Friday, December 31, 2010

Three Things We Can Do To Reduce Water Pollution

150 pxImage via WikipediaBy Sarah Bernheim

Water pollution is something that we have had to deal with since the beginning of time. The problem has become more severe throughout the years, but has only now become an issue that many of us are aware of. Because of the severity of pollution that has affected our water supply; the EPA has declared 40% of all water unsafe for swimming and fishing. This is an issue of extreme importance and we need to act on this problem before the amount of unsafe water grows even more.
  • Enforce Pollution Laws - There are many laws that prevent how much pollution from companies is acceptable. But these laws are hard to enforce and large companies often find ways to circumvent them and continue to pollute the air and water with manufacturing by-products. If these existing laws were enforced and the companies that create the pollution punished, perhaps the amount of industrial pollution would decrease.
  • Dispose of Old Medication In The Proper Manner - For years we were told to flush our old prescriptions down the drain. Now, after years of prescriptions infiltrating our water supply we are now discovering that the effects of all that medication have caused serious and possibly irreversible pollution of our water supply. With this recent discovery of how we have unknowingly polluted our supply of fresh water, more and more companies are offering the public sites where they can drop off expired prescriptions, knowing that they will be disposed of in a safe and responsible manner. While we are taking steps to prevent this type of pollution from continuing, the damage has already been done and scientists are working to find ways in which it can be reversed.
  • Be Responsible For Our Garbage - The amount of garbage that is in our oceans is unbelievable. It got there by our irresponsibility in making sure that our garbage is placed in proper receptacles and is recycled. The garbage that is in our oceans and lakes has started to cause problems among the animals and fish that depend on that water to live. If we start to recycle and dispose of our waste in a more responsible way, then we can lessen our negative impact on marine life.
If we can just take the time to be more responsible humans and take accountability for the problems that we have caused, we may find a way in which our water supply can be saved. But if we continue in this manner, we may continue to lose valuable resources that cannot be replaced. It is up to us to make keep our water safe.

For more information about water saving tips and water fluoridation please visit Central Basin website now.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Idea Behind Green Interior Design

elle decor italiaImage by coco+kelley via FlickrBy John Goodden

Green interior design is radically different to interior design because it is based on a completely different set of criteria. The main thrust of green interior design is to help the environment and to improve indoor air quality.

To better understand how green interior design seeks to address these challenges it is necessary to look at the guidelines laid out under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) organization which was set up by the US Green Build Council in 1998.

LEED identify 5 key metrics which green interior design should address. These metrics are reducing carbon emissions, conserving water, improving energy efficiency, improving indoor air quality and better husbanding of natural resources. Nowhere in the metrics is there mention of fashion or the need for wall hangings or oriental soft furnishings. Of course a home can be environmentally friendly and have a cutting edge minimal look or pleasing rustic look.

The point is that green interior design is based on how it benefits the environment and keeps people healthy not on any changeable notion of 'style' or 'coolness' or 'elegance'. Statistics are the indicators of success or failure not the aesthetic sensibilities of the homeowner.

It is important to look at how a house can improve its insulation to help reduce heating and cooling bills and thus lower carbon emissions. To make a house more environmentally friendly it is a good idea to consider installing programmable thermostats, compact fluorescent light bulbs, energy saving power strips and energy efficient home appliances among many other possible actions to lower energy consumption. This is great for the home owner because it means lower bills to pay every month.

Another area that is of the utmost importance to green interior design is water conservation. Actions like installing low flow showerheads and faucet aerators and collecting rainwater to water the garden are good examples of how water can be conserved.

The metric concerned with reducing carbon emissions is very much connected to power consumption. For those people not buying 'green' electricity, every kilowatt-hour of electricity consumed means so much carbon emitted by a power station. As well as lower electricity consumption green interior design is keenly interested with alternative and cleaner sources of energy such as solar power.

People's health is of primary concern to green interior design. People in the developed world spend 90% of their lives indoors so good indoor air quality is vital. One of the key issues is with volatile organic compounds that off-gas easily and cause respiratory problems, cancer and other serious medical conditions. The best way to avoid VOCs is to check flooring, furniture, office and household products for their VOC content and try to replace the worst offenders with healthier alternatives.

Finally there is the issue of natural resource management. This is about switching from using quickly depleting resources like hardwood and using renewable resources instead such as bamboo, jute, coconut, cork, hemp and water hyacinth. Another strategy is sourcing furniture etc. that is produced by companies committed to sustainable management of resources. There is also concern with looking at the lifespan of a product and the impact it has on the environment in terms of pollution. Obviously recycling and upcycling feature heavily in the ethos of green interior design.

There is so much that can be done for most homes and offices to make them earth friendly and the great thing is that these actions also often result in the lowering of bills. Saving money, being healthier indoors and helping to improve the future are the noble ideals of a discipline that will surely be of more interest to the general public as the recession deepens and environmental health worsens.

Read more about the ethos behind green interior design and what you can do to green up your home.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cleaning The Planet That Provides Our Every Need

Volunteers cleaning the coastline in Galicia i...Image via WikipediaBy Tara Gomez

With the advent of modern technology and because of human intelligence, our lives have been made easier. It is apparent that people work hard to have the good life that they dream about and to enjoy the things that we can acquire.

To have a huge a house filled with appliances can provide the comfort that we need. Traveling is made easy with the various modern forms of transportation that we have today. Human intelligence has paved the way for the emergence of computers, the internet, various gadgets, huge machinery and all the tools that can make life easy no matter if we are at home, in school, in the office or anywhere we desire to go.

But do we realize the costs that this technology brings? Little by little without knowing, this technology is affecting our environment causing destructive disasters. Typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, flash floods and oil spills are some of the disasters that should give us a clue that we should take action to prevent these disasters from take their toll.

The earth is ill because of our actions and our selfishness. Some people and companies engage in illegal logging which is causes flash floods; dynamite fishing and oil spills cause water pollution. All such examples are harmful to humans and to the environment. That is why now is the best time to help the planet heal by joining non-profit organizations that endeavor to provide good environmental services and environmental remediation that Mother Nature needs now.

We do not have to wait for tomorrow, all of us should act now to prevent momentous calamities from happening. There are many simple ways in which we can take part in environmental services and remediation that our environment needs like:

Proper garbage disposal
Consume energy and electricity
Avoid the use of plastics
Tree planting

Through these activities our environment will be clean. We can surely enjoy the bountiful blessings that Mother Nature provides like fresh fruits and vegetables, clean water, clean air and clean surroundings, all of which help to prevent epidemic diseases as well. Not forgetting, a healthy environment that will lead to a healthy life.

We need to repay our planet with good things because it is the one that provides us with what we need to live.

