Monday, December 13, 2010

Climate Talks Remains Nothing But Talk

No surprise here. No agreement will ever be made between participants of the ongoing series of summits ostensibly designed to find a solution to the ever increasing threat of greenhouse gases.
Here are the results of the latest ‘talks’:
- Stall tactics continue to allow industrialized nations to pollute and rape less industrialized nations of their resources
- Oil rich nations continue to extract non-renewable fossil fuels from the earth

As long as industrialized natins continue to pay out funds to less industrialized nations under guidelines of the Green Climate Fund or other funding procedure, industrialized nations will feel they are ‘doing their part’ to protect us and no further progress will ever be made. As it stnads right now the combined pledge of $30 billion since last year’s Copenhagen Summit has not been met.
Until health becomes more important than money there will be no change.
If world leaders were truly concerned about the effects of greenhouse gases on our environment and our health they would come up with a lasting solution.
Slowing down the current rates of pollution by the meager rates agreed on thusfar amounts to nothing more than a token attempt to show the world ‘something’ is being done.
It is a sad fact that no real improvement in the human condition has ever been made until a tragic ‘accident’ takes place. And there is no reason to expect this behavior to change now.
The best that we who depend on our leaders to do something can hope for is that we can survive whatever nature has in store for us.
So keep your emergency survival supply levels current and hang on tight.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

We Are Running Out of TIme

Interesting graphic. I found this on the internet and just had to share.

Solar Charging Tree

photo: Yarel Yair – Design Studio
Love this idea. This is showing some real promise instead of all the talk. Let’s get this thing going.
I have seen similar fake trees in California (palm trees of course) used to provide power for cell phone towers. They actually look pretty good and they blend in reall well with the surroundings.
Hopefully we will see shapes like oak trees, fruit trees, redwoods (probably too big) but the list is almost endless. Much better looking than some ordinary ugly stone/plastic/steel monolith towers all over the city.

A couple of ideals:
1 - these trees could be charging stations for pedestrians to charge their cell phones, cameras, mp3 players, etc.
2 – solar powered vehicles should have solar film built into their skin so we are not forced to maintain coal powered electricity generating power plants.
Now, if only we could get more widespread access to good-looking, longer-distance vehicles.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Coral-Like Living Skin for Buildings

Photo from Inhabitat

Researchers at the University of Greenwich in the UK are developing a carbon negative building material that would not only help fight climate change but protect the structures it is built upon. The material is made from protocells — super simple cells that have only the basic elements of life, yet are able to grow and multiply — that will capture carbon in their membranes and grow over time to create a hard, coral-like armor around or under buildings.

This, at first blush, may seem like a great idea and I don’t want to cast any negativity on it but several questions come to mind. Since the material is a living organism what is going to happen when its targeted building is completely covered? Will it continue growing, reaching out beyond the building into the surrounding environment? You have to look at this thing as weed vine, meaning it will need to be trimmed regularly. Perhaps a maintenance programming to keep it in check would be preferable to a carbon foot print, but I can’t help thinking it will cause other problems we may not want to deal with.

Also, when it comes time to demolish the building, will be too hard to break apart. And then the material will need to be disposed of. Of course we will hopefully be able to recycle the material.

I’m all for the continued research into this idea but I just don’t see this idea coming to fruition anytime soon.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Greed and Stubbornness Continue to Hold World Hostage

Climate talks in Cancun, Mexico will bring less chance of finding a solution to curbing greenhouse gas emissions than previous years talks. At the heart of the stalemate is what all sides see as a "balanced package". But what one side calls a balance is very different than what the other side calls a balance.

Why the rift and why are there opposing sides when the whole world wants the same thing? Money and action.

One 'side' is the poorer developing countries, on the other is the wealthier developed countries. Developing countries are demanding an increase in the amount of aid they receive from developed countries. Developed nations are demanding that emerging nations, like China and India, do more to curb their soaring greenhouse gas emission and to allow more oversight to ensure they are on course to meet their goals.

The bottom line is that the ability for all of us the world over to breath cleaner air is being held hostage by greedy and stubborn nations on both sides of the issue.

Hope is the driving force to continue these fruitless talks in an effort to reach agreements that both sides can accept. The expectations of a choking world that is suffering from increased flooding, droughts and heat waves are fading, but that hope is fading with each new round of talks.

I believe time could be better spent in educating the world population on how to deal with the calamities that are the result of increased carbon emissions. But, of course, that process would be stalled as well while we wait on decisions as to who will pay for it.

China Threatens Deliberate Release of Potent Greenhouse Gas

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Household Water Conservation Tips

Did you Know?
- A tap leaking one drop of water per second wastes more than 6 gallons of water per day. That’s 2,377 gallons per year!

- About 75% of indoor home water occurs in our bathrooms, and toilets are the single largest water users.

- Less than 3% of the water produced at a municipal water treatment plant is used for drinking purposes.

The Bathroom:
- Turn water off while brushing your teeth or washing your hands.

