Monday, March 29, 2010

Solutions for the Management and Recycling of Industrial Waste

by Adriana Noton

Industrial waste comes in all three states of matter, liquid, solid and gas. This waste must be disposed of properly. It should be gathered and transported in a hygienic, safe and efficient manner and disposed of based on the environmental laws currently in place. There are options for both the management and recycling of industrial waste.

Since waste can be dangerous, including radioactive material and toxic chemicals, its disposal must be managed by professionals. Furthermore, the manner in which the waste is disposed of has to be researched and chosen carefully. Protection of the environment is the number one priority.

Industrial waste is now more abundant than residential waste due to increased production. This means the threat of danger to our living environment and life in general has increased substantially. This has to be taken seriously.

A popular method of getting rid of both residential and industrial waste is to burn it at a high temperature until all solids turn into gases. There is also energy released from this process that can be used. However, this produces residual waste in the form of harmful fumes, which must also be disposed of. So, even though this is a popular method that is used worldwide, it is not the safest or greenest. The government is responsible for residential waste management but industries themselves are responsible for their own waste.

Disposal of waste can also be done by compacting the waste and moving it to abandoned areas. The waste can then be buried underground and the ground above can be finished with landscaping so that there is no evidence of the waste. This is a reasonably efficient way to dispose of industrial waste. Again, there is the issue of fumes as the waste breaks down and there is the added issue of waste seeping into any water that runs beneath the ground.

So, the most popular method of waste management is recycling. Recycling enables industries to not only reduce their costs of waste disposal but to create new products from the waste that they can then resell or build a new industry around. The most important benefit to recycling is that it is the most green method of waste management. This is why many industries, whether voluntarily or not, are starting to recycle their waste.

Another form of recycling is to take industrial and residential waste and break it down to create things like fertilizer, mulch and even energy. New ways of waste management are being thought of and developed all the time. With scientific advances in areas like sustainability and environmental awareness, these methods are more and more likely to be utilized. They are also actively developing these methods to generate new sources of income while reducing waste.

We must protect and defend our Earth. If we destroy our environment, it won't matter what industries produce anymore. That is why industrial waste must be properly taken care of and industries must be constantly aware of what they produce and where it goes.

Many organizations are seeking helpful services to sustain the environment, such as Toronto waste management. Do your part in beautifying the city by hiring professional assistance with waste management

Markham and recycling Richmond Hill initiatives.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Green Architecture - The Future of Real Estate

By Christine Hancock

As we continue to find ourselves in a situation where natural resources are getting depleted at rapid rates, it becomes imperative that we consider as many options to bring ourselves closer to the environment, and to the use of eco-friendly, non-depleting resources as possible.

Take the case of fossil fuels; they are both depleting as well as non-eco-friendly, with harmful emissions being a resultant of their consumption. In such a scenario, the use of solar energy as well as wind energy can be excellent alternatives.

While the usage of alternative energy sources like the aforementioned is being explored in diverse situations, real estate is one such area where the same can actually be used effectively. In addition to the obvious benefits to the environment, long term cost savings are also multifarious. In this article, we look at some of the ways in which you could incorporate green architecture initiatives into your construction.

Usage of LEDs and CFL Lamps

LEDs and CFL lamps are an excellent way of conserving energy; their intuitive, inherent technology allows significantly reduced electricity consumption for their usage. This not only results in more efficient usage of electrical resources, it also paves the way for major energy savings. Therefore, make sure you consider the option of using light emitting devices like the aforementioned, for your construction.

Usage of Solar Panels

Solar energy is one major energy source that is not going away anywhere, anytime soon (or so it seems!). Thus maximizing the usage of solar energy in real estate constructions makes ample sense. The relatively high initial costs of solar panels is what keeps a majority of realtors away from considering the usage of solar panels as indeed the overall implementation of solar energy in buildings. Yet, one should look at the long term implications that such an initiative would have, particularly the huge cost savings.

Waste Management

Waste management is one area where green initiatives can be applied effectively. Segregation of waste at the initial stage can save a lot of effort later, for waste disposal entities. Additionally, when applied effectively, you can actually recycle a lot of the waste that you generate, yourself, and use it for your own purpose. Already, numerous home owners across the country are using the biodegradable waste that they generate, as fertilizer for their own gardens.

Thus, as you can clearly see, the green initiatives that can be taken in real estate are numerous. Ultimately, common sense coupled with a drive from within to implement such initiatives and make a difference to the environment would be the key factors in ensuring that these steps see the light of day.

Christine Hancock

Christine has been writing articles online for almost 4 years. Not only is this author a Real Estate Broker but she also enjoys creating and marketing websites, you can check out her website about Haberdasher Square Lofts at

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Friday, March 26, 2010

How Heated Floors Are More Energy Efficient than Central Heating - Part 2

Heated floors have been with us for thousands of years. Archeologists have discovered ancient Roman houses that had an arrangement for floor heating. These houses were discovered in the Roman city of Bath, in England. The floor had short pillars on which there was another solid flooring. The space that this created was used as a duct for heated steam or water to pass through. The heat from this conducted to the floor material - specially made from conducting material - and then radiated from the floor to warm the room. This was different from open hearth fireplace systems that relied on convection of heat through the air, a process that was inefficient and dangerous. The underfloor heating technology was known as hypocaust.

In our day, underfloor heating is a very useful method to keep a room warm in winter. It is widely used in many countries, and the technology uses steam rather than water, in most cases, because steam is usually hotter than water, and lighter too, so it is easier to manage. A boiler is kept outside the house, or underground, and various means are used to heat the steam therein. Then it is passed through specially created ducts, and this heats up the specially created floor.

The main reason the hypocaust technology was more efficient than central heating is that central heating uses convection. Convection is the process of heating up the air, which thereafter heats up the whole room. One problem with convection is that much energy is lost in heating up the air. Also, hot hair has a tendency to go upwards, so the upper parts of the room get more heat than the lower parts, where people tend to stay longer. Thirdly, some energy is lost is bringing the heat from the central area to each radiator in each room.

However, with floor heating, convection is not used, but radiation and conduction. Radiation is a much more efficient method of heating than convection; similarly, for conduction. The heat is conducted from the ducts with the hot steam, directly to the floor, which is made of special material that can efficiently hold and transfer the heat. Then the heat radiates from the floor directly upwards into the room. In this way, the room is heated bottom up, and it stays warmer at the expense of less amounts of energy.

Underfloor heating can save up to 40% of your energy costs from a central heating system. If condensing boilers or a solar power system is used the savings can be high. Especially in large houses with a lot of floor space, underfloor heating is very cost effective. If long pipes without any joints are used, there is absolutely no need for maintenance as well, and a pipe like that can last a 100 years or more. It is critical to use the best material, because repair can be difficult under the circumstances. However, even though the initial cost is higher than central heating, the savings can be substantial in the long run.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Eco-Friendly Flowers

If, like most normal people, you love flowers, it is quite possible that you will be spending a good deal of money buying flowers. Flowers can be costly, even if rightly so, and some out of season or rare flowers can be extremely costly.

Flowers form a large component of wedding day expenses, parties, celebrations, and the like. If you want to save some money on flowers, why not buy flower seeds and grow your own? Growing flowers can be a very pleasant pastime.

However, make sure your flowers are eco-friendly. Most flowers that you buy in the market or at florists are grown in an eco-unfriendly manner, using pesticides and herbicides. Some of the larger florists grow their flowers outside the US, paying very low wages to workers there. If you are conscious of these issues, try and grow eco-friendly flowers at home yourself.

Growing eco-friendly flowers is not rocket science. All that is required is a little environment consciousness. Do not use pesticides, do not cut down trees to create your garden, but try to arrange your flowers around trees if you have them. Using kitchen based compost is a good way to protect nature while recycling something useful. Rotten fruits, leftover fish and other food items can be used as very good compost.

The most important part of growing eco-friendly flowers is the use of homemade compost and manure. These are absolutely eco-friendly materials, and unlike chemical fertilizers, do not harm the soil or the environment.

These have an untold number of uses. Firstly, homemade compost use is a good way to get rid of the household’s waste product without much expense. A substantial part of the cost of waste management can be saved in this way.

Secondly, compost is organic, non-toxic and does not contain harmful chemicals. As such, it does not kill nitrogen fixing bacteria in the soil, or other organisms in the soil that add to its nutritional value for plants. It does not have acidic content, and so it does not increase the PH of the topsoil. Compost does not harm the air in any way, not releasing any toxic fumes. About the only negative thing that can be said about it is that compost has a strong smell.

