May 06

One Drop At A Time

waterdropIn beginning a new season, we are inclined to become introspective. We look at our daily lives and routines and evaluate in order to improve. You may wonder if you are doing enough to care for yourself, your fellow humans and the environment.

When looking for ways to live a more fulfilling and responsible life, it is easy to become overwhelmed. There are many facets of life on which one could focus; however, the thought of conquering everything at once can be daunting. A great solution to this is to begin with some small, simple things that involve daily activities. In reality, the small things that you do each day make the biggest impact overall. For example, here are three easy ways to save water, the world’s most precious resource. In doing so, you will be helping yourself, fellow humans and the environment, one drop at a time.

Time it: Every day, you do things that involve running a faucet for a period of time, whether it’s washing dishes or brushing your teeth. The mind can wander while the tap is running and valuable water is going down the drain. One way to get the job done effectively is to set a timer. If you know that the timer is going to go off, and you will have to shut off the sink at the sound of the alarm, you will be more cognizant of the amount of resources you use. Once you use a timer a few times, you will subconsciously become accustomed to using water in a timelier manner. This way, in addition to saving resources, you will also save time.

Install it: In doing a little research about water conservation devices, you might be surprised at how easy they are to install and implement into your daily routine. Water-saving showerheads use a fraction of the H2O that regular showerheads use, while still functioning efficiently. Once you have your high-efficiency shower head installed, you can save the wet stuff by simply showering normally. You will use less, therefore simultaneously saving money on your bills and helping our planet.

Drink it: Ironically, drinking water is a great way to conserve it. Use a filter to purify your tap water and opt to drink it instead of bottled water, soda or other beverages. Considering that water composes 75 percent of your body, it must be the healthiest thing you can drink. By drinking purified water from you tap, you are also reducing the amount that goes into manufacturing non-water beverages. Everyday, millions of gallons of precious H2O are used to manufacture soda. Make a resolution to limit or discontinue drinking packaged drinks and create a healthier Earth and a healthier you.

Water conservation is one of Ashley’s favorite topics to write about. If you’re looking for more information regarding water saving showerheads, please visit http://www.niagaraconservation.com/

May 06

Ways To Get Healthy That Are Also Good For The Environment

Ways To Get Healthy That Are Also Good For The Environment

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Two years ago, comedian Jeff Garlin wrote a book called My Footprint: Carrying the Weight of the World, describing his journey to becoming slimmer and more environmentally-conscious. Anyone who has seen the portly comedian on Curb Your Enthusiasm or any number of his movies and comedy specials knows that Garlin could stand to lose a few pounds. Garlin took it one step further though and tried to figure out how his food and life decisions impacted the environment. What he found out was that there was a connection between the two. With the help of a nutritionist and Ed Begley Jr., world-renowned environmentalist, Garlin is able to reduce his footprint, both figuratively and literally. The book presented an interesting argument, so let’s try to examine ways one can get healthier while helping the environment as well.

  • Eat more plants and fewer animals: Through countless documentaries like Forks over Knives and books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, everyone knows that eating fewer animals is good for your overall health. Vegetarianism and veganism has been linked with lower incidences of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and countless other illnesses. The meat industry also costs our environment dearly. We use water, fertilizer and land to raise animals for food. These resources could be better used elsewhere. In addition, the animal waste produced in meat-producing farming often pollutes water sources and the air. By eating more plants and fewer animals, you’ll lower your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and your total carbon footprint.
  • Walk instead of drive: Garlin has one anecdote in his book where he rides public transportation in Los Angeles for the first time. Anyone who has ridden the bus knows the interesting characters you can meet. However, using public transportation can lower your carbon footprint as you’re emitting less pollution in the air than let’s say driving your SUV. However, if you can walk or ride your bike to your destination, that’s even better. The American Heart Association recommends at least thirty minutes of activity a day for optimal health, so you’re covered there; plus, you emitting no pollution in the air, which makes Mother Nature happy.
  • Try localized honey: Are you sniffling and sneezing a lot? You might want to try local honey. Honey has long been known as a natural remedy for allergies. In addition, buying local honey will help support an industry responsible for pollinating your fruits and vegetables. If you are really ambitious, you might want to try raising your own bees. It is a wonderful hobby that will afford you ample amounts of fresh honey as well as the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping the environment.

No matter who you are, you can start taking small steps towards a healthier you, and a healthier planet, today.

Alex White is a freelancer interested in writing about sustainability and environmental issues.

