacement water filter cartridges, and water filtration systems for all your water treatment needs. We carry top brands in our $1 million dollar inventory including Culligan Water Filters, Pentek Water Filters, GE Water Filters, Everpure Water Filters, Maytag Water Filters, and more. We stock whole house filters, reverse osmosis systems, replacement cartridges, faucet filters, o-rings, under sink filters, refrigerator filters, and more.

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Animal Poaching is Still a Serious Problem in Africa As Rhinos Fight For Their Survival

By Lauren Potgieter

It is hard to believe that after so much effort has been made to conserve and protect the African wildlife from extinction due to brutal poaching, that these killings are at a 15 year high. Animal poaching is a serious problem that is hugely effecting the rhino population as well as other animals with horns including elephants.

Even with game rangers extensive security and organisations protective measures, individuals are still somehow making their way into private game reserves and poaching rhinos and other animals and selling their horns on the black market for a large sum of money.

The reason why the illegal act of animal poaching has reached such an escalated state is owing to the fact that for the first time ever, the value of a rhino horn has exceeded the actual value of gold. One kilogram of rhino horn is now worth somewhere in the range of 60,000 American dollars and this value is now higher than one kilogram of gold which stands at approximately 40,600 US dollars.

The amount of rhinos and other animal poaching incidents this year is astronomical. There are been more than 84 rhino killings this year alone and some of those have been within game reserves. Many tourists are now hesitant about attending Kruger park safaris and other tours owing to the fact that these brutal killings seems to be continuing. However, it is not only South Africa where animals are being poached for their horns. Zimbabwe has seen 300 of their rhinos being poached over a three year period which a frightening high amount, especially due to the fact that there are so little Rhinos left. Areas other than South Africa that have an animal poaching problem include Nepal and India.

Authorities believe that rhino poaching is still occurring around the world due to the lack of serious prison terms that are handed out to animal offenders. Animal horns are poached and used in ancient medicine and are believed to have healing powers. After extensive scientific research, it has been found that there is no proven evidence that these horns have any medicinal value.

There are five types of Rhino species and all of these species are endangered on various levels. Recently, the Black Rhino, previously the sixth species, was announced extinct due its death, mainly by the hands of cruel poachers greedy for money. It is unlikely that this animal poaching will stop as long as there are individuals willing to pay large amounts of money for these animals' horns.

However, this is a silver lining to the animal poaching epidemic. Many poachers are getting caught for their brutal acts of violence towards animals and recently, 70 individuals were arrested for poaching in the Selous Game Reserve. Police are beginning to crack down on offenders and we can only hope that these offenders will be shown no mercy in court.

Lauren Potgieter wrote this article for Outlook SGE and their Kruger Park Safaris

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Melting Glaciers - A Sign of Global Warming

By Pauline Go

With the world being swept apart today by the various discussions on issues which are related to global warming or even climate change as the phenomena is often referred to as, the seriousness of the issue and the condition of the globe on an universal level has to an extent hit us today.

Global warming signifies a condition in which the temperature of the world around us rises up on a universal level. A threat to the world around us, it is also a looming danger that can affect humans as well as all living beings in an alarming way.

Perhaps, no other aspect of global warning is as high as that of the glaciers all around the world melting down on a steady and universal level ... a trait that can both act as an ongoing proof of the severe effects of the changes in the climatic conditions as well as another visual reminder of the stark effects of the fallout of the changes.

The problem of the melting glaciers on a universal level was brought to light in the past century ... from reports which came from almost all corners of the globe. Though ice melts every year, it is generally replaced by fresh ice that allows the glacier to remain intact centuries after centuries. However, with the effects of the global warming, the fresh snow which is formed is not adequate enough to replace the entire quantity of snow that had melted. Besides, this, the resultant snow transforms into water which reaches the sea and in turn increases the level of the sea water.

Thus, this too can have an adverse effect on the totality of effects that has the power of disrupting the normalcy of life on earth. Thus, as responsible global citizens, we should try and stop all the small steps which can in turn increase global warming.

