Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hemp - Quite Possibly the Best Natural Resource on Earth

By Cole Heggie

Few people today know of the power of hemp. Hemp is quite possibly the most valuable natural resource on earth today, yet it remains unused because of the hypocrisy of the majority of governments in the world.

Hemp comes from the Cannabis plant. This material is known to have more separate and diverse uses than any other material in the world. It can be used to make paper, clothing, food, cosmetics, fabric, textiles, rope, plastic alternatives, building materials, and the list goes on.

The American constitution was written on hemp paper. Those before us have been fully aware of just how useful hemp really is. George Washington, one of the founding fathers of the United States, grew fields of Cannabis plants himself. At one point in certain states of the US, it was illegal not to grow hemp. That is how valuable this resource was once considered.

As time passed on and we began to use other resources more like oil, we began to forget about hemp. Laws were passed that allowed people to legally not have to grow hemp. Then when people began understanding how useful it was once again around 1930, it was taken out of the light by a greedy man. This man's name was William Randolph Hearst, and he owned the majority of the newspapers in the United States.

When he heard of this new phenomenon of hemp, he was not happy. This was because he had all of his newspaper mills already set up as tree paper. Since he didn't want to deal with the costs of establishing a new set of hemp mills, he began publishing false stories all throughout his newspapers across the countries associating hemp with marijuana as if it were an evil drug. His propaganda still works on many people today. Because of his propaganda prohibition on marijuana started in 1937 and from that point forward more and more propaganda was used to curb the minds of citizens.

Today, hemp is associated with marijuana and is not allowed to be grown simply because it comes from the same plant as marijuana. The reality is marijuana is the female cannabis plant while hemp is the male cannabis plant, and they aren't associated at all. Hemp does not contain any THC, the chemical that gets people high. Yet because of conservative politicians today, many people still ignore the value of hemp as a natural resource that could potentially solve our energy and resource crisis.

Cole has been writing articles for over five years now and currently studies at a university in British Columbia. At his website Weight Loss Teas Cole also gives information about Oolong Tea Benefits among other things.

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The Global Water Crisis

By Sibby Kim

The amount of water we have right now on earth is finite. The world's population continues to grow and so does our need for potable H2O. However, a third of the world's population is already living with a shortage of clean drinking water and by 2025 it is expected that two thirds of the world will be severely water stressed.

Over a billion people live in developing countries where accessing water could mean walking miles to fetch safe water, paying high prices to buy water, or suffering from food insecurity and the consequences of disease from drinking contaminated water.

The global water crisis has several manifestations including inadequate access to safe drinking water, inadequate access to H2O for sanitation and waste disposal, pollution of water resources, and even regional conflicts over scarce water resources.

The primary problem facing the global water crisis is that 96% of H2O is salt water and the remaining 4% is often contaminated and not safe to drink. Although there is only a small percentage of usable H2O, the U.N. development agency claims that there is enough drinking water for everyone if managed correctly. Coagulating particles, filtering, and treating water with chlorine are three simple steps that can save the 5,000 children that die each day from contaminated water and sanitation related diseases.

However, the costs associated with purchasing chlorine, paying people to maintain purification systems, and creating infrastructure to make clean water directly available to consumers is often too much for impoverished countries that are most in need of purified water. Removing salt from water requires reliable sources of energy to perform reverse osmosis and developing countries simply do not have the necessary power nor the funds for building a desalination plant, maintaining it, and training people to operate it.

Organizations such as Defy Thirst are combating the Global Water Crisis with innovative yet simplistic and cost-effective water filtration systems. By treating and managing the water available to individuals in developing countries, Defy Thirst has helped villages improve health, improve sanitation, and ultimately, save lives.

For more information on the organization mentioned visit

Sibby Kim is a biologist and economist who writes about topics pertaining to economic development, environmental sustainability, and humanitarian efforts.

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Tons of Polluted Water Flowing From Our Nation's Coal Mines

By Kristie Brown

We all learned the heartbreaking side of coal mining earlier this year when 29 miners lost their lives in the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia. At best, coal mining is a dangerous job, and the mine wasn't kept up to federal safety guidelines. One might wonder why the mines owned by such companies were allowed to continue to operate when so many safety violations had been discovered in them repeatedly.

Obviously this mining conglomerate is more worried about their bottom line than they were the safety of their workers. In addition, this same company is being taken to court for its many violations of the Clean Water Act as their mines continue to pump polluted water into the lakes and rivers surrounding the mines which water filtration companies are struggling to clean up to acceptable levels.

One of the metals that mines has been found to be pumping into the water resources is extremely high levels of aluminum. These high levels have been shown to cause bone and brain diseases, such as Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's, and are very dangerous to people who have kidney disease as well. The levels that have been found are also causing the death of many fish and other aquatic life. Other things that the water tests high for due to the practices of mining companies and their subsidiaries, are high concentrations of iron, suspended solids, and acidity.

Numerous environmental groups, such as West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, and the Sierra Club's West Virginia Chapter, are alleging that company mines accumulated about 3,300 days of clean water permit violations during a period from April, 2008 through December, 2009. If that isn't bad enough, the groups allege that the company has done little, if anything, to correct the problem since that time.

People all over the U.S. are beginning to become concerned about the water resources that we'll be leaving to our children and grandchildren. Is it fair for us to turn our heads and look the other way as pollution pours out of the mines and into our waterways? And is it fair to run up huge financial deficits each time a water filtration company has to be hired to clean up after these operations? After all, if this is how we handle the situation, it will only get worse, and all we'll be doing is leaving our problems on the shoulders of the next generation.

Looking for more information on water filtration companies? Visit for all your water purification needs including diatomaceous earth filters and mobile water purification systems.

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Are You Being Green Washed? A Guide For the Conscious Consumer

By Roland Poitevin

Consumer awareness of environmental issues has never been higher. As this awareness has grown so too has the marketing spin attached to it with advertisers jumping on the band wagon and using it to sell their products. Just how much of their claims are a Green Wash though?

According to Terrachoice green advertising has increased ten times since 1990 but it found that only 2% of the claims made had any real substance. The biggest offenders in this game are cosmetics, household cleaners and children's toys. So, how can you tell if you've been green washed?

The use of vague terms like Green, Environmentally Friendly, sustainable, natural and pure is absolutely meaningless unless they are substantiated. These terms are so general that they have no real weight to them. Look for information that backs up these terms in a concrete way. If it's not there on the packaging then it's most likely a green wash. Quite often you'll see "fragrance free" on the front of the pack only to find fragrance listed in the ingredients on the back.

Watch out for products that are sold as organic but have no third party certification. Again, with wood products that advertise themselves as having come from sustainably grown timber look for the proof.

Within the huge green spin you'll find a mish mash of claims that when scrutinized prove to be totally irrelevant. A classic example of this is the way products in spray cans, fridges and freezers scream out " CFC Free!" when the use of CFC's has been banned for years. The same trick is used by toilet paper manufacturers who proudly claim their product to be biodegradable. You would have to be worried if their paper wasn't. This is totally irrelevant information that is solely designed to make you think you're dealing with an environmentally conscious company.

True environmentally friendly materials and ingredients come at a premium. You want to be sure you are getting what you pay for and supporting those companies that are making a genuine effort to clean up their act. Take a closer look and don't let them fool you.

Roland Poitevin is a dedicated writer with a passion for business and environmental issues. You can check out his new website at Exterior Light Fixtures which helps people find the best Outdoor Lighting Like Kichler Outdoor Lighting and information they are looking relating to this subject.

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Windmills and Rural Living

By Peter Gooding

With the recent rise in the popularity of renewable and alternative energy sources, wind power and windmills have become a legitimate mainstream option for rural land owners. Windmills are a popular choice for pumping water and supplementing electricity because they are reliable, inexpensive to purchase and maintain, and attractive. They can be found on all sorts of property in Northern Arizona and ranch real estate throughout the world.

The first windmills were developed between 500 and 900 A.D. in Persia to automate the process of grinding grain and pumping water to feed both crops and livestock. As the technology spread to Europe, the British and Dutch mastered the automatic control mechanisms to complete these same processes. Windmills, along with watermills, were the main sources of mechanical power throughout the middle ages. Millwrights were highly skilled craftsmen who advanced and expanded the technology alongside European colonization.

