it's about how to save our planet from global warming.
Why?? cause not just ME stay in this planet there are YOU, THEM, OUR KIDS AND MANY BEAUTIFUL THING. so come on let's save OUR PLANET!!

Apr 30, 2009

If A Tree Falls In The Forest, And No One Is Around To Hear It, Does Climate Change?

There are roughly 42 million square kilometers of forest on Earth, a swath that covers almost a third of the land surface, and those wooded environments play a key role in both mitigating and enhancing global warming.
In a review paper appearing in the Forest Ecology special issue of Science, atmospheric scientist Gordon Bonan of the National Science Foundation's National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., presents the current state of understanding for how forests impact global climate.

"As politicians and the general public become more aware of climate change, there will be greater interest in legislative policies to mitigate global warming," said Bonan. "Forests have been proposed as a possible solution, so it is imperative that we understand fully how forests influence climate."

The teeming life of forests, and the physical structures containing them, are in continuous flux with incoming solar energy, the atmosphere, the water cycle and the carbon cycle--in addition to the influences of human activities. The complex relationships both add and subtract from the equations that dictate the warming of the planet.

"In the Amazon, tropical rainforests remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere," said Bonan. "This helps mitigate global warming by lowering greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. These forests also pump moisture into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration. This cools climate and also helps to mitigate global warming."

While even the earliest European settlers in North America recognized that the downing of forests affected local climates, the global impact of such activities has been uncovered over more recent decades as new methods, analytical tools, satellites and computer models have revealed the global harm that forest devastation can cause.

As studies have explored the mechanisms behind these effects, and the effects themselves, researchers have come to recognize that calculating the specific harm from a specific local impact is a highly complicated problem.

"We need better understanding of the many influences of forests on climate, both positive and negative feedbacks, and how these will change as climate changes," said Bonan. "Then we can begin to identify and understand the potential of forests to mitigate global warming." -ScienceDaily

Apr 29, 2009

6 Amazingly Crafty Ideas For Recycling Your Old Magazines

I’m about to make a public confession. I’m a magazine junkie. There, I said it. I have drawers full of poker magazines, music magazines, design magazines and even a few impulse magazines. You know the ones? You’re in line at the grocery store and see the captivating headline; “Britney Goes Green And Recycles The Same Music Again This Year!“. You just have to read it!

Anyway, the point is, there’s got to be something we can do with our stacks and stacks of old magazines. Maybe instead of simply recycling them, we can reuse them in a funky way? Well, that’s exactly what these creative folks have done after they decided to go green with their old magazines and turn them into amazing recycling craft ideas.

What a superb idea and this will cut you costs during the holiday season! If you don’t already have some yourslef, ask your friends for themed holiday magazines that they have just hanging around. Daily Danny actually had an took the idea further by recycling maps, brochures, and other paper products that are just causing clutter in the house. One more tip from Danny, as you can see in the pic, is to cut the ribbons (also made from the mags, etc.) really long to encourage the receiver to reuse them again!

Yes, it is a tad ironic that you are essentially recycling garbage into something that will hold garbage, but isn’t that what’s cool about it? I guess it really doesn’t even have to be a garbage can. It could hold a number of different things, like even a stack of old magazines until you recycle them into wrapping paper. This one looks like it would take a long time, but could be a fun project.

Storage Box Made From Old MagazinesThese round storage boxes comes with a tutorial found on Flickr. So, open up your recycling craft drawer and pull out your glue, scissors and, of course, your old magazines! This one would be pretty nifty as a hat box, using fashion ads. One word of caution: it looks like there is a certain level of patience and relaxing background music involved.

Another awesome flickr find on a great idea for how to reuse your old magazines! Eeven if you didn’t want to attempt to make these from your own magazines, you can support the idea by picking up a few from this gal’s Etsy shop. They’d go well with the wrapping paper idea!

This is taking recycling to a whole other level. Heather Frazier created a small business, Frazier And Wing, by designing handmade mobiles that are created from old magazines! These are simply beautiful, and not only are they kind to the environment, but would add a delightful conversation piece to any room in your house.

Designer Wary Meyers created an amazing recycled masterpiece out of old magazines. Oh, you thought it was just a novelty piece meant to look like a chandelier? Nope! This baby has bulbs and works! You can read a feature at Time Out New York that outlines the 9 steps on how it was made.

Do you have any other ideas on recycling old magazines into funky cool stuff? -gogreenlifestyle

How to Recycle Kitchen Items, What to Avoid Buying

Are you forced to recycle by your township or city? For some, the answer to this question is yes. For others, they are not required to do so. And of course, there are those who are not required to recycle but feel that this is something they should do anyway. When it comes down to it, there are many items that you should recycle and some that you should avoid buying altogether.

Simply put, recycling can go a long way in helping to save the environment. After all, it is never good to fill landfills with items that are going to take hundreds of years to decompose. For this reason, many areas have put a strong emphasis on recycling.

If you are interested in recycle kitchen items, and you should be, you need to set up a system for doing so. The best way to do this is to have one trash can for regular items, and one can for those that will be recycled. This will make it easy for you to track your trash, and of course, easier for the garbage men to separate the items.

There are many items that are good to recycle. Some of the best include: unbroken glass containers, aluminum cans, dry newspapers, metal cans and lids, grocery bags, clear plastic bags, and junk mail among many others. As you can imagine, there are other items, not related to the kitchen, which should also be recycled.

Of course, it is much better to avoid many of these items altogether. For instance, you should avoid buying plastic bags at all costs. Instead, use longer lasting alternatives such as Tupperware. To go along with this, do the environment a favor and take boxes to the grocery store with you. It is much better to reuse boxes to transport groceries than it is to rely on plastic bags. Fortunately, many stores are aware that grocery bags are damaging to the environment when not recycled so they have moved away from using them.

There are many kitchen related items that you should recycle. To go along with this, try to avoid buying certain items, such as plastic bags. By implementing a recycling system and cutting back on harmful items, you are doing your part in saving the environment and keeping long lasting waste out of landfills. And it really is one of the easy ways to go green. -gogreenlifestyle

Making the Switch to LED Lights

You already know to save energy by turning lights off when they are unnecessary, but did you know you could save energy every time you turn on a light? An LED light bulb can use 70 percent less energy than the traditional bulb would use – some estimates are even higher! They can be found with different wattage to add the right amount of brightness to your home.

Anywhere you need light is a good place to install LED lights. While they can be rather expensive, you can find some that are on the affordable side. Once you buy one, it starts paying for itself as soon as it is turned on. LED bulbs are famous for their longevity, with some varieties lasting over 50,000 hours. An LED light bulb would be an excellent choice for using with ceiling fixtures and in regular lamps.

If you find that regular bulbs make your bathroom too hot, try installing LED bulbs instead; they usually do not heat up so much. Desk lamps can also make your office uncomfortably warm; use an LED bulb here, and you can cut down the temperature while still giving your eyes the light they need. The cooler temperature also makes these bulbs a safer choice for lamps that are within the reach of toddlers or children.

You can find lovely LED bulbs that provide the same amount of light as their counterparts, but need 15 times less energy in the form of watts! Some bulbs are manufactured especially for outdoor use, and can save you a lot of money each evening.

If you think that switching to LED light bulbs is too small a step to make much difference, consider what the research shows: if every family in America used just one LED light instead of a regular bulb, the national energy savings would exceed the energy made at one of our biggest power plants. You can see the particular light bulb this refers to here: 5 watt led

Implementing easy ways to go green into your life can be as simple as switching a light bulb! Why not try it for yourself? -gogreenlifestyle

Apr 28, 2009

3 Ways to Go Green in the Classroom

Most teachers realize that they have influence over their students, and can teach excellent green lifestyle principles without having to do much work. There are 3 really simple ways to go green in the classroom that will teach your students a thing or two about taking the green lifestyle home. Here are some easy ways to go green in your classroom, and to teach your students about eco-friendly living.

#1: Do not ask for your students to buy new materials or supplies unless they are absolutely necessary. Can your students keep using the same notebooks, pencils, markers and supplies that they used in your classroom last year? Consider buying a single set of these items and reusing them from class to class until they absolutely cannot survive another year. Encourage your students to reuse their supplies rather than buying new and teach them what it means to do green things and to life a green lifestyle. This way, when they come to class without new gear this year, they will not feel at a disadvantage.