Thirdly, and most important, compost is a very good fertilizer. Many kinds of flowers grow especially well in compost and manure. Roses, for examples, take to compost extremely well.

However, you may still occasionally have to buy flowers from florists, especially if you need flowers in large amounts, for parties and celebrations. In those cases, too, you can ensure that you do your two bit for Mother Nature. Check that the florist is offering Veriflora certified flowers. Veriflora is an organization that has set the standards for organic and eco-friendly flowers, also ensuring the flowers are grown under fair labor conditions, without chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticide usage, among others.

Prevent Dangerous Water Run-off - Plant Grass

When it rains, or when that seemingly bottomless pile of snow finally starts to melt, run-off season begins. Run-off is the accumulation of chemicals from grass and other plant fertilizers and pesticides, as well as from animal waste products, litter, detergent from washing your car, de-icing chemicals, and lots of other everyday pollutants that we generate.

These pollutants are caught up in the flow of water and follow it on its journey down the path of least resistance. If left unchecked, they find their way into run-off canals, then streams and eventually into lakes and rivers, even drinking water reservoirs. So, we all need to do our part to make sure that water polluted by us stays put.

Now, obviously, the water’s flow will encounter more resistance when it tries to move across the thick, springy turf of a well tended lawn, than say a nice, smooth driveway constructed of asphalt or concrete. So, it’s a good idea to make sure that the bulk of your yard is planted in grasses and other root-dense, low growing shrubbery designed to prevent erosion and water run off. Drain your driveway into denser areas, planted with taller grasses and other shrubs that don’t mind wet feet. You can contain run off with the right plan, a willingness to exert effort, spend time and, of course, a few carefully chosen grass seeds.

Not all grasses work well at slowing or stopping run off. Grasses that grow below the soil, called clumping grasses, have masses of intertwined roots that help them keep their footing, even in rushing current. Fescue is a good, solid clumping grass that is also drought tolerant.

It comes in several varieties, tolerates a wide range of climates, and one company even has come out with a Fescue Grass with it seeds coated with natural bacteria in order to replenish soil that has been drained of this vital material by other grasses and their maintenance. This grass would be an excellent tool to prevent run off. Along with Fescue, consider Zoysiagrass. This imported grass is a good turf builder, keeping a nice dense structure below the soil. The denser the sod, or the turf, the less likely water is going to dig in and rip channels in it, allowing water to run off into nearby streets and storm drains.

In addition to traditional lawn grasses, many nature lovers are turning to native grasses to keep their yards green and, environmentally friendly. These grasses require less watering and often never need fertilizing. Even better, most are already primed to resist the local pests. Of course, not all varieties of native grasses lend themselves to an attractive lawn. So they might not work for you.

To choose the best grass to fight run off, first look at your space. Do you have a big yard that slopes towards the storm drains? Is it small enough you could plant heavy border grasses around the perimeter to trap run off? Would it look good sporting native grasses? If you opt to plant any grass to keep water run off to a minimum, choose a dense growing, clumping variety that works in your area. Ask at your local garden center and remember to fertilize and treat for pest with green, earth-friendly products.

Friday, March 19, 2010

World Energy Outlook - The International Energy Agency (IEA) Report

By Kathy Heshelow

The International Energy Agency (IEA) acts as an energy policy advisor to 28 member countries, within the framework of the Organization for Economic Co-operation (OECD) in Paris. It was initially set up in 1973 to coordinate measure in times of oil supply emergencies, but their mandate broadened to incorporate energy security, economic development and environmental protection. The IEA publishes their "World Energy Outlook" each year, and the latest report was released at the end of 2009. Some of the key points in the report are:

* Even though the past year has been difficult and full of upheaval in the energy markets, the challenges for the future remain urgent. World energy demand fell with the economic contraction in 2009 - for the first time since 1981 on any large scale - but no one is sure how fast the recovery and rebound will occur. With current policies in place, energy use will resume its long-term upward trend with the economic recovery.

* Energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions in 2009 will be well below that of the previous years. Countries could take the opportunity to develop low-carbon technology to work in concert with fossil fuels - but will they?

* Fossil fuels remain the dominant source of primary energy worldwide, and accounts for more than 3/4ths of the increase in energy from 2007 to 2030. Coal will see the largest increase in demand, followed by oil & gas. Oil, though, remains the single largest fuel in the primary mix to 2030. Oil demand is projected to grow by 1% per year on average, from 85 million barrels per day to 105 million barrels per day by 2030, with the most growth from non-OECD countries. The transport sector will account for 97% of the increase in oil use.

* The main driver for coal and natural gas will be power generation, as world electricity demand is projected to grow at a rate of 2.5% annually.

* The use of non-hydro, modern renewable energy technologies such as wind, solar, geothermal, etc. will see an increase, especially for power generation. World output is expected to rise from 2.5% in 2007 to 8.6% by 2030, with wind power seeing the largest increase.

* Because of the economic collapse, the difficult financing environment and the general overall crisis, new investment into oil and gas fell last year. Energy companies are drilling fewer wells, cutting back on refineries, pipelines and power stations. Ongoing projects may have been cancelled or postponed. Investment in renewables also fell. This delay and reduction in energy investment will have far-reaching consequences, risking a future shortfall in supply. This could lead to surging prices in future years, when demand has recovered, and this could in turn constrain economies.

* Lower fossil fuel prices now are actually undermining attractiveness in clean energy investments.

* Cutbacks in energy infrastructure or maintenance of the infrastructure (due to economic stress) could cause problems in the future.

* Natural gas will play a key role in the future. With an assumed resumption of global economic growth from later 2010 onwards (or when the economy recovers), demand for natural gas should resume its upward trend. The power sector is expected to remain the largest driver of gas demand. The low carbon content relative to coal and oil is noteworthy.

* The unexpected boom in North America of unconventional gas production (especially horizontal drilling and fracturing of shale), combined with the economic decline and difficulties, contributed to a glut of the natural gas supply in 2009 and will continue for the next year or two. The world's remaining resources of natural gas are large enough to cover demand to 2030, but the cost developing and accessing some of the reserves is high. Rates of decline in existing fields now indicate that nearly half of the world's existing capacity will need to be replaced by 2030.

* ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) will play an increasingly important role in global energy markets. (ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam). ASEAN energy demand is expected to expand by 75% between 2007 and 2030, or an average annual rate of 2.5% - faster than the average rate in the rest of the world. Coupled with the emergence of China and India on the energy scene, the trends point to a refocus of energy activity in Asia.

IEA member countries are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States.

Kathy Heshelow writes about the energy industry. Her book, "Investing in Oil and Gas: the ABCs of DPPs (Direct Participation Programs)" also covers the history and background of oil and discusses Peak Oil and renewable energy. - Her new freelance writing website will be available shortly.

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Create Awareness to Save Our Tigers - Six Ways to Create Awareness

By Swati Nitin Gupta

Tigers are the national pride of India and it is really a shame on our country if we can let our national pride fight for life as it is doing currently. Recently there has been loads of activity to protect the dwindling population of the tigers in the country. And one such activity is to create awareness among people. But how do you create awareness among the people. Here are six ways to create awareness.

1. Blog
If you are writer, journalist or even just an enthusiastic blogger then please blog about the dwindling population of the tigers. Use the information on the net and write a compelling blog for people to read, and act on it.

2. Exhibit
Are you an artist, photographer, graphic designer or even a website designer? If yes then you can do a lot that can help you to create awareness. Paint tigers in their natural habitat; put up posters anything that you can do to create awareness. You got the idea. If you are a photographer then visit the national parks click the photographs, get in touch with some graphic designer and create a calendar and distribute it in the schools, offices, and shopping complexes.

3. Educate
Are you a teacher, a professor, or a parent? If yes then start educating the young generation about the importance of tigers in our lives and ecosystem. Tell them why is it important to protect them from getting extinct and how they can help in protecting the tigers.

4. Speak up
Are you a speaker at a public forum; are you a radio jockey or a video jockey? If yes then take this as an opportunity to raise the voice against poaching and poachers. Invite people to raise their voices against poachers. Chat about tigers and their importance to the ecosystem. Plan your contests on tigers theme and the winners get to visit the national parks for additional information on the tigers.