In 1854, a young engineer from Connecticut named Daniel Halladay, designed the self governing windmill. Unlike its European predecessor, it could pull water from hundreds of feet beneath the earth and had a tail fin that automatically changed the direction of the windmill to face the incoming wind. This fin would also cause windmill to shift back and forth in high winds to prevent any damage to the internals or blades from spinning too fast. To this day, his basic design is still being used by farmers, ranchers, and rural property owners throughout the world.

The basic mechanics of a windmill are simple. The wheel or fan of the windmill has multiple blades on it that spin around on a shaft. The internal mechanism of the windmill transfers energy from a circular motion into an up and down motion that drives a pump rod. This rod extends to the bottom of the well and connects to a piston inside of a cylinder similar to that of a combustion car engine. As the piston is forced down, the cylinder is filled with water, and as it is forced up, the water is pushed up the well pipe. This simple and effective design has remained largely unchanged for over 150 years.

Peter Gooding has been developing Prescott real estate for over 15 years. He specializes in developing the finest horse property in Arizona, including his current sustainable ranching project, Las Vegas Ranch Estates.

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Does Burning Firewood Harm the Environment?

By Michael A Wilson

Burning firewood for home heating has brought comfort to humans since before prehistoric times. Now in modern times many people still heat their homes with wood. For some it is the most practical heat they have available and for others it is for the atmosphere and comfort that a wood burning fire produces. But there are many people who are concerned about what burning wood may be doing to the environment.

There are parts of the world where forests are being cleared for making firewood for heating, cooking and other energy needs. But this is typically in poor third world countries where people are more concerned about survival than responsible forest practices. Here in the United States and other developed countries this is usually not a problem.

In developed countries trees that are cut to make firewood are typically replanted or in many cases trees grow back naturally from seed or sprout back from the stumps. Forests are usually not cleared for making firewood, instead it is often made from waste materials from harvesting timber or from trees that are of too poor quality to be made into other products. In the case of my own firewood business I make wood from trees that come from forest enhancement projects. When the forests are overstocked I cut some of the excess trees to help the trees that are left grow better. In cases like this, burning firewood actually helps fund projects that are good for the environment.

Burning wood is carbon neutral, which means the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by burning wood is reabsorbed by the growing trees that produce the wood. Because of this, firewood and other biofuels are not considered to be a contributor to greenhouse gases.

Pollution from smoke can be a problem in some areas that are poorly ventilated but wood smoke is a natural part of the atmosphere and nature has ways of cleaning it out of the air. Lightning sparked wildfires have naturally been burning and releasing massive amounts of smoke into the atmosphere well before humans started using fire. Smoke can be minimized and in some cases almost eliminated by using modern wood stoves and proper burning techniques.

When burned responsibly heating with firewood can be an environmentally friendly alternative to heating with fossil fuels.

Learn about the dimensions of a cord of wood.
Learn about making wood pellets as an alternative to traditional firewood.

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Riding Your Bike to Work

By Brenda Williams

For those of us who are lucky enough to work close to the jobs that we often commute to day in and day out, there is a trend that is pointing towards riding your bicycle to work. And what is more shocking (though not entirely so) is that this trend is growing very quickly.

There are times when riding your bicycle to work may not make as much sense. For instance, if you have a big presentation and a lot of materials to bring into work, then obviously taking your car out would be the better option. However, if you work at a place that would allow you enough time to change out of your more "athletic" riding gear and into a business suit or some sort of business attire (i.e. a shower would probably be required), then riding your bicycle to work may make sense.

As the price of owning a car keeps going up, more people are desperate to find alternatives that won't break their bank accounts but will still allow them to get to and from work without feeling overwhelmed, and for many Americans, this trend involves digging your bicycle out of the shed. If you look around at most work places, while there may be ample parking room for your vehicle, you would be hard pressed to find a spot for your trusty old bicycle.

Besides this, there are still some employees who are hesitant to ride their bikes to work due to the fact that they are afraid of showing up to work sweaty with limited options for changing and/or showering. This is especially true if you work out of a smaller office building where there aren't any showers and there is only one bathroom.

Still, bicycle riding to work is catching on among many employers who are more than happy to encourage a more eco-friendly work environment. Not only this, but the more people there are who are out there riding their bikes to work, the more people there are who will be fighting against the obesity epidemic that has been plaguing the United States for the past decade or so. Self propelled movement is a good thing!

There are also some who are hesitant to jump on a bike due to the area that they live in as well as the maniacal drivers that they are forced to share the roads with. However, with the increased awareness and attention that is being brought towards our friends on two wheels (not to mention the bike lanes that are being drawn up on roadways all over the country), there is hope that one day, both cyclists and motorists will be able to peacefully co-exist.

When you compare the cost of owning a bicycle to the cost of having to get into your car, start your car and fill it up with gas as well as deal with the very real possibility that you could become involved in a car accident at any time with another motorist (which would cost you a ton of money at the auto body shop), there is a chance that bicycle riding would probably appeal to you.
Vehicle Shipping Companies
Automobile Shipping Companies

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4 Green Building Materials - Selection and Criteria

By Will Andrews

Green building materials help homeowners save on energy, resulting in tremendous savings on power bills. Apart from increased energy efficiency, home owners also benefit from increased flexibility on count of maintenance costs too. Improved design flexibility is also another reason why people go for green building materials for their homes.

Here are 4 criteria for you to choose green building materials for your homes:

1. Resource efficiency - Resource efficiency can be targeted by making use of the products that meet the below mentioned metrics.
  • Natural and renewable - Basically, preference is given to materials that come from sustainable managed resources and are certified by an independent third party body.
  • Manufacturing processes' efficiency - The products that are produced with the help of resource and energy efficient process, take precedence in the final choice.
  • Local availability - One of the main benefits of using green building materials is that they are and should be locally available.
  • Durability - The materials used in constructing such buildings must last longer than other conventional materials used for construction purposes.
2. Improvement in air quality - Products or materials that meet the below mentioned criteria, should be used.
  • Non-toxic content - When used, the materials shouldn't emit any toxic wastes, either in solid, liquid or gaseous forms.
  • The products should also have minimum emissions of volatile organic compounds. Such materials should be able to maximize or optimize energy efficiency and in the process, should also reduce chemical emissions.
  • The products and the materials should be able to resist moisture or any unforeseen moisture attacks.
3. Energy efficiency is an important metric to look out for, which can be fulfilled by selecting building materials that help in the reduction of water consumption in buildings and other associated facilities.

4. The building materials used in green buildings construction should be able to reduce water consumption in buildings.

Constructing green buildings is clearly a good idea for developers and home owners to work with, especially if they wish to save a lot of energy. These buildings will definitely help in conserving energy and improving health and productivity, but that can only be achieved if the right building materials are used. By following the criteria mentioned above, developers could look forward to selecting the right building materials for a green building design.

Will Andrews is a Building Design and Engineering Consultant with more than 10 years of experience in the Building Design and Construction Industry. For more details about any building products information please visit at- Building Products Directory.

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Hemp Fiber - Eco-Friendly Fabric

By Fredric Schwartz

Hemp fiber has been used by mankind to make eco-clothes since before recorded history. It is currently thought that hemp is the oldest cultivated plant in the world with uses dating back to the Stone Age. Bits of hemp fabric have been found dating back to about 8,000 B.C. revealing the oldest example of human industry. Fiber imprints have been found in pottery shards in both China and Taiwan dating back an estimated 10,000 years. Archeologists believe that, in addition to flax, hemp has been weaved since the Neolithic period right through to the middle ages. Hemp has a more recent history as well in a variety of applications (including an important role in early America) and has been a very valuable crop leading up to the modern era.

While the fiber is one of the most valuable parts of the hemp plant (commonly referred to as Bast) used in the creation of textiles, industrial hemp has a wide range of uses including but not limited to paper, cordage, bio-fuel, health food and biodegradable plastics. While truly a remarkable plant, the purpose of this article is to examine the use of hemp fiber in the manufacturing of textiles and ultimately clothing. We will also look at the sustainability of hemp as a crop but highly encourage you to research and explore some of the other roles this important plant plays. You will undoubtedly be led into an eye-opening and wondrous path regarding hemp's many uses and colorful history.

