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  • Joseph Ramondeli

    Black Friday Promotes Over-Consumption and Waste

    By Joseph Ramondeli

    Black Friday Promotes Over-Consumption and Waste               Every year Thanksgiving weekend is overshadowed by Black Friday and in recent years Cyber Monday as well. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time when families can get together, even if it’s just for a day or dinner, to talk and reconnect. However every year more American’s are focused on shopping. Stores are now open by 8:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day resulting in people sitting at the dinner table with their families while browsing on their phones for the best deals that they hope to buy in a few hours.  This is just another example of how our modern, technologically advanced society is constantly becoming more materialistic. Aside from Black Friday overshadowing an American holiday and tradition, it is an annual example of how Americans over-consume and by doing so are very wasteful.  A huge fraction of purchased goods during Black Friday and Cyber Monday are things that people don’t need, they are things they think they need. Advertisements and social trends play a big role in the impact of this event (I refuse to call it a holiday) and in our consumption behavior in general.             Companies are tricking and forcing us to buy un-needed goods through the use of planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence.  Planned obsolescence is disappointing because it refers to how companies purposely make products to only last a few years and by doing so force consumers to by new products from them every couple of years. The most common example of this is electronic devices. Apple creates a new IPhone every year so that once yours break “accidentally” there’s a brand new, more expensive one to purchase as a replacement. Not to mention that such companies stop making old models, forcing you to buy the newest model. On the other hand, perceived obsolescence is promoted by companies but ultimately results from our own social actions. Companies, through advertisements, constantly throw the promotion of new goods in our face. It’s almost impossible to go anywhere or do anything without seeing an advertisement of some sort. These advertisements tend to increase around the holiday season, hence the origin of Black Friday. The main reason such advertisements work is due to the social pressure we put on each other and ourselves. Everyone wants the next new model or brand and once a friend or family member purchases something then we are pressured and attracted to buying it as well. The biggest example of this is the fashion industry, where new trends come and go each season resulting in constant purchasing of new, unnecessary clothing. These companies are clearly getting the better of us based on the success of such events as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.             So why is over-consumption such a bad thing, why should we care if people waste there money on unnecessary goods? It’s simple: overconsumption leads to waste! One of the downfalls to the technological advancements of today’s world is that we create materials that cannot be found in our natural world. This means that when we throw something out in the garbage it will never decompose. Purchasing many of today’s consumer goods is bad enough because most cannot be recycled and will sit in landfills, but over-consumption takes this once step further in that we buy more than we need! We buy new clothes or new phones before our old ones are worn our or broken. By doing so we are creating more waste because we constantly thrown away products that are still functional and contribute the ever-growing amount of waste humanity has created on this planet. In order to help reduce the waste we create of course we should recycle and reuse as much as possible. However, I believe that the creation of waste should be stopped at its source, and that’s our consumer purchasing. Buying less and using goods to there fullest is a sure way to decrease waste. Resisting social pressure and advertisements is key to getting this accomplished. So next year put the phones away and turn the TV off at the dinner table during Thanksgiving, you don’t need them. Joseph Ramondelli  
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  • Mark Piazzalunga