5. Create and Design
Are you a website designer or are you a software engineer? If yes then create a software that is easy to install and can educate people about the importance of tigers. And if you are a website designer then you know what to do, and how to do it. Don't just sit but do something before it is really too late to do something.

6. Enact
Are you from some theatre group? Yes! Brilliant! Write a script and do some plays on the importance of tigers. You know it better which will serve the purpose better - street play, one act play or anything else you can think of. If you are choosing a theatre then you can donate the money to the organisations working to save the tigers as they are always in need of funds.

You all can join hands with the Save Our Tigers project and help them create awareness about the tigers.
About the Author: India based journalist with ten years of extensive experience in reporting, editing, as well as features writing. Currently a contributing writer at Home Review (Indian edition) magazine, Media Transasia, EzineArticles, and Associated Content.

If you are looking for a freelance writer who is self-motivated, produces original content, detailed and research oriented, I hope you will contact me on to discuss the opportunities of freelance writing within your organisation. Visit my profile

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Vegetarianism and Climate Change

By Raman Kuppuswamy

It appears that we live in this world without knowing how to live in it. But now is the defining moment to know it because we are the culprits who have disturbed the symmetry between growth and environment and have grossly neglected the most important problem of global warming. Every one of us should do our bit to tackle this problem so that future disasters can be averted.

In this context, we should realize that meat eating contributes to global warming to a great extent. Studies reveal that rearing livestock for food and meat production generates more greenhouse gases, approximately 18 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions of the world. This is more than all the pollution created by all the vehicles in the world.

The methane generated by the livestock industry is an alarming 37 per cent of the total methane produced and you may not be aware that methane contributes 22 times more to global warming than carbon-dioxide.

The environmental damage caused by the livestock industry happens through deforestation, erosion, air pollution, spreading of diseases and water pollution. Cattle, during their digestive process, produce enormous amounts of methane. Further for the sake of fodder for the growth of cattle and for having cattle farms, lands and forests are being destroyed.

For transporting animal based foods, a lot of fossil fuels are being consumed. Many ocean fisheries have been over-used and hence have got depleted and this endangers oceanic ecosystems.

If you consider all the above and become a vegetarian, you get immense benefits out of it. You can get all the vitamins and minerals from vegetarian food. Fresh fruits, vegetables, wholesome grains, nuts and a host of other vegetarian foods will not only increase your health but keep away certain major diseases like heart diseases, blood pressure, obesity and even cancers of the colon, prostate and breast.

Hence by becoming a vegetarian, you can save our planet from disasters due to global warming and our progeny will inherit a habitable place from us.

Raman Kuppuswamy is a management thinker and writer. He writes highly informative and educative articles on VARIOUS SUBJECTS INCLUDING Business, management, customer satisfaction and a host of other things related to business. He has written several articles on HubPages. Kindly visit and read his other articles.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

OPINION: Climate Warming, Cost Consequences Vs Credibility of World Leaders - Colossal Confrontation Coming!

Hi readers. This is a very volatile, controversial post. Let me know what you think of it!

By Aaron Kolom

Global Warming and Climate Change are widely believed to be proven scientific fact, caused by mankind's fossil-fuel emissions, notably carbon dioxide! A colossal credibility-vs-cost confrontation is inevitable, world-wide in scope - pitting world leaders: the United Nations; Nobel Prize Committee; heads of all countries - against the verity of Science. The consequences of reduced economic and industrial efficiency would be enormous - as also would be the egg-on-face embarrassment for world leaders, including President Obama!

  • First came the prickling of consciences (the consequences of civilization); DDT - powerful insecticide - both benefit and curse; Rachel Carson's 1962 book "Silent Spring"; some observations of seeming climate change, e.g. smog and ice pack diminishment;
  • Then extrapolation - for principle and political benefit (rebels with many causes): save planet Earth; save the forests; protect "Endangered Species" on land and sea: whales, snail-darter, minnows; save the environment, promote use of "green" energy, etc.;
  • The United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change established in 1988, ultimate authoritative body, showcasing the ideology - the liberal world accepts the concept - plus all media;
  • Climate Research Projects are funded; climatologists are responsive, recording and reporting data: the "Hockey Stick" chart depicts the potential of planet-heating harm;
  • The Kyoto Protocol convenes in 1997, stated goal - combat global warming, "stabilization of greenhouse gas.. [to] prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system".
  • The Nobel Peace Prize of 2007 awarded to UN IPCC and Al Gore - alerting the world to potential danger to our planet from industrial fossil-fuel emissions;
  • Obama, President and Democrat-controlled Congress: Climate Control Act (Cap-and-Trade Bill) passes in House in 2009; shows U.S. aligns with Kyoto Protocol (resistance in Senate). China has now surpassed the U.S. as biggest emitter of CO2.
  • Obama's Environmental Protection Agency establishes emission standards and penalties in the U.S.
  • The Copenhagen Conference is held, 2009, 192 countries, all world leaders attend. Obama gives solid endorsement - "We come together.. climate change a grave, growing danger. You - like me, convinced danger real.. science, not fiction. [If] unchecked.. unacceptable risks.. planet.. [U.S.] largest economy, second largest emitter.. intend meet responsibility.. phase-out fossil fuel.. bold action.. legislation.. clean energy. America fulfill commitments: cut emissions 17 % - 2020, 80 % 2050.. financial commitments [to 3rd world], America [pay most] fast-start - $10 billion, 2012; $100 billion, 2020."
  • Then came "Climate-gate" - leaks of emails disclosing data had been modified, with-held, even "lost" (e.g. "hockey-stick chart; erroneous prediction of melting Himalayan glaciers in near-term); requests for data (Freedom of Information Act) ignored; technical papers by scientists who challenge data-base or extrapolation-theory are black-balled from peer-review journals, etc.
  • "Doubting-Thomas" scientists begin to be heard - 31,072 Americans with degrees in science, sign a petition flatly denying that proclamations of human-caused global warming is scientific fact; calling for U.S. rejection; top scientists write articles of criticism - publication blocked (ignored by media).
  • Then, recent admissions by top UN scientists of data modifications and false projections; resignations of UN's Climate Chief, Dr. Yvo de Boer; IPCC head, Dr. Phil Jones; etc.
  • However, the belief in Climate Change is still widespread, supported by leaders of all countries, most technical journals and main-stream media. However, against this solid front:
  • A chorus of scientists in other fields, dismayed at the disclosures, begin to speak up - righteous indignation at (what seems) to be blatant disregard of scientific purity.
  • Mother Nature is displaying her strength - the 2009-10 extreme wintry weather across America makes a mockery of global warming, adding ridicule to the awakening of U.S. citizenry to cost-realities of the government-media agenda for "greening" the U.S.
  • Cost consequence - analyses by financial groups expose the potential costs and lost jobs due to Obama's EPA program - imposed carbon-dioxide-emission and reparation penalties on millions of mid-to-large-size facilities: factories, hospitals, even apartment buildings; plus scores of $Billions as "emission reparations" (Obama's Copenhagen promises). Realization grows - even if humans do cause climate change, the "cure" will be much worse than the "disease"!
World leaders, the UN, Nobel Prize Committee, President Obama - all seem to have painted themselves into a corner. How with will it end?

Aaron Kolom qualifies as a "rocket scientist" with over 50 years aerospace engineering: Stress Analyst to Chief of Structural Sciences on numerous military aircraft, to Corp. Director Structures and Materials, Asst. Chief Engineer Space Shuttle Program through first three flights (awarded NASA Public Service Medal), Rockwell International Corp.; Program Manager Concorde SST, VP Engineering TRE Corp.; Aerospace Consultant.

Aaron L. Kolom - from Brainwashed* and Miracles**
* The Perceived Mind-Set of the Secular Elite re Darwin Evolutionism!
** To Believe in Them - Have Faith - In Science and Logic!
Visit website at to learn a bit about Science vs the Bible, from conflict to confirmation.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Wind Energy and Obama - A Prayer in the Wind

By Becky Tilmer

The Obama Administration is definitely in favor of pumping government dollars back into the economy, especially if it means spending the green on companies that promote green energy. President Obama embarked to Iowa on Earth Day to visit with the workers of Trinity Structural Towers. This former Maytag plant now creates towers that harness wind energy. The President seems to be pleased with the company's efforts in manufacturing a product that will create wind energy while still saving the jobs of many previous Maytag workers.

