Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Time Magazine’s “Top 15 Green Websites”—No Impact Man

The No Impact Experiement is amazing and one must see the No Impact Man website. It is a blog that is dedicated to one man and his family's quest to leave no enviornmental impact on the world.

On his website he descrbibes it as "A guilty liberal finally snaps, swears off plastic, goes organic, becomes a bicycle nut, turns off his power, composts hi poop, while living in New York City, generally turns into a tree-hugging lunatic who tries to save polar bears and the rest of the planet from enviornmental catastrophe while dragging his baby daughter and Prada-wearing, Four Seasons-loving wife along for the ride."

The blog allows us on the outside of the experiment ot interact and read the ongoing progress. It is one thing for someone to say they are going to try an experiment of this nature but it is something else to allow people into your life and mission to protect the enviornment.

His name is Colin Beaven and he is not a scientist researching global warming or a politcal activist with an agenda but rather an everyday person trying to accomplish a monumental task. You can read more about him and his experiment at http://noimpactman.typepad.com/blog/

Jeremiah

Time Magazine’s “Top 15 Green Websites”—Wall Street Journal's Enviornmental Capital

"Daily analysis of the business of the environment by
The Wall Street Journal"


The Wall Street Journal has published a blog that discusses environment and it's relation to national and worldwide business. Accompanying the blog we find an entire section of The Wall Street Journal Website devoted to the environment.
What makes their site great is that it relates issues of the environment to what people, business and government can do today to protect the environment while delivering news that is current in relation to our environment.
Jeremiah

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Time Magazine’s “Top 15 Green Websites”—Dot Earth

“Six months, 212 posts and 15,932 comments ago, Dot Earth was born. It’s been a wacky ride, kind of like jumping behind the wheel of a vehicle that’s still being designed and assembled and has no driver’s manual — and which is already rolling down a busy highway that’s also still being constructed and has no good maps.” (Revkin, Andrew C., “Climate and the web: ‘Electronic Democracy on Steroids’”, Dot Earth, 4/25/08)

Andrew writes most of the blogs on Dot Earth that is one of many at the New York Times website. By 2050 Dot Earth states that there will be about 9 billion people, and the mission of this blog is: “examines efforts to balance human affairs with the planet’s limits.” This blog isn’t loaded with advertising and has all the other resources of the New York Times at the click of your mouse. Under the heading of “Environment”, there is an article on using bicycles in Washington, D.C., much like the program we had here in Portland with the yellow bikes many years ago (except you need a membership card with this one), and they do mention us! There are also links to other related sites and blogs in their respective categories (many of the other “Top 15 Green Websites” were under “Environment and Sustainability Voices”).

This site would be a good bookmark for the green student as there’s all the news of the New York Times, many links concerning the environment and economy, and the Dot Earth blog.

Time Magazine’s “Top 15 Green Websites”—RealClimate.org

"Climate Science From Climate Scientists"



"RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science."



RealClimate contains the writings and opinions of some of the leaders in Climate Research throughout the world. RealClimate contains a wealth of information not only for those who have ventured deep into the world of Climate Research but also for the common man who wishes to make himself better informed.

The information contained in the blogs of the site contain opinions, reviews, information and modern day occurences in relation to climate change. They amount of information contained in the site is astounding but has been made easy to navigate by sorting through with common categories.

Jeremiah

Monday, April 28, 2008

Recycling, what do we really know?

Lead Acid Batteries

Myth: Lead Acid Batteries are recycled safely.

Bust: The cost of recycling lead acid batteries in highly developed countries (such as United States, United Kingdon, Austrailia, Japan) is too prohibitive, so the batteries are shipped to countries (such as Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, Phillipines) with lower labor costs. These countries do not have hazard waste laws that protect their labor force from the hazards of handling and melting down the batteries, causing lead contamination.

Source: http://www.electric-cars-are-for-girls.com/recycle-a-lead-acid-battery.html

Hazard Waste

Myth: Cement kilns are a safe way to burn hazardous waste.