Tara Gomez is an environmentalist. He writes about environmental services and environmental remediation. He seeks to campaign for the preservation of environment and wildlife.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Why You Need a Greenhouse

A greenhouse in Saint Paul, Minnesota.Image via WikipediaBy Jamie Doyle

Today with all the frequent news stories of product recalls and infection being spread throughout the country by food that is contaminated, what better way to eat healthy than to grow your own food in a greenhouse. You control the environment, what is applied to the growing food and what is not and when you choose to pick it - based on when it is ripe.

Imagine going into your greenhouse and picking tomatoes, lettuce and green onions to make the salad for tonight's diner. The taste of just picked food is not to be surpassed by anything you buy at the store, even at a farmers' market.

Today's structures are attractive and solidly built. You can have heaters to withstand cold, snowy winters and air conditioners, if needed, to relieve the summer heat. But for most of the world, you need neither option as the sun is moderate enough to maintain a good mild environment for your plants.

The most expensive part of the greenhouse is the glazing. The panes can be glass which is heavy and breakable or specialized polycarbonate panels which are very light and nearly unbreakable. The polycarbonates panels are clear and come in standard widths. There are acrylic panels that are light in weight as well, offering high impact panes that are slightly clouded but still allowing about 80% light transmission.

The advantages of having and maintaining your own greenhouse are beyond just good tasting food. Your family's nutrition intake will jump with the addition of fresh and I mean fresh, home grown foods. You and your family's health quotient will skyrocket.

The sizes of the greenhouses are as varied as are the shapes that are available to you either in kit form or as a completed contracted job.

You will love working in the greenhouse with flowers as well as vegetables. Having access to year round fresh produce and flowers will lift your spirits as well as your health. So look around your yard or property and find an area where you can build your own greenhouse.

Jamie Doyle is an online information publisher, researcher and webmaster. You can find more information related to this subject at: Storage Sheds for Sale and Patio Heaters.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Average Fuel Consumption - How to Decrease Fuel Consumption and Save Money Instantly

Fuel EfficiencyImage by heathzib via FlickrBy Edward Conrad

We have all been there, at the gas station filling up the gas tank watching how quickly the price of gas rises with every second and how slowly the gas tank is filling up. It is annoying and frustrating and it seems like there is nothing that you can do. However there are some very simple solutions to this problem. When you apply the following simple tips to your car and driving habits you will decrease the average fuel consumption of your automobile and save a ton of money instantly!

Tip 1. Pay attention to your gas consumption as the more aware of your average fuel consumption that you are the better you will be at improving your gas mileage. You can observe your gas consumption by keeping a fuel log in your car at all times. Simply keep a notebook and a pen in your car and take note at how much you spend in gas and how many miles you get per gallon. This is going to help you develop the habit of knowing exactly how much you are spending at the pump.

Tip 2. Keep your gas level above the quarter tank at all times and never drive your car on empty. It may seem like driving your car on empty is using less gas but it is actually using more gas and raising your average fuel consumption. The reason for this is because your car is running less efficiently as it tries to accelerate and decelerate in the normal manner.

Tip 3. Getting your car tuned on a regular basis is one of the best things that can be done to make your car more fuel efficient. Recent studies have shown that the average fuel consumption of a car that has a poorly tuned engine will increase by up to 20 percent! Are you ready for the next tip?

Tip 4. Your car gives you signs all the time so pay attention to them! When that red light on your dashboard lights up telling you that it is time to "check your gauges" then have them checked as soon as possible. If you are unsure of when the last time your car was serviced then you should contact your auto mechanic or which ever mechanic has helped you last. In doing this you can find out how long it has been since your car has been checked and also schedule an appointment at the same time.

Tip 5. My final suggestion for you is to keep your car clean and waxed when possible. This will only help a little bit however every bit counts. Keeping your car clean will reduce the amount of drag on your car and therefore decrease your average fuel consumption.

These were just some of the many ways to help cut down on your average fuel consumption, for more free tips on how to go green and save hundreds to thousands of dollars a year then simply go to Thank you for reading and I hope this helps you in your quest to stay green and save money.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

CASE STUDY: Love Canal - A City Built On A Toxic Dump

A protest by Love Canal residents, ca. 1978.Image via WikipediaBy Wendy Moyer

An area in Niagara Falls, New York was turned into a chemical and municipal disposal site by Hooker Chemical in 1920. Thirty-three years later the disposal site was full. The company used relatively modern means to cover it. They sealed the dump with a thick coating of water-resistant red clay, hoping that it would prevent any chemicals from leaking from their landfill.

Shortly thereafter a nearby city wanted to buy the dumpsite in order to expand. Hooker cautioned against it but eventually sold the site for one dollar. The company said it couldn't sell it for more because they didn't want to make a profit form a project that they thought was so unwise.

When the city began digging to develop a sewage system they damaged the red clay that sealed the dumpsite. Nonetheless, a school and several blocks of housing were built. They called the neighborhood Love Canal.
Except for the smell, everything about Love Canal seemed pretty normal. But the smell was terrible. Strange odors usually permeated the air. These odors probably emanated from the unusual seepage that a lot of the homeowners found in their yards and basements.

Then children in the area started to get ill and the families that lived there experienced birth defects and miscarriages.

An activist, Lois Gibbs, began to document the high occurrence of birth defects and illnesses in the area. In 1978, the existence of the chemical waste dump was revealed by the newspapers. Gibbs soon began to petition that the school should be closed.

After a neighborhood child became a victim of chemical poisoning the school was ordered closed by the NYS Health Department in August of that year. Subsequent research established that in excess of 130 pounds of TCDD - a highly toxic carcinogen, which is a type of dioxin - was found.

The 20,000 tons of waste in the landfill consisted mostly of refuse from chemical weapons research and residues from pesticides. The waste contained almost 250 different kinds of chemicals.

These chemicals had already found their way into the yards, homes, creeks and sewers of Love Canal. Gibbs decided that the time had come to move the more than 900 families who lived in the area away from Love Canal.

Ultimately President Carder provided the money to move the families. The parent company of Hooker Chemical was sued. They settled for $20 million. Then, about twenty years later, some of the Love Canal houses started to show up in the housing market. Most of the homes are now for sale. But even though the neighborhood was renamed, the homes have such a bad reputation that the banks are refusing to offer mortgages on them.

What may be even sadder is the fact that not one of the chemicals has been removed from the dump. Instead, the site has been resealed. An additional $230 million was paid by Hooker's mother company to finance the "cleanup" and they are now responsible for managing the dumpsite.

The area around the site has since been declared safe.

Next, for information about Environmental Courses go to:

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

The King of All Electric Vehicles Made Its Debut

Nickel Cadmium Batterie, 120 Volt, 100 Ah, 300...Image via WikipediaBy Ned Hall

Oxford-based Liberty Electric Cars have proudly announced that their Electric E-Range, the world's first purely electric 4x4 has finally made its debut and that production versions of its electric Range Rover will go on sale at the end of this year.