Trinity Structural Towers, Inc. is one of many companies that build wind towers. They employs around 160 workers. They operate some one of the largest production companies of tubular wind towers in North America. Production of this product is essential in saving precious natural resources and creating a green source of energy. In 2008, new wind turbine companies sprang up in 24 different states.

President Obama is an avid supporter of clean sources of power such as wind energy. He needs to support the development of green energy if the government is going to meet the Department of Energy's 20% wind energy goal by 2030.

President Obama's Earth Day address promotes wind energy

President Obama took advantage of Earth Day to deliver an address promoting wind as a major component of U.S. energy strategy. The president spoke in Newton, Iowa at the site of a former appliance plant now used to manufacture towers for wind energy production.

Obama sees an opportunity for the United States to evolve from the top importer of foreign oil into the top clean energy exporter. He believes that wind can generate up to 20 percent of the nation's energy by 2030, creating up to 250,000 jobs. This is an ambitious increase from the 2 percent currently produced by wind generated power, simultaneously attacking the problems of energy dependence, global warming and job creation.

Concrete steps are being taken by U.S. legislators and power companies. The Department of the Interior announced final guidelines regarding offshore wind power development. Programs are now in place to grant leases and easements to spur development. Methods to share revenue derived from wind power with coastal states were also announced. The U.S. currently has no offshore wind power facilities though these new rules may give impetus to some pending projects, such as New York's plan to generate power off the coast of the Great Lakes and installations off the coast along the Atlantic seaboard.

Wind energy planning explores different types of renewable energy with a focus in the UK. We also look at offshore wind energy and different types of wind turbines and the electricity they generate.

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Green Building Techniques Are Redressing the Ecological Imbalance

By Kat Brunton

We all need to take steps to save our environment, as most experts agree we are potentially staring ecological disaster in the face. Any improvements we can make, whether in the home, on the road or at work, should be taken seriously. Fortunately, governments, pressure groups and corporations have all woken up to the need for greener attitudes towards sustainability and efficiency.

A new concept that is helping to reverse the damage that's been done, and provide excellent opportunities to enhance more suitable sources of energy, is green building. It involves the construction of homes, public offices and business that feature environmentally friendly processes throughout. Examples are appearing in towns and cities around the world, with many more to follow in the coming years.

In order to cut down on energy usage, green buildings usually feature high-efficiency windows, which will retain the heat, as well as insulation in the ceilings, floors and walls. Even the placement of windows may be oriented towards garnering more daylight, thereby helping to minimise the use of electric lighting, as the evenings start to draw in.

The use of solar panels will harness energy from the sun, even on a cloudy day, ensuring substantially lower use of fossil fuels. They will generate enough electricity to run appliances throughout the home, including the water-heating system. Of course, a building that produces its own power will not only be greener, it will also be substantially cheaper to run.

Wind power is also becoming a common feature of environmentally friendly buildings. Turbines can be fitted to the roof or onto a mast, and can run devices cheaply and easily. The energy can be stored in batteries, too, which can then be used later when it's not as windy. It's an exceptionally green way to generate electricity, and if there's a surplus, it can be sold back to the national grid.

Other features of green buildings will ensure greater water efficiency. Low-flush toilets, for example, save significant amounts, as do reduced-flow shower heads. Many advancements recycle water throughout the heating and lavatory systems, and reservoirs and guttering help to collect rain during downpours. The installation of a bidet also saves on toilet paper.

The provision of compost bins helps to reduce spent food, by breaking it down naturally and organically. They're perfect for aerobic decomposition, while at the same keeping the garden tidier than an old-fashioned heap. Most kitchen waste is biodegradable, and the remains provide nutrients for plant growth.

Even the resources used are environmentally efficient. Lumber grown in sustainable forests, recycled stone and metal, and locally extracted materials are all commonly found in the modern-day green building. There are several specialist companies that are on hand to advise on all aspects of the eco-friendly phenomenon - so establishing a better future is only a phone call away.

The recent emergence of green building techniques is helping to reduce the environmental damage of recent decades.

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Green Home Designs - What Not to Do

By Fay Salmons

Green home designs are actually what you would refer to as environmentally friendly homes because it makes use of eco-friendly and reusable materials. These homes lean towards renewable and longer lasting materials.

Green materials include those that are saved or restored in an existing structure. There are many available options today. Using materials that contain volatile organic compounds or VOC's when painting, refinishing, or stenciling is avoided.

Green homes of today incorporate the use of bamboo, eucalyptus and cork because these are sustainable and renewable, with special mention to cork because the extraction of cork causes no damage to trees whatsoever when properly done. It is best to choose wood that have the authentication or certification of environmental groups.

When installing the home flooring, the use of non-toxic and low to no VOC sealants is recommended. Also consider non-toxic finishes, polishes, cleaners, refinishing and adhesive products. Keeping with the green home design allows for better indoor quality because the new home emits less toxins and becomes a more conducive and healthier place to live in. Although even after opting for non-toxic materials, there is still no guarantee for 100% good health and safety because other toxic chemicals are encountered on a daily basis. But the whole concept of building a green home is to ensure that no contribution is made to the further degradation of the planet and to provide a safer abode for the family at the end of the day.

Creating a green home keeps this in mind. It is also recommended that many glass windows and doors are included in the designs as well as to the roofs and walls to allow natural light enter the home. Skylights, aside from conserving energy consumption in the home is a good way to ensure that moisture does not accumulate in a room.

When designing the kitchen, try to incorporate the use of concrete counter tops. It will add a modern look to the area. Vetrrazzo is a type of recycled glass and is also a common green counter top choice. Recycled glass comes in various colors and gives a very attractive touch to the kitchen. Aside from counter tops, it can also be used as a backsplash. Another exquisite alternative would be recycled glass tiles.

When choosing appliances on the other hand, a few considerations to be made are the energy efficiency, functionality, style and of course, the budget. Go for the most energy efficient appliances when buying new ones. Recycling old appliances may also be done. Local recycling departments are sure to give sound advice on what can be done to recycle them.

Consumers should be wary about merely sending their old appliances to a landfill. A refrigerator for example has about 95% of its parts that are recyclable. Old kitchen appliances are not as energy efficient and will in effect cost a considerable amount of money over time. As much as possible, it is recommended that all old kitchen appliances be recycled.

In line with the green design is also to design green insulation or to use eco-friendly insulation materials. Green home designs make use of a lot of ceiling and wall insulation in the entire home. It is best to choose recycled denim or cotton insulation that is made from recycled blue jeans. Wool is also a good type to use and so is Icynene, a water blown spray in foam. New materials such as the aerogel, is made from silica to form frozen silica smoke or an ultra porous silica form that is about 99% air which makes it unbelievably light but incredibly strong and an effective insulator.

Aside from helping the environment, opting for a green home design can prove to be very economical in the long run. Because beyond the initial investment, it is the savings over time due to more energy efficient appliances and the reduction to the exposure to harmful chemicals that make it worthwhile.

Fay Salmons writes about green home design at

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CASE STUDY: London's Eco-Friendly Taxis

By Stacey Leigh Gonzalez

The city of London has been renowned for a variety of reasons, not all of them have been positive.

Historically, during the years of the Industrial Revolution, London was once the most polluted city in the world. Factories involved in manufacturing clothing, metal fabrication and even mining were clustered together. The amounts of soot and other harmful materials were released without limitations into the air, causing the skies to darken and dangerous to breathe into.

London has changed significantly since its dark days during the Industrial Revolution. Although it is still one of the most polluted cities in Europe, the city is making strides in making it more environmentally friendly. One such way is through its recent acquisition of more eco-friendly taxis.

London taxis have had their own reputation. They are seen as the world's most expensive taxis. In exchange for the high rates, London taxis provide some of the best services and having the friendliest drivers. As such, albeit the high rates London taxis are seen as the best globally. Providing more eco-friendly taxis makes them more enticing for consumers.

The Mercedes Electric eVito Taxi, commonly referred to as the eVito, has been built to be both safe for the passengers and the environment. Installed with a 94 horsepower engine that gets its power from a battery pack made of lithium ion, it drives the same way as traditional Mercedes Taxis.

News of these newer models could not have been released at a better time. London City's mayor has approved more stringent standards with regards to road emissions, just in time for the 2012 Olympics.

Currently, the eVito is being put under controlled clinical trials in order to gauge their functionality before they are used on the streets of London.
Stacey Leigh Gonzalez
February 20, 2009
For more information and updates about taxis in and around the London area, consumers can find London Taxis here.