Bust: Cement kilns are designed to make cement, not to dispose waste. Emissions of dioxins are eight times higher from cement kilns burning hazardous waste.

Source: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campains/toxics/incineration/the-problem


CFL Bulbs

Myth: CF bulbs are the perfect answer for energy conservation.

Truth: CF bulbs do save on energy because CF bulbs use 75% less energy to produce the same amount of light as incandescent (even hallogen), which waste 90% of their energy on heat.

Bust: CF bulbs can not be thrown in the regular trash because they contain mercury. They must be returned to retailers that will take them, or recycled as hazardous waste. These bulbs break easily which makes them difficult to recycle.

Source: http://www.seattle.gov/light/Conserve/Resident/cv5_lw2.htm#disposal
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7431198


Posted by: Fran Stein


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Nuclear Power & Uranium Mining

With the rush to find new sources of energy to replace fossil fuels many are starting to swing towards Nuclear Power for answers. Sure there are plenty of great reasons to switch to nuclear.. It is a cheap energy source and many countries such as France have very low utility costs. The technology behind the power plants has also become safer so disasters such as Chernobyl will be less likely to occur. However people think that Nuclear power plants are low emission, but they fail to take into account that the act of mining (a very destructive process for regions surrounding mines, and any place downstream/wind of that mine) is destructive in any case. Consider this, we are already running out of oil - reaching the climax of oil production known as Peak oil... but Uranium is also a limited resource. Why would we shift our electrical grid over to a source of energy that will, in due time, run out as we are already doing with oil?

Here's some info on what the mining has done...
http://www.greens.org/s-r/10/10-07.html

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Plastic Bottles are not Eco-Friendly

Plastic water bottles are not Eco-friendly. These bottles do not degrade, instead, the plastic sits in our landfills, then their toxins run-off into our water. Millions of oil is used to produce this product. And did you know, bottled water is no different than tap. Read more, click the link below, go to fast facts, there you will find Problems with Plastic Bottles.

http://www.reusablebags.com/

Lisa Patterson

Save Our Planet-Implement Degradable Plastic Bags

Corporations now sell biodegradable plastic products. The life-span for these bags is months to a few years’ verses regular plastic bags that sit in our landfill for decades or centuries. Together we can sustain our planet. Check these products out, click the link below, then click Plastic Solution Products.

Did you know...

A broad range of multiple house hold items can be reused.
Instead of trashing, reuse, reduce, and recycle.

Tennis shoes can be recycled. That's right sneakers can be turned into basketball courts, tracks, tennis courts or playground pads. We can protect our environment and help society play on safer sports surfaces. Call your local recycling center for more information.

Wireless phone are recyclable. When the consumer is done utilizing their phone, that phone can provide quality service to another consumer? All cell phones have free 911 services. Domestic violent shelters give these phones to battered woman. Call your local shelter today and drop off those unusable phones.

Lisa Patterson

Friday, April 25, 2008

Time Magazine’s “Top 15 Green Websites”—TreeHugger

TreeHugger is corporately owned by Discovery Communications (Animal Planet, Science Channel, etc,) and one can tell it has a higher budget compared to other sites (with the accompanying high volume of advertising too). The “Travel and Nature” category of news is cleverly done so that countries that support bad environmental policy are essentially given unofficial notice of boycott via the exposure at TreeHugger—while those countries with need or commendation were favorably promoted with news articles. Taking action is a large part of this site as there are three columns on going green (going, buying, and giving). The “How to Go Green Guide” was impressive with even a “How to Green Your Dishwasher” link. “TreeHugger Basics” is an informative venue at the site on things like ethanol with all the pros and [mostly] cons concerning this option. The site has interviews if you want to hear something and generally is very informative. Here’s a picture of space debris from the site:


Commentary: Dispelling the myths of tall-tale turbines

Here is an article on wind energy that I thought was interesting. There is always a search on for the cleanest and best way to produce energy and wind turbines are gaining speed…or are they? Check it out at:
http://www.fdlreporter.com/apps/pbcs.dll/articleAID=/20080422/FON06/804220418/1345

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Time Magazine’s “Top 15 Green Websites”—Grist

Grist is a non-profit organization based in Seattle, Washington, mostly dealing with environmental news and commentary. There’s a plethora of great news articles on many subjects with many of them very recent. Their columns are interesting and practical such as the “A to Green” that gives tips on eco-living that even a cave-man could do. Grist also has green product reviews, financial advice for the environmentally friendly conscious, and a column to ask questions. Grist is a small non-profit, but they aren’t looking for more writers (although there’s a job opening for an editor). If you have something to submit, it will have to be unique to be on Grist: “were on the lookout for untold environmental stories; new takes on old issues; cogent and timely analysis of breaking news; fresh, funny, intelligent voices; and original investigative journalism.” Grist appears very independent and won’t hesitate to expose eco-myths and half-truths. The non-profit is funded by grants from foundations, donations, and a little advertising. Check out the columns if you visit the site; they are worth the time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Organic Food--Some Things You Didn't Know

There is a lot of debate these days over the vices and virtues of organic food. Many think it is scam or that it is not worth the price while others think that it is a godsend.

There are many things about organic foods that you thought you knew but that may not have been correct.

Check out this article to get some information on our organic foods and what the real story is.

Cereal Crops for Food or BioFuel?

With increased market demands for 'green' fuel made from cereal crops --- the world's crop lands that provide food are being dedicated solely for the biofuel industry, reducing food crop lands which is causing food prices to rise and world hunger to expand to dangerous levels.

The World Health Organization and others are calling attention to this crisis. Please read this article "U.N. expert: Food crisis 'a silent tsunami'" from CNN.
http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/science/04/22/food.biofuels/index.html

Paper or Plastic

Are Plastic Grocery Bags Sacking the Environment?

Plastic bag convenience is problematic for our environment. Billions of plastic bags are utilized by the consumer yearly, when their lifespan is over, the bag ends up in our landfills. “Once in the environment it takes months to hundreds of years for plastic bags to breakdown. As they decompose, tiny toxin bits seep into soils, lakes, rivers, and the oceans (Roach). Societies plan to reuse to reduce may benefit the consumer, however, in the long run, the outcome to save now is to costly toward our environment. For more information, click the link below.


Lisa Patterson

Plastic Bags are not Earth Friendly.

Plastic bag convenience is problematic for our environment. Billions of plastic bags are utilized by the consumer yearly, when their lifespan is over, the bag ends up in our landfills. Disintegration of plastic bags takes decades, sometimes centuries. During their process to breakdown into pieces, these bags release unhealthy toxins that run-off into: streams, lakes, rivers, and oceans, potentially hurting our water supply. Using these bags gives great advantage to the consumer, however, society’s effort to reduce and reuse plastic bags does not benefit our planet, the outcome for our environment is too costly for mankind. For more information click the link below.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/09/0902_030902_plasticbags.html

Lisa Patterson

Time Magazine’s “Top 15 Green Websites”.

As a service to our readers, we here at Portland State University will review these sites from a student's perspective.

Link to the Time article

Here are the sites:

Grist
TreeHugger
Dot Earth
Climate Change
Real Climate
Environmental Capital
No Impact Man
Ecogeek
Ecorazzi
Switchboard
Mongabay
Climate Ethics
Climate Progress
World Changing
Planet Ark

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sustainability myth's

Here are some Recycling Myths from PSU website link on sustainability


Myth: "Recycling means more material to collect." The same amount of waste is generated as with an all-disposal system. With recycling, however, the waste is just separated into useful categories that can be reprocessed into usable goods.

Myth: "Not recycling is cheaper than recycling." Recycling should always be compared against disposal, since the material still must be transported off campus. "Not recycling" means paying for disposal, and disposal costs are typically much higher than the national average.

