Monday, September 27, 2010

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch - The Largest Rubbish Dump in the World

Map of the North Pacific Subtropical Convergen...Image via WikipediaBy Kristin Reeves

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is what scientists believe is the largest rubbish dump in the world and it is sitting in the Pacific Ocean. It is roughly twice the size of Texas and is made up of about 3.5 million tons of rubbish. The patch contains various types of garbage including shoes, bags, wrappers, and bottles however the majority of it is made up of plastic which does not biodegrade. Instead plastic slowly breaks up into smaller and smaller fragments. Greenpeace estimated that 10% of plastic manufactured every year ends up in the Pacific Garbage Patch which is an excessive amount of pollution.

Most of the pollution comes from countries ranging from North America to East Asia and to Australia. An estimated 80% of pollution comes from land based sources while 20% comes from ships.

Garbage can make its way from land to the ocean quite easily through our drains. With increased numbers of plastics, luxurious lifestyles and increased laziness litter is being flushed into our gutters which is ending up in the ocean and our beautiful environment. Once in the ocean, some sinks to the ocean floor or is ingested by sea creatures while the remainder is drawn to what is known as the Northern Pacific Gyre. The Northern Pacific Gyre is a system of currents which drags garbage into the center of a huge vortex which is then trapped by peripheral circulating currents. The enclosed enormous mass of garbage is known as the Pacific Garbage Patch.

Many people misunderstand the mass of garbage. They expect to sail out to the Gyre and find a rubbish island. In fact the ocean is full of tiny colored parts of plastic. The plastic is simply more concentrated in the Gyre and is accompanied by bottles, helmets and nets floating on the surface. This huge environmental disaster is unknown to so many because it is out in the middle of the ocean which is yet to affect our everyday lives. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made up of the East Gyre and West Gyre which is located roughly between 135° to 155°W and 35° to 42°N. It ranges from the coast of California all the way to Japan and in some places the debris is 90 feet deep.

It was discovered by Charles J. Moore who came across this massive stretch of floating Debris while returning home through the North Pacific Gyre after the Transpac Sailing Race in 1997. A similar patch of floating plastic debris is found in the Atlantic Ocean. Something similar to the garbage patch was predicted in a paper published in 1988 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States, through Alaska-based research which measured the increase of tiny plastic particles in the ocean water. This is evidence that as time goes by the situation is getting dramatically worse.

Plastic is such a terrible product because it does not biodegrade. Instead, it breaks up into smaller pieces which always remain. The small parts of plastic are called mermaid tears or nurdles. Nurdles are dangerous as they have the unpleasant quality of soaking up toxic chemicals. Even if chemicals are widely diffused in the water, over time they are soaked up and concentrated within these tiny pieces of plastic. In some parts of the ocean there is already six times more plastic then plankton which is a primary food source many fish rely on to survive and these statistics are not even taken from the center of the garbage patch.

Plastics are very harmful to the marine environment. Fish, mammals and birds think that the plastic is food so they eat it. The plastics can poison them or lead to deadly blockages. Plastics have enormous effects on albatross that tend to breed at Midway Island which comes in contact with the edge of the garbage patch. Each year 500,000 albatrosses are born of which 200,000 die from being fed plastics from their mothers who confuse it for food. In total, more than a million birds and mammals die each year from consuming or being caught in plastics, garbage or debris. They are dieing of starvation and dehydration with bellies full of plastic. Research has shown that this garbage and debris affects 267 different species worldwide including sea lions, sea birds, turtles, fish, seals and whales. As fish are consuming toxins at such a rapid rate they may soon not even be safe enough to eat.

There are also a great number of effects on humans. Nineteen Hawaiian Islands including Midway island receive masses of garbage shot out from the gyre some of which is decades old. Some beaches are covered by up to ten feet of plastic while others are covered by tiny plastic sand like particles which would be near impossible to clean up. Soon we may be unable to eat seafood as it may become toxic or we may start eating our own plastic wastage. There will be damage to boats and submarine equipment and if the situation gets worse swimming in the ocean may even be discouraged.

As the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is in such a bad state researchers say it is unlikely it will be able to be cleaned up as it would be a multi-billion dollar process so prevention and awareness are the current keys to success. Richard Pain, an Australian film maker plans to cross the area on a vessel made from plastic bottles, in attempt to raise awareness of the problem. Research is looking for ways of possibly turning the garbage into fuel and Volunteers from Project Kaisei, a conservation project based in San Francisco and Hong Kong plan to send two ships into the affected area to bring back some waste.

Charles Moore has been researching the garbage patch ever since he discovered it. In 2008 he took some young researcher out with him to show them the damage.

The world can be thought of as a closed system in the way that all plastic created remains on the planet except for a small amount which has been incinerated and released toxic chemicals. Less than 5% of all plastic is recycled globally so recycling more is a good start. Attempts to minimize plastic usage and BYOB policy or 'bring your own bag' to shopping centers will cut down plastic bag usage. If we want our world to remain beautiful for future generations we need to accept the responsibility at a local level by thinking globally and acting locally.

Kristin is attending the university of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. She often has assignments to complete for her degree and is sharing some of the more interesting topics with the community. You are welcome to visit a website of interest at Interior Design Ideas. People will also find valuable information on Living Room Interior Design. Living Room Interior Design dominates the layout of inside rooms. Living room interiors are important to the workability of the entire home.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sustainability - Is the Environment Worth the Cost?

plasma-office_0007Image by Chris Daniel via FlickrBy Joshua Donchi

It doesn't matter where you are these days, the environment is on everyone's lips. "Go Green" "Carbon and Environmentally Friendly", "Global Warming", "Solar Power" and "Energy Efficient" are all phrases which are part of common vocabulary these days.

Can someone really "Go Green" for the environment and live a more efficient life, and at what financial cost? Some argue that the cost of not taking action is greater than any financial cost which may arise. Will the earth be around for my great grandchildren and if it is, what kind of state will it be in? More importantly, is there anything I can do about it. My answer to this is "YES".


Everyday I use appliances or machinery which have pollutants which continually harm the environment. Cars emit huge amounts of carbon dioxide which has a devastating effect on the ozone layer. Plasma TVs make watching TV more enjoyable, but with the average Plasma soaking up over 300 watts of electricity, is it really worth it?


When purchasing an appliance, make sure it is energy efficient. LCD TV's use a third of the power of Plasma's without really having a huge difference in picture quality. Always turn appliances off at the power point after using them (especially lights).

There are very simple things that, if we can all do, will help save the environment and your hip pocket. Simply by riding, walking or catching public transport to work helps reduce this number and majority of the time it's cheaper.

Purchase recycled products and then you can recycle them again after use if possible. Its very simple and recycled products cost less money and energy to actually produce and a lot of the time they are cheaper.
All these ideas so far are not only low cost, but have saved you money!


Insulating your house can be one of the best energy saving techniques. A well insulated house is always warmer in Winter and cooler in Summer, therefore reducing the need for air conditioners and heaters, two of the biggest users of energy. While this may cost up front, the savings over a period of time through using these devices, can get your money back.