If we look at the technical data, we can see that the Electric E-Range has a top speed of 85mph and accelerates from 0-60mph in about seven seconds, with a range of up to 200 miles on one charge.

This electric vehicle will also introduce so called "wireless charging" which means that instead of using conventional leads and plugs, the car is parked over an induction plate and charges automatically.

Liberty has also announced that the battery can be charged in one to three hours from a fast charger or using the optional induction system. They were also very proud that at 75kw, the LEC battery pack is the largest ever installed in an electric car yet, but thanks to its advanced technology, weighs less than many lower capacity packs used in other electric vehicles.

The lifespan of the battery is regarded by many as one of the major drawbacks of electric cars, but that shouldn't be an issue with the Electric E-Range, because Liberty claims that this electric car has a battery lifespan of more than 13 years and 300,000 miles, a significantly larger number than any other electric vehicle.

Of course, such a technologically advanced electric car comes with the hefty price tag of around £150,000 ($225,000). On the other hand you get to have all the power, luxury and prestige that comes with the Range Rover without doing damage to the environment.

Ned H. is currently working on his new site renewable energy articles, where he among other topics also covers hybrid cars advantages.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

The Atlantic Puffin

Puffins at Lunga, Treshnish Isles, ScotlandImage via WikipediaBy Lucy Harriss

The Atlantic Puffin is one of the numerous birds which are presently living on the coast of Britain today. Their common name has come from where they live - the Atlantic Ocean but also their Latin name 'Fratercula Artica' meaning common puffin of the northern Atlantic.

The Atlantic puffin is a member of the auk family comprising four breeds including the Atlantic, Horned and Tufted Puffins as well as the Rhinoceros Auklet. These other breeds live in North America and eastern Asia.

Over centuries they have been given nicknames such as 'Clown of the ocean' for their clown-like walk and 'Sea Parrot' for their colourful beaks. Puffins' beaks are a similar size to a parrot's coloured blue, yellow and orange. They have a little crease on the face which is connected at the back of the beak.

During the summer, their eyes have a little triangle on top with a line coming off. Also with their black jackets and white under-colour they look like they are dressed up for dinner. People can get confused with Puffins thinking they are penguins for their waddle, big wings and orange webbed feet which leads to their excellent swimming.

Puffins feast with many other coastal birds for example Razorbill, Guillemot and maybe Gannets on Sand eels and Herrings which is their favourite because the chicks are able to swallow them whole. These breeds of fish live here because of the amount of plankton found near the cliffs. Sadly though, there has been a recent decline in Puffins because of Global Warming when the seas are warming up and the fish are unable to put up with these temperatures and dying out.

The Puffins feeding techniques involves sitting in the surface then diving in, flapping its wings and feet to keep up pace with the fish then snatching them up. This technique has to be quite fast because can only stay under water for 20-40 seconds. The maximum for a Puffin to hold a certain amount of fish in its beak at a time is around a dozen fish.

The two most commonly feared predators for the Puffin are the Seagull who scoops up its victim with its claws or the worst one - the Black rat which can sneak into the Puffins burrow and eat the chick then take over the burrow. There have been many visits from the Black rat before, first recorded on Lundy Island which is sited off the Northern coast of Devon. The name Lundy originates from an Old Norse word meaning Puffin Island. Rats were introduced to the island by mistake and killed all the birds although recently in 2008 it was noted that six burrows were used for nesting!

Another island which was badly hit by Black rats was Puffin Island off the coast of the island of Anglesey. Despite its name, there were no Puffins on the island for a long time as they were accidently killed when rats were on Puffin Island by ships. Recently, they have been poisoned and hope to encourage them back again.

For these birds breeding starts and finishes in the summer. When both genders have successfully mated they either dig or find an empty burrow. Once found, both the adults start building a nest using feathers and twigs - Twigs for stabilizing and construction, Feathers for comfort. The female then only lays one single egg which is incubated by both parents for 39-43 days.

Finally, when it has hatched, the chick looks like a plump ball of sooty black and fluffy all over with a small triangular beak and dark eyes. The chick is fed Sand eels, then finally after about 45 days, it will leave the nest and have its own life!

I hope this article appeals to you about the Atlantic Puffin and enjoy!

If you enjoyed this article, you might like to visit here where I have found a great resources of information about the Atlantic Puffin.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Zakynthos, Greece: The Ultimate Mediterranean Eco-Tourism Destination‏

Underside of a loggerhead sea turtle as it swi...Image via WikipediaZakynthos (also known in English as Zante), Greece is much more than a place for sun and surf. It may very well be the hidden gem of eco-tourism in the Mediterranean.

Zakynthos, or Zante, lies off of the western coast of Greece. It is part of the Ionian island chain, and covers an area of roughly 158 square miles. It's long been a popular tourist destination. The island's regular, year-round population of around 40,000 sees more than ten times that number in annual visitors. Most are from other Mediterranean countries. However, the island has a thriving foreign tourist presence as well.

A majority of visitors, particularly those from the Mediterranean area, come mainly for the sunshine and pristine beaches. Its clear blue waters are a big draw, particularly during the months of July, August and September. Temperatures during these months hover between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the island maintains a fairly warm climate year-round, rarely dropping below the 50's.

Today Zakynthos is becoming more widely recognized as an ecological gem. Its ecological uniqueness was downplayed in recent years, something that is changing with the times.

The balmy island is home to one of the world's most fascinating endangered creatures, the Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta). Careless tourism and poor development planning in past decades nearly decimated their population. Today, however, the Caretta caretta is a protected species and has become a major part of Zakynthos' allure.

The Loggerhead is found in a number of areas, including the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, and both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. A fully-grown adult can be 84 inches long. It is, in fact, the largest hard-shelled turtle in the world. This marine turtle has a very low reproductive rate, and can have long periods of dormancy between fertility cycles. This biological fact is helping to accelerate the extinction of this reptile.

However, the biggest contributor to its disappearance is humans. Developers on Zakynthos gave little regard to Caretta caretta in the early years of the tourism boom. Hotels and clubs were built haphazardly along Laganas Bay in the early 1980's. They severely encroached on the Loggerhead's main territory, causing their nesting grounds to nearly disappear off Zakynthos forever.

Today the beautiful bay is a protected area; thanks to a 1992 European Commission directive. Funding from the European Union helped Greece staff the park. Development was curbed and contained so that the turtles could nest in safety and rebuild their population.

The area is now known as the National Marine Park of Zakynthos. Officials in Greece work hard at maintaining a balance between preserving the area and keeping tourism dollars flowing. A code of conduct dictates what kinds of activities are allowed to take place in the area. It covers development, fishing, swimming and a number of other activities.

