Saturday, February 16, 2013

Eradicate Poverty, Climate Change & Carbon Footprints

English: Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Resized,...
Where would you say you place yourself in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs? Click on the triangle to read the detail of the chart. My guess is that 99.99% of you will locate yourself in the top half of this chart. Today is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This is about all of those that are located in the bottom section of the chart.

The priority for this group at the bottom of this chart is breathing , food , water, sex, sleep, homeostasis and escretion. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs works on the basis that individuals start at the bottom and work on getting their way up the chart. So once the bottom needs have been satisfied, the individual starts working on the next level above, summarized as safety. This goes on until the individual achieves the top level of self actualization.

The poor will suffer more than the rich with climate change. The reason is that the poor live life on the margin. They are more at risk of being affected by floods and droughts. The poor are less able to absorb the increases in food prices. A small increase in food price will represent a huge proportion of their income.

So what has happened? Land which used to grow food is now growing biofuels. The biofuels go into cars to reduce carbon output. Less food produced has resulted in price increases in food. Why? Simple economics of the law of supply and demand. When supply goes down the price of a product goes up unless there is reduced demand. Demand does not go down among the very poor as their demand is already at subsistence levels.

The numbers of individuals living below the poverty line is difficult to imagine. Suffice to say that in Indonesia there are some 30 million living below the poverty line. This is almost half the population of the UK or approximately double the population of the Holland.

Poverty and Climate change are issues that have to be dealt with. Climate change will not be resolved by the very poor.

Carbon produced by person
  • 1 ton   per year in Africa
  • 12.8 tons per year in the UK
  • 28.5 tons per year in the United States

The priority for the poor is to eat and have their basic needs satisfied. We cannot and should not expect the poor to resolve the problems associated with carbon production and climate change.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Renewable Energy for Greener Buildings

Geothermal plant at the Blue Lagoon

Geothermal: The Sleeping Energy Giant

Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) are the ideal solution for solving the climate/energy crisis.  The main difference between this renewable energy and wind/solar is that it can scale efficiently with a small base footprint and can satisfy base load on the energy grid.  This is the 20% of peak energy (electric) demand that is currently satisfied by coal.  Geothermal is a 24/7 energy solution that is clean and scalable.

Geothermal systems have been around since the 1800s and development of these systems has been suppressed by big oil and other fossil fuel backed organizations.  Part of this has always had to do with the fact that geothermal systems create energy.  Fossil fuels are energy stores and can cheaply acquired out of the ground a transported.  Geothermal requires an electric grid and hence was never considered as a transportation fuel.  Geothermal missed out on the industrial revolution because it never could be deployed for transportation.  We never mastered implementing it and instead relied on the black stuff.  With advances in electric storage systems (super capacitors/batteries/hydrogen generation) that is no longer an issue.  Geothermal is limitless, we can afford to be even wasteful because it has zero carbon emissions.

The difference between  traditional geothermal systems employed in Scandinavian countries and new enhanced systems of the kind used in Nevada comes down to water irrigation.  Either the water is naturally available close to the bedrock (Yellowstone) or we need to pump the water down towards the hot rock.  EGS (enhanced geothermal systems) can be located on the coasts or irrigated from rivers or the Great Lakes.  Water is efficiently used in a closed loop system.  Geothermal plants on the coast can also pull double duty as desalinization plants.  Geothermal offers clean, limitless energy and is already proven.  Furthermore, it does not require expensive manufacturing that contributes to greenhouse gases (steel manufacturing) like wind turbines.  Couple that with its small footprint and you have an ideal solution that has been tested for hundreds of years.

Why is Geothermal Being Suppressed

The Bush Administration has put “zero” dollars into geothermal research.  The venture capital community put only a few million.  Why? Everyone has a horse in the energy race and no one wants the “Big Brown” of energy to participate.  Geothermal plants are relatively inexpensive to build and provide limitless energy which is determined by square acres instead of miles (like wind turbines in the Pickens plan). They are capable of supplying huge amounts of energy, which can be used for building and designing LEED certified buildings, or greeen buildings. This opens the door for commissioning services to come in and optimize buildings for our future. We need a solution now and we have to look past greed.   Even clean energy advocates like T. Boone Pickens are misguided by greed.  We need a workable solution now.

The Solution: Let Today’s U.S. Energy companies become tomorrow’s

The U.S. oil and gas industries made record profits in the tens of billions and are the only companies in the U.S. that can afford the cash outlay to build irrigated geothermal plants, that can solve the crisis today instead of tomorrow.  Mandate them to do so, let them protect their profits and business model and move on to the next issue like health care.

Let me be clear, President Obama, you can solve the energy crisis with a swipe of the pen if you mandate U.S. energy companies to switch over to geothermal.  The government can set aside research money to build enhance plant designs, but you must also mandate immediate build out of plants based on existing designs that are already being deployed in Nevada.

Both coal and oil companies in particular have the know how to find and dig holes in the ground (the most complicated part of geothermal).  Let them do it.  Solar/wind at the hyper local level, on rooftops and cars makes a lot of sense, but we need to protect our open spaces.  Carpeting the land with solar panels and wind turbines when billions of years of magnetic, solar, and thermal  energy is right below our feet is silly and irresponsible.

There is a basic lesson that any kid knows. Your basement is always warmer than outside…  The solution to the climate/energy crisis is right below our feet. Your green jobs are here. It will take a lot of “traditional” labor to put these plants online. It will also take researchers to increase efficiency and lower the footprint of designs. Geothermal will also jump start the viable engine of the hydrogen/natural gas/liquefied coal economy, viable transportation fuels.  Eventually we will be able to switch completely over to hydrogen. Today’s energy companies will eventually become plant operators and hydrogen distributors. Large companies like airlines, might eventually operate their own geothermal plants for the sole production of hydrogen for transportation around the clock.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Maintenance for Log Siding

Side view of the cabin
(Photo credit: saidinjest)
Log siding is some of the best looking siding you can get for your house, not to mention the additional benefits which can include better insulation and improved dimensional stability (particularly if the siding in question is cedar). That said, there are quite a few things you need to realize as far as what comes after the siding gets installed. Of course, we're talking about long-term maintenance of log siding.

At a very basic level, log siding simply needs to be treated the same way you would treat actual logs. Some people might already know how to take care of logs that sit out in the environment, and those people are certainly at an advantage. That said, we refuse to leave those who have never dealt with logs behind in the dust, so it's time cover the basics.

Perhaps the most important thing when it comes to logs is that they have a natural tendency to soak up massive amounts of liquid. What this means in the real world is that log siding absolutely loves to get extremely wet, which can stain the log siding, and in extreme cases even rot it.

For now though, let's focus on the staining. For the log siding to rot, you would have to neglect doing any sort of maintenance for an extremely long time. With these tips, rot will never cause any problems. When log siding gets stained, the first step is to wash it down, ideally with some sort of power washer. If you've never used a power washer before, practice on some junk pieces of wood first, as you can do some serious damage if you're not careful. After thoroughly washing the log siding, give it a day or two to dry, and then re-stain the log siding.

Like anything else, you could certainly pay someone to take care of this for you, but prices are usually astronomical, thanks to the fact that it takes approximately 2 full days of work, not even counting the days that you allow the log siding to dry after you have power washed it. By doing it yourself, you can save anywhere from three thousand to four thousand dollars, and feel better about your Do-it-yourself abilities all in one fell swoop.
Allie Thompson is a guest contributor who works for Town & Country Cedar Products, a distributor of white cedar siding and paneling. Learn more at their website,

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Trouble with Dragons - An Eco Friendly Book

In the morning they read... Oh how  I love the...

The Trouble with Dragons is an excellent children’s book about the environment that was written and illustrated by the extremely talented Debi Gliori.

The dragons are very colorful and have very expressive features. The city that the Dragons live becomes more and more crowded with all of the space taken up. There are some amusing small touches to the pictures of the book. The motorway sign reads to CO2 and the factory chimney  is of cigarettes.

In the book, the Dragons do not look after their environment. The Dragons begin to experience the effects of the sea beginning to rise and the affects of their wastefulness.

The dragons agree to adapt and modify their behavior  There are many things in the way the Dragons live which have to be changed in order to live in an environmentally sustainable way. These changes are simply explained so that the Dragons do not become extinct..

The Trouble with Dragons is a children’s book that is about caring, sharing and working together to look after the environment. It is evaluated as an All Green Children’s book.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Finding the Best Eco Gift


Living an eco friendly life can be quite easy. You recycle as much as you can, you make sure your home isn't wasting any energy by getting a property condition assessment, and you buy local products at the supermarket. But buying eco gifts is much more of a challenge, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun!  So is buying green gifts even more difficult? Certainly not! Let me walk you through and you’ll soon see there are in fact astonishingly many green gifts out there.

First you can narrow you green gift choices by whom do you give those green gifts to – is it your dad, boyfriend, or good friend? Is it a teen or a thirty-year old?  Once you’ve decided on that, just get ready for the dazzling many green gifts!

Eco-friendly Gifts for men/fathers, boyfriends, husbands

Men usually have everything they need; so it seems hard to come up with any good green gift ideas. But don’t fret. There’s always a solution. In fact, there are many green gifts that men would love.
Regardless of what he does or likes, an eco-friendly charger for all mobile phones or USB interface digital products is never a bad idea.  This solar charger transfers direct sunlight to electronics, save money and energy.  Another green gift that any man will like is a men’s wallets that is made out of recycled tires.  If he likes sport, which most men do, an eco-friendly sport wear is then a suitable green gift choice.  If he loves wine, then a wine rack that is made from sustainable wood and eco-friendly wood stains is certainly another great eco-friendly gift option.

Eco-Friendly Gifts for women/mothers, girlfriends, wives

Sentiments of women’s green gifts are always the key. Some common green gifts for women include flowers, organic cosmetics, clothing, books, and edibles such as chocolate or even a home dinner by your own effort!
Undeniably, every woman loves flowers.  But do you know that only 6 percent of flowers sold in the US are certified as eco-friendly?  A good majority of those beautiful flowers are imported from Latin America.  That being said, as you are handing over the pretty bouquet to your loved ones, you are also passing potentially doused chemistries to them.  There’s probably no need for me to elaborate on the importance of buying organic and eco-friendly gift flowers.