So the word on everyone's lips "Go Green" is actually a very achievable thing for everyone to achieve without breaking the hip pocket. Remember "Going Green" does not have to cost you a lot of "Greens".

Discover the secret to sustainable living that won't cost the earth. Finally the secrets are revealed at:

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Animal Consumption - A Cruel Ritual

Holstein dairy cows from http://www.ars.usda.g...Image via WikipediaBy Mark Brohl

Justification For Inconceivable Torture

Many folks have told me with pride that they are strong supporters of animal rights and they seem to revere and respect animals to a high degree. I have sometimes wondered if these same people might possibly have more respect for animals than people but that is another topic altogether. Many have even gone so far as to basically indicate to this writer that animals should be revered on just about the same level as humans. I am not sure about taking it to that degree, nevertheless I do believe that all animals are God's creation and should be treated with tenderness, dignity, and respect.

Unfortunately when it comes to the raising of animals for food this mindset is light years away from the actual modes and customs of the industry. The only consideration in this billion dollar money machine is the bottom line in dollars and cents, and innocent animals pay a dear price in terms of the unimaginable cruelty inflicted on them in order to satisfy our insatiable unhealthy desires.

According to the "USDA Slaughter Stats" for 2008, over 18.5 billion animals were slaughtered (there is a good reason the word "slaughtered" does not sound very friendly) and that figure rises every year. You can be sure that precious little consideration will be given to any of the more than 18 billion animals that will die this year as to the methods of raising and then killing them. Many who speak of their love for animals turn a deaf ear to this obvious and incomprehensible cruelty when they sit down to their regular ritual of gorging on the flesh of innocent animals.

The High Cost of an Animal Based Diet

First of all let me say that if the flesh of animals was necessary for human survival I would be the first to stand up and say that we should consume them, hopefully using humane systems of raising and killing them.

However, the fact is that eating animals is not even beneficial, much less necessary. It is actually the cause of the massive increases in the rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, clogged arteries, strokes, and high blood pressure. Therefore the hamburger you will eat tonight will come at an extremely high cost. The environment will suffer as excessive amounts of precious natural resources are necessary to raise the animal, and the animal will undergo unspeakable humiliation, degradation and torture. Moreover the consumer of the flesh will be taking a long step towards one or more of the above mentioned infirmities.

In the high stakes world of raising animals for human consumption the key is to squeeze the most out of each animal for the least amount of money. Therefore whether you are chowing down on some turkey, chicken, pig, duck, cow, or any other animal, be assured that your dinner was probably kept in a space so small that it couldn't even turn around or lie down and that is, by the way, for the entirety of its cruelly shortened life.

Many of the animals that you have consumed in the past and will consume in the future, were of course, not allowed the luxury of even a little exercise in the totality of their existence so that every bit of energy that their tortured bodies generated went towards producing flesh, eggs or milk. The huge corporation heads that are responsible for getting your supper to Safeway, have discovered that the more animals they pack into a smaller space, the more mansions and cars they are able to buy.

Your Dinner Was Most Certainly Tortured

In order to satisfy your ritual craving for animal flesh, your "main course" was fed drugs and growth hormones to get it fatter faster and to make sure it didn't die before it could "pay the piper". You see the living conditions it was subjected to would normally kill it were it not for the drugs. Your dinner was probably genetically mutated so it would be able to produce more eggs, milk, or whiter flesh. The type of cruelty your choice of animals for dinner has endured is universal to all farmed animals although each type, whether they be hens, chickens, cattle, pigs, turkeys or any other factory farmed animal has faced tortures unique to the way that industry raises (it sickens me to use the word) them.

Hens that suffer abuse so that you can get your breakfast served over easy are warehoused in cages no bigger than the space underneath your sink. These tiny cages which house up to seven hens are stacked in tiers one on top of the other by the hundreds. That is where these intelligent animals will live until they are slaughtered. They won't be let out for an afternoon walk or even a stretch. They will not get out of that enclosure until they die.

Your breakfast bacon was warehoused in a crate so small that it was not able to turn around or lie down comfortably for the entirety of its shortened life. The pigs you have eaten (which is the reason you are fighting obesity and clogged arteries) are actually kind, intelligent sweet, inquisitive, loving creatures who certainly should not end up on your fork or stuck to your intestinal walls.

When you take a bite out of your "Flame Broiled Whopper" at lunch, remember that the cow that provided your indulgence (and your next heart attack) was castrated, and was subjected to branding, and had its horns torn out of its head. Rest assured that your hamburger won't cost you one dollar more on account of these atrocities because the big corporations didn't waste any money on things like pain killers before they ripped out the animals horns. And if it is all the same to you I don't even want to discuss how uncomfortable castration would be while still completely conscious and without pain relief.

Drugged and Genetically Altered

Wash your hamburger down with some nice cold milk and rest in the fact that the dairy cows were drugged and genetically manipulated to produce more milk then they were naturally capable of. They were artificially inseminated so that they could have babies and thereby produce milk, but of course the farm factory did not allow any of your breakfast milk to go to the babies. They were stolen from their whaling mother right after birth and sent to veal farms where they will be housed in a cage too small to move for the remainder of their short lives. They will have their flesh artificially whitened so it looks more appealing to your palate, and when they have outgrown their incredibly small cage (remember they have never been out of it one minute since being stolen from their mother) they will be slaughtered so you can have some tender veal and a glass of wine at your favorite restaurant.

Meanwhile their mother will be artificially inseminated again and the same process will be repeated until she is physically incapable of producing any more milk. She will undergo all of this and also face the most inhumane treatment imaginable awaiting the time she is deemed to be no longer useful and then she will be sent to the slaughterhouse.

There is No Such Thing As HUMANE MEAT

Every animal you have ever bought at King Soopers has undergone an existence that is nothing short of torture. Many would now make the case that they buy only "Humane Meat", or "Free Range Eggs" or "organic" milk and so they have assuaged their guilt in the ritual consumption of animals. Even if these animals were truly raised in a totally humane system (they almost certainly were not) there is for all practical purposes no regulation in place to protect their slaughterhouse fate. When they have outgrown their usefulness (which means their bodies are wasted and spent) they will be jam-packed into trucks, unable to move, and driven over many miles in every possible extreme weather condition.

Many will not survive the trip which will actually be a more merciful fate. If they do make it alive to the slaughterhouse they will likely experience one or more of these injustices; strangling, beatings, skinning, scalding, and butchering while still fully conscious. Find a Federal Meat Inspector or just the regular Joe who works in the slaughterhouse if you need verification of the above because if they are honest they will admit to witnessing these heinous acts repeatedly. Please do not turn a deaf ear to this because this most certainly was the fate of the animal you will consume for dinner tonight.

If You Really Love Animals the Solution Is Not Difficult

You might be one who claims to love animals (and really do) and even champion their rights but if you are an animal consumer you are the cause of unthinkable torture and cruelty to many of these innocents each and every year. If it were your dog or cat you would have the full extent of the law on your side if anyone were to so much as think of hurting it. I can say with utmost confidence however, that the cow that is the main course on your plate was also an extremely intelligent animal with a distinct personality. It was loving and loyal and an amazing creature. It truly would have made an excellent friend and companion no less suitable then your dog or cat, except that it would eat more and wouldn't maneuver very well in the living room. You would probably be astonished to learn about the intelligence and distinct personality traits of chickens, hens, pigs, and other farm animals.

If you really knew more about the intelligence of these animals and their true natures you would not readily be the cause of their misery. If you don't know, or refuse to know, then your ignorance will continue to cause their torture. The law is on your side however and certainly not on the side of the farm animal. Large corporations have long since paid for the right to inflict untold suffering on these wonderful creatures, and have lobbied for the right to make you believe the lie that you need to eat these animals for health. Nothing could be further from the truth however, and I hope that at the very least you are willing to take off the blindfold of indifference and open your eyes to this brutal inhumane treatment of the animals that share our planet. The only solution is to stop eating animal flesh. All you have to lose is your diabetes and a few excess pounds.

More to come...

I am passionate about health issues, and the state of the health of our wonderful America. I believe the American Diet is literally killing us and I believe that lobby money is the reason that we have been brainwashed into the shift from a plant based diet to an animal based diet. The result has been an unprecedented increase in heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancers of all varieties. I believe Americans are suffering from a lack of truthful information concerning our diets. I enjoy writing articles that will help to correct the problem regarding this lack of information and also examine the prevailing misinformation in the light of truth.

Healthy Vegetarian Choices For Life

Dedicated to the advancement of informed choices that will benefit our health, our environment, and our animal friends.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tidal Power As an Energy Source

SeaGen - world's first commercial tidal genera...Image via WikipediaBy Dan G Carter

Can you even use tidal power as an alternative energy source, and if so how would it work? The reality is that while not always as effective as say solar or wind farms, tidal energy is already being used as a form of alternative power. In fact the largest and only one of its kind in Europe is the Rance estuary tidal power station near St. Malo, in northern France. This doesn't mean there aren't others, and ones being planned out. Some of these that are proposed sites are around Britain, such as Dee, Solway, and the Humber estuaries, just to name a few. There are also around 20 or so sites that are identified as possible tidal power stations around the world.

What tidal power meant up to just a few years ago was a tidal barage, which is similar to a dam, but on a much bigger scale. These would work just like a hydro electric plant, almost. It is basically a dam that is built all the way across an estuary, with tunnels underneath to let water pass through and power turbines to produce electricity. Each time the tide comes in and out, it would spin the turbines.

There are other ideas for using different methods to harness the seas tides, from underwater turbines, like those used in wind farms, a tidal reef type turbine, which is similar to a barrage but doesn't block off the water totally, and even vertical axis underwater turbines. While all of these other options sound good, they are barely coming out of the concept stages, and putting them into use is a long way off. The barrage is at this point a viable solution, but has both advantages, as well as disadvantages.

Of course we all know many of the advantages of using these mechanisms for harnessing tidal power. It is a massive amount of energy, for one. It can take over up to twenty percent of other conventional fossil fuel using plants. It is free energy, and causes no pollution, and it can give road access across these estuaries in many areas. However, there are disadvantages that may be more costly.

For one, this energy is not totally reliable, and you would realistically have only about ten hours of usable energy per day. These are costly to build, in the billions of dollars, for such short term energy usage. Because they block off the seas access to an estuary, this could have a negative long term impact on the vital estuary ecosystem, like birds that feed on the tidal flats when the water goes out, since this would no longer empty out as before. There would also be no way for fish and other aquatic animals to have access to these unique bodies of water, killing many species.

While tidal power as an energy source does have a potential for the future, at this point more research and development has to be done to find the best low cost, highly energy efficient way of harnessing the ocean's tidal powers. There is such a limited availability of viable sites, compiled with the relatively high costs of building barrages, that this is not yet considered a long term source of alternative energy.

Dan Carter writes for Solar Power House, specializing in solar power kits.

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Tips For Making Multi-Stream Recycling Programs More Effective

glass and plastic (bottles) recycling in PolandImage via WikipediaBy Jeremy P Stanfords

Waste management continues to advance and now homeowners and businesses can recycle pretty much anything that they would normally throw away. While these advances are great for the environment and the community, they have the unpleasant side effect of making it a little more difficult and inconvenient to follow program guidelines.

How many different types of plastic are there and do I have to separate them? Can I mix my office paper waste with yesterday's newspaper? What types of scrap metal, like iron or aluminum, will the garbage collectors take? Does it matter what color these glass bottles are?

These are just some of the questions that frustrate many people when it comes to recyclables. There are easier ways to handle these questions when participating in a multi-stream waste program.

The Old Way: Sorting Waste On Garbage Day

The old way to handle multi-stream waste management was to go through and sort everything by hand, often the night before garbage collection day. This method is clearly inconvenient and doesn't help people to participate in their local garbage collection program. For a business, hand sorting is highly impractical with a large volume of waste to sort. Some homeowners improved on this method by sorting their trash every day as they threw it away, but that doesn't really solve the problem. Then, maybe their children threw away some garbage into the wrong recycling bins and now all of that careful sorting has to be done all over again.

The New Way: Using The Proper Bins For Recycling

The right recycling containers make all the difference. Bins for recycling are designed to take the guess work and tedium out of multi-stream programs. Recycling containers are available in a wide range of sizes and configurations for automatic sorting.

For example, the openings in the receptacles can be cut into the shape of the recyclable that it holds, like an aluminum can or plastic bottle. Other bins for recycling have multiple compartments and openings that are labeled for instant sorting. Clip on compartments and riders can be put on regular recycling containers to instantly catch different waste streams.

There are also many different sizes and shapes to help handle waste in any room of the home or office. Tall and skinny, short and squat, stackable and nesting, not having enough room is no longer an excuse.

Form And Function For Recycling Containers

Recycling bins today are being customized and personalized with new colors, printed slogans and text, as well as pictures and company logos. Customization can really make an impact on encouraging participation and pride in a successful waste program. Business can sponsor community programs and provide receptacles that bear the company's colors and logo. Some organizations have even printed statistics on their receptacles telling people passing by just how many trees or barrels of oil they are saving every time they recycle.

Today's options in waste containers have really helped to solve many of the problems that plagued early multi-stream programs by making them more convenient.

Author writes about a variety of topics. If you would like to learn more about Recycling containers, visit

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Affects of Chemical Pesticides

By Joseph Stutzman

The biggest problem with chemical pesticides is their ability to linger in the water, air, and ground. This leads to pesticide transfer, causing collateral damage by the contamination it causes. The effects on soil are astounding. In 1940, farmers started using chemical pesticides in a widespread manner. That is the year trace minerals in vegetables and fruits started falling due to the depleted nutritional value of the soil. The mineral value of produce has fallen by a drastic 76%. Is the reduction in the food quality worth the use of chemicals?

As bad as it appears here in the US, third world countries are even worse. They are producing foods for export which contain residue of more than one chemical pesticide. These are the chemicals designed to kill insects, yet are slowly entering our bodies when we eat these foods.

This has caused a surge in organic farms. Organic farms do not allow chemicals of any type onto their soil and produce. Being chemical-free has allowed these farms to increase the nutritional value of the soil, producing healthy fruits and vegetables.

The use of pesticides has also been linked to different diseases. Diseases like cancer, nervous system diseases, and reproduction issues have all been linked to chemicals. Other research has determined that disorders like Parkinson's, asthma, leukemia, and lymphoma have been attributed to people who have been exposed to pesticides.

The Pesticides Literature Review, based on studies conducted by a multi-university research team in Toronto concludes that "people should reduce their exposure to pesticides because of links to serious illnesses." Isn't it time to make the move to a chemical-free lawn and garden?

So where does one start once they decide to go organic. The first thing to look at is the packaging on the products you are purchasing. Unless it states organic on its packaging, it is not. The USDA has a lot of good information on how to become an organic program. Another good source for listing organic products is the Organic Materials Review Institute. Both organizations can be accessed online.

Joseph believes in organic methods and implements them in his gardens. He uses all-natural diatomaceous earth for all of his pesticide needs.

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Computer Recycling - The Importance

An abandoned computer monitorImage via WikipediaBy Peter David Wendt

Electronics are becoming more and more easy to use, causing them to be in high demand. There are multiple places to purchase a new computer. With such a demand for new, smart, easier to use computers poses the question, "what do I do with my old computer?" Old computers to be taken the Goodwill or donated to a school for computer education. Our high speed internet is to much for this oldies. Luckily new technology has given birth to Computer Recycling Companies, and has given them the ability to recycle computers in order to save the environment from harmful waste from old, rotten computers.

One of the many Computer Recycling Centers is Best Buy. They now have streamed on their web site and on their commercials that they will take in any old computer and/or laptop for a $10 processing fee then will give you a $10 gift card. Just the other day I took in a huge computer monitor along with the tower, and an old roll mouse, had them recycled instead of thrown in the garbage. I received a $20 gift card to Best Buy. Computer Recycling Centers like Best Buy charge the fee but give you your money back, so while getting rid of that old machine helped save a little green for the wallet. Another Recycling Center is Staples, charge $10 as well.  Spending a little green to save a lot of green.

While Computers have transformed from big, bulky to small, convenient, recycling is just starting its transformation to becoming the ultimate way to dispose old computers. Computer Disposal Businesses will become more aware to computer buyers. While the demand for computers goes up so will the demand to recycle them safely. Going green is an old thought leading a new way to recycling future.

Peter is a writer who spends his time doing research on different topics and posting articles about them. His main focus right now is in environmental issues including, Computer Recycling Companies and Computer Recycling Center.

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Computer Recycling - What Can You Do?

P7090047Image by killbox via FlickrBy Peter David Wendt

Computer recycling is the best way to make your old electronics disappear without causing undue damage to the environment. When a computer and its components are thrown out in the trash, they become part of the larger problem of landfill waste when they can be recycled and made into new items for purchase. Computer recyclers are usually located in many areas and are more than willing to take your old electronics off of your hands. Often, a city will set aside a day for people to bring these kinds of items in to reduce the number that are thrown out.

Items such as printers, cartridges, parts and cords contain valuable materials in them like plastic, metal and glass which can be reused to make new products. Many manufacturers are starting to use recycled products at an increasing rate for its ability to save the money on producing an item and not having to extract as many natural resources from the environment. Computer monitor recycling is especially important as many of the older and bulkier models are starting to appear in the trash.

These contain a large amount of the plastic it can be reused to make items such as trash cans, kitchenware, file bins and even new monitors and computers. By turning your old computers and their parts into a computer recycler, you will also feel better about your role in protecting the environment. The savings that manufactures get from using recycled material will also be passed on to you as lower prices in the products you purchase. It becomes very simple when you set aside an area in your home to put items in that you need to recycle in and take one day a week to bring them in. You will be helping to create a healthier environment.

Peter is a writer who spends his time doing research on different topics and posting articles about them. His main focus right now is in environmental issues including, Computer Recycling and Computer Recyclers.

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Shed More Than a Tear For Clean Water

Clean drinking water...not self-evident for ev...Image via WikipediaBy Mike Nemeth

One of the most iconic commercials I've ever seen shows a Native American in a hand-made traditional canoe paddling slowly from idylic natural surroundings into the garbage choked waterways of a big city port. It ends with the Native American walking alongside a highway surveying what his country has become. A passerby in a car tosses a bag of garbage at his feet and he looks at the camera while the Dragnet-style voiceover says, "People start pollution. People can stop it." The camera closes in on a tear sliding down his face.

To me, it said clean water and that image often comes to me anytime I'm around a river of any size whether it's the mighty Yukon in Alaska, the Skagit in Washington or the San Joaquin. And I wonder whether the river I'm looking at is getting better or worse.

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its draft report on how it plans to keep that Native American and people like me from being disgusted when we look at a waterway. The agency calls the effort Coming Together for Clean Water. The draft outlines how the EPA hopes to accomplish goals established by the Clean Water Act, which was passed in 1972 when President Nixon was in office. I still have a pin that says, "Nixon: Now more than ever."

The EPA says, "We're pleased to share this draft with you and welcome your comments." The approach focuses around "two thematic lines: 1) healthy watersheds, and 2) sustainable communities," the report says.
Solutions outlined include regualtion, of course, but also cooperation, partnerships and communication. It's all our business: corporation, business, resident, farmer, fisherman. It's important stuff. Now more than ever.

The situation as outlined by the EPA sounds dire. "Recent surveys found that nutrient pollution, excess sedimentation, and degradation of shoreline vegetation affect upwards of 50 percent of our lakes and streams.
"In addition, recent National Water Quality Inventories have documented pathogens as a leading cause of river and stream impairments. Sources of these stressors vary regionally, but the main national sources of water degradation are: agriculture, stormwater runoff, habitat, hydrology and landscape modifications, municipal wastewater, and air deposition."

The report says pollutants have been detected in virtually all tested stream water and streambed sediment and about three-quarters of groundwater wells. Nasty. The draft strategy will be available for comment until Sept. 17. The EPA plans to have its final strategy by late this year.

Mike Nemeth, project manager San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization

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Revenge of the Birds - Can Wildlife Fight Back?

whitelee006Image by _gee_ via FlickrBy Brian J. Richards

Each year around Britain, thousands of winged creatures fall prey to wind farm turbines that have been built to provide us with green energy solutions. In an antithesis of Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 horror 'The Birds', the roles have been reversed and human 'progress' is causing harm and death to our native creatures at an alarming rate. Current design of wind farm turbines has omitted an important step in the search for green energy - the cost to the surrounding environment. Further research had design and construction has proposed a safer option that will lessen the impact on the already fragile, native bird population.

Peaceful Guillotines

From afar and to the naked-eye, the rotating blades of current wind farm turbines appear gentle and slow. They resemble meandering white wands that lazily turn over in the distant landscape. Almost peaceful looking ... almost! The reality is far from this. Those innocent looking blades are in fact turning at speeds of up to 200 miles an hour. Windfarms operate using a prop-style turbine that turns blindingly fast and is placed directly in the line of flight of many winged wildlife.

A Tight-Lipped Subject

But I've never heard of mass-murdering wind farms you say? The government wouldn't fund this sort of green energy solution, you insist... Well, perhaps if the full facts were flowing onto the public we wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the greed of these corporations. In several anecdotal accounts, employees have admitted to being asked not to divulge actual numbers of bird injuries and deaths on any official reports. Not only is this a disturbing ethical issue, but potentially also an emotionally-weighty decision for these employees to make. Sure they are just birds, but imagine not only being privy to their destruction but then having to keep it a secret!

Can Wildlife Fight Back?

Whilst this sounds quite dark and ominous, clever researchers and fellow bird lovers and environmentalists have found a solution. Different wind farm design - Genius! The proposed vertical shaft turbines are smaller, produce double the amount of green energy of existing farms and are looking to be a much safer alternative for flying wildlife. The relatively shorter scope of these windfarm turbines in partnership with their vertical design will allow birds to clearly see the obstruction in front of them. Rather than setting their paths into a rapidly rotating blur, they can avoid collisions altogether.

This type of technology and design is available as a safer alternative to the current wind farm designs today. The businesses and corporations that make money off our desire to be green need to be held accountable for their poorly researched and implemented turbines. Otherwise, I wouldn't be surprised if we have a sequel to that eerie fiction of yesteryear - I can see the title already 'Revenge of the Birds'!

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Why Do I Need to Act Now to Save Our Environment?

By Garrett Wake

Look around you. Is this the world you want the future generation to inherit from you? No more fresh air to breathe because of the pollution caused by your vehicle and waste. No more clean water to drink due to improper waste disposal and water pollution. I will not be surprised if we need to buy clean water someday to drink or to take a bath. No more animals to see due to illegal hunting of wild animals and deforestation. No more coral in the ocean to explore, blue sky to see, and flowers to smell. It is all because of our actions and negligence.

Don't give the usual excuses. You should be involved in this cause. We are all citizens of the world so you are not exempt from acting to save our planet! What have you done lately? Come to think of it, you have been very busy with your work and earning a living. But where will this lead you if there will be no more habitable places to stay? Don't think it is not possible for it is already happening today. Look at the victims of floods, landslides, and other natural calamities. That is just one of the ways where mother nature retaliates for our abusive actions.

If you do not want that to happen to you and your family, then it is time to act now! There are many ways that you can contribute to the preservation of our planet. We can plant trees, conserve energy by turning off the lights when not needed, check water faucets to avoid leaking and wastage of water, clean our environment through proper waste disposal, recycle our plastic bags and containers, and join causes to fight pollution. You can also actively participate in the activities and programs of your locality. There are actually various actions that you can do. It is just a matter of vigilantly participating in these causes wherein you can make a difference.

In my case, I have this group wherein we actively inform our local citizens about the importance of keeping our place clean. We have in fact joined in the "Earth Hour". Our recent project is about re-educating kids about the basic things they can do to save our planet. There has been overwhelming support from parents and teachers. We were able to give gifts to these children as a reminder that as early as possible they must be exposed to our condition. I bought two special tokens for these youngsters. I bought them online where they sell groomsmen gifts and bridesmaid gifts. They are personalized trains and yoyos. I also added the designs of our planet earth. They really enjoyed the gifts.

If you have problems in giving gifts then I bet this site will help you find that perfect gift. They also have expert advisor who will assist you with your gift problems.

Garrett Wake is an authority at numerous kinds of wedding and relationship topics. He can assist you to pick out the very best in gifts for groomsmen with signature style. Harrison can definitely help you with choosing the proper bridesmaid gifts also. Stop by Engraved Gift Creations to discover what Garrett endorses.

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Threatened Species - The Hawksbill Turtle

Hawksbill Turtle (details)                                   Image via WikipediaBy Gareth Westhead

There are approximately 8,000 nesting females left in the wild, which highlights the threat these special marine animals face. They are a very important species in the marine environment because their feeding activities disturb the surface of coral allowing reef fish to feed. However, like other turtles, Eretmochelys imbricata or "Hawksbill turtle" face threats from a number of sources.

Major Threats

Despite protection from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) there is still a worryingly high degree of trade in products derived from the Hawksbill turtle. There is still high demand for Hawksbill shell, which is often carved into hair clips and other jewelry items. Hawksbill eggs and meat are seen as a delicacy in some cultures and this harvesting has played a major part in the decline of the species.

The most serious marine threat to the Hawksbill turtle is commercial fishing, turtles often get tangled in fishing nets which cause all manner of injury and in many cases result in the turtle drowning as it is unable to escape. Other threats exist in the shape of marine debris, which turtles often mistake for food. Once ingested this material is not only toxic but it can also prevent the turtles receiving adequate nutrition and leads to a slow agonising death.

This is by no means an extensive list of the threats faced by Hawksbill turtles but the above are probably the main threats: In order to save this wonderful species from extinction greater co-operation is needed to halt the illegal trade, clean up our oceans and ensure safe sustainable fishing methods are used. If the decline of the species continues there will be disastrous consequences in the not too distant future.

You can help preserve the future for the hawksbill turtle. Adopt a turtle and help make a real difference to the future of this majestic animal.

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CASE STUDY: Volcanic Gas to Power Rwanda

Sunset on Lake KivuImage by John & Mel Kots via FlickrBy Marcus Gallon

Creative strategies for energy saving isn't the sole dominion of western nations: Rwanda recently announced their plan to harness volcanic gas from Lake Kivu. While western energy consumers worry over their energy consumption, watching their numbers go up with their smart meter or home energy monitor, Rwandans won't have to fret about any adverse environmental impact from their new life of electricity - the volcanic gas is both inexpensive and totally green.

The gas at Lake Kivu hasn't always been an ally to the two million people living around the lake's shore; until now, it's been an enemy. The locals talk about mazukus, or "evil winds", hard-to-detect pockets of carbon dioxide that kill residents each year. Meanwhile, when the gas isn't busy killing people, it's busy poisoning the lake with more and more methane and carbon dioxide.

An "Exploding Lake"

All the gas in the lake, together with a close-by volcano, makes for an explosive combination. Previously, scientists predicted a dangerous limnic eruption. A limnic eruption is a highly unusual natural disaster, in which a lake releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide at once. The sudden release of gas can kill wild animals, humans, and their livestock by essentially suffocating them. The release can also trigger a tsunami in the lake, causing further damage.