#2: Do not use paper for assignments and projects unless you have to. Can you use the whiteboard or chalkboard to do your teaching? Can students send their homework assignments in by e-mail? Save paper whenever you can, and you will make a huge difference. There are numerous ways for you not to use or abuse paper in the classroom, you simply have to be creative when thinking up ways to go green in the classroom.

#3: Provide recycled paper whenever paper is necessary. If you do have to assign paper-driven homework assignments but are looking for ways to go green, consider buying recycled paper or reusing the same paper. If students have to take notes, let them take notes and turn in their assignments on the same pages. Encourage use and reuse of recycled pieces of paper and teach your students what it means to use less paper and to save more trees in the long run. Using recycled paper is infinitely better than using fresh paper over and over, and it promotes a green lifestyle for you and your students through and through. -gogreenlifestyle

Recycling Your Old Tires

It’s quite an eyesore to have a stack of old tires in your garage or your backyard, and on top of that, they are a known breeding ground for all types of nasty misquitos. So, instead of letting them take up valuable space, or worse, letting them go to a dump where they won’t be recycled, do yourself and the environment a favor by having those tires recycled.

What Happens To The Tires?
Recycled tires are broken down by removing the fibres and steel so that they can be transformed into crumb rubber and then used for new products like flooring, turf, rubberized asphalt, and many materials that can be used for new highway contruction.

How To Dispose Of The Old Tires:
Almost every tire shop, especially these days, has a process to dispose of and recycle the old tires. Give your local shop a call and ask them if they will take yours. Often they will but sometimes for a small fee. You can also check with your municipality. Some areas are willing to take a small number of tires for pick up and recycle on regular garbage day, or they have a special day of the year (i.e. spring clean up) where they will pick up basically anything.

If you only have one or two old tires laying around, you could always add a chain and create a swing or fill up the middle in a creative way to produce a plaything for the kids or grandkids in the backyard! -gogreenlifestyle

Apr 26, 2009

How to Recycle Batteries ?

Virtually every family has at least one appliance that requires some sort of battery to be used. Some appliances solely depend on batteries while others may use electrical energy as well. Incase of emergencies such as power outages, portable appliances that require batteries such as flashlights are extremely helpful. Each and everyday more products are being produced that need batteries to be useful. While becoming more popular in our daily life, the problems of pollution and many other hazards come into effect.

Have you ever wondered what was inside a battery? Each battery contains a certain metals such as lead and zinc. When not recycled correctly our environment can suffer greatly. If one leaves a battery on the ground, it may leak into the ground causing corrosion of the soil and put nearby wildlife in danger. If recycled correctly these environmental problems won't be encountered.

There are basically two classifications of batteries. Non-chargeable which cannot be recycled and chargeable which can be reused again and recycled. A vast amount of materials such as lead, nickel-cadmium, nickel hydride, and mercury are contained in chargeable batteries. All of these are recyclable so that they may form raw materials for manufacturing industries. To get a final product, the batteries must first be separated from their plastics and insulation material using gas-fired thermal oxidizers. Then each battery is processed by using heat treatment furnaces using a great amount of energy to end up with the final product.

Certain rules and standard procedures have been made by the American government which is to be followed for recycling battery purposes. Nearly all recycling locations in America contain a section for battery recycling. Each location must follow the government’s standards and principles correctly. Millions of batteries are recycled at these locations per year and recharged batteries are often offered at a minimal cost. Each rechargeable battery eventually can't "recharge" any longer so there is a service provided for those batteries as well.

By recycling batteries the environment is not being polluted nearly as much, many natural resources are saved due to the rechargeable batteries also. There is a large variety of websites on the Internet with more quality information on recycling batteries. -Guna seelan

Buy Deforested Land

Buy deforested land so you can save Planet Earth from the damage and destruction constantly being afflicted by industrialization and increase in numbers of human beings. Many tropical and rainforests are being cut off to provide human need for wood and paper. However, as is well known this is making it very dangerous for some of the most unique and special animal, bird and insect species to survive which have been there on Earth for long time.

That the Earth is facing its biggest warming crisis ever, is obvious from the fact that the ice at the poles is slowly starting to melt, leading to increase in sea levels. Any further increase would result into submerging of several areas of the world. However, cause for prevention of destruction of species and forests has been taken up by several organizations around the world. These organizations do their own work, however, at times, they do require some financial help from people around the world.

Such organizations buy deforested land from the money people have donated and convert it into a lush green forest it was once. These donations are small and cheap enough. You can contribute say $10 for the cause and a 100 square meter land is adopted to be given back its natural green habitat.

With the help of general public it is soon becoming possible for people to help in the process of healing the planet. It is very well known fact that we produce ample carbon do oxide everyday with the use of vehicles and other products, however, this carbon di oxide can be converted into oxygen only by the trees, which seem to be vanishing fast from the tropical forests and the rainforests. This need for reforestation has become a necessity for today.

Our responsibility towards creating forests should be weigh heavily upon us than it normally does. This responsibility should be taken seriously, because it is only this way that we can grow back the cut forests and increase oxygen levels in atmosphere which is absolutely necessary for us.

As a first step towards recognizing this responsibility, you can buy deforested land and help organizations convert them into beautiful forests, you can also make sure that the species that were dislodged when the land was cut, are now restored back to their natural habitat, thereby protecting flora and fauna.

If you want to buy deforested land, you will find that this land does not burden your pocket at all. Pricing is really low, a contribution of $100 can buy you a really large piece of land, which you may not require to work hard to restore, rather the organization working actively for growing up forests will take care that the purpose for which it was bought is being looked after.

Buy deforested land is a good way to protect the Earth, it is simple yet very effective, all you would require to do is contribute little money for the purpose. This is so our children will be able to live healthily in cleaner and fresher air. -easygreening

Waste Management and Recyling

Concern over our environment has seen a massive increase in recycling globally which has grown to be an important part of modern civilization.

As a society we manage to produce a vast amount of materials that are just thrown away, waste management is the collection of these materials in order to recycle them and as a result decrease their effects on our health, our surroundings and the environment. Practices in waste management are different the world over, dependent on certain issues such as how developed the nation is, if it is a city or rural area and so on. The management of waste is not only the responsibility of governments and the manufacturer, but also an individual?s duty. Waste management is an issue that has to be dealt with daily in order to control the huge amounts of waste currently passing through our towns and cities.

Australia is one such country that is giving attention and priority to how it handles its waste, and this has resulted in the emergence of companies offering environmental services for resource recovery and recycling. To reduce the impacts of waste and unwanted resources on the environment it is important to educate the populace about waste items and how they can be processed or recycled.

There are several resource recovery systems in place and facilities that have been developed to deal with these issues. Natural recovery systems make use of of food, organic and green waste and are then dealt with in in-vessel compost systems, whilst materials collected for recycling include glass, plastic bags, metals and paper. Automated and manual methods are used to sort materials from construction sites, such as brick, tiles and concrete and after being sorted are re-used for road base and construction materials. E-waste (electronic waste) comes from items such as old computers which are taken apart in order to recover materials like cabling, aluminium, copper, glass and plastics. Bioreactor landfills are deployed to generate green energy through the capturing of biogas from municipal waste. There is also help provided for councils to award innovative technologies which can be used to recover recyclables.

We can all help out when it comes to waste management and recycling products. It may not seem effective to recycle products as a household, but put all those households together and you will produce a result. It is each person?s responsibility to do what they can to conserve resources, reduce landfill volumes and produce new materials using less energy. Some cities in developed nations keep a record of their resource recovery systems in order to identify if they are working effectively, evaluate them and update them if necessary, this information can then be passed onto other areas or nations to help them in the recycle challenge. Deciding to recycle is a simple step and surprisingly easy to start. If you are unsure where to begin there are lots of resources, including the local environmental sector, who will be eager to teach you how to recycle your leftover waste and check on the internet too for information. -Michiel van Kets

Top 10 Ways to Save Fuel

While the season of high gas prices might be over, you never know when those prices will skyrocket again, which is why you should start practicing fuel-saving ways, so that when gas does reach the $4-dollar mark again, your wallet won't suffer.

Whether you drive a hybrid or gas-guzzling SUV, chances are you can still squeeze a bit more distance out of each gallon of gas. Even two to three more MPGs can make a big difference. Here is a list of 10 fuel saving tips that have helped others over the years and it can also help you improve your car's fuel economy. While most of these tips will give you a slight increase in MPG, when using them all together, you can see a dramatic increase in fuel improvement, which is always a good thing.