    DESERTEC project, Sahara Sun could power Europe by 2050

    By Mark Piazzalunga

    Sahara desert climate is hot and arid, everybody knows it. So how can this simple and well-known fact become the idea to power a continent like Europe? Let’s start from the principle: renewable energy is the future of energy; we assume that this sentence is true since all facts gets to this point. Second principle: European territory is restricted and allows the construction of a few plants that could use renewable energy. Paradoxically, countries like Africa have renewable sources, particularly solar, in abundance but scarce funds to make the best of these resources. Now find the connection. Is it possible to produce huge amounts of solar energy in Africa and transport them to Europe through energy infrastructures? Apparently yes, according to DESERTEC project developers and supporters. And what is DESERTEC? It’s an initiative of the Club of Rome (a global think tank that has its headquarters in Switzerland) started in 2009. Directly from the official website of the project (Desertec.org): "The DESERTEC concept was developed by a network of politicians, scientists and economists from around the Mediterranean, from which was born the DESERTEC Foundation. Demonstrates a way to provide climate protection, energy security and the development of sustainable energy generation from sites where renewable energy sources are at their most plentiful." In practical terms? Connect renewable energy power plants in Africa to Europe through a network of HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) systems. The Foundation target is to build several renewable power plants of various types (mainly wind, photovoltaic and solar concentration) throughout North Africa. To support the project financially, the Foundation and other 12 companies (including Deutsche Bank, E.ON, RWE and ABB) created an industrial initiative: Dii GmbH. The construction project would continue until 2050 and for that date, the cost is estimated at € 400 billion, which means $ 546,720,000,000, approximately seven times Bill Gates’ fortune. It’s little bit expensive (life on Mars seems cheaper) but the entire network could provide Europe with the 15-20% of electricity that it needs. We must also consider the drastic decrease of pollution, direct effect of the project. This project isn’t just an idea but it seems an accurate and long-term plan. This could be an opportunity to connect two continents and to give them economic opportunities and jobs. There could be some problems like the wars and the instability of some of North Africa countries or how to get all 40 nations to agree to an arrangement for subsidizing the green electricity. There’s also the possibility to build the plants in Europe, just $ 54 billion more, and doing some math it brings to a shocking number: €2 per citizen per year to keep tens of thousands of jobs in Europe -- and to prevent Europe from becoming dependent on foreign countries for its electricity. Well, the project just started and it has the funds to go forward. We can't wait to see the results. Photo from Desertec.org
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  • Megan Bonetti

    Conferencing Climate Change: Teamwork or Tug-of-war?

    By Megan Bonetti

    India. Culture, cows and rubbish. As an Aussie living for a short time in India it is such an intriguing country. Indians love their diverse nation yet they use the streets like rubbish dumps. Even my friends here tell me it’s ok to throw my paddle-pop wrapper out the car window. I can’t… so I just hold it tight and wait till I get home. Growing up in Australia, those ‘emu hunts’ in primary school have willed my littering days away. Yet I suspect that even my household trash bin will just be dumped across the road for the cows to eat or worse still, burnt on the street…for the cows to eat. This is India. Love it or hate it. (#tii) As an Australian social worker volunteering with an NGO in Southern India I witness the large divide between the rich and poor of this incredibly colourful nation. I work with many children whose whole families have had to migrate from various parts of India due to the rapid effects of drought on their land and the significant urbanisation of major cities in the last 10 years. It turns out India has seen a boom in it’s industrial and technological trades a little later than it’s western neighbours and they are loving it. But India’s urban boom is threatened with westerners telling them they have to stop producing and polluting. The earth doesn’t like it. Sorry India…We made our big capitalist bucks, but you don’t get that chance. Just when things are getting good and you’re developing astronomically, your main source of energy is being taken away. It turns out fossil fuels are the cheapest form of energy for the developing world, especially as they try in earnest to develop the same standard of living as we have. So as one the most formidable countries in the developing world, India not only has the pressures of navigating a massive population but also has to figure out how to go green on the cheap. It’s interesting that the Turnbull government has reluctantly agreed on a 5% reduction in carbon emissions in the next five years. “Phew! Glad we got through that one boys.” They wipe their sweaty brows while developing countries are drowning, burning and trying to survive on scant resources. These countries are just trying to make a crust, while Eurocentric nations are slowly turning a baguette into organic multigrain sourdough (and throwing the crusts to their hobby cows). If the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris is truly the last attempt for international cooperation, leaders cannot just show and tell their contribution and sit back with folded arms. But how can mere human individuals promote serious teamwork? This brings me back to the children I work with here in India. Every day their parent’s lives are tied to corrupt building associations. They are bonded labourers—gypsies moving from construction to construction. These families have no hope of returning to their now desolate homeland and are not provided social security measures that protect their livelihood. Then there is India’s neighbour, low-lying Bangladesh, experiencing saltwater intrusion that poisons whole water supplies for entire villages. In our own backyard we see Australian farmers shooting all their cattle only to turn the gun on themselves under the shadow of unprecedented drought. This is human impact. Global warming is not just about penguins and polar bears. Climate change is a social justice issue. We live in a globalised world. The industrial revolution brought us here; and climate change is the consequence. No longer do we just neighbour cities, we neighbour nations. The leaders of Australia must be held accountable to all their neighbours including the ones just trying to keep their head above water. It simply won’t do for wealthy nations, such as Australia, to show the world their own country’s carbon reductions and sit back down. This summit can’t work as a set menu; it has to be a potluck dinner, a time for sharing, understanding and safeguarding. For the sake of our beautiful earth and the many diverse cultures of the human race, this time I hope and pray that the leaders of the world provide a resounding voice for the marginalised. This summit and our government must not stop at figures, but uphold the basic democratic and human rights principles that cradle modern society. The United Nations was created so that man-made and worldwide calamities could no longer grasp our world with such authority. Well, it turns out a world war with Mother Nature is knocking on our doorstep. Will we listen and respond? I hope so.   For more information please visit the below links. They offer great insights into climate change realities and are positive and accessible resources for engaging the conversation. The reality of climate change | David Puttnam | TEDxDublin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBjtO-0tbKU India: Climate Change Impacts http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/06/19/india-climate-change-impacts Climate Change and the End of Australia http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/climate-change-and-the-end-of-australia-20111003 The Critical Decade: Climate Change and Health (Australia) http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/uploads/1bb6887d6f8cacd5d844fc30b0857931.pdf GoPro: Climate Change and the Optimistic Future https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT6jtTtsG_M Paris Climate Conference: COP21 Explained https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-qd8YCaoQ4 Why is the Paris UN climate summit important? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnztR5JllA4 Adam asks new PM Malcolm Turnbull on climate change in Question Time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqXtKt-Is54 Morgan Freeman's Powerful Climate Change Short Film https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YQIaOldDU8  
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  7.  