Crop Sustainability:

Unlike cotton, which accounts for approximately 50% of all chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, etc.) used in American agriculture today, hemp requires virtually none. Hemp is naturally resistant to most pests and grows very densely. As a result, it does not need chemicals having practically no weed or insect enemies. It has been noted that when grown in rotation, pests in future crops are actually reduced. In addition, the plant is an excellent source of oxygen production. With each growth cycle the soil is renewed returning from 60-70% of the nutrients it takes. Its long roots aerate soil for the benefit of future crops, remove toxins and prevent soil erosion as well.

As a crop, hemp requires little to no fertilizer and grows quickly and effortlessly in moderate climates. From a cost perspective, hemp is less expensive to farm because of its minimal growth requirements. Canadian hemp farmers are earning 10 times the revenue per acre than American grain farmers making hemp a viable alternative to crops experiencing reduced demand. Perhaps tobacco farmers should take notice!

Compared to cotton or flax, hemp is considered a high-yield crop producing significantly more fiber per square foot and with less water requirements. When grown on the same land, hemp will produce twice the amount of fiber as cotton and six times that of flax. It would take four acres of trees to yield the same amount of fiber as a mere one acre of hemp. In other words, hemp can yield 4X the amount of fiber of an average size forest. What an extremely productive natural fiber! Trees on the other hand require 50 to 500 years to grow were as hemp can yield three to four times annually (approx. 100 day life cycle). Hemp cultivation could significantly decrease if not completely stop the destruction of our forests!

Hemp Fiber

Up until the 1920's, approx. 80% of all garments were made from hemp textiles. Even the now famous Levi Strauss used a light weight hemp canvas for its original pair of jeans. Since that time, hemp has been used to make many types of garments and accessories. Big names such as Patagonia, Adidas, Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren have recently marketed products made from hemp.

The valuable bast fibers, which give the plant its strength, are contained within the hollow wood-like core of the plants stalk under the outer most bark. Grown densely packed (up to 150 plants per square meter), tall plants suitable for the production of the long primary bast fibers are the result. The hemp fibers run the length of the plant anywhere from 3 to 15 ft long. The primary fibers average 8" in length and can be spun or woven into a fine linen-like type fabric. These fibers are now commonly blended with other fibers such as flax, cotton, wool, linen or silk.

A variety of tactile experiences can be created by weaving hemp as intricately as lace, smooth as silk or as coarse as burlap. Modern hemp blends created today for the garment industry are cool to touch and comfortable to wear. While hemp garments are often comparatively more expensive than those made from cotton due to higher processing costs and limited quantities, its superiority is clear.

One of the most commonly known attributes about hemp fiber is its exceptional tensile strength which is 3 times that of cotton. In addition, the fiber is naturally antimicrobial and resistant to ultraviolet light as well as mold, mildew, heat and insects which makes it excellent for outdoor wear. The fiber is not only many times more durable than cotton but warmer, softer and more water absorbent. This also makes hemp more absorbent to dyes and thus less prone to fading. Because of hemp's superior insulating properties, it keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Hemp fibers actually soften with each washing without fiber degradation. Hemp production uses significantly less chemicals than cotton which makes it more sustainable and naturally more suitable for people with chemical sensitivities. The fiber is completely biodegradable, holds its shape as good as polyester but also has breathability. The fibers, which are naturally light in color, require little or no bleach.

Fiber to fabric

While it is legal in the US to own hemp products such as clothing and foods derived from the plant, it is illegal to cultivate it here. This makes the US the only industrialized nation on earth that does not allow its production based on a law that does not make the distinction between industrial hemp from marijuana. All hemp fabric is therefore imported. The primary countries supplying hemp to the US include China, Hungary, Thailand, Romania and Chile with production coming from other nations including Australia, England, Canada and New Zealand as well.

The basic process of creating hemp fabric for garments is four fold:
-Separation of the fiber
-Spinning/Weaving the fiber into Yarn

Centuries old traditional eco-friendly methods of mechanical hemp processing are still used in countries such as Romania and Hungary. Modern methods include chemical rather than mechanical processes which are faster, less labor intensive and ultimately less expensive. Unfortunately, there are manufacturers out there who are more interested in profits and as a result opt for the chemical methods as opposed to protecting the health of the consumer and our environment.

The process of separating the bast fibers from the stalk is called "retting". The organic methods of separation are both natural and mechanical. The retting process breaks down pectin and lignin, the substances that glue the fibers to the stem core. Two natural retting techniques are dew and water retting. Both methods use a bacterial action to break down the glue, the former aided by dew or rain where as the later takes the bundled hemp and floats it in water to loosen the fiber from the stem.

In dew retting, stalks are first cut in to 12-18" lengths and are then left in the moist fields. In order for the stalks to dry, they are then racked together every few days followed by bailing when drying and retting is complete. The dew retting process takes approx. 2-3 weeks to finish based on weather conditions. In water retting, the stalks are soaked for approx. 20 days to loosen the fiber. This method produces a higher quality fiber but is costly and if the water is not disposed of properly can pollute the body of water used in the process. In both methods, the stems must also be monitored to avoid excessive degradation.

A seemingly primitive labor intensive mechanical process is called scutching. Once the stems are removed and washed, they are beaten to remove the soft tissue. This is followed by drying so that only the fibers remain. More modern mechanical methods use steam and specially designed machinery on site to separate the fiber from the hurd (the pulp by-product after fiber is removed). In eastern Europe the primary means of processing rely on traditional organic methods including new cleaner biologically-based enzyme technology. In contrast, China, the worlds leading producer of hemp fabric uses chemical methods of processing.

Spinning hemp fiber in to yarn which is then weaved or knitted into garments is essentially the same for hemp processed by chemical or organic means. The only real difference between the two is the fiber length. Organic fibers are generally longer whereas chemically processed hemp becomes "cottonized" and tends to have short fiber. The spinning equipment may vary as a result but the process remains same.

Organic cleaning and softening methods and machinery are currently being researched and developed by ecologically-minded hemp textile manufacturers. This enables the fabric to remain organic and chemical free as well as retain its softness and durability, a characteristic that is often diminished using chemical means. The natural light color of hemp fiber prevents the need to use toxic chlorine bleach. If lightening is absolutely necessary, an eco-friendly non-toxic alternative is hydrogen peroxide.

The environmental friendliness involving the dyeing and finishing of hemp textile varies greatly around the world. In the US, there are laws in place which regulate the types of dyes and dyeing methods being used, especially in CA where many dye houses exist. The dye itself is another consideration. The toxic content of the dye as well as the disposal of excess dye and chemicals determine the measure of harm done to the environment. The proper disposal of the waste is of the utmost importance in order to minimize any potentially detrimental environmental effects.

Hemp garments can be dyed or left in a "natural" state, which means no dye at all. When left un-dyed, garments come in varying shades of beige which is the natural color of the hemp fibers after processing. An obvious consideration for a sustainable garment business would be to choose dyes which are the last harmful to the environment (such as low impact and fiber-reactive dyes made from natural components that are water soluble containing no heavy metals).

In addition, it is essential to work with dye houses that use such dyes and employ strict ecological safety measures as well. Equally important is to eliminate or at least moderate the amount of synthesized chemicals used in the finishing process in an effort to increase the fabrics overall sustainability. Finishing can involve anything from applying compounds to improve smoothness, stiffness and strength to processes that change surface appearance and texture. Eco-friendly methods of both dyeing and finishing have been developed.

There are chemical processes that can be used at each stage of turning fiber into fabric and fabric into garments. We encourage transparency at every level from the field to the factory so merchants and consumers alike can make the most educated choices possible regarding the products they wish to either sell or wear. The process of growing is only half the equation when creating healthy organic and/or sustainable garments. The various stages of processing must be done using methods that take into consideration the health of both the environment and the consumer.


Hemp can be considered in many ways nothing short of miraculous. This sustainable and easily renewable resource is used for food, clothing, energy and shelter (yes shelter, hemp is also used in making building materials). It's no wonder why so many people and organizations have become passionate about spreading the message of hemp as a world saving plant! Supporting the growing hemp industry by purchasing apparel made from hemp can be considered by some a revolutionary act. I'm sure our founding fathers would agree, after all George Washington and Thomas Jefferson sowed hemp on their plantations! Make a statement and set an example by choosing hemp garments as part of your business and/or wardrobe today! Fredric Schwartz is the founder of Vayu, a grassroots company dedicated to creating eco clothes inspired by yoga and made from hemp fibers and organic cotton. Hemp cotton blends make up incredibly sustainable eco clothing made for the conscious consumer. The company follows a strict model of sustainability integrated into the core of its business model. The result is green clothing born from Fredric's long time commitment to living in harmony with the Earth. Shop sustainably today!