In the 1980s, two other lakes, Monoun and Nyos, experienced a limnic eruption that led to nearly 2,000 deaths. Lake Kivu in Rwanda has been considered a far greater risk, both because its size is gargantuan compared to Lake Nyos, not to mention the population density is much higher. Scientists felt that Lake Kivu was a disaster waiting to happen.

That might no longer be the case, now that locals are putting the gas to good use. By harnessing the volcanic gas in the lake for energy, 60 bn cubic metres of methane have already been extracted, and much more gas stands to still be extracted. Extracting the gas will provide millions of Rwandans with energy while reducing the risk of a natural disaster.

How it Works

A large barge on the lake sucks the water up through a pipe, then separates the water from the methane gas. The methane is further separated from the carbon dioxide, then the methane is used for energy, while the water and carbon dioxide are pumped back into Lake Kivu. So far, so good, but some people are raising concerns about the environmental impact on the lake's ecosystem when the excess water and carbon dioxide are pumped back in.

For the time being, though, the project at Lake Kivu is being hailed as a success. Already, the barge is producing 3.6 MW of electricity, or roughly 4% of the entire country's power supply. In just a few years, the power plant at Lake Kivu expects that it will be able to produce 50 MW, and a US company has signed up to help the effort, aiming to produce 100 MW of energy from the lake's methane.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Alternative Energy and the Economic Recovery

Nominal Real Oil Prices 1971-2007Image via WikipediaBy Hank Jensen

As oil hovers in the $80 per barrel range and the faltering global economy struggles to recover from the current decline, the need to invest in alternative energy and identify viable alternatives to oil as an energy supply becomes even more pressing. Why? In the past, when the cost of oil reached a certain percentage of GDP, an economic downturn ensures. In today's economy that figure is about $80 per barrel. If this is accurate, that would mean the global economy may be teetering on the verge of another down leg, if not a financial collapse should oil increase in price appreciably higher than $80 per barrel.

If we are in a recession, why is oil trading at about $80 per barrel anyway? Is the world running out? No, the world is not running out of oil, however there are other challenges such as the price to bring oil to market.
Case in point: For oil producers to clear a profit on their oil production, the price of oil needs to be in the $60 to $70 a barrel. If it drops below some $60, drilling and research experience a substantial drop with a corresponding drop in output, putting future demand at risk.

Many people believe that offshore oil from countries like Brazil that have major untapped reserves is the answer. What is not fully appreciated is that the break even amount to get the oil from these sources that are up to 7 miles below the oceans surface is about $80 per barrel. And then we ask have to ask ourselves: Is deep sea oil even practical after the BP oil spill debacle?

Let's review the initial stage of the current recession which started about first quarter of 2008. Note that at that time, oil went over $100 per barrel and remained there for about the next 2 quarters. Initially, the economic effect was obvious to the majority of observers. The government denied we were in a downturn, but the general public was attentive enough to know that the economy was in less than healthy condition.

Then, the recession that was not a recession, was eventually confirmed to be one a few weeks after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September of 2008. From there the recession morphed into the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression. Now the recession that wasn't a recession is going through a recovery that is not really a recovery as evidenced by high unemployment and real estate foreclosure levels.

So what would it take to cause a spike in energy to over the $100 range, placing the economy at risk? How about a geopolitical event in the Middle East? Or a terrorist attack on a major oil producers facilities? How about an attack on commercial vessels in the Straits of Hormuz where 40% of the global oil is shipped daily? If you believe that one of those scenarios is improbable, simply turn on the news and listen to the current events in the Middle East. It would appear we are on the brink of a major conflict.

A geopolitical event or terrorist attack notwithstanding, increased oil demand from the expansion of emerging economies could easily drive oil prices well past $100 per barrel inside of the next 12 to 24 months. The higher oil prices go, the more pressing a sound alternative energy arrangement on a domestic and global scale would be required.

Anyone can surf the web and read about developments in offshore wind power, solar power and hydrogen fuel cell technology. The recent advancements in electric / hybrid autos are impressive as well. While noteworthy progress is taking place in these areas, it is not anywhere near satisfactory to ease concerns of the current rate of rising oil costs.

The bottom line is this: If a substitute fuel supply, minimally on a back up level, is not developed ASAP, then the increase in oil costs which are on their way could take this recovery which isn't a recovery and turn it into a depression that IS a depression. Which will come first?

Visit Hanks blog to read about alternative energy, onsite energy systems, and hydrogen power company's

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The Pro's and Con's of Earth Friendly Products

McCownGordon's eco-friendly jobsite trailer, w...Image via WikipediaBy Charlie Robinson

Buying Eco friendly products is becoming more and more popular. But what are the pros and cons of trying to make purchases in an eco friendly way?


Cost: Buying environmentally friendly can cost more initially.

Harder to find: You can run to the local chain store and find almost anything you need. But is it your best choice for the environment? Probably not. Eco friendly products can be more difficult to locate.

Research: To find products that are friendly environmentally you need to do a little research into the companies and organizations that sell the products. Do their products really run on solar power alone? Are their products made from recycled materials as they claim? Make sure you get what you pay for and receive the energy savings expected.


Long term savings: Earth friendly products are energy efficient. This means they are not only good for the environment, but they'll save you money in the long run due to lower fuel bills. Most eco-friendly products are well made and will last longer than their cheaper made comparisons.

Health benefits: Eco-friendly products are designed to make you and your family live healthier lives. Purer water, organic foods, reduced allergens, less processed food. It's not just about the Earth becoming healthier; it's about your family reaping health benefits, also.

Less waste: When you buy in bulk you reduce extra packaging that individually wrapped products require. Less packing, less trash. By reusing the back side of paper you have less paper to throw away. When you cut down on paper products and use cloth napkins you cut down on waste. Everything adds up to less waste in the landfill and less emptying the garbage can for you.

Develops Habits: Buying Earth friendly products is a habit like any other. The more you do it, the more it seems like the natural thing to do. It also teaches your children to maintain the same habit. As they grow older they'll make eco-friendly choices automatically.

Sometimes the secret to living a more eco-friendly life is locating the right sources of products. The good news is, when you find a source for good products they'll usually have a large selection that have already been researched and approved. Find an organization you trust so you can feel good about taking their recommendations.

Buying Earth friendly products can quickly become a way of life once you weigh all the pros and cons.
Live Friendly Environmentally

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Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent of the Futur

By Charlie Robinson

Many new green and eco-friendly innovative ideas and products have been emerging in the past decade; covering all areas of the market from eco-friendly furniture to new cutting edge eco washing balls or laundry balls that are used for greening up your laundry washing.

What are wash balls one might wonder? A wash ball is a laundry product that, in essence, replaces laundry soap. Though the designs of the balls can vary; most have one thing in common: they replace the need for laundry soap and provide clean green laundry!

Eco Washing Balls generally use a Green ceramic based pellet washing design within the balls; of which is capable of cleaning and sanitizing cloths; just as traditional laundry soap does. Once the ceramic pellets are introduced to the water within the washing machine; they immediately go to work providing Eco laundry. The pellets within the laundry ball cause a chemical reaction with the water; effectively altering the ph of the water to almost the same effect as laundry soap does. The most noticeable benefit of the alteration of the ph level within the water is that it helps the Wash Ball to remove oils and dirt's from the clothing.