- Have showers instead of baths and keep them short (5-10 minutes).

- Install low-flow showerheads.

The Kitchen:
- Don’t run water contiuously while washing dishes or rinsing foods; use a previously filled sink instead with a quick rinse afterwards.

- Wash full loads and use shortest cycles wghen using dishwasher.

- Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator, instead of running tap water for a cold glass of water.

The Laundry Room:
- Wash dull loads and use shortest cycle

- Use cold or warm water instead of hot

Friday, December 3, 2010

Off the Grid: Portable Solar Chargers

Something we are constantly being reminded of on an almost daily basis is, we need to reduce our carbon footprint. The reasons are many and compelling. One of the largest contributing factors of that carbon footprint is power consumption in the form of electrical usage.

Electricity is not something anyone wants give up. And restructuring our habits to exclude something that has embedded itself so deeply into our everyday lives that we cannot imagine life without it is virtually impossible. We will always need and crave more electrical power. So, instead of continuing using traditional methods of generating electricity for our homes to recharge our portable electronic devices, let's take another step away from the grid with portable solar chargers.

By now most of should be at least familiar with the concept of capturing the sun's energy and converting it into usable electrical power. For those of you who don't, the basic idea is that a solar collector, also known as a photovoltaic solar panel, absorbs the sun's rays and converts it into electricity. They are becoming more and more prevalent on large buildings as well as homes. As usage of these solar panels become more and more common their price is coming down so that more of us can afford them.

Solar chargers come in all shapes and sizes from variously shaped plastic boxes to mats that simply roll-out when you need them. They are also lighter and more-compact than just a few years ago. These are great when you are in the back country camping or hiking. Portability is something everyone appreciate allowing you to carry them in your purse or backpack. Some are waterproof, they also vary in charge time and ability to work in less than sunny conditions. The very latest trend is to sew them into clothing, laptop cases, backpacks, and bike bags.

Right now you can purchase these thin-film devices online as well as from electronics stores for around $60 to $100. Or can choose to make your own.

Do It Yourself is becoming all the rage so why not jump in and try it yourself? Below are just a few sites I found to take you through the steps in making your own.

gives instructions on making a solar iPhone/iPad charger using an Altoids tin.

The website Popsci shows you how to make a solar charger.

If you are hanging onto rechargeable batteries, how about building your own solar battery charger.

And, if you are feeling really ambitious, how about a solar power generator?

Anything we can do to reduce our carbon footprint is a step in the right direction.

Tags: solar power,

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dangerous Levels of Lead Still Found in Consumer Products

Isn’t anyone going to do something to stop the spread of this toxic element? We learned about the dangers of lead to our bodies decades ago. Why are we still dealing with this poison today in 2010?

Is lead really such an all-important substance that there is no suitable replacement for it? NO. Is it really so much cheaper to use than some alternative? Not when you factor in the cost of health problems caused by using it, which by the way does affect every single person in higher insurance premiums. But then again manufacturers must consider the health of consumers as secondary to their immediate financial benefits. Could this really be true? You betcha.

It is no surprise that lead is found in toys and other consumer products made before we knew about leads toxicity, but to allow these products to remain on the market is irresponsible.

Here’s where we have to test our desire to truly get rid of lead products. Would we really rather hang on to antiques knowing they poison everyone who handles them? Getting rid of them would harm antique stores, second-hand stores and junk shops world-wide, but these items are poison. Just how serious are we about protecting our children and ourselves? It’s a thorny issue.

There are products with lead concentrations of more than 700 times the federal limit. Some toys were found to have more than 50,000 parts per million of lead. Doesn’t sound like anything I want my kids to play with.

Typically, we have thought the only children at risk for lead poisoning are those who live in poor neighborhoods, where lead exposure has historically been more of an issue. But since the resurgence of decorating with slavage items many middle- or upper-class families are being exposed to the danger.

Children should never be allowed to come into contact with antiques or used products sold by a seller who is not regulated by a government agency such as the Consumer Product Safety Administration or the FDA. Used dishware and kitchen utensils should not be used for preparing, serving or storing food. Construction debris and salvage should be considered to have lead until proven safe.

For more details from the story go here.

Temporary Ban is Better Than Drilling

Hooray! There will be no more drilling for oil off the Atlantic coast waters. At least temporarily. Wouldn’t it be great if this was just the impetus needed to force development of alternative fuels? One can hope, right?

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said BP’s Deepwater Horizon massive oil spill showed that the administration needed "to proceed with caution" on expanding offshore drilling. (This type of disaster is what environmentalists have been warning us of for years.)

Why do we always have to wait for a huge disaster to occur before we listen?

I can believe in technology as much as the next guy but seriously, we have to take into account that humans get lazy and sloppy and the results can lead to disaster.

Of course there are always opponents. And of course they will cite monetary reasons to continue drilling instead of developing alternative plans. I mean come on, how lame is it to claim that the billions of dollars that oil companies would have paid to lease new offshore tracts would actually go to help balance the federal budget. As if that is what that money would be used for.