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All Chinese Steel Pipe Used in the Oil and Gas Industry Must Go Through Rigorous Inspections

By Lance Winslow

Everybody's looking at the BP oil spill and agrees that it is a horrible environmental disaster, but it is my contention that there will be many more environmental disasters, on a smaller scale due to the fact that the Chinese are using iron ore to make steel pipes, and that iron ore is not of the same quality is the iron ore that the United States is used to using. The iron ore in the United States is very pure, but many of the iron ore mines around the world do not contain very pure iron ore. This means when the process is completed and Chinese steel pipes are made, they won't be as strong.

This could be a huge problem if you're building a bridge that you'd like to have last over 100 years, or a skyscraper that you don't ever want to fall down, not even in an 8.0 earthquake. Likewise, British Petroleum reminded us that in the event of an oil leak, and with incredible pressures under the ocean, the last thing you want is faulty pipes, or Chinese steel pipes that cannot take the 70,000 pounds per square inch pressure. There hasn't been a lot of talk about this, and I imagine the reason is we don't want to start another trade war with China.

It seems that the Chinese are already upset that we have put tariffs on Chinese steel pipe, and claim that they are dumping on our market at prices less than it costs them to manufacture the pipe. Further, we know that they are paying their workers very much in those factories, and we also know that they don't have any environmental controls that we are used to in the United States. As a human have to breathe the air, and knowing that the dust in China from the Gobi desert blows real hard, and often ends up in the United States, I imagine some of their pollution gets here to.

Not only are they expecting us to buy their cheap pipes, and faulty steel products, apparently they want us to also breathe the air and pollution from their manufacturing processes, and it is not just pipe, remember China is practically America's factory floor, and they are putting out a ton of pollution.

My solution is simple; all the Chinese pipe which is manufactured in China and exported to the United States for the oil and gas industry be required to go through rigorous Inspections. We must know in advance before we put those pipes in the place that they can withstand the pressure, not rust out, and they are of the structural integrity we need to make it work. Please consider all this.

Lance Winslow is the Founder of the Online Think Tank, a diverse group of achievers, experts, innovators, entrepreneurs, thinkers, futurists, academics, dreamers, leaders, and general all around brilliant minds. Lance Winslow hopes you've enjoyed today's discussion and topic. Have an important subject to discuss, contact Lance Winslow.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Death by 1000 Straws - The Importance of Preventing Diversion From the Great Lakes Basin

By Howard Hehrer

"We will know the worth of water when the well runs dry", once observed the incomparable Benjamin Franklin. Never has this historical gem had such literal implications as it does today in America, where residents are quickly discovering that the most essential of natural resources isn't quite as bottomless as we had assumed. This is bad news for the Great Lakes Basin, which is surrounded by parched neighbors yearning to slake their thirst with cool, bountiful water from our shockingly fragile water supply, ecosystem, and natural wonder.

To the west of the basin, Minnesota farmers have battled over water rights to the Milk and St. Mary rivers for hundreds of years. If you look farther to the west, you see thirsty farmers nestled in southern Oregon wrestling with the federal government over rights to the Klamath River Basin after an endangered species cut their water supply and threatened their livelihoods. Similar battles raged in the south, where federal government officials were forced to all but pry the depleted Colorado from regional farmers so its water could be dispersed throughout the sprawling metropolises of Los Angeles and San Diego.

In the arid deserts of Tuscon, Arizona, huge sinkholes have sprouted as a result of huge drops in the water table. To the southeast, Georgia, Alabama and Florida have been suing each other for decades over the water rights to the Apalachicola River Basin while steadily sucking it dry. Even in the East, where water shortages appear to be less prevalent, the Ipswich river outside of Boston has occasionally run dry; overdrawing of the groundwater feeding the Ipswich robbed it from its integral base flow.

Because the population in all of these areas is rising, the blossoming water crisis will only get worse, and current water shortages will be enhanced by the drought cycle. "The United States is heading toward a water scarcity crisis," warns Robert Glennon, a professor of law at the University of Arizona and author of Water Follies, an influential book detailing the disastrous effects of excessive groundwater pumping around the United States. "Our current water use practices are unsustainable, and environmental factors threaten a water supply heavily burdened by increased demand."

It's only natural, therefore, for inhabitants of the Great Lakes Basin to wonder: we have all this water; they don't have much, so when will the thirsty come knocking? Well, whether we have realized it or not, much has already been attempted and, in some cases, done to deplete our precious lakes of their natural blessing on one of the most geographically stable locations on earth.

Consider the infamous Ogallala Aquifer: a huge underground water resource supplying virtually all of the water to the high plains. Contrary to popular belief, the resource is not a large, cavernous, underwater ocean, but water that has filled in cracks and crevasses in the arid Great Plains over thousands of years. Nature finds it difficult to replace even small withdraws from this integral resource this region, much less the mass consumption of today. "A continuation of existing usage patterns is expected to result in depletion, or near depletion, of this sole major source of water in a large portion or the High Plains," said a federal report in 1982.

Although the stasis of the day was unsustainable, local farmers counted on their government officials to keep them afloat. In 1976, the Great Plains banded together to push through controversial legislation requesting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a $6 million study looking into the practicality of transporting water from neighboring states into the region.

Naturally, the response of nearby states to the proposal (much less the results) of this study was nothing short of alarm, and induced the rage of the governors of Great Lakes States, as one member, Minnesota, fell under the category of 'neighboring'. State legislatures had long feared the prospect of Great Lakes water getting sucked to the parched American Southwest, but the Ogallala Aquifer states suddenly appeared to be a much more immediate threat. Not only was the demand higher here; they were also closer.

Although the study interpreted 'adjacent' in a relatively rational way that would not allow for the diversion of Great Lakes water, the scare was the closest the Great Lakes Basin had come to suffering a massive parasitic tap draining millions of gallons daily from the region. The results of the study were significant for two important reasons: it served as an ominous warning that the future would hold more water shortages and more runs at Great Lakes water, and showed the impartibility of transporting water from the basin to other areas of the country. In a study done by University of Michigan professor Jonathan Bulkley researching the additional cost of transferring Lake Superior water to the Missouri River, where Lake Superior could theoretically connect with 2 of the Corps' Ogallala diversion schemes. The purpose of the study was to show just how outrageous the price tag would be to transport water out of the Great Lakes Basin.

The proposed 611-mile canal included in the proposal was capable of transporting 10,000 cubic feet of clean, crisp Lake Superior water every second from Lake Superior to Yankton, South Dakota. Adding to the cost, transportation of the water would require 18 pumping stations, as the majority of the water's trip is uphill. Tack on an additional 7 million dollars for the power used to simply operate these stations, and the project faced a $27 billion mountain (in 1982 dollars). The mass transportation of water from the Great Lakes started looking more like fact than fiction.

Despite the massive price tag placed on the transportation of water, Great Lakes Basin residents still called for governors and legislature to take action that would prevent any future attempt at stealing basin water. These pleas were stifled with a Supreme Court ruling in 1982.

The case unfolded in the remote sections of rural Nebraska, but thundered loudly across the United States - particularly the Great Lakes Basin region. It begged the question: could a state prevent water from being diverted outside its boarders? The Sporhase case began with a small Nebraska farmer who owned property straddling the Nebraska-Colorado boarder. Under the state law, Sporhase was not allowed to transport water pumped from his Nebraska property to his Colorado side; he challenged the law as a violation of the interstate commerce clause in the U.S. Constitution. That summer, in July of 1982, water was declared an object of commerce. As such, states were disallowed a monopoly on water supply, and were prohibited from interfering with water in terms of interstate commerce. Sporhase effectively killed any tactics the basin states may have used to ban the diversion of water outside of the basin.

So what can we do to prevent the redirection of water outside of our delicate basin? The sad reality at this point is: not much. But that doesn't mean the basin states haven't taken any action since the Supreme Court decision on Sporhase. In fact, one could argue that the decision charged some sleepy governors and alerted them to start taking more aggressive approaches.