Officials also educate tourists on the plight of the Loggerhead and other endangered life forms, like the Sea Daffodil. It manages eco-tours within the park, allowing visitors to observe the marine reptiles without disturbing their nesting territories.

Eco-tourists may also observe the endangered monk seal, or Monachus monachus, on the western shores of Zakynthos. Sightings have become rarer, since it's estimated that fewer than 500 remain in the entire world. The seal is protected in the Alonissos Marine Park on Alonissos Island. Seals that drift over to Zakynthos' shores lose their protected status.

Local groups, however, have raised a great deal of awareness about this marine mammal in recent years. It has prompted locals and tourists alike to avoid disturbing the ones who venture into the waters around Zakynthos.

Besides its endangered species', the island is home to diverse terrain and a variety of locally grown products. Eco-tourists can observe mountains, coastal cliffs and fertile plains. They may also sample local produce like olives (and olive oil), grapes, citrus fruits and currants, including the Zante currant, native to Zakynthos.

Eco-tourism opportunities will likely increase as greater emphasis is placed on preserving Zakynthos, Greece's flora and fauna. Zante's campaign to educate visitors may be its ticket to ensuring the survival of its endangered plants and animals.

Information about the Greek island of Corfu can be found at: and includes hotel reviews:
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Non-Essential Reading for Living Off the Grid

OFF THE GRID - INSIDE THE MOVEMENTImage by LandBuddy via FlickrBy R Burne Ostrander

The back cover of Nick Rosen's Off the Grid says the book is "essential reading for anyone who's ever thought about going off the grid." It's not.

Instead, it's a hodgepodge of anecdotes loosely hung together around the theme of utility-less living. I doubt that anybody in Off the Grid would have read, or benefited from, this book before they unplugged. What fails to come across in this featherweight book is the seriousness of the times and of the people whose response to today's USA is, in part, to move off-grid.

This is supposed to be a layman's guide based on the author's conversations with various off-gridders met while he toured the US. Rosen seems a pleasant enough fellow, and the book reads like the collected scraps of a paid vacation, which it surely was. It skips around a lot, as the subjects - I'd hesitate to call them interviewees - are all over the place geographically, and they pop up seemingly at random. In the end, I wondered more how Rosen arranged, and afforded, all that travel, than I did about how or why folks live as they do.

Trouble is, people living off the grid, or contemplating it, already have the resources, and the support networks they need; they're only a Google away. In these golden days of the information era, the survivalists have survivalist sites; the homeschoolers and the religious have places to congregate; pot-growers don't Bogart their intel; enviros have Real Goods; and even the nomadic car dwellers have groups, such as the enormously busy Van Dwellers Yahoo Group, for advice and support. I'll give out a shout here to "Hobo Stripper," who successfully parlayed a web site written from her van while making her living as an itinerant sex worker, into an off-grid Alaskan retreat she now owns and calls home.

Off-gridders owe more to Stewart Brand, still living on his tugboat, and The Whole Earth Catalog, than they do to any other single source. Yet they don't rate a mention in Off the Grid. Now there was a book that deserved the paper it was [ecologically] printed on. The Catalog, "Access to Tools," sparked the off-grid, back to the land movement 40 years ago. Those myriad sparks of knowledge - including the Internet - still glow all around us, informing us and lighting our way.

Rosen does nothing to add to the conversation(s) the Catalog started, either by compiling source information or digging out obscure but useful sites. There are no notes, no bibliography, no index.

He clearly hasn't done his homework when it comes to the political side of off-grid living, either. Perhaps it's his British perspective, but on this side of the Atlantic, it's easy to understand how intelligent, well-read, conscientious individuals are - at best - deeply distrustful of their government. I'm certainly no expert in any of the many government lies, conspiracies, and cover-ups of the past 60 years - my lifetime - nor do I want or need to be. But I've seen enough to understand that our government is essentially malign in many important aspects.

For example, it's bizarre that Rosen only "vaguely remembered" a conversation with Larry Silverstein, owner of the World Trade Center, and recipient of something like $750 million in insurance money, about the rationale behind the pre-arranged, controlled demolition of Building 7 on 9/11 (p.268). And because this is not just some historical footnote to many people, including his subject of the moment, Allan Weisbecker, Rosen dismisses him - and them - as paranoid kooks in his chapter entitled "Fear."

As for Peak Oil, Rosen betrays a lack of understanding that disserves both his subjects and the reading public. He makes an error of fact by mis-defining Peak Oil as "the point in history at which the amount of oil consumed each year exceeds the amount of new oil found each year" (p.273). Consumption has outpaced discovery for many years. Peak Oil is when worldwide oil production reaches its highest possible point, ever and for all time. It's a basic, but critical distinction. According to the International Energy Agency, that point occurred in 2006, in line with what many others have predicted.

It's important for this book because Peak Oil means that the whole 150-year era of petro-industrial growth - of which the grid is a big part - is over. The grid is almost certainly on its way out, whether through irreparable infrastructure deterioration, terrorism, copper- and aluminum "mining" vandalism, fuel shortages, financial shenanigans, or some mix of the above.

Rosen addresses none of this and condescends toward those of his subjects who take politics and energy seriously. It's not just that there's bad scholarship here, though there's that, it's that there's no indication of any critical thinking or reading.

There's no help here for people who are already off-grid and want to get better at it. Nor is there enough intellectual meat to help concerned readers make informed decisions about their place on- or off-grid.

If you must read Off the Grid, at least take it out of the library, as I did. And spend your hard-earned cash elsewhere - like on your utility bill.

Rick Ostrander is in recovery from a lifetime as a wage slave. His new blog,, discusses 21st Century homesteading on the Santa Fe Trail, building resilient communities in a post-Peak Oil world, and whatever else either strikes his fancy or looks like it might make a buck.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Majority of UK Homes in Favour of Photovoltaic Power Adoption

First Solar 40-MW CdTe PV Array installed by J...Image via WikipediaBy Kevin Langley

According to a recent survey conducted by the Center for Alternative Technology (CAT), the majority of British households would consider adopting photovoltaic technology with 90 per cent saying that they would consider and 23 per cent saying that they would definitely adopt the technology in their homes. From the 750 homes which were surveyed, the results show a shift in general public opinion towards the practical application of renewable technology, especially if it is something which proves to be financially viable in the long term.

The long term financial viability of all small-scale renewable projects hinges largely on the upcoming feed-in tariff, likely to be introduced in 2010. The principle of the tariff is to offset the expense of producing power by non-fossil fuel means and provide incentives to those wishing to invest in renewable plant such as photovoltaic technology. The fixed rate for megawatts fed-in to the national grid by small scale renewable power producers is paid for by existing power companies who are obliged by the government to buy the renewable megawatts, the cost of which is spread across the consumers.