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Protect Antarctica With Treaties‏

by John Chambers

Antarctica is a continent with immense mountain peaks and oceans filled with emperor penguins, blue whales, and leopard seals, and it is protected as a wilderness through an international pact. For the past decade or so, oil drilling and mining have been banned from Antarctica in order to safeguard its natural beauty; this protection will last 40 more years.

The pact stresses conservation in place of growth and development. Threats to the wildlife like dogs and pesticides are forbidden.

The continent is protected through the Environmental Protection Protocol to the Antarctica Treaty. Nations around the world agreed to leave Antarctica free from commercial and industrial development. Approval was gained in 1991 by the twenty-six leading countries having scientific interests in the area, including the United States, Russia, China, India, Japan, Argentina, Brazil and most of the main European countries.

The treaty stopped the arguing that was going on for more than 15 years about regulating the area. In addition to the restriction of oil and mining, the treaty also requires nations that run any of Antarctica's 35 scientific outposts to remove all trash. Further, tourist vessels and scientific stations are prohibited from discharging raw sewage into the waters surrounding Antarctica.

The first person to get to the South Pole was Norwegian Roald Amundsen in 1911 and he used sled dogs to get around. The accord, however, prohibits any dogs on the continent, as penguins and other native fowl have been killed by pets belonging to researchers. Pesticides, non-sterile soil and polystyrene packaging are not allowed to be brought into Antarctica either.

The continent lies under a covering of ice that averages a mile deep. The area supports limited plant life such as moss and grasses. Seventy per cent of the planet's fresh water comprises Antarctica's ice. You can find a rich ecosystem containing plenty of marine like and animals around Antarctica.

Antarctica is a very fragile ecosystem. Life grows very slowly at the continual below-zero temperature conditions. Recovering from trauma can take years. A footprint could stay in the moss for a decade.

The original treaty, which was signed in 1959, also banned any military activity and nuclear testing near the Arctic area. It also asserted that Antarctica was to be owned by no nations.

The rules for research were also established at this time. No one nation can claim all of Antarctica but every inch is claimed by some country.

When scientists reported the discovery of oil, coal, gold, zinc, iron, uranium, manganese, and copper, among other minerals, environmental organizations started fighting to establish laws to protect Antarctica early in the 1980's. The idea of drilling in Antarctica got tossed around in the 1970s when the energy crisis took place. With technological advancement and increases in the price of oil, interest in these deposits will probably become more intense.

With laws enforced in 26 nations, each nation will be responsible for enforcing the rules individually. If the country's government refuses to intervene when its citizens violate the rules, the other nations would apply pressure to solve the issue. This agreement is viewed by many to be a victory for the environment.

As a person looking for you should visit that site.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

What's the Deal With Fairtrade?

By Intan Zainal

The global economy is severely off balance because our current trading rules and practices fail us. According to a recent United Nations report, at least 2.2 million migrants will arrive in the rich world every year from now until 2050 due to poverty, unfavorable climate change and economic crisis. Hunger causes the death of about 25,000 people everyday, where children are the most affected.

Between 1970 and 1980, the rich nations took about one million migrants a year from poor countries. During the next 43 years, immigration will run at more than twice that level and approach 2.3 million every year from now until 2050.

What is Fairtrade?

In essence, it is a movement against the failure of conventional trading to deliver sustainable livelihoods and development opportunities to people in the poorest countries of the world. According to the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), there are about 2 billion world citizens who work extremely hard and have to survive on less than US$2 per day. Fairtrade highlights the need for changes in the rules and practices of conventional trading and provides benefits via stable prices, price premiums, partnership and empowerment of farmers and workers alike.

The WFTO was established in 1989 and is the global representative body of more than 350 organizations with a 100% commitment to Fair Trade. Each year on the second Saturday of May, it organizes the World Fair Trade Day. Events have included Fair Trade breakfasts, talks, markets, live performances, fashion shows, carnivals, festivals, processions and protests. This year it falls on the 8th May and is being called A BIG DAY FOR THE PLANET.

The FAIRTRADE Certification Mark verifies that products meet the social, economic and environmental standards set by Fairtrade. The FAIRTRADE Mark is now the most widely recognised social and development label in the world. So if you're buying a product with this label, it really means that you are giving support to the movement.

For more on this article, go to:

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rainforest Deforestation and Its Impact on World Climate

By Kelly Hunter

As the world population reaches a crescendo, the need for wood in various forms has only increased. Unfortunately, the naturally occurring wood available in rainforests across the world is becoming a victim of our needs. As the world population reaches a crescendo, the deforestation of naturally occurring woodlands are falling prey to human greed. But more than ever before, rainforest deforestation is impacting world climate and becoming a huge concern for the future of the earth. Let's find out what deforestation is, why it occurs, and how it impacts the global climate.

What is deforestation?

When forests that have been created naturally are cut down or burnt by humans in order to use the wood for various purposes, the process is known as deforestation. Sometimes, this process occurs naturally as well. However, most of the times, this is the handiwork of man. Some of the biggest reserves of wood are the Amazon Rainforests in Brazil, the Congo Basin Forests in Africa, and the Indonesian Rainforest in South East Asia. Deforestation can even be caused by soil erosion or naturally occurring jungle fires.

Why does deforestation happen?

There are many reasons for rainforest deforestation. Some of the most common and well-known reasons for this include:

- Fuel: trees or the charcoal derived from them is used as fuel. Oftentimes, charcoal is sold in the market as an alternate means of fuel in many countries. Tree branches are also cut, dried, and used as fuel for cooking etc.
- Land use: For many years, human beings have been cutting down trees in order to clear land so that they can use it as pastures for their livestock. As the human population increases, so does the need to feed livestock. Unfortunately, more and more trees are cut to make way for greener pastures for feeding cows, goats, sheep etc.
- Settlements: As habitable land becomes dearer and dearer, people need cheaper land options for settling down. Rainforests present a wonderful opportunity and therefore, people cut down trees to make way for settlements. These trees are removed without proper care and complete apathy for reforestation.

How deforestation impacts global environment?

As the green cover gets destroyed, the fragile ecosystems get destroyed or become imbalanced. Rainforest deforestation also leads to damaged habitats, loss of biodiversity, imbalance in the microenvironment and aridity. Regions that are deforested get affected by soil erosion and soon than later turn in wastelands. It becomes very difficult for this land to be restored back to its former self. Over the years, these wastelands can even become deserts.

Deforestation also leads to extinction of rare trees, animals, insects, flowers and other naturally occurring things. An ongoing issue in many countries, deforestation must be stopped in order to combat their devastating effects on the global climatic conditions.

While there are many other reasons besides population growth for rainforest deforestation, we must remember that deforestation plays a significant role in shaping the global geography and climate and for this reason alone it must be curbed and combated.

Kelly Hunter owns and operates and writes about Home Weather Stations devices.

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Are We Helping Pollute the Planet When We Buy Goods From China?

By Don Potter

The Government, our schools and many cause-oriented organizations spend a great deal of time warning Americans of the danger of greenhouse warming and the affect our pollutants have on the planet as well as humans. Finding clean and renewable sources of energy is a philosophical priority if not a financial one. Additionally, safe foods and quality products are vital to maintaining a good quality of individual life. Yet we turn a blind eye when it comes to China.

Of course, there are the usual letters and some sound-bite statements directed to China regarding the need for them to be a responsible partner for a better, cleaner world. Yet the country continues to be one of if not the worst abusers of the environment. They ship tainted and dangerous products to the United States and receive little more than a slap on the wrist for not meeting our quality and safety standards. These products are often made in unsanitary, carbon producing plants using questionable ingredients with less than satisfactory quality control.

While China has actively decided to pursue development of "green" technology, it continues to build new coal-fired power plants. While these plants produce fewer emissions than in the past, China still uses more coal than the US, Europe and Japan combined. True, they are building nuclear plants near big cities, not so much out of concern for the environment but for cost saving purposes, since the coal mines are a long distance from these population centers. So, if we buy cheap Chinese products, aren't we contributing to further pollution?

In addition to environmental concerns, Americans are faced with the fact that they cannot be trusted to produce safe products. Remember the infant formula, which was watered down and then melamine was added to increase the protein level in order save money. This particular episode sent thousand of Chinese babies to hospitals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly investigated the matter while assuring Americans there was no threat of a problem in this country.

