Saturday, December 31, 2011

Defining Wind Generated Electrical Power and Discussing Pros and Cons of the Technology

English: A barn and wind turbines in rural Ill...Image via WikipediaBy Charles A Juopperi


Wind generated electrical power exists through harnessing wind-power energy with turbines. To fully understand wind generated electrical power, one must understand how wind powered electricity is made; resources needed to utilize wind power; types and sizes of wind turbines; building a wind turbine; potential positive and negative impacts of the technology; where wind powered electricity can be effectively generated; and, offsetting the costs of wind powered electrical technology.

How Wind Powered Electricity is Made

The technology of wind generated electrical power functions by creating electricity through the use of various styles of wind turbines. Initially, one might ask, "So how do wind turbines make electricity?" Simply said, a wind turbine works the opposite of a fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, like a fan, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity.

Resources Needed to Utilize Wind Power

The primary resource of Wind powered technology is, of course, wind. Wind is very abundant in many parts of the United States and other parts of the world. Wind resources are branded by wind-power density classes, ranging from class 1 (the lowest) to class 7 (the highest). Good wind resources (e.g., class 3 and above, which have an average annual wind speed of at least 13 miles per hour) are found in many areas. Wind speed is a critical of wind resources, because the energy in wind is proportionate to the cube of the wind speed. In other words, a stronger wind means more power.

Wind resource development requires land and may compete with other uses of that land, and those alternative uses may be more highly valued than electricity generation. However, wind turbines can be positioned on land that is also used for grazing or even farming. Wherever a wind farm is to be built, roads are cut to make way for shipping parts. At each wind turbine location, the land is graded and the pad area is leveled. Wind energy also requires the building of wind turbines.

Types and Sizes of Wind Turbines

Modern wind turbines fall into two basic groups: the horizontal-axis variety and the vertical-axis design, like the eggbeater-style Darrieus model, named after its French inventor. Horizontal-axis wind turbines typically either have two or three blades. These three-bladed wind turbines are operated "upwind," with the blades facing into the wind. Darrieus models, or vertical-axis wind turbines, have two vertically oriented blades revolving around a vertical shaft.

In addition to different types, there are many different sizes of wind turbines. Utility-scale turbines range in size from 100 kilowatts to as large as several megawatts. Larger turbines are grouped together into wind farms, which provide bulk power to an electrical grid. Single small turbines, below 100 kilowatts, are used for homes, telecommunications, or water pumping.

Small turbines are sometimes used in connection with diesel generators, batteries, and photovoltaic systems. These systems are called hybrid wind systems and are typically used in remote, off-grid locations, where a connection to the utility grid is not available.

Building a Wind Turbine

The first step in building a wind turbine is setting up the tower where the fiberglass nacelle is installed. The nacelle is a strong, hollow casing that contains the inner workings of the wind turbine. Usually made of fiberglass, the nacelle contains the main drive shaft and the gearbox. Its inner workings also contain blade pitch and yaw controls. The nacelle is assembled and attached onto a base frame at a factory.

The most diverse use of materials and the most experimentation with new materials occur with the blades. Although the most dominant material used for the blades in commercial wind turbines is fiberglass with a hollow core, other materials in use include lightweight woods and aluminum. Wooden blades are solid, but most blades consist of a skin surrounding a core that is either hollow or filled with a lightweight substance such as plastic foam or honeycomb, or balsa wood.

Wind turbines also include a utility box, which converts the wind energy into electricity and which is located at the base of the tower. The generator and electronic controls are standard equipment whose main components are steel and copper. Various cables connect the utility box to the nacelle, while others connect the whole turbine to nearby turbines and to a transformer.

Potential Positive and Negative Effects of Wind Powered Electricity

There are a variety of potential positive and negative impacts of wind powered technology.

Potential positive impacts include:

- Wind energy is friendly to the surrounding environment, as no fossil fuels are burnt to generate electricity from wind energy.
- Wind turbines take up less space than the average power station. Windmills only have to occupy a few square meters for the base; this allows the land around the turbine to be used for many purposes, for example agriculture.
- Newer technologies are making the extraction of wind energy much more efficient. The wind is free, and we are able to cash in on this free source of energy.
- Wind turbines are a great resource to generate energy in remote locations, such as mountain communities and remote countryside.
- Wind turbines can be a range of different sizes in order to support varying population levels.
- When combined with solar electricity, this energy source is great for developed and developing countries to provide a steady, reliable supply of electricity.

Potential negative impacts include:

- Wind turbines generally produce less electricity than the average fossil fuelled power station, requiring multiple wind turbines to be built.
- Wind turbine construction can be very expensive and costly.
-  Wind turbines can have a negative impact to surrounding wildlife during the build process.
- The noise pollution from commercial wind turbines is sometimes similar to a small jet engine.
- Protests and/or petitions usually confront any proposed wind farm development. People feel the countryside should be left intact for everyone to enjoy its beauty.

Where Wind Powered Electricity Can be Effectively Generated

Places in the world where wind blows strong and often, people and businesses can harness the wind as an option to use in the generation of electricity. Globally, these places include much of North America, southern South America, Greenland, most of Europe, Northern Africa, eastern Asia, most of Australia, and anywhere there are mountains or large hills. The top 5 countries producing electrical wind power in 2007 were: Germany, United States, Spain, India and China, respectively.

Considerable wind speeds also occur across oceans and large water bodies. Since most of the world's population lives near oceans, wind farms with strong offshore and onshore breezes could produce an abundant amount of electricity. On land in the USA, the major wind corridor is the Great Plains which includes the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

The wind corridor also extends into the states west to the great mountains west, including eastern Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. There are also considerable wind resources in eastern and southern Minnesota and the entire state of Iowa, diminishing south through Missouri and east through southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Parts of New York and the New England states also have considerable wind.

The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that wind power could supply the US with 100% of its electricity, just from the Great Plains wind corridor or from offshore wind farms alone. According to the "Pickens Plan," a $10 billion wind farm with 2500 generators can supply enough energy for 1.3 million homes, and for $1 trillion the Great Plains wind corridor could supply 20% of America's electricity. That would be about 250,000 generators to supply 130 million homes.

In a report published by the U.S. Department of Energy, "20% Wind Energy by 2030: Increasing Wind Energy's Contribution to U.S. Electricity Supply," that report concluded that:

- Reaching 20% wind energy will require enhanced transmission infrastructure, streamlined siting and permitting regimes, improved reliability and operability of wind systems, and increased U.S. wind manufacturing capacity.
- Achieving 20% wind energy will require the number of turbine installations to increase from approximately 2000 per year in 2006 to almost 7000 per year in 2017.
- Integrating 20% wind energy into the grid can be done reliably for less than 0.5 cents per kWh.
- Achieving 20% wind energy is not limited by the availability of raw materials.
- Addressing transmission challenges such as siting and cost allocation of new transmission lines to access the nation's best wind resources will be required to achieve 20% wind energy.