    “It’s not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us”, I heard it said somewhere a while ago. After a couple of hours of thinking about this quote, I have realized a few things. I am not as good a person as I could be. No, I haven’t been a bad girl; I just haven’t been doing all that I could be. And I have set a goal for myself to change that aspect of my personality. The road has been difficult, to be honest, but, somehow I have managed to move from  ground zero. This is my experience, feel free to learn from it, if you desire the same thing.

    Others and excuses

    There was always someone else to be blamed. During my school years, I held my teachers responsible for my bad marks, later my boyfriend for leaving me, my boss recently for underpaying me, always discomfort. Someone else was doing injustice to me, I thought, and it weighed me heavily. But then, one morning, I realized. It wasn’t them, it was me. Nobody else should be held responsible for my lack of ambition, emotions, motivation, all of those moving powers which I haven’t got much. The first thing I did was, I stopped complaining. Second, I searched for an approach which will fulfill my sense of doing something important. And what did I do? I started going to the park each Saturday and picking up plastic bottles and paper tissues and throwing those in the container. At first, people around were looking at me as if i was a madwoman, but I didn’t care. I knew that I can’t clean the whole planet, but I could clean my favorite park. For a few weekends, it was the same. Me, cleaning, others looking. But, then, a change was made. A young girl joined me. Two older people the weekend after, and so on. Today, our park is one of cleanest in town, just because I hoped others will join, and I have had faith in my neighbors. Be that triggering mechanism!

    Myself and others

    By knowing that my stress won’t change anything, I started to take less care about negative connotations. I was improving myself on a daily basis, just by noticing bad behavior and seeing myself within it. Today I suffer far less from anger, rage, stress, and grief after bursts of such feelings. Yet again, I have noticed that it is right time for doing something on the spot. I have never before considered the impact I as an individual am making on the planet. I have never thought about the future, what I will be leaving future generations and my future grandchildren.

    Having learned all this, I am here to tell you there is quite a lot you as an individual can do for our Earth. Start with baby steps, at your home. Instead using all those toxic products for a ‘’cleaner’’ home, try looking for something in your kitchen cabinets that is non-toxic and safe to use around your children. What we probably use most are pest control supplies. They can be organic and can be safely used around kids, foods and other sensitive places.

    You can reduce carbon dioxide level, by avoiding airplane traveling, and also reconsider which car to buy. Try to save up for solar panels, or solar chargers at least. Believe me, it will be noticeable. Science is advancing greatly today, making breakthroughs, and many modern cars are running on engines which are more eco-friendly, with lower emission of hazardous gases. And when it seems that you can’t do anything alone, just remember that I have started like that as well. Remember also, that no matter how small and insignificant your action may be, it is still a step forward, to better and healthier Earth.

    With everything said taken into consideration, I started thinking. Who will benefit most? My generation nowadays or some future one? And I realized it is less important. The most important thing is that something was done based only upon free will and consolidation. And this is something that gives me back hope for a brighter future. In the end, do something. Anything.

  8. There are many people who lose hope easily and get them indulged in the activities which can be harmful to them, but they are unable to see those harms and keep getting addicted. Mostly the reasons and factors vary that contribute toward the development of drug addiction and dependence on the person. The basic factor is environment and the company of the person which causes this habit to develop and eventually get worse. Mostly, people consider the person who is taking drugs as weak and also that one can get rid of the problem if he has a willingness to do so. But drug addiction is a complex term and it is a disease which impacts the mind of the person so it is not easy to get rid of this addiction easily. If you are looking for a top rated drug rehab Texas through which you can treat the person effectively, then it is best for you to browse top drug rehab centers that can provide you the best treatment.

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    Drug addiction is the chronic disease and causes damage to the brain and the compulsive drug seeking, and uses despite the harms and damages it causes to the other person around them. It changes the structure and function of brain and causes damage to the mental and physical health of the patient so it is very important to cure the patient before it is too late. You can find a good alcohol rehab El Paso by browsing top rehab company in the area and by consulting the professionals, you can treat the patient. It is true that the habit of consuming the drugs develops very easily and their decision to take drugs is voluntary, but with the passage of time, due to the continuous usage of drugs, it can affect the person’s self control and the ability of thinking and making sound decisions.

    The common drug which is very popular among the patients is the drugs of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, prescription drugs and others which are extremely difficult to leave. But the highly reputed treatment centers are highly experienced and help addicts finally be free from their addiction. You can visit this source of company’s web page to get all the information about the drug treatment and the advisor will also be there to guide you in letting you know about the treatment and the expenses in treating the patient.  The centers have the highly professional team who know how to deal with drug patients effectively and they offer both impatient and outpatient treatment programs so that the patient remains comfortable and easy. So, view the website, and you will surely get all the information which you are looking for about the drug types, treatments and related info. The world class and highly skilled staff of the rehab centers are trained to deliver the best services and support to the patients. The prices are also highly affordable as the basic purpose behind the treatment is not to earn money, but to give patient as new and healthy life. 

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  10. Hazardous waste can come in various forms, and it’s not always easy to manage them, much less regulate their disposal. However, the need for proper hazardous waste management has become more and more apparent over the past couple of years, as the imminent threat of global warming has made its presence felt more clearly. But what exactly are we dealing with when it comes to hazardous waste?

    What is hazardous waste?
    Waste that poses a threat to the environment and to human health is considered as hazardous, and they commonly exhibit either one or all of these traits: toxicity, ignitability, corrosivity, and reactivity. They can also be infectious, such as those coming from healthcare facilities, or radioactive. Hazardous waste can come in solid, liquid, sludge, and even gaseous states.

    What should be done with them?
    In an ideal world, all waste products could be recycled and utilized in some other industry. However, the reality is that the world is hardly an ideal setting, and recycling normally isn’t the end point of hazardous waste. Depending on how hazardous waste was created (either by physical, chemical, thermal, or even biological means), treatment and disposal may also vary. For example, certain organic wastes like those from the petroleum industry can be applied with biological treatment, such as landfarming, in which hazardous waste is mixed carefully with surface soil on a designated and suitable area of land. Microbes can be added to metabolize the waste, thus causing it to stabilize. On the other hand, physical treatment involves solidifying, concentrating, or reducing the volume of hazardous waste. 