1. Slow Down

Let's face it: we all have a heavy foot at times. The speed racer inside of all of us likes to take over every now and then, but one of the best ways to save gas is to simply reduce your speed. We all want to get to where we are going faster, but in the end, don't we end up there? As speed increases, fuel economy decreases exponentially. Try driving the actual speed limit for a couple of days and you will definitely see a difference in how long your gas lasts. Instead of filling up every week, your gas might last you for a week and a half. You'll save a lot of fuel and your journey won't take much longer if you take a slower pace. Try it, it might also get you out of a ticket!

2. Check your tire pressure

You might not think it really makes a difference, but your tires play a big and important part in good gas mileage. Under-inflated tires are one of the most commonly ignored causes of crummy MPG. Tires lose air due to time (about 1 psi per month) and temperature (1 psi for every 10 degree drop); under-inflated tires have more rolling resistance, which means you need to burn more gas to keep your car moving. One way to make sure your tires pressure is always good is to buy a reliable tire gauge and check your tires at least once a month. A good tip is to make sure to check them when they are cold, since driving warms up the tires along with the air inside them, which increase pressure and gives a false reading. Use the inflation pressures shown in the owner's manual or on the data plate in the driver's door to make sure your tires pressure is correct for your type of car.

3. Check your air filter

Making sure your air filter is clean is important since a dirty air filter restricts the flow of air into the engine. This harms performance and economy for your ride. Air filters are easy to check and change actually: remove the filter and hold it up to the sun. If you can't see light coming through it, you need a new one. Consider a K&N or similar "permanent" filter which is cleaned rather than changed; they are much less restrictive than throw-away paper filters, plus they're better for the environment. If you do not want to do it yourself, you can easily go to your mechanic or an automotive specialty garage.

4. Accelerate with car

A heavy foot on the pedal can make your gas decrease with every punch you take after a red light. If you drive an automatic, accelerate moderately so that the transmission can shift into the higher gears. Stick-shifters should shift early to keep the revs down, but don't lug the engine -- downshift if you need to accelerate. If you accelerate to speed then have to brake right away, that's wasted fuel.

5. Chill with the trucks

In traffic jams, cars speed up when it clears and then suddenly stop when traffic stops. This stop and go movement can actually decrease your fuel since you're accelerating and then stopping fast. Trucks, on the other hand, just roll along with traffic at a leisurely pace. A constant speed keeps shifting to a minimum -- important to those who have to wrangle with those ten-speed truck transmissions -- but it also aids economy, as it takes much more fuel to get a vehicle moving than it does to keep it moving. Rolling with the big rigs saves fuel and helps you keep your cool while stuck in traffic.

6. Turning off the air conditioner

Go back to nature and turn off your air conditioner. Open all the windows in your car and just enjoy the nice, natural breeze. Even though it may be a tad warmer than you'd like, but not using your air conditioner will help save you MPGs. At higher speeds the A/C may be more efficient than the wind resistance from open windows and sunroof.

7. Buy efficient wheels

Sure new wheels look cool and they can enhance performance, but heavy ones can actually add to the car's overall weight, causing you to lose fuel faster. If the wheels are wider than the stock tires, chances are they will create more rolling resistance and decrease your fuel. Nowadays, there are plenty of lightweight wheels that won't cause that extra drag, so that you can still roll in style and save gas at the same time. A good tip is to keep your stock wheels and tires handy so that you can change them when you are going on long trips to have better fuel economy so that gas lasts longer as you go cross-country.

8. Clean out your car

A clean car is a happy car. It also helps you save on gas. It doesn't really take much to acquire an extra 40 or 50 lbs. of stuff, and the more weight your car has to lug around, the more fuel it burns. Make it a habit to clean out your car at least once a month or every time you get your car wash and see how long your fuel lasts now.

9. Downsize

If you are in the market for a new car, make sure to really do your homework before committing to anything. You should really re-evaluate how much car you really need. Sure, your heart might want that big Hummer H2, but do you really need a big car if you are single and don't have a family to fit in it? Smaller cars are inherently more fuel-efficient, and today's small cars are roomier than ever. he automakers are designing their small cars to survive crashes with bigger vehicles, and safety features like side-curtain airbags and electronic stability control are becoming commonplace in smaller cars. These smaller cars are also getting styling upgrades and many tuners are now adding smaller cars to their list of products.just look at the SmartCar!

10. Don't drive at all

At first this might sound a bit strange, since driving is an everyday chore, but do you really need to drive to get to where you are going? If you do your homework, you can probably find alternative ways to get where you are going. You can take the Metro train to work and not have to drive at all, which many do. Instead of the headaches of driving to and from work, Metro train riders get to rest and chill as the train does everything for them. You might also be able to carpool with friends. Walking or biking is good for your wallet and your health. And before you get in your car, always ask yourself: "Is this trip really necessary?" This will definitely make your gas last a whole lot longer! -

Towards a Greener Tomorrow with Eco-friendly Printing Services

No matter what one would have us believe, printing services are still among the most sought after services. Even in this age of electronic communication and "paperless" offices, mankind has not been able to fully shrug off the need for paper. Printing jobs are still in need and printing presses everywhere are keeping busy with a steady influx of orders everyday.

This is also an age marked by an increased awareness about environmental issues. There is a conscious effort everywhere to go green, stop environmental pollution and save the planet we live in. This new heightened awareness has necessitated the need to take a fresh look into industries and commercial organizations, which have long been blamed, to varying extents, for polluting the environment and depleting the earth's natural resources. We have also started to think how such harmful effects can be diminished and keep the planet green.

Like most production operations, printing houses also produce harmful wastes. Printing houses produce what are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), caused by the use of petroleum-based inks, laminates, varnishes and adhesives. Studies have shown that these compounds, when inhaled, greatly increase the risk of asthma attacks. As a result, measures are being adopted by many printers worldwide to comply with existing regulations and adopt environment-friendly practices.

However, this is only half of what "eco-friendly printing services" are really all about. The issue of conservation is no less important than the need to stop polluting the environment. Eco-friendly printing is all about a successful merging of the two.

It is surprising to learn that the paper and printing industry ranks fourth among manufacturers in the amount of energy used. Producing paper and the electricity used for factory operations, as well as the actual printing process, demand lots of fossil fuels. Printers, thus, put a major strain on the planet, draining her natural resources in alarming magnitude.

Certified eco-friendly printing services keep track of the total energy usage and implement strategies for offsetting the environmental impact of their businesses. Their goal is to be sustainable printers, meaning they will be carefully planning operations to minimize electricity use, put a lighter drain on natural resources and source paper from companies certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which is virtually synonymous with well-managed forests that adhere to strict environmental standards. It also means recycling and reusing paper and other supplies whenever possible. That's what "green printing" is all about.

By choosing eco-friendly printing services for all our printing needs, we can show that we really care about our environment and act as responsible citizens of the planet. It's always comforting to know that we're doing our part to protect and conserve the environment. It's also reassuring to know that our printing requirements will not endanger the earth by adding toxins and harmful pollutants, or by depleting natural resources. Everybody should insist on printing green. After all, we all owe it to the planet that we can call home in this vast universe. Sending all our printing jobs to certified green printers offering eco-friendly printing services can go a long way in helping conserve the environment and ensure a greener tomorrow for our children. -Simon Churchgate

Apr 24, 2009

Organic Milk for Health

Organic milk has all the nutritional goodness of non-organic milk but due to the cows’ more natural diet it also has some additional health benefits.

In 2003 a study confirmed that organic milk naturally contains much more Omega 3 fatty acid than non-organic milk. This is due to the fact that organic cows are fed higher levels of natural red clover than non-organic cows.

Further research carried out at the University of Aberdeen in 2004 found yet higher levels of Omega 3 in organic milk. The research, which compared the Omega 3 content of organic and non-organic milk, showed that organic milk can contain up to 71% more Omega 3 than non-organic milk and has a better ration of Omega 3 to omega 6.

Research has also established that organic milk has higher levels of vitamin E, vitamin A and antioxidants. Organically reared cows, which eat high levels of fresh grass, clover pasture and grass clover silage, produced milk which is on average 50% higher in vitamin E, 75% higher in beta carotene (which our bodies convert to Vitamin A) and two to three times higher in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthine than non-organic milk.