The survey noted that this high potential take up of PV technology would be dependent on the feed-in tariff paying 50p per unit of energy supplied in to the grid. In Germany, this exact system of tariffs has been used successfully to make Germany one of the worlds leaders both in terms of PV technology adoption and public awareness of greener energy production.

CAT spokesman, Mark Watson commented, "Photovoltaic systems are one of the easiest renewable energy technologies to integrate in towns and cities and as the survey results show, they are generally liked by the general public."

Kevin Langley is a leading knowledge in the Solar Investment and Renewable Energy world. Having worked with the subject for many years, he is fast becoming an expert on green energy and investments in green stocks. He writes for many blogs and runs a range of Solar websites. He has a keen interest in green renewable energy and spends most of this writing time focusing on this subject:

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ain't No Sunshine (And Solar Power) When The Political Class Gets Involved

Solar power plant (Serpa, Portugal)Image via WikipediaBy Bruno Korschek

Singer Bill Withers once sang: "Ain't no sunshine when she's gone." Great song and the inspiration, along with a recent Associated Press analysis, for this article, indicating that there is no sunshine and no solar power when the Federal government and the political class that operates it get involved.

According to an Associated Press report that was issued on September 1, 2010, the Federal government, through the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in the Interior Department, operates a first come, first served land leasing program that is supposed to foster the development of solar energy on Federal government lands.

Under this program, companies could submit a plan and pay a fee to develop a solar energy production facility on the Federal land that they wanted to lease. They could control the solar development potential of that land forever even if they did not develop a solar energy capability on that land. Consider the history of the program, according to the AP article:

- In 2005, Congress gave the Interior Department a deadline of finding a way to generate 10,000 megawatts of electricity from renewable energy on public lands by 2015. 10,000 megawatts could power about five million U.S. homes during peak usage hours.

- However, Congress and the Interior Department never properly staffed the program, with the Bush Administration focusing the Interior Department on the development of oil and gas leases.

- As a result, according to the article, the small staff working this program have been overwhelmed by the administration of the program, resulting in companies getting the solar energy rights to Federal land but basically just squatting on the land and not generating any power.

- The staff has given out these land rights to numerous companies without ever discerning whether these companies had viable and workable plans to develop renewable energy on Federal land, with the result being that the most choice and prime sites have already been given out with no facilities being build to take advantage of these sites. According to an Interior Department official: "People were making solar applications on Federal lands not knowing what kind of technology to propose and how to develop the land."

- While the companies holding the rights to the land cannot sell their stake to another company, if the company holding the rights is bought up by another company, those land rights follow to the new company, they do not revert back to government control. Thus, just having paper access to the government land for solar development created wealth in the private sector without benefiting the American taxpayer, when several of these companies holding the land rights were bought out.

- Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, has jumped into the giveaway and one of its subsidiaries has filed 52 of the 354 applications for the rights. Goldman is not stupid. They are not solar power developers, they are investment bankers. The recognize the value of these land stakes and for a minimum amount of money they can tie up valuable real estate assets until it suits them to do something with their claims. Goldman and its subsidiary have filed absolutely no plans for any solar facilities so far.

- Five years after Congress set up the program, there are no working facilities on any of the Federal lands designated for solar power sources. The Obama administration has identified 14 "fast track" projects that it wants to be approved by the end of the year. That is approved, not operational. Making any of these plans operational would take several more years at the earliest, according to the article.

What a disaster. Legitimate solar power developers cannot get access to government lands because start-up and/or incompetent companies and individuals, along with an investment bank, beat them to the Interior Department's bureaucracy, a bureaucracy that handed out rights willynilly with a too small of a staff and too few resources available to properly screen out the best and worst applicants. As a result, the government has managed to gridlock the sun. Unbelievable.

Thus, it could easily be ten years from the time that Congress authorized the program in 2005 to the time we finally get any energy flowing. The incompetence is overwhelming. Wasted time, wasted government taxpayer money spent on administrating a failure of a program, and stranded natural resources sitting in prime solar energy territory.

And probably nobody, either in the Interior Department or those sitting on the Congressional committees responsible for implementing these plans, will face an consequences for this failure. They are all complicit in giving away government and taxpayer assets and getting nothing in return. It is a modern version of highway robbery. As with most every government programs, there are lots of people in charge, from the President (in this case, Bush) to Congress to Interior Department leaders but no one is responsible for this failure of a program. As a result, our dependency on fossil fuels and foreign energy sources continued to grow since 2005 with no progress made to change that trend.

Several steps are desperately needed to help ensure that this type of failure happens less frequently when it comes to government oversight and project management:

- Step 1 would significantly downsize the overall size of the Federal government over a five year period, resulting in fewer but more important projects being undertaken by the Federal government, projects that are hopefully managed better. This focus on fewer but more important programs would force down accountability to lower levels of government. This downsizing would make it clearer who was both in charge and responsible since the red tape and previous bureaucracy would be gone and the hiding places from responsibility would disappear. Failure in this new era of accountability would result in severe career consequences, much like it does in the private sector.

- Step 2 would institute a policy that would remove Congressional members from their committee posts if they and their committee did not fulfill the responsibilities of that committee. This would have resulted in politicians being replaced on the Interior Department committee or subcommittees that should have stayed on top of this solar project to ensure that taxpayer assets were not wasted and stranded and we actually got some solar power benefit form our public lands.

- Step 3 is the most important step. What is needed is the development of a sane, rationale and doable national energy strategy and policy based on fact and reality, not politicians' focus on getting re-elected or satisfying those lobbyists who can get them re-elected. One reason why this solar project on Federal lands program failed is that it is a standalone tactic, it is not a tactic within an overall strategic plan. Develop the overall strategic plan and philosophy and then develop the tactical plan underneath the strategy, complete with deadlines and deliverables. Then you can manage the strategic plan and tactics together, identifying and remedying problems sooner since they pose a risk to attaining the overall strategic goal. It is not hard, companies in the private sector do it all the time to survive. Government rarely does it, usually resulting in failed laws and disappointing outcomes.

Ain't no sunshine when she's gone, ain't no sunshine being turned into cheap, domestic and clean energy when strategic planning is gone and replaced by political class incompetence. Grid locking the sun, who would have thought that possible?

Walter "Bruno" Korschek is the author of the book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps to restoring Our Freedom and Destroying The American Political Class," which is available at and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Our daily dialog on freedom in America can be joined

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Solar Energy Predictions for 2011

Copyright (C) 1999 Sandia National Laboratorie...Image via WikipediaBy Thomas Ajava

2009 and 2010 were great years for the solar energy industry. This is rather odd when you think about it. Why? Well, nearly everything else was a complete disaster. So, will the good times continue in 2011 or will the solar energy industry start to reflect what is happening in the real economy? Let's get to our predictions for 2011.