The majority of Eco Washing Balls work like this; the pellets located within the Eco laundry ball itself emit a special infra red stream of rays; of which help in the breaking down of the natural hydrogen in the water. In essence; the pellets within the laundry ball break apart the large clusters of hydrogen within the water and make a whole bunch of small clusters. The reason that small clusters are ideal is because with the small ones the molecular motion of the water is increased; ultimately allowing for the water to easily penetrate the fibers within the cloths; basically turbo charging the water for Eco laundry applications.

In addition to the Eco laundry manipulation of the waters ph level and the breaking down of the large clusters of hydrogen in the water; the Eco Washing Ball pellets emit negative ions that help to soften all the fibers in the cloths. By softening the fibers, in combination with the other aspects; the Eco Washing Balls allow for the dirt to come out of the cloths faster, cleaner and easier; providing 100% Green Laundry. By utilizing Wash Balls; one would have no need for traditional laundry soap.

There are many different types of laundry soap; but on average, Procter and Gamble reports that the United States washes about 100 million tons of laundry annually. That works out to be about 35 billion loads of laundry each year. A separate report, released by The Coin Laundry Assn, states that there are an estimated 35,000 coin-operated laundries located in the United States. While the average load of laundry costs about $0.14 per load; while Eco Washing Balls can do the same work; providing pretty much the same results; for about $0.04 per Eco Green Laundry load.

Newer and more Eco-friendly models of Washing Balls for Green Laundry are reportedly good for up to 1,000 loads of laundry. The majority of Wash Balls can be used in either front loading machines or top loading machines. Eco Washing Balls are available in many different sizes and shapes. Laundry balls use no harmful chemicals; which reduces the allergic reactions some people experience using traditional laundry soap and the effect that washing clothes has on the environment; effectively providing completely clean Green Laundry.

For most Eco Washing Balls it is recommended that they be placed in the sun for 3-5 hours once a month to replenish the natural and powerful core of the unit; the pellets; in an effort to provide the user with ongoing Green Laundry. After excessive use; the pellets will begin to shrink in size. It is also recommended that the Eco-friendly Wash Balls be replaced once the pellets within reach a reduced size of about 50%.

Some laundry balls are constructed using absolutely no PVC or BPA; being constructed in an Eco-friendly fashion utilizing Green materials like SEBS. By providing an Eco-friendly alternative to laundry soap; Washing Balls are quickly becoming popular because they provide an economical, energy efficient and nature preserving Eco laundry cleaning solution.

Click here For Your Laundry Ball

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My Passion for Going Green

Shadow of a Writing HandImage by lowjumpingfrog via FlickrBy Tina L Douglas

Being an eco-friendly professor can be huge work. Of course, not only do you serve as a role model for students, you also have to inculcate the value of protecting the environment to your students through your lessons. That's when it gets pretty hard especially if you are teaching history - and that's not being funny.

I introduced my eco-friendly lifestyle at the first day of class. I informed my class that in our class, we will try to save whatever resources that we can and provided them the reason why we should do so. I did not simply lay down the facts about our environment, I also emphasized that what we will be doing will not necessarily benefit us, but the next generation. Since it was the first day, I also felt that it was fitting to introduce my "green house rules." I had to explain to my students that these rules were specially designed for our class and that they should not expect their other classes to do the same. Here were some of our eco-friendly rules:

1. All recycled papers. I informed my students that whatever requirements that they need to submit should be done in recycled papers. I was not asking my students to buy these "recycled papers" but I was actually referring to papers whose other sides are printed and the other side is not. These are still good papers. Besides, after recording and checking their assignments, these students will simply throw these off to the nearest garbage can. Let what they throw be papers who have been exhausted beyond repair or reuse.

2. Everything should be handwritten. This does not mean, of course, that I am not a big fan of computer print outs. However, for one-page assignments (or until six pages), it would be very cost-efficient to hand write these assignments than have them printed using commercial or desktop printers. Studies have shown that unless you use soybean ink, papers who have prints in them require more "processes" (and thus, energy) before they can be recycled compared to papers who have been printed with soybean ink. This also eliminates the student's practice of copying and pasting from internet articles.

3. Pencils up! In my class, everyone is required to use pencils instead of pens. Most pens are made from plastic and other non-biodegradable materials and since I encourage my students to take down a lot of notes, they will be consuming more pens that they have in their other classes. Instead of using ink, I encourage them to use pencils. Pencils are made from wood and while they cut down trees to make these, they are more eco-friendly because they are biodegradable.

4. Fax me please. I give my student's take home assignments and instead of having all these handwritten into recycled papers, I also gave them the option to submit these requirements via fax that does not use papers-online fax. I gave them a website where they can send online faxes for free, of course.

Tina L. Douglas is a professional writer. She loves to help the needy people through her articles. She gives advices, tips and techniques on certain matters like identity theft and online fax.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

The Importance of Environmental Sustainability

Wind power is one of the most environmentally ...                                  Image via WikipediaBy Orbero Barker

Environmental sustainability is extremely important for establishing a safe environment for the future. The ozone layer is slowly decreasing, and as it continues to deplete, more scientists will worry about the increase of natural disasters, like heat waves, flash floods, severe hurricanes, etc.

We rely too much on crude oil, and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has had a negative impact on the sea life of the area. Consequently, it is very important that we try to look at other renewable sources of energy, to keep man made damage to the environment at a minimum.

There is more than just one way to ensure that we maintain our environment and that it continues for the future, such as reducing our carbon footprint and emissions, and reusing as many items as we can (recycling). We should all use eco-friendly items, not only at home, but also in the workplace. However there is much more to sustainability that just recycling and using eco products.

Are there any strategic, economic, or environmental decisions that are being made, to make sure that all of our resources are being used efficiently? Are there any health and safety issues when using these resources? There should be economic policies that amplify sustainability, and not the other way around. Green technology is the way to go and any advancement in technology should not block sustainability.

In today's world people have to pay a premium to get things such as organic food, solar panels, etc, compared to the much cheaper GM foods. Going green is definitely not cheap. Even though green products are expensive, they are also hard to find for some consumers. Cooperation from the government is needed to ensure that green products are made available to everyone and at an affordable price. It takes great effort to get green products. They are found online in department stores.

Going green is more of a lifestyle choice to those who want to do so. More people will need to get involved and go green in the future to make sure that our environment is sustainable.

For more opinions on current environmental issues please visit
Who am I?

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Taking a Holistic Approach to Sustainable Agriculture

Jan Smuts Museum, Irene, pretoriaImage via WikipediaBy Sandra Matheson

The holistic approach to sustainable agriculture has been around a long time but has been largely ignored. During these difficult times of economic, social, and environmental woes, a holistic process of managing life, farmland, and business could mean the difference between prosperity and disaster. Improving the way people make decisions produces life-changing results for many.