Drinking a pint of organic milk a day provides 17.5% of the required intake of vitamin E for women and 14% of that for men, and as much beta carotene as a portion of some vegetables such as Brussels sprouts.

As well as having tangible health benefits, drinking organic milk minimises the risk of consuming chemical residues. You can also rest assured that it is produced in a natural way, which means that the cows do not graze on pastures sprayed with artificial, chemical pesticides and are not fed GM cattle feed.

The Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative, OMSCO, is the UK’s largest and longest established organic milk cooperative. It was formed in 1994 by a group of five like-minded farmers in the West of England, including the Elm Farm Research Centre’s farm and the Duchy of Cornwall Home Farm in Tetbury. Our members now number around 300 from Cornwall to Aberdeen and we supply the majority of UK’s organic milk needs. OMSCo farmers work hard to produce naturally pure milk which we believe it better for you, the cows and the countryside.

British organic milk is different to non-organic milk. You can trust organic milk because on an organic dairy farm you will find:

No use of artificial insecticides on pastures where organic cows graze.
No use of artificial herbicides on pastures where organic cows graze.
No use of artificial fungicides on pastures where organic cows graze.
No use of antibiotics unless the cows are ill.
No GM in organic cattle feed.
No case of BSE ever found in an organic born and raised dairy cow.
No use of solvents or urea to produce organic cattle feed.
No housing of organic dairy cows all year round.
No housing of organic calves in single pens where they cannot touch other cows.
No hedge cutting on organic farms between October and March to minimise wildlife disturbance.

5 Green Recycling Ideas - Simple Ways To Live Green and Recycle

Here are some excellent ideas for recycling products you may not even know can be recycled!
Remember when you recycle, you are helping save the plant you live in and the planet your kids will live in

So, live green today and help save tomorrow.
Here are some excellent ideas for recycling products you may not even know can be recycled!
  1. Don' throw away those old Ink/toner cartridges. Visit and recycle them! Not only are you living green, you also make $1 each!
  2. Tennis shoes: Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe program turns old shoes into playground and athletic flooring.
  3. Compact fluorescent bulbs: Take them to your local IKEA store for recycling.
  4. Toothbrushes and razors: Buy a recycled plastic toothbrush or razor from Recycline, and the company will take it back to be recycled again into plastic lumber.
  5. Eyeglasses: Stop saving those old frames and recycle them! Your local Lion's Club or eye care chain may collect these. Lenses are reground and given to people in need. -squidoo

The Messsage from the UK Government: Go Green, or Pay More on Heating

It is simply crazy. As we are grinding into the worst economic slump for a century, simple things like heating bills are going up and up.There are also significant health risks for pensioners and low income families. During the big temperature freezes of the past winter, it was they who needed to keep warm the most. Yet they are increasingly unable to pay their rising gas bills to stay warm.

We constantly hear advertising campaigns by multinational oil companies as well as government departments talking about Green, Renewable Energy. It is hyped up as the answer to all our troubles. And who would argue with the idea of saving some money and saving the planet. Secure in this righteous ideal they invest in wind farms and win votes, all in the name of benefitting society as a whole.

However the latest initiative by the UK government reveals the truth behind this egalitarian rhetoric. The plan is called the “Renewable Heating Incentive”, and aims to construct a large number of wind farms and solar energy facilities to reduce reliance on fast depleting and environmentally unfriendly fossil fuel sources. Now you’d think that the responsibility for paying for these developments would land at the feet of global energy giants - but you’d be wrong. The money to fund this scheme is ultimately going to come from ordinary people’s pockets! The government intends to introduce a levy for companies depending on how much energy from fossil fuels they provide. However the energy corporations intend to force their customers to pay this levy, by increasing our heating bills.

The price of gas incresed by nearly sixty percent in the past year, and electricty costs went up by over a quarter. This meant that millions had to think twice about switching on their portable heaters. In the midst of increasing poverty, the “go green” banner has been used as a solution for families to ease hardship by paying less for energy bills. However if this idea is brought in it will harm precisely those who are struggling. Essentially what this will mean is that those with more secure and higher incomes will be the ones who can afford to switch to green energy sources for their homes. But if you can’t, and resort to using fan heaters or oil filled radiators to warm your house when the temperatures drop, you’ll be hit with higher energy bills. This will be the case even with the proposed low interest loans being offered to carry out the work. If you’re already up to your neck in debts and worried about making rent next month, you’re hardly likely to take out a new loan, low interest or not. If the introduction of university student loans have taught us anything, its that offering low interest loans only make these schemes more appealing to the middle classes.

Is this not an unfair situation? Far better would be taxing the energy companies directly and getting hold of a tiny fraction of their trillions of dollars of profit.The proceeds from this could be used to carry out these improvements on the homes of those for whom paying heating bills is genuinely a struggle, so that they can pay less. Please contribute your thoughts on this matter. -earthfriendly

Apr 23, 2009

Compost Tumblers are More Convenient than Compost Bins

Have you always wanted to do something that’ll help you live green? Our natural resources are getting more and more scarce as the years progress. This is why we need to contribute together as a family to help save this Earth from scarcity. As the years go by you find more and more people that are recycling and doing other things to help preserve the Earth. Yet, there still are things that we can do to make it better? The world still produces more pollution than anything that could help the Earth’s life.

Recycling is one process used to help preserve our resources, but it’s not the only thing. If you really want to help in the saving of the Earth and its resources you can get a Compost Tumbler.

The compost tumbler is an alternative to the regular compost bin. It will take all the waste that you put in there and turn it into rich nutrients. This efficient compost tumbler is a more active way to compost items. It’s just another way to decompose organics. The tumbler is made in a way that anyone can use it easily.

Does it matter if you use a compost bin versus a compost tumbler? Well, I guess you can say that there is quite a few differences. The results will be the same when it comes to the both of the products, but some features from the compost tumbler could make it a more preferred product to buy. Plus, the area you live in may have something to say about which one you can use.

Some residential areas are strict when it comes to compost bins. As a neighbor, you can understand how some people would feel to live next to someone who has a pile of compost in their yard…… You also have to constantly turn a compost bin throughout your day. You don’t have to turn the tumbler as much as you would with the bin.

Composting is important to use to reserve our resources for our future generations. When you use composter reviews you can view all the different kinds of tumblers available for you to buy. Learn the differences between the several types and sizes of Compost Tumbler that can work for you.

If you’re ready to start living green then check out all the reviews in internet or makes available to you. Help preserve the Earth! Don’t hesitate! -earthfriendly

10 Ways You Can Improve Earth’s Health

Here are some easy 10 Ways You Can Improve Earth’s Health

1. Change light bulbs

2. Drive differently, or drive a different vehicle

3. Control your temperature

4. Tame the refrigerator monster

5. Twist some knobs

6. Plant smartly

7. Invest in green energy

8. Go organic

9. Buy recycled

10. Be a minimalist

Buy quality products that will last longer. Over time, you’ll obviously buy fewer products that way.

Be creative in what you use for work, play and leisure. You don’t always have to buy new products for activities. Re-use in creative ways. -ecofriendlyworld

Air Polllution

Indoor air pollution is a problem that is a much more widespread health issue than most people are aware of and it should not be taken lightly, since most people end up spending 90% of their time inside. In order to gain in energy efficiency, homes are tightly sealed against the elements, but this traps contaminants and toxins in the air. The best way to eliminate those pollutants is with air purifiers.

The greatest impact that indoor air pollution has on health is easily seen in the steep climb of incidences of asthma and allergies sufferers. Interestingly, this marked increase in respiratory problems is seen in developed countries around the globe. In addition to allergens being trapped in homes by better seals on windows and doors, it is also believed that the chemicals used in our homes for every day cleaning and maintenance are also to blame. These chemicals collect over time, eventually reaching toxic levels when the air in a home is stagnant and not cleaned.

While home air cleaners are often geared toward homes, office environments have the same air quality problems and for the same reason. Quality air purifiers used in home and office settings can very effectively remove the majority of pollution from the interior air, thus keeping you from using your lungs as contaminant air filters. These contaminants are responsible for asthma and other respiratory problems and are also considered to contribute to an increase in lung cancer rates in the U.S.

Another area where home air cleaners should always be in use, are in hair and nail salons. Nail salon technicians and cosmetologists are at elevated risks for breathing problems and lung disease because they are routinely exposed to higher than standard levels of potent chemicals, such as formaldehyde. This fact alone makes them 1.8 times more likely to end up with lung cancer because of this exposure. Proper air purification in their environments can help to reduce that risk.

Air purifiers are able to remove allergens and contaminants from the air. They significantly reduce the major contaminants found in home environments, such as dust, pollen, mold spores, dust mite feces and pet dander, just to name a few. They can also be helpful in removing smoke particles from the air as well. When the level of such pollutants is lowered, so is the risk of triggering allergies, developing asthma or getting cancer.

A side benefit of regular use of air purifiers in the home is that they can also help to reduce the frequency of dusting and vacuuming, since the particles are removed by the air purifier rather than settling on furnishings and the floor.

There is a wide variety of home air purifiers available on the market. Prices range from under $100 for a very basic unit that can effectively clean the air in a small room, to elaborate whole home air purification systems that can cost up to thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the house and the level of purification desired.

In general, air purifiers don’t take a significant amount of electricity to operate, which is good because they need to be running at all times to keep the air clean and filtered. Filters are another component of the cost of running air cleaners and this aspect should be taken into account when comparing the costs of acquiring and maintaining them. -earthfriendly

Apr 22, 2009

Waste decomposition rates

How long does X take to break down?

Reading that an item takes eleventy snazzillion years to break down in the environment makes for great attention grabbing stuff when writing articles on green living, but the more I research various related topics, the more I find differences in estimations.

A lot of this is to do with the fact that decomposition is very dependent on the environment where the material is decomposing. For example, look at the difference between how fast steel rusts (a form of decomposition) in a humid salt air environment such as the coast vs. a dry environment like a desert.

Another factor is whether the waste is even exposed to the air or buried in a landfill. In the case of the latter, it usually takes a lot longer for an item to break down.

Those are a couple of issues to bear in mind when reading statistics on how X or Y material breaks down. "Break down" is really a vague term and there's also a big difference in the terms, biodegradable, degradable and compostable; not to mention the types of residues they leave behind, some of which can be toxice.

However, we can get a general guesstimate about waste decomposition and that can help in making purchasing decisions.

With all that in mind, here's a list of common items and how long they take to "break down" in the environment.

Glass bottle 1 million years
Monofilament fishing line: 600 years
Plastic beverage bottles: 450 years
Disposable diapers: 450 years
Aluminum can: 80-200 years
Boot sole: 50-80 years
Styrofoam cup: 50 years
Tin can: 50 years
Leather: 50 years
Nylon fabric: 30-40 years
Plastic film canister: 20-30 years
Plastic bag: 10-20 years (???)
Cigarette filter: 1-5 years
Wool sock: 1-5 years
Plywood: 1-3 years
Waxed milk carton: 3 months
Apple core: 2 months
Newspaper: 6 weeks
Orange or banana peel : 2-5 weeks
Paper towel: 2-4 weeks

The above information was taken from the Pocket Guide to Marine Debris from Ocean Conservancy. It's sources were the U.S. National Park Service; Mote Marine Lab, Sarasota, FL and “Garbage In, Garbage Out,”, Sept/Oct 1998.

Judging by the figures, I'd hazard a guess these would apply when the item is exposed to sunlight and air. Stick some of those items into landfill and in the absence of light and oxygen, chances are they won't break down for many generations. Even newspapers dumped in landfill have been known to be still readable after many years.

For disposable shopping bags, I've seen figures anywhere from 500 - 1000 years (but there's many different types of plastics) and cigarette butts up to 12 years. While it may seem odd for leather to take so long to break down, many leather products are treated with all sorts of nasty preservatives to extend their life. The figure for a glass bottle is incredibly long, but at least that's an easily recyclable product. I have picked up old beer bottles on my bush block that are over 50 years old but look as though they were left there yesterday. -Michael Bloch

Energy Saving Heaters

When it comes to energy saving heaters, newer is indeed better. With advances in technology traditional energy efficient heaters are possible. Proper and regular maintenance is a necessity energy saving heaters. Clean filters and maintained furnaces with thermostats on a wall that does not get drafts are all ways to save. Filters should be removed and cleaned or replaced every two weeks for maximum efficiency. Furnaces should be maintained once a year in the fall before they are started for the first time. Models over ten years old should be evaluated and replaced. For those looking for a green alternative, solar panels make great energy saving heaters. From homemade panels that can reduce heating costs to actual installed pre-made solar air space heating panels that can practically eliminate the need for traditional methods of heating that require fossil fuels there are numerous options out there. There is also a solar heating, ventilation and domestic hot water solution called the solar furnace for those seeking real energy saving heaters for their home. It is a hybrid heating system that also uses natural gas or propane. In tests it has been shown to lower heating and electricity bills by as much as sixty percent. Solar air space heating is another option that requires no electricity. Its effectiveness depends on how much air is actually passing through the solar panels as well as the amount of sun it receives. Making the change to energy saving heaters, rather they are traditional or solar powered is a great way to help green the environment. -Robin Neorr

Wine: A barometer of global warming Vintners in France forced to change ways grapes are grown

ROUFFACH, France - On a cobweb-encrusted rafter above his giant steel grape pressers, Rene Mure is charting one of the world's most-tangible barometers of global warming.

The evidence, scrawled in black ink, is the first day of the annual grape harvest for the past three decades. In 1978, it was Oct. 16. In 1998, the date was Sept. 14. This year, harvesting started Aug. 24 - the earliest ever recorded, not only in Mure's vineyards but in the entire Alsace wine district of northeastern France.

"I noticed the harvest was getting earlier before anybody had a name for it," said Mure, 59, the 11th generation of his family to produce wine from the clay-and-limestone slopes of the Vosges Mountains near the German border. "When I was young, we were harvesting in October with snow on the mountaintops. Today, we're harvesting in August."

Throughout the wine-producing world, from France to South Africa to California, vintners are in the vanguard of confronting the impact of climate change. Rising temperatures are forcing unprecedented early harvests, changing the tastes of the best-known varieties of wine and threatening the survival of centuries-old winegrowing regions.

In the hot Mediterranean vineyards - the first to feel the effects of longer, drier summers - vintners are harvesting grapes at night to protect the fragile fruit at the critical picking stage. Growers in Spain, Italy and southern France are buying land at higher terrains for future vineyards.

Some champagne producers in northern France - whose grapes were ready for harvest in August, earlier than in any year on record - are eyeing properties in southern England, the current beneficiary of planet warming. The British wine industry is re-emerging for the first time in the 500 years since a minor ice age cooled Europe.

While Provence and other southern regions of France have suffered through debilitating droughts and high temperatures for several seasons, scientists and growers have been stunned by the dramatic evolutions in the northernmost regions of Alsace and Champagne, long considered less susceptible to global warming.

"Usually, Alsace is one of the last regions to harvest in France, and this year, we were the first ones," said Gerard Boesch, president of the Alsace Wine Association. "That's astonishing."

In a chain reaction of nature, climate change is also sending new insects and diseases north. The leafhopper is migrating north with warmer weather, spreading yellow leaf disease in Alsatian vineyards for the first time, according to a regional research institute.

Scientists and vintners say wine grapes are the best agricultural measure of climate change because of their extraordinary sensitivity to weather and the meticulous data that have been kept concerning the long-lived vines.

"The link of wine to global warming is unique because the quality of wine is very dependent on the climate," said Bernard Seguin, an authority on the impact of global warming and viniculture at the French National Agronomy Institute. "For me, it is the ultimate expression of the consequences of climate change."

Nowhere is the impact more acute or better documented than in France. Here, the $13 billion wine industry is not only crucial to the economy but also more inextricably entwined in the culture and heritage of the people than in any wine-producing country on Earth.

For centuries, the "vendange," or annual grape harvest, has been treated as a nearly religious ritual, with parish churches maintaining meticulous records in dusty, crumbling ledgers.

In France, winegrowers are subject to the world's most-rigid cultivation restrictions: Vintners can grow only varieties authorized for their region, harvests are tightly regulated and, until this year, no irrigation was allowed. Year after year, the climate is the single greatest variable in France's wine production, making its vineyards the perfect climate-change laboratory for scientists.

Rene Mure's family has been growing grapes and producing wine in the hills surrounding the picturesque village of Rouffach since 1648. The family tree, with its 12 generations of winegrowers - Rene's children, Veronique, 31, and Thomas, 27, are the newest Mure vintners - is tacked to a wall in his cellars, which produce 350,000 bottles of wine a year.