About Author: Pauline is an online leading expert in science and education. She also offers top quality tips like: General Chemistry Definitions and Geography And Culture

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Land Conservation

By Pauline Go

The science and management of land conservation pertains to the protection of plants, animals and natural resources in the interests of those habiting the region of the land in question. The need for land conservation is a basic necessity for those in the regions most affected by human activities of hunting, deforestation and industrial hazard dumping. Most of the activities causing this degeneration in nature started between 1000 and 2000 AD. The land being an important source of food crops and animal habitation, the issue of land conservation is of primary importance in the context of healthy survival.

Conservation movements have been taken up by various conversationalist organizations and their activities have included the upgrading of habitual conditions in various places in the world including many parts of Africa. Understanding the minute details for the cause of land degeneration requires scientific expertise in high scale geology and various other relevant matters. The services of a conversationalist organization pertains to building necessary constructions for drainage, land erosion by water, making sanctuaries out of wild forests and means to reduce pollution and global warming.

Most land conservation processes target at improving the living conditions pertaining to nature for healthier human and animal survival. The preservation of organic resources is also a primary job of land conversationalist organizations. The movements are value driven and have commendable social importance. The progresses of land conservation movements are however often affected by political muscle play as most of the affected population are detached from the governmental dealings.

About Author: Pauline is an online leading expert in science and education. She also offers top quality tips like: General Chemistry Definitions and Geography And Culture

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CASE STUDY: California's Water Crisis

By Courtney Shipe

Finishing up its third straight year of drought, California is in a desperate situation in regards to water. With the Central Valley population continuing to expand and grow, the demand for water is stressing the state's water districts which are already struggling to make sure there is enough water to go around. The agricultural areas of California, such as the Westlands southeast of Fresno have been hardest hit, not only by the drought, but by pumping restrictions on the delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. These restrictions were put in place to preserve the Delta smelt, an endangered fish similar to an anchovy. About 25 million people and 2.5 million acres of agricultural land receive their water from the Delta.

If a solution is not found to California's water crisis, farmers say that the agricultural community will be finished. "It's one of the grimmest water situations we've ever faced," almond grower Bill Diedrich states. "It's an absolute emergency and anything to get water flowing quickly is needed." Finding a solution that will satisfy all parties involved is a difficult prospect however. Politics is playing a big role in the way the water crisis is being handled. With environmentalists, farmers, Republicans and Democrats facing off in the "water wars", lawmakers were barely able to pass a series of bills in November of this year that call for a new canal to move more water from the north part of the state into the south. A roughly forty billion dollar project, the bills also allow for an increase in monitoring water usage and penalties for water misuse.

According to a New York Times article, "Many environmentalists still believe that the bill's not go far enough. But they won oversight of the ailing estuary, checks and balances on future dams and some mild penalties for failures to conserve water." Almost a quarter of the agricultural land in the Central Valley remained fallow in 2008 due to water shortages. Shortages have also led to a decline in the salmon population throughout the state. Clearly there is a need for some solution to California's water crisis. One can only hope these new bills will begin helping the ailing state. Until then, water conservation remains the best way for individuals to help their state's water supply.

For more information about California's water crisis please visit

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Eco-Friendly Products And A Change In Attitude

by Thomas Pretty

As many places all over the world experience adverse weather conditions and climate change a finger is always pointed towards the damage we are doing to the environment. It is subsequently understandable then that so many people now choose to buy eco-friendly products, in order to do their part for the cause of saving the planet and preserving the environment.

The sheer array of eco-friendly products available on the market today is immense; it is now possible to pick up practically anything, from cars to televisions that are more environmentally sound than in previous years.

Many of these products have managed to improve their eco-credentials by changing the way in which they are manufactured and distributed. For example, where in the past plastics were manufactured from scratch, many are now made using recycled products. One example would be car tyres, that can be recycled to manufacture items such as bags or even pencil cases.

Similarly, those with a true eco-consciousness can purchase clothes manufactured from recycled plastic carrier bags; definitely a statement, but less for fashion and more to show to everyone that your own commitment to the environment is evident.

It is not just niche items however that are now more eco-friendly. Large corporations are now jumping on the bandwagon, acutely aware that they must incorporate environmental thinking into their processes if they are to survive. For instance, major car manufacturers now take into account fuel efficiency into their designs for new cars from the outset.

With dwindling fuel supplies and the focus of the media upon any new car launch it is essential to market a vehicle that will limit its own impact on the environment.

