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Found 102 results

  1. Taking the First Step

    In today’s world, it’s surprisingly easy to forget about the ramifications of our actions. Even though we are “connected” through the developments in technology such as the internet, our so-called “flat world” isn’t all that flat when it comes to addressing the consequences that do not directly affect us, on a personal and individualized level. Living as an Indian in the United States, the “West” as people back home would call it, I understand that I have been given a privilege, that many are not able to experience. Recently, in a commencement speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, one of my long time standing idols, this “privilege” was aptly addressed. Adichie stated that privilege is often blinding, and sometimes results in us not being as aware of the circumstances that surround those who have not been extended similar opportunities. This couldn’t be truer. As I sit in my air-conditioned home in Boise, Idaho, reading the latest in environmental policy making, I often forget to think about the people who are actually going through the effects of climate change – like the people in India, my home, who are dropping like flies due to a recent heat wave like none before. It’s easy to be a by-stander, watching the world go by, and shirk off responsibility. The truth is though; we all have a responsibility – a responsibility to change, to inspire, and to TRY (even if we fail) to be better. It’s not simply up to world leaders to help save the world from the inevitable reality of climate change; it’s up to all of us, to take small steps in our everyday lives that will ensure a cleaner and healthier world. This is something that I, from my position of privile, sometimes forget. And so today, I am taking the first step (albeit a small one) to live a greener and cleaner life – I urge you all to take it with me. Even if it’s a small personal change, let this act as a gateway to bigger and better lifestyle decisions. Start turning off the air-conditioner when you don’t need it. Or maybe, use online coupon codes instead of printing out coupons. Have a separate recycling trash can, and take it to your local recycling center over the weekend. If you aren’t ready to alter a significant part of your lifestyle, the acts of spreading awareness can go a long way. Volunteer at a local NGO that supports the environment. Shop at a farmers’ market. Write out your thoughts and opinions and start a blog. Spread awareness about non-invasive technologies in examining subsurface hazards. Learn about the key players in environmental policy making. Really, the possibilities are endless. I truly believe that with a concerted effort, we all can make a difference. Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most prominent leaders of my home-country once said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. So go forth, and make a change.
  2. A recurring claim in articles that warn against “environmental catastrophism” is that alerting people to the threats posed by climate change will only produce apathy and despair. To win broad support, they say, we need to stress positive messages. Robert Jensen, a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center, argues the exact opposite. His recent book, We Are All Apocalyptic Now, opens with the provocative statement that “responsible intellectuals need to think apocalyptically.” He argues that unless we clearly understand and explain the threats confronting humanity in the 21st century, we will not be able to build a movement based on real hope, as opposed to fairy-tale dreams. “Thinking apocalyptically can help us confront honestly the crises of our time and strategize constructively about possible responses. It’s simply about struggling to understand – to the best of our ability, without succumbing to magical thinking – the conditions within the human family and the state of the ecosphere, and not turning away from the difficult realities we face.” Jensen’s radicalism is rooted in Christianity, but his argument deserves careful attention from all green-lefts and left-greens. He has kindly granted me permission to post the article below, which summarizes some of the key points made in his book. Thanks to Andrea Levy for drawing it to my attention.   Get Apocalyptic: Why radical is the new normal Feeling anxious about life in a broken economy on a strained planet? Turn despair into action. by Robert Jensen Feeling anxious about life in a broken-down society on a stressed-out planet? That’s hardly surprising: Life as we know it is almost over. While the dominant culture encourages dysfunctional denial — pop a pill, go shopping, find your bliss — there’s a more sensible approach: Accept the anxiety, embrace the deeper anguish — and then get apocalyptic. We are staring down multiple cascading ecological crises, struggling with political and economic institutions that are unable even to acknowledge, let alone cope with, the threats to the human family and the larger living world. We are intensifying an assault on the ecosystems in which we live, undermining the ability of that living world to sustain a large-scale human presence into the future. When all the world darkens, looking on the bright side is not a virtue but a sign of irrationality. In these circumstances, anxiety is rational and anguish is healthy, signs not of weakness but of courage. A deep grief over what we are losing — and have already lost, perhaps never to be recovered — is appropriate. Instead of repressing these emotions we can confront them, not as isolated individuals but collectively, not only for our own mental health but to increase the effectiveness of our organizing for the social justice and ecological sustainability still within our grasp. Once we’ve sorted through those reactions, we can get apocalyptic and get down to our real work. Perhaps that sounds odd, since we are routinely advised to overcome our fears and not give in to despair. Endorsing apocalypticism seems even stranger, given associations with “end-timer” religious reactionaries and “doomer” secular survivalists. People with critical sensibilities, those concerned about justice and sustainability, think of ourselves as realistic and less likely to fall for either theological or science-fiction fantasies. Many associate “apocalypse” with the rapture-ranting that grows out of some interpretations of the Christian Book of Revelation (aka, the Apocalypse of John), but it’s helpful to remember that the word’s original meaning is not “end of the world.” “Revelation” from Latin and “apocalypse” from Greek both mean a lifting of the veil, a disclosure of something hidden, a coming to clarity. Speaking apocalyptically, in this sense, can deepen our understanding of the crises and help us see through the many illusions that powerful people and institutions create. But there is an ending we have to confront. Once we’ve honestly faced the crises, then we can deal with what is ending — not all the world, but the systems that currently structure our lives. Life as we know it is, indeed, coming to an end. Let’s start with the illusions: Some stories we have told ourselves — claims by white people, men, or U.S. citizens that domination is natural and appropriate — are relatively easy to debunk (though many cling to them). Other delusional assertions — such as the claim that capitalism is compatible with basic moral principles, meaningful democracy, and ecological sustainability — require more effort to take apart (perhaps because there seems to be no alternative). But toughest to dislodge may be the central illusion of the industrial world’s extractive economy: that we can maintain indefinitely a large-scale human presence on the earth at something like current First-World levels of consumption. The task for those with critical sensibilities is not just to resist oppressive social norms and illegitimate authority, but to speak a simple truth that almost no one wants to acknowledge: The high-energy/high-technology life of affluent societies is a dead end. We can’t predict with precision how resource competition and ecological degradation will play out in the coming decades, but it is ecocidal to treat the planet as nothing more than a mine from which we extract and a landfill into which we dump. We cannot know for sure what time the party will end, but the party’s over. Does that seem histrionic? Excessively alarmist? Look at any crucial measure of the health of the ecosphere in which we live — groundwater depletion, topsoil loss, chemical contamination, increased toxicity in our own bodies, the number and size of “dead zones” in the oceans, accelerating extinction of species, and reduction of biodiversity — and ask a simple question: Where are we heading? Remember also that we live in an oil-based world that is rapidly depleting the cheap and easily accessible oil, which means we face a major reconfiguration of the infrastructure that undergirds daily life. Meanwhile, the desperation to avoid that reconfiguration has brought us to the era of “extreme energy,” using ever more dangerous and destructive technologies (hydrofracturing, deep-water drilling, mountaintop coal removal, tar sands extraction). Oh, did I forget to mention the undeniable trajectory of global warming/climate change/climate disruption? Scientists these days are talking about tipping points and planetary boundaries, about how human activity is pushing Earth beyond its limits. Recently 22 top scientists warned that humans likely are forcing a planetary-scale critical transition “with the potential to transform Earth rapidly and irreversibly into a state unknown in human experience,” which means that “the biological resources we take for granted at present may be subject to rapid and unpredictable transformations within a few human generations.” That conclusion is the product of science and common sense, not supernatural beliefs or conspiracy theories. The political/social implications are clear: There are no solutions to our problems if we insist on maintaining the high-energy/high-technology existence lived in much of the industrialized world (and desired by many currently excluded from it). Many tough-minded folk who are willing to challenge other oppressive systems hold on tightly to this lifestyle. The critic Fredric Jameson has written, “It is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism,” but that’s only part of the problem — for some, it may be easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of air conditioning. We do live in end-times, of a sort. Not the end of the world — the planet will carry on with or without us — but the end of the human systems that structure our politics, economics, and social life. “Apocalypse” need not involve heavenly rescue fantasies or tough-guy survival talk; to get apocalyptic means seeing clearly and recommitting to core values. First, we must affirm the value of our work for justice and sustainability, even though there is no guarantee we can change the disastrous course of contemporary society. We take on projects that we know may fail because it’s the right thing to do, and by doing so we create new possibilities for ourselves and the world. Just as we all know that someday we will die and yet still get out of bed every day, an honest account of planetary reality need not paralyze us. Then let’s abandon worn-out clichés such as, “The American people will do the right thing if they know the truth,” or “Past social movements prove the impossible can happen.” There is no evidence that awareness of injustice will automatically lead U.S. citizens, or anyone