What have you done today to lower your impact?
- ► 2012 (12)
- ► 2011 (60)
- ► 2010 (159)
- Accomodate cars less to improve city life and traf...
- Living out of a backpack
- Peak Oil on Forbes.com
- Medical group urges ending use of GM foods
- Going off grid and offline for 2 weeks
- A new bicycle commuting system rolls out in North ...
- DIY solar cooker
- Bermuda proposes a solar PV farm
- Measure it to Manage it!
- The best government money can buy!
- The environmental toll of plastics
- Employment opportunities presented through Transit...
- ▼ July (12)
Thursday, 23 July 2009
"the counterintuitive truth is that taking away space for cars can improve traffic while making the city safer and more enjoyable for everyone on foot."
When we camp we use a military surplus stove with esbit solid fuel pellets. We tend to cook couscous or prepackaged rice or pasta meals. Waste is minimal. This mode of living is a real lesson in low impact living. We avoid purchasing anything because we don't want to carry it. We search for minimally packaged food.
Overall I think this mode of existence is lower impact if done properly. Some of the hikers have their bags ferried ahead so there is more automobile traffic as a result. Since we carry our own we avoid that impact. We also don't have a fridge (aside from the group one in the hostel kitchens, television, computer only occasionally, no clothes washer, dish washer, hair dryer, or cordless phone. We do carry a cell phone and an MP3 player but I charge them largely with a hand crank device built into my flashlight. We took public transportation, rail, to the start of the walk and will return the same way.
So, in conclusion I believe if done carefully, backpacking is a very sustainable lifestyle and has much to teach us about doing without.
Friday, 17 July 2009
"One of the best arguments for oil's increasing scarcity has been made by Ali Samsam Bakhtiari, Ph.D., a former director of the National Iranian Oil Co. who died in 2007. In one of the doctor's last research essays, he wrote of world's oil production: "After some 147 years of almost uninterrupted supply growth to a record output of some 81-82 million barrels per day in the summer of 2006, crude oil production has since entered its irreversible decline."
Samsam added, somewhat intuitively, the decrease "will eventually come to affect everything else under the sun." American oilman T. Boone Pickens also fully realizes the changes that will have to be made in our lives going forward. Pickens, who made his billions primarily from oil, is espousing a strategy that would have America deriving much of its energy needs from wind, with natural gas filling in the holes.
"The world has been looked at. There's still oil to be found, but not in the quantities we've seen in the past," Pickens said. "The big fields have all been found and the smaller fields, well, there's not enough of them to replenish the base ... If I'm right, we're already at the peak. The price will have to go up."
As Pickens mentioned, production in many of the world's megafields has already dropped ominously. Megafields are even more important than they sound: Half the world's oil comes from just .03% of its oil fields (the mega ones). When the megafields' production begins to ebb, it's likely we'll have entered an irreversible supply decline. It's a reality that's here. Consider this: Oil fields typically enter decline after 50 years of pumping. And the average age of the world's largest 14 fields? Forty-nine years."
Thanks to Truth 11 via Rodale Institute for this;
May 19, 2009
Dr. Amy L. Dean, D.O. Public Relations Chair Member, Board of Directors American Academy of Environmental Medicine 734-213-4901 firstname.lastname@example.org
The American Academy Of Environmental Medicine Calls For Immediate Moratorium On Genetically Modified Foods
Wichita, KS – The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) today released its position paper on Genetically Modified foods stating that “GM foods pose a serious health risk” and calling for a moratorium on GM foods. Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes “there is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects” and that “GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.” The AAEM calls for:
* A moratorium on GM food, implementation of immediate long term safety testing and labeling of GM food.
* Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community and the public to avoid GM foods.
* Physicians to consider the role of GM foods in their patients’ disease processes.
* More independent long term scientific studies to begin gathering data to investigate the role of GM foods on human health.
“Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body. With this mounting evidence, it is imperative to have a moratorium on GM foods for the safety of our patients’ and the public’s health,” said Dr. Amy Dean, PR chair and Board Member of AAEM. “Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions,” said Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, President of AAEM. “The most common foods in North America which are consumed that are GMO are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil.” The AAEM’s position paper on Genetically Modified foods can be found at http:aaemonline.org/gmopost.html. AAEM is an international association of physicians and other professionals dedicated to addressing the clinical aspects of environmental health. More information is available at www.aaemonline.org.