Offsetting the Costs of Wind Powered Electrical Technology

Although wind generated electrical power seems to be an unlimited resource, and, the best wind sites appear to be competitive with market electricity prices in most U.S. regions, several factors exist that make it a less appealing source of alternative energy in terms of economic cost. First off, wind is not uniformly priced resource. Its costs vary widely depending on project scale, wind speed, region, and other factors. Second, the benchmark for comparison with wind to other fuels varies regionally. Third, extra revenue is required to make a project viable, sunk costs are considerable.

To offset the factors that make wind powered electricity a less appealing source of alternative energy and promote its continued growth, wind energy in many areas receives some financial or other support to encourage development. Wind energy benefits from subsidies either to increase its attractiveness or to compensate for subsidies received by other forms of production, such as coal and nuclear, which have significant negative impacts.

In the United States, wind power receives a tax credit for each Kilowatt hour produced; that was 1.9 cents per Kilowatt hour in 2006. The tax the credit has a yearly inflationary adjustment. Many American states also provide incentives, such as exemption from property tax, mandated purchases, and additional markets for "green credits." The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 contain extensions of credits for wind, including micro-turbines.

Secondary market forces also provide incentives for businesses to use wind-generated power, even if there is a premium price for the electricity, socially responsible manufacturers pay utility companies a premium that goes to subsidize and build new wind power groundwork. Companies use wind-generated power, and in return they can claim that they are making a "green" effort.

Undoubtedly, further tax credits, subsidies and incentives will also be needed to achieve the goal of 20% Wind Energy by 2030. Today, wind power approximately accounts for about 2% of the electricity generated in the United States.


The technology of wind generated electrical power functions by creating electricity through the use of various styles of wind turbines is a very viable alternative energy. Although wind generated electrical power does have some negative impacts, this author feels that in terms of long-term cost and benefit compared with other types of energy, such as the burning of fossil fuels, using a renewable resource such as wind generated electrical power economically, environmentally, and socially is making more and more sense.

Charles Juopperi invites you to do your part in energy conservation by purchasing Green, ROHS, and Energy Star compliant products at his website eDiscount Electronics: When you buy products from us, you can rest assured that your doing your part for the environment while finding the lowest prices around. eDiscount Electronics sells discount wholesale desktops, servers, notebooks, tablets, audio equipment, HDTV's, and other types of consumer electronics. Please visit us today. Orders over $1000 ship free!

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cities Take Up the “Ban the Bag” Fight: Why New Policies Across the Nation Could Mean the End of Plastic Bags

English: Thin plastic shopping bags Polski: To...                                 Image via Wikipediaby Rebecca Leisher, Yes! magazine:

Environmental activists are reducing plastic waste pollution by tackling disposable plastic bags, one city at a time. About 20 U.S. cities and towns have passed disposable bag reduction laws, including San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Whether they impose a nominal fee for single-use, disposable bags, or ban them altogether, the laws encourage consumers to develop habits to replace disposable bags, particularly those made from plastic.

The most recent city to join the effort to ban the bag is Portland, Ore., which has banned single-use plastic bags at the checkouts of large retailers. The change was met with overwhelming support from most Portlanders, says Stiv Wilson of 5 Gyres Institute, who helped give out free reusable bags at grocery stores to ease the transition for shoppers on October 15, when the ban took effect.

The Portland ordinance, unanimously approved by Portland City Council, was the culmination of a four-year campaign by the Surfrider Foundation Portland Chapter, 5 Gyres Institute, and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. It reflects growing public concern about the environmental impact of disposable plastic.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Poaching In Africa Is Still Prevalent

Deutsch: Zwei wilde Breitmaulnashörner in Nami...Image via WikipediaBy John Gordon Alexander

In 2011 alone there have been 23 black and white Rhinos killed due to poaching in both Zimbabwe's National Parks and private reserves. In response to this there have been 37 arrests of suspected poachers and illegal ivory dealers.

With the lucrative Asian and Middle Eastern market present it's no surprise that poaching still exists in Zimbabwe. With poverty at its highest level in Zimbabwe people living on the outskirts of National Parks and animal reserves have the temptation to poach a Rhino and sell the ivory on to a dealer to make some quick money for himself and his family. There are very few job opportunities in Zimbabwe so in many cases it's a 'needs, must' scenario.

Efforts are being made by the wildlife authorities in Zimbabwe by devising new ways to tackle this on going problem. A solution to the problem lies in the Rhino's horn, so horn removal projects have been implemented across the country in aid of saving the Rhinos. By removing these magnificent creatures horns, poachers will have no value in taking a Rhino's life and may therefore leave them alone. The ivory will then stay with the authorities who will keep it under lock and key away from the poachers.

Another method being implemented is poisoning the horn of the Rhino, not in an attempt to harm the animal but to poison the poacher and the ivory dealers once they get their hands on the tusk. Both these methods could prove to be a resounding success as it will make life a lot trickier for both the poachers and the ivory dealers.

In other African nations, poaching is still an issue but not to the extent of Zimbabwe. Many other countries including Kenya and Tanzania have employed more fully trained rangers to patrol National Parks in search of poachers, laying traps and snares to catch them. Kenya also hopes to purchase another 14 light aircraft to patrol National Parks and suspected poaching sites which will enable them to respond much more swiftly than they would be able to on foot.

Ultimately to quell this problem there needs to be a more forceful ban imposed in Asia and the Middle East to cut off the buyers. As long as there is demand for the ivory I'm afraid there will always be people trying to supply them whatever the cost. Until that day comes the only thing authorities in Africa can do is to be vigilant and keep coming up with new ideas on how to catch poachers and ivory dealers.

Are you looking for an African adventure? If you are looking for top of the line African safari, or perhaps a high end Botswana Safari? then we are the people to come to.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

VIDEO: Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars

Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars Synopsis

From the outset FIGHTING GOLIATH: TEXAS COAL WARS was intended to serve as a tool for raising awareness, inspiring action, and creating a meaningful dialogue about how to overcome one of the greatest threats to public health contributors to global warming faced by the U.S. - conventional coal-fired power plants.

FIGHTING GOLIATH follows the story of farmers, ranchers and Mayors fighting against the construction of 18 new coal-burning power plants in Texas.

TXU Corp. withdrew eight of the 11 permit applications shortly before the case went to court, when it was announced that shareholders would sell the utility to private equity firms. The film was produced by the Redford Center at the Sundance Preserve and Alpheus Media, and directed by Mat Hames and George Sledge.