Mure and other French vintners have tasted global warming in their wines for the past three decades. Their red pinot noirs were more aromatic, and their white Gewurztraminers were sweeter with fragrances of litchi and roses.

All over France, vintners abandoned their forefathers' practice of adding sugar to the wines to improve their flavors and alcohol content. The sun and warmer summers were doing the job for them. Through the 1980s and 1990s, French wines won higher and higher ratings from domestic and international wine critics.

But the climate warming has accelerated faster than vintners or French scientists anticipated. That has forced sugar levels, and consequently alcohol levels, higher in the wines. Some producers in Provence are adding acidic compounds to their wines to keep them from becoming too sweet and undrinkable.

Vintners in Alsace are now facing similar problems. The average temperature in Alsace, which is bordered by the Rhine River and Germany, has risen 3.5 degrees in the past 30 years, a dramatic increase for sensitive grapevines, according to the French National Agronomy Institute.

"For 10 years, our problem has been to keep the acidity," Mure said. "Wines need to be balanced to have fresh, crisp flavor."

Mure has already started changing the way he cultivates his grapes, growing some vines closer to the ground with fewer leaves in the style of southern grape growers, giving his vines less exposure to the sun.

He wants to experiment with growing southern Syrah grapes in Alsace. The way Mure sees it, if the southern climate is moving north, he should be prepared to grow grapes that can withstand the heat. -washingtonpost

Apr 19, 2009

Five Ways to Make Your Food Help Save the Planet

Every action you take in buying foods and beverages has an ecological footprint. There is a CO2 footprint associated with every item you buy. From the transportation of the food item to the fossil fuels spent in the farming, ranching or processing of the ingredients, it all adds up to an "ecological footprint" that's invisible but very real.

How big, exactly, is this ecological footprint? Astonishingly, the eco-footprint of your food is larger than the eco-footprint of the car you drive!

It's also larger than all the energy you use in your day-to-day life (heating hot water for your shower, heating your home, etc.) and all the travel you pursue. In fact, for the average person the food and beverages they consume are the single largest determining factor of their overall ecological footprint.(Source: Cardiff's Ecological Footprint study)

This is tremendously good news because it means that you can greatly reduce your ecological footprint without having to spend a fortune. You don't have to "go solar" to save the planet (although it helps). You don't necessarily need to buy a Prius. The No. 1 thing you can do right now is make new choices in the foods and beverages you purchase and consume.

Making that one change is, without question, the single most powerful thing you can do right now to reduce your ecological footprint. Below, I list the five action items you can follow that will have the most dramatic footprint-lowering effects.

But first, let's answer the question: Why does this matter at all?

Global warming, ocean acidification and more CO2 emissions, of course, are causing a sharp increase in the levels of measurable CO in the atmosphere. It's currently more than 380ppm and rising at an unprecedented rate due to the burning of fossil fuels.

But does this really lead to global warming? Some people (even a few scientists) argue it doesn't. The chemical composition of the atmosphere has no effect on the climate, they say. That position strikes me as quite odd, especially considering the undeniable fact that glaciers and Arctic ice sheets that have been since the industrial revolution are now melting away right before our very eyes (2008 was a devastating year for the melting of polar ice).

Even for those who do not believe CO2 emissions cause global warming, there's another big reason why CO2 emissions matter: Ocean acidification. When CO2 levels rise in the atmosphere, most of that CO2 gets absorbed by the planet's oceans. Because CO2 is slightly acidic, this causes the oceans to become more acidic, too.

Why is that so bad? Because the ocean's creatures can't build coral reefs in acidic water. The acid decomposes their tiny shells. This is partly why we are already seeing disturbing episodes of "coral reef bleaching" around the world. Coral reefs are dying everywhere, and when they die, the entire marine ecosystem is devastated by the loss of life and biodiversity. -naturalnews

Global Warming Wipes Out Trout Populations in Southern Appalachians And this in less than 100 years

53 to 97 % of natural trout populations in the Southern Appalachians could disappear due to the warmer temperatures predicted under two different global climate circulation models according to USDA Forest Service (FS).

The three species of trout that live in the Southern Appalachians, native brook (Salvelinus fontinalis) (photo) and the introduced rainbow trout ( Onchorhynchus mykiss) from Western North America and brown trout (Salmo trutta) from Europe, require relatively low stream temperatures to survive. Average air temperature in the United States has increased by about 0.6� C (1o F) over the last 100 years, and is projected to increase 3 to 5�C (5.4 to 9o F) over the next century and this will also lead to an increase of water temperatures. "Trout species in the Southern Appalachians are already at the southern limits of their ranges," says biologist Patricia Flebbe from FS Southern Research Station unit in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Flebbe and her team produced a regional map of wild trout habitat based on information from samples, expert knowledge, and suitable land cover to be applied on a simulation about the warming temperatures. They combined to the map elevation and latitude factors adding the temperature rise over the next 100 years to get information about how much trout habitat will be left. "Estimates of how much temperature will increase in the Southern Appalachians varies according to the global circulation models used, which, in turn, affects projections of habitat loss," says Flebbe.

"Using predictions from the Hadley Centre, about 53 percent of trout habitat would be lost over the next century. Under the more extreme model from the Canadian Centre, 97 percent would be lost."

This habitat is already fragmented due to land use change, road building, channelization, and other disturbances and would increase with the warming weather. "As the remaining habitat for trout becomes more fragmented, only small refuges in headwater streams at the highest levels will remain," says Flebbe.

"Small populations in isolated patches can be easily lost, and in a warmer climate, could simply die out."

"Although all three of these trout species will probably remain viable in other parts of their range, the world could lose the brook trout strain unique to the region," she adds.

"And, as a result, trout fishing in the Southern Appalachians may become a heavily managed experience."

And, amongst the three species, the brook trout seems to be the most sensitive to warming waters. -softpedia

Apr 17, 2009

Polar Bears May Be Turning to Cannibalism

Polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea may be turning to cannibalism because longer seasons without ice keep them from getting to their natural food, a new study by American and Canadian scientists has found.

The study reviewed three examples of polar bears preying on each other from January to April 2004 north of Alaska and western Canada, including the first-ever reported killing of a female in a den shortly after it gave birth.

Polar bears feed primarily on ringed seals and use sea ice for feeding, mating and giving birth.

Polar bears kill each other for population regulation, dominance, and reproductive advantage, the study said. Killing for food seems to be less common, said the study's principal author, Steven Amstrup of the U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center.

"During 24 years of research on polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea region of northern Alaska and 34 years in northwestern Canada, we have not seen other incidents of polar bears stalking, killing, and eating other polar bears," the scientists said.

Environmentalists contend shrinking polar ice due to global warming may lead to the disappearance of polar bears before the end of the century.

The Center for Biological Diversity of Joshua Tree, Calif., in February 2005 petitioned the federal government to list polar bears as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Cannibalism demonstrates the effect on bears, said Kassie Siegal, lead author of the petition.

"It's very important new information," she said. "It shows in a really graphic way how severe the problem of global warming is for polar bears."

Deborah Williams of Alaska Conservation Solutions, a group aimed at pursuing solutions for climate change, said the study represents the "bloody fingerprints" of global warming.

"This is not a Coca-Cola commercial," she said, referring to animated polar bears used in advertising for the soft drink giant. "This represents the brutal downside of global warming."

The predation study was published in an online version of the journal Polar Biology on April 27. Amstrup said print publication will follow.

Researchers in spring 2004 found more bears in the eastern portion of the Alaska Beaufort Sea to be in poorer condition than bears in areas to the west and north.

Researchers discovered the first kill in January 2004. A male bear had pounced on a den, killed a female and dragged it 245 feet away, where it ate part of the carcass. Females are about half the size of males.

"In the face of the den's outer wall were deep impressions of where the predatory bear had pounded its forepaws to collapse the den roof, just as polar bears collapse the snow over ringed seal lairs," the paper said.

"From the tracks, it appeared that the predatory bear broke through the roof of the den, held the female in place while inflicting multiple bites to the head and neck. When the den collapsed, two cubs were buried, and suffocated, in the snow rubble."

In April 2004, while following bear footprints on sea ice near Herschel Island, Yukon Territory, scientists discovered the partially eaten carcass of an adult female. Footprints indicated it had been with a cub.

The male did not follow the cub, indicating it had killed for food instead of breeding.

