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Articles about the Environment

Agriculture & Fishing
Farming Demographics and Intercropping
Is Biofuel the Fuel of the Future?
Jellyfish Swarms feeding on Polluted Waters
Climate Change and High Wheat Prices


Architecture
Postmodern Architecture - Urban Cactus
Buildings That Breathe
Building Green
The Future of Condos: Pyramids


Cars & Transportation
Buying Your First Hybrid
The Future of Self-Driving Cars
The Eco-Car Battleground
The Hydrogen Equinox
Green Cars in 2020
Carburetor Efficiency
21 Ways to Make a Better TTC
Is Biofuel the Fuel of the Future?
Hydrogen Power becoming a Reality
Laws pushing zero-emission cars
Is hydrogen power the future?
Cost, infrastructure hinder hydrogen
China auto makers roll out 'clean' cars
Fuel-cell work on track
Iceland's hydrogen ship heralds fossil-free future


Conservation & Clean Up
Recycling Paper in the Digital Age
Water: A Human Right
The War on Plastic Bags
Green Burials
7 Environmental Problems That Are Worse Than We Thought


Ecofeminism & Ecofashion
Introduction to Ecofeminism
Woman Equals Nature?
The Rise of Ecofashion
European Ecofashion
A Quick Guide to Natural Beauty
The War on Plastic Bags


Energy
How to Build a Windmill
Building a Wind Turbine Factory in Ontario
Home Energy Saving Tips
Solar Power becoming Profitable
2020: Social, Economic and Technological Change
The Solar Powered Myth
Geothermal Heating Systems
Weather News of 2007


Global Warming
Climate Change
Global Warming Denialism
2005: The Hottest Year in Canadian History
Ancient ice shelf snaps free from Canada
Hurricanes in Europe?
Global Warming in Russia & the North Atlantic
Climate Change will effect Economy
David Suzuki launches Green Tour
Australian Drought
$25 million prize for reducing global warming
Military Leaders Fight Global Warming
Is Biofuel the Fuel of the Future?
Rising Sea Levels
Climate Change and Pollution causing Jellyfish Swarms
The Theory of Rapid Climate Change
Climate Change and Food Shortages


Politics
Climate Change will effect Economy
Stephen Harper Vs Kyoto and the Environment
Stephen Harper is a Global Warming Denier
Environment hurt by Quebec Separatism
Tory Green and the Oil Industry
Al Gore no longer a bore
Toronto Green

Toronto Bicycle Mechanic
Free Advice for Fixing your Bike


Recycling Paper in the Digital Age

The Digital Age isn't so Environmentally Friendly... Or is it?

By Charles Moffat - December 2012.

It is December 2012 and a relative of mine has finished producing and printing her 2013 Calendars, featuring a selection of nature photography from 2012. She does it more as a hobby, but her photography is quite good and she makes a tidy profit off the sales. An additional selling point of her calendars is that they're made of 100% recycled material and the recycling process is environmentally friendly (often the chemicals used in recycling paper are dumped back into the environment and they're not the most friendly chemicals).

That is something we often forget about. How the recycling process is actually accomplished and the chemicals involved. It is still way better however than chopping down trees and churning them into paper, but if we can use a process that is less harmful then we should certainly do so.

Waterless Printing

Which brings me to the topic of environmentally friendly printing. Waterless Printing is similar to lithography and is basically an offset lithographic printing process that eliminates dampening-related volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the printing process. VOCs are linked to the deterioration of the earth's ozone layer, which protects the earth from various forms of radiation and helps slow down global warming

Thanks to scientific innovation we now have water-washable inks, the waterless pressroom makes printing processes virtually VOC-free. Printing presses using Waterless Printing register faster, produce better quality colours, and then hold those colours consistently throughout the press run, resulting in paper savings of 30 to 40 percent. Normal printing processes often have errors due to inconsistent colours and the paper is wasted.

Thus we complete the loop. From recycled paper, to the recycling process being environmentally friendly... to the printing process being environmentally friendly. Its proof that the entire paper industry can produce, print and recycle paper without damaging the environment.

So why then are we still buying freshly made un-recycled paper?

I blame the big corporations who are always looking to save money. They might claim to be environmentally conscious in their advertising, but when pressed on the topic they're buying truckloads of unrecycled paper just for record keeping.

If you've ever worked for a bank, a pension company or an insurance company you know these places love keeping "hard copy records" of every transaction they do. Their argument is that if something ever happens to the computers (like in the event of a nuclear war) then they will still have hard copies on paper of all their records.

At which point a little kid should raise their hand with a question and ask: "But doesn't paper burn, so what difference will it made?"