In a similar vein, technology companies are incorporating environmental principles into their design processes. One pertinent example is of some new televisions that have a presence sensor; put simply, this sensor detects the presence of the people in the room, if no one is watching then the set is turned off automatically.

Equally important are ambient light sensors being incorporated into televisions and laptops; these sensors evaluate the amount of light in a room and adjust the backlight of the computer or the television to a more suitable level. These two developments may seem rather insignificant but when their effects are taken for the entirety of a products lifespan then the savings can be considered extremely worthwhile.

Hopefully this article has gone some of the way to explaining the types of eco-products that are now available to consumers. It has also hoped to present the point that many major companies as well as smaller operators are now incorporating environmental principles into their design and manufacturing processes.

With a keen interest in environmental issues Thomas Pretty studies how eco-friendly products are rapidly becoming a large element in the global economy and how companies are increasing incorporating environmentally friendly agendas. To find out more please visit

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Things to do this New Year

Health is a personal issue that many of us never discuss, not even with our closest friends, but the affects of our zeitgeist have direct effects on our bodies, and our spiritual well-being. Just a few greener steps are not going to reverse the adverse effects of pollution and chemicals in our foods, on our internal organs and skin, but there are defensive measures we can each make to maintain a harmonious balance for our health.

Filters that require new parts every month can be expensive and annoying, and may lead us to become lazy and start drinking contaminants in our tap water, again. There are cheaper options that will never require new components, though. Campers know that silk filters are easiest to pack and clean, and they rarely if ever require new parts. Also, water distillers can be purchased and used at home, as many inhabitants of badly polluted developing nations are forced to use with regularity.

Something else we can learn from people who live in less developed nations is that home gardens can sustain us throughout winters, recessions, and Mad Cow scares. If you are willing to spend a few hours a week nurturing your own plot of vegetables, you can save money, and spare your body harsh chemicals and genetically engineered foods. Gardening is also a practical chore for kids to learn more about the world around them. But, if you don’t have enough time to get a Jeffersonian feel for the soil, there are farmers’ markets with locally grown produce that you can patronize rather than supermarkets that carry imported goods.

It’s difficult to change habits that are ingrained since childhood, but a fresh look at your lifestyle will reveal easy changes that can be made to protect your health from the worst aspects of your environment.

Wind Energy – The next power source

Wind power is a great supplement to solar power and assists in developing a fully independent personal system. When the sun is shining, wind power is often totally unnecessary, as the solar can easily provide the electricity you need. On the other hand, when a storm blows in and the weather turns, wind is part of the storm.

Thus, when solar power starts slowing down and pulling in less and less energy, the wind turbines really start spinning. This helps you not only stay off grid, but also increases your profit lines, as you can sell more power back.

A few facts about wind energy:

- Wind energy is probably the oldest form of harnessed energy in the world – boats have used the wind for propulsion since our earliest records of boats, and is still used for that today

- Windmills began appearing in China a thousand years before they began major usage in the Middle East and Europe

- Windmills have been used for everything from milling grain into flour to pumping water out of an enclosed area, as was done by the Dutch

- Between 2005 and 2008, wind power around the world doubled, from 60,000 megawatts to 121,000. 2008 alone saw a production increase of 29%.

- China is more interested in developing wind power than any other country. Each of the last three years they have more than doubled their production of wind energy. They are now producing more than 12 thousand MW every year.

- 2020 could easily see 1.5 Million megawatts of power produced yearly.

As wind power becomes more prevalent, not only does our power become cleaner and less damaging, it also gets cheaper to build, particularly for a household unit. This is the cheapest it has ever been to build or install your own system!

CASE STUDY: Biofuels News - 14 Airlines to Use Biofuel

By Yvonne Mustafelli

When AltAir Fuels chose to create a jet fuel from camelina plant seeds, they were hoping some of the world's most popular airlines would buy into the idea of running a more eco-friendly plane. The bet worked out for AltAir. According to recent biofuels news reports, the company has signed 14 airlines that are ready to make the change to alternative energy.

With fuel production due to begin in 2012, the company is currently signing airlines to agreements to buy the fuel. Between two production facilities, according to biofuels news, a combined 325 million gallons of alternative fuel could be produced each year. But how far will these gallons truly stretch?

According to the holding capacity of a Boeing 747-400, 325 million gallons of alternative energy could power the plane through nearly 50 million miles of flights. The reduction in carbon and pollutant emissions in the first year alone would be substantial.

Biofuels news reports that the United States, Canada, Germany and Mexico have all signed agreements to buy the camelina based (or other renewable natural source) fuel when production begins. Other sources of production could include feed stocks, coal and petroleum coke.

AltAir will be partnering with Rentech, out of Los Angeles, to boost production numbers. Rentech will be producing the majority of the energy at an estimated output of 250 million gallons per year. At press time, AltAir estimates being able to produce only 75 million gallons from the Seattle based plant. It is estimated that the alternative production will reduce the amount of traditional fuel use by up to 10%.

Read the latest biofuels news, check out

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CASE STUDY: Inmates Enjoy Solar Energy in Jail

By Nathan Lew

Now, bright, clean, renewable solar energy is turning to its darker side; the Charleston County jail in South Carolina. Unlikely perhaps, but the large flat roofs of Charleston County detention center, also known as, "The House", which aims to improve its status as one of the nation's most crowded inmate facilities with an ongoing $100-million expansion slated for completion next year.

The solar array will also improve power consumption figures, which already reach 4.25 million kilowatts a year, through regional utility South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G). This is expected to double on completion of the new facility.

No mention has been made where the panels are to be placed, but the logical assumption is that they will go on the new expansion, some 323,000 square feet in size (or only slightly less than the original detention center, built in 1966, and its 1993 expansion), largely because of the two previous sites older roofs.

The plan is to cover said roof with American-made solar panels to offset a portion of the detention center's electricity needs, through a $1.1 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA, which provides funding for governmental entities and schools to install energy efficiency devices like solar power. The grant competes for $2.8 million allotted to the state for renewable energy projects through ARRA.

The county believes the panels would more than pay for themselves through energy-cost savings, and some officials even speculate that the installation could help attract "clean energy" companies to the region. This would benefit South Carolina's citizens, who already hold a record as the sixth largest electricity consumers in the nation.

The solar photovoltaic "farm", described as potentially producing 640,000 kilowatts a year, or enough to power about 5,300 homes, will also be responsible for eliminating 460 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide from coal-burning generation plants. This is the same as taking 84 cars off the road, or planting 11,785 trees, or preserving 104 acres of South Carolina's pine forests.

South Carolina's electricity generation mix currently consists of 61-percent coal-fired power plants, with the state's electric cooperatives getting fully 80 percent of their electricity from coal. The solar proposal couldn't have come at a better time, with Waxman-Markey in the wings and South Carolina residents waking to the dangers of burning coal or piling the ash alongside streams and communities.

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

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2010 Is the International Year of Biodiversity - What Are You Going to Do to Help?

By Anne Erasmus

2010 will be a year of celebration of the biological diversity of Earth, its value for our lives, and a chance to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity. From micronutrients in soil, to big predators like sharks and humans, each species on earth, and its habitat, affects the lives of other species, and of humans.

Biodiversity is the life support system of our planet, and change to the dynamics of that system affects more than just the participants in each system. Population decreases and species loss in animals threatens the existence of their ecosystems. The replacement of naturally diverse vegetation that supports a vast array of plants, insects, birds and animals by single crop farming has far-reaching consequences that threaten human existence too.

Protecting biodiversity includes:
- protecting wildlife, especially rare and endangered species
- preventing the extinction of individual species
- protecting the biodiversity of different regions
- protecting ecosystems

Climate change drives the loss of biodiversity, as is being seen in the polar regions where polar bears and penguins are threatened by the melting of their habitat and feeding grounds. At the same time, the deterioration of habitats and loss of biodiversity worsen the effects of climate change, and in some instances contribute to it. Fighting global warming and protecting biodiversity is a responsibility we all share, as it is human activity that has done more to damage our planet than any other factor.