Film Credits

Narrated by Robert Redford
Written and Directed by Mat Hames and George Sledge
Executive Producers: Julie Mack and Jill Tidman
Producer: Cara Carney
Director of Photography: Shane Kelly
Editor: Sandra Guardado
Associate Producers: Beth Hames, Mat Hames and Anne Nagelkirk
Location Sound: Mark Lutte and Djakhangir Zakhidov
Assistant Camera and Photography: Stuart McSpadden
Production Assistants: Taryn Hall and Djakhangir Zakhidov
Additional Cinematography: Wilson Waggoner
Post-Production Supervisor: Mat Hames
Post-Production Assistants: Jeff Spross, Taryn Hall and Ginny Patrick
Archival Footage Coordinators: Cara Carney and Dacia Saenz
Graphics: Erik Lauritzen
Audio Design: Carl Thiel
Music By: Steve Bernal, BerxWerx, Sean Craypo, Tom Hamer, Sativa Quartet, Peter Stopschinski and Adam Sultan

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mother’s Care: Empirical Evidence Shows That Convening With Nature Can Heal the Mind

Golden Gate Raptor ObservatoryImage via Wikipediaby Richard Louv, from The Nature Principle, on UTNE: Best of the Alternative Press:

As director of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, Allen Fish teaches raptor migration study and wildlife monitoring. Ninety percent of his work is with adults, the hundreds of volunteers who count, band, and track hawks.

“Many of our volunteers hang on for five or more years. Their raptor work becomes deeply therapeutic in their urban lives,” he says. “I have heard stories of self-healing here that would make a therapist tear up: of manic depression, of abuse, of chemical dependency. The strength that these people bring to their resolve to connect with nature is utterly stirring.”

To find hope, meaning, and relief from emotional pain, our species embraces medication, meditation, merlot, and more. These methods work for a time, some longer than others, some quite well, and some to our detriment.

But the restorative power of nature is there, always. Spending time in natural settings is no panacea; it’s not a total replacement for other forms of professional therapy or self-healing, but it can be a powerful tool in maintaining or improving mental health.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

ANNOUNCEMENT: Pearls of the Planet

Polar Bear (Sow And Cub), Arctic National Wild...Image via WikipediaHi readers,

Below is a special announcement of an exciting project from I'm sure you'll find it fascinating.

Cheers, Robert.

Dear Explorers,

I want to personally thank you for supporting the LIVE POLAR BEAR CAM. I call this initiative Pearls of the Planet, and the mission is simple: I want people to fall in love with the world again. I believe that by simply observing the natural world, we will develop an emotional connection that will allow us to become responsible stewards of the planet we live on.

Pearls of the Planet is a decade old dream of mine, but what makes it so special is the purity of spirit in which all of you write your comments. They are invaluable and immeasurable in any dollar amount.

Please share in the beautiful photographs and film clips on our first ever Polar Bear Wall of Wisdom.

As much as we will miss our beloved polar bears, let's rejoice that they are going home where hopefully the food will be plentiful. Until they return, please know that several new Pearls of the Planet Live Cameras will be available so we can all study the natural world we love.

Please consider your extended family and home.


Charles Annenberg Weingarten / Pearls of the Planet
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Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Effects of Plastic Bags on the Environment

Kamilo Beach, Big Island, Hawaii,USAKamilo Beach, Hawaii - Image via Wikipediaby Greg R Johnson

It's easy to think of the negative effects of plastic bags on the environment when you consider that 100 billion plastic bags are used each year in the United States and that they take up to 1,000 years to break down.

Fifty years ago there were no bags on this planet. Now consider based on their break down rate that every bag ever manufactured, except for the recycled or incinerated ones are either filling our landfills, polluting our waterways or hanging in our kitchen closets as clutter.

Often comforts of everyday life, things we now consider a necessity were developed and pushed into our lives only because they were the cheapest option. Long-term costs, such as the impact on our environment and the clean up of it weren't considered. This appears to be the case with plastic bags.

Dependence on Foreign Oil

Plastic bags are manufactured using polyethylene a byproduct of oil. Roughly 60 to 100 million barrels of oil go into their production each year. China recently banned the use of plastic bags and their estimated savings in oil was about 37 million barrels per year.

They Take a Very, Very Long Time to Break Down

Plastic bags haven't been around for long, less than fifty years. So no one knows for sure how long they take to break down. One thing is for sure though; all the plastic bags that haven't been recycled or incinerated are still on this planet in landfills, floating in the ocean, littering our parks, roadways and lakes, or just piled in corners of our closets, garages or kitchens.

Grocery bags are made from polyethylene and are photodegradable and not biodegradable. Being photodegradable means, these bags need sunlight to break down. Therefore, burying them in a landfill accomplishes nothing other than to hide the problem and create mountains of trash buried out of sight.

When and if they do degrade, they simply break down into smaller more toxic microscopic particles called petrol-polymers that seep into waterways and eventually enter our food chain.

Plastic Bags Account for 10% of Debris Washed Up On Our Shoreline

They have been seen floating in the oceans, and washing up on shorelines as far North as the Arctic Circle and as far south as The Falkland Islands. What an awful eyesore to our planet as a whole.

Kill Hundreds of Thousands of Animals Per Year

Believing the bags to be food, marine wildlife choke on the bags and die or they enter their digestive systems until they die. After death their bodies decompose, but not the bags.

Plastic bags are cheap, efficient and strong. They make shopping simple and easy. However plastic bags have many negative effects on the environment. They increase our dependence on foreign oil, pollute our waterways, fill our landfills, kill our wildlife and are an eyesore.

Greg Johnson writes on a variety of subjects, including the environment, tips for going green, and alternative energy sources. Greg is passionate about the environment and believes we as a society as a whole are depleting and destroying our environment to fast. Get more Green Tips at: and

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Great New Talent: Redeem Yourself by Luke James

Hi everyone,

I don't do this very often, but I'd like you all to listen to a young man who I think is a great new talent. His name is Luke James, and he is the son of one of my close trusted colleagues, John James. Luke hails from Adelaide, South Australia, and as you will see, is a very talented musician and songwriter. The lyrics are powerful and match the strong visuals on the video.

It would be great to get some feedback, so ALL comments are very welcome indeed! Let's encourage local young talent!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Protesters Win Pipeline Delay

The Canadian Keystone XL Pipeline is NOT A DON...              Image by via Flickrby Brooke Jarvis, on Yes! magazine:

The Keystone XL pipeline started out as a fairly obscure infrastructure project that most observers expected to win quick and easy approval.

But through months of determined protest, opponents of the pipeline (which would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands to refineries in the Gulf Coast) stirred up a national debate about the wisdom of building it.

And today, they’re celebrating a victory: The State Department (which must approve the pipeline since it crosses an international border) announced that it will delay approval of the project by at least a year until it can study alternative routes.

The pipeline isn’t dead, but the delay is very bad news for the developer, TransCanada - whose CEO was quoted warning that any delays might kill the project - and very good news for the thousands who have worked to keep the project from being rubber-stamped.

To get the issue on the public’s radar, more than 1,200 people volunteered to be arrested outside the White House in August; just last week, thousands of protesters encircled the building completely. Opponents also sent some 300,000 comments to the State Department and filled public hearings for months.

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Green Mama by Tracey Bianchi - Greening Your Travel and Worship and Planting a Tree

Devils Punchbowl Waterfall at Arthurs Pass in ...                            Image via WikipediaBy Timothy Zaun

Tracey Bianchi is a married mother of three young children, living in Chicago. Her environmental concerns for both her family and future generations inspired her to write Green Mama: The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Children Save the Planet.

Bianchi earned a master of divinity degree and is a frequent speaker and writer on topics of Christianity. Regardless of your religious beliefs or denomination, and whether or not you have children, Green Mama will enlighten you to the earth's dwindling natural resources; and how you can make a positive impact.

Here, the topics of greening your travel and worship, along with advocacy for planting a tree are discussed.

Greening Your Travel

Before traveling, ask yourself if you really need to get there at all. Monitoring your travel can reduce fuel consumption, carbon emissions and consumerism. U.S. residents are responsible for approximately 25 percent of the world's carbon emissions even though we have only 5 percent of the population.

Before jumping in the car, ask these potentially life-changing questions:
  • Have I chosen a green place to live? Answers vary according to circumstances. For you, that might mean multiple acres in a rural area or easy access to public transportation.
  • Do I live close enough to the amenities I need or the places I frequently visit? Next time you move, consider not only housing costs and school district quality. Think too about the commute time to routine travel, including the grocery store, church and library.
  • Do I really need to do this today or can I do it another time as part of another errand?
  • Can I walk or bike there instead?
  • Who else can I bring with me (i.e. a neighbor who needs to go grocery shopping a the same time)?
  • Can I combine the trip with another errand?
  • Am I shopping locally? Are all of my errands as close to home as possible?
Air Travel

The World Wide Institute states that one plane crossing the Atlantic Ocean uses16, 000 gallons of fuel. That's enough to power one car for fifty years.

Before flying, ask yourself if you can travel by car or train. Take public transportation to and from the airport whenever it's possible. Bring your own snacks and decline drinks, napkins and plastic cups offered on the plane.

Realize that you might be skiing at a resort that doesn't monitor its carbon emissions. Long-term, the very commodity they're selling (snowfall) could diminish with climate change. Eating at certain seafood restaurants, while enjoyable, may be purchasing their food from overfished waters. "Be an educated traveler and make a difference when you can," says Bianchi.

Green Your Hotel and Resort Stays

Bring home half-used bottles of shampoo and lotions. Use them up and recycle the containers. Look for water-saving tips from your hotel. Now, many offer water conservation programs that ask you to reuse your towels and bed linens the next day.

Vacation with a Purpose.

"Purposeful vacations take into account the social imprint of your vacation as well as the ecological practices of the places you visit," says Bianchi.

Consider an Eco-Vacation, a Mission Project or a Conservation Trip.

Your local church or park district may offer trips and ecotourism vacations to destinations where you and your family can stay together. Cleaning up trails, helping to create a habitat for endangered wildlife and serving needy families worldwide are among the many vacation opportunities.

Buy a Hybrid Car; They Make a Difference.

The smaller and slower the car, the better the fuel efficiency.

Greening Your Worship

Your place of worship (or any other community setting you experience, including work) may ignore promoting an eco-friendly atmosphere. "Turns out the very buildings that were designed to proclaim the wonders of the God of the universe are some of the least green places in the country," says Bianchi.

Styrofoam cups, individualized creamer packets and sugars, stir sticks, multi-page bulletins, and company newsletters printed with petroleum-based ink (instead of eco-friendly soy-based inks) are among the eco-savvy detractors.

"Greening up the church is not a fad or some hippie luxury; it is good stewardship and it is our future," she says. Bianchi suggests two levels to start greening your worship:

1. Begin with your senior pastor, minister, rabbi, etc. A simple meeting with him or her can initiate the dialogue. Further talks can convene with committees, elders, trustees, and others leaders. Tap into your congregation's professional talents, including architects, engineers and HVAC experts.

Discuss who will lead the greening efforts. It may or may not be you. The green team will need to research recycling options, reasonable tweaks in lighting and energy and other common sense, eco-friendly adaptations.

2. Use personal, covert greening efforts if you meet congregational resistance. This includes turning off lights in classrooms, and collecting and recycling church bulletins and newsletters on your own.

A universal response from churches, nonprofits and other organizations that resist going green is cost. Today, many establishments are working with limited funds.

Greening a place can appear to be pricey. Waste haulers may charge additional fees to remove recyclables. Recycling bins can be costly and purchasing fair-trade coffee and teas may sell for more, but, once done, long-term savings often result.

In the church, some will question if a greener life is theologically supported. Going green will have its detractors in any setting.

Planting a Tree

None of us can save the world on our own, but we can each make a difference.

Bianchi mentions Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan activist who, in 2004, won the Nobel Peace Prize. Maathai says one thing we can do to fight environmental injustice, is plant a tree. It's something we can all manage. Plant something green whether you live in a high rise, farm or anywhere else. Plunge your hands into the dirt and bring forth life.

Greening your travel and worship offer a variety of ways to reduce your carbon footprint on earth. Consider planting a tree to promote perpetual life among nature.

Green Mama offers a gallimaufry of websites to help you live more consciously and reduce consumerism. One of the best is the Center For A New American Dream. Visit them here:

Timothy Zaun is a blogger, speaker and freelance writer. Visit him online at

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

EU - Drawing a Line in the Tar Sands? A Controversial Move to Prohibit Oil Imported From What’s Been Called the World’s Dirtiest Fuel Source Could be an Example for the Rest of Us

Tar-sands-collage                          Tar Sands Collage - Wikipediaby Robert Mellinger, Yes! magazine:

Tar sands imports to the EU could be banned altogether after the EU Commission on Climate Change backed new greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards as part of the Fuel Quality Directive first adopted in 2009.

Pursuant to the directive’s original goal of a 6 percent reduction of CO2 emissions from transport fuel production by 2020, the new standards set values for each fuel based on estimated grams of CO2 released per megajoule of energy produced.

They set a much higher emissions value for tar sands oil than conventional oil production, making oil produced in Canada's controversial sands an unviable option if the directive’s goals are to be achieved. [1]

Although tar sands oil is not a major import to the EU, the move reveals a sharp contrast between international business interests and environmental realities, and would set a precedent for future bans on other controversial fuels—including shale gas, whose extraction process is known as fracking.

EU member states will vote in just a few weeks on the directive, which could be blocked by two nations that have expressed opposition: the UK and the Netherlands.

Britain’s Under Secretary for the Department of Transport, Norman Baker, said in a September 26 letter that he would oppose the inclusion of the tar sands in the directive, The Guardian reported.

Incidentally, the UK recently began drilling for domestic shale gas reserves, which could also be threatened if the emissions standards are eventually extended to non-transport fuels.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Four Reasons We Need Less Gas: These Days, Americans are Driving Less - What That Means for the Future of our Oil Dependence

Photo by Hopefoote
by Lester Brown, in Yes! magazine:

As the debate unfolds about whether to build a 1,711-mile pipeline to carry crude oil from the tar sands in Canada to refineries in Texas, the focus is on the oil spills and carbon emissions that inevitably come with it. But we need to ask a more fundamental question. Do we really need that oil?

The United States currently consumes more gasoline than the next 16 countries combined. Yes, you read that right. Among them are China, Japan, Russia, Germany, and Brazil.

But now this is changing. Not only is the affluence that sustained this extravagant gasoline consumption eroding, but the automobile-centered lifestyle that was considered part of the American birthright is fading as well. U.S. gasoline use has dropped 5 percent in four years.

Four key developments are set to further reduce U.S. gasoline use: a shrinking car fleet, a decline in the miles driven per car, dramatic mandated future gains in new car fuel efficiency, and the shift from gasoline to electricity to power our cars.

The U.S. fleet appears to have peaked at 250 million vehicles in 2008. From 1994 through 2007, new-car sales were in the range of 15–17 million per year. Since then they have totaled 10–13 million per year, and they are unlikely to top 14 million again. Retirees likely will exceed sales of new cars throughout this decade.

The contraction that began when the fleet dropped from 250 million in 2008 to 248 million in 2010 is likely to continue. Sales of new cars are not matching those of earlier years in part because the economic prospect has dimmed and in part because we are still urbanizing. Today 82 percent of us live in urban areas where cars are becoming less essential.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Plastic Is Killing Us

Seal trapped in plastic pollutionImage by tedxgp2 via FlickrBy Norma Holt

Drowning in Plastic

Try to avoid it and you quickly find that it is impossible. In today's world just about everything comes in some type of plastic wrapping or container.

The oceans and everything alive is drowning in it as the chemical nature of the substance does not break down and particles are becoming the new covering on the beach, the new food forced down baby animal's necks, the top layer over the sea and the toxic waste that will eventually kill us all.

Recently the Canadian government declared bisphenol A (BPA) a 'dangerous substance' and thereby opened the door for it to be banned. This is a chemical found in hard plastics used for containers such as baby bottles, food storage boxes, drink bottles, and as a sealant in dentistry.

It has attracted some media attention in Australia but the Food and Drug authority here sees no reason to ban it. In fact they are so slow to even consider that it might be a toxin.

Scientists have published reports that prove this chemical leeches into food when the plastic is heated, as in the bottling process or even in the microwave where it may be simply warmed up for consumption. To have it removed from the market place would involve a hefty change of practices for most manufacturers and a great big increase in costs.

But how did we let this happen? A glance around the supermarket demonstrates that things that were once packaged in glass or a better substance are now contained in plastic. Such things as sauces, fruit, frozen meals, spices and even mustard comes in it now with no choice to buy it any other way. The shopper wants the product and apparently does not take into account that the wrapping might just give them cancer.

There are no warning labels or ways to alert the buyer who happily puts the product into the shopping basket and continues on home.

Everything made of plastic eventually gets into the landfill and then the oceans. While wave action will break it into ever smaller particles there is no way it will disappear. Ultimately it may sink to the bottom or be washed ashore onto the beach.

Fish are suffering as shown by salmon in a Canadian river where they no longer go to the depths to avoid the sun and heat of the surface. Their exterior is showing signs of sunburn and the reproduction of their species is suffering as well.

Many ocean animals are becoming extinct and fishermen around the world catch fewer in their nets and many have retired because they cannot survive.

People are just too relaxed about what they buy and of the danger some products may cause them. This site is a wake up call and demonstrates what plastic is doing to the environment

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Adelaide Custom Tours: The Adelaide Experience

Old Government House in the Belair National Park.Old Government House, Belair National Park - Image via Wikipedia
Hi everyone,

If you are planning a visit to Australia, stop in to Adelaide which is a wonderful city. I operate custom walking and driving tours around the city and surrounds.

Experience #1: Adelaide's Universities - This is a half-day tour where you are driven to each university campus around Adelaide. As I have worked in all 3 universities here, I have a unique insight into the history, architecture and philosophy of each institution, and I know each campus intimately. Maximum - 4 people (A$50 per head).

Experience #2: Bushwalking in Belair National Park and Mount Lofty - This is a full-day tour where you will be picked up from the city to go bushwalking in the Park. I live about 5 minutes from Belair Park and so I know it intimately, the old buildings (Governor's residences, old railway stations and pavilions, the only cafe in the vicinity (included the best coffee in Australia, seriously!). I know the terrain and the story of much of the flora and fauna of the region. As for Mount Lofty, I know a number of trails, most of the cafes, the private Botanic Gardens, and the strange stories of the region (and there's a few). Maximum - 4 people (A$60 per head).

Experience #3: Cricket Adelaide style - This is a half-day walking tour for cricket fanatics! Being one of the spiritual homes of cricket, Adelaide has a great history and a great group of organisations who have recorded it's history. There's the Bradman Collection Museum, the South Australia Cricket Association Museum, Adelaide oval (of course), the State Library Bradman Collection, and the Bradman Digital Library. Also, having played cricket for many years and knowing lots of great cricket stories, this would be a very entertaining experience for people. Maximum - 25 people (A$40 per head).

Experience #4: The Aboriginal Bush Tucker Tour at the Adelaide Botanical Gardens - This is a short walking tour lasting for 2 hours, through the Aboriginal Bush Tucker (tucker is food) tour in the Adelaide Botanical Gardens. Very few people (even locals) know that this exists. I have taken a number of visiting school groups through this tour and they love it. This is an interesting cultural experience. Maximum - 25 people (A$20 per head).

Experience #5: Mitcham and Springfield, the heart of historic Adelaide - This is a full-day walking tour after being picked up in the city. These are some of the oldest suburbs in Adelaide, nestled into the foothills, where some of the first settlers lived, with many old homesteads still standing. Great old churches, cafes, tea houses, hotels, picturesque streets, Carrick Hill (Adelaide's most famous stately mansion), and even the beautiful Brownhill Creek Recreation Park. Lots to see, all of which can be done on foot. Maximum - 4 people (A$60 per head).

If you are interested in seeing Adelaide with your own personal guide, just call me on 0433 354 383 or email me on:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

CASE STUDY: Can Households Help Create a Carbon Neutral City?

Your Carbon Footprint Challenge             Image by Leonski via Flickrby Richard Conlin, on Yes! magazine:

Seattle hopes to become the world's first climate-neutral city. It's no small task: The City must account for, and reduce, the carbon footprint of everything from transportation to trash for hundreds of thousands of people. City Council President and YES! Magazine board member Richard Conlin is blogging about the city's efforts.

Much of the work on climate change has focused on making major policy or systems level changes that will have dramatic impacts on carbon emissions. Critical as it is to change emissions systems, create new technologies, develop energy efficient buildings, or provide better travel options and renewable energy systems, most such big ideas require pose major barriers to implementation.

As the saying might go, ‘you can lead a community to a low carbon future, but you can’t make them stop emitting carbon.'

But there are lots of actions that people can take that do not require systems change, and may form the best foundation for making systems change happen. In 2009, a group of scientists developed a model for specific actions that people can take without major new technological or policy inventions.

They published an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences entitled ‘Household actions can provide a behavioral wedge to rapidly reduce U.S. carbon emissions’.

The article suggests that a set of behavioral changes that could be taken right now would reduce US carbon emissions by some 7.4 percent - an amount, they note, “slightly larger than the total national emissions of France." These savings can be realized at a very low cost using current technology and without significant changes in lifestyle.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

VIDEO: Innovative Energy

by FRANCE 24 Environment, on YouTube:

This week Environment is looking at innovative energy. To start, French researchers try to identify the sweetest of trees with a high sugar content to produce a fruitful harvest of biofuels.

Meanwhile in Spain CO2 from a cement factory is sucked up by algae leading to the mass production of bio petroleum. Finally how green are the latest shiny engines to hit the road? They avoid polluting petrol but nonetheless need powerplants many still fueled by coal to run.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Climate on the Farm Is Changing

Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve which is one of ...                           Image via Wikipediaby Keith Goetzman, UTNE Reader - The Best of The Alternative Press:

Farmers are often among the first people to notice a shift in the climate.

So while I rely on scientists for my big-picture information about climate change, I also take seriously the cumulative daily - and yearly - field research of a trusted source: My local CSA (community supported agriculture) farmers, Michael Racette and Patty Wright of Spring Hill Community Farm in Prairie Farm, Wisconsin. They are keen observers of wind, water, air, and soil, living so close to the land that they literally sink their hands into it every day.

Farming has of course always been an uncertain business, due to the naturally variable whims of weather, but lately it’s more uncertain than ever - some would even call it wildly unpredictable. Here’s what’s happening in the furrows as reported by Patty in this season’s Spring Hill newsletters:

July 19

Sometimes rain is a lovely thing, sometimes it’s not. Last Friday we had about half an inch of rain. It made harvest not very pleasant or pretty, but we appreciated it knowing we were in for a blast of heat over the next week.

Then there was Saturday morning. Very early Saturday morning we woke up to thunder and lightning and heavy, heavy rains. When we went out to take a look there was over four inches of rain in the gauge. Our little stream had become something of a river and we were unable to cross it.

Our plan to pick peas with the members who were to arrive shortly was curtailed when we sank up to our ankles in mud. Plans to pick cilantro were changed to basil from the hoophouse when we saw the flattened cilantro.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

What Are the Causes of Global Warming?

The Keeling Curve of atmospheric CO 2 concentr...Image via WikipediaBy Trevor Miller

The main causes of global warming have been well documented and covered in the media, however, this is at a basic surface-level, if you want to find out the true causes of global warming, you have to look beyond the obvious and below the surface.

I will, however, be firstly explaining to you what "global warming" is; Global warming is the current rise in the average temperature of the Earth's oceans and atmosphere. It is also the increase of the Earth's average surface temperature.

The main causes of global warming are due to the effect of increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the burning of fossil fuels to create electricity. Fossil fuels are made of dead plants and animals. Some examples of fossil fuels are oil and petroleum.

Many pollutants are sent into the air when fossil fuels are burned. Some of these chemicals are called greenhouse gasses. Other forms of greenhouse gases are, water vapour, nitrous oxide and methane. Greenhouse gases trap heat and light from the sun in the Earth's atmosphere, which increases the temperature.

Another cause of global warming, is deforestation, or the cutting down or burning of forests. Forests absorb carbon dioxide and trap heat that would otherwise escape from Earth. This is a type of greenhouse effect.

Trees are 50 percent carbon. When they are felled or burned, the CO2 they store escapes back into the air. Between 25 and 30 percent of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere each year - 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide - is caused by deforestation. The most important direct causes of deforestation include logging, the conversion of forested lands for agriculture and cattle-raising, urbanization, mining and oil exploitation, acid rain and fire.

Now that I have mentioned the main causes of global warming, I will tell you the true causes of global warming; and this is caused by the greed of opportunity seekers, constantly on the lookout for any opportunities to exploit.

The constant need for energy to satisfy first-world countries and the Earth's growing human population has provided a huge opportunity for the above to exploit whatever, whoever and wherever they can, in order to profit.

The greed and lack of conscience of "opportunity seekers", leads them to exploit people and/or the Earth's natural resources, in order that they may profit.

The exploitation of the Earth's natural resources by "opportunity seekers" has been one of the major causes in the upset of the balance of nature and in effect, of "global warming".

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Research Looks at Land Use, Farming and Protecting Biodiversity

Nature's PlaceImage by David Cornwell via FlickrBy Ali Withers

New research has prompted debate on how best to use land for farming and to preserve biodiversity. A study by researchers at the UK's Cambridge University was carried out in Ghana and India to assess the diversity of birds and trees on land being farmed in a variety of ways as well as land that was left natural. The study also looked at the amount of food being produced.

The researchers do say that more work needs to be done in other locations to allow for factors like climate, land quality and different ecosystems, the area of land involved and whether, for example, several smaller but separated areas interfere with the hunting or migratory patterns of the animals within them.

The findings from this first piece of research showed that farmland with some retained natural vegetation had more species of birds and trees than high-yielding monocultures of oil palm, rice or wheat but produced far less food energy and profit per hectare. However, farms that were supposedly nature friendly did not provide enough good habitat for either trees or birds in the two regions studied.

The preliminary decuction is that the best option for ensuring diversity is to leave some land untouched and to farm on separate areas.

This suggests that farming will need to concentrate on improving yields on cultivated land while at the same time preserving its quality in order to continue to be able to use it sustainably and to meet the projected increasing amount of food that will be required for a growing global population.

Planting some ground cover in between a crop, crop rotation rather than monoculture and using more natural pest management and yield enhancement products could all be part of this effort.

One thing that is crucial to using farmland with maximum efficiency and sustainability is minimising the waste including the loss of crops due to pests and diseases. Farmers will need effective alternatives as the older generation of chemical-based pesticides and fertilisers are being taken off the market in response to consumer demand for healthier and more natural food.

This will include the new low-chem agricultural products increasingly being devised by the biopesticides developers from natural sources. They already include a range of biopesticides, biofungicides and yield enhancers.

However, it can be a costly and lengthy process to get each product from development through trial, testing and regulation and in many cases this can take up to eight years. This is something that needs greater harmonisation between governments, many of which have their own individual rules and regulations and the process needs to be accelerated to provide easily accessible alternatives for farmers all over the world.

Biodiversity may be best maintained by leaving some land entirely natural while farming on other land according to new research. Farmers may need to adopt sustainable techniques to protect their land and minimise waste to get maximum yield and low-chem agricultural products can help. By Ali Withers.

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Benefits of Living a Green Life

Spraying pesticide in CaliforniaToxic Pesticide Spraying - Image via WikipediaBy Joann J Carlisle

The benefits of going green extend far beyond saving the environment. Simple changes towards living a greener, more eco-friendly life also positively affects personal health and finances. It can also contribute to a positive change in the nation-wide economy and political climate.

The health benefits of eating organic produce over pre-packaged foods are immediate. Organic foods have lower levels of sodium, sugar, and fat, as well as fewer calories and none of the pesticides and herbicides used in commercial farming.

These pesticides pollute water sources by increasing algae and bacterial content, and have been linked to increased risks of cancers and neurological disorders. Organic produce is cheaper to grow by using only natural compost as fertilizer and poses none of the health risks associated with exposure to pesticides.

Using green products and energy sources in the home is also healthier. Homes built with green resources reduce occupants' incidences of allergic reactions (asthma, migraines, etc.) as well as the risk of developing cancer.

These "green" homes often use cotton insulation as opposed to fiberglass, exposure to which can cause skin infections and the growth of scar tissue and tumors inside the lungs. Many green houses also use paint with little to no VOC's (volatile organic compounds), which pose the same health risks as the pesticides found in commercial produce.

Despite common misconceptions, going green does not have to be expensive, but can actually save money. Energy Star appliances and programmable thermostats use less electricity, which can drastically reduce energy costs. Solar panels can almost completely eliminate a home's need for electricity and natural gas, eliminating energy bills after the initial investment.

Walking, biking, and carpooling are greener methods of transportation, save money, and can greatly benefit personal health. With fewer health hazards present in the everyday environment, the need for intermittent and long-term healthcare is also reduced, thus reducing medical bills and other expenses associated with health maintenance.

When these changes are applied on a larger scale throughout the country, the nationwide economy can benefit. The reduction in energy, transportation, and healthcare costs is not limited to certain demographics, and can id government spending. In addition, going green will reduce national dependency on foreign oil, which can save millions of dollars per year and the lives of thousands of soldiers and civilian workers sent into high-risk combat areas for oil drilling.

The benefits of green living don't just apply to the environment. They are direct, tangible benefits to health, the economy, and overall quality of life. For any citizen, the benefits of going green far outweigh the costs or effort of switching.

Joann Carlisle is a writer who looks forward to sharing her knowledge and advice with readers. For more on going green, Frugally Green offers readers tips for how to make green cleaning supplies.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sources of Energy in Melbourne and Across Victoria

Illustration: Different types of renewable energy.Image via WikipediaBy Amber Nichols

When talking about energy sources in the densely populated city of Melbourne and other parts of Victoria, Australia, it is unfortunate to know that the primary source of electricity for the whole state is brown coal.

Brown coal is among the greatest contributors to the greenhouse gas emissions of the country. It is, sad to say, utilized in about 85 percent of the state's total electricity consumption. However, it is also good to know that chief power suppliers in Australia like Red Energy, TRUenergy and Click Energy generate products from natural gas and renewable power including hydro, wind and solar, in an effort to help sustainability in the region.

The Victorian government, working with the environmental advocacy offices of the national government, has put in place programs to aggressively counter its greenhouse gas emissions and help build a more sustainable environment for its people. Among these are rebates on solar and gas hot water systems; GreenPower; Solar Cities; energy ratings; development of renewable energy sources like bioenergy, geothermal and mini hydro; and many other national and local government initiatives.

With the help of power retailers like AGL, Australian Power & Gas and Red Energy, the government is working towards this goal of developing renewable sources of energy. Having alternatives to its usual types of energy supply would decrease their dependence on brown coal. The renewable energy target for the state was set at 10% by the year 2016. That was in 2006. However, this number was recently increased to 25% by 2020.

While hydro power is the most widely generated and used renewable energy in the whole of Australia, it is scarce in Victoria due to the state's very limited water resource. But the government still has been able to generate hydro power for Victoria with the assistance of power suppliers in Melbourne like Red Energy and AGL. Victoria, instead, concentrates on other prime points of power supply, particularly wind farms and solar power stations.

This state is considered as one of the best homes for wind farms in the country. In about a couple of years from now, Victoria will have an additional capacity of 487 MW on top of its existing 428 MW. This number definitely beats the output of its Anglesea Power Station, which runs on brown coal and emits 1.21 million tonnes of greenhouse gases every year.

Roof-mounted solar systems are becoming more and more popular in homes and commercial establishments in Victoria in the recent years. By choosing solar power, consumers can get rebates on electricity rates from Red Energy, TRUenergy and other retailers that support the government's sustainable environment programs.

There is a host of other programs that the government and the industry sectors of Melbourne and Victoria are undertaking. All these are being done with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and have a more sustainable environment not just for the state, but for everyone in the world.

Red Energy Australia is part of Snowy Hydro Limited, a chief provider of hydro power in the National Electricity Market. Visit Switchwise to know more about Red Energy electricity rates and its efforts towards a more sustainable Australia.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Reintroduction or Conservation Projects?

Welcome signImage by daveynin via FlickrBy Joanna French

There are pros and cons to each, but the ongoing debate of focusing efforts on reintroduction or conservation looks like something that is long going to continue. Here, we briefly consider if conservation organisations, government and non-governmental organisations (NGO's) should financially support reintroduction projects, or if the money could be better spent on other types of conservation projects.

Both reintroduction programmes as well as other types of conservation projects are very important and there is a balance that must be found in terms of resources given to each area. Indeed, reintroduction programmes alone will not remedy the situation that we are currently facing in terms of the ever decreasing numbers of species that live in their natural habitat.

If we first look at reintroduction, it can be seen that there are indeed benefits to reintroduction programmes and thus financial support is vital for them. In some instances, where there are only a few species remaining in their natural habitat, it is a good idea to try to reintroduce. Reintroduction gives species a 'fighting chance' of survival. It can also help preserve the biodiversity of the ecosystem.

Each species has its own role to play in the ecosystem and if some species are 'missing' it can throw the whole system out of balance. This can impact not only on flora and wildlife, but also on the local communities who rely on natural resources. Reintroduction is basically a way of trying to put right what mankind has done.

However, reintroduction cannot be considered in isolation, other types of conservation projects must run alongside any reintroduction projects if they are to prove successful.

An integrated approach should be taken to conservation projects - there is not one approach that can be used as a quick fix to the declining number of species found in their natural habitat. However, there are a number of issues that have an effect on populations and looking at these can then lead on to ways in which to help negate or at least diminish their impact.

One reason that some species are decreasing in number is due to loss of their natural habitat, infringement from logging and other activities, resulting in less area in which to move around and a scarcity of food resources. Deforestation is done for a number of reasons, both for large commercial gain, but also for personal use by often poor rural communities.

There is a great deal of profit that can be made for companies using natural resources, this is mainly down to demand from other countries for the products that are created using these resources. Education is paramount - explaining the consequences of a cheap product on the future of our natural resources may have some impact on the demand for products, however, what we really need is to develop alternatives that can be used; whose production would not have such an impact on the environment.

Education is also important for local communities surrounding these natural areas - they need to learn that there are ways in which they can use these resources, but in a sustainable manner. Also, alternative methods of making a livelihood should be explored.

Ecotourism programmes should also be funded, providing that they are run in the right way, that they are benefiting the country and local community as well as ensuring that the impact on the population and animals is not a negative one.