Honestly, if we're facing a nuclear holocaust I think whether people have insurance records for their home will make very little difference.

But therein lies the idiocy of big corporations. They waste millions of dollars having warehouses full of old records on paper for the future event of if the computers ever fail to work. Now true, a computer hacker or virus might be able to wipe out those records... but anyone with a computer science degree will tell you that those records are never truly removed from the harddrive and their imprint can be restored.

And anyone with a box of matches can also tell you that paper records can also disappear in an act of arson.

I was recently speaking with a friend and they mentioned how they keep paper copies of all of their writing, because of their fear that if something ever happens to the computers that all of their writing would be destroyed and they would leave nothing behind.

To which I jokingly asked: "Wait, so does that mean during the post-apocalypse you're going to carry around copies of your books with you? Don't you think you will have better things to carry?"

I admit yes, I would feel a certain amount of loss if most of my poetry, short stories and novels were destroyed. But to be fair, if I was living in the post-apocalypse my old stories would be something left behind as society is thrown back into the dark ages.

Although in theory if we simply recycled the things we already have more efficiently instead of wasting things and fighting over resources, shouldn't we be able to prevent wars over resources? Oil, wood, water, food... Only three of these we really need to survive and have shelter over our heads. We have the technology to replace oil with hydrogen power, but we lack the political and economic motivation to make the effort.

Which brings me back to the topic of recycling paper. Corporations lack the motivation to buy and use recycled. New paper is cheaper.

So here is my proposal. Lets put a tax on new paper and a subsidy on recycled paper. Make the tax and subsidy ratio enough so that new paper costs 10 to 20 percent more than recycled paper. Sure the paper pulp industry will be hurt, but the recycled pulp industry will be booming. It won't hurt any jobs in the long run, it will simply transform the industry.

Then corporations will think twice about their choice of paper. And hopefully think twice about their printing processes too.

And then presumably realize all those warehouses full of paper records are largely wasteful in the first place, and send them to be shredded and recycled.


US Congress Ready to Tackle Global Warming

Roddy Scheer - January 2007.

How green is Congress?

With Democrats settling into their leadership roles after taking control of both houses of Congress earlier this month, global warming seems to be the issue du jour on Capitol Hill. Last week, new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) kicked things off by proposing the creation of a special House committee to deal with human-induced climate change and produce a viable emissions reduction bill by mid-summer.

“This is a really gutsy move by the speaker,” said Phil Clapp, president of the nonprofit National Environmental Trust. He praised Pelosi for helping to build momentum to put in place a regulatory structure for reducing greenhouse gases. “Action on global warming is so urgent that the speaker has probably taken the only course that could produce a comprehensive bill before the 2008 elections swamp the political process,” Clapp said.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, two presidential hopefuls, Barack Obama (D-IL) and Arizona John McCain (R-AZ), have collaborated with Connecticut’s Independent Senator and former Vice Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman on a bill that aims to reduce annual U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds within a few decades. At this point it’s unclear when such a bill would be introduced, as it would surely face stiff opposition from the White House and industry.

The Senate’s new Energy and Natural Resources Committee chair, Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), is proposing a more modest global warming bill that would allow greenhouse gas emissions to continue rising until 2030, at which point they would start to be cut. “I am committed to developing bipartisan climate change legislation that can pass the Congress this year,” Bingaman told reporters.

The very existence of new proposed legislation from Congress on climate change is a promising development as far as environmentalists are concerned. And with avowed global warming skeptic George W. Bush gone from the White House in 2008, some kind of progress seems possible.

Global Warming Causes and Effects

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Wind Mills and Blue Sky

Cow Power

Jim Motavalli - January 2007.

Vermont had 2,500 dairy farms in 1993; now it has 1,400. The low price of milk is one culprit: it’s down from $17 per hundredweight (12.5 gallons) at its peak to $12 today. To stay competitive, dairies have to be innovative. One way they do that is by going organic, since organic milk fetches $30 per hundredweight. Another way is by emulating Blue Spruce Farm in Bridport, Vermont and tapping into cow power.

The farm, long owned by the Audet family, is sizable for Vermont, with 1,000 Holstein milking cows. Not a confinement system (the cows can move around their barn), Blue Spruce isn’t organic, either. But it’s green in another way. The manure from all those pooping cows, collected by “alley scrapers” that run along the floor like a giant squeegee, is processed into renewable electricity.

There are other benefits as well. David Dunn, a senior energy consultant with cow power sponsor Central Vermont Public Service Company, sticks his hand into a giant pile of powdery waste, unfazed by its former life as cow manure. The odorless byproduct makes excellent fertilizer, potting soil (“Moo Doo”) and cow bedding. “This farm doesn’t have to spend $1,200 a week on sawdust for bedding anymore,” he says.

According to Marie Audet, the family spokesperson, 400 homes could be powered by the electricity produced on the farm. The waste goes into an anaerobic (oxygen-free) digester and sits there for three weeks, during which time it produces methane (a fuel doubling as an extremely potent global warming gas) that is captured and used to power two large Caterpillar electricity generators, totaling 275 kilowatts. The Audets have invested $1.3 million in the operation, but with $120,000 a year in electricity sales they expect to recoup their costs in seven years.

Green Mountain College in nearby Poultney has agreed to buy 1.2 million kilowatt-hours of the Audets’ cow power electricity annually, tacking a $48,000 surcharge on its bill. “It’s time to walk the talk,” says Green Mountain President John Brennan on a recent tour of the cow barns and digester. “This helps the market for renewable energy, and it avoids the emission of global warming gasses.”

Other Vermont farms are also planning to invest in cow power operations, and the idea has gone national. The 2002 Farm Bill provides federal funds through the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy-Efficiency Improvements Program. Lodi, California’s Castelanelli Brothers Dairy (with 2,100 cows) tapped into it for $160,000 to help pay for an anaerobic digester that will produce up to 180 kilowatts. Another operation, also federally assisted, is underway at the Dairyland Power Cooperative in Elk Mound, Wisconsin. Cow power is on a roll.

Green Energy for the World COMMENTARY: Car Free in America
The Alternative is Rail, Buses, Bikes and Just Plain Walking

Jim Motavalli - January 2007.

General Motors executives like to say that the fuel-cell car “will take the automobile out of the environmental equation,” when really it will only solve the tailpipe problem. Cars will still take up space, create gridlock and drive development decisions.

Many of us have seen old photographs of the comprehensive trolley and railroad lines that used to serve even the smallest American community, and wondered whether we’ve really made “progress” since then. Though the commuter of 1912 lacked an interstate highway system, he or she could walk out the front door, hop a trolley, then connect to an efficient national rail network with 300,000 miles of track.

Our shrunken, financially imperiled Amtrak system is a ghost of the network we tore up in search of modernity and the personal freedom afforded by automobiles (our rail infrastructure now has half as many miles as existed in 1912). But cities are beginning to rebuild what was lost, turning to light-rail systems, fast ferryboats and dedicated bus corridors, among other new approaches.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is full of relatively happy news:

  • Fourteen million Americans ride on public transportation each weekday.
  • Americans took more than 7.8 billion public transportation trips in the first nine months of 2006, up three percent from the previous year. Light rail had the highest percentage of growth among all modes of transportation, with an increase of 5.4 percent. Double-digit growth was seen in Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Sacramento. Other big gainers include Buffalo and Houston.

    “Even as gas prices declined, more and more people decided to ride public transportation,” says APTA President William W. Millar. “This continued increase in transit ridership demonstrates that when people have transportation choices, they use them.”

    Last January, APTA released a study that found that transit saves 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline every year, the equivalent of 108 million cars filling up, almost 300,000 each day. If twice as many Americans had transit choices, we’d save 2.8 billion gallons. Two-worker households that use public transit on a given day save more than $6,200 a year on average.

    Some 62 American cities now have or plan to build light-rail systems. APTA reports that there are now 651 light-rail stations around the country, operated by 26 transit agencies. Commuter rail agencies add another 1,153 stations. Funded proposals will add 131 new stations in coming years.

    Despite transit critics who charge that light rail offers “limousine-priced” rides to people who would otherwise have taken the bus, there’s ample evidence that transit is cost-effective (especially when the cost of gridlock is taken into account), and ridership is increasing from people who would otherwise have taken their cars. When the St. Louis light rail opened in 1993, according to the Milwaukee Journal, not only did the number of passengers far exceed expectations but bus ridership also increased 20 percent. In Toronto, Canada, transit carries 77 percent of all downtown-bound commuters during rush hours. Portland, Oregon’s Tri-Met light-rail system eliminates 187,000 car trips every day, or 58 million per year.

    The Federal Transit Agency reports, “Americans lose more than 1.6 million hours a day stuck in traffic. Without transit, the nation’s $40 billion in annual traffic congestion losses would be $15 billion higher. In fact, if all the Americans who take transit to work decided to drive, their cars would circle the Earth with a line of traffic 23,000 miles long.”

    Long-distance trains, so-called “heavy rail,” are also making a comeback, despite setbacks. Amtrak as a whole has lost about $25 billion since it was created in 1971, a staggering sum until you consider the $40 billion annually spent on highways. States are banding together in high-speed train “compacts” designed to provide ultra-fast and competitive rail service for such regions as the Midwest, Florida, the Northwest and California.

    The model is Amtrak’s Acela train between Boston and Washington, D.C., which travels at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour. That’s slower than European trains, but it’s fast enough to be competitive with flying, especially when including the time consumed in getting to airports and checking through new security procedures. The Acela train has had many teething problems, but it’s still a popular travel alternative. (The part of Amtrak that loses money is the long-distance cross-country routes, because it’s much quicker and cheaper to fly, but these routes are protected by pork-barrel political interests.)

    Rapid-transit ferries can compete with cars in commuting times. The city of Sydney, Australia, for instance, makes major use of ferryboat commuting, as does Hong Kong, Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. There are some environmental problems and some cost issues with ferries, but, overall, when you have feasible water routes, it’s a great mode of transport.

    Biking is also gaining in popularity, for health, for its environmental benefits and to eliminate auto-related costs. Owning a car for a year can cost more than $7,000. According to the League of American Bicyclists, operating a bicycle for a year weighs in at $120. Many insurance companies also reduce rates for commuters who bicycle to work rather than drive. The National Personal Transportation Survey found that approximately 40 percent of all trips are less than two miles in length—which represents a 10-minute bike ride or a 30-minute walk. Fifty-four percent of all commuters live within 10 miles of their worksite—making their commute time by bike or car just about the same.

    Employers also benefit, because studies show that people who bike to work are more productive and take less time off for illness. Bikers cut down on an employer’s need to subsidize employee parking, and exercise tends to make workers more alert.

    If bicycling seems too strenuous for you, there are a range of electric-assisted bicycles (with a top speed of about 15 miles per hour and a 20-mile range) available that give you a motorized push up hills and other obstacles. You can motorize a bike yourself with an affordable kit, or pay $500 to $3,000 for a ready-made unit. Santa Cruz County, California gives $375 rebates for electric bike purchases. And, of course, there’s always the Segway gyroscopic scooter, though they remain rather expensive novelties and not the transportation revolution that founder Dean Kamen envisioned.

    Our transportation choices obviously have a major impact on the environment, so what can we do to lessen our impact on the planet and reduce our dependence on foreign oil? If we could prepare for the coming hydrogen-based energy economy by promoting interim clean-car technologies and a national public transportation network, we’d certainly be making major progress! Life without Cars?

    The Europeans and South Americans are far ahead of the car-dependent U.S. in taking back the streets. The English anti-roads movement actually stopped construction of some highway bypasses after activists blocked traffic. In the U.S., anti-car activism is largely restricted to bicycle advocacy, with groups such as Critical Mass and Transportation Alternatives occasionally blocking traffic and demonstrating for better bike access.

    European car-free zones have become very successful. Sixty cities have declared that they’re going to make their centers car-free. Britain has developed a car-free day, which is supported by 75 percent of the British public. Similar ideas have spread to Central and South America. In some places, such as Athens or Singapore, because of pollution problems, you can drive only every other day (license plates ending in an odd number one day, even the next), and London now is charging cars a hefty fee to enter the city center. In Copenhagen, Denmark, 30 to 40 percent of commuters get to work by bicycle.

    Although vehicle miles traveled and the number of cars in the world grows every day, some very green shoots are starting to show themselves through the concrete.

    Keeping Connecticut Green: Recycling Cars to Keep the State Clean

    Recycling metals is how many American's make their living. By turning in tons of metal, these individuals make a bit of money to help offset their living expenses. It's also beneficial to the well-being of the community while promoting eco-friendliness. By turning in broken down dishwashers, dryers, cars and any other metal object, these recyclers help keep the scenery of Connecticut clear of various debris.

    Automobiles and Parts

    According to the USGS, 18 million tons of steel had been recycled from vehicles that were in end-of-life stages. These are automobiles that simply could not be repaired and put back onto the road. Usually this includes wrecks with structural or direct framework damage. More than 300 shredders recycled the equivalent of 18 million automobiles in 2012. This metal is then put back into use by making other goods after melting it down. Using services such as Sims Metal North Haven, you can be sure that your end-of-life vehicle with be put to new uses improving the eco-friendliness of your area.

    More than 12,500 vehicle dismantling professionals pull as many usable parts from the automobile as possible before sending it to a shredder. For most individuals, there is continued life within many of the components of a car slated for destruction. For instance, a recycled window or driver-side seat could be much cheaper than purchasing one of these items brand new. This is also a method of eco-friendliness as it reduces new products from becoming waste at a later date.

    Beyond the Look of a Greener Connecticut

    Recycling scrap does more for being green than merely keeping the landscape clear of aging debris. Remelting of scrap iron requires far less energy then that of actual production of new metal. This, in turn, reduces the amount of energy consumed by these plants in order to build goods using recycled metal. The less energy these locations utilize, the more energy that is available for communities and other businesses. This is aside from the costs and manpower that is attributed to the overall process of producing metals from the iron ore itself.

    Although recycling is a well-promoted aspect of life, there is still more that the average person can do to help create a greener community. As metals of all kinds can be remelted to create new items, don't underestimate the value of that old swamp cooler in the back yard. Do what you can to promote a greener and more efficient way of living.

    Benefits of Vehicle Inspections

    When you have a vehicle, maintaining it is one of the most important aspects of keeping it in proper working order. For instance, vehicles are supposed to have their oil changed periodically, usually every six months, they have to have their tires balanced and rotated from time to time and they must periodically undergo a Pennsylvania state inspection. Having your vehicle inspected from time to time is especially advantageous because this helps you ensure that your vehicle is in proper working order.

    A vehicle inspection can help you catch any problems that you might not have noticed otherwise. Some problems, if left unattended, can morph into much bigger problems, so getting your vehicle inspected to catch any small problems that have the potential to turn into bigger ones is essential to saving yourself money in the long run. It can also help you extend the life of your vehicle and your vehicle’s parts.

    Numerous repair companies offer different types of inspections. Generally, it is a good idea to get a multi-point inspection that provides you with a comprehensive vehicle inspection, a consultation with a service advisor and a detailed inspection form. Various elements on your vehicle are checked during a multi-point vehicle inspection. Usually a multi-point vehicle inspection provides you with a thorough review of all the major systems within your vehicle. It also checks to ensure that you are up-to-date on all the recommended factory maintenance for your vehicle. Some of the types of elements that are checked during a multi-point vehicle inspection include the following:

    • Brakes
    • Steering
    • Transmission/clutch
    • Heater/air conditioner
    • Engine performance
    • Instruments and controls
    • Brake and back-up lights
    • Turn signals and flashers
    • Interior and warning lights
    • Headlights and fog lights
    • Shock absorbers

    In addition to a multi-point inspection, there are other types of inspections that you can get on your vehicle as well. For instance, you can choose just to get an under-the-hood inspection or an under-the-car inspection that inspects all the components in the respective areas to ensure that they are functioning properly and are up-to-date. For instance, an under-the-hood inspection usually checks your starter, battery, drive belt, fluid level and condition, engine, intake system, charging system and alternator, ignition system, cooling system and computer system. However, an under-the-car inspection usually checks your engine mounts, transmission mounts, engine seals, steering and front suspension, brakes, rear suspension, clutch and transmission linkage, rear axle, exhaust system, drive axles, U-joints, driveshaft and CV joints.

    No matter what type of vehicle you have, having it undergo a thorough inspection from time to time is key to keeping it in optimum shape. Inspections can help you catch any problems with your vehicle that you might not have noticed otherwise.

    Gas Flares For Landfills

    Every management company must learn more about gas flares for landfills, and these devices must be expertly designed and installed. The gas flare is a unique device that makes the landfill more safe, but the owners of the landfill must have a gas flare that is working properly at all times. Any buildup in the landfill could cause a massive explosion in the landfill, and the gas flare helps to prevent these problems.

    The Design

    The company that designs the gas flare can produce a flare that will pull as much gas out of the landfill as possible. These gas flares have to have an amazing capacity to hold residual gas, and the pipes must be big enough to manage what the landfill is putting out. The people who are planning on making their landfills safer must turn to a company that can design the gas flare for them.

    The Capacity

    The capacity of the gas flare is determined by the company that designs it, but they must get proper information from the owner of the landfill. The owner must show the designer of the gas flare how much is in the landfill, how much it grows per day and how much gas they have detected in the landfill. The designer uses this information to produce the best gas flare possible.

    Installation

    The installation of a gas flare should be left up to the design company. The design company can use the right materials, follow the design and work around the landfill easily. When people want to see the construction of their gas flare happen in a certain time frame, they must work with the design company to find out how fast the job can be done. The project can be timed to a point, but the design company must test the system before it is put into service.

    The best way to keep a landfill safe is with the use of a gas flare. The gas flare can provide the landfill with relief from the gas buildup that could cause an explosion. The project can be done in many ways, and the owner of the landfill will gain the safety technology they need for their space.

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