2011 is going to be a bumpy year for solar energy. There is no other way to view it and manufacturers are already more than a bit nervous. Is solar going out of favor with consumer? Are we going back to oil and coal? Has President Obama turned his back on alternative energy? I don't know the answers to these questions, but I do know they are not at the heart of the problems for solar in 2011.

The problem is simple - oversupply. Solar energy has had so much momentum the last few years that every Tom, Dick and Harry has moved into the field. We now are looking at a supply rate that is forecast to be twice the demand level in 2011. This is a classic formula for price drops and the contraction of the industry.

As if things weren't going to be rough enough, additional developments are pointing to an even slacker demand. Much of the solar panel sales explosion has occurred because state and federal government provides financial incentives to help people deal with the initial cost of panel systems. The economic collapse has slashed tax revenues, so governments are now slashing these incentives. That will weaken demand even further, a real shock to the system.

What about consumers? Solar will be a mixed bag in 2011 for us as well. There will not be nearly as many incentives to help us with purchases. That being said, the good news is a glut of panel systems should lead to some incredibly low prices on home systems. This will be particularly true as manufacturers fail, merge and try to get rid of inventory.

The solar energy industry got off lightly through the years of the Great Recession. That is about to change in 2011.

Thomas Ajava writes about solar energy and other renewable energy subjects for

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Monday, December 13, 2010

New Biosphere Reserves

Flag of the United Nations Educational, Scient...Image via WikipediaBy D. A. Ocampo

Climate change is on the rampage, devastating many countries with different phenomena such as violent storms of unprecedented strength and rising sea levels that threaten to devour lowly elevated countries. If left unattended, climate change may grow to an extinction level event. To answer to the call to take action, the United Nations, as the biggest organization of independent countries had launched its campaign for the shift to sustainable energy also sometimes called clean or green energy.

Sustainable energy is the act of providing energy that sufficiently meets the demands of today without sacrificing the capability of the next generations to meet their needs come their time. All renewable energy sources such as such as plant matter, solar power, wind power, wave power, geothermal power and tidal power usually fall in this category. Sustainable energy sources may also include technologies that make energy generation more efficient. Conventional fission as well as other types of nuclear power can also be classified as sustainable. Such classification however, is very controversial because of the different dangers nuclear power brings along such as peak uranium, radioactive waste disposal and the risks of disaster due to accident, terrorism, or natural disaster.

The United Nations being the global leader for the advancement of sustainable energy has started helping create and develop sites for enhancing current techniques as well as developing new methods of generating green energy. The UN has recently named 13 more international sites dedicated to the development and testing of alternative approaches to environmentally sensitive economic growth, bringing the total number of such sites to 534.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had announced that all 534 sites are now focused on the advancement of biosphere technology, which involves the process of turning common waste into green electricity. The UN, in a press release, defined biosphere reserves as "places to test different approaches to integrated management of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine resources and biodiversity," the UN agency said in a press release."

One of the latest Biosphere Sites is located in San Fernando, Philippines and aims to introduce the production of green electricity in the country, and other parts of the globe.

Darewin Amio Ocampo is a technical writer for the Search Engine Optimization Department of True Bio Electric - a company belonging to the True Green Energy Group. TBE converts your waste into clean green electricity using the revolutionary Biosphere Technology

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Clean Energy in California - Solar, Wind and Geothermal

The cooling tower for the West Ford Flat power...Image via WikipediaBy Ned Hall

When it comes to renewable energy in the United States, people usually mention two states: California and Texas. While Texas is the undisputed king of wind power, California is not only the queen of solar power but also the queen of geothermal energy. California is also adding new wind power capacity, and judging by the current looks, California can already start looking towards a clean energy future.

California currently has more than 500 MW of solar power capacity, and more than 2500 MW of geothermal energy capacity. Both these numbers will likely significantly improve in years to come because of many new renewable energy projects that are in the final phase of approval, or which building is about to start.

There's plenty of sunshine in California throughout the whole year, and California has certainly taken full advantage of this by currently having around two thirds of total US solar power capacity, with much more to come in the next decade.

California also has many favorable areas to harness geothermal energy such as around the famous geysers, as well as in southern central California, and geothermal power capacity will be also very likely experience significant growth in the years ahead.

Many people do not connect California with wind power, and only a very small number of people actually know the fact that California is the third biggest wind-producing state in the country, with more than 2700 MW of wind power generated in the first quarter of 2010.

As you can see when it comes to clean energy things are really looking good for California.

Ned Hall likes to study energy statistics, and one of his latest pieces includes California solar statistics.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Google Earth Maps Show Temperature Rise

Google Earth Map of Neela BhotoImage by NotMicroButSoft (Back in town) via FlickrBy Andrew Skeene

A new Google Earth map highlights the devastating impact a 4C rise in temperature would have on different parts of the world. The interactive tool, which was released by the UK's coalition government, aims to stimulate the debate on carbon emissions and climate change.

It comes after recent warnings that - based on current international carbon pledges - the earth's temperature is set to rise by an average of nearly 4C, which could lead to sea level rises, forest fires and drought.

The online map shows how temperature rises differ drastically around the world. The poles glow red, with a potential rise of up to 10C, while northern Europe escapes with light orange 2-3C rises. Other hot spots including the Amazon rainforest stand out.

Climate change minister Greg Barker said: "It does not make pleasant viewing and underlines the threat to human and national security if we don't act now." Deforestation is one of the main causes of climate change. In just 24 hours, logging will release as much carbon into the atmosphere as 8 million people flying from London to New York.

The good news is that steps to tackle deforestation are starting to make a difference. A recent report reveals global production of illegal timber has dropped by a 22 per cent since 2002 while Brazil, Cameroon and Indonesia, have seen levels fall by a huge 50 to 75 per cent.

It has been calculated that since 2002, 17m hectares of forest have been saved from deforestation, preventing the release of up 1.2bn tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. However, there is still a long way to go before countries achieve sustainable management of their tropical forests.

Andrew Skeene, of Global Forestry Investments, said: "Our driving objective at Global Forestry Investments is sustainable forestry ( Our intention is not only to be sustainable but also to increase the volume of standing trees, therefore making a positive impact on carbon offsetting (". What do you think? Are you concerned about the effects of climate change? What should we be doing to tackle it?

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Wildlife Conservation in Action - Cheetah - The Fastest Cat Alive Albeit a Slow Breeder

CheetahImage via WikipediaBy Lance Winslow

Yes, the Cheetah is the fastest running animal alive clocking in at 70 miles per hour. No you can't get away, even if you tried, you need a car going down the freeway to get out of dodge if one is chasing you. And these wild cats learn to run at a very early age, even the cubs are fast, agile, and high-energy.

Cheetahs are also very social and make all sorts of sounds, this is their form of communication. They use it when hunting, lounging around, playing, and some of those sounds are mating calls - which evoke biological responses as well.