The concept of holism was introduced by Jan Smuts in 1926 through his book Holism and Evolution. He expresses that nature and life in general function in "wholes" which are interrelated. They exist on many different levels and are dynamic. Whatever happens in one of these wholes influences the other wholes. Acknowledging this relationship helps one to better understand both nature and the man-made components of the world.

While working in the former Rhodesia in the 1960's, Allan Savory, a biologist and game ranger, made some startling observations and developed some key insights to the understanding of why land degradation and desertification occur. In spite of the good intentions and broad applications of accepted practices and modern science, this phenomenon was and still is occurring at an alarming rate.

Based on the principles of Smut's holism, Savory developed the decision-making framework called Holistic Management. This process of looking at the big picture and making decisions based on your holistic goal is changing the lives of many while improving the land. Ranchers and farmers report increases in production, biodiversity, quality of forages, biological activity, profits and an improved quality of life. Unfortunately, many mainstream scientists refuse to accept the idea, nor are they willing to give the process a try.

In agriculture, the concept has amazing potential for application. The process recognizes the need to consider the environmental, economic, and social components of the farm. Decisions are goal based using a comprehensive vision of what is desired, what must be produced to sustain it, and how that would look. Decisions are tested based on that comprehensive goal and progress is monitored.

One of the fallacies that humans often believe is that we can study and dissect nature, thereby understanding it. However, nature is a bit too complex for our minds to fully comprehend. Therefore, when making decisions - especially those that affect the environment - we must monitor! We look for the earliest sign that we are getting off course and correct the situation at the first opportunity. If we are really far from what we intended, we re-plan and test a different course of action.

Although each farm and situation is unique, the process may be used anywhere and in any type of operation if people are willing to try it. Many farmers and ranchers use the philosophy of mimicking nature and following natural cycles. This usually results in less labor and the decreased need for inputs such as money, fertilizer or fossil fuels.

It's a simple concept for a complex situation and one that is just beginning to gain recognition. It does mean changing the way we think and also requires some discipline. Taking a holistic approach to sustainable agriculture may be the best hope for humans and the future of our world.

Sandra M. Matheson, DVM is a rancher, holistic management educator, and retired veterinarian. Innovative resources are available to help ranchers and farmers take a holistic approach to sustainable agriculture.

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Sustainable Agriculture - Is it in Your Future?

Hobby FarmImage by kevinthoule via FlickrBy Sandra Matheson

With the current buzz about sustainability, here's the big question: Sustainable agriculture - is it in your future?

These are tumultuous times. Global warming and environmental degradation are serious threats to the future of our world. The current economic situation is somewhat bleak and recovery is slow. Fear of the future is ever present in many minds. The problem is that even if we acknowledge the environmental seriousness, the financial considerations and the reservation we feel hold us back from making significant movement toward positive change. On the other hand, to do nothing spells certain disaster in our future.

Sustainability has many definitions depending upon who is defining it! I define it as agricultural practices which consider, address, and improve the environmental, social, and economic aspects of the operation. It's like a three legged stool. There must be three legs of the same length and in some reasonable configuration in order to have balance and stability. To neglect one leg or to put it in the wrong place means the business is likely to collapse.

Keeping that balance has many benefits. If anyone should be an environmentalist, it should be the farmer. If farmers use the land and water without regard to the consequences of management, it means that those resources will likely become degraded and/or depleted. It's like using a car to get to work, but never checking the tires, changing the oil nor putting gas in it. It won't be long before you're looking at alternative transportation. On the other hand, being proactive, considering the consequences, monitoring, and planning ahead will get you there more quickly and with reliability!

Here are ten basic steps to incorporate sustainability into your farm operation:

1. Assess your current situation

2. Define specifically what it is that you are managing

3. Determine what resources you have available

4. Write down what you wish to achieve - getting to your core principles

5. Plan your strategy to address the environment, finances, and social aspects

6. Test your decisions and actions

7. Monitor your progress -- consider that you could have been wrong

8. Get back on track if you are off course

9. Completely re-plan when necessary

10. Revisit your goal and your plan

The clock is ticking, but there is still time to make a difference. Every epic journey starts with one small step,and then another. Agriculture is the foundation of civilizations. If agriculture fails, so does everything else. What are some steps you can take to move toward more sustainable agriculture? Is it in your future?

Looking for some innovative resources? See how some farmers, ranchers, and others can help you to create sustainable agriculture in your future with a holistic approach to management.

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Bamboo and Soil Erosion - Holding the Earth Together One Plant at a Time

Soil ErosionImage by cyberdees via FlickrBy Douglas Michaels Jr.

Even though we talk a great deal about water and tree conservation, we sometimes forget that land itself is often a precious resource. Unfortunately it is one that is disappearing under the stress of overpopulation and irresponsible farming practices. Although we aren't necessarily losing square footage, we are losing the rich, fertile topsoil, and in a world with ever-increasing mouths to feed, the loss of that soil is one to worry about.

The bamboo plant is being looked at far more closely than ever as a means to control soil erosion in countries around the world.

Soil erosion is due to the following:

* Removal of vegetation - Whether it's deforestation or farming without proper crop rotation, the removal of vegetation will expose the topsoil to the elements causing it to disappear. This is just one reason why bamboo is a more responsible crop to grow. It can be harvested by cutting at the base of the plant rather than a full removal from the ground.

* Sheet Erosion - The removal of the entire topsoil as a result of heavy rain

* Rill Erosion - The removal of topsoil brought on by runoff water that has formed little streams

* Gully Erosion - The removal of topsoil brought on by deep depressions formed by swiftly moving waters

* Riparian erosion - The removal of both topsoil & underlying soil by fast moving river waters

* Soil Leaching - Not actually a loss of topsoil itself but the disintegration via rainfall of the minerals which make topsoil so fertile.

* Wind erosion - This is more common in areas where there is less vegetation, the heavy winds move the fine particles of topsoil to other areas. This is often a major concern in areas where desert winds are starting to carry sand into fertile lands and is adding to the desertification of some countries.

Bamboo is ideal to help control soil erosion for the very same reason that some homeowners hate it. Running bamboo has a net like root system that creates an effective mechanism for watershed protection. It works to stitch the soil together along fragile riverbanks, deforested areas and in places prone to earthquakes and mudslides.

Studies have shown that because of this wide-spreading root system along with the unique shape of the bamboo leaf create a stem flow rate of 25% which means that bamboo greatly reduces rain run-off, prevents massive soil erosion and keeps up to twice as much water in a watershed. What makes bamboo even far more ideal for use in soil erosion is that it's hearty enough to flourish in areas where poor farming practices and overgrazing have damaged the soil.

Douglas Michaels Jr. writes educational articles for Green Earth News, the authority on everything Bamboo. For more information on Soil Erosion. Check out Green Earth Bamboo for bamboo sheets, bamboo clothes, duvet covers, towels and baby products, all made from the world's most sustainable and renewable resource on the planet.

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