What Can You Do?
  • reuse and recycle wherever possible
  • save water, energy and fuel
  • remove invasive species from your garden
  • plant a water-wise, indigenous garden
  • build a pond, bird boxes and plant wildflowers to attract wildlife, birds and insects into your garden
  • grow your own organic vegetables
  • use environmentally friendly pesticides and household cleaning products
  • buy products that support sustainable development projects
  • support local initiatives like river clean-ups and wetland restoration
  • use renewable energy sources
  • don't buy hardwood products from unsustainable sources
  • when on vacation, don't buy coral, shells and ivory or animal skins
  • visit nature reserves - your entrance fee helps sustain the reserve
  • support wildlife conservation organisations, with donations of time or money
  • petition against unfettered development and industrial creep
  • report pollution to the relevant authorities
Make 2010 the year you get actively involved in preserving our planet and teach your children about it too.
For more green tips, products, services and news, get to today. Make 2010 the year you get involved in saving our planet.

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Deforestation - What is the Main Culprit?

By Rosi Lehr

Tropical forests cover only 7-13% of the earth's land surface according to a Greenpeace case study written in 2008. The Amazon is the world's largest tropical forest and deforestation is a concern for its inhabitants and the rest of the world. The misconception lies in what the majority of uninformed individuals view as the leading cause for this devastation. Illegal logging is commonly cited as the reason for this debilitating issue. Research shows that clearing land for soy farming and cattle grazing actually accounts for more than 80-90 % of deforestation.

A quote from Dr. Pat Moore, founding member of Greenpeace, "If you want to save tropical rainforests, boycott tropical fruit and vegetables, and buy tropical woods instead, because than people will grow trees instead." He suggests we put a value on the trees by purchasing products made from them thus creating a need to care for the forest. The good news is with the new systems in place like the Lacey Act developed by the Department of Agriculture, illegal logs will not enter the US. Sustainable forests will grow and we can make trees a valuable commodity so that land can be set aside for their growth not cleared for the above mentioned farming and cattle grazing.

Brazil has become a major if not the biggest exporter of beef which results in cattle grazing and clearing of precious forest space. Soy bean demand has increased at an alarming rate as well which accounts for the agricultural cash cropping and devastation of rich soil and minerals. We choose to become indignant about the destruction of our forests but if we really want to look at the source we can blame the demand we all put on beef, soybeans, tropical fruits and tropical vegetables. China and Russia alone have a huge demand for cattle that is increasing at an alarming rate which Brazil attempts to fill. The cattle industry has a lot more sophisticated resources to keep this out of the media but the numbers don't lie.

So the next time you look at a wood deck or floor made from tropical lumber remember that it can actually be helping to keep the forest intact otherwise the land would be slowly being used for other money making resources. Tropical hardwoods have gotten a bad rap but with the education and help of everyone, it can actually be harvested and sustained for future use for us and the indigenous people it supports.

Learn more about Ipe Decking and tropical lumber.
Rosi Lehr is a contributing writer for Advantage Trim and Lumber Co. Ipe Decking

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Our Disposable Lifestyle - Throwing Sustainability Out the Window

By Trudy Slabosz

Have you ever considered our disposable lifestyle, how many of the products we use everyday are designed to be thrown out after as little as just one use? Tissues, toweling paper, razors, coffee cups, drink containers, food containers, nappies, tea bags, plastic shopping bags are all manufactured, packaged, transported and sold to be used once and then discarded, sometimes within a matter of minutes.

And it doesn't stop there, nearly all consumer products have a conceived limited lifetime. In a society that places so much value on the 'latest', 'greatest', 'up to the minute' fashion and trends it is not surprising that we often find ourselves throwing out or replacing many household and lifestyle items year in year out. Computers, televisions, white-goods, clothes, shoes, cars, home wares, furniture and so many gadgets and 'necessities' of everyday living are repackaged and re-released all the time, creating a false sense of obsolesce in the 'out dated' model.

This didn't just happen, it was designed. Throwaway, breakable, disposable goods were originally conceived after World War II as a way of creating mass economic growth and we have embraced them for their convenience and perceived necessity.

And you've got to hand it to them, this revolution in disposable goods certainly generated an economic boom but at what cost?