There was just a terrific article on this in a publication put out by the Zoological Society of San Diego "ZooNooz" in their December 2009 issue titled; "Do You Hear What I Hear: New Breeding Protocol for Cheetahs," by Karyl Carmignani (a staff writer) along with outstanding up close pictures by award winning zoo keeper and photographer Ken Bohn of the San Diego Zoo.

According to his article the zoo keepers keep track of the sounds Cheetahs make, and they know when a male and a female are ready to mate. Indeed, they've now recorded these sounds along with the others. And there are many according to the article; "purr, chirp, growl, snarl, hiss, cough, moan" but it is the chirping which excites the female and "triggers her biological functions to drop eggs" into her female parts and start her reproductive system in full-swing.

This is fascinating, and it's great that the San Diego Zoo can use these sounds and speakers to help this process along so that there are many healthy offspring born at exactly the right time even in captivity. It's amazing the science of zoology is saving endangered species. Perhaps, these techniques can be used to help other animals in the animal kingdom do the same thing?

Wildlife conservation is very important for species which are having a tough go of it in the wild, some due to mankind's encroachment, and/or hunting - and the damage caused to the food chain from human activity. Indeed, I hope you will please consider all this when you think about wildlife conservation.

Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank. Lance Winslow believes it's hard work to write 22,000 articles;

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

For The Protection Of The Sea Turtle

Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta)Image via WikipediaBy Alex Moutop

Archelon is a society that activates for the protection of the sea turtle Caretta Caretta that lives in the Mediterranean Sea and goes to lay its eggs on the sandy beaches of Greece. With a wide network of stations in southern Greece and many educational programs, the primary objective of Archelon is to protect the sea turtles and their habitats in Greece through monitoring and research, habitat restoration and rehabilitation of sick and injured turtles.

Archelon has its headquarters in Athens and stations in Zakynthos, southern Peloponnese and Crete. In the following interview, the president of Archelon, Mr Theodoros Benos-Palmer, talks about the creation of this society, its aim and activities.

How was Archelon created?

In 1977, Dimitris and Anna Margaritoulis observed for the first time the eggs of the sea turtles Caretta Caretta during their summer vacations in Zakynthos and they both noticed that there wasn't a systematic protection of these turtles in Greece. That is how they decided to establish a society for the protection of these endangered sea turtles. When Archelon was established in 1983, there was no other society or activity towards this aim in Greece.

Where are your stations all around Greece?

The most important nesting beach of the loggerhead sea turtle Caretta Caretta is the bay of Laganas in Zakynthos. As a society, we have done important efforts to limit tourist development on the nesting beaches. For example, building is strictly regulated on these beaches and vehicle use or artificial lighting is not allowed. We have other stations in Crete (Rethymno, Chania) and Peloponnese (Kyparissia, Gythio and Koroni).

What must tourists take care of so that they won't destroy the environment of a sea turtle on a nesting beach?

There are many simple things that people can do to protect the sea turtles and their nests, which are officially protected by the Greek legislature and international treaties. For example, they must not undig the nests or move the protection nettings above them. Moreover, do not throw plastic or nylon objects in the sea because the sea turtles think they are jellyfish, their basic food, so they eat them and die. Do not light fires at night on these nesting beaches and do not drive vehicles on the sand. Also do not touch the baby turtles because it is very important that they reach the sea by themselves and do not go to these beaches for night swimming.

What are the reasons of injury or death of a turtle?

Most reasons for the injury or death of a sea turtle are caused by man. They may be caused by accident (involvement in fishing tools, e.g. nets or longlines), on purpose or after eating rubbish. Also, accidents are sometimes caused by speedboats and fewer times these turtles are hunted by natural enemies, such as seals or sharks. Once an injured sea turtle is found, it is transferred to our centre where it is treated until it is set free.

Can you give us some numbers? How many sea turtles live in the Mediterranean Sea?

We can't specify such a number. Every year in Greece, about 1,000 adult (above 25 years old) female turtles are registered but we have no idea of the number of the male turtles.

How many eggs does a female turtle lay?

Each nest has about 100 to 120 eggs but only 75% of these are covered. The eggs are covered in the hot sand for about two months. However, the sea turtles have a large death rate. It has been estimated that only 1 out of 1,000 sea turtles finally reached the sea from the nest. Later on, this turtle will come back as an adult turtle to lay its eggs on the same beach that it was born.

How can someone help your society?

There are three main programs for volunteers. First, there are summer voluntary programs in the nesting beaches that take place from mid-May till mid-October. In this program, volunteers occupy with the protection of the sea turtles and their nests, take care of the station and inform the public on our mission. There is also another volunteer program in our Rescue Centre in Athens, where the injured sea turtles are transferred and treated. The third program involves the Communication Volunteers, who organize tours at the Rescue Centre, constitute the staff of the information stations and help in public events. It is worth mentioning that the majority of our volunteers come from abroad and we are happy to gather people from different cultures around a common mission.

Click here to view the interview with photos and view more information about Athens

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How To Decrease Your Carbon Footprint

The carbon footprint as it is understood by pe...Image via WikipediaBy Marjorie Dorfmann

Looking to become more eco-friendly? Unfamiliar with where to start, and don't understand the terms? You don't need to worry. Once you get to know the terminology, you too can decrease your very own carbon footprint.

You'll first need to learn precisely what is meant by a carbon footprint. Simply put, it is a way to measure the specific impact your activities have on the environment. It pertains to climate change, more exclusively. It relates to the level of greenhouse gases we produce everyday while burning fossil fuels, to be exact. Electricity, heating your house, the transportation you use and other related activities and tasks are all what it relates to.

Now that you understand its definition, let's look at some ways you can reduce your own carbon footprint. The initial thing you need to considering doing is examine what products you're using. You should think about purchasing food that is either organic or "fair trade," because it will be easier to make certain it was grown in a manner that is environmentally friendly. You also need to take note of the way products are packaged. In this instance, less is better.

To guarantee you will not need to answer the time-honored question of "paper or plastic," you can also take reusable bags to the store. Environmentally friendly is the buzzword when it comes to these reusable bags. In favor of simply using a reusable water bottle or your own canteen, consider ditching bottled water. By eliminating all that use of plastic, you can decrease your own carbon footprint a lot faster.

Next, think about the energy sources you utilize. One easy way to make them more effective and environmentally friendly is to ensure they are working at full capacity. This means ensuring all your windows are tightly sealed when you're utilizing your air conditioning on a hot summer day, for example. Ensuring routine and proper heating and cooling systems maintenance is another easy thing you can do. Not so hard, but this too will quickly help you decrease your carbon footprint.

Making the choice to be a little more environmentally friendly isn't as difficult as some people may think. All you really need to concern yourself with is being sure to utilize common sense and some conscientiousness before buying certain products. Implement these simple tips, and you will be on your way to reducing your carbon footprint before you know it.