    Who is responsible for hazardous waste management?
    Hazardous waste management should be the responsibility of everyone. A combined effort is needed from everyone involved in producing, handling, and disposing of the hazardous waste. Each institution that deals with such waste – like healthcare facilities and industrial companies – should follow the standard regulations on handling hazardous waste, and have a set protocol in place. Employees and workers who find themselves at risk for exposure to such waste, or handle them directly, should be trained on how to properly deal with them. The 40-hour HAZWOPER training should be required for such employees. 

    Whether you work in a facility that creates these hazardous waste, or are part of the cleanup crew to ensure their containment, it is important to understand the impact that such waste has on our lives.  Hazardous waste is inevitable in today’s society, but with proper management, we can ensure that its impact on environmental and human health is contained.

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  13.  

    If you are looking for inspiration in garden designs, you have come to the right place. This post gathers quite a few landscaping ideas that can get you started in planning the garden you’ve always dreamed about. You will find a variety of garden styles in the photos below, all you have to do is pick your favorite and begin further research. The right garden accessories and plant species can set the tone for an incredible outdoor atmosphere, an invigorating place of retreat. You can embark on a memorable gardening adventure yourself, or you can hire a landscape architect to help with advice. Either way, designing your garden should be a fun, relaxing experience. Green labyrinths, cobblestone pathways, small ponds, water fountains, colorful flowers and small round trees flanking your way around the yard- these are all elements that can induce a wonderful state. After all, there is nothing like enjoying a fresh morning surrounded by your own green refuge, or taking some well deserved time off in the afternoon, after a long day’s work.

    Garden design is the art and process of designing and creating plans for layout and planting of gardens and landscapes. Garden design may be done by the garden owner themselves, or by professionals of varying levels of experience and expertise. Most professional garden designers have some training in horticulture and the principles of design, and some are also landscape architects, a more formal level of training that usually requires an advanced degree and often a state license. Amateur gardeners may also attain a high level of experience from extensive hours working in their own gardens, through casual study, serious study in Master Gardener Programs , or by joining gardening clubs.

    Plan your next garden project, overhaul your outdoor space and prepare to be inspired with our great garden ideas. A well-landscaped garden with practical design features and clever planting can help add to the look and feel of your home. Even with limited outdoor space and basic gardening skills you can still transform your patio or lawn into a relaxing garden retreat with a few simple design tricks. We'll help to have you landscape gardening before you know it with our 100s of garden pictures and ideas from around the UK.

    Garden design is the foundation of any great landscape. What does your dream garden look like? Make that dream a reality with garden design secrets, ideas, and inspiration for front yards and backyards. That includes stunning color, foliage, and plant combinations, including the best red and yellow flowers to pair together, as well as tips for decor, landscaping, and curb appeal. We've made it easy to include more plants in your favorite hues, with guides to blue, lavender, orange, pink, and purple blooms -- and more. If you love a landscape filled with wildlife, such as birds and butterflies, you'll learn ways to attract them to your garden, including building your own birdhouses or creating birdbaths. 

    Tips for Designing a Garden

    Make sure your pathways are wide enough for comfortable passage. Nobody enjoys squeezing through narrow spaces, in­­doors or out. Main thoroughfares should be wide enough for at least two people to walk side by side, no less than 5 feet. For secondary paths where people walk single file, the width should be at least 3 feet. Keep in mind that the taller the plantings or structures that flank your walkway, the wider the path needs to be. Tall boundaries make any space feel more restricted.

    Outdoor steps and stairways should ascend gently; otherwise, they are liable to seem daunting. Steps with a rise of 6 inches or less are the most comfortable. The run (or depth) of each step plus twice the rise (or height) should equal 26 inches. So steps with a 6-inch rise would require a run of 14 inches. If your garden stairways include more than 10 steps, consider landings after every fourth or fifth step to ease progress. Landings should be at least as deep as the stairs are wide. A generous landing is an absolute necessity wherever a stairway changes direction.

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