Money should also be spent on better enforcement of anti-poaching laws - it is too often the case that these laws are lax and are not perceived as a genuine threat by the poachers - the potential rewards are seen to outweigh the risk. If it was harder for poachers, the number of animals taken from the forest for the bushmeat and pet trade would be reduced and thus the numbers remaining in the wild would be greater.

The above are just a handful of initiatives that funding should be applied to. In some cases, programmes are already in place which are starting to make some inroads into these areas, however, there is still a lot that can be done. Whatever happens in the future, it is important to remember that there are a number of parties that have a vested interest and the consequences of any conservation initiatives should be considered across all these parties before being introduced.

Reintroduction projects are vital in attempting to put-right the past mistakes of humans that put in jeopardy the survival of the natural world. However, it is equally important to learn from the past and try to prevent the same mistakes recurring, through the implementation of alternative conservation projects. Ideally, in future this will remove the need for further reintroduction projects.

Joanna French is a conservation scientist, founder of and supporter of conservation and development initiatives across the world. ecoTravel Africa promotes and supports responsible travel to natural areas that helps to conserve the environment and improves the well-being of local people. ecoTravel Africa creates tailor-made itineraries for either self drive, guided or small group travel that allow the traveller to be sure that they are travelling responsibly on any budget, whilst benefiting the environment and communities that they visit.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why Carbon Neutral And Carbon Zero Are Not The Same

Verus Carbon Neutral, www.verus-co2.comImage via WikipediaBy J. Mark Dangerfield Ph.D.

An accepted solution to the problem of limiting climate change is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This makes sense because the evidence that greenhouse gases are a key climate driver has strengthened and because emission reduction is both doable and desirable. Carbon neutral and carbon zero are policy and practical frameworks to achieve emission reductions that help motivate our actions.

Carbon zero is just that; no greenhouse gases are released as a result of human activities. The policy seeks zero carbon pollution. Obviously this is tricky to achieve because most of our economic activity requires machinery powered by fossil fuels or electricity generated by coal or gas.

Given that agriculture, land management, transport, electricity generation and manufacturing all release greenhouse gases, an economy with zero emissions is a huge challenge. It is only possible after a serious, technically difficult, and costly transition away from a fossil fuel dependent way of life.

But it does send an interesting message.

Aiming for zero emissions is a commitment to a fundamental shift in the way we do business. It forces a whole of system view on understanding the consequences of manufacturing, production and resource use, not just on emissions but also on other unwanted environmental and social impacts. It is also a big picture view that makes tremendous sense because, even if we put aside the pollution issue, fossil fuels will eventually become scarce. With scarcity will come expense.

Carbon neutral is a different approach. It allows greenhouse gas emissions so long as an equivalent amount can be offset by emission reduction, avoided emissions and/or carbon sequestration somewhere else. You can emit so long as you buy from someone else emissions they have legitimately saved or avoided to balance out yours.

Three ideas are usually adopted to achieve a carbon neutral system.

Idea #1: Be frugal

Turn off the lights, walk to work, recycle paper (and the drinks bottles) ... The list is long of ways to be energy and resource efficient.

In this approach we basically keep doing the same things we have always done; only we are more aware of the energy and resource implications of what we do each day. We remember to close the door so that the air conditioner has to work less.

Most of the scientists and engineers agree that savings of up to 30% are possible if we are more efficient in our use of energy and resources. Although they also agree that there will be a cost to retrofit our buildings and transport systems to achieve this level of reduction across the board.

Awareness that leads to actions for energy efficiency means that we would also slow the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, and, if we get good at it, even reduce emissions in some economies.

But there would still be emissions hence the need for a second idea.

Idea #2: Switch to greener options

Put solar panels on the roof, buy a hybrid car, grow your own veggies using fertilizer generated from the worm farm in the garden ... Plus any number of alternatives to fossil fuel based energy and goods.

This option sees us doing the same things, but in different ways. Essentially we replace our goods and energy supplies that generate greenhouse gas emissions with those that either don't emit or emit much less that the traditional methods.

The switch to greener options requires a change in our consumer behaviour and, for most of us, a change to our lifestyles. It also requires that such options are available for use, and at a price we are prepared to pay. And it requires a period of time for us to get used to these new options and for the greener options to become available.

This idea can certainly reduce emissions and when the technologies mature and uptake is complete, the economy would be far less polluting.

Combine idea #1 with #2 and there is the possibility that emissions would be much reduced but not eradicated. Some activities, such as industrial processes, coal fired power stations, livestock production and the use of nitrogen fertilizer, would still produce emissions. Carbon neutral is achieved with the third idea.

Idea #3: Purchase emission reduction credit

When you have exhausted the capacity of idea #1 and #2 to lower emissions, then pay someone else to reduce them for you. Obviously they cannot come in and stop your actual emissions, so they create emission offsets that you buy.

These are the carbon credits that are bought and sold on local and international markets under emission trading schemes. These credits, each one equivalent to one ton of carbon dioxide equivalents (1 t CO2-e), come in many flavours with confusing acronyms. You can buy CERs, tCERS, lCERs, ERUs, VCUs, ACCUs etc, depending on where they come from and what kind of emission reduction, avoided emission or sequestration activity they represent.

These details are for another time. In this story what credits do is allow for carbon neutrality. Those organisations or economies that still emit greenhouses gases even after efforts at efficiency and uptake of green alternatives can buy credits to cancel out what they emit and become carbon neutral.

Now, if it is possible to buy your way to a carbon neutral system, this is very different to creating a zero emissions system. At the extreme you could just carry on with business as usual and then buy a bunch of credits each year to offset all the emissions. It may be costly to do this, but, depending on the credit price, potentially cheaper than changing to greener alternatives.

If the goal is carbon zero you have to remove all the ways that greenhouse gases are released. It is all or nothing, hence the notion that it is aspirational.

In carbon neutral there is an incentive to reduce emissions caused by the pain in the hip pocket, but this is relative. It may be quite acceptable to stay with coal, oil and gas and buy cheap forest offset credits from your neighbour. Look out for this option to be taken up by many developed countries.

The tension between radical system change - carbon zero option - or an overhaul to the current model - the carbon neutral approach - is the crux of an emerging political squabble in Australia.

The left of centre Labour government has decided to settle for a carbon neutral economy cancelling the extra emissions through purchases of offset credits, mostly from overseas. This will mean a purchase of up to 170 million tCO2e every year assuming emissions stay at the projected 2020 levels.

The Australian Greens, who currently hold the balance of power in a hung parliament, want to see a carbon free economy. They favour the carbon zero goal and have a strong commitment to renewable energy that they see will allow, eventually, all the fossil fuel use to be phased out.

At the moment all is well because the targets for emission reduction are modest to avoid unnecessary economic disruption. It will become tense as the targets become more ambitious and the true effect of the two philosophies emerges.

Carbon zero means that we have to change how we do things but with carbon neutral we believe we can pay to get of jail.

J. Mark Dangerfield, PhD is a scientist, consultant and educator with a different take on our environmental challenges. Read more of his work at or grab a copy of his book 'Awkward news for Greenies and everyone else' at

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