About AAEM The American Academy of Environmental Medicine was founded in 1965, and is an international association of physicians and other professionals interested in the clinical aspects of humans and their environment. The Academy is interested in expanding the knowledge of interactions between human individuals and their environment, as these may be demonstrated to be reflected in their total health. The AAEM provides research and education in the recognition, treatment and prevention of illnesses induced by exposures to biological and chemical agents encountered in air, food and water. ###
Doctors Warn: Avoid Genetically Modified Food
By Jeffrey M. Smith
Seedsofdeception.com’s Spilling the Beans, May 2009"
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Jacqui and I are headed out to walk across England from West to East on Saturday and so will be living out of our backpacks for 2 weeks. If I find a cyber cafe along the way I'll try to update this blog but otherwise will be back in touch upon our return to Sheffield.
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Saturday, 11 July 2009
Here's a video from Green Power Science showing the construction of a solar oven. I especially like the creative use of mirrors.
Friday, 10 July 2009
Last I heard the implementation of net metering island wide was still a talking point. This essentially denies householders and businesses from producing their own grid tied electricity to lower their extremely high electricity bills and maintains Belco's monopoly on supply.
This plant would replace 2.25% of the islands electricity needs provided by burning oil in the Belco plant saving 22,500 barrels of oil.
Interestingly, the breakdown of one of the Belco generators looks to lead to rolling blackouts. Perhaps this will convince the local populace of the folly of depending on one source of electricity.
This quote is somewhat laughable, "Bermuda is committed to being an early adapter of renewable energy and they are certainly leading the pack," said Mr. Henderson, who's parent company Sir Robert McAlpine is related to local constructon firm BCM McAlpine." If any thing Bermuda is king of the foot draggers when it comes to renewable energy. Photovoltaic technology is mature and widely deployed. The time for early adapters was 20 years ago.
Here's an excerpt from the article over at the Mid Ocean News;
"Bermuda may see soon the installation of a 56-acre solar farm in the East End in an effort to reduce the island's dependence on oil-generated energy.
Along with four other proposed projects, including a potential wind farm, a tidal energy initiative and two biomass projects, the solar farm would help to offset the pressure on Bermuda's power grid.
The proposed solar farm would see the installment of thousands of sun-catching panels covering 56 acres of the unused runway at L.F. Wade International Airport, also called, "The Finger".
If operating at full capacity, the solar panels would produce enough energy to power approximately 1,500 homes and offset Belco's need to burn close to 22,500 barrels of fuel.
According to the plan, approximately 35,000 to 50,000 crystalline photovoltaic panels would be constructed and would span the southern portion of the runway leaving the northern end open for various airport uses....
Last year, Belco asked several companies to submit proposals on renewable sources of energy in Bermuda. In April, a short list of vendors presented their proposals to Government and five projects were selected to move into an exploratory phase. Belco gobbles up close to one million barrels of fuel providing power to an estimated 36,000 business and homes. Last week the company announced proposed plans for rolling blackouts as a result of a broken generator reducing its power-generating capacity by 14.5 megawatts (MW). If the proposed solar farm were to be installed, it would produce 10 MWs of energy, making up a large portion Belco's energy need.
Last year, Belco asked several companies to submit proposals on renewable sources of energy in Bermuda. In April, a short list of vendors presented their proposals to Government and five projects were selected to move into an exploratory phase.
Belco gobbles up close to one million barrels of fuel providing power to an estimated 36,000 business and homes.
Last week the company announced proposed plans for rolling blackouts as a result of a broken generator reducing its power-generating capacity by 14.5 megawatts (MW).
If the proposed solar farm were to be installed, it would produce 10 MWs of energy, making up a large portion Belco's energy need.
RES Americas, the company that presented the solar panel project, stresses that they are just in the exploratory phase with Government at this time, answering questions and providing information. They have, however, expressed their excitement over the possibility of working on the project."
Saturday, 4 July 2009
"There are two basic types of energy monitors: Those for a single appliance and those that measure your entire home’s energy use. The best way to figure out which option works best for you is to decide what level of energy monitoring you want to achieve, how much you want to spend, and how much you want to save.
Single appliance monitors cost about $25 to $75 and calculate the usage of a single device, which is plugged directly into the monitor. Most monitors will tell you how much energy is used during a given period while displaying the current usage. Measuring usage over a 24-hour period or longer is the best way to determine your appliance’s efficiency as many of them cycle on and off throughout the day.
These monitors are useful for keeping track of how your appliances are holding up. You can measure your refrigerator’s energy usage at the beginning and end of a season to see if it its efficiency has changed. If it’s draining more power than it did in the past, it may need a tune up.
Whole house monitors are a bit more expensive at about $100 to $200, but they are a useful way to get a wider look at how much energy you are using and how much that usage is costing you. You can enter your utility rates for peak and off-peak usage into most monitors to calculate just how much you can save by, for example, setting a timer to start your laundry or run the dishwasher during the day or in the middle of the night.House monitors work best for measuring usage that is distributed throughout the entire house, such as central heating or cooling. It also helps you determine the savings of lifestyle changes that affect more than one appliance."
Friday, 3 July 2009
As reported by Jill Richardson over at Organic Consumers Association;
"Out of curiosity I decided to see who was spending the most on lobbying in America. And Oh My Goodness - NO WONDER our policy sucks. No wonder it's nearly impossible to pass health care reform that provides all Americans with affordable care, a global warming bill that doesn't suck, and the Employee Free Choice Act. No wonder we're in these two stupid wars. I know everyone's aware of the problems lobbying poses to our country, but good lord, if people saw the sheer magnitude of it (and the comparatively paltry amounts spent in the people's interest) they would be outraged. So here goes. Here's the list of the top 100 (ranked by amount spent on lobbying in Q109). Enjoy.
I pulled up all of the reports for first quarter 2009 but over 20,000 items came up (and the report only shows the first 3000). OK, try again - all reports for over $1 million for first quarter 2009. This time a little over 100 came up (including AIG, who spent $1,250,000 on lobbying during that period).
So here's how to read this list: These are the amounts spent by the corporations listed. However, many (if not most) of these corporations ALSO contract out to private lobbying firms, so the amounts you see here MIGHT not be the total amount they spent on lobbying in Q109. For example, Monsanto spent $2,094,000 for its in house lobbying but then contracted out to Arent Fox LLP; Lesher, Russell & Barron, Inc. ($60,000); Ogilvy Government Relations ($60,000); Parven Pomper Strategies ($40,000); Sidley Austin LLP; TCH Group, LLC ($50,000); The Nickles Group, LLC ($63,000); The Washington Tax Group, LLC ($40,000); and Troutman Sanders Public Affairs Group ($30,000) - for a total of $2,437,000 in first quarter 2009.
Health Care, Health Insurance, & Pharma
3. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America: $6,910,000
6. Pfizer, Inc: $6,140,000
12. American Medical Association: $4,240,000
18. American Hospital Association: $3,580,000
19. Eli Lilly and Company: $3,440,000
37. America's Health Insurance Plans, Inc: $2,030,000
39. CVS Caremark Inc: $2,005,000
47. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association: $1,800,000
49. GlaxoSmithKline: $1,780,000
63. Merck & Co: $1,500,000
65. United Health Group, Inc: $1,500,000
69. Sanofi-Aventis U.S. Inc: $1,460,000
76. Novartis: $1,347,134
87. Abbott Laboratories: $1,260,000
89. Astrazeneca Pharmaceuticals, LP: $1,250,000
92. Medtronic, Inc: $1,238,000
2. Exxon Mobil: $9,320,000
4. Chevron U.S.A. Inc: $6,800,000
7. Conoco Phillips: $5,980,935
16. BP America, Inc: $3,610,000
20. Marathon Oil Corporation: $3,380,000
45. American Petroleum Institute: $1,810,000
5. Lockheed Martin Corporation: $6,380,000
11. General Electric Company: $4,540,000
28. Northrop Grumman Corporation: $2,570,000
30. Boeing Company: $2,410,00
51. Honeywell International: $1,760,000
73. Raytheon Company: $1,360,000
10. AT&T Services, Inc: $5,134,873
14. Verizon (excluding Verizon Wireless): $3,760,000
21. National Cable and Telecommunications Association: $3,370,000
23. Comcast Corporation: $2,760,000
68. Motorola, Inc: $1,470,000
22. General Motors: $2,800,000
27. United Services Automobile Association: $2,590,244
52. Ford Motor Company: $1,750,000
84. Toyota Motor North America: $1,290,000
86. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers: $1,264,400
32. Financial Services Roundtable: $2,260,000
33. Prudential Financial, Inc: $2,180,000
41. American Bankers Association: $1,890,000
61. Visa, Inc: $1,540,000
74. Investment Company Institute: $1,359,917
75. Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association: $1,350,000
82. J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.: $1,310,000
90. Citigroup Management Corp: $1,250,000
90. Credit Union National Association: $1,250,000
36. Monsanto: $2,094,000
40. Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO): $1,920,000
44. Bayer Corporation: $1,843,672
24. Association of American Railroads: $2,759,545
54. Union Pacific Corporation: $1,717,108
71. BNSF Railway: $1,400,000
42. American Council of Life Insurers: $1,867,075
44. New York Life Insurance Company: $1,840,000
64. State Farm Insurance: $1,500,000
93. The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company: $1,237,000
1. Chamber of Commerce of the U.S.A.: $9,996,000
8. National Association of Realtors: $5,727,000
9. U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform: $5,480,000
13. AARP: $4,090,000
15. Southern Company: $3,650,000
17. Altria Client Services Inc: $3,580,000
25. Amgen, Inc: $2,750,000
26. National Association of Broadcasters: $2,600,000
29. Edison Electric Institute: $2,550,000
31. Fedex Corporation: $2,370,000
34. Textron, Inc.: $2,140,000
35. General Dynamics Corp: $2,101,945
38. International Business Machines (IBM): $2,030,000
43. United Technologies Corporation: $1,860,000
46. Recording Industry Association of America: $1,810,000
48. CTIA-The Wireless Association: $1,790,000
50. Time Warner Inc. $1,780,000
53. The Dow Chemical Company: $1,735,000
55. American Electric Power Company: $1,716,913
56. Microsoft Corporation: $1,650,000
57. Qualcomm, Incorporated: $1,620,000
58. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc: $1,600,000
59. L-3 Communications: $1,580,000
60. Exelon Business Services, LLC: $1,540,000
62. Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc: $1,530,000
66. Norfolk Southern Corporation: $1,485,026
67. Koch Companies Public Sector LLC: $1,480,000
70. American Airlines: $1,450,000
72. Oracle Corporation: $1,390,000
77. Air Transport Association of America, Inc.: $1,340,000
78. Disney Worldwide Services, Inc.: $1,330,000
79. Sepracor, Inc: $1,324,157
80. National Association of Home Builders: $1,320,000
81. UPS: $1,316,426
83. Siemens Corporation: $1,300,000
85. Duke Energy Corporation: $1,282,770
94. Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., Inc: $1,230,000
95. Business Roundtable: $1,220,000
96. Wellpoint, Inc: $1,220,000
97. American Wind Energy Association: $1,212,504
98. F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd: $1,206,427
99. National Rural Electric Cooperative Association: $1,200,000
99. CBS Corporation: $1,200,000
(Update: I removed a typo for one company whose report says $990,000,000 making them the #1 spender on lobbying... turns out they spent $990,000)"
Made of petroleum, our food is wrapped in it, the liquids we drink are bottled in it, practically everything we use has some plastic parts, and it is not only killing the oceans it is killing us!
As reported over on Climate Progress;
"From cell phones and computers to bicycle helmets and hospital IV bags, plastic has molded society in many ways that make life both easier and safer. But the synthetic material also has left harmful imprints on the environment and perhaps human health, according to a new compilation of articles authored by scientists from around the world.
More than 60 scientists contributed to the new report, which aims to present the first comprehensive review of the impact of plastics on the environment and human health, and offer possible solutions.
“One of the most ubiquitous and long-lasting recent changes to the surface of our planet is the accumulation and fragmentation of plastics,” wrote David Barnes, a lead author and researcher for the British Antarctic Survey. The report was published this month in a theme issue of Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B, a scientific journal….
“Plastics are very long-lived products that could potentially have service over decades, and yet our main use of these lightweight, inexpensive materials are as single-use items that will go to the garbage dump within a year, where they’ll persist for centuries,” Richard Thompson, lead editor of the report, said in an interview.
Evidence is mounting that the chemical building blocks that make plastics so versatile are the same components that might harm people and the environment. And its production and disposal contribute to an array of environmental problems, too. For example:
• Chemicals added to plastics are absorbed by human bodies. Some of these compounds have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects.
• Plastic debris, laced with chemicals and often ingested by marine animals, can injure or poison wildlife.
• Floating plastic waste, which can survive for thousands of years in water, serves as mini transportation devices for invasive species, disrupting habitats.
• Plastic buried deep in landfills can leach harmful chemicals that spread into groundwater.
• Around 4 percent of world oil production is used as a feedstock to make plastics, and a similar amount is consumed as energy in the process.
People are exposed to chemicals from plastic multiple times per day through the air, dust, water, food and use of consumer products.
For example, phthalates are used as plasticizers in the manufacture of vinyl flooring and wall coverings, food packaging and medical devices. Eight out of every ten babies, and nearly all adults, have measurable levels of phthalates in their bodies.
In addition, bisphenol A (BPA), found in polycarbonate bottles and the linings of food and beverage cans, can leach into food and drinks. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 93 percent of people had detectable levels of BPA in their urine.
The report noted that the high exposure of premature infants in neonatal intensive care units to both BPA and phthalates is of “great concern”….
“We have animal literature, which shows direct links between exposure and adverse health outcomes, the limited human studies, and the fact that 90 to 100 percent of the population has measurable levels of these compounds in their bodies,” said John Meeker, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and a lead author. “You take the whole picture and it does raise concerns, but more research is needed.”
Shanna Swan, director of the University of Rochester’s Center for Reproductive Epidemiology, conducted studies that found an association between pregnant women’s exposure to phthalates and altered genital development in their baby boys.
Also, people with the highest exposure to BPA have an increased rate of heart disease and diabetes, according to one recent study. Animal tests studies of PBDEs have revealed the potential for damaging the developing brain and the reproductive system."
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Employment Opportunities for a Post-Peak Oil Totnes and District
Opportunities for Economic Development
Food Production/Land Use
Farm workers, research and innovation, value adding and processing, retail, Community Supported Agriculture initiatives
Farming, processing, manufacturing
Organic Food Production
Training, freshwater aquaculture, organic gourmet mushroom production for food and medicines, intensive market gardening
Timber for construction and a variety of uses, sawdust for mushroom cultivation, charcoal, wood gasification, coppice products, saps, tannin, bark mulch, education, training, food crops, fibre
Co-ordination, land access provision, edible landscaping consultancy, online tools for linking growers and consumers, large potential for commercial production, plant nurseries and propagation
Apple harvesting and pressing, hedgerow drinks and other products, education
Design consultancy, planting and ongoing management, selling of wide range of produce, long term enhanced timber value, courses, publications, research
Edible landscaping, teaching, Education for Sustainable Development, food growing training, apprenticeships, bespoke Transition training programmes
Manufacturing and Processing
Salvaging building materials, processing and reclaiming materials (bricks, timber etc), making insulation from waste paper, glass bottles into insulation
Renewable energy technologies manufacturing and installing, technology systems,
Extending the life of machinery, building for durability
Processing of locally produced fabric, hemp, flax etc, making a range of clothing for retail, and repairs
Materials reuse, refurbishing, resale to low-income families
Holistic healthcare, research into effective herbal medicines, local herb growing and processing, training for doctors, apothecaries, nutritional advice
Home insulation advice, energy monitoring, energy efficient devices, investment co-ordinators, sale of energy to grid or decentralised energy systems, producing wood chip/pellets for boilers, Energy Resilience Analyses for businesses
Collecting, Managing, Training, Distribution, Education, potential links to urban food production
Creation of effective software systems for energy management, carbon footprinting and much more
Hospice services / bereavement
Hospice services, supporting families who keep relatives at home, green burials
Credit Unions, local currencies, mechanisms whereby people can invest with confidence into their community, Green Bonds, crowd funding
Opportunity to organise efforts throughout region, and parishes
Opportunity to gather information from the many projects and enterprises underway.
Education and Design
Wide range of opportunities for supporting ‘The Great Reskilling’, developing Distance Learning programmes, training for professionals
Landscape architects specialising in edible landscaping, zero carbon buildings
Art projects documenting the Transition, installations, exhibitions, public art workshops, local recording studios, storytelling
Working with businesses on energy audits, resilience plans, a range of future-proofing strategies
Personal / Group Support
Personal ‘Transition Counselling’, group support, community processes
Debt advice, housing advice, financial management skills, debt scheduling
Support, retraining, ongoing support and training
Local newspapers, small print run books on different aspects of the Transition
Online retailing systems for local markets
Online TV channels documenting inspiring examples of Transition in Action
Retraining builders to use local materials and green building techniques, improving awareness around energy efficiency in building, setting up local construction companies
Creating local natural building materials, clay plasters, timber, lime, straw, hemp etc. Growing, processing, distribution, retail etc. Locally made wallpaper.
Specialists in passiv haus building, local materials, retrofit advice
Low energy vehicle fleets
Marketing, maintaining, renting, chauffeuring
Selling, servicing, maintenance training, rental
Importing, servicing, taxi service, weddings etc.
Sourcing, processing, selling, training and advice
Fleet management, sales, leasing, car clubs