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Planet Earth

Going GREEN…?!

 Personally we feel this “term” (Go Green) may actually be a bit miss-leading or giving a wrong concept. What is really behind this or should be behind this, is;

LOVE your environment and LOVE this planet and remembering that what you GIVE is what you GET. This also works on this subject even if not really felt so directly. But more important is, that this is also about LOVING YOURSELF!

Considering our current state and our environment, thinking about this in large terms may seem like an impossible challenge and on a personal level more complicated, expensive and troublesome than really worth it. However, when you come to think of the individual points and changes, it becomes a lot moreREAL and POSSIBLE, step by step so to say.

Unfortunately, over time we have kind of come to adopt this false attitude and thinking or conviction, that, if we as individuals do something good in our life, it’s like a drop of water on hot stone and it doesn’t really change anything? well, that is NOT TRUE and proper BRAIN WASH in friendly terms!

So… WAKE UP and get back to REALITY! Think about it? if YOU change, your family, friends, colleagues, neighbours or others, may see this and respect you for it (even if at first they don?t fully understand). You may have just encouraged someone else to do the same and this chain reaction continues. The more do this, the more the markets and economy will also adapt to provide exactly ?that? more and more commonly. Remember that sadly money is still a driver for a lot and when they see that the consumption goes down in one area, they will produce and provide more of where the consumption is now increasing.

If you look around you, we can already see that happening in more and more countries. Now, even if it doesn’t? you know what?
YOU are making a CHANGE and that counts, no matter how small or pointless it may seem.

There we go? but what can you do and where should we start? Here are some suggestions from hundreds of further possibilities for “Going GREEN” and “LOVING YOURSELF MORE” 😉

… and NO, you don?t have to do it ALL at ONCE… even if you do just ONE, it?s ONE more!

  • Water… Use water filters or purifiers (Distillers, Reverse Osmosis) to use your own tap water instead of buying it. If you buy it, get it in recycled glass or carton bricks and recycle them again after use. You can also add-on or install “low-flow” taps, shower heads and flushes. If you can, collect your rainwater and make use of that whenever you can instead of tap water. Some more tips on saving water are;
    • Bath less and Shower instead
    • Shower with your partner, this is not only eco but fun 😉
    • Take shorter showers
    • Don’t let the water taps run when you don’t need them, an example would be when brushing your teeth
    • Don’t rinse your cutlery if you use a dishwasher
    • Believe it or not 🙂 use Car washes over washing your own car (unless you use the rain water) it is very often a lot more efficient and uses less water.
    • etc…
  • Energy and Heating… Switch to or start installing and using Solar, Wind, Water or Geothermal Energy in your home. There are many, many, many more “little” ways to save energy in your daily life too, such as;
    • Adjust your “temperature”, lower the overall temperature of your thermostats, adjust rooms temperatures according to their use, make use of your doors, keeping the warm rooms warm and the cooler cool. Each °C may save you up to 10% on your energy usage.
    • Use Energy saving lights? IMPORTANT, don’t get the “common” ones with the “twisty” tubes! They contain Mercury (Quicksilver) and are everything BUT eco- friendly, not to mention the health risk. You can get LEDs, even Halogen or then the normal ones (it?s more a question ?How? you use them)
    • Turn the lights off when you leave the room, don’t turn on the lights for as long as you can and use the natural light instead (open the curtains, decorate using light colours install more windows etc?
    • Turn of Computers, TVs, Stereos and other electronics at night or when you don’t use them.
    • Wash your laundry using Cold or Warm water instead of Hot
    • Hang dry your cloths, don’t use the tumble dryer
    • Use as little Hot water as possible, even when washing or showering yourself or any other general “sink jobs”
    • Don’t pre-heat the oven.
    • Use rechargeable batteries
    • Get yourself “solar chargers” for you cell phones, tables and even laptops
    • etc…
  • Transport… This is a difficult topic for many and really depends on your options. The overall statement is, to reduce driving your car. If you live in a city, stop driving, use public transport, bike and walk. If you live outside of a cities, try car-sharing or public transport if and where available. You can also change your car for a new more Eco friendly one (Hybrid or a Flintstones version, etc?), sure there is someone to make you a good deal 😉 Other little tips for when you have a car and use it are;
    • Maintain your car well
    • Use your cruise control when you have it
    • Sounds silly? but drive the actual speed limit indicated not slower and not faster
    • Try to reduce the amount of “trips” you make? combine your tasks
    • Depending on your job, check with your employer if you can work form home some days
    • etc…
    • Plastics and Teflon (PFOA / PTFE)… Try to eliminate these materials from your life and home completely. They are not only bad for your environment but also your health! We strongly suggest you inform and research this subject deeply. Replace your cooking ware with stainless-steal, iron, glass, wood etc? Toys and other house or usage accessories too with with wooden, metal, ceramic and generally recycled materials. In addition to this there are as usual many ways to reduce the use of plastic;
    • Stop using plastic bags altogether or reuse the ones you have
    • Use matches instead of lighters (can you imagine all the plastic lighters in circulation these days)
    • Don’t use throw away cups, plates and cutlery, get your own real stuff
    • etc…
  • Eating… Make the switch to Organic food (it will save you (money and health) on the long run). If you eat meat, try to reduce your intake and add more meatless meals a week, the environmental impact of large scale produced meet goes far beyond what you may expect (research it, it’s really shocking). Get locally raised and produced products whenever you can and get what’s “in season” where you are. Other points on this topic could include;
    • Don’t buy more than you really need (make your list at home and when in the shop, stick to the list and nothing else).
    • Eliminate Fast food? it?s not only bad for your health but the environmental impact they have goes beyond all reason? as it promotes extra driving/traffic, plastic, carton/paper, general waste, energy and the list just goes on and on?
    • Make your own garden (herbs, vegetables & fruits) if you can (oh and if you do, try to get “organic” seeds or learn how to harvest your own seeds, in short, do everything you can to NOT support Monsanto)
    • etc…
  • General Consumption & Recycling… Well? the title already says it? think about what and how you consume. Think before you buy, start recycling in all ways possible. There are many ways to support this and change your ways on a daily bases, even for those that already do a lot in this direction, there is always more one can do. Here some general suggestions;
    • Use Recycled materials everywhere and anywhere you can, in our days you can get nearly everything from recycled materials (glass, toilette paper, napkins, packing, paper etc?)
    • Make your own cleaning products or buy ECO friendly ones only and get the “refill” packs instead
    • Recycle anything and everything you can, especially electronics, glass, metal and plastics
    • Change the “purpose” of a used object, you would be surprised with the amount of ideas you can come up with to use something you don’t need anymore or that is slightly damaged for something else or give it to someone who doesn’t mind or then give it to a charity
    • Get more second hand? it doesn’t always mean second best?
    • Use both sides of your paper and reuse it if you can to pack, heat etc?
    • Put a “NO ADVERTISEMENT” sticker on your mail box and cut down on general junk mail
    • Read your Newspaper, magazines, books etc online
    • Make use of the Web, computers, tablets and phones, do your research online instead of using phonebooks and catalogues, pay your bills online, keep your notes, numbers and info on your device instead of paper or tell your Bank to send you online statements instead of mail
    • Borrow more and buy less
    • Shop, Buy and Go-out locally as much as you can
    • etc…

These are just a few examples of many other possibilities, new ways and discoveries are made all the time. This really is an interesting subject and for some even a hobby and challenge. We are sure you can think of so many more simple gestures that YOU could be doing immediately…



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Planet Earth

Microwaves Might Have Same Negative Affects on Environment as Cars, Suggests Research

Microwaves usage across the EU alone emits as much carbon dioxide as nearly seven million cars according to a new study by The University of Manchester.

Researchers at the University have carried out the first ever comprehensive study of the environmental impacts of microwaves, considering their whole life cycle, from ‘cradle to grave’.

The study found:

  • Microwaves emit 7.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year in the EU. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of 6.8 million cars.
  • Microwaves across the EU consume an estimated 9.4 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity every year. This is equivalent to the annual electricity generated by three large gas power plants.
  • Efforts to reduce consumption should focus on improving consumer awareness and behaviour to use appliances more efficiently.

Microwaves account for the largest percentage of sales of all type of ovens in the European Union (EU), with numbers set to reach nearly 135 million by 2020. Despite this, the scale of their impacts on the environment was not known until now.

The study used life cycle assessment (LCA) to estimate the impacts of microwaves, taking into account their manufacture, use and end-of-life waste management. Altogether, the research team investigated 12 different environmental factors, including climate change, depletion of natural resources and ecological toxicity. They found, for example, that the microwaves used across the EU emit 7.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. This is equivalent to the annual emission of 6.8 million cars.

The research shows that the main environmental ‘hotspots’ are materials used to manufacture the microwaves, the manufacturing process and end-of-life waste management. For example, the manufacturing process alone contributes more than 20% to depletion of natural resources and to climate change.