else, to correct it. When people believe injustice is necessary to maintain their material comfort, some accept those conditions without complaint. Social movements around race, gender, and sexuality have been successful in changing oppressive laws and practices, and to a lesser degree in shifting deeply held beliefs. But the movements we most often celebrate, such as the post-World War II civil rights struggle, operated in a culture that assumed continuing economic expansion. We now live in a time of permanent contraction — there will be less, not more, of everything. Pressuring a dominant group to surrender some privileges when there is an expectation of endless bounty is a very different project than when there is intensified competition for resources. That doesn’t mean nothing can be done to advance justice and sustainability, only that we should not be glib about the inevitability of it. Here’s another cliché to jettison: Necessity is the mother of invention. During the industrial era, humans exploiting new supplies of concentrated energy have generated unprecedented technological innovation in a brief time. But there is no guarantee that there are technological fixes to all our problems; we live in a system that has physical limits, and the evidence suggests we are close to those limits. Technological fundamentalism — the quasi-religious belief that the use of advanced technology is always appropriate, and that any problems caused by the unintended consequences can be remedied by more technology — is as empty a promise as other fundamentalisms. If all this seems like more than one can bear, it’s because it is. We are facing new, more expansive challenges. Never in human history have potential catastrophes been so global; never have social and ecological crises of this scale threatened at the same time; never have we had so much information about the threats we must come to terms with. It’s easy to cover up our inability to face this by projecting it onto others. When someone tells me “I agree with your assessment, but people can’t handle it,” I assume what that person really means is, “I can’t handle it.” But handling it is, in the end, the only sensible choice. Mainstream politicians will continue to protect existing systems of power, corporate executives will continue to maximize profit without concern, and the majority of people will continue to avoid these questions. It’s the job of people with critical sensibilities — those who consistently speak out for justice and sustainability, even when it’s difficult — not to back away just because the world has grown more ominous. Adopting this apocalyptic framework doesn’t mean separating from mainstream society or giving up ongoing projects that seek a more just world within existing systems. I am a professor at a university that does not share my values or analysis, yet I continue to teach. In my community, I am part of a group that helps people create worker-cooperatives that will operate within a capitalist system that I believe to be a dead end. I belong to a congregation that struggles to radicalize Christianity while remaining part of a cautious, often cowardly, denomination. I am apocalyptic, but I’m not interested in empty rhetoric drawn from past revolutionary moments. Yes, we need a revolution — many revolutions — but a strategy is not yet clear. So, as we work patiently on reformist projects, we can continue to offer a radical analysis and experiment with new ways of working together. While engaged in education and community organizing with modest immediate goals, we can contribute to the strengthening of networks and institutions that can be the base for the more radical change we need. In these spaces today we can articulate, and live, the values of solidarity and equity that are always essential. To adopt an apocalyptic worldview is not to abandon hope but to affirm life. As James Baldwin put it decades ago, we must remember “that life is the only touchstone and that life is dangerous, and that without the joyful acceptance of this danger, there can never be any safety for anyone, ever, anywhere.” By avoiding the stark reality of our moment in history we don’t make ourselves safe, we undermine the potential of struggles for justice and sustainability. As Baldwin put it so poignantly in that same 1962 essay, “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” It’s time to get apocalyptic, or get out of the way.
  3. As the State of Pennsylvania continues to battle with various oil drilling companies regarding environmental violations, fracking sits at the top of list. Comparing the elemental damages to the amount of these proposed fines may mirror a lopsided playing field of sorts. Proponents of the fracking phenomena apparently see nothing wrong with polluting the groundwater contained in nearby streams via mishandled wastewater, thus killing off seemingly countless schools of fish, and rendering otherwise healthy water supplies undrinkable. Many of those who oppose these fracking methods may have stronger legal legs to stand on, as the practice itself has gained some notorious national attention. The fracking (aka fracturing) process is designed to extract fossil-based energy sources that lie deep beneath the earth’s surface. Drilling is one thing, yet injecting toxic chemicals into the core in order to hit pay-dirt is another. The increased risk of chemical leakage is now clear and present, as literally thousands of drinking water contamination complaints have been filed against subsidiary drilling companies that actually have legal permits to use the Marcellus Shale drilling site; one case in particular involves felony criminal charges that are still pending. Exxon Mobil Corporation District Judge James G. Carn ruled that each of the eight charges recently filed against the oil giant were all valid enough to warrant criminal proceedings. Two of these charges included violating the state’s Clean Streams Law and the Solid Waste Management Act. Exxon Mobil is chiefly being accused of wastewater tank tampering; the removal of a plug from one of their refuse receptacles resulted in 57,000 gallons of the liquid seeping into the soil and subsequently causing harm to local residents and the surrounding strata. Contesting these charges, Exxon Mobil representatives asserted that the spill had “…no lasting environmental impact.” Range Resources The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) fined the Texas-based gas and oil company $4.15 million for employing the same illegal practices used by Exxon Mobil, all of which took place between 2009 and 2014. Range Resources repeatedly violated a number of the state’s environmental protection laws, yet the mishandling of wastewater topped the list of many fracking infractions committed at the very same Marcellus Shale drilling site. Even though the imposed fine is the largest in Pennsylvania DEP history, the profits made from these extractions heavily outweigh the penalty amount, which may simply be the price of doing business for big oil. These two incidents are merely a drop in the bucket when it comes to the fracking boom and its latent functions. Exxon Mobil is the first company to face criminal charges, which may turn out to be a benchmark case to be used as precedent for future criminal fracking violations. Hopefully future companies can learn from their example, and the example of good green practicing companies like Great Canadian which does green roofing in Edmonton. The future will be brighter when businesses can raise the standard of their practices and incorporate more beneficial green works.
  4. Four of nine planetary boundaries have now been crossed as a result of human activity, says an international team of 18 researchers in the January 16 issue of the journal Science. The four are: climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change, altered biogeochemical cycles (phosphorus and nitrogen). Two of these, climate change and biosphere integrity, are what the scientists call “core boundaries”. Significantly altering either of these “core boundaries” would “drive the Earth System into a new state”. “Transgressing a boundary increases the risk that human activities could inadvertently drive the Earth System into a much less hospitable state, damaging efforts to reduce poverty and leading to a deterioration of human well being in many parts of the world, including wealthy countries,” says Lead author, Professor Will Steffen, researcher at the Centre and the Australian National University, Canberra. “In this new analysis we have improved our quantification of where these risks lie.” The new paper is a development of the Planetary Boundaries concept, which was first published in 2009, identifying nine global priorities relating to human-induced changes to the environment. The science shows that these nine processes and systems regulate the stability and resilience of the Earth System – the interactions of land, ocean, atmosphere and life that together provide conditions upon which our societies depend. The research builds on a large number of scientific publications critically assessing and improving the planetary boundaries research since its original publication. It confirms the original set of boundaries and provides updated analysis and quantification for several of them, including phosphorus and nitrogen cycles, land-system change, freshwater use and biosphere integrity. Though the framework keeps the same processes as in 2009, two of them have been given new names, to better reflect what they represent, and yet others have now also been assessed on a regional level. “Loss of biodiversity” is now called “Change in biosphere integrity.” Biological diversity is vitally important, but the framework now emphasizes the impact of humans on ecosystem functioning. Chemical pollution has been given the new name “Introduction of novel entities,” to reflect the fact that humans can influence the Earth system through new technologies in many ways. “Pollution by toxic synthetic substances is an important component, but we also need to be aware of other potential systemic global risks, such as the release of radioactive materials or nanomaterials,” says Sarah Cornell, coordinator of the Planetary Boundaries research at the Centre. “We believe that these new names better represent the scale and scope of the boundaries,” she continues. In addition to the globally aggregated Planetary Boundaries, regional-level boundaries have now been developed for biosphere integrity, biogeochemical flows, land-system change and freshwater use. At present only one regional boundary (South Asian Monsoon) can be established for atmospheric aerosol loading. “Planetary Boundaries do not dictate how human societies should develop but they can aid decision-makers by defining a safe operating space for humanity,” says co-author Katherine Richardson from the University of Copenhagen. Nine planetary boundaries: Climate change Change in biosphere integrity (biodiversity loss and species extinction) Stratospheric ozone depletion Ocean acidification Biogeochemical flows (phosphorus and nitrogen cycles) Land-system change (for example deforestation) Freshwater use Atmospheric aerosol loading (microscopic particles in the atmosphere that affect climate and living organisms) Introduction of novel entities (e.g. organic pollutants, radioactive materials, nanomaterials, and micro-plastics).
  5. Planetary Boundaries 2015

    Updated research finds that four of nine planetary boundaries have been crossed: climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change, altered biogeochemical cycles (phosphorus and nitrogen). Source: Steffen et al, Science, Jan. 16 2015.
