Sunday, July 31, 2011

From the Earth to the Moon With Clean Energy

From the Earth to the MoonImage via WikipediaBy Mike Nemeth

American ingenuity has raged this the past century like Genghis Khan through technological obstacles. What was science fiction just decades ago can now be held in the palm of a hand or the top of a pinhead.

While perhaps the greatest leap for mankind took place at 3:17 p.m. Eastern time on July 20, 1969, when the Apollo 11 lunar module the Eagle landed on the moon, the next may be just around the corner.

"Nothing can astound an American," wrote Jules Verne prophetically in "From the Earth to the Moon" in 1865. "In America, all is easy, all is simple; and as for mechanical difficulties, they are overcome before they arise ... a thing with them (Yankees) is no sooner said than done."

Likewise, entrepreneurs in this country have scored success after success. Note iPad sales.

OK. How about figuring out a way to make clean energy the dominant form of electricity production? It can't be too soon.

A study led by West Virginia University researcher Dr. Michael Hendryx found cancer rates twice as high in a community exposed to mountaintop removal mining as compared with an unexposed town, said Jeff Biggers, a journalist and author, in a piece for Huffington Post. The study links the strip mining method to 60,000 additional cancer cases.

And the production of carbon and air pollution by burning fossil fuels appears destined to ignite a climate disaster that will flummox even the most jaded naysayer.

So we need a plan. Blogger Michael Graham Richard, like me, fixated on the space race of the 1960s, in which the United States pummeled the USSR's efforts, for a model to follow.

"Like in the 1960s, we'll need an inspiring vision to rally our efforts, we'll need to take existing technologies and rapidly push them to the next level, as well as invent new ones," writes Richard in a post on "But most importantly, we'll need focus; to keep doing the hard work and sacrifices until we reach our goals."

Verne wrote his novel about space travel before any real work on the practical mathematics of such trajectories had been formulated. Yet, his rough calculations and ideas proved remarkably accurate

I use the book in this analogy primarily because I just read the above passage and was impressed, proud even. "Heck yes, that's the spirit," I thought. Mind you, this is my fifth Verne book after plowing through "A Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "The Mysterious Island," and I'm starting to think like a long-dead translated French author.

Verne's hero in the novel is Impey Barbicane, an industrialist sidelined by the halt of the Civil War. Barbicane's comments at the start of the book made me realize I'm reading something akin to anti-war satire.

"My brave, colleagues, too long already a paralyzing peace has plunged the members of the Gun Club in deplorable inactivity," Barbicane says.

Let's apply that to current day geopolitics. Perhaps stopping all wars, official and unofficial, will give the nation's military industrial complex the incentive to pursue - like the members of Barbicane's fictional Gun Club - alternatives like clean energy.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower said in his famous 1961 speech that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."

But he also said its "total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government." That power, harnessed for clean energy profits, could be world-changing.

In the meantime, smaller businesses are doing quite well on their own.

Michael Kanellos of reports that First Solar has developed a cadmium telluride solar cell returning a record 17.3 percent efficiency. The breakthrough beats the old record of 16.7 percent set by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory a decade ago.

And Timon Singh of reports that start-up Semprius has unveiled a solar cell half the size of a pinhead, which when combined with powerful but inexpensive lenses can concentrate sunlight more than 11,000 times and convert it to electricity.

Other breakthroughs and cost reductions are happening throughout the solar industry, bringing us closer to the day when solar will compete head to head, without subsidies, with fossil fuels.

For now, we wait. And I'll be discovering just how protagonist Barbicane reaches the moon.

Mike Nemeth, project manager of the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization, spent 24 years working as a newspaperman editing and reporting from Alaska to California. The SJVCEO is a nonprofit dedicated to improving quality of life through increased use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO is based in Fresno, Calif. and works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley. For more information, go to

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Google Side Of Wind Energy

Wind energy cartoonImage by sepponet via FlickrBy Cory Sober

The word Google and the term wind energy are usually not found in the same article together, but as the song goes, the times they are a changing. The internet company has been investing millions of dollars, $400 million to be exact, into alternative energy projects like this. Their latest investment of $55 million in a wind energy farm in southern California represents their continuing commitment to this.

The biggest reason they invested this time was so they can help power their huge databanks of information. Usually when companies drop this amount of money into a project they expect to see monetary returns on their investment. Google is no exception. This is exactly why they have invested in the past.

Chances are though they are learning more about how this technology works and how beneficial it is to the environment. Google has always been known as a company who wants to do the right thing, and just because they are wanting to see a more practical return on their investment this time instead of a monetary one does not mean this is an exception. This latest investment though has raised a lot of eyebrows.

This is perhaps due to the fact that the wind energy business in California has been on the decrease as of late. This is why it seems like a risky move on their part and perhaps why other investors were shocked that Google jumped on board. They are acting like they want to be innovators in this field, and so far they seem to be doing a good job of it.

They seem to have some very savvy business minded people on their board of directors. The decisions they have made thus far have always seemed to pan out in the way they have wanted them to. They also seem to be right on track with what the American pubic both wants to see and needs to have.

As the record stands right now, the internet search giant has not been on the losing end of any of their ventures. They either see this technology as being the wave of the future and have extremely good timing, or they see their standing in the business community as a good way to bring more attention to it, and more or less make their own luck as a result of that. Whichever the case is they seem to be right on the mark.

Another thing that may be shocking to people is their obvious ethical behavior. Usually a company of this size is known for having a lack of it and a total disregard for the people who helped make it big. This isn't the case with Google and they don't have to go out of their way to prove that point either. You can see it in their daily activities and their obvious genuine concern for the environment as they keep investing millions into a relatively unproven science.

All of these roads keep pointing to a bright future for Google. In this case that bright future will be powered by wind energy. And if they have their way, they will bring everyone else along for the ride as well.

Cory Sober is the IT Director for UpWind Solutions, a full-service operations and maintenance provider for utility-scale wind farms. He is part of a highly trained team focused on maximizing long-term productivity of wind turbines, and as a result, delivering a higher return on investment for wind energy projects.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Organic vs. Monsanto

Organic cultivation of mixed vegetables on an ...                                  Image via Wikipediaby Danielle Magnuson on UTNE Reader, The Best of the Alternative Press:

More than 270,000 organic farmers are taking on corporate agriculture giant Monsanto in a lawsuit filed March 30. Led by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, the family farmers are fighting for the right to keep a portion of the world food supply organic - and preemptively protecting themselves from accusations of stealing genetically modified seeds that drift on to their pristine crop fields.