Another green gift that women simply can’t resist is organic cosmetics.  Before you offer them the aah-ooh-inspiring personal care products or cosmetics, also make sure they don’t contain anything harmful.  Of course, the easiest and most reliable way to achieve so is to buy organic, eco-friendly cosmetic products.
Also don’t forget, if you can’t be with her right away, you can always send her an e-card, quick and easy!  But do follow up with a phone call though.  I’m sure she’d love to hear the nice blessings from your own voice.

On a side note, if you are going to buy clothes as a gift, make sure you buy organic cotton clothes and read why regular cotton “socks”.

Eco-friendly Gifts for teens/kids

What about green gifts for your 11-year-old nephew? Or your little daughter?
This is in fact a much easier task than the others.  Kids, most often, can be easily satisfied.  There are some important elements of kids’ green gifts though, such as fun, educative, appropriate and entertaining, and sometimes “cool”.  Educational and fun green gift could be an Earthoology board game that educates your kids/teens about ecological landmarks and carbon offsets; printed with soy based inks, it is certainly a very eco-friendly gift.  Of course, other regular but useful green gifts such as books and notebooks can be just as good as a fun board game.  Or… what sport does he/she play? Soccer? Basketball? Why not buy him/her a “green” soccer ball or basketball or any other kind of sport supplies to go along with all the sports news that they read?

I hope these are helpful. If you want to explore more, neerg also has a plenty of eco-friendly wedding gifts as your additional alternatives.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Environmental Friendly Garden All Lit Up!

List of botanical gardens in Australia
Your garden is your pride and joy. Through careful tendering and harvesting, you have created quite the outdoor retreat. You are almost one hundred percent satisfied with your gardening and gardening design ability. But, there is something missing. Of course, proficient gardener that you are, you already know what that is. Your garden is missing a well-chosen set of garden lights. Garden lights are delicately and intricately designed to look beautiful even in daylight when they are not lit up. At dusk, however, with the perfect set of garden lighting, your garden will become a magical place altogether.

Illuminate your growing garden with a beautiful set of garden lights. You certainly have no shortage of styles to choose from. You can choose novelty stake solar lights that look like brass roses to light up your garden path or garden string lights that stretch across your garden and are designed to look like dragonflies. When lit up in this way, your garden will take your guest’s breath away. We're not environmental consultants by any means, and if we were we would turn you here, but you know you're saving money and the environment buy using solar lighting.

Why choose to have the outdoor of your home to be lit up only during certain holidays? Your garden certainly does not have to adhere to such rules? Your garden, whether it is vast and consists of several acre plots, or just a simple garden patch outside of your patio, can literally glow with the addition of beautiful garden lights. Choose between fiber optic lighting options that are safe to have around water due to their lack of electrical current, solar powered lights that help save on electricity and electric costs, or several other lighting options available for the optimal, beautiful garden and you will find yourself in awe of your outdoor area in the night time. With the perfect lighting in your garden, you will find yourself wanting to throw garden parties in the evenings to show off your amazing garden and your gardening design abilities.

Gardens thrive in the sunlight. But who is to say that they should lie dormant at night? Your garden should come alive with beauty and wonder beginning at dusk. You can achieve this by purchasing a quality and attractive garden lighting system for your garden. Let us face the fact that you worked very hard on the beauty that is known as your garden. You should enjoy your garden all day and night long. With all the hard work you have put in, let your garden be illuminated at night and show it off!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Recycling in the Outdoors

solar panels
Many people want to learn how to reduce waste and conserve energy with what they do outside. What kind of trees are the most environmentally friendly? What are the effects of using too much fertilizer? We'll try to cover as much of that as we can and throw in a few helpful tips so you can have a great looking backyard and be eco-friendly at the same time.

Solar Energy Good or Bad?
I've heard both sides of the story, including a great deal of issues with solar panels. The issue isn't that solar panels don't bring in clean energy, it's that the process of installing them and the research we do to develop them far exceeds the benefit they give to us. Also there's a great deal of toxins involved with producing the products, and if disposed in the wrong way, the solar panels can be an environmental nightmare. If you get solar panels, just remember to keep them in a place where there will be plenty of sunlight, and always have it running, even during the winter months.

Recycle Your Materials
You don't have to just stick with recycling plastic bags, there are plenty of materials outside our home that you can recycle. Do you consume a large amount of biodegradable materials? Set up a compost pile in the back of your yard, throw a handfull of worms in there, and you have yourself the richest fertilizer for your garden you can ever imagine. Just leaving a pile of biodegradable material in a compost pile for a year results in a suitable way to fertilize your garden and lawn.

Don't over fertilize things
A bit of fertilizer to get your plants growing is just fine, but everyone wants to have the greenest lawn on the property, which can take a toll on the local environment. Nitrogen blasting your lawn leads to a lot of nitrogen runnoff, which winds up in ponds and lakes, leading to algae blooms. These nasty green blooms kills off native plant and fish species and wipes out an entire body of water for good. Good luck swimming in that muck pond.