  6. In a culture that recycles over 150 million metric tons of metallic materials each year in the US alone, one cannot honestly say that there is no recycling effort taking place. Yet, many people are not aware of the many benefits that can be derived from a comprehensive effort to clean up the environment. Our article below covers several direct benefits produced today by scrap metal recycling operations across the US. Economic Reasons The US scrap metal recycling industry in 2008 resulted in the creation of more than 85,000 jobs and $86 billion being generated in revenue. That same year, the US exported roughly 44 million metric tons of scrap commodities that resulted in a more balanced US trade economy. Production of everyday items such as staples, paper clips, fasteners, jewelry, tools, city infrastructures and elements of buildings themselves all make up the scrap metal industry. Today, the industry is not only good for the environment, but it's good for business as well. Over 450,000 new jobs were created within the last three years at a time when the economy appeared to be in dire straits. Best of all, they were high quality, good-paying jobs that fed money back into a fragile and stagnant economy. Energy/Natural Resources Producing metals from virgin ore is an expensive process--both naturally and economically. However, the recycled scrap metal process not only reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, but it also helps preserve the earth’s precious natural resources. For instance, using recycled material saves up to 92 percent aluminum, 90 percent copper and more than 56 percent of steel stockpiles. Moreover, the recycling of just one ton of steel preserves more than 2,500 pounds of iron, 1,400 pounds of coal and more than 120 pounds of limestone. In addition, one ton of recycled aluminum helps conserve 8 tons of bauxite ore and 14 megawatt hours of electrical energy. Ecological/Environmental Benefits In a concentrated effort to preserve the ecological system, one cannot stress enough the importance of having a comprehensive program for recycling of scrap metals. Being that scrap metals are as usable, malleable and less expensive to produce then virgin material, it’s crucially important to have professional recyclers do the taxing work of removal and recycling according to General Recycling Industries Ltd., one of the many Edmonton scrap yards. All things considered, there are no valid reasons for not recycling scrap metals. The scrap metal industry consistently proves itself as being cost effective for those involved inside the industry and outside of it. But more importantly, as the obvious stewards of earth’s resources, scrap metal processing just may help avoid a possible future ecological disaster.
  7. How To Keep Snakes Away

    There is no doubt that snakes serve an important part in our ecosystem, especially with regards to keeping populations of rats and mice under control. However, there are situations where you wish to restrict the areas they can access, such as chicken coops, dog pens, aviaries and backyards frequented by children. It is therefore important to limit their access in a way that do not harm them or the environment. Several methods of discouraging snakes are being bandied around various forums with everything from old-wives tales to innovative technologies. This post aims to discuss the various options and their effectiveness. Keeping it short Keeping the grass short is a frequent advice to limit snakes, as the snakes do not like to be out in the open, as they are exposed to flying predators. However, during the warmer months, snakes desperate for water can easily venture over short grass, dirt and paved areas, attracted by the pets’ water bowls. Snake Fencing As Australia is heading into snake season with the warmer weather, Murray Stewart, owner of The Fencing Store has noticed a significant increase in enquiries for snake proof fencing mesh as people are taking precautions to protect pets, livestock and children from the slithering animals. Murray recommends a fine 6.5mm or 9.5mm square wire mesh that will keep most snakes out as long as the fence is constructed in the right manner. On his website, Murray has added a blog post about a customer who created a snake proof fence for their beloved dogs. Setting up snake proof fences is undoubtedly one of the best ways to keep snakes away while not harming the environment, as it keeps the snakes free to roam outside the fencing while not harming them. Naphthalene This falls under the old-wives tale category. I read regular forum posts advising to use naphthalene as snake repellent. Naphthalene is an ingredient in mothballs, and it’s scent is supposed to repel snakes. Naphthalene is also a toxic substance as covered on epa.gov. It is not recommended to place this substance out in nature, where it can be ingested by wildlife and cause terminal damage. Besides, studies show that Naphthalene is ineffective in repelling some snakes in the first place. Vibration Most snakes are wary of humans and larger animals, and sense our presence by the vibration our footsteps make when moving around. If awake, this vibration normally results in most snakes evacuating the area. Dogmaster.com.au retails a solar-powered snake shield, which in effect is a stake that emits a vibrating pulse into the ground, which should deter the snakes without hurting them or the environment. The only negative, is that it might repel the snakes from your shed as well, leaving rats and mice to roam free. Liquid snake repellent Liquid Fence have created a liquid and granular snake repellent that according to their website works by emitting a scent that “confuses and irritates the snake’s chemosensory systems”, making them look for another place to inhabit. The website further claims that the product is all natural, but at the time of writing, I have not had the opportunity to test it out, so I cannot cast any judgement on it. Conclusion For permanent areas, I recommend setting up a snake proof fence to keep snakes out. The vibrating snake shield would be a great investment for portable applications, such as camping trips.
  8. The traditional construction tools used to be noisy and non-eco-friendly. Even if these power tools made our construction jobs easier, they used to be terrible air and noise polluters. Fortunately, lately the things have started to change in the construction industry in accord with the general attention on environmentally friendly products. Among the latest developments in the construction industry nowadays are the greener tools. Many homeowners are choosing these green tools in order to stop stressing the power grid and to lower their electricity usage. For some others the motivation to choose greener tools is their environmental consciousness that push them to find ways to cut down on oil and gas from a desire to stop burning through the planet’s energy resources. Still others are motivated by a simple desire to not to smell and breathe the toxic and unpleasant fumes that some construction tools produce. We will take a look in this article at some popular green construction tools that are easier on the environment, nose, ears, and even the wallet, and rely on cleaner energy. Rechargeable chain saw For the big wood cutting jobs are usually used chain saws. Their fuel based on oil and gas mixture is so pollutant that many chain saw emissions break some state laws on pollution emission. The electric chain saw was developed as a greener alternative. You can even use an electric chain saw indoors, unlike a fuel-powered chain saw, since it doesn't produce any fumes. Other advantages to an electric chain saw are that it tends to be less noisy and lighter, and you don't worry about running out of gas before completed the task. Another alternative to a fuel-powered chain saw is a rechargeable chain saw. There are chain saws on the market that comes with interchangeable nickel-cadmium batteries or with an 18-volt lithium-ion battery. These are less noisy and lighter than gas chain saws and also offer the advantage of a convenient cordless design. Today's rechargeable chain saw designs provide enough cutting power for most of the jobs and they are friendlier to the environment. Rechargeable drill There are many construction tools that have adopted this design lately. For example, you can choose a rechargeable drill that comes with an attached LED light that focuses on your work area. These cordless tools are not only incredibly easy to handle due to their lightweight design, but also provide you with more flexibility and the liberty to work far from a power source. Certainly, working with a power drill makes your job easier than using a hand drill. However, the power cord can stay in your way and make your task awkward if you need to stretch it into the backyard or across your garage. The rechargeable and cordless drill solves this issue and frees you from the annoying cord. It is also a greener tool because is using far less energy while still packing enough power. Bottom line You can also find nowadays complete kits with green construction tools that are rechargeable and cordless. Some even come with interchangeable backup batteries to ensure you won’t run out of power in the middle of your job. The higher battery amp-hours or Ah, the longest use of the tool you can enjoy. The higher amp-hours mean you can use the tool more hours between two consecutive charges.
  9. Green Industrial Design is Possible

    Excessive production of various products and overdoing with loads of both necessary and unnecessary items lead to a huge global pollution problem, which we are already experiencing and which will become even harsher in the next few decades. Consumerism and aggressive marketing campaigns which persuade us to buy a new mobile or tablet every couple of years push the world into a never-ending whirlpool of tons of garbage that is nod easily disposable. Ecology and industrial design meet at this spot, since industrial design should try and use as many reusable materials as possible to save natural resources. Here are some strategies how ecology and industrial design can intertwine and make a joint effort to contribute to the environment preservation process. Industrial ecology and ecological design These two fields of research have a strong bond and a lot of overlapping in the process of industrial design. Industrial ecology refers to applying eco-friendly strategies and techniques in the process of industrial production. On the other hand, ecological design seeks for optimal design methods that do not harm the environment. Industrial design based on these two interdisciplinary scientific branches tends to help the global efforts to overcome the environmental problems. The basic concepts that industrial design borrows from these two scientific fields are production sustainability and the flow of materials. Materials or products that have already been used and thrown away should be reused or recycled whenever it is possible to do so. By applying this strategy, we lower the expenses for the overall industrial production and also cut the costs on the material-gaining side, as well. That way companies do not have to spend money on transporting oil producing plastic from scratch, for instance, but the old plastic can be recycled. The role of local authorities is also very important here, since they have to ensure conditions for collecting old materials to make them ready for the recycling process. Products made of recycled materials As the pressure on the environment is increasing, many businesses are looking for sustainable solutions in their development. A lot of governments give subsidies to green-friendly companies, which is why many industrial design companies are moving forward to using recyclable materials, especially plastic and glass. Plastic is particularly interesting when it comes to industrial design and possible green solutions. This material is made from oil and it is not bio-degradable. The fact that plastic is made from oil means that the production of plastic is not environmentally-friendly, since it includes oil drilling and other procedure connected with oil. The non-organic quality of plastic makes it extremely harmful for the environment. When all these facts are taken into consideration, the best ecological option for products made of plastic is manufacturing plastic products from recycled plastic. By doing this, we save the natural world from the damage plastic might cause to it. Going green when manufacturing new product requires a larger initial investment. However, over the next period, you will have less trouble with some other expenses that non-green businesses have. That is why investing in eco-friendly industrial design means securing the future of your company and taking care of the environment.
  10. The Impacts of Washing Your Own Car

    Despite the innocence associated with washing your car on a Sunday afternoon with the kids in your driveway, a do-it-yourself car wash can actually have more of an impact on the environment than you might expect. In fact, many jurisdictions in Canada have banned washing cars at home altogether. Citizens of the Canadian city Calgary could face a $3,000 fine if they wash their vehicle with soap at home, and most aren’t even aware of it. Washing cars in the driveway is surprisingly one of the most environmentally damaging chores that can be done around the house. When you wash your car yourself, the product of this wash is water that goes directly into the storm drains, and ultimately ends up in rivers, streams and creeks where it becomes poisonous to aquatic life and can disrupts the numerous ecosystems that live there. After all, the water in question is contaminated with gasoline, as well as oil and residues from exhaust fumes, in addition to the chemical rich detergents being used for the washing itself. This water, unlike household wastewater that enters sewers or septic systems, undergoes zero treatment before it is discharged into the environment. Not to mention the activity wastes city water, according to one report, on average, washing a car at home uses between 80 and 140 gallons of water. Despite the added personal expense, going to a commercial car wash can be much better for the environment as most drain their wastewater into sewer systems (USA and Canada have federal laws stating this). What is more carwash institutions often use computer controlled systems and high pressure nozzles which limit water usage. Many commercial car washes have systems in place to recycle the water they use too. Depending on where in the world you live, you can make the choice to wash your own car if you insist upon it. In this case, there are ways in which can limit the damage on the environment. For instance, you can choose to use a biodegradable soap which is made especially for vehicle use. In addition, the location in which you choose to wash your car can also make a difference to where the potentially toxic water will end up. Washing your car on your lawn or over soil can be beneficial as the water can be absorbed and neutralized in the soil as opposed to flowing directly into storm drains or open bodies of water. Mopping up the excess water afterwards can help keep thirsty animals safe too. This article was written by Chloe Hashemi on behalf of Credo Asset Finance who provide car finance in Norwich and Norfolk.
  11. Geography Trivia: Mt. Davidson

    How much do you know about Mt.Davidson? Besides being the highest point in California and one of the original Seven Hills there is so much more to this interesting feature that will definitely intrigue you. It is also one of the 44 hills in San Francisco. This is just the basic stuff. Do you know anything about the origins, how it got its name? Well, this one is for you. The mountain was given an honorary name after George Davidson, then Chief of the US Coast & General Survey’s Pacific Operations. He was also a scientist, and one of his notable projects was commissioning an astronomical observatory on the West Coast. Click here for more facts Hiking The mountain is at 125 Dalewood Way. The 0.44 mile distance marks an interesting hiking experience for hikers, the distance to the top of the hill. The trailers are usually graded properly though from time to time you might find them slightly overgrown with vegetation. It is an incredibly easy hike all the same. In terms of the exposure, the trail is characteristic of lots of shade and a little sun here and there, moderate traffic and dirt trails. It should take you roughly one hour to make the hike. One of the best things about hiking on Mt.Davidson is that you can basically plan your hiking at any time, any season, though it is open between 6 in the morning and 10 in the evening. On the brighter side for pet lovers, you are allowed to bring your dogs with you. Tourist attraction The lush greens turn into a major tourist attraction in February just as the season turns. This brings forth wildflowers like the mule’s ears and the California poppy, the hog fennel and the checker bloom among a host of other incredible plantation that blooms right around that time. The privately owned summit does attract a lot of visitors, and the park at the top of the hill is also another incredible feature that will definitely appeal to visitors. There is public transportation all the way to the Park, 36 Teresita Muni line. The Cross Besides the naturel attraction that it is, Mt.Davidson has since become famous especially for those who are religious, for the cross, a gigantic one that was first erected at the site in 1923. Later on in 1924 another cross was erected, but it was burned down a year later. In 1931 arsonists torched a third cross that was also erected atop the mountain. The cross is significant to those of Christian faith especially Catholics, and this cross is often illuminated during Easter every other year. In 1933 after the third arsonist attack, the burned down cross was replaced with a steel and concrete cross. If you are a serious movie fan, this was the iconic cross in Clint Eastwood’s 1971 set, Dirty Harry. Every year during Easter there are walking tours held through the trail. Apart from that there is a clean-up session every month that is aimed at keeping the mountain area clean and free of debris.
  12. It is estimated that seven million tonnes of food and drink are thrown away every year by people in the UK. Approximately one fifth of this is food that could have been consumed, equating to 1,400,000 tonnes in total (the equivalent weight of over 250,000 bull elephants). This is an astounding quantity of waste which has a significant environmental, social and economic impact on both the UK and the planet. Figures released earlier this year have discovered that recommendations to food banks have risen by 163% with more than 900,000 people who require food banks. 50% of these referrals are a result of benefit delays or cuts, leading to 582,933 adults and 330,205 children who depend on food banks to eat. With the UK having the sixth richest economy globally, this number of people going hungry is a real issue, especially with the vast quantities of decent food going to waste. Last year, almost 2,500 tonnes of food was contributed to food banks, which is an incredible figure– but this only makes up a mere 3% of 7 million tonnes of binned food. The difference the food could have made had it not been thrown away would have been great for those in need, as well as to the environment. As well as accepting food donations, food banks gladly welcome monetary contributions, for example Best of Suffolk, a company specialising Suffolk cottages and other holiday cottages in the area recently donated £3,000 to the East Suffolk Food Bank, a scheme seeded by the Trussell Trust. Business director, Naomi Tarry describes that “The ability to feed yourself and your family is such a basic need that needs to be met”. So, contributing to a needy cause can be done so by…? Needlessly throwing away food is very costly as well. Although binning that moulding banana might not seem like that much, it all adds up in the long run. On average, the price of discarded food is setting back the average household by almost £470 each year. For families with offspring, food waste can amount to approximately £60 each month, equating to £700 a year. Intentionally planning meals, writing shopping lists and not getting fooled by offers is a great way to reduce the household waste and the binning of excess food. The planting, growing, harvesting and packaging of food can all immensely contribute to both an individual’s carbon and water footprint. A small percentage of people are aware that it takes a shocking twenty of litres of water to produce a single egg and if you throw that away, you’re basically throwing away all that water. The waste of decent food is presently connected for almost 5% of the UK’s total water footprint. Additionally, wasted food is accountable for a substantial amount of the UK’s carbon footprint. If no food was made futile whatsoever in the UK, the carbon saved would be equal to taking one quarter of the cars of the of the road. To lessen your waste in your home, attempt and make an active attempt to be alert of the food you have in your refrigerator and cupboards and plan your weekly meals to try and use what needs eating before everything expires. By simply not throwing food away, you will be shrinking the impact you are having on the environment and will help save yourself valuable cash.
  13. Moving Home the Green Way

    When moving house it feels like there’s a million details to sort out and consider, but one you might not have thought of is making your move a green one. It’s more easily done than you might think, just changing a few details can make a big difference and often it’s more economical for you as well. Don’t throw away – Reuse or Recycle Moving house is often synonymous with de-cluttering but what you do with your unwanted belongings can have an impact on the environment. So, instead of taking several trips to the dump and creating yet more waste, try to find another home for your belongings. There are various options for this; Gumtree, eBay and even a car boot sale for those knick-knacks you’re not sure anyone really wants. Or, if you have a bit of time and artistic flare you could try upcycling them. One easy option is the British Heart Foundation, they have furniture stores across the UK and will collect your unwanted furniture for free and sell it to raise money for charity, given it’s in good enough condition for them to sell on. It helps the environment because you’re not throwing it away and creating rubbish, it raises money for charity and someone gets a reasonably priced piece of furniture. It’s a win, win and all it takes from you is a simple phone call. If your mission to sell or even give away your stuff doesn't work, you can probably recycle it rather than just throwing it away. Recycle now is the official UK recycling site which tells you what items you can recycle and where you can recycle them in your local area as well as providing useful info on how recycling works and why it’s important. Eco Cleaning Products Before you leave your home for good it’s likely it’s going to need a good clean, especially if you’re moving from a rental property and hoping for a full deposit back. So, you should consider getting some environmentally responsible cleaning products to help you, if you get the right ones they’re just as effective at cleaning and you won’t leave the property with a chemical stench. Wasted Packaging The materials you use to move can also have a big impact on the environment, moving companies often like to use new boxes because of the stability and then throw them away after one use. Often you don’t need all new boxes and rolls of bubble wrap to pack up your home. Newspaper, towels and clothes work just as well to protect fragile items and you can often get old boxes from supermarkets or friends. There are even companies where you can rent removal boxes or removal companies that do this for you. Pick the Right Moving Company It’s worth looking into who helps you move, for instance Abels removal company have environmentally responsible moving vans. The environment is a growing concern across all industries and it’s worth doing a little research to find a company which can help you to make your move as green as possible. Moving internationally We all know airplane travel is the ultimate environmental sin however sometimes it’s a necessity, especially if you’re moving a great distance internationally. If this is the case you might want to think about offsetting your carbon footprint. There are various companies and websites that set to help you do this and it’s usually as simple as transferring a small fee to get some trees re-planted or support reforestation. If you’re not moving home so far you could consider transporting you and your belongings by more environmental means.
  14. Renewable energy companies have been in a tough situation for more than twenty years (since the beginning of renewables' sector). Two fires, two enemies to fight, the first is the entire fossil fuels' sector, the second is the internal competition in its own sector. The first is a strong, old and rich institution, with thousands of billion of dollars and has exponents like Shell, BP, Total, Exxon and Chevron. The second is also strong and in a long-term can monopolize the entire energy market, it's the internal competition in renewable energy sector, where companies double their profits in less than a year (like First Solar or SunPower) and hydroelectric sector growth rises every year of 3.1%. The slow but inevitable ascent of renewables in the energy market can't be stopped although it can be delayed and this delay can represent a high environmental price and the Earth (and also us) will pay it. We're talking about the deadly consequences of climate change, triggered by an abudance of fossil fuels usage. It's vital, for our lives and for our environment, that fossil fuels leave the market in the fastest way as possible and to do that alternatives are required, strong alternatives. To improve and strengthen remewable energy market one of the two enemies must be fought: fossil fuels (already happening) and internal competition. How can renewable energy companies overpass this obstacle and become a strong, united market? Joint ventures. Someone already thought about that, like Solar Power Inc. The company, which 71% is owned by China's LDK Solar Co., has formed a partnership with Wircon GmbH to build projects in the U.K. The joint venture intends to own and sell the projects it develops in the U.K., Roseville, California-based Solar Power said today in a statement. The company initially intends to build about 55 megawatts of capacity. This will go to reach U.K. goal of the 30% of the country's power from renewable sources by 2020. In Japan the lack of land territory brought Kyocera Corp. and Century Tokyo Leasing Corp. to build two solar power stations designed to float on the surface of reservoirs. I've mentioned it already before but it's here again: DESERTEC project, building renewable power plants in territories with an abundance of solar and wind energy and connecting three continents with energy infrastructures. The consortium which administrates the project is one of the biggest companies union in the world. The Dii GmbH is composed by E.ON, ABB, Siemens, Enel Green Power, Terna, State Grid Croporation of China, Deutsche Bank, Flagsol, Abengoa Solar, Schott Solar and RWE. This consortium administrates more than $500 billion and operates in three continents. Another consortium focused on energy infrastructures is Medgrid (focused more on Middle East) and formed by Abengoa, GDF Suez, EDF and other companies. Between the many examples of joint ventures in the world there's the cooperation between First Solar and BELECTRIC for the construction of PV power plants or 3SUN, the biggest solar power joint venture in Europe including Enel Green Power, Sharp and STMicroelectronics. Joint ventures help new companies to invest in foreign countries and strengthen relationships between companies increasing the profits and the total capacity of renewable energy power plants all over the world. But if we want to accelerate the process the number of joint ventures and consortia have to double. The final target? A global renewble energy network, connecting all the companies of the sector. In fact, a renewable energy OPEC doesn't exist, it must be created. In a world where everything is connected it's unthinkable that renewable energy companies are isolated and under the pressure of fossil fuels companies. Like oil is transported from Middle East to the U.S. so renewable energy must be an international fuel to power a clean and green future.
  15. Texas professor Dr. Jeff Wilson moved in a dumpster to make a bold statement and to inspire a nation to consider micro-living. The environmental studies professor wanted to show his students and the world that you can be happy and healthy in a very small space. Dr. Wilson took this extreme step to live in a dumpster for a year, because he wanted to raise awareness of the growing population (past 7 billion people) and the limited resources we have. The "mad" professor wanted to get his students out of their seats and get them excited about environmental problems. He wanted to pull everything out of the classroom, do something extreme, radical, crazy and meaningful. Ideally people will take away a lot of things from this project and ideas how to implement the lessons learned in further environmental projects. The dumpster itself got cleaned and equipped with a few necessities such as blanket, pillow, Persian rug, lights, hanger, etc. Ideally, Wilson wanted the dumpster to "be designed to a standard that even my mother would give it a go for a night". He plans to make it even more attractive by introducing an xBox. He considers his dumpster as a "luxurious camping" opportunity with convertible roof that provides an excellent view under the Austin stars. Sounds magical doesn't it? Before you decide to move in to one yourself, you should know it is not all butterflies. Dr. Wilson has battled leaky roofs, endured bucket-style showers and his dumpster was carted off by the council once. To donate for the cause, or read more, visit: http://dumpsterproject.org/
  16. Have you heard of the 7 days of garbage project carried by Gregg Segal? It is as interesting as it sounds! Despite just highlighting how much Americans consume in a week's time, it also raises awareness of how our rubbish affects the environment. After all, no one wants to lie in their own trash like this, right? Someday we may have to, if we don't cut pollution. Here is an interesting fact - the average American produces around 4 lb (nearly 2 kg) of rubbish everyday. The figure has doubled since 1960s. A single person, therefore, produces 14 kg a week, or roughly around 728 kg a year. A family of four thus, produces around 2912 kg (nearly 3 tons) of waste a year. When Gregg Segal found out about this disturbing rate at which we swamp our planet earth, he came up with "7 days of garbage". He hopes he can expand his project, shoot different locations and help people understand how pervasive clutter and garbage is and how important repurposing and upcycling are. He wants to show people that most of their clutter is unnecessary, anyway. Gregg says some of the participants volunteered because they believed the cause is worthwhile and others endured the shootings for monetary benefits. Either way he got different people from a variety of socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. He even participated with his own family, because in his own words he believed: "we are all a part of the problem" And if Gregg's project can't inspire you here are a few more thoughts. According to professional carpet cleaners there is no cleaning a cluttered home. Clutter stands on the way of performing elementary tasks effectively. It stands on the way of having a productive day and puts pressure on the individual. In fact, de-cluttering might help you conceive, as according to Fung Shui when you have clutter, you have a leakage of energy.
  17. For some time, the bee population has been steadily declining worldwide, and this is most directly attributed to the negative impact of pesticides. Now, there's a lot of buzz around a recent study by Dutch researchers, which has found that the toxic chemicals we use are having a ripple effect farther up the food chain, causing insectivorous birds to rapidly decline in number. The study was the collaborative effort of researchers with the Radboud University Institute of Water and Wetland Research, the Dutch Center for Field Ornithology, and Birdlife Netherlands. In a joint statement, the researchers declared, "Neonicotinoid insecticides have adverse effects on non-target invertebrate species. Invertebrates constitute a substantial part of the diet of many bird species during the breeding season and are indispensible for raising offspring. In the Netherlands," for example, "local bird population trends were significantly more negative in areas with higher surface-water concentrations of imidacloprid," a type of pesticide. "At imidacloprid concentrations of more than 20 nanograms per liter, bird populations tended to decline by 3.5 percent on average, annually," they continued. The overall results of the study, they said, shows "that the impact of neonicotinoids on the natural environment is even more substantial than has recently been reported and is reminiscent of the effects of persistent pesticides in the past. Future legislation should take into account the potential cascading effects [of insecticides] on ecosystems." Neonicotinoids are interesting in that their origins lie with two corporations already strongly linked with outright for-profit environmental destruction: Royal Dutch Shell and Bayer. These insecticides, which are chemically similar to nicotine, were first developed and used in the 1980s by the Shell, and in the 1990s by the German chemical and pharmaceutical company. In 2009, on the specific neonicotinoid called imidacloprid that the Dutch researchers referenced, Bayer made a profit of over one billion alone, according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. There is, however, a loss occurring, albeit an ecological one, not a financial one. Such was the conclusion of the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, which conducted another recent report on the matter. They explained, "Neonicotinoids persist for months and in some cases years, and environmental concentrations can build up. This effectively increases their toxicity by increasing the duration of exposure of non-target species. The effects of exposure [in wildlife] range from instant and lethal to chronic." Effects could include "altered feeding behavior and reduced food intake [in birds], reduced foraging in bees, and altered tunneling behavior in earthworms." Dr. David Gibbons, head of the Center for Conservation Science at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, remarked, "This elegant and important study provides worrying evidence of negative impacts of neonicotinoid insecticides on birds. Usage of these pesticides has been particularly high in some parts of the Netherlands. Monitoring of pollution in soils and waterways is urgently required, as is further research into the effects of these insecticides on wildlife."