Action started in January 1982, when Governors from the 8 Great Lakes Basin States formed the "Council of Great Lakes Governors". The purpose of the assembly was to help organize regional responses to a diverse array of Great Lakes issues, highlighting the diversion threat. Later that year during a meeting on Mackinac Island, a declaration was made that no Great Lakes water would be diverted without the clearance from every Great Lakes governor, premier, and federal governments in the United States and Canada. Despite lacking the power of law, the message sent a clear message that the Great Lakes States were not interested in allowing its precious water to leave its basin.

The Great Lakes are a precious natural resource, as well as a defining characteristic of the geographical area. Just as Arizona has the Grand Canyon, the west has picturesque sunsets, and the east is blessed with economic advantages associated with the Atlantic Ocean, the Great Lakes basin is blessed with water. It's important to remember that less than 1% of the basin's volume enters the lakes each year, so endless withdraws are impossible, and their draining will be apparent both in the dip in lake levels as well as the disappearance of streams and rivers. Excessive exporting of water has reduced much smaller water resources (like the Ipswich watershed) to dusty reminders of our water management negligence, and eyes will always be fixed on the grandest and richest water supply of all: our beautiful, natural wonder in the Great Lakes.

Howard Hehrer (May, 2010)

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Why Rainforest Deforestation Has to Stop

By Thomas Ryaner

Rainforest deforestation is as old as civilization. Whenever cities have needed more fuel and more space they just go and chop down a piece of forest. This has had serious consequences in the past. The Middle East and Sahara desert were once heavily forested areas. They became desert at the hand of man. However until recently deforestation only had local impacts, it was never a global issue.

Civilization has expanded to the point now where there is no more space on this planet left to grow into. There are no new continents to go and discover. Our penchant for growth means we are zeroing in on the last remaining rainforests for timber and space for more farmland.

This is a serious problem for the future of the earth's biosphere and the integrity of the ecosystems that dwell in it. If we keep destroying our last remaining rainforests the water cycle will be disrupted, farmland will become unproductive and the land will become an eroded desert.

The Role Of The Rainforest

Rainforests act as a water filter. They prevent the groundwater from becoming too salty by keeping the salts deep in the earth. When the rainforest in razed the salts rise to the surface. This makes water undrinkable and prevents crops from growing in fields.

Many timber companies that cut down old growth forests justify their actions be claiming that replanting new trees mitigates the damage. But reseeded saplings cannot replace a rainforest. They cannot perform the same functions. They have less leaf surface area than rainforest trees and because they lack diversity they are extremely vulnerable to infection.

A Deep Ecological Attitude Towards Rainforests

Conventional ecological thinking would argue that we must save the rainforests because they are crucial to human survival. That is true. But deep ecological thinking would go further to say that these are not our forests in the first place. Humans do not own the world or own the forests. It is not our prerogative to decide what their fate is. Rainforests are home to millions of plant and animal species. They deserve the right to flourish and nothing gives us the right to take that away from them.

Rainforest deforestation has to stop for the good of the biosphere and so humans can stop destroying creation and take their place as a functional member of the community of life.

About The Author: Thomas is a writer whose passion is Deep Ecology. This is a world-view that sees a value in nature regardless of its usefulness to humans. It is partly about saving the world but primarily about creating a better place for humans to live. Living as part of the community of life and not apart from it is a much richer and more satisfying way of life. But in order to live as part of the community we have to stop destroying the rest of life through rainforest deforestation and other means. We have to let the rest of life flourish. For more free articles, videos, books and interviews visit Deep Ecology Hub.

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Conservation in the Galapagos Islands

By Carlton R. Smith

Although the Galapagos remained untouched by man until fairly recently, the effects of man's short presence in the islands have been disastrous upon their fragile ecosystem. First, the pirates of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and then the whalers and sealers of the nineteenth, carried off hundreds of thousands of giant tortoises to store as a source of fresh meat aboard ship. At the same time they introduced various types of mammals that established themselves on a number of islands. Some, such as rats, disembarked involuntarily from the sailing ships, while others, like goats, were intentionally set free in order to provide these early sailors with meat.

In 1832 the islands were claimed by Ecuador, and with their annexation came the first permanent settlers. It was only natural that these colonists, as well as later settlers, would bring with them a thorough stock of domestic animals, as well as many other living organisms that they transported unknowingly. As a result, the majority of the islands today carry an assortment of these relics, including cattle, horses, donkeys, pigs, goats, dogs, cats, rats, mice, and many introduced insects and plants.

In many places these have caused severe damage to the native flora and fauna. Most gravely affected by predation from pigs and dogs were the tortoises, land iguanas, and dark-rumped (or Hawaiian) petrels. Unable to resist pressure from the introduced black rats, four out of six species of endemic rice rats have become extinct. Also, on a number of islands goats and other herbivores have seriously altered the native vegetation. Among the major islands only Tower and Fernandina have completely escaped such introductions so far.

The Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands

This international association was founded under the auspices of UNESCO for the purpose of furthering appropriate scientific studies. This is, in the main, accomplished through the establishment of the Charles Darwin Research Station at Santa Cruz Island with the support of the Government of Ecuador. It was dedicated in 1964. The aim of the station is to provide facilities for the study of the islands and to advise the National Park Service on steps to be taken for their conservation.

In the first place, facilities are provided for scientists to work at their own projects, which are sponsored elsewhere. The projects undertaken must be authorized by the Foundation as well as by the Government of Ecuador National Park Administration. All scientific work on the islands is planned so as not to interfere unduly with the wildlife and, indeed, the Foundation and the National Park Administration will permit no field research which could do serious harm to any element of the indigenous fauna or flora.

The next two categories of function with which the Research Station occupies itself concern conservation. It is arguable which is the most important, but the one project with which the station identifies itself concerns the Galapagos Giant Tortoise in its numerous island races. It is thought that here is selection being applied by nature and, in spite of the dominant role being played by man by his application of a very heavy selection pressure, as far as possible the latter is held in check.

Even though the tortoises of several islands were near extinction, due to man's influence directly or through the agency of feral species of his once domesticated ones, the visitor to the station is first conducted to a tortoisarium where tortoises from the different islands of the Archipelago are reared to the stage where they can be reintroduced to their original habitat, at least in those subspecies where they are most in danger. More recently, scientists at the station have started a Land Iguana breeding program as a result of the high proportion of Indefatigable Iguanas, that have been killed by feral dogs; results so far have been very encouraging.

The research station of the Charles Darwin Foundation is situated at Academy Bay on the south shore of Indefatigable (Santa Cruz). The unobtrusive buildings are located among a cactus forest (Opuntia) and as one walks along the paths around the low buildings one is not aware that this unique Galapagos forest type has been violated in any way. Look for the minute blue butterflies (Leptotes parrhasioides) fluttering around the flowering shrubs and for the Dark-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus melacorypus). At the station also are kept a number of tortoises which are thought either to be unique or whose pedigree is not known. The former are protected so that suitable males are sought for them while the latter are not released because they might cause genetic impurity to invade the island races.

The National Park Service

The Ecuadorian Government has now established a National Park Service, operated by Ecuadorians, to run the Galapagos National Park. With headquarters in Academy Bay, on Santa Cruz, they have already taken over various programs, such as goat eradication and tortoise protection in the wild, from the Darwin Station. They have established plans for the regulation of the tourist industry and have made a considerable impact on the islands in the short time since they started. There is an entry tax, included in cost of your tour.

The main difficulty is the problem of enforcing the laws and regulations, and to this end the Park Service needs the help and cooperation of all visitors whose aim should be the same as theirs - to preserve and conserve the Galapagos and their unique ecology for posterity. Though some of their regulations and arrangements may not seem perfect to the visitor, be assured that they have the islands and future visitors at heart. No natural object may be removed from the islands and visitors are encouraged to pick up any litter they may see. All groups must be accompanied by a qualified guide. Please make every effort to make his job easier by following his directions and instructions. Leave only foot prints, take only photographs.

Conservation and Nature Tourism

When you travel in the Galapagos Islands, use marked trails, avoid close contact with animals, and take care not to remove or transport plants or other organic matter. Tourism regulations have been established to protect the native flora and fauna of these islands, and visitors allowed to wander unrestricted could cause irreparable damage to this fragile ecosystem. Observing these important guidelines will ensure the healthy survival of the Galapagos Islands for generations to come.

Carlton R. Smith

International Expeditions is proud to be a pioneer in ecotourism. Throughout our history, we have supported conservation projects across the globe. Our escorted tours of the Galapagos Islands, have been refined over more than 30 years as an adventure travel company.

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Human Overpopulation - We Are Driving the Rest of Life to Extinction

By Thomas Ryaner

That human overpopulation is reaching a crisis point is a fact that few would try to disagree with. We all know that if we hit 7 billion, 8 billion, 9 billion and beyond there are going to be some very serious ecological problems on this planet.

The issue with our current perception of the population crisis is that we think of it as an isolated problem. But it is not isolated. It is intertwined deeply with all the major crises we face in the 21st century. We didn't get into this position by accident. Nor was it inevitable that we would arrive in this predicament. Humans don't just breed exponentially by their very nature.

Like every creature our population is a function of our food supply. The more food we have the more people there will be. World leaders think that we need to produce more food to feed a growing population when it fact it is the other way around. All this extra food we produce is what fuels the growing population. The problem that human overpopulation creates is a decline in the numbers of non-human life. The more humans there are, the less of everything else there is.

The earth's biomass is limited by the amount of sunlight that falls on the planet. Sunlight is what fuels life on this earth. The bigger the share of the pie that humans eat the less there is for all other creatures. So as the human population rises everything else falls. This has gotten so bad that currently 200 species a day are becoming extinct. This is a bigger problem than asking how we are going to feed 10 billion mouths in the next few decades.

Because as more and more species become extinct the integrity of the earth's ecosystems is weakened. They become more fragile and more susceptible to breaking down. If extinction continues at this rate the planet is in for some serious trouble.

We won't stop our population with birth control. The only way to stop it is with food control. If we stop producing more food we will stop producing more people.

About The Author

Thomas is a writer whose passion is Deep Ecology. This is a world-view that sees a value in nature regardless of its usefulness to humans. It is partly about saving the world but primarily about creating a better place for humans to live. Living as part of the community of life and not apart from it is a much richer and more satisfying way of life. But in order to live as part of the community we have to stop laying waste to the earth through human overpopulation. We have to let the rest of life flourish. For more free articles, videos, books, interviews and more visit Deep Ecology Hub.

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Backyard Beekeeping - A Way to Help Save the Honeybees

By Noah Arnolt

I also used to see bees just as annoying bugs buzzing around my garden at summer time. I was even afraid of them, thinking that if they saw me around they will just come and sting me. I was so wrong!

Bees, besides being hard-working, docile creatures that just sting as self-defense, are one of the more valuable little animals on earth. Without bees, many of the fruit and vegetables we like to eat would disappear off our table. No bees, no honey, no apples, no cantaloupes, no pears, no zucchini, no nuts, no pumpkin, no blueberries ... and the list can go on and on.

Bees pollinate one third of the food in our diet. And now, honey bees are vanishing. They are dying at an incredible rate. More than the 50% of the bee colonies in the US have disappeared. And this is serious! If bees are at risk (and they indeed are), our food and our economy are also at risk.

Every year, honeybees pollinate about $15 billion worth of crops in the United States, and they produce about $150 million dollars worth of honey. Less bees means less crop yield and increasing production costs. This massive disappearance of honeybees is called the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). What happens is that adult bees abandon their colonies and never return. The ones that leave die and the ones that stay also die, so the colonies disappear.

What are the causes of the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)?

We don't really know. There are different theories trying to explain it, but it seems to be caused by a number of factors:
  • Lack of bee-friendly habitats. It has become difficult for honey bees to find what they need to eat: flowers where to get pollen and nectar. This scarcity of flowers is due mainly to extensive farming, urbanization and planting in our gardens flowers that are not bee-friendly.
  • Use of pesticides that are toxic for honey bees.
  • Parasitic mites, as the Varroa, and other diseases. Those mites infest the colonies and kill the bees. When a colony is dying, bees from nearby hives break into the dying colony and steal their food, which is also contaminated, spreading the disease to their own hive.
  • Global warming, which has caused flowers to bloom earlier than usual, while bees are hibernating.
What can we do to help the bees?
  • Start beekeeping. Even in cities like New York you are allowed to keep bees in your backyard or flat room. Beekeeping is a hobby that, although is not for everyone, can be very rewarding. To know more about how to start beekeeping, please, visit the beekeeping for beginners guide you can find in our web site.
  • Make our gardens bee-friendly. Bees need more bee-friendly places around where to go for food. Your garden can be one of those places.
  • Spread the word. More people knowing means more people helping and more bees saved.
I'm just someone who became a backyard beekeeper as a way to help save the honeybees. After a couple of years keeping bees, I have decided to set up a web site to encourage people to start beekeeping. Visit to get more information about honeybees and hobby beekeeping.

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California Solar Incentives

By Rich Hessler

Virtually all utility customers have the opportunity to benefit from renewable energy incentives. This creates green jobs in the service sector. However, California also has production incentives in place to meet the renewable energy goals set in the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) program. These incentives directly create jobs in the production sector.

California solar production incentives come in the form of feed-in tariffs and the purchase of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs).

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has made feed-in tariffs available to small facilities with renewable generating capacity for the production of up to 500MW. Feed-in tariffs will be based on the CPUC market price referent (MPR) and time-of-use factors. A single customer-generator can enter into a 10, 15, or 20 year standard contract to sell renewable energy to utility companies up to 3MW.

Utilities offering California feed-in tariffs include Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), San Diego Gas and Electric Company, PacifiCorp, Sierra Pacific Power Company, Bear Valley Electric Service (BVES) Division of Golden State Water Company, and Mountain Utilities (MU).
Sacramento Municipal Utilities District (SMUD) offers feed-in tariffs for all renewable energy technologies plus combined heat and power (CHP). SMUD feed-in tariffs do no use a market price referent and are based on the year placed in service, time of day, time of year, and length of contract.

City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) purchases Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) from within their own local commercial and industrial sectors instead of from outside renewable sources.

California must employ customer-generated energy to produce 33% of the state's power demand from renewable sources by 2025.

Learn more about California solar incentives.

An organization that provides the elements necessary to launch or increase sales and revenue for solar businesses. We offer the latest innovative solar products, solar financing, leads, marketing, and business support; all the key components to starting a solar company. Find out more at solar services homepage.

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What the Heck is Wrong With Australia and Global Climate Change?

By Mark Fernandina

You would think that a nation facing an arid future and having one of the largest harbingers of environmental damage on the planet: coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef would be the biggest advocate of any deal to stall the melting of glaciers or better, save the planet. Oddly this is not the case.

Instead, Australia is one of the few nations along with the United States that did not sign on to the Kyoto Protocol. It also has no problem holding up meaningful legislation in its senate meant to curb the warming of our planet. In a word: weird.

Australia has some of the highest per capita carbon emissions of developed nations. Throughout Australia the land is becoming increasingly more arid by the day and citizens of Down Under are becoming all too familiar with water shortages and not just for sprinkling the lawn either.

This year (2010) Australia has decided to shelve plans for implementing a carbon trading scheme until the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. This is more than ludicrous considering that climate change is happening "today" and not "tomorrow." So, what gives? One can only speculate as to why this nation actually is dragging its feet over an issue on which it could actually increase its international influence instead of depreciate it.

One interesting insight into Australia's behavior can be gleaned primarily from what has been dominating headlines there in the last year: economic factors. Australia much like its partner in crime the United States has made more headlines for economic resources in the last year than it has for preventing climate change. What comes to mind for those of us that follow the news closely are headlines like: the Rio Tinto imbroglio. So what could possibly be influencing the climate policies of Australia? Coal? China as a competitor for resources? This is broad thinking but one can only be slightly intrigued that many a nation that stakes its wealth on its ability to mine for abundant resources in its back yard would have a problem on any policies that could have negative implications for such a lucrative industry.

Alone the rejection of the Kyoto Protocol should be enough impetus for Australia to seek a meaningful climate change policy. One that is resistant to popular sentiment among the voters there as well. It is not enough that Prime Minister Rudd make the case that the issue of climate change and greenhouse gases are merely the moral challenge of this and future generations. What is needed is action irrespective of the flip flop support of voters. If the prime Minister considers this issue to be important then advocate on behalf of it not simply when it is or is not popular according to the polls.

NOTE FROM MODERATOR: Since this article was written, Australia now has a new Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. We wait and see if there will be any change to climate policy!

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Green Home Building Trends For 2010

By Racheal Ashley

Although the building industry had a dark year in 2009, green building seemed to somehow stick out and shine. According to the Multiple Listing Service data, certified sustainable green new homes actually rose the past year in the northern west coast areas like Portland and Seattle. This trend is believed to spread over the U.S. and green building is expected to grow in new home sales. Already new home sales are on the rise from a year ago with March of 2010 seeing the biggest jump in new home sales in 47 years. So what trends can we expect to see in 2010 in green new homes?

1. Energy Monitoring Home Dashboards. The increasing demand for energy efficient homes, the development of a custom web-based display panel within the home, will show real-time home energy use. This sophisticated product can break down the real time energy use of homeowners appliances, which will help a homeowner change the way they use their electricity. For example in the same way that an electric car mileage indicator encourages the owner to adapt their driving habits, new homes that offer these dashboards may encourage homeowners to lower their energy use. Dashboards will also increase the probability that homeowners of green homes will reach the Energy Performance Score.

2. Energy Efficient Green Home Labeling. Like the miles per gallon label you would find when searching for a new car, energy rating systems for new homes have become popular among legislators. This energy rating system will make it easier for home buyers to see the energy efficiency of one green home compared to another. Each home's score will be available on the MLS.

3. Lenders and Green Homes Make for a Better Bottom Line. Lenders have come to the conclusion that green new homes are better for their bottom line. By seeing a trend of green home owners being more responsible and less probable to default on a loan, due to the fact that most green home owners are more accountable and likely to place higher value on home maintenance. Home owners are also less likely to default due to the decrease in energy costs within their green home. Lenders are now working to get reduced-rate loans and insurance packages for green new home owners.

4. Less Is More. Back when the housing market was booming, larger home lead to greater equity. However since that "bubble burst" this is no longer the case. With energy prices expected to rise over time, and the Federal Reserve likely to raise interest rates during 2010, home buyers are likely to feel more at ease with smaller new homes.

5. Water Conservation. Did you know that residential water usage accumulates for more than half of the public water supplied? The EPA decided in December 2009 to implement WaterSense. WaterSense specifies that new homes will need to reduce water use by 20 percent more than a conventional new home. Mandatory energy labeling in Europe already documents such water efficiency.

6. Net Zero Homes. A net zero home is a green home that generates more energy than it uses over a year. This is done by building a fairly small new home that is extremely energy efficient and uses on site renewable energy like wind, solar or geo-exchange systems.

Find home builder information as well as new homes, green homes, and planned developments.

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Do We Want Our Countryside Littered With Cell Phone Towers?

By Paul Yates

Many in the rural outposts are cock-a-hoop with the chance to finally get rid of the clatter of dreadfully slow dial up internet services and those rural dwellers who work from home are even happier as they feel for the first time able to compete on an even keel with their colleagues and competitors living in the city.

It's not all good news from here though as some small pockets of resistance are developing to the infrastructure needed to deliver the high speed broadband services. You see something everybody agrees upon is that the towers needed to carry the wireless transceivers that facilitate the connection for these rural dwellers to the high speed web based world of today are ugly and in many areas of natural beauty which should definitely not be allowed and some even say that the emissions from the broadband towers are just as dangerous to health as the cell phone radiation that emits from the cell towers supporting mobile voice connections that have long been the cause for cell phone health concerns.

Never mind cock-a-hoop I hear you say more like poppy cock there's nothing wrong with cell phone radiation and this cell phone cancer debate is nonsense, the Health Protection Agency here in the UK say there is nothing to worry about after all. Well yes that's true but there are more ex plumbers terminally ill in 2010 as a result of exposure to asbestos than fatalities on Britain's roads and the authorities took a long time to recognise the suspicions of those enlightened early to the dangers of asbestos.

So should we allow the wireless broadband transmitters needed for rural high speed internet to proceed unhindered into our pretty converted farmyards, and if not what are the alternatives? The short answer is no and not much! The consensus around the globe now regarding mobile phone radiation dangers is that not enough is known and more research needs to be done into this subject and that until the research is carried out we need to adopt a precautionary attitude as to how much of this stuff we are exposed to and bear in mind that the asbestos the government once promoted for everybody's lofts is now completely banned and any exposure to it must be avoided at all costs.

So if you want to live in the country but you need high speed internet access and you want it on the wires then you have to live within about five miles of your BT exchange or talk to your voice connection provider about which wired services they provide such as ISDN 2e which is a very stable constant medium speed (somewhere between dial up and current broadband speeds) data connection.

Paul Yates is concerned about cell phone radiation dangers and the long term effects. He also writes business networking advice for small business development.

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"BP Agrees to 20 Billion Dollar Oil Leak Relief Fund" The Headline Read - Reality Check Needed

By Lance Winslow

We know that British Petroleum agreed to a $20 Billion Dollar relief fund for the economic victims and cleanup of their oil leak from the Deep Sea Drilling Rig; Horizon. Many folks attributed this as a victory from President Obama due to his speech from the Oval Office. In reality everyone close to the story knows that BP agreed to this in negotiation with the Obama Administration prior to that speech, as a way to stave off at least some of the negative publicity involved.

Not more than a day after announcing this incredible relief fund, the largest in history, the US Congress read Tony Hayward the riot act. What we seem to have is far too much political posturing in Washington DC, and too much media grandstanding, something that we don't really have time for because the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season has already started and there are tropical storms ready to roar into the Gulf of Mexico and across the straits between the Florida Keys and Cuba.

Even though the media is treating Obama's Oval Office Speech as the reason for BP's agreement to set up the $20 Billion relief fund, it is more than likely that BP's agreement to set up the fund was the reason for the speech. President Obama's opportunity to talk tough, speak to the American People, and look good, and indeed, that is how history should remember it, even if the media leads us to believe otherwise.

Now then, we ought to talk about why BP unilaterally agreed to such a fund, was it because President Obama turned up the heat, and the media (TV, Radio, Internet media, Cable Networks, and News Papers) had wall-to-wall coverage day after day on this oil leak. In fact, a lot of the actual economic fall-out for let's say tourism is coming from the mass media, not the actual oil leak, for instance Tampa Area has yet to be hit with oil on the beach, but it suffers nevertheless from a lack of tourism, along with other beaches on the west coast of FL.

Perhaps, we need to look beyond the political posturing and media, that's my main message here today.

  1. Wall Street Journal; "BP Agrees to $20 Billion Fund," by Jonathan Weisman and Guy Chazan on day after President Obama's speech.
  2. Editorial by Richard Epstein; "BP Doesn't Deserve a Liability Cap"
  3. Wall Street Journal; "News Improves, Think of Selling BP Shares," by James B. Stuart, June 16, 2010.
  4. The Property Report Section of the WSJ; "Since Spill, St. Joe's Gulf Presence Not a Plus," June 16, 2010.
  5. Blog Article; "Obama vs. BP (and You)," on June 17, 2010.
Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank. Lance Winslow believes it's hard to write 20,000 articles; Note: All of Lance Winslow's articles are written by him, not by Automated Software, any Computer Program, or Artificially Intelligent Software. None of his articles are outsourced, PLR Content or written by ghost writers.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Political Machine in Washington Prevents Cleanup in the Gulf

By Mary Funari

If you believe the propaganda that is pouring out of Washington, then you are buying in to what the political machine is selling. According to the power players in our country's seat of power, we don't have the capability to stop the oil spill in the gulf. This is really a crock of lies and mistruths.

The United States Navy has multiple staging areas with equipment and trained men and women, qualified to handle and deal with this horrific disaster. The United States Navy and The United States Coast Guard are the ones who cleaned up the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska. The Navy has skilled deep sea drivers and other deep sea equipment at their fingertips. Why has it taken so long for our leaders to responded?

Our country received offers of help from more then 28 foreign countries and companies who have the equipment and ships at their disposal to help us. But, our leaders in Washington played politics and refused their help. With the scope of this disaster, it is unconscionable that our government would refuse these multiple offers of assistance. How utterly stupid that they would refuse offers to help, after all, how many times have we answered calls for help. Tony Hayward, CEO of BP had of offers of deep sea equipment from James Cameron, the director of Avatar. Let's not forget that Cameron is uniquely qualified when it comes to working in difficult situations.