Consumers are powerful. For more than a decade, a cultural shift has seen shoppers renounce the faster-fatter-bigger-cheaper mindset of factory farms, exposéd in the 2008 documentary Food, Inc. From heirloom tomatoes to heritage chickens, we want our food slow, sustainable, and local - healthy for the earth, healthy for animals, and healthy for our bodies.

But with patented seeds infiltrating the environment so fully, organic itself is at risk. Monsanto’s widely used Genuity® Roundup Ready® canola seed has already turned heirloom canola oil into an extinct species. The suing farmers are seeking to prevent similar contamination of organic corn, soybeans, and a host of other crops. What’s more, they’re seeking to prevent Monsanto from accusing them of unlawfully using the very seeds they’re trying to avoid.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Killer Crocodiles - How One Man Campaigned For Their Survival

Crocodile with HatImage by mikecogh via FlickrBy David C Baird

Crocodiles have become big business - for the tourist industry and for handbag manufacturers.

These days you can fly into Northern Australia and be treated to a variety of nerve-tingling thrills. On the Adelaide River, just south of Darwin in the Northern Territory, several operators offer close encounters with the hungry monsters.

They dangle pieces of meat off the side of open boats and up leap the crocs to enjoy their lunch, their massive snapping jaws only inches away from the tourists.

At Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin you can enter the Cage of Death, a transparent acrylic box which is lowered into the enclosures of three giant crocodiles. If they are in a bad mood, watch out!

These days thousands of the saurians are farmed for their prized skins and for their meat too. Australia has awakened to the fact that these primeval creatures are not a curse but an asset.

That's quite a change from the time when I lived in Australia's wild north and became friendly with a pioneer in crocodile farming.

Ron Pawlowski and his wife Kris emigrated to Australia from their native Poland after suffering hardship and hair-raising adventures during World War Two. Good training for the tough life in the Outback.

As a new and penniless immigrant, Ron did everything from gold-prospecting to kangaroo hunting. Then the couple based themselves in a remote corner of the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland and became expert crocodile-hunters.

In 1957 Kris, a first-class shot, killed a monster, 28 feet four inches long, the biggest croc ever bagged in Australia. All manner of far-fetched stories have circulated about monster crocodiles, but in this case there appears to be no doubt about the facts.

Kris's feat made her famous and won her a mention in the Guinness Book of Records. She noted: "I would never shoot one like that again. It was such a magnificent specimen."

Altogether the Pawlowskis shot up to 10,000 salt-water crocodiles, which they sold for their skins. They became legends - and then conservationists, as they realised that the species was endangered.

They started campaigning for the protection of the crocodiles and for the establishment of farms where the reptiles could be raised for their prized skins.

But they were before their time and could get no support from the politicians ruling the state of Queensland. They were forced to give up their own croc farm.

Ron continued his campaign, even giving evidence before members of Australia's parliament. Finally, the national government ordered both salt-water and fresh-water species to be protected

Numbers have swollen dramatically. Crocodile-rearing farms have been established all over the north and are reaping big profits.

If you visit Australia and get to see one of the croc farms, remember the man who helped to save the saurian, Ron Pawlowski, an indomitable survivor of the horrors of war who built a new life in a new land - and made a difference.

Today he lives peacefully in the resort of Cairns, handy for those who want to visit the Barrier Reef.

Journalist and author David Baird wrote a book about his experiences in northern Australia, title The Incredible Gulf. He has worked for publications all over the world. He is now based in Spain. His book Between Two Fires - Guerrilla War in the Spanish sierras has won praise from leading historians. His latest books are works of fiction, Typhoon Season, a nerve-tingling thriller set in Hong Kong, and Don't Miss The Fiesta!, passion and adventure played out in southern Spain. More information at the Maroma Press website,

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More Biodiversity Loss

Tortuguero Nationalpark, Costa Rica                                  Image via WikipediaBy J. Mark Dangerfield Ph.D.

In 1995 environmentalist Richard Leakey wrote a book called The Sixth Extinction. This accessible paperback described what many others had been saying and writing about in the scientific literature. It was this: that the current phase of human activity on earth is causing the next mass extinction event, the sixth in 450 million years.

These mass extinctions are events big enough to see the loss of large proportions of the observable biodiversity. In the last event at the end of the Cretaceous 65 million years ago, 75% of species were lost. Such events may well have occurred in the 3.8 billion years of microscopic life but are harder for us to detect.

In April 2011 scientists and world experts on oceans met at Oxford University in the UK to review information on the state of the world's oceans. After sifting the evidence of impacts and considering their consequences the experts agreed that the oceans were losing oxygen due to warming and acidification. They also decided that these negative changes were tracking at the high end of predictions and was a major extinction threat to marine organisms.

And their general conclusion was that:

"...not only are we already experiencing severe declines in many species to the point of commercial extinction in some cases, and an unparalleled rate of regional extinctions of habitat types (eg mangroves and seagrass meadows), but we now face losing marine species and entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation."

These experts on the oceans are describing the details of the mass extinction event that Leaky wrote about.

What is striking is the similarity with the past mass extinction events. Big extinctions happened because there was a major change in global conditions, hitting hard whole swathes of biodiversity adapted to the previous status quo. Usually it's a shift in the composition of the atmosphere, a change in energy from the levels reaching or retained within the huge heat sinks of the oceans and atmosphere or specific forceful events such as a major meteorite strike.

Remember that most of the earth is actually molten, held together by gravity and a thin crust. Hit a constrained liquid hard and it wobbles for a long time. Volcanic activity witnessed by any dinosaurs who survived the initial strike would have been spectacular.

Dinosaurs notwithstanding, past extinction events were most significant in the oceans. So this warning from the Oxford meeting is very important.

It tells us that the modifications we have made to the environment are pushing extinction rates high enough to qualify as a mass extinction. This is because of local actions: the clearing of land, polluting rivers and fishing out populations of fish. And from global actions: changing the atmospheric composition. The result is biodiversity loss in a geological instant. It is just as though the earth had been hit by a big chunk of space rock.