  18. It's lunch time. You drive your car and go to grocery store for preparing something delicious. You pick chicken and a pre-made salad. Have you noticed that such actions affect environment? How could it be possible? Let me explain. When you go by car, it releases carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Air gets polluted. The store that you went into, require light which is powered by coal and as you know that coal mining destroy our ecosystem. What about that salad? Its ingredients grown on farm using harmful pesticides and then washed into local streams poisoning the fish and aquatic plants. Water gets polluted. Even chicken transported by trucks that emits poisonous gas. A smallest action of human creates an environmental change. Think of a bigger picture. Humans are completely dependent on mother nature for survival. But, what you give back? Harmful chemicals that pollutes water, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide such undesirable gases causing air pollution. We really need to think on this and stop some where. Have you ever wonder which is one of the main reason in determining the nature? Industrial pollution is the main cause. Earlier industries were limited and so they were less harmful to en vironment. But, with growing population several industries evolved on a large scale with massive production. This has depleted certain natural resources damaging the environment permanently. Best example is deforestation which is clearing of forest for sake of production. “ Grow More Trees” is our motto. Do you think we took this seriously? Just to increase production level, what are we doing? Cutting down the trees and cripple the system. Greed can lead to catastrophic accidents and eventually society has to suffer. Mainly primary industries has caused a massive damage to earth especially mining of coal. This has become one of the biggest issue today. Coal, one of the fossil fuel, is mined with an aim of producing electricity. Imagine a day without electricity. I remember a day when the light goes off just for an hour and I was like yelling and calling at electricity office. We really could not live without it. Not even an hour. Now, you might have come to know how coal is important and so its mining as well. But Wait! All good things come with something not acceptable. Have you ever think of how much damage is caused to surface of earth while mining coal? Let me list down all the drastic consequences that comes along with mining of it. 1. Emission of harmful gases deteriorates ambient air quality With an aim to extract coal from underground mines, mining operation is done. Such operation includes drilling, hauling, collection and transportation and this results into emission of harmful gases like methane, sulfur-dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and carbon monoxide . Just like other fossil fuels, combustion of coal produces CO2 affecting the green house effect. This even increase in global warming. This even has major impact like global warming. Don't you think such release of gases will pollute the air? Off-course Yes. Much more air quality deterioration is caused due to opencast mining in which mining operation is carried without any tunnel or shafts. Imagine how much destructive it will be? Such emission leads to serious health hazards with a rapid increase of respiratory disease such as chronic bronchitis and asthma. Really, we need to think on this otherwise the day is no far where we are left alone by nature. Within last few year production of coal is sky-rocketing. You can figure it out how the production of coal has been incresed in china in last few years. 2. Adverse impact to hydrological regime Process of mining, burning the coal and waste storage of coal pollutes the water. How? A flowing water comes into contact of coal mining activities that has exposed rocks. Such rocks contains pyrite, a sulphur bearing mineral. This mineral reacts with water forming sulphuric acid. Such runoff results into a metal rich water that is Acid mine drainage (AMD). How dreadful it would be to those aquatic plants and animals? And what about us? We too are affected as we drink that contaminated water. Other reasons that pollutes the water are erosion of mine benches , overloaded and reject dumps, failing dams and even during discharging of million litres of water itself. “Water is life” But, we have made it such that becomes dangerous to your life. How mean we are? 3. Enormous Land Disturbance Caused due to mining operation Mining operation goes through large scale excavation, creation of negligent land, removal of top soil, dumping of solid waste and cutting of roads. Usually, mine collapse in underground mining and land above it start to sink result into an interruption. News about such catastrophe is frequently heard. But, opencast mining is more destructive than underground mining. It scraps away earth and rock to get coal buried near the surface. It destroy landscapes, forest, wildlife, contaminates ground water and result into air and noise pollution. Such environmental affects are so profound that recovery of it is next to impossible. So, why we become so careless and constantly dig though it affects our environment. 4. Mining causes noise and vibration Do you like someone screaming? No Why? Because it is too unpleasant to our ears. Think of a blast or something weird sound at a high volume. How terrible it might be for our ears. Think of people living around the areas where mining activities takes place. Why? Because such mining operation produces lot of noise and vibration as well. Hundreds of tones of explosives blast in the mining area and this creates a massive noise pollution. Hearing loss of human ears is one of the major consequence of noise. Imagine how dreadful it might be? Beast in forest are more sensitive to such noise and so they are more affected than humans. Want to improve environmental sustainability in industries? There has been established many institutional bodies that offers diploma in Environmental Management. Many of them even offer excellent trainig and one of my friend has experienced best training of workplace environmental at Brisbane in Australia. Being a part of this wonderful nature, each and every individual is responsible for such destruction. Why we have become so greedy that we don't care of its frighting consequences. There is still time to save our nature otherwise it will be too late to sum up everything.
  19. Have a birthday or anniversary party coming up? Why not make the celebration a bit greener in order to help the environment? Check out this article for some eco-friendly tips on how to reduce your party’s carbon footprint. Hint: it should also lower the budget for the event. An eco-friendly party doesn’t necessarily have to be for an environmental cause. It doesn’t even need to have a nature theme or anything like that. People usually believe that throwing a greener party will mean upping their costs or annoying their guests by bringing up environmental issues. It doesn’t have to be that way – in order to help the planet you only have to keep in mind that the choices you make in the planning stage will inevitably affect the environment. It’s just up to you how much. We have plenty of resources available to help raise awareness on environmental issues. If you’re looking to make a difference for the planet, every small effort counts. You can use the special occasion coming up to inspire loved ones to make more eco-friendly choices in their everyday life, while keeping your budget manageable and making planning much more fun. If you follow a few simple guidelines, any event can become a bit greener, regardless of size or occasion. Forget about paper invitations Paper’s impact on the environment is significant – so spread the word about your gathering without leaving a paper trail. There are plenty of invite sites that allow you to create and personalize online invitations to send to your guests via e-mail or social networks. In case you’re looking for something fancier, Paperless Post lets you choose from plenty of elegant designs to suit every occasion. Additionally, every virtual card is delivered in a personalized envelope, and the website allows you to manage your RSVP list online. Say no to disposable plates and cups Reducing waste should be one of our main concerns when it comes to environmental issues. After all, each item we throw away is a waste of resources and a burden to the environment. Most of our trash ends up in landfills, which pollute the atmosphere and can have possible harmful effects on our health. Instead of using disposable plates and cups at your event, which you’ll only end up throwing away afterward, go for reusable ones. The cleanup may take you longer, but the planet will be grateful. If you don’t have enough dishes, borrow from friends and neighbors. Don’t worry about mixing colors and patterns – you can actually add an eclectic element to your event this way. Go green with your catering When it comes to cooking for the event, it is wise to have at least one dish that’s completely meat-free. According to the Meatless Monday movement, the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide. By serving your guests a delicious vegetarian meal, you show them that meatless dishes don’t have to be free of taste. To green up you cooking for the party, you should also use organic and local ingredients as much as possible. Additionally, you can serve food that your guests can eat with their hands to minimize the need for plates and cutlery. Don’t buy new décor Don’t buy new decorations. Instead, make use of decorations you already have or make your own, personalized ones using material you have lying around the house. Check out Pinterest for inspiration on how to make homemade party decorations that will save you some cash and add some personality to your gathering at the same time. Cut back on carbon emissions Being in charge of your RSVP list, you can easily find out where your guests are coming from. If possible, try to coordinate small groups for carpooling parties in order to cut back on carbon emissions. As a bonus, people will know beforehand who the designated drivers will be, which can come in handy in case you’ll be serving alcohol. Offer plants as party favors If you’re looking to give away some party favors, plants are always a good idea. Miniature potted plants make great parting gifts that your guests will enjoy for a long period of time. You can even organize a fun party activity and invite everyone to decorate their own pots with reusable materials. Other great ideas for party favors: sustainable bags and homemade goodies. All parties can be green parties when you’re looking to become more environmentally-friendly. After all, it’s our duty to keep the planet as safe as possible so that future generations will be able to enjoy the same natural resources and healthy surroundings as we do now. With minimal effort on your part, you can put together a remarkable gathering which will also remind your guests about the importance of preserving the environment, in every way possible.
  20. British Columbia's controversial annual spring grizzly bear hunt began on Apr. 1, with an estimated 1,800 hunting authorizations being issued - one of the highest numbers in recent years. Grizzlies, which are considered "threatened" by the U.S. Endangered Species Act, do not have the population numbers that black bears do, and activists including conservation groups, animal rights supporters, and First Nation tribe members have serious qualms about the hunting of these bears for pure sport. This year's grizzly hunt lasts until the end of May, and is followed by an autumn hunt that takes place Oct. 1 through mid-November. On average, about 300 of these bears are killed by hunters per year, but that number might increase from an uptick in hunting authorizations. The Canadian province where the activity will take place is home to about a quarter of the remaining North American grizzly population. Robert Johnson and Jason Moody, two brothers from the Heiltsuk First Nation, recalled commonly seeing a grizzly bear while working as field technicians in a coastal estuary, flanked by what was known as the Great Bear Rainforest. The young male bear, whom they nicknamed "Cheeky," would follow them around from a distance, often poking his head out at them and sticking out his tongue. The brothers were also there on the day that Cheeky was shot to death by a big-game trophy hunter. The bear's killer, Clayton Stoner, skinned Cheeky and took his hide. He chopped off Cheeky's head and paws. Though the brothers arrived too late to stop the hunt, they did find Cheeky's mangled remains, which had been left there to rot. "I was devastated," said Moody. "I had hoped to save his life." He and his brother, he said, had developed quite a bond with the bear, who had a playful curiosity and friendliness. Johnson remarked that during their time there, "We started talking with Cheeky, telling him what we were doing there. We got to know him quite well, to the point we could go in our boat and get off and walk around in the area without having to worry about him." Stoner kept the bear as a trophy, even balancing the animal's severed head on his knee and posing for a photo. Brothers Johnson and Moody, meanwhile, returned to their research camp near the estuary and wept for the loss of their friend. This is merely a single example of what is increasingly being viewed across Canada as a moral atrocity, and British Columbia is now seriously debating the continuation of grizzly trophy hunts. Thirteen years ago in April, a moratorium on the hunt was enacted, but quickly overturned within months. On Feb. 15, protesters gathered at the B.C. legislature buildings in the provincial capital of Victoria, demanding a permanent province wide ban on grizzly bear trophy hunting. And they posed their argument not merely in moral terms, but in economic terms as well, noting that over 11,000 tourists came to Canada to visit the bears in 2012, and contributed $9.54 million to the GDP. Trophy hunting, on the other hand, only generated $0.7 million that year. Chelsea Turner, daughter of British Columbian wildlife filmmakers Jeff and Sue Turner, spoke at the demonstration, remarking, "I realized that when we go out on location to film this spring, it will be the same time the spring trophy hunt begins. It's just appalling to me. It breaks my heart to think that one day we're working with these bears and shooting them with our cameras, and the next day trophy hunters can show up and shoot them with their high-powered rifles. This is completely the wrong direction that we're moving in." Biologist Paul Paquet of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation said grizzlies could be too few in numbers to risk a trophy hunt at this time. "The real numbers could be somewhere as low as 6,000 or as high as 18,000," he said. "We just don't know." But the real question he said, is, "is this ethical, to be hunting bears? That's really what's at issue. This is a trophy hunt, as opposed to a hunt for food." And according to First Nation members, these big game hunters are not doing anything particularly brave, difficult, or admirable. The bears in the area are accustomed to seeing people, due to tourism, and thus do not fear guns - until it's too late. Doug Neasloss of the Kitasoo/Xai'xais Nation suggested it isn't so much a hunt as it is senseless slaughter. When asked whether a grizzly is hard to catch, Neasloss replied, "No. My grandmother could shoot a grizzly." This article was first published in People's World by Blake Deppe.
  21. Today, a month and two days after Spring Equinox, is the Earth Day. A few days ago we celebrated the Earth Hour and now we dedicate an entire day to environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970 and now it's organized by the Earth Day Network and takes place in more than 192 countries each year. Over the years milions of people all over the world take action to make the Earth greener and safer and today everybody can act to contribute the Earth Day. But what is the sense? Will something really change? Will climate change end today? Of course not but what we do today should be repeated every day of our lives. All these daily actions will make the difference. In the past years the word has been spread and a new green generation is ready to face and solve the problems made in the past years. Earth Day this year is dedicated to green cities. Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. As the urban population grows and the effects of climate change worsen, our cities have to evolve. According to the Earth Day Network we have to improve three aspects of our cities: Energy. Most of the world currently relies on outdated electric generation structures that are extremely inefficient and dirty. Renewable energy is the energy of this century. Green Buildings. Buildings account for nearly one third of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Through simple efficiency and design improvements to buildings we can reduce those emissions drastically. Transportation. The fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. We need to improve standards, increase public transportation options, invest in alternative transportation, and improve city walkability and bikeability. But what you can do today not to feel guilty and to help the environment? If you want to join this global movement there are two ways: Online activism. Lend your voice, spread the word from your computer. Local campaigns. More than 192 countries (almost all in the world) are celebrating Earth Day. Join the nearest campaign to you. One of the causes that brought to the first Earth Day was an oil spill in California and today we're still fighting against the same dirty and polluting kind of energy source. It sounds repetitive but change is necessary and change depends from the number of people involved, so let everybody know that today is the Earth Day. For more details on green cities and global campaigns go to earthday.org
  22. The effects of global warming will be “severe, pervasive and irreversible” and will leave no one untouched. That is the conclusion of the newly released IPCC report, which scientists and officials say is the most comprehensive study to date on the impacts of climate change. This report is “the most solid evidence you can get in any scientific discipline,” said Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization. Earlier we could, to a certain extent, say that people damaged the Earth’s climate out of “ignorance”. But “now, ignorance is no longer a good excuse,” he said. “Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said at a news conference in Yokohama, Japan, where the report was presented. While the world’s natural systems are currently bearing the brunt of climate change, the impact on us humans is expected to grow significantly in the near future, the IPCC report warns. Rising global temperatures will result in more floods and cause changes to crop yields and water availability – effectively threatening our homes, health, food and safety. Or in the words of the report itself: “increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.” We will be able to adapt to some of these changes, but only within certain limits. In response to the IPCC report, Ed Davey, the UK Energy and Climate Secretary said that “the recent flooding in the UK is a testament to the devastation that climate change could bring to our daily lives.” “The science has clearly spoken,” Davey said. “Left unchecked, climate change will impact on many aspects of our society, with far reaching consequences to human health, global food security and economic development.” The IPCC report, which is based on 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies, details both short-term and long-term impacts of global warming. These include threats to natural systems that in turn will have severe effects for humans. A 2C rise in temperatures would mean a “very high” risk to unique natural systems such as Arctic sea ice and coral reefs. Oceans will become more acidic, which will threaten coral and the species that depend on them. Fish species, that are a critical source of food for many people, will move to new territories because of warmer waters. It is expected that in some parts of the tropics and in Antarctica, potential fish catches could decline by more than 50 percent. Plants, animals and other species on land will also begin to move towards higher grounds, towards the poles as the climate gets warmer and their current habitats changes. As mentioned earlier, the natural systems will feel the worst impacts first. Humans will be increasingly affected as the century goes on, the IPCC report claims. Highlighted in the report for being a significant concern is food security. Crop yields for rice, wheat and maize are all expected to be taking severe hits leading up to 2050, with projections showing potential losses of over 25 percent in yields. And after 2050, the risk of even more severe impacts on yields increases. At the same time, a rising population estimated at around 9 billion people will increase the demand for food. “Going into the future, the risks only increase, and these are about people, the impacts on crops, on the availability of water and particularly, the extreme events on people's lives and livelihoods,” said Professor, and co-author of the IPCC report, Neil Adger from the University of Exeter in England. The IPCC report also raises concerns over human migration due to climate change, as well as increasing risks of conflicts that will pose a threat to national and global security. As climate change worsens, so will society’s current problems. Poverty, violence, sickness, and refugees will all get worse according to the report. Climate change will also slow down the modernization of our society and effectively hampering economic growth, among other things. But although the impacts of climate change will be felt everywhere and hit everyone, the severity won’t affect people equally. Poor people, and developing countries, will feel the impact first and hardest. Climate change is expected to further increase the gaps between rich and poor. But the rich won’t be able to escape from the realities of global warming. “The rich are going to have to think about climate change,” said Dr Saleemul Huq, a lead author on one of the chapters in the IPCC report. “We're seeing that in the UK, with the floods we had a few months ago, and the storms we had in the US and the drought in California. These are multibillion dollar events that the rich are going to have to pay for.” Despite all the doom and gloom, the report makes it clear that we still have time to act to limit and adapt to some of the climate changes. In their next report, which will be published on April the 13th, IPCC will discuss what we can do to stop this negative progress. “Climate change is really important but we have a lot of the tools for dealing effectively with it - we just need to be smart about it,” said the IPCC report's chair, Dr Chris Field.
  23. The spill of about 7,500 gallons of a chemical substance from a cistern has polluted the Elk River in West Virginia, forcing 300,000 residents of nine counties not to use tap water for drinking, cooking or bathing since Jan. 9. The chemical material, used in coal processing, came out from a tank of the Freedom Industries Inc. complex, near the river. Freedom Industries president apologized for the spill said the company is working with state and federal officials. The operations to clean up the water of the river Elk Meanwhile go on, and the purification plant near the spill showed only small traces of the toxic chemical substance, ended up in the river. The day before yesterday the Democratic Governor of West Virginia, Earl Ray Tomblin, has decided to revoke a ban on the consumption of tap water in some areas of the State, after the water analysis. An estimated 35,000 residents in Charleston had water restored as of early yesterday, West Virginia American Water said. Responsibilities have to be ensured, although the lack of controls is obvious. West Virginia Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller said the last time the site of the spill was inspected was in 1991. Also the location of the chemical plant to the water was a hazard and the risk is evident. What is happening right now in West Virginia is unbelievable and not just for the gravity of the situation. There had been other accidents in 2008 and 2009 that brought to a NY Times investigation that revealed violations of pollution laws from some companies in the same valley of the chemical spill case. How many disasters have to happen to change this situation? What is more incredible is that three years ago a team of experts in the United States Chemical Safety Board had asked West Virginia to create a new program to prevent accidents in the Kanawha Valley, the valley of the accident. No program was established by West Virginia and now the population have to pay the price. Chemical and mining companies are an important part of W. Virginia economy so there must be a way to prevent future accidents and not to destroy an important part of the state economy. Still, according to the critics, laws and controls aren’t effective to counteract these accidents. Now the damages are visible, the signal is loud and clear: a strengthening of the regulations and the controls of this area is required. These controls shouldn’t affect the economy too much and they have to prevent similar accidents in the future. References: Bloomberg News Photo from Fox News
  24. Top 10 environmental issues of 2013

    It's been another year of environmental disasters in the U.S. - some fueled by corporate profiteering, others by climate change. However, it's important to take note of progress where it's due: steps forward have been made in expanding solar energy, as well as curbing carbon and mercury emissions. Nevertheless, in light of what's happened to the climate this past year, let's take a look at 10 of the biggest issues of 2013 and see what lessons can be learned from them going forward. 10. Wolves Wolves were under attack this year, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed in June to strip federal Endangered Species Act protections from them. The population is already at an all-time low. Experts believe that doing more to protect these animals, not less, is in our best interest, and that we would benefit economically and ecologically from such an endeavor. Fortunately, on Dec. 17, one million Americans stated their opposition to removing wolf protections, via conservation groups that collected their comments and sent them along to the Fish and Wildlife Service. So while wolves were certainly a hot topic in 2013, if enough people stand up for them, this issue need not devolve into a disaster. 9. Petcoke Residents in southeast Chicago are lamenting the continued nuisance of petcoke (short for oil waste called "petroleum coke"), which is currently piling up near their neighborhoods. The smoke from the stuff is drifting into their homes, disturbing family events, and causing endless health concerns. It's disconcerting to know that the billionaire Koch brothers have been technically responsible: KCBX Terminals, which has done some of the dumping, is a division of Koch Industries, which has been implicated in numerous other environmental disasters. 8. Fracking Fracking, a process through which natural gas is extracted from the ground, has not proven too popular with residents affected by toxic water, towns enduring small earthquakes from the drilling, and environmental activists who have come to realize that fracking is anything but safe. The process has persisted throughout 2013 and, even more worrying, the fossil fuel industry is increasingly setting its sights on natural gas, seeing it as a cheaper alternative to coal. But there are better alternatives. 7. Poaching Though average Americans seem not to realize it, an all-out war is being waged on the rhinoceros, particularly in South Africa, where they are prized for their horns. Poachers have evolved with the times and grown more dangerous, now wielding high-powered rifles and assault vehicles. The western black rhino is now extinct, and other species, like the northern white rhino and the Javan rhino, are at risk. The illegal wildlife trade is growing to such an extent that experts believe more rhinos will soon be slaughtered than born. 6. Wildfires They continue to burn in California even now, as winter approaches. This has been a particularly bad year - amidst a whole string of recent bad years - for areas at risk for wildfires. A look back at California's Rim Fire, which began on Aug. 17 and burned 257,314 acres, is sobering. The third largest wildfire in the state's history, its rapid spread was certainly made worse by a climate change-fueled drought and heat wave, as well as Forest Service budget cuts. It was also one of 17 major brushfires (burning 1,000 acres or more) in the U.S. this year. 5. Carbon emissions On a more positive note, the Environmental Protection Agency, bolstered by the willingness of President Obama to confront climate change head-on, has done a number of good things in 2013. One of the most important has been the curbing of carbon emissions from new coal-fired power plants. This is part of a long-term series of safeguards enacted by the Obama administration this year, a followup to the EPA's 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which sought to reduce mercury output. 4. Oil Possibly the number one word on the tip of every environmental activist's tongue this year, for a variety of unpleasant reasons. Numerous pipelines have burst and spewed oil. The most severe of these occurred in Mayflower, Arkansas, where the town was plagued by pools of tar sands oil after the 65-year-old ExxonMobil-owned Pegasus pipeline ruptured. Meanwhile, things were no safer by train. One recent disaster involved an Oct. 19 derailment in Alberta, Canada. But the worst was a June 6 derailment and crash in Quebec, in the town of Lac-Mégantec, which caused major explosions and killed 47 people. Finally, the other oil-related issue haunting environmentalists is the fact that 3 million barrels of crude are currently being loaded into the southern section of the Keystone XL pipeline - operations for that leg of the project are supposed to start next month. One can only hope another Mayflower-scale accident does not occur. 3. Solar energy If there has been progress made in any department this year, it's that of solar energy. It is seen as increasingly viable by companies, and there have been a number of good developments in solar on the East Coast. New Jersey, ranked in 2012 as number one in solar, is turning 800 landfills and 10,000 abandoned industrial areas into massive solar farms. This is a big win for a state with a messy history of pollution and environmental damage. Meanwhile, New York is installing a 47-acre solar plant in Staten Island's Fresh Kills Park, which is currently the site of the world's largest landfill. Less pollution zones and more solar power is a win-win for the environment, and the reason why solar energy was on the minds of many East Coasters in 2013. 2. Fukushima Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown is creating a panic years after the fact, due to the disaster's ripple effect. It will not only have dire consequences for the environment, but for human health and livelihoods as well. When Typhoon Wipha lashed Tokyo in October this year, it only made the situation worse. The still-leaking radioactive output from the Fukushima plant increased twofold after the storm hit, with spillage over 14,000 times what is considered safe pouring into the sea. The Fukushima cleanup deadline has been extended to 2017, but the fallout will have repercussions for decades to come. 1. Climate change And finally, the root of many of the problems on this list. Republican politicians continue to deny its existence in the interest of corporate profits. Scientists continue to warn that if we don't take measures soon, it will be irreversible. Others maintain that it's already too late to undo the damage. And the odd weather - with snow on the Egyptian pyramids for the first time in 112 years - serves as a constant reminder of the severity of global warming. The threat is imminent and the need for response through collective action is urgent. Most would argue, in fact, that climate change not only was the largest issue for environmentalists this year, it was the largest issue for everyone. And, sadly, we can surely expect it to go the same way in 2014. The photo shows a camel experiencing snow for the first time in Cairo, Egypt (source: Twitter). This article was first published in People's World by Blake Deppe.
  25. Ever got told that you should off the lights when it is not in use; or to always recycle your used paper? Going out of your way to practice this may seem to intuitive and logical for the preservattion of ourenvironment Well, today you are going to find out why you SHOULDN'T be doing all these.. Lest you start causing environmental degredation instead. Through in depth reasearches at the National Technological University of Singapore, we have concluded that many of such practices are perpetuating the destruction of our mother earth. Watch this video, and you will find out why.. nough said. We dont need to convince you why this has all been a conspiracy.