Myth: "Since we have plenty of land for landfills, recycling isn't important." Recycling has many more benefits than simply reducing landfill use, including:
Conserving non-renewable natural resources (e.g., trees, oil, minerals, etc.),
Reducing energy consumption, and
Reducing the pollution and environmental impacts associated with extracting resources from the earth (e.g., clear-cutting, oil drilling, mining, burning coal to melt steel, etc.).
No community wants to be the "host" of other people's trash. The impact of a landfill is greater than simply the space it takes up. As organic matter (anything that was once living) breaks down in a landfill, it produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By reducing the amount of organic material sent to the landfill, through composting and paper recycling, you are helping to reduce greenhouse gasses.

Myth: "Recycling bins are ugly and cannot fit into the local aesthetic." Recycling bins, which are really no different than trash bins with a lid on them, come in many shapes, styles, and colors and can fit into nearly any aesthetic scheme. Recycling bins, like trashcans, must adhere to certain fire safety and sanitation standards.

Myth: "Someone else will go through the trash and pull out the recyclables before it goes to the landfill." Not true! Anything thrown into a trashcan usually ends end up in the landfill. The labor required to sort through trash after it has already been mixed is prohibitive and not safe. There are no garbage "fairies" who sort through trash and make it disappear. The only sensible way of separating paper, bottles and cans from trash is at the "source"; meaning each person separates items at the time they throw it away. At PSU, we are increasing the number of recycling bins in all buildings to make recycling easy!

Myth: "Only white paper is recyclable." Just about any type of paper is technically recyclable, including envelopes, post-it notes, colored paper, newspaper, and magazines. Some universal restrictions are waxy or thermal paper (for older fax machines), laminated paper, and food-stained paper. However, different recycling companies require different mixes and restrictions. Make sure to check the details for PSU recycling.

Myth: "Incineration is safe these days and you can burn it for the electricity." Incineration still produces emission into the air including air pollutants and greenhouse gasses. While it is true that some incinerators also produce electricity, it is not without impact. Recycling the material, or reusing or reducing its use, will save electricity and is a much more efficient way of handling the material.

Myth: "It's OK to throw something away as long as it's biodegradable." Biodegradable waste breaks down into methane in the landfill, if at all. It is usually released into the atmosphere, where it is a potent greenhouse gas. A better solution is to recycle the material, or even better, reuse it or reduce its use altogether. Non-biodegradable waste does not produce methane, but it also will not break down in the landfill, thus using more space. Composting biodegradables is an effective option.

http://www.pdx.edu/sustainability/pr_recycling_myths.html

Recycling e-waste: Where does it really go? by Fran Stein, PSU Senior Capstone

Myth:
Obsolete e-waste, used computers and scrap electronic equipment, are recycled properly as to not negatively impact the worlds environment.

Truth:
ECS processes scrap electronics by shredding and separating the components, ferrous metals (steel), copper and precious metals, aluminum, and plastic. The steel and aluminum are recycled as the metals, the plastic is recycled as plastic, and the copper and precious metals are sampled, prepared, and packaged for shipment to a primary copper smelter.

Products Produced from Electronics Scrap Recycling:
-Copper ingot with precious metals
-Prepared pulps with precious metals
-Granulated electronics with precious metals
-Granulated electronics without precious metals
-Steel-magnetically separated
-Aluminum-eddy current separated
-Plastic-separated
reference:http://www.ecsrefining.com/

Bust:

An estimated 50 to 80 percent of all electronic waste "recycled" in the U.S. ends up in Asia.

"While many consumers are led to believe their outdated equipment will be given a new life after being turned in for recycling, most often it winds up on a boat bound for China, India or Pakistan, where is it burned in rice fields or dumped into irrigation canals. The electronic trash, known as e-waste, is left to leach poisonous materials such as lead, mercury and cadmium into water supplies and the atmosphere. Investigators researching the report found waterways and rural fields littered with broken glass, circuit boards and plastic parts".