More biodiversity loss seems inevitable. Our carbon pollution grows, we still clear forests for agriculture, divert water to intensify production on the fields we already had, and consume resources as our numbers and affluence grow. The mass extinction event is here and now.

There have been wins. A handful of pioneer conservationists at the start of the industrial revolution laid the foundations for conservation. Serious effort ignited in the 1960's has led to most countries having some form of protection for at least some habitat and iconic species.

This effort has focused mostly on the land, for that is where we live. Now we have reserves, wildlife corridors, species recovery plans, planning restrictions, land management restrictions, water regulations, a paid workforce to look after the natural areas and a small army of volunteers actively promoting conservation and sustainability.

Thankfully these actions will save some of those icons and keep a few places wild.
And this is critically important for these places will be islands, or perhaps arks, to provide the raw material for evolution after the mass extinction.

It may also buy some time for the ocean habitats to adapt to the new conditions.There is hope if there is action.

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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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Carbon Trust: A Success in Environmental Accountability

Carbon Trust LogoImage via WikipediaBy Graeme Knights

More and more often, a level of awareness of one's self and one's actions is being espoused in contemporary culture. Gone are the days of ignorance regarding humanity's place in Earth's environment. The Industrial Revolution, while delivering homo sapiens into a new era of convenience and efficiency, also delivered them into an era of moral and ethical responsibility.

It is now abundantly clear that the effect humans and their vast machinations have on the environment is far from negligible. In order to move forward as a species, it has been deemed prudent and necessary to monitor the amount of pollution going into the environment and atmosphere, in order to ensure the survival of future generations. The Carbon Trust, an organization founded in 2001 by the UK government, seeks to assist businesses in measuring their carbon footprint, in order to reduce it and become more environmentally conscious.

Chief among the Carbon Trust's activities is the helping of companies and groups decrease carbon emissions through scientific analysis, reporting, and advice. Another significant task that is currently being undergone is the research and development of alternative, low-carbon technologies. This involves development in fuel cell technologies, solar power, wind power, hydraulic power, and bio-fuels.

Originally funded by the energy tax known as the Climate Change Levy as a part of the UK's Climate Change Programme, the Carbon trust has, for years, assisted businesses with a thorough assessment of carbonic output. According to the July 2011 press release on the Carbon Trust's website, this program has met with incredible success across the board.

This is in no small part due to the introduction of the Carbon Trust Standard, an award and certification given
to businesses which commit to and display a continual lowering of carbon emissions on a yearly basis. Some early adopters of this standard include the Morrisons brand of supermarket. Harry Morrison had this to say regarding the Standard: "...organizations can exploit many quick and low costs to improve efficiency. Over time the opportunities to cut carbon become more challenging, but also more rewarding."

Other adherents to the Carbon Trust Standard, like Sky, Royal Mail, and O2 report similar success.

According to the same July 2011 press release, on average each business saves over 400,000 British pounds and reduces the amount of carbon output by over 9,000 tonnes CO2e, saving great amounts of business energy and business electricity. Up to this point, holders of the Carbon Trust Standard have cut their carbon emissions by 500 metric tons, and their energy bills by 253 million British pounds. This is an indelible success, and it goes to show that being environmentally conscious can also be financially prudent.

Graeme supplies his wizardry to, a Web Design Agency - writing on behalf of Haven Power Business Electricity.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Supreme Court: No Place For Global Warming

The Supreme Court of the United States. Washin...Image via WikipediaBy Finn Turner

On June 20, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that regulating global warming was beyond the bounds of the legal system. Instead, the Court said in its decision that it is up to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Congress to decide when and how to curb the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming and climate change.

The decision is viewed by many as a backpedal of sorts for the Supreme Court, who in 2007 decided that the EPA should regulated greenhouse gas using the Clean Air Act. The 2007 ruling was significant because the decision was contrary to the Bush Administration's attempts to limit the authority of the EPA and the regulatory ability of the Clean Air Act - particularly in regard to greenhouse gasses.

Despite the change of presidential administrations and a more favorable environmental regulatory climate, the Supreme Court decided that the most recent climate change case was stretching the law too thin.

The case, American Electric Power versus Connecticut was originally filed in 2004. The states involved in the case: California, Connecticut, Iowa, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, said that the nation's five largest utility companies: American Electric Power Company, Southern Company, Excel Energy, Duke Energy Corp, and the Tennessee Valley Authority produce ten percent of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions.

The lawsuit brought by the states claims that the greenhouse gasses that cause global warming harm their citizens and wanted to develop a legal framework that compels the power generating companies to curb emissions. The utilities involved said that the suit involved national and international issues that are beyond the scope of federal judges.

The states sued the utilities saying that they violated federal public nuisance common law, which is usually a legal tool used when states challenge other states. This is what the Supreme Court had a problem with, that the public nuisance common law was the wrong legal test for regulating climate change.

In a way, rather than slowing down the debate over global warming regulation, as some may have interpreted the Court's decision, the ruling actually reinforces that 2007 decision - that the EPA is best equipped to create rules for the nation's greenhouse gas emissions.

On the one hand, climate change activists argue that this is a good outcome because it reaffirms the power of the EPA and the Clean Air Act - and new climate change regulations are becoming increasingly likely given the political atmosphere and the fact that climate change skepticism is waning.

The downside to the Court's most recent climate change decision is that it strips the rights of states and interest groups from bring greenhouse gas related lawsuits against utilities and requires that states and communities that are bearing the brunt of climate change to wait for the EPA to actually develop greenhouse gas regulations.

When and if a regulatory system to curb climate change will be developed in the United States is still up in the air.

For more information about, please visit

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

CASE STUDY: A Price on Carbon - Australia

Lake Mountain toboggan run after 2009 Black Sa...Image via WikipediaBy Norma Holt

Carbon Tax for Cleaner Environment

Australia has seen some heavy and devastating effects of climate change over the last few months. A ten year drought almost brought the country to its knees before El Nina arrived with some long awaited rainfalls. But the relief was short lived as the rain never stopped. It was so heavy in parts of Queensland and New South Wales that hardly anything was spared from nature's fury.