A few days later, Canadian researchers found the remains of a yearling that had been stalked and killed by a predatory bear, the scientists said. -cbsnews

Climate Change Drives Disease To New Territory

Viruses Moving North to Areas Unprepared for Them, Experts Say

Valere Rommelaere, 82, survived the D-Day invasion in Normandy, but not a mosquito bite. Six decades after the war, the hardy Saskatchewan farmer was bitten by a bug carrying a disease that has spread from the equator to Canada as temperatures have risen. Within weeks, he died from West Nile virus.

Global warming -- with an accompanying rise in floods and droughts -- is fueling the spread of epidemics in areas unprepared for the diseases, say many health experts worldwide. Mosquitoes, ticks, mice and other carriers are surviving warmer winters and expanding their range, bringing health threats with them.

Malaria is climbing the mountains to reach populations in higher elevations in Africa and Latin America. Cholera is growing in warmer seas. Dengue fever and Lyme disease are moving north. West Nile virus, never seen on this continent until seven years ago, has infected more than 21,000 people in the United States and Canada and killed more than 800.

The World Health Organization has identified more than 30 new or resurgent diseases in the last three decades, the sort of explosion some experts say has not happened since the Industrial Revolution brought masses of people together in cities.

"We didn't even know West Nile virus existed here," said Maria Bujak, 63, of Toronto. Her husband, Andrew, contracted the disease in their garden in 2002. He never fully recovered, she said, and died two years later.

"Tropical diseases are here to stay in Canada. We needed our government to wake up and tell us that," said Douglas Elliott, a Toronto lawyer who has brought suit against the Ontario government on behalf of about 40 victims, contending that the government did not do enough to inform the public about the dangers of West Nile.

Scientists have warned for more than a decade that climate change would broaden the range of many diseases. But the warnings were couched in the future, and qualified. The spread of disease is affected by many uncertainties, including unforeseen resistance to antibiotics, failures of public health systems, population movement and yearly climate swings. For that reason, some scientists have been cautious about the link between disease and global warming.

But Paul Epstein, a physician who worked in Africa and is now on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, said that, if anything, scientists weren't worried enough about the problem.

"Things we projected to occur in 2080 are happening in 2006. What we didn't get is how fast and how big it is, and the degree to which the biological systems would respond," Epstein said in an interview in Boston. "Our mistake was in underestimation."

The incremental boost already detected in the Earth's temperature, for example, has expanded the range and activities of disease carriers.

"Insects are exquisitely sensitive to temperature changes," a report prepared by Epstein and others at Harvard's Center for Health and the Global Environment noted in November.

The clearest case for that, according to the report's authors, is in cold areas. The higher elevations of Africa, the Andes mountains in South America and the Alps in Europe are warming at a faster pace than lowlands. As ice caps and glaciers melt, forests inch higher on the mountains, and insects carry diseases from warmer lowlands farther up the slopes.

A WHO report in 2000 found that warming had caused malaria to spread from three districts in western Kenya to 13 and led to epidemics of the disease in Rwanda and Tanzania. In Sweden, cases of tick-borne encephalitis have risen in direct correlation to warmer winters. Asian tiger mosquitoes, the type that carry dengue fever, have been reported recently as far north as the Netherlands.

As the seas warm, other breeders thrive. Cholera, a waterborne disease, emerged in South America in 1991 for the first time in the 20th century. Abetted by poverty and poor public health, it swept from Peru across the continent and into Mexico, killing more than 10,000 people.

Diseases are also expanding in a surprisingly complex dance with their environment, taking advantage of the swings from deluge to drought made more frequent by global warming, Epstein said.

A common house mosquito, called the Culex pipiens , for example, unexpectedly thrives in drought. It lives in drainpipes and sewer puddles. During long dry spells, the stagnant pools teem with protein and attract thirsty birds on which mosquitoes feed. Meanwhile, droughts reduce the populations of dragonflies, lacewings and frogs that eat the mosquitoes.

The Culex pipiens is a favored carrier of a disease first identified in a feverish woman in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937. The disease was found again in Israel in the 1950s, and in Romania in 1996. Each outbreak followed an unusual dry, hot spell, typical of adverse weather becoming more frequent as a result of climate change, concluded researchers at the University of Haifa in Israel.

In 1999, the virus landed in New York, probably at LaGuardia Airport. Disease sleuths speculate that it was lurking in a mosquito stowaway on a plane, or in the bloodstream of someone already infected. That summer also brought unusually hot, arid weather to New York, perfect for the Culex pipiens.

Before the year was over, 62 people had been infected and seven had died, the first of them elderly. The next two years were more temperate, but when another hot, dry summer hit in 2002, the disease exploded across the United States and into Canada.

Susan Harrison, then 45, prepared a Labor Day barbecue that year with her husband and two daughters on the deck of their small house in Toronto. She was bitten by a mosquito, but shrugged it off.

In a few days, she felt a shooting pain in her legs. Within two weeks, she could not get out of bed. Her husband, Phil, rushed her to the hospital, where she was put on a respirator and spent three months in intensive care. She now maneuvers around her narrow house in a wheelchair, her legs and right arm paralyzed by West Nile virus.

Tears welled in her eyes as he spoke of her daughters, Allison, 10, and Tara, 13. "I used to do things with them, take them places," she said. Her husband, a waiter, struggles to fill the role of two parents.

West Nile virus killed 304 people in North America in 2002 and 276 the next year. The toll dropped to about 100 in 2004, probably because of cooler weather and mosquito-control measures.

West Nile has killed 22 people in Maryland, Virginia and the District since 2001.

Despite the recent drop in the death toll, birds and horses in hot western regions are still being devastated, and the disease has likely not finished with humans.

"West Nile virus hasn't gone away. People still need to be aware that it's there," said Edward B. Hayes, a medical epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Fort Collins, Colo. "Whether we have large-scale epidemics is anyone's guess."

Climate change already is claiming more than 150,000 lives each year, with causes ranging from heat waves to respiratory illness, WHO concluded last year.

Some scientists see global warming as a natural cycle that will soon reverse itself, but for many governments, the handwriting is increasingly clear. Britain's environment minister warned last year that malaria might reach that country. South Africa's environmental affairs minister said last year that the country could face a fourfold increase in malaria by 2020. The Canadian government now attributes the boost in West Nile virus to climate change, and last year warned that the country might eventually experience dengue fever, yellow fever and malaria.

"One of the problems we have in North America is coming to grips with the fact that epidemics are still a problem," said Elliott, the lawyer. "Canadians, prior to West Nile virus, just considered mosquitoes to be annoying. We had never thought of mosquitoes as being disease carriers." -washingtonpost

Apr 16, 2009

Cooling food without electricity

Zeer pots - fridges that don't need electricity

It's hot over here at the moment; darned hot. In the last week out here in the boonies, I haven't seen peak daytime temperatures below 35 degrees celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) inside and some days the it's reached 46C (115F).

These types of temperatures make it quite a challenge keeping food and drinks cool enough so they don't spoil quickly.

I was considering a car fridge, but the cheaper ones are quite power hungry - around 5 amps draw. These thermoelectric refrigerators will usually only cool around 20C below ambient temperature; 30 degrees for higher end models. It's a lot of power used for that kind of result. An energy efficient 12v DC compressor based refrigerator gets better performance, but they are quite expensive.

There's no mains power on my property, but I have a mobile solar panel rig that powers my notebook, small appliances and a few lights quite nicely and it's small enough to pack up and bring back to the burbs at the end of each trip. However, I wanted a little more self sufficiency in case I had a couple of days with poor sunlight.... and just for the sake of self sufficiency :)

Cooling food with evaporation

Recently I've been researching on using evaporation for cooling food - it works much like the principles behind evaporative air conditioning. The old meat safe that was used in Australia back in the pioneer days was a possibility, but it needs to sit outside to get the required air movement for effective evaporation and even then, isn't all that effective. I wanted an inside solution anyway.

I'd read about pot-in-pot fridges, also known as Zeer pots, which seemed much simpler and more effective so I decided to give that a whirl.

How a Zeer pot works

The Zeer pot was invented by Mohammed Bah Abba in 1995, to address a huge need for a cheap way to cool food in poorer areas of Africa and places without mains grid electricity. In hot places such as Nigeria, a great deal of food is wasted as it basically needs to be consumed immediately or it will spoil.