"Sadly," Consumer Reports stated, "This is just the most recent egregious example of the unscrupulous business practices that are pervasive in many Chinese factories. In case after case, adulteration of ingredients, components, or other materials has been done secretly at factories as a way of cutting costs. The result has been products delivered to the marketplace - here and abroad - that have sickened or injured consumers."

The list continues to grow. Pet food that sickened or killed our domestic animals. Poison ingredients in toothpaste. Cosmetics that cause allergies. Contaminated seafood products. Toys and games containing lead and dangerous chemicals.

Read the label before buying topical or ingestible products as well anything little children might put in their mouths. If there's a choice, pick the one made in the USA. Besides the safety factor, you might be putting a fellow American to work.

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 STUDIES: Go Green! The Green Business Program in Monterey Bay Area, California

By Mike Guy

Monterey Bay Area offers a Green Business Program which is a multimedia (soil, air and water) pollution prevention effort that makes a positive relationship between the public, business community and government. It is an incentive based program designed to encourage businesses to match or exceed environmental standards.

The Green Business Program takes pride in recognizing the businesses that lead the way in the environmental field within the Monterey Bay Area. By recognizing their good work in the area it allows for other businesses to follow their example. The Green Business Program wants to show businesses that they can accomplish both being green and profitable-and good members of our communities.

To be a certified "green" participating businesses need be in accordance with regulatory agencies and meet program criteria for conserving resources, preventing pollution and minimizing waste. Their program is designed to assist, recognize and promote businesses that decide to operate their businesses in a more environmentally responsible way. The Monterey Bay Area Business Program wants to encourage and pave a path for more companies to go green.

The Program was first started in 2003. It currently provides aide and certification for vehicle service facilities and restaurants. In the near future, the program will set its sets on assisting and certifying printers, hotels, landscapers, dry cleaners, and wineries in the Santa Cruz area.

In 2004 on Earth Day the Program Partners awarded the first Certified Green Business Awards to seven local auto shops at the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors program kick-off ceremony.

Some of the local agencies that are a part of the Green Business Program Partners include the Sanitation District, Public Works Department Recycling and Solid Waste, Environmental Health Services, City of Santa Cruz, City of Scotts Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant, City of Watsonville, Soquel Creek Water District and the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency.

If your business or one that you know wants to be a part of this program, you can contact the Green Business Program of Santa Cruz, Monterey or San Benito County and they will gladly assist you in answering all of your questions and help you get started making your company a Green Business.

To find out more about how to reduce reuse and recycle take a look at Be green, save the planet!

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Recycling Rain Water - A Social Responsibility

By Jim Mathew

Water is the most essential element for humans after air and even though our planet comprises of 2/3 part of water, the percentage of drinking water is very low. Increased pollution and global warming has worsened this situation. It is the responsibility of each individual to recycle rain water even if they live in a place which has no water scarcity. By recycling rain water your contribution to humanity would be really significant.

To recycle rain water, you can install rain water harvesting systems in your home or workplace. Installing a rain water harvesting system is not a very expensive deal these days as you can make a rain water harvesting tank in your yard and connect all the pipes from your roof to it. Make sure before rainy season you have cleaned your roof properly. It is essential to cover up your rain water container with a net so that mosquitoes won't lay eggs in the stored water.

If you think that a rainwater harvesting tank is an expensive deal, you can use your old barrels or gallons to collect rainwater. This is a very helpful method, especially if you are paying water bills. At least during rainy season, you can bring down your water bills to a considerable amount by using the rain water for bathing, car washing etc. If your lawn has trees and other plants, you can lead the excessive rain water to them when it overflows from the built tank.

Trees are the natural water collectors and their roots can store enormous sum of rainwater. This way, you are allowing the rainwater to drain into the ground rather than being flown away through sewage. If you live in a place where water scarcity is very high, you can also consider rain water towers. But this is an expensive deal and you probably have to shell out a lot of money. But rainwater towers can help you to address most of your water needs.

Rainwater harvesting in your farm is a very good method to provide your crops with sufficient water supply. To make rainwater harvesting system, you can make small pits in your farm at a distance of 10 to 20 meters. If possible, fill these pits with organic substances such as coconut fiber that can store plenty of water. You will be stunned to notice the difference such systems can make. Your crops can stay healthy to a considerable amount of time during summers with such rainwater harvesting systems.

When it comes to energy consumption and rainwater harvesting, we have to contribute our part even if we don't face any difficulty for both energy and water. There is a saying that tiny drops of water make an ocean, so each contribution from an individual like us is very important for our government to meet water requirements for the masses. By storing rainwater as much as possible, you are making sure that the people around you have access to more amount of water. Rainwater harvesting is beneficial for you as well as society in this way.

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A Little 'Bite' of Shark Conservation

By Mark Bottell

Of all the members of the animal kingdom, the shark is perhaps the one who would come off worst in a popularity contest. Mainly fear-based, prejudices against sharks are widespread and because of this, the very real danger that some species face is often overlooked. Shark conservation projects around the world are working hard to ensure the future for the most endangered species but, with so many other animals also needing rescuing, it is often the cute, furry varieties who receive a higher profile.

But the misunderstood shark is sold a little short; it is in fact a unique and truly fascinating animal with, in many cases, much more reason to fear man than vice versa. Across nearly 400 species of sharks, an incredibly diverse range of habits and quirks have been discovered by scientists and shark conservation workers. Here a few which may just help sway you towards the pro-shark team, and encourage you to help conserve these extraordinary and enigmatic creatures.

No Need for Lullabies

One very interesting fact which sets the shark apart from the norm is that they don't sleep. It was previously believed by shark conservation experts that all sharks needed to be in a constant state of motion, so that oxygen-rich water continually flowed over their gills, allowing them to breathe. Whilst this is true of some species, others have special devices (called spiracles) which force the water across their gills, allowing them to remain stationary. But nonetheless, sharks do not sleep in the sense that we know it. They have periods where they are active and other periods where they are at rest, but as far as an actual bedtime goes, they are the eternal insomniac.

Alms for the Blind

The Greenland Shark, sometimes known as the Arctic shark, seems to have one of the most depressing lives of any sea creature, inhabiting extremely deep and freezing waters beneath the Arctic ice. One of the largest species, the Greenland Shark is however, slower than many of his counterparts. But, not only do these guys live in a constant state of cold, they also live in their own world of darkness. Whilst not physically blind, shark conservation experts have discovered that the Greenland shark is, in effect, totally unable to see. They are plagued by parasites which attach themselves in droves to the corneas of the shark's eyes. Although this does render them unable to see, in fact it helps with their survival, as some experts believe that the parasites attract other smaller fish, which see them as food, and the shark is able to feed off this ready-made home delivery.

The Sixth Sense

Sharks are way more evolved than you would perhaps imagine. No matter how you feel about them, you cannot help but admire their indomitable natural aptitude. Fiercely skillful hunters, they can detect the scent of blood from over two miles away; and not only that, they can detect an amount of blood that is one part to 100 million parts of water. Shark conservation studies have also discovered an intriguing mechanism which allows the shark to hunt in a targeted and lethally effective manner. They have pores in their lower jaws which are able to pick up the electrical impulses of other fish passing by. They are able to determine exactly which direction these impulses are coming from, and veer left or right in order to swiftly locate their prey. This in-built compass allows the shark to not only out-swim, but to outsmart almost any prey within their range.

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

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CASE STUDIES: Alternative Energy Investment - Japan's Emerging Role

By Ken Raymond

What's Japan's role in alternative energy investment? Japan is among several countries that are addressing energy needs by making advances in water treatment, electricity storage and in solar power. Currently, SPI Holdings, Inc., has $3 billion in private equity investments meant to access growth in Asian companies with a venture capital fund, and will be among the new alternative energy funds expected to appear.

Specifically, global investors are expected to come up with 30 billion yen, or $330 million, from sovereign wealth funds like Masdar Clean Tech Fund of Abu Dhabi and Temasek Holdings Pte. Expected internal rate of return on investment is expected to be 25 to 30%.

Clean technologies are increasingly in the public eye because President Barack Obama and Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama are focusing on projects that will deliver electricity to consumers from wind power and solar plants, both renewable energy sources, without disruption to the current system; the current system largely depends on fossil fuel sources like coal for its electricity generation needs.

This has boded well for the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, which has gone up about 30% in the last year, more than benchmark equities indices' gain in both Japan and the United States (it should also be noted, however, that some investors are taking losses, resulting in what seems to be at least a temporary financial crisis. In 2009, for example, clean energy investment fell 6.5% versus 2008).