Every day more and more damage is being done to the ocean, wet lands, and beaches. Our government is letting this disaster continue and they are letting the American public down. We expect our leaders to lead, not sit on their hands and cry "woe is me". If you don't have the guts to do the job, then step aside and let someone with real leadership ability get the job done. This admininstration is letting lives be destroyed with their lack of leadership.

The gulf and it's people are seeing their way of life destroyed and we get to watch our political leaders question Tony Hayward, CEO of BP on what he knew. Please, this is just more play acting out of Washington. Our so called leaders in Washington need to come down out of their Ivory Towers and get their hands dirty for a change.

This just seems like that the political machine in Washington is using this disaster to keep pushing their Cap and Trade Agenda. It's like political blackmail against the American People. The Governor of Louisiana, should tell Washington to stick it and just do what he thinks needs to be done and send President Obama the bill. If Obama can let stimulus money be spent on crap then he certainly can get stimulus money to Louisiana and other hard hit states to help with this oil spill.

Let's not forget that it was former President Bill Clinton who made them drill in 5000 feet of water. They originally wanted to drill closer to the shore, but was denied permission. So, if we are going to cast blame, lets start at the beginning.

As a working wife and mother, I am quite aware of the difficult times that we live in. With high unemployment, families in this country are finding in difficult to make ends might. Our political leaders in local, state and federal levels are too far removed from the average American to understand our concerns.

Time and time again we voice our opinion and the media ignore us or simple view us as simple minded. We tell our so called legislative representatives what we want or don't want and they either ignore us or bow to special interests.

While, one person can not turn the tide, I do have the Right ad ability to voice a perspective on the current political and social atmosphere in this country. To read more, you can visit my blog at:

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Oil Spill

By Claire Vorster

'Individually men are inclined to tell the truth only when it benefits them' - John MacArthur.

When Steve and I lived in on the coast in South Africa, I used to spend one day a week helping out at the local veterinary surgery. My job was to feed the penguins who were there either because they got caught in fishing nets or had just managed to get confused about where they were! They were tough little customers, they liked fish but they didn't like people. By the end of my shift I would have been pecked (a lot) and would reek of fish.

Still it was hard not to fall in love with them. They were feisty, full of life and in the water they were amazing. Then one day penguins started arriving covered in oil. I don't know the exact circumstances but there was an oil spill along part of the coast near to us. So penguins were bought in, stranded on land, unable to swim, feed or keep themselves oiled and clean because they were covered in black tar. We had to tie their beaks carefully as they were frightened and on the defensive and then clean them with detergent. It took about two hours per bird. Eventually they would be returned to a safe part of the coastline. Some of them did not make it.

What struck me during that time was the dignity of these creatures. Here they were covered in oil through no fault of their own, struggling to survive, somehow dignified in their suffering.

Most of you will know about the devastating effects to human life, employment and to the natural environment as a result of the oil rig explosion and ongoing oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. Here are some statistics:

60,000 barrels: The amount of oil believed to be gushing from the spill. That's twelve times more than the original estimate of 5,000 barrels a day. In all, 60,000 barrels a day means an estimated 2.5 million gallons a day is leaking into the Gulf (Source: Business Week).

127,000 barrels: Amount of oil BP's containment cap has collected since its installation on June 5 (Source: Press Association).

11,300 miles: The distance around the world the current amount of leaked oil would stretch if it was placed in milk jugs lined up side by side. To quantify, that's farther than New York to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and back (Source: New York Times).

11: Number of workers missing and presumed dead following the BP rig explosion (Source: Huffington Post).

Less than 4: The number of hours the millions of barrels of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico would have powered the U.S. Economy (Source: NPR).

Where is God in all this? Jon Stewart the host of US satirical news program 'The Daily Show' showed a diagram of how far this oil was buried beneath the sea and beneath the sea bed. Over 3 miles down. Stewart commented that he thought God had made a pretty good job of burying it out of reach.

Across the globe, we have developed a crazy addiction for consuming our God given natural resources at an unnerving rate so that we can shop, re-model our houses, own lots of cars and endless labour saving devices, the list is endless. This is the reason that we are now mining natural gas under New York State and drilling for oil in places that are increasingly difficult to get to.

Meanwhile we watch oil executives duck, dive and go sailing while oil still rushes into the Gulf. We read of dreadful safety records and corners cut by big corporations who are making obscene amounts of money but still cutting corners. Politicians and regulators saying one thing and then another. Who do we trust?

The truth is that this oil spill shows us yet again that we have to start finding new ways to live a more sustainable life. Change always comes from the people who realise that we have to find new solutions to old problems. We are responsible for our way of life on this planet and the legacy we leave our children. We have everything to play for.

Claire Vorster is a professional writer with 20 years successful Corporate writing experience, both in the US and the UK. She specialises in inspirational and motivational writing and editing for Corporate clients, magazines, newspapers and online markets.

Claire writes a daily inspirational Blog and is equally at home with WordPress, social networking including Facebook and Twitter, list building and SEO. Claire writes persuasive and precise motivational copy. With your voice, to your brief, to your deadline. For writing samples and to contact Claire, please visit and

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A Week in the Life of an Oil Soaked Pelican!

By Bob Alexander

Picture yourself standing on the beach gazing at the most beautiful sunset you have ever seen. Suddenly, just a stone's throw from where you are standing, a pelican in flight becomes silhouetted against the backdrop of the orange ball of the sun. It's an image that will forever give you peace on those random occasions when it comes to mind.

Now see that same sun and the same beach with another pelican being chased over the water by three men in a boat. They're trying to help, not hurt the bird, but it doesn't know that. It just knows that something is terribly wrong!

Its wings won't lift it out of the water. The best it can do is skip over the waves like Jesus running on the water. Its body is covered with heavy red-brown oil that is holding it down. Finally the weary bird quits running and resigns itself to whatever the humans have in mind.

The Pelican's story begins with the gigantic oil leak by the Deep Water Horizon, a drill platform in the Gulf of Mexico about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana, owned by British Petroleum. Millions of gallons of oil have leaked from a pipe in the bottom of the gulf and despite the best rhetoric by politicians and oil men alike, no end to this crisis appears to be in sight.

Maybe this single rescued animal is one of the lucky birds. According to experts though, less than one percent of seabirds rescued from the sticky, smelly oil will survive the ordeal. Here's how it will go for the bird.

Day One: If it's lucky enough to survive being caught by the men chasing it with a huge dip net, it is put in a cage on the boat and at day's end, all the birds collected that day are taken to a rescue center. Here they are sequestered for up to two days while they hopefully settle down from their experience and are checked for infections and injuries. Generally the birds are too weak to eat and have to be fed fluids through IV's.

Day Three: The cleansing begins with the pelican being sprayed with a lubricant, usually a canola oil or a mayonnaise based mixture to loosen the oil and grime that is covering birds that have survived the holding period. Now the washing begins. A diluted form of Dawn Dishwashing Liquid seems to be the detergent of choice for removing the oil from the feathers. The unfortunate bird has to be repeatedly and thoroughly rinsed to ensure that all of the soap has been washed away. Even a small amount of detergent can interfere with the natural oils of the feathers.

Day Four - Six: After thorough rinsings, the Pelican is sent to the grooming room where it is either warmed by a series of lights or pampered with a hair dryer. Then it is sent to another holding area with pelicans which have been through the same treatment. There it is watched for a couple of days to make sure it is well and natural waterproofing is returning to its feathers.

Pelicans and other sea birds that survive all this are farther traumatized by being transported to the Sun Coast Seabird Sanctuary in Indian shores, Florida. Presumably this is far enough away from the oil spill to be a safe haven for the pelicans. Many of these rescued birds though, miss their home grounds and try to fly back to familiar territory. Some make it back to the oil covered waters of the gulf.

All this is a very simplified version of the rescue attempts to save oil drenched seabirds. Their survival depends on how long they were exposed to the mess, the bird's age and physical condition at the time of exposure.
Unfortunately, only a few out of the thousands of birds from Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama will be saved. Of those rescued, less than one percent will survive the oil and the stress of their rescue. Such a loss for us all!

Bob Alexander is well experienced in outdoor cooking, fishing and leisure living. Bob is also the author and owner of this article. Visit his sites at:

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