However, it is electricity consumption by microwaves that has the biggest impact on the environment, taking into account its whole life cycle, from production of fuels to generation of electricity. In total, microwaves across the EU consume an estimated 9.4 terawatts per hour (TWh) of electricity every year. This is equivalent to the annual electricity generation by three large gas power plants.

The study found that, on average, an individual microwave uses 573 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity over its lifetime of eight years. That is equivalent to the electricity consumed by a 7 watt LED light bulb, left on continuously for almost nine years. This is despite the fact that microwaves spend more than 90% of their lifetime being idle, in the stand-by mode.

The study’s authors suggest that efforts to reduce consumption should focus on improving consumer awareness and behaviour to use appliances more efficiently. For example, electricity consumption by microwaves can be reduced by adjusting the time of cooking to the type of food.

Waste is another major problem. Due to their relative low cost and ease of manufacture, consumers are throwing more electrical and electronic (EE) equipment away than ever before, including microwaves.

In 2005, across the EU, 184,000 tonnes of EE waste was generated from discarded microwaves. By 2025 this is estimated to rise to 195,000 tonnes, or 16 million individual units being sent for disposal.

Dr Alejandro Gallego-Schmid, from the School of Chemical Engineering & Analytical Science, explains: ‘Rapid technological developments and falling prices are driving the purchase of electrical and electronic appliances in Europe.

‘Consumers now tend to buy new appliances before the existing ones reach the end of their useful life as electronic goods have become fashionable and ‘status’ items.

‘As a result, discarded electrical equipment, such as microwaves, is one of the fastest growing waste streams worldwide.’

Another major contributing factor to the waste is a reduced lifespan of microwaves. It is now nearly seven years shorter than it was almost 20 years ago. Research shows that a microwave’s life cycle has decreased from around 10 to 15 years in the late 90s to between six to eight years today.

Dr Gallego-Schmid added: ‘Given that microwaves account for the largest percentage of sales of all type of ovens in the EU, it is increasingly important to start addressing their impact on resource use and end-of-life waste.’

The study also shows that existing regulation will not be sufficient to reduce the environmental impacts of microwaves. It recommends that it will be necessary to develop specific regulations for these devices targeting their design. This will help to reduce the amount of resources used to make microwaves and waste generated at the end of their lifetime.

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Planet Earth

Asteroid That Killed Off The Dinosaurs Also Triggered Huge Volcanoes Under The Oceans

When an asteroid hit Earth some 66 million years ago, it triggered devastation around the world.

There were at least three nearly simultaneous events involved in the global catastrophe that ended what we now call the Mesozoic era.

An asteroid between 10 and 15 kilometres in diameter slammed into Earth, creating the Chicxulub Crater near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

The Deccan Traps, a massive volcanic province in what’s now India, erupted, spewing lava and smoke that filled the skies.

And 75 percent of Earth’s plant and animal life went extinct, which scientists have linked to those other disasters that filled the skies with soot and smoke and transformed the world’s climate.

But when it comes to world-shaking devastation, that wasn’t all that was going on at the time, scientists report in a study recently published in the journal Science Advances.

The asteroid also appears to have sent ripples through Earth’s tectonic plates, which spread out through the oceans and caused tens of thousands of miles of underwater volcanic ridges to spew magma.

The authors describe those eruptions as “on par with the largest eruptive events in Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history, including the Deccan Traps”.

Looking for past volcanic activity

Part of the debate about what really killed the dinosaurs has to do with the interplay between the asteroid impact and the Deccan Traps eruptions. The most up-to-date understanding suggests the Deccan Traps eruptions began before the Chicxulub impact.

But they also seem to have gotten much more active in the time after the asteroid hit.

Yet if the asteroid was able to influence volcanic activity on the other side of the globe, it should have affected volcanoes elsewhere, too. That’s why the authors of this study decided to trace what was happening in the oceans.

To uncover evidence of underwater volcanic activity, the researchers used existing data to examine how the seafloor’s structure changed over the past 100 million years.

They were able to find evidence of massive transformations in the amount of rock on the seafloor, a change caused by volcanic activity.

Eruptions left 650-foot-high piles of rock in the Indian and Pacific oceans, the study authors write in The Conversation. They dated those eruptions to within a million years of the impact, close enough to link the events.

A better picture of the dinosaur apocalypse

These new findings give us a better timeline of what happened to trigger the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event.

Although the Deccan Traps were probably erupting for 250,000 years before the Chicxulub asteroid slammed into the planet, the impact transformed the world.

The atmosphere filled with soot, causing global cooling that was strong and sudden enough to have played a strong role in the end of the dinosaurs.

At the same time, the asteroid shook the world and led to earthquakes that released even more magma.