This interest in renewable energy technology is not new, but its actual inception, including sustainable, renewable, clean or "green" energy sources, is indeed new and has been exciting to watch, for many. Japan's own focus on developing renewable sources like wind power has made it a perfect partner to the US in developing these technologies. managing director of the Institute of Energy Economics Japan, Kensuke Kanekiyo, has said that, "Japan is also getting this trend off the ground and money follows." Specifically, alternative energy funds like the one being developed by SBI prevent new opportunities for investors.

A year ago, SBI joined with a unit of Mubadala Development Co., a sovereign fund of Abu Dhabi, meant to speed the development of alternative energy so that a reduced dependence on oil as possible. Now, SBI's plan for the 30 billion yen fund is waiting for investors' commitment, with two companies so far involved.
Takashi Nakagawa, director of Tokyo-based SBI, says that the plan is to look at water management, light emitting diodes, solar and batteries. Clean technology is paramount and one of the "three pillars" of SBI's investment policy, including the other two "pillars," bio-science and information technology.

One of the companies SBI has chosen for the alternative energy pilot fund has found a way to produce silicon solar cells that are shaped like spheres, do not require as much material as standard solar cells, and yet have more power output. Another of the companies SBI has chosen for the pilot fund has developed a lithium rechargeable battery that is both safer and lighter than current models.

One of the major developments in Japan's use of renewable energy is that its solar panel sales achieved record levels in 2009 as the government used incentive programs so that citizens would switch to renewable power, which meant an increase in local demand and helped to offset the negative aspects of a decline in exports. Sales in solar panels increased 21%.

Indeed, perhaps the current high price of fossil fuels like oil is not an entirely negative thing, given that it spurs the growth of these technologies. Of this, the Institute's Kanekiyo says, "There are plenty of untapped technologies that can be developed when oil is priced at the current level."

What might this mean for the development of alternative energies in the US, besides the development of alternative energy funds?

Although it is not quite known what the far-reaching benefits of this will be yet, in October of 2009, President Obama unveiled a plan to invest $3.4 billion in government grants so that a smart grid could be developed and installed; this "smart grid" would make electricity delivery more reliable and would also help deliver power from "green energy" sources like solar panels and wind turbines. In November of 2009, the US Department of Energy also announced $620 million in funding for these smart grid projects.

The development of smart grid technologies and renewable "green" energy technologies, such as is being done in Japan and the US, bode well, of course, for our economies, in that oil prices are skyrocketing and making this type of energy much more expensive to acquire; additionally, development of these types of "green energies" will also garner independence, in that our countries will not be able to generate our own energy from these renewable technologies. Exciting for any investor who wants to sink his or her money into alternative energy funds that support not only financial success, but national independence from fossil fuel imports and environmental benefits, too.

For more information on the potentials and pitfalls of alternative energy funds, visit us at

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Tips About Selecting a Tree - Planting Project to Offset Carbon Emissions

By Steve McCrea

Concern over global warming and a rising sea level has prompted some companies to look into ways to offset their carbon emissions. The cost of sponsoring a renewable energy project are prohibitive for some companies (over $5 per ton of carbon emissions). Since the per-capita emissions of carbon in the USA total approximately 20 tons of carbon dioxide per year (based on an estimate of 6 billion tons and an estimated population of 300 million), it is untenable to expect the typical resident of the USA to sponsor his or her own carbon offset program if it costs as much as $100 per year.

Most companies that have examined the option of sponsoring tree plantings as a way to reduce carbon footprint have encountered three questions:

(1) What kind of tree should be sponsored? And how much carbon can a typical tree absorb annually?

Much of that information was developed by the Organization of American States, on behalf of the electric power industry and other concerned groups back about 1980. It was further developed by the University of Oregon and Dr. Paiul Faeth of a consulting firm in Washington DC called Resources Management International (RMI) and was the basis for a carbon mitigation project in Guatemala funded largely by the US Government, on behalf of an electric power service organization, Applied Energy Services, located in nearby Arlington, Virginia.

That project planted 54 million trees, mostly Leucaena leucocephala, which would be sufficient in annually removing more CO2 from the atmosphere than was emitted annually from the plant, which is located in Uncasville, Connecticut, USA. A second project on behalf of New England Electric Service (NEES) followed shortly thereafter.

The information came from studies of the annual growth of this species in conditions similar to those encountered in Guatemla and varous parts of these trees were annually weighed (trunk, branches, roots, leaflets,leaves). The finding was that such a tree annually removed about 53 lbs. of Carbon Dioxide. The US Congress later simplified the calculation to 50 pounds, concluding that 40 such trees would annually remove and sequester a ton (2,000 lbs.) of CO2.

Some agronomists believe that this figure might be conservative. Certain species of trees bring additional benefits to the soil that will result in more undergrowth. Also, the trees constantly shed leaves - these Leucaena Trees, for example, drop as much as 15 tons of leaves per hectare annually, That in itself represents about 20 lbs. of carbon per tree annually. Some of those leaves decay into soil and thus add to the forest mulch.

(2) How can we be sure the trees really are planted?

This issue was enough to kill most tree-planting efforts by green marketers in the late 1990s since there was not an easy way of verifying that the trees were really planted. As we will see later in this article, there are options that are now available, thanks to GPS.

(3) How can we be sure the trees will still be there ten years from now?

Incentive programs can be put into place where the trees are monitored and if the local village can demonstrate that the trees planted had grown to maturity, then certain rewards can be delivered. For example, some tree planting organizations tie donations of a new school to the successful protection of an area of newly planted trees.

Before closing this discussion, it may be of interest to discuss the "Forest Garden" approach, advocated by a tree planting organization in Silver Spring, Md. When the program combines trees with food crops and other plants, the total carbon sequestered per tree is higher. Since the forest garden itself is a "bankable" project (the local farmers derive more immediate income from the vegetables than from the trees), and the carbon sequestered also presumably has a market value, it may be possible to reducing atmospheric carbon with a profitable enterprise through this system.

For more information or if you would like to have other issues addressed in a future article, please contact the author below. A free carbon emission estimate is available by writing to the author. Request the "Carbon Emissions Worksheet."

Steve McCrea, a travel DVD producer and a teacher of English to adults, writes for Roadlovers and FreeEnglishLessons. He has produced a DVD about San Miguel Allende, a town in Mexico, available from filmbaby. He can be reached at Carbon emissions data is also given at

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CASE STUDIES: Solar PV in India - About to Explode?

By Renga Nathan

India formally launched its National Solar Mission in Jan 2010. This ambitious programme is expected to provide significant incentives to encourage large-scale investments for the production of solar energy. The goal of the mission is to increase the installed capacity of solar energy for electricity generation from a paltry 2 MW currently to 20,000 MW (20 GW) by 2022.

Highlights of the National Solar Mission

20 GW by 2022
The target set by the Mission is to achieve 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022. That's an awesome amount, when you consider that the Target is to be Reached in a Phased Manner. To ramp up capacity of grid-connected solar power generation to 1000 MW within three years - by 2013; an additional 3000 MW by 2017 through the mandatory use of the renewable purchase obligation by utilities backed with a preferential tariff. This capacity can be more than doubled - reaching 10,000MW installed power by 2017 or more, based on the enhanced and enabled international finance and technology transfer. The ambitious target for 2022 of 20,000 MW or more, will be dependent on the 'learning' of the first two phases, which if successful, could lead to conditions of grid-competitive solar power. The transition could be appropriately up scaled, based on availability of international finance and technology.

Focus on Equipment Manufacturing for Solar PV and Thermal

To create favourable conditions for solar manufacturing capability, particularly solar thermal for indigenous production and market leadership. Currently, the bulk of India's Solar PV industry is dependent on imports of critical raw materials and components - including silicon wafers. Transforming India into a solar energy hub would include a leadership role in low-cost, high quality solar manufacturing, including balance of system components.

Proactive implementation of Special Incentive Package (SIPs) policy, to promote PV manufacturing plants, including domestic manufacture of silicon material, would be necessary. One of the mission objectives is to take a global leadership role in solar manufacturing (across the value chain) of leading edge solar technologies and target a 4-5 GW equivalent of installed capacity by 2020, including setting up of dedicated manufacturing capacities for poly silicon material(s) to annually make about 2 GW capacity of solar cells.

India already has PV module manufacturing capacity of about 700 MW, which is expected to increase in the next few years. The present indigenous capacity to manufacture silicon material is very low, however, some plants are likely to be set up soon in public and private sector(s). Currently, there is no indigenous capacity/ capability for solar thermal power projects; therefore new facilities will be required to manufacture concentrator collectors, receivers and other components to meet the demand for solar thermal power plants.

To achieve the installed capacity target for manufacturing of solar PV and CSP components, the Mission recommends local demand creation, financing & special incentives for the manufacture of solar PV and CSP.

Demand and Incentives - Key Drivers

The government reckons that two key drivers - governmental incentives and a demand boost could effectively promote solar power. The mission reckons one of the key drivers would be through a Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) mandated for power utilities, with a specific solar component. This will drive utility scale power generation, whether solar PV or solar thermal.

The mission also has an emphasis on providing solar lighting systems under the ongoing remote village electrification programme of MNRE to cover about 10,000 villages and hamlets. The use of solar lights for lighting purposes would be promoted in settlements without access to grid electricity and since most of these settlements are remote tribal settlements, 90% subsidy is provided. The subsidy and the demand so generated would be leveraged to achieve indigenization as well as lowering of prices through the scale effect. For other villages which are connected to grid, solar lights would be promoted through market mode by enabling banks to offer low cost credit.

The government has mentioned incentives for both solar PV and solar thermal. For instance, in the case of Solar Thermal, the mission statement says: "The mission in its first two phases will promote solar heating systems, which are already using proven technology and are commercially viable. The Mission is setting an ambitious target for ensuring that applications, domestic and industrial, below 80°C are solarised".

However, it is expected that the major thrust for solar thermal will be in the context of heating applications. This implies that for electricity generation, which will be the highest priority for the plan, the mission will provide a significant boost to solar PV.

How will the Indian industry and businesses react to this ambitious plan? Will this result in massive investments from the private sector into solar PV?

While there are few actual investment commitments so far from the Indian private sector, the number of companies that have come up with plans and MoUs with various state governments indicate that the response to this plan from the Indian private sector will indeed be very significant. Given the fact that the cost (capital cost) of solar PV is expected to decrease considerably over the next five years, while the cost of electricity generation from coal is expected to increase, solar PV based electricity generation will become more and more attractive as a business opportunity.

In addition, the capital cost of solar PV plant has come down from about $5 million per MW about three years back to about $3 million per MW currently. That's a 60% reduction in just about three years. Further significant cost reductions are projected for the next few years as well. If the cost reduction predictions indeed turn out to be accurate, cost of solar PV based power generation could achieve parity with that from coal.

It has been often repeated that India has one of the highest amounts of solar radiation in the world and hence is an ideal region for solar based energy generation. But it is countries such as Germany and Japan, much smaller in terms of total solar energy potential, that had taken the lead on benefiting from solar energy. The key reason for these countries becoming leaders was the proactive stance taken by the governments of these countries.

The governments provided significant incentives (through the mechanism of feed-in-tariffs) to the solar industry (especially solar PV) thus artificially making the industry attractive to entrepreneurs. This however had the healthy effect of those countries moving up the solar PV learning curve quite quickly, and today, about a decade after the policies were introduced, both these countries have a thriving solar energy industry. It is hoped such a phenomenon would repeat in India as well, as a result of the National Solar Mission.

EAI Consulting - Market Entry Strategy for Indian Renewable Energy

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Decline of the Traditional British Orchard

By Rachel Gawith

Conservationists have warned of the loss of Britain's traditional orchards. Recent figures from The National Trust indicate that up to 60% of orchards have been lost since the 1950s due to changes in land use and the increase in commercial fruit growers. This had led to a dramatic loss in important wildlife habitat in addition to the danger of losing traditional and local varieties of fruit including apples, pears and cherries.

Particularly concerned about the loss of habitat for some of Britain's important and valuable wildlife, The National Trust has launched a £536,000 scheme to encourage the reversal of orchard decline. In 2007 the government prioritised the saving of orchard habitats due to their unique eco systems. Traditional orchards with spaced tree's allowing low grazing stock such as sheep to graze are low intensity managed. With little or no chemicals being used, trees are allowed to mature to old and gnarled individuals allowing the perfect habitat for the lesser spotted woodpecker and the chafer beetle. In addition they also supply a rich source of nectar and pollen for Britain's declining bee population.

But it is also the loss of historical and regional fruits that is under scrutiny. With the 21st century already hurrying by The National Trust has appointed Kate Merry to act as orchard officer in a bid to halt the destruction: "We now have a real opportunity to reverse the decline of traditional orchards and recognise the important role they play in our cultural and natural heritage". Many local varieties of fruit, plums and damsons included, may even be lost with us never realising. The campaign will endeavour to manage existing orchards, promote new sites, and train people how to manage orchards successfully.

And the work has already begun with a survey of over 100 orchards showing substantial numbers of species, many of them rare, living in these natural habitats. At Killerton Estate, Devon, the programme to reverse orchard loss has been a success with the survey showing the inclusion of the orchard park beetle and the apple tree lace bug. It also proved to be a feeding place for long eared bats. Apples are used to make cider and chutney in a bid to help sustain the rejuvenation, two species being unique to the estate.

With demand for outstripping supply, traditional orchards can never replace that of large commercial companies. However, the traditional British orchard, with its unique wildlife habitat, with its contribution to the local economy, with its supply of unique and home grown finery, cannot be left to dwindle to oblivion. The British countryside would be less without it.

Gofarmer is an online classified website for farmers and smallholders and those in the rural agricultural sector. It enables direct farm to farm selling and for consumers to purchase produce directly from the farm. For more information please visit and for more articles and news relating to the farming industry please visit

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Wildlife Conservation - New Developments in 2010

By Mark Bottell

Wildlife conservationists are battling alarming trends both in Britain and abroad to protect the future of endangered species. Already in 2010 there have been a number of important scientific press releases regarding the future of our animals and their habitats.

Tigers in the Wild

Like pandas and whales, the tiger has frequently been the poster child for wildlife conservation. This year, a report has emerged from China that their numbers in the wild could be as low as fifty. China Country Program Director and spokesperson for the Wildlife Conservation Society, Xie Yan, described the situation as "depressing". In surveys of the Chinese countryside they are now able to count provincial tiger populations in just double digits, with only fifteen animals spotted in the whole of Tibet, and ten in Yunnan. Furthermore, it is thought that these tigers are too isolated from other tiger populations for their numbers to recover.

Numbers are better in the northeast, however, where wild tigers are able to interact with others from Russia and wildlife conservation schemes have had some success. There is also less human interference with their habitat in this region. Looking at a wider picture, the Asian population has fallen from approximately 100,000 to 3,500 in the last hundred years. Medicinal traditions and a market for tiger pelts and trophies have meant that tigers have been brought to the brink of extinction by hunting.

Galapagos Sea Lions

Wildlife conservationists at the Organisation for Research and Conservation of Aquatic Animals have reported an alarming exodus from the Galapagos Islands. The ORCAA scientists who monitor the waters around Peru have noticed an entire colony of Galapagos sea lions have moved their territory to the coast of northern Peru, some 900 miles away. This species is one of many on the Galapagos that can't be found elsewhere in the world, so this revelation is an important issue for wildlife conservation, which could indicate the start of a worrying trend of animals leaving their natural habitats.

There is concern that the colony's abandonment of the Galapagos may not only upset the ecosystem of the archipelago, but could destabilise the ecological balance around Peru as well. Over the last decade the sea temperature has risen in this region by an average of 6 degrees centigrade, matching the conditions around Galapagos. ORCAA scientists have suggested this may have attracted the sea lions to the area.

Welsh Squirrels

Our native red squirrels have been struggling in recent decades. They are such an iconic animal for our British countryside and heritage, so it is good to hear that there are now a number of governmental and scientific bodies looking into the problem. In February 2010, a Squirrel Conservation Plan was announced in Wales. The numbers of red squirrels have dwindled owing to the invasion of grey and black squirrel species, disease, and some narrowing of their habitat - an issue that affects a variety of British wildlife. Conservation groups like the Wales Squirrel Forum are keen to get the new protection project up and running.

The plan will include surveying and monitoring populations, setting up databases, and investigating influence of climate change. This is a welcome initiative for the many wildlife conservationists already working to preserve the species for the future. Even DNA research has been used to identify regional distinctions between the pockets of red squirrels remaining in our British countryside.

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

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