An inland tsunami was the description for the massive flood that hit Toowoomba and the valley beyond. Houses, cars and people were washed away and the scenes shown on television news reports were hard to bear. A child ripped from a rescuers arms, a toddler ripped from her pregnant mother's arms, a thirteen year old boy telling rescuers to take his younger brother first as the waters turned and claimed his life and that of his mother, and the stories go on and are heartbreaking.

The Capital city of Brisbane was inundated and hundreds of homes and businesses went underwater as the river broke its banks. Add to that a cyclone on the coast at Tully, near Rockhampton, virtually wiped out that town and hundreds of acres of bananas. Kangaroos trying to out race floodwaters were a sight that could only be outdone by the drowning of thousands of heads of cattle as the waters raced over the border into New South Wales.

On and on the waters raced down the Darling River system and into Victoria where they caused more havoc to a state still reeling from the Black Saturday bushfires of the previous February. At that time whole townships were burnt to ashes and almost 200 people with them. Many suffered injuries as they tried to save property and livelihoods.

Super high temperatures related to climate change and, therefore, carbon pollution is affecting the world from the South Pole to Europe and from the Arctic region to the Southern Oceans. Ice melt and rising sea water are producing an unsustainable effect that we may never reverse.

The Australian government has a huge bill as infrastructure is restored, including thousands of kilometres of railway lines and roads. It is also paying massive compensation to householders and businesses to get them back on their feet. Mines were flooded out and jobs hung in the balance as the wheels of recovery slowly moved forward.

We know that is not the end of it for every year things get worse. The drought will return, the agricultural industry will struggle on and fires will ravage the countryside.

Just over a year ago the then Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, was usurped by Julia Gillard, the first woman in the role. She took over on the promise of getting the country back on its feet and the people were screaming for something to be done on climate change.

Now things are different. Gillard is introducing a price on carbon to take effect from July 1st, 2012. But the Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, is running around trying to convince people that pricing carbon is a mistake. He is causing massive confusion among people where ignorance of the facts leads them to fear what he has labelled a Carbon Tax.

Something had to be done to stop global warming and if pricing the polluters is the best solution then we should not fear the consequences. If jobs are lost from the coal industry they will be made up for in renewable energy businesses that will inevitably take its place

The effects of global warming and the damage done throughout Australia has meant drastic action on the part of government. This is a comprehensive report

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

How to Start a 1-Acre, Self-Sufficient Homestead

Mother Earth News CoverImage via Wikipediaby John Seymour, Mother Earth News, on Before It's News:

Everyone will have a different approach to keeping a self-sufficient homestead, and it’s unlikely that any two 1-acre farms will follow the same plan or methods or agree completely on how to homestead.

Some people like cows; other people are afraid of them. Some people like goats; other people cannot keep them out of the garden. Some people will not slaughter animals and have to sell their surplus stock off to people who will kill them; others will not sell surplus stock off at all because they know that the animals will be killed; and still others will slaughter their own animals to provide their family with healthy meat.

For myself, on a 1-acre farm of good, well-drained land, I would keep a cow and a goat, a few pigs and maybe a dozen hens. The goat would provide me with milk when the cow was dry. I might keep two or more goats, in fact. I would have the dairy cow (a Jersey) to provide the pigs and me with milk.

More importantly, I would keep her to provide heaps and heaps of lovely cow manure to increase my soil fertility, for in order to derive any sort of living from that 1 acre without the application of a lot of artificial fertilizer, it would have to be heavily manured.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Cutting Carbon Down Under

Global annual fossil fuel carbon dioxide emiss...Image via WikipediaBy Finn Turner

On July 11, 2011 Australia announced an ambitious plan to start taxing carbon emissions. When the program is implemented in July of 2012, they will be the first and only country with a national program that targets large carbon dioxide emissions, one of the leading greenhouse gasses.

According to Australia's Department of Climate Change website, the program calls for a $23 Australian ($24.60 US) tax per ton of carbon dioxide. The top 500 biggest emitters of the greenhouse gas are the targets of the tax. The carbon-pricing scheme will have the biggest impact on manufacturing, utility, and transportation sectors of the economy. The price per ton of carbon dioxide will rise by 2.5 percent per year until 2015, when a carbon-trading program will be introduced.

The goal, the government says, is to reduce Australia's overall carbon emissions five percent below 2000 levels by 2020. By 2050, between carbon taxes and carbon trading, the goal is further reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent of 2000's levels. The estimated carbon cuts are the equivalent of taking 45 million cars a year off the road.

Taxes don't come cheap, and generally need the support of voters. In order to minimize its economic impacts the "Securing a Clean Energy Future" program will give some of the money collected through the carbon taxes back to residents. The concept is similar to money taxpayers receive in Alaska through the Permanent Fund - or a return on investment of surplus tax money from the oil and gas industry.

Australia's carbon tax money will be distributed at the household level based on a formula. The goal, it seems, is to not only build a wide-base of support, but also to offset the cost of the government program that is likely to be passed on to the consumer when fuel, utility, and even things like food prices increase to absorb the new tax.

The average individual household can expect to pay an additional $9.90 (AU) weekly in fuel and energy costs once the program takes effect in 2012, according to the Clean Energy Future website that the Australian government built to explain the carbon pricing plan. According to the site, the average weekly government subsidy payout to the average household will be $10.10 (AU). Nine out of ten households can expect to receive some form of government assistance, either through personal income tax credits or an increase in pension allowances.

Besides a frequently asked question section and other well-produced content explaining the basics of the plan, there is also an interactive tool for families and households to estimate what impacts and compensation they can expect once the carbon-pricing program begins. The estimator is similar to a carbon footprint calculator.

The money earned by the government through taxing carbon dioxide will not only be funneled back to households, but it will also be spent on infrastructure projects to increase national energy efficiency and developing renewable energy sources.

The carbon-pricing model is not without its critics and the usual counter arguments - mainly that the government's program will harm the business environment and discourage investment. Regardless, the plan is ambitious for a nation that produces 1.3 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

For more information about carbon emissions, greenhouse gasses, and climate change please visit

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Water Crisis: A Global Pandemic

Water pollutionImage via WikipediaBy Charles R Brown

In the U.S., the future of our water supply looks bleak. There are expected to be water shortages in certain areas of the U.S. by as early as 2025 and most areas will be affected by 2050.

Despite this, we are relatively fortunate compared to the rest of the world. Not only do third-world countries lack adequate resources to keep the population hydrated, but the water is usually tainted with chemicals or contaminated. However, some developed countries even lack the proper resources and quality that one would expect. There are startling figures from the World Health Organization and Water Project that convey the ugly truth of water scarcity around the world.

Almost a fifth of the world's population lives in area that lacks enough water for the population. Almost a fourth of people in currently developing don't have the resources to divert water to the community, resulting in shortages and the need to physically find bodies of water. Most third world countries do not have bodies of water available, making communities physically unable to reach water.

One out of every three people in the world doesn't have adequate access to water resources. This number may increase to two out of five in the near future, due to increases in population and the necessity for water use in industrial and domestic use. Most people in developing countries to counter this problem by storing water in their household, but the water is not properly refrigerated and leads to contamination. This contamination usually leads to mosquito infestation, which are carriers of dengue fever, malaria and other diseases.

In certain areas where water supply is adequate, the water may be extremely contaminated and full of diseases. In developing countries, 90% of the water supplied to households and communities is not treated at all. 70% of industrial waste is released back into these water supplies, resulting in water full of chemicals and disease. In these same communities with poor water, the agricultural systems use wastewater for production, resulting in contaminated food.

Water-related diseases accounts for a staggering number of deaths and diseases. One out of every four child deaths in the world is due to a water-related disease. This accounts for 1.4 million child deaths a year, due to diarrheal complication such as cholera, typhoid fever and dysentery, and other water-borne infections. At any given time, half of the world's medical attention is given to patients suffering from water-related diseases. This should not be of any surprise, considering that in developing countries about 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions.

What can be done to improve the conditions of water worldwide? Although it is difficult to directly assist communities in obtaining healthy water, you can donate money to non-profit organizations such as the Water Project and World Health Organization. These types of organizations give donations to governments in hope of improving their infrastructure and increasing the available water supply to the communities.

Another important action is to simply spread the word. Most people are unaware of the horrible conditions of water scarcity and contamination in developing countries. By re-posting articles or telling a friend in person, more people will become cognizant of the situation and decide they need to take action as well. Improving water conditions around the world will save children from needless death and improve the quality of life for many.

Charles Brown works online through articles and forums in helping people solve their water problems. He specializes in "hard water" treatments and water contamination.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hungary Destroys All GMO Corn Fields

A corn field in Liechtenstein. Keywords: Field...Image via Wikipediafrom All About Feed: on Before It's News:

Some 400 hectares of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds have been destroyed throughout Hungary deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar said.

The GMO maize has been ploughed under, said Lajos Bognar, but pollen has not spread from the maize, he added. Unlike several EU members, GMO seeds are banned in Hungary.

Authorities have been checking for GMO crops since the beginning of this year as a new regulation came in force this March which stipulates GMO checks before seeds are introduced to the market.

The checks will continue despite the fact that seed traders are obliged to make sure that their products are GMO free, Bognar said.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

CASE STUDY: Australia: Blinded by Coal Dust?

by Phil Dobbie, on BNet Australia:

Coal is relatively cheap, so we burn it up to make electricity and we sell heaps of it so others can try and match Australia’s poor record on greenhouse gases. But what about when other alternatives become more viable - in a few years’ time?

The world would be in a sorry state if everyone behaved the same way Australia does. Along with the US and Canada we lead the world in electricity consumption per capita - almost twice that, of the UK, for example. If everyone on the planet demanded the same electricity consumption as the average Aussie, world production would quadruple.

As well as being one of the highest users of electricity, we are also the dirtiest. Ninety-three percent of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels. Canada, which consumes more than us, is at least clean about it; almost 60 percent of their power comes from hydroelectricity. Low down on the list of carbon polluters is France, with three-quarters of their power coming from nuclear energy.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Light Pollution Increases Air Pollution

Los Angeles at night, skylineImage via WikipediaBy Cheryl Marland

When we consider all the many forms of pollution, light pollution is almost always overlooked. A starless sky is taken for granted in the city, as residents rely on bright street lights and home flood lights for security and convenience.

According to a recent study performed by researchers at the National Oceanographic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), however, the cost of this safety and security is much higher than starless nights.

Many air toxins released in urban environments, like ozone, collect during the day and are dispersed at night through a series of chemical reactions in the atmosphere. The primary reactant studied, the nitrate radical, renders many toxins harmless, but it is inactivated by the sunlight. Though the lights used on homes, businesses and streets are nowhere near as powerful as the sun, the study shows that the nitrate radical is significantly impaired by them.

Measurements from the atmosphere over Los Angeles found the city's lights were responsible for decreasing nitrate radical formation by 7% and increasing the amount of ozone precursors by 5% the next day. This may not sound like much, but a large number of US cities are nearing or exceeding federal clean air guidelines already. The problem becomes more significant, when we consider that those metal halide and high-pressure sodium lights, the most common forms of street lighting, cause more pollution through nightly operation.

Light pollution also has a number of other effects uncovered in recent years. The mechanism behind a previously identified link between light pollution and an increase in breast cancer has been uncovered by researchers studying the effects of melatonin. Production of melatonin in the brain happens primarily in darkness, and melatonin was found to inactivate the effects of sex hormones on reproductive tissues. Many disorders, from prostate cancer to insomnia and PMS, are exacerbated when night-lighting decreases melatonin production.

This isn't a surprise given that animal breeding cycles are largely determined by the changing length of night during the year. Light pollution can cause serious problems to wildlife by disrupting breeding cycles and interfering with migratory patterns. According to researchers at Purdue, light also damages many common deciduous trees and shrubs, as these plants rely on the changing length of night as well.

Policy-makers, business owners, and individuals need to become aware of the costs of light pollution and make the necessary adjustments. There are immediate benefits to doing so, including lower energy bills and less fossil fuel pollution. Fixing this problem is as easy as turning out the lights, but it does not necessarily mean compromising on safety or convenience. Traditional lights can be exchanged for dark sky lighting, directed LED lights or directed at the ground, with extended-hood attachments, to reduce sky glare significantly.

Cheryl Marland is the publisher of Outdoor Lighting Choices.