The already flowing Deccan Traps erupted in a whole new way, essentially covering the Indian subcontinent with lava and further filling the skies with particles that reflected the sun’s heat back into space and cooled the planet.

An eruption that was equally strong occurred underwater.

Small mammals and flying dinosaurs – which we now know as birds – survived, but the majority of plant and animal life did not.

We still don’t know exactly which components of these global catastrophes were most responsible for the extinctions, or whether other volcanic systems elsewhere in the world were triggered, too.

“What is clear is that this new research points to global-scale connections between catastrophes, a good reminder that events happening on the other side of the planet can have effects felt everywhere,” the study authors write.

What is very clear is that this was an unpleasant time to be anywhere on Earth.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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Planet Earth

Want a World Without Blackouts? Power the Future With Renewable Energy.

Renewable and Sustainable

Whether at the national or corporate level, an integral part of most plans to combat climate change is making the shift to renewable energy sources. With solar and wind power leading the charge, renewables are steadily finding their way into the energy infrastructure of a number of countries and companies. Some have already become 100 percent renewable, while others continue to carefully wean themselves from fossil fuel.

There is, however, a sizable hurdle that early renewable energy adapters will inevitably encounter. Energy output from solar and wind, and to a lesser extent hydrogen, are dependent on circumstances beyond human control. An emerging solution to this issue is the use of energy storage devices or commercial-grade batteries like Tesla’s Powerpack.

A new study from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) argues that this hurdle could very well be overcome by a combination of solutions. By making renewable energy completely reliable, it could provide consistent power across all sectors, potentially making blackouts a thing of the past. A manuscript of the study has been published in the journal Renewable Energy.

Lead author Mark Jacobson, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Stanford, also lead a recent study that presented a roadmap to 100 percent renewable energy dependence for 139 nations. In the new study, the researchers completed the roadmap, suggesting three scenarios that would maximize renewable energy output and sustain power to supply the grid.

Three Solutions

Using a combination of computer modeling programs that can predict global weather patterns from 2050 to 2054, Jacobson and his colleagues constructed scenarios where 139 nations, grouped into 20 world regions, had converted all sectors into renewable energy by 2050. The team also factored in the effect on energy output from solar and wind power sources. Using another model, the team then calculated the energy produced by more stable renewable sources, such as geothermal and hydrogen.

“One of the biggest challenges facing energy systems based entirely on clean, zero-emission wind, water and solar power is to match supply and demand with near-perfect reliability at reasonable cost,” co-author Mark Delucchi, a UCB research scientist, said in a statement. “Our work shows that this can be accomplished, in almost all countries of the world, with established technologies.”

The results described three scenarios in which nations struck a proper balance between energy output from renewables and predicted energy demand for 2050. Of note, in all three scenarios, blackouts at low energy costs were avoided for a five-year period. The researchers noted that having various energy storage options available was an important factor in that outcome.

For the 20 regions in CASE A, concentrated solar power (CSP) storage, batteries and thermal energy storage proved to be crucial — however, the study noted that “no hydropower turbines beyond current capacity or heat pumps were added.”

Similarly, the 20 regions in CASE B, also found that thermal energy storage and CSP-with-storage were key; the only difference was the addition of hydropower turbines. Though, the study noted that these didn’t increase annual hydrogen power output.

In the third scenario — CASE C — things played out a little differently. CSP and commercial grade batteries were the dominant energy storage options for the regions in the scenario (14 instead of 20),  but no hydropower turbines were included. However, the study noted that “heat pumps with no storage replaced all cold and low-temperature heat thermal energy storage.”

Jacobson summarized the results of the study, saying:

Our main result is that there are multiple solutions to the problem. This is important because the greatest barrier to the large-scale implementation of clean renewable energy is people’s perception that it’s too hard to keep the lights on with random wind and solar output.

Jacobson also noted that an important consideration for all three scenarios, in terms of creating a roadmap that works, is political cooperation between the 139 nations. That probably doesn’t come as a surprise, though — considering how clean energy programs and climate deals often depend quite heavily on the politics of the nations involved.

“Ideally, you’d have cooperation in deciding where you’re going to put the wind farms, where you’re going to put the solar panels, where you’re going to put the battery storage,” Jacobson explained. “The whole system is most efficient when it is planned ahead of time as opposed to done one piece at a time.”

Having a road-tested roadmap, so to speak, should at the very least help guide these nations — and the researchers hope they’ll be confident to take action sooner rather than later. If warnings about the rate of global warming are to be heeded, we need a stable renewable energy infrastructure in place well before 2050.

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