Source: San Jose Mercury News, Feb 25, 2002 \


China's E-Waste Problem Poisons Children, Destroys Cities

Since the 1980s, cities like Guiyu, China, have been taking in electronic waste from other countries for dismantlement and processing. It's great for other countries, but takes a huge toll on the people managing the effort because of the "metal extraction of circuit boards" and "open dumping of waste and ash residue into open water". It's made the well water and ground water of Guiyu undrinkable, and has to be trucked in from other villages. The lead poisoning level in children is 69%.

Reference: http://gizmodo.com/376201/chinas-e+waste-problem-poisons-children-destroys-cities

UN warning on e-waste 'mountain': Africa

Up to 75% of computers in some shipments are unusable. The world's richest nations are dumping hazardous electronic waste on poor African countries, says the head of the UN's Environment Programme (Unep). Speaking in Nairobi, Achim Steiner said consumerism was driving a "growing mountain of e-waste". Unep estimates that up to 50 million tons of waste from discarded electronic goods is generated annually. Improper disposal of e-waste can release hazardous chemicals and heavy metals into the environment. Mr Steiner made his comments at the opening of a week-long conference in Nairobi which will review the Basel Convention, aimed at reducing the movement of all types of hazardous waste.
"The need for Basel is ever more evident in this globalized world," he said. "Accelerating trade in goods and materials across borders and across continents is one of the defining features of the early 21st Century." Toxic E-waste is thought to be the fastest growing part of municipal waste in the developed world.

HAZARDOUS WASTE
1: Lead in cathode ray tube and solder
2: Arsenic in older cathode ray tubes
3: Selenium in circuit boards as power supply rectifier
4: Polybrominated flame retardants in plastic casings, cables and circuit boards
5: Antimony trioxide as flame retardant
6: Cadmium in circuit boards and semiconductors
7: Chromium in steel as corrosion protection
8: Cobalt in steel for structure and magnetivity
9: Mercury in switches and housing

The decreasing cost of replacing computers, mobile phones and other electronic gadgets, and the speed with which technology goes out of date, mean there is more and more to be disposed of. Traditionally, much of the waste found its way to Asian countries such as China and India, but tighter regulations means more and more is ending up in Africa. A recent study by the Basel Action Network concludes that a minimum of 100,000 computers a month are entering the Nigerian port of Lagos alone. "If these were good quality, second hand, pieces of equipment this would perhaps be a positive trade of importance for development," said Mr Steiner." But local experts estimate that between a quarter to 75% of these items including old TVs, CPUs and phones are defunct - in other words e-waste. "When these are burnt, a common disposal method, it can release toxic fumes and leach chemicals such as barium and mercury into the soil.

reference: www.news.bbc.co.wk/2/hi/technology/6187358.stm3.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Paper vs. Plastic

Is paper of plastic more environmentally friendly?

There are numerous items at the grocery store that come pre-packaged in either plastic or paper. Cardboard containers are produced for everything from macaroni and cheese to boxes of cereal. In addition to the many items pre-purchased with cardboard and paper, there are other items that come in plastic containers. Milk jugs, margarine tubs, and now many pet foods come packaged in plastic.

As a resourceful recycler, the question still remains. Is paper or plastic more environmentally friendly? One would suggest that paper is more environmentally friendly because of its biodegradable properties. To dispel the myth of paper vs. plastic, recycling experts would suggest researching the enviro-friendly properties of both.

For example, plastic milk jugs can be recycled to produce plastic bags. Another resourceful use of recycled plastic is for the production of vinyl fences and fabric for clothing.

Still most people would suggest that paper is more enviro-friendly. Let’s dispel those myths today. Susan Keen

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sustainability in Agriculture

Sure organic is all the rave, and the debate is out on bio engineered foods. New Bio-dynamic foods combine creative methods with sustainability to give those who want to go beyond organic alternative choices.