A pot-in-pot fridge consists of two unglazed terracotta pots, one larger than the other. If the pots have drainage holes in the bottom of them, these need to be plugged. A layer of sand is placed in the bottom of the large pot and the smaller pot placed inside. Sand is poured in the gap between the two pots (which ideally should be about an inch wide) to just below the rim. It's also best that the smaller pot is level with the larger pot. A little lower is fine, but it definitely shouldn't be higher.

Water is then poured on the sand until it begins pooling on the surface. The pot is then placed in a shaded area with good ventilation.

The dampness penetrates the walls of the terracotta pots, which then evaporates. This evaporation cools the pot, the sand and the food/drinks that are placed inside the smaller pot. Wet fabric such as a tea towel or hessian is also placed over the smaller pot to assist further with cooling. The Zeer pot works best in areas with low humidity levels.

This sounded like a project that even I couldn't screw up too badly, so I gave it a whirl:


So, did it work? I'm pleased to say it did indeed!

Given the conditions at the time, everything was very, very hot from the outset - the pots were hot to the touch and I couldn't even touch the sand when I first dug it up due to the heat. It took about 12 hours for the fridge to "charge", that is, for the water poured in to totally seep through the terracotta and to see appreciable temperature drop start to occur, but as you can see above, the walls of the pots are very thick. In other Zeer pot examples I've seen, the terracotta is thinner and usually round pots are used which also may work better.

My pot-in-pot fridge is stored in the corner of my shed, so it doesn't get all that air movement, but it still worked fine.

It took around 15 liters (just under 4 gallons) of water to "charge" the fridge. Since that time, I'm only using about a litre (quart) of water a day to keep the sand moist, which is great as water is gold in these parts - haven't seen any rain out here for over a month.

There's no dripping, so the unit is also tidy to run; but I have put a layer of thick plastic beneath the large terracotta pot so that water isn't lost through seepage through the bottom; which wouldn't evaporate anyway.

As for temperature drop, the best I've achieved so far is a drop of 21c compared to ambient temperature. On the 46C (115F) day, the air temperature inside the internal pot was around 25C (77F), and the walls themselves a few degrees cooler again. Not exactly icy cold but on a day that hot, believe me that a drink at that temperature is absolutely wonderful.

Of course, during the night and cooler parts of the day, temperatures inside the fridge are much lower. I suspect that with a few changes such as mentioned above to mimic Mr. Mohammed Bah Abba's design more closely, lower temperature drops than I've experienced could be achieved.

The other great aspect of this fridge is there's no moving parts and no components to break down!

Whereas before I could only keep cheese for a under a day in high temperatures (at best), I've been able to keep cheese and eggs for 4 days so far thanks to the pot-in-pot fridge; and bread is keeping much longer too.

Bear in mind that the temperature ragne for bacteria growth is 5 - 60C (41 - 140F), the Zeer pot shouldn't be trusted with particularly delicate foods prone to salmonella, such as chicken and I certainly wouldn't use it for fish.

It's also a good idea to ensure food items are wrapped separately or placed in airtight separate containers within the pot. Always sniff test before consumption :).

Where these pots are being used in Africa, people are able to keep food items such as tomatoes for as long as 3 weeks, whereas without the pot tomatoes would only stay good for a few days.

So, if you're into self-sufficiency looking for a food cooling solution for your outback getaway, or even something to have on standby in case of disaster, consider a Zeer pot - they are cheap to make and cost next to nix to run. Based on clay, sand and water - cooling doesn't get much more environmentally friendly than this! -Michael Bloch

Blackwater recycling systems

How blackwater treatment and recycling systems work

We are the proud owners of a blackwater recycling system. It's a step beyond greywater recycling, in that everything that goes down our drains, including toilet water and what it carries, is recycled.

Without this system, given the current drought and water restrictions in Australia, much of our garden would be struggling.

How blackwater recycling works

All the water we use in our house is routed to an initial tank via gravity. The blackwater is given time to settle and a primary colony of bacteria goes to work for 24 hours, chewing through the chunky bits; much like a normal septic anaerobic (without oxygen) system. The settled blackwater is then diverted into a secondary treatment tank that's divided into 3 separate chambers - Aeration, Sludge settling and Irrigation.

Blackwater Aeration stage

Water and air are injected into the aeration chamber and timed intervals causing churn in the tank contents. Bacteria settle and multiply on the sludge particles, digesting a variety of nutrients and oxygen from the sludge.

Sludge Settling Chamber

The result of the aeration stage is then piped into a sludge settling chamber. Sludge sinks to the bottom and partially treated water is forced upwards through a mechanism that has another bacteria biomass covering it. This colony of bacteria then consumes most of the oxygen in the mix and breaks down any remaining solid particles.

Irrigation Chamber

The remaining effluent passes into the irrigation chamber where it is clarified and chlorinated; a process that is required by our local health authorities. I believe the amount of chlorine used is minimal as the water doesn't have a chlorine smell; unlike the mains water in our area.

At this stage, treatment is completed and pumped out over our garden irrigation system automatically.

Our plants absolutely love the recycled blackwater as it is still comparitively nutrient rich, just without the dangerous levels and types of pathogens. We never really need to use fertilizer in our garden where the irrigation is used.

The system is arranged in such a way that raw sewage is unable to contaminate the treatment tank. Settled bacteria-rich sludge is also pumped back into the primary tank at regular intervals for the bacteria to continue digesting, thus reducing buildup of sludge and increasing the overall efficiency of the system.

Owning a blackwater treatment system doesn't pose any serious problems that we've noticed so far. It's serviced every 3 months by the company that installed it. We do need to be careful of what we send down our drains as chemicals and anti-bacterial products can destroy the bacteria colony; but that's been a good thing as it means we use more environmentally friendly products.

People often ask me if there's a nasty odor associated with blackwater systems and I'm pleased to say there's not. In fact, if your blackwater system is working correctly, there's very little odor. If it smells, it usually means that the bacteria are struggling; likely due to something you've put down the drain that you shouldn't have; such as disinfectant.

A standard domestic blackwater system isn't suitable for use on vegetable gardens and certainly not for drinking water. There are blackwater setups around that can achieve a purity level suitable for human consumption, but they are very expensive and I don't think we're quite ready to take that step just yet :). -Michael Bloch

Energy efficient cookware

Using energy efficient cookware

If you are trying to reduce the amount of power that you use in your kitchen, you've probably already looked at the big power drains like the refrigerator and washing machine. Did you know, however, that using energy efficient cookware can save a significant amount of power? Here are some tips on how to use your cookware to its best effect to keep your energy usage at a minimum.

Choose the Right Cookware for the Job

By selecting the right cookware for each meal that you cook, you can prevent unnecessary energy waste while you're cooking. Some of the things to consider include:

  • Size. If you are using a larger pot than you need, you will be wasting energy to heat a lot of empty space. Use cookware that is appropriate for the meal you are making.
  • Materials. Some materials, such as cast iron, retain heat better than others. Others, such as copper, reach the cooking point more quickly with less energy. Select the cookware you use based on the type of meal you are making so that you have to apply as little energy as possible.

Maximize the Effect of Your Heat

When cooking on a stovetop, heat is transferred from the burners to the parts of the cookware that are touching the stove. The most efficient way of using energy to heat your stove is if as much of the pan as possible is touching as much of the burner as it can. There are two ways that you can maximize the heat that your oven is generating:

  • The Shape of the Cookware. The most energy-efficient cookware has a flat or slightly convex bottom, which allows it to efficiently use the heat from the burner. Convex bottoms allow much heat to be lost.
  • The Size of the Cookware Relative to the Burner. If your burner is larger than the pan, you are using energy to do nothing more than heat up the air surrounding the cookware. Smaller burners need less energy, so use them when you are cooking with smaller pans.

Energy-Efficient Cooking Techniques

Certain appliances and cooking techniques also allow you to save a large amount of energy with your cookware. Three examples include:

  • Light Ovens. These ovens have all of the energy-saving properties of microwaves (which use 50% or less energy to heat food), but they can also brown and roast like a regular oven.
  • Induction Cooking. Induction cookware uses magnetic forces to keep food hot while the outer surfaces stay cool. This is very energy-efficient because all of the heat goes exactly where it's needed – into the food.
  • Solar Cookers. Solar cookware uses the heat of the sun to power slow-cooking. The energy used is absolutely free and clean, making it a truly environmentally-friendly cooking method.

Being mindful of the ways that you use your cookware can help you save money on energy while also contributing to a healthier, more stable environment. -Michael Bloch