  • The earth is being forced to try and digest an ever growing amount of waste. Through landfill and pollution we are drowning the planet in toxic waste that, in the case of plastics, can never be entirely broken down.
  • We are relying on cheap oil to manufacture and transport all these goods for our convenience and immediacy but how much longer will this be an option?
Consider the amount of garbage one household generates, how much of our trash is made up by disposable, convenience items; plastic toothbrushes, pens, lighters, batteries, containers, cleaning cloths, oven trays, wrapping, packaging and so much more.

We need to consider the environmental impact of these items and weigh it up against their convenience.
  • Plastic is non biodegradable which means after it is thrown out it does not breakdown to a natural state and will more often than not end up as pollution either in landfill or quite often in our oceans and waterways
  • When plastic waste is incinerated it creates toxic fumes that pollute our air and environment
  • It takes large amounts of chemical pollutants to create plastic, as well as significant amounts of fossil fuels
  • Although biodegradable the paper industry also contributes to air and water pollution, energy consumption, water consumption and deforestation
When we look at the facts above it may be worthwhile considering an alternative to throw away and disposable items. Weigh up the very negative long lasting environmental impact of a disposable item's real lifespan against their designed use of a few minutes, days or months and an imbalanced picture begins to emerge.

Yet, there are alternatives readily available and with a few changes in our habits and product choices we can reduce the need and reliance on an unsustainable disposable lifestyle.

To limit our dependency on disposable items and our overall consumption and resulting waste; consider the following:
  • Use reusable items whenever possible this includes reusable shopping bags, pens, lighters, razors, food storage containers, refillable drink bottles, coffee cups, washable dish cloths, cloth napkins, hankies, nappies etc. And this doesn't necessarily mean going back to the days of old, there are new exciting reusable items available from sustainable forward thinking companies for nearly every item imaginable.
  • Avoid the use of plastic wrap and disposable sandwich and freezer bags by investing in quality glassware storage containers to refrigerate leftovers.
  • Always reduce, reuse and recycle and look for items made from recycled products or with recycled packaging. Be inventive, any item that can be washed out and reused saves on waste and consumption.
  • Before replacing an item consider the option of repairing it or replacing it with a second hand item. Is the need to replace it based on a conceived obsolescence? Can you make do with the item for a little longer?
  • Try not to be over influenced by fashion and advertising. When it comes to clothing, foot ware and gadgets consider the impact of your choices before buying into fashion and fleeting trends.
We owe it to our planet and ourselves to escape from this unnecessary throwaway lifestyle. Make a simple change next time you are faced with the option of disposable or reusable and see the difference. With a little imagination, creativity, forethought and care we can move towards a sustainable and positive future.
Small.Simple.Life Happy and Healthy, Ethical and Sustainable Living

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Why Don't We Hear Much About Acid Rain Anymore?

By Scott Noble

Back in the 1980s and for part of the 1990s, one could hardly open a newspaper or watch a television news program without reading or hearing about acid rain and its toxic effects on the environment. People across the United States - and particularly those in the Northeast - were concerned about the long-term consequences of this recently-discovered problem.

Now, several decades after the initial warnings reached America's consciousness, one might wonder what happened to this issue. We rarely - if ever - read or hear about it. Has acid rain been "solved?" Is the threat no longer there? Or have other current issues like global warming overtaken acid rain in the public's mind?

According to Nina Shen Rastogi, who recently wrote an article for Slate, "When Congress passed an amendment to the Clean Air Act calling for major reductions in the types of emissions that lead to rain," the issue of acid rain fell off the radar. That was in 1990.

Since then, "emissions have dropped significantly," Rastogi wrote. However, the issue is not completely solved. While the environment has improved in many areas that were severely affected by acid rain, some areas-mainly in the Northeast-have yet to recover, according to Rastogi.

So while global climate change has received the bulk of the media attention the last decade and a half, there is still work to be done to make sure areas across the United States are recovering.

One thing the rain issue does teach us, however. That is how government and industry can work together to help address a serious environmental issue. Global climate change is a much bigger problem with much more at stake. Nevertheless, the acid rain issue should provide us with incentive and confidence that we can positively affect issues related to global climate change.

Scott Noble is the official spokesperson for http://www.WaterFilters.NET. Our store stocks water filters, replacement cartridges, and water filtration systems for all your water treatment needs. We stock whole house filters, reverse osmosis systems, refrigerator filters and more.

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