People are concerned about making earth-friendly choices in all aspects of their lives, and outdoor lighting is no exception. Want to know how to find the perfect outdoor lighting that will meet all of your expectations for added security, decreased lighting pollution, reduced energy consumption, and above all, outstanding beauty? Stay up-to-date with dark sky and solar lighting news and look no further for dark sky compliant and quality solar outdoor lighting to meet all of your outdoor lighting needs.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

15 Food Companies That Serve You 'Wood'

A Taco Bell fast food restaurant on El Camino ...                                Image via WikipediaMiriam Reimer, The Street on Before It's News:

The recent class-action lawsuit brought against Taco Bell raised questions about the quality of food many Americans eat each day.

Chief among those concerns is the use of cellulose (read: wood pulp), an extender whose use in a roster of food products, from crackers and ice creams to puddings and baked goods, is now being exposed. What you're actually paying for - and consuming - may be surprising.

Cellulose is virgin wood pulp that has been processed and manufactured to different lengths for functionality, though use of it and its variant forms (cellulose gum, powdered cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, etc.) is deemed safe for human consumption, according to the FDA, which regulates most food industry products.

The government agency sets no limit on the amount of cellulose that can be used in food products meant for human consumption. The USDA, which regulates meats, has set a limit of 3.5% on the use of cellulose, since fiber in meat products cannot be recognized nutritionally.

"As commodity prices continue to rally and the cost of imported materials impacts earnings, we expect to see increasing use of surrogate products within food items. Cellulose is certainly in higher demand and we expect this to continue," Michael A. Yoshikami, chief investment strategist at YCMNet Advisors, told TheStreet.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Why Buy A Custom Green Home?

Look for this logo when considering your new r...Image via WikipediaBy Ginger A. Heise

"Going green" has become the viral phrase these days. You see commercials for it on primetime television, entire shows on cable networks, and billboards on every corner. It's fascinating that we are able to make such a great concept widespread and popular.

If you haven't heard the phrase "going green" or don't really know what it means, understand that it is a means of actively altering your lifestyle to reduce your consumption of energy and resources. What's the ultimate goal? The goal is to allocate those resources for posterity, and to reduce the already existing pollution.

Recently, this phenomenon has extended to our homes, in all manner of aspects. "Green" homes sell faster than non-green homes. Though they may cost more, this is generally because they are custom-built. However, the savings you earn over the course of your ownership far make up for the increased cost of the home. There are many benefits to be derived from green homes, and many reasons why people buy them.

The first, and most obvious reason, is to lower the money spent on energy bills. Energy costs are rising steadily, and won't be declining any time soon. Many think of the purchase of a "green home" as an investment for the future, as well as a way to save money now. As a by-product, you also end up utilizing less energy.

Again, the motive for everyone is different. Some people want to decrease their carbon footprint, some want to save money, and some want to do a combination of both. Green homes save you money in various ways. Primarily, the majority of the energy-saving comes from properly installed and high-quality insulation. Following that, these homes usually have Energy Star rated appliances. Add to that, double pane windows and high-end doors and you've got smaller electric bills.

Others opt for the green route because of their health. Typically, because of the equipment and custom design of the HVAC system, green homes have better indoor air. This decreases the amounts of pollen, pollutants, fungus, etc. that are circulating through your home. Suffice it to say that this aids anyone who has difficulty breathing, allergies, and literally everyone in general. Breathing in fungus and mold is not a picnic!

Lastly, green homes are truly an investment. Due to the construction quality, because the home is generally custom-built, these homes will have less maintenance. The equipment is also built to be more efficient, so these homes will experience fewer repairs in that area as well.

Ginger Heise is the Director of Operations for Stillbrooke Homes/Bud Bartley Homes. Bud Bartley Homes takes great pride in the value offered to each client. We build in the warmth and comfort, never forgetting that a home is where memories are born. Our building associates are craftsmen, each dedicated to fulfilling your distinctive vision for your custom home and using only the finest in materials and modern building techniques. Privately owned and operated for over thirty years, we are confident that the Bud Bartley team will exceed your home building expectations.

For more information on building a custom home, a luxury home, or a green home, please visit us at

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

CASE STUDY: Vegas Ought to Bet on Clean Energy

The Las Vegas Sign.Image via WikipediaBy Mike Nemeth

Spending time in Vegas gave me an opportunity, yet again, to experience the power of the almighty dollar. But it's not the gambling I'm referring to, although the din of the slots, cries of anguish at the craps games and cool stares from packed blackjack tables are something to behold.

No, it's the Vegas thirst for electrical power that gets me thinking. Massive voltage travels from the grid into the various mini cities on the Strip - like the new Palazzo resort hotel, which with the Venetian has about 8,000 rooms. That energy flows into the MGM Grand, Caesar's Palace, the Flamingo and all the rest. Just the air conditioning bill would crush a third-world country. Toss in the rest of the operations, high-definition billboards and lighting that can be seen from the space shuttle, and it's enough to keep Nevada Power Co. one of the most stable and profitable investments of all time.

But imagine this: What if Vegas went big for alternative energy and energy efficiency? It's a risk, sure. But where else can you bet on a Wizard of Oz slot, get beer delivered and take a leak just 10 paces away? Vegas thrives on risk.

And while energy efficiency retrofits have proved their value, renewables still have a way to go. For instance, Forbes' Devon Swezey predicts a clean tech crash. "The reason is simple," Swezey writes. "Clean energy is still much more expensive and less reliable than coal or gas."

And the economy bites, subsidies are dying and public sector budgets look like a two-egg breakfast left overnight outside in the hall at the Paris. So what?

That's really not what's driving the industry right now. For instance, go outside on the Strip in Vegas and breathe the air. Accompanying the constant stale stench of fried food, ambiance of public urination, sweat and other gross stuff is a good dose of pollution. That isn't fresh air. And it isn't just Vegas.

The truth is the air is nasty in most big cities. Sure, beautiful Fresno has some of the worst. I was introduced to asthma here. Nothing like it, especially on a long run. Might as well get punched in the face. There's a cost to that. Coal and gas may be cheap per kilowatt, but that energy becomes very costly just multiplied by 100 million people trouping into pharmacies for treatment of allergy-related ailments.

And then there's the whole carbon debate. Fox News may try to sidestep the issue, but it's pretty clear we've got a serious problem.

"Here is the truth: The Earth is round; Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11; Elvis is dead; Obama was born in the United States; and the climate crisis is real. It is time to act," says Al Gore in a piece for Rolling Stone.

I tend to believe it. And I'm not the only one.

Tom Daykin of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal writes about Fritz Kreiss and Catherine McQueen, whose 19-room Green Leaf Inn in rural Delavan, Wisc. uses a wind turbine, geothermal energy and solar power to produce a nonexistent carbon footprint.

And tax and audit company KPMG LLP has announced it leveraged a 22 percent carbon reduction in overall operations over three years. That's KPMG, hardly a tree-hugging hippy, and its pursuing a plan to improve the environmental performance of its business.

I collected a relatively long list, but I'll keep this rant somewhat short.

So where else but Vegas would clean energy be better showcased? A silly town in the desert nobody thought would be successful. Heck, if that were the case, it really would've dried up during this "recession." But no, the World Series of Poker was a huge success this year, and people flocked despite unreal dinner prices.

So dress that next casino hotel resort with solar panels, tap some geothermal and go LED crazy. Yeah, in Vegas baby.

Mike Nemeth, project manager of the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization, spent 24 years working as a newspaperman editing and reporting from Alaska to California. The SJVCEO is a nonprofit dedicated to improving quality of life through increased use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO is based in Fresno, Calif. and works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley. For more information, go to

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

CASE STUDY: Japan's Winds of Change

Yokohama Harbor, showing a Vestas V80-2.0MW wi...Yokohama Harbour - Image via WikipediaFrom The

ONE reason for Japan’s reliance on nuclear power — with all its attendant difficulties of building reactors safely in an earthquake zone — is its lack of indigenous energy sources.

Yet it does have one that seems under-exploited, namely the wind. According to a report published in 2009 by the Global Wind Energy Council, Japan, which generates 8.7% of the world’s economic output, has just 1.3% of its windpower capacity. The world’s third-largest economy is 13th in global windpower.

According to Chuichi Arakawa, a mechanical engineer at the University of Tokyo, that is because Japan has too much of the wrong sort of wind. The typhoons which regularly strike the place are simply too powerful (in 2003, for example, such a storm crippled six turbines on Miyakojima, near Okinawa). And the ordinary winds are less useful than they might be because Japan is so mountainous.

For engineering reasons turbines must be mounted on vertical poles, regardless of the slope of the landscape. But on a hillside that means the wind (which tends to follow the ground when it is close to the surface) hits the blades of the turbines at an angle, instead of face on. That makes power generation less efficient.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Power From The Air: Gizmo Captures Ambient Electromagnetic Energy To Drive Small Electronic Devices

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)...                         Image via Wikipediaby John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology Research News, on Before It's News:

Researchers have discovered a way to capture and harness energy transmitted by such sources as radio and television transmitters, cell phone networks and satellite communications systems. By scavenging this ambient energy from the air around us, the technique could provide a new way to power networks of wireless sensors, microprocessors and communications chips.

"There is a large amount of electromagnetic energy all around us, but nobody has been able to tap into it," said Manos Tentzeris, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering who is leading the research. "We are using an ultra-wideband antenna that lets us exploit a variety of signals in different frequency ranges, giving us greatly increased power-gathering capability."

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Monday, July 11, 2011

CASE STUDY: 32 Inches Of Snow Falls In Driest Place On Earth!

by Mark Dunphy on Signs of the Times:

One of the driest spots on earth has experienced its heaviest snowfall in almost two decades, according to the Chilean Directorate of Meteorology (DMC).

A cold front brought up to 80 centimetres (31.5 inches) of snow to the Atacama desert region of South America forcing emergency services to close local roads and rescue dozens of motorists from their vehicles. The temperature in the Chilean capital, Santiago, dropped below minus 8c on Wednesday. Neighbouring Argentina and Uruguay are also experiencing subzero temperatures.

Located in the north of Chile, the Atacama Desert records less than 50mm of rain on average each year. Some weather stations in the region record only 1-3mm of rain each year.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

CASE STUDY: Electronics Landfill Ban Growing in the US - North Carolina Promotes Electronics Recycling

Computers ready for recycling at an event at O...Image via WikipediaBy Marcus Montoya

When most people think of recycling they imagine sorting through their trash to set aside plastic bottles, glass containers, and paper products donned with the classic triangular shaped recycle logo.

While these materials have long been the most common to be recycled, there is growing awareness of the need to consider electronics recycling as a crucial part of green living. In fact, more and more states have banned disposal of electronics in landfills and are promoting electronics recycling programs.

Many household electronics can be recycled including; cell phones, TV's, computer monitors, computer hard drives, keyboards, telecommunications waste, servers, circuit boards, power supplies, cd players, digital cameras, and a variety of other items. This long list of e-waste products presents a new opportunity to drastically reduce the amount of waste modern society produces through the course of everyday living.

While e-waste recycling presents a great opportunity, it also presents a huge potential hazard if we ignore it. For example, CRT display televisions (classic TV's) contain on average four to eight pounds of lead. When dumped in landfills the lead from these units can be absorbed into the ground causing soil and ground water to become toxic. This process causes irreparable damage to the environment as well as our own critical life resources.

On July 1st 2011 North Carolina became the 18th state in the union to place some kind of ban on electronics disposal in landfills. North Carolina residents must now recycle their old TV's and Computers. This ban covers all computer components including; monitors, CPU's, laptops, printers, fax machines, scanners, mice, and keyboards. The ban also covers all TV's including; flat panel TV's, tube TV's, and projection TV's.

While the ban is aimed at preventing citizens from disposing of their e-waste in the garbage, the state is not looking to target individuals for non-compliance. The new law will be enforced at the landfills, and those businesses will be responsible for rejecting waste containing the prohibited items.

The enforcement of this new law presents additional challenges for officials as the motivation for landfills to comply can only be judged on a case-by-case basis. Outside of landfill management taking the initiative to do the right thing; there is little keeping them from conducting business as usual.

Besides the benefits this new law presents to the residents of North Carolina and the rest of the United States, this law represents a growing trend of public awareness and action being taken by leaders in this country to bring the American people into a new age of environmentally responsible living.

And while we are taking huge leaps towards reversing the damage we have done over the past 50 years, other countries like China and India are undergoing technological revolutions and will soon be presented with the same issues we are seeking solutions for in this country now.

It's our responsibility as technology leaders to show other nations there is a productive way to live responsibly, and that this way of living can go hand in hand with economic health and prosperity. As our recycling industry grows and contributes to the economic growth of this country, people's eyes are opening to new possibilities. People are steadily being given the chance to live responsibly while enjoying the many benefits of a technologically advanced lifestyle.

Written by Mark Montoya, a marketing specialist for an electronics recycling company.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

CASE STUDY: Renewable Energy Growth in Africa

Klipheuwel wind-farmImage by warrenski via FlickrBy Armand Coetee

Green-driven growth is still an underdeveloped aspect of Africa's economy and African leaders generally have limited incentives to make green energy supply a strategic priority. However, with the anticipated growth of urban centres across the continent, there are examples of where renewable energy is being promoted and projects being developed in various African countries and regions.

When you think of Africa, you immediately think of long, hot sunny days so where better than to invest in solar panels in the African continent? China obviously believes so and is currently planning solar power projects in forty African countries. In June 2011 a feasibility study was underway to consider installing solar panels on the roofs of hospitals, schools and other structures.

According to Sun Guangbin, Secretary General of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery & Electronic Products, the Chamber has been given permission to outlay between 10 and 20 million Yuan for the installation of solar panels in Africa.

South Africa is leading the way in renewable energy and several businesses have formed the National Energy Association and the Alternate Energy Association. They have held workshops and worked with the Government and stakeholders regarding the design and development of renewable energy.

Cape Town, in particular, has put itself on the right path. In 2004 the city authorities committed to the introduction of solar water heaters across the municipality and in 2005 established a dedicated office for renewable energy finance and subsidy. In South Africa there is huge investment in planning towards the development of a large scale wind industry but this is currently slowed down by established power purchase agreements.

In North Africa there are currently several wind projects in the developmental stage that will be operational this year and will greatly enhance the installed wind power capacity in Africa. South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda are all exploring the inclusion of grid-connected solar power into the national renewable energy feed-in tariff policy. Companies with local manufacturing capacity will be the first to supply the solar photovoltaic technology.

The Sub-Saharan renewable energy market is on track to experience rapid growth with governments in the region announcing new projects on a regular basis. Their off-grid solar power market is expected to grow by 10% each year for the next four years. Growth is definitely there but it is slow, whether Africa will reach the 2050 climate change targets is another matter.

Find Energy Jobs for expats in Africa

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Photo Gallery: Phoenix Dust Storm Longtime Residents Call It Worst They've Seen

By Mary Hudetz, Associated Press, on Before It's News:

PHOENIX – The air around the Phoenix area was a hazy shade of brown and a layer of dirt coated cars and buildings Wednesday following a massive dust storm the night before.

The huge dust wall that crossed the metro Phoenix area Tuesday night drastically reduced visibility, halting all flights coming in and out of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport until conditions improved.

Winds ripped up trees, tossed around lawn furniture and caused hazardous driving conditions.

The storm knocked out power to about 9,400 Salt River Project electric customers, The Arizona Republic reported. […]

The dust cloud that moved across the Phoenix valley had formed in an afternoon storm in the Tucson area, and then rolled north across the desert before sweeping over the city like an enormous wave, said National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Iniguez.

Radar data showed the storm's towering dust wall had reached as high as 8,000 to 10,000 feet, or nearly 2 miles, he said.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Monster Plant" That Causes Blindness Invades NY - Beware Of Giant Hogweed

By Fiona Roberts, Dailymail - on Before It's News:

A monster plant that can cause blindness just by touching its sap is spreading across New York.

State officials are warning residents to watch out for infestations of the dangerous plant, which can grown up to 12ft and has flowers the size of umbrellas.Teams are working across New York to destroy the monster weed, as its sap can cause severe blisters and permanent scarring.

So far the Department of Environmental Conservation has identified 944 known sites from Nassau County in the east to Chautauqua in the west.The department is urging New Yorkers to be on the look out for giant hogweed, but warning them not to touch it.

The plant's sap is so corrosive that just brushing against its bristles can cause painful, burning blisters.It produces the reaction when combined with perspiration and sunlight.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Expanded Perlite Insulation - Laying the Foundation for Green Roofs

Chicago City Hall Green RoofImage via WikipediaBy Bernard Novak

The use of green roofs, date back to ancient times. The first recorded reference of a man-made garden on top of a building was during the Mesopotamia period. In France during the 13th century, sod roofs were developed to create a primitive form of thermal insulation for their buildings. Sod roofs are in fact still in use today, being used to create protection against extreme cold in Norway and the United States.

Renowned for their thermal qualities, green roofs are proving popular in high rise buildings throughout the world. Not only do they create an effective thermal insulation, but contribute to creating a recreational area for those in city central areas, improving the skyline for the enjoyment of the multi-story building tenants, these gardens continue to enhance the view in large cities, but they charge high rents.

Nowadays these types of roofs contain only one or two plant species. It is commonly designed for maximum hydrological and thermal insulation. It also provides minimum weight load for the roof, as not to place undue stress on the infrastructure of the building. Tall grasses are often considered to be a fire hazard while succulents are fire resistant.

Almost any plant can be grown in the green roof environment; however, limiting factors include climate, structural design and maintenance budgets. Expanded minerals such as Perlite are widely utilised in the construction of green roofs. This planting medium is distinguished by its mineral content. Expanded perlite is used because it is less dense, absorbs more natural minerals and provides the bases for an ultra-lightweight planting medium. Also used for a similar reason is light weight natural zeolite.

Before the installation of a green roof, a protective layer of light weight, concrete, sheet of rigid insulation, thick plastic sheet or copper foil, in combination with each other or separately, is used for protection of the building structure. It is used for protection against fertilizer and possible root penetration which can surely weaken the installation of a green roof and in some cases, be dangerous. To ensure a water proof system of the green roof, a water proofing layer is also installed.

Green roof designs are becoming increasingly specified in many parts of the world. They do not only provide insulation but also maintain the temperature in accordance to the outer climate. From an environmental point of view it will help reduce pollution related issues.

Perlite, an inert volcanic rock, is the principal material utilised in expanded perlite insulation, expanded by a heating process and often treated with water repellent material. It is renowned for its thermal properties and resistance to fire.

New Zealand Expanded Perlite Insulation is used in lightweight aggregates, and thermal and acoustic insulation.

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