View our web systems containing articles and information about real estate in Denver CO and Northglenn CO real estate. Through these sites, you can learn more about Colorado cities, the real estate market, and even find home improvement tips.

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Going Green - Top 10 Green Housing Trends

Singapore: Where Air Conditioners LiveImage by pmorgan via FlickrBy Gary R.

People are more interested in "Going Green" than ever since it is not only the best way to protect the planet but also a great way to save money. Technology continues to create new and better ways of using less energy, particularly when it comes to energy use in the home. While people are taking advantage of some of the energy-saving products that have become available to them, there are some that are more popular than others.

Not only are consumers looking for more energy-saving solutions but retailers, manufacturers, and home builders are also seeking out ways to answer the demand. These are ten of the top green housing trends today:

1. Solar water heaters are a great way to save energy and money even if you don't have a solar powered home. Traditional water heaters are responsible for a lot of the energy requirements of a normal household. The more family members there are, the more you can save on energy use with a solar powered water heater that works from solar panels installed on the roof.

2. Purchasing sustainable wood products is becoming a more important consideration. Those items such as furniture and flooring that are made from sustainable wood means that they don't take away from the wood preserved for future generations. These products are replaced with new tree growth as they are taken from a reserve.

3. Energy Star Compliant products are increasing in number and affordability. While there are still those people that think you have to purchase the top-of-the-line products to get those that are most energy efficient, this is no longer true. When it's time to replace an old refrigerator, room air conditioner, or range, look for those that are Energy Star compliant and you will find great choices in all price ranges that will use a lot less energy.

4. Low-Emittance windows and doors are some of the most effective housing trends builders are using today. They provide your home with natural light but block UV from the sun that is responsible for heating it up during the summer months. These windows and doors have different ratings according to what percentage of the sun's rays they block.

5. There's more to the copper roofs that are sprouting up on homes everywhere than just a tool for providing unique looks. Copper is also very resilient and can withstand harsh weather conditions so that roofs don't have to be replaced. In the event that one is removed, copper can always be recycled and never left in the landfill.

6. Building smaller homes is one way that home builders are meeting the demand for more energy efficiency. This reduces the needs for materials and for the energy needed to maintain them.

7. People are also more concerned with the availability of clean water and are finding more ways to conserve water. Low-flow toilets, fixtures and showerheads are designed to use less water.

8. Insulation in the attic of the home isn't a new idea but many of the products used today are. Most of the heat a home loses is through the roof and some of the new types of insulation can prevent almost all of the energy loss that normally occurs.

9. Hard wood floors aren't always considered when going green but they are a great replacement for carpets that are full of chemicals and which must be replaced after a number of years. Any natural, hard substance such as stone, bamboo, or natural linoleum is a better choice because it is safe to your family and is sustainable.

10. Solar energy from the use of solar panels has been around for a long time. Today, it is a more convenient alternative energy source that is cost effective. Solar energy systems can be used in combination with your regular fuel source to ensure you are never without power.

As the demand for green products continues to grow, the quality and selection are certain to produce many new housing trends that will produce energy efficiency in the future.

And finally, if you are interested in more Housing Trends, please check out

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Living Planet Report by WWF on Biodiversity

WWF LogoImage by ponChiang via FlickrBy Celeste Maxine Yates

Climate change is a natural process of the earth, any mammoth or dinosaur would be able to tell you that, however the rate at which it is currently happening is unnatural.

If you were to think of a process your body goes through when a mosquito bites you; you get an itchy-bite, for a few days have a small red bump and then eventually it goes away. This is a natural process if it was left alone. But we don't leave things alone; in fact humans have a reputation of development, change, growth and get involved in things when perhaps sometimes things should just be left alone. So we itch, we scratch, we infect. The itchy-bite turns an angry red and develops into something a lot more severe than it should have been.

The year 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, the year that new species continue to be found, but there are more tigers in captivity than there are in the wild. Here in Africa our trademark beast, king of the jungle, the lion is now an endangered species, with experts predicting its extinction in 20 years. These are events happening in our life-time.

According to the Living Planet report in 2007 alone man-kind used 2 planets worth of resources. We already over-shoot the biocapacity of our planet by 50% in 2007 and the carbon footprint has increased by 11 fold since 1961. 71 countries are experiencing stress on blue water sources and here in South Africa we are already predicting water-shortage issues and some rural and small towns are already experiencing them.

As per the ripple effect, biodiversity loss has an impact on ecosystems, causing damage, degrading and eventually leading to a complete collapse. Threats of habitat loss, alteration and fragmentation, over-exploitation of wild species populations, pollution, climate change and invasive species in turn destroy the services that ecosystems give humans for free; regulating services of natural processes, such as water filtration, waste decomposition, climate regulation and crop pollination. Services such as support for regulation of basic ecological functions and processes for example nutrient cycling, photosynthesis and soil formation.

"Crucially, the dependency of human society on ecosystem services makes the loss of these services a serious threat to the future well-being and development of all people, all around the world" - Living Planet Report; 2010.

Globally there has been a 30% decline in biodiversity. A few examples of individual species include the blue-fin tuna, a fish made famous not only for tuna salad and pasta but by the recent threat of its breeding ground caused by the BP Gulf oil spill earlier this year, has decreased in population by 5.8%. Another example is the leatherback turtle, another species affected by the BP Gulf oil spill, which has declined by 20.5%.

In the report's biogeographical realms, South Africa is part of "Afrotropical" which shows signs of recovery since the 1990's where the Living Planet Index was at minus 55%. The statistics differ for each country as in America and Arab Emirates need 4.5 planets to keep up with carbon emissions and consumption used. In India they need less then 50% of a planet.

In an attempt to find 'greener' fuel by using bio-fuel, palm oil crops have increased by 8 fold over 20 years, converting 7.8 ha by 2010. This land conversion included forests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, the home of the Orang-utan. Their population has decreased by 10-fold in two species populations as a result of the deforestation and habitat degradation.

However the report does say that all is not lost. The minimum criteria for sustainability based on available biocapacity of the planet and the human development index "indicates that it is in fact possible for countries to meet these criteria, although major challenges remain for all countries to meet them."

Minimalist architecture moto "Less is More" approach is needed, not only in architecture and art but from the individual, to nations, to the world. The balance needs to change us getting everything and nature nothing, to nature getting more, more in protected areas, more in conservation, more in investment to recover the damage that has been created over the years and us to getting less and rather using the resources we have already captured.

Policies need to be put into place, renewable energy needs to be improved and implemented and sustainable developments in sectors such as agriculture, mining and fisheries need to grow.

Humans might 'itch, scratch and infect' but we also have the ability to learn from past events and use our skills to create ointments to heal.

Celeste writes for South African biodiversity, a media company focusing on conservation and the environment.

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