Monday, April 27, 2009

Solar Powered Phones




When I think about solar power I envision a house with the panels on the roof, we've all see those, right? And even better, I think about the vast inhabitable deserts in this country, and around the world, lined with solar panels powering all the world with clean renewable energy. However, solar power can be use in smaller everyday ways as well- for example powering your cell phone.



In Tokyo, cell phone users could soon be looking to the sun to charge their phones. Japan's number 2 wireless carrier, KDDI Corporation, said the it will start selling a waterproof, sunlight-powered cell phone in June, made by Sharp Corporation.
The firm states that a 10-minute charge from the sun can give the phone enough juice to have a one-minute call or be on stand-by for about two hours. The sun can recharge up to 80 percent of the phone's battery.


“The lower use of standard electricity will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions”, the Tokyo-based firm said. With this announcement, KDDI has intensified the global race to develop and market "eco-friendly" products.


Korean rival Samsung Electronics introduced a new solar-powered mobile phone in February, touting it as the world's first. The company says the phone is made from recycled plastic extracted from water bottles.



Solar powered cell phones may not be as an ideal situation as all our energy being powered by a clean reusable/renewable source, however, it is a step in the right direction. After all, one needs to learn how to crawl before they can walk.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Where Does Your Beef Come From?





The image above is what a typical cattle feedlot looks like from Google Earth. While this captured image depicts the last few months of a steer's life, the image only conveys so much information. To witness a feedlot first hand leaves you with a greater understanding of just where that fast food hamburger, or that restaurant New York strip steak came from. This feedlot is a “finishing school” of sorts for cattle before they go to the slaughter house and become steaks and ground beef. Cattle from various ranches located all over the country are brought to these feedlots to be fattened up with a diet consisting of corn, cereals and any number of animal byproducts deemed too unfit for human consumption. Added to this mix of feed are varying quantities of antibiotics in order to keep the cattle from becoming too ill to be approved by the USDA. The antibiotics are a necessary element in the lives of these animals, which are confined to these pens for months at a time, for that brown earth you see in the image is not actually earth, but mostly feces produced by the cattle.

You may be asking what the point is? Not just to the information provided above, but why is it relevant? In this blog, my aim is to point out two vastly different styles of raising cattle for the beef industry and allow you to determine which particular philosophy seems to make the most sense for you and your purchase decisions when shopping at the grocery store. What are my qualifications in providing this information? I’ve worked for over 15 years as a chef. I’ve had the opportunity to work in restaurants in San Diego, Beverly Hills, Aspen, Sacramento, New York, San Francisco, Napa, and here in Oregon. I’m a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and I’ve been responsible for developing relationships with cattle ranchers and beef vendors during my tenure as a chef. I owned my own restaurant for a number of years in California and some of my best customers were the ranchers who supplied the very beef I served. During this process of what I would call enlightenment about the beef industry, I developed some rather strong opinions about not just the beef I serve in restaurants and make available to my customers in the grocery store where I work now, but to food in general. Over 15 years, I’ve come to a deep understanding as to what good food is and what it is not. I’ve realized that over the last 50 or so years, we have lost sight of what it means to have really healthy nutritious food. This blog will attempt to provide just the tip of the iceberg by using the cattle industry as an example of what I mean by that statement.


In order to make sense of the feedlot example in the first paragraph of this discussion, I need to provide a little brief history of the beef industry. Back during the Great Depression, our country had many agricultural programs implemented by FDR and his New Deal policies. There was a large glut in the market of corn, and in order to hold the prices steady, the government encouraged the beef industry to buy up the excess and use it to feed cattle, never mind the fact that corn is not the best feed for cattle. Being ruminant animals, they prefer legumes and grass which they then pass through their four stomachs and break down into various essential nutrients. In order to make the process easier to facilitate, large feedlots were created in cities such as Des Moines, Kansas City and Chicago. Cattle ranchers were able to sell their herds to the owners of the feedlots, who in turn fattened the cattle on corn and they were able to increase the bulk of the animals considerably before sending them to the slaughter houses. Eventually this fattening process came to be known as “marbleing” the meat, and a grading system was established in order to separate out the top quality beef from the rest. We see today beef labeled prime, choice, select, standard, commercial, utility, cutter, and canner. Rarely will any consumer see beef labeled anything below select as the remainder usually gets placed into items like animal food. Prime beef is usually what the larger steakhouses like Morton’s and Ruth’s