Jul 25

The Next Generation Of Turbines Go Underwater

The Next Generation Of Turbines Go Underwater, And They’re Coming Soon

BY MICHAEL J. CORENWed Jul 20, 2011

As the U.S. slowly abandons its dams, more and more pilot programs pop up for deriving power from tides and river currents. Welcome to a new age of water power.

Every day, enough water flows down America’s rivers and streams to power tens of millions of homes. With the era of big dams effectively over in the U.S., halted by the lack of suitable sites as much as environmental concerns, the time for hydrokinetic energy may just be dawning.

The ideas of using turbines, or other mechanical devices, to capture the energy of moving water is not a new one. Yet the technology for such hydrokinetic energy has met serious resistance from conditions below the surface. As water is 832 times denser than air, it poses tough engineering challenges for power generators who must contend with corrosion, stray electromagnetic fields, and rules to safeguard sealife.

“There’s a lot of electricity to be had from these device and probably fewer environmental impacts, says Glenn Cada, senior researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in the Department of Energy’s program to improve hydrokenetic technology and minimize the environmental impacts. “It’s not as easy as taking a taking a wind turbine and putting it under water. The forces are much greater. We are trying to understand how to make them sturdy enough to generate electricity from river currents.”

Demonstration projects in the Mississippi and New York’s East Rivers have been steadily perfecting the technology needed to capture this energy for almost a decade. Verdant Power’s Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy project in New York’s East River (soon to be expanded) has successfully operated six underwater turbines between 2006-2008, and delivering 70 megawatt hours to a nearby supermarket and parking garage in what the company called the “world’s first grid-connected array of tidal turbines.” Free Flow Power Power has installed its own turbines, resembling jet engines, in the Mississippi and is eying more than 50 expansion sites.

Now, everyone from state agencies to universities are racing to get into the game. Applications to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for new hydrokinetic sites have soared in the last three years: 79   have been approved since 2009 (almost double those as of 2008), and 145 more are awaiting final approval in  Missouri, Maine, Louisiana, New Jersey and other states.

Eventually, based on the ambitions of several energy developers, underwater fields of hundreds of turbines could generating enough megawatts to power cities around the country.

“We’re trying to prove these things right now,” says Cada.

[Image: Atlantis Resources Corporation]

Reach Michael J. Coren via Twitter or email.

Read More: World’s First Floating Wind Turbine Installed, Ready for Testing

Jun 22

Dire forecast of marine life catastrophe – San Francisco Chronicle

The world’s oceans are degenerating far faster than predicted and marine life is facing extinction due to a range of human impacts – from overfishing to climate change – a report compiled by international scientists warned Tuesday.

The cumulative impact of “severe individual stresses,” ranging from climate warming and sea-water acidification to widespread chemical pollution and overfishing, would threaten the marine environment with a catastrophe “unprecedented in human history.”

The conclusions were published by a panel of international scientists who reviewed recent research at a workshop at Oxford University in Britain. They will be presented to the United Nations in New York this week for discussions on reforming governance of the oceans.

The report warned that damage to marine life would harm its ability to support humans, and that entire ecosystems, such as coral reefs, could be lost in a generation. Coral deaths alone would be considered a mass extinction, according to study chief author Alex Rogers of Oxford University. A single bleaching event in 1998 killed one-sixth of the world’s tropical coral reefs.

Carl Lundin, director of global marine programs at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which helped produce the report with the International Program on the State of the Ocean, pointed to deaths of 1,000-year-old coral in the Indian Ocean and called the situation “really unprecedented.”

Chemicals and plastics from daily life are also causing problems for sea creatures, the report said. Overall, the world’s oceans just can’t bounce back from problems – such as oil spills – as they used to, scientists said.

“Unless action is taken now, the consequences of our activities are at a high risk of causing, through the combined effects of climate change, overexploitation, pollution and habitat loss, the next globally significant extinction event in the ocean,” it said.

The marine scientists called for a range of urgent measures to cut carbon emissions, reduce overfishing, shut unsustainable fisheries, create protected areas in the seas and cut pollution.

“As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean, the implications became far worse than we had individually realized,” Rogers said. “This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level.”

A separate study released Monday provided the most detailed look yet of sea level rise from global warming. It found the world’s oceans have been rising significantly over the past century. The yearly rise is slightly less than one-tenth of an inch, but it adds up over decades. That study was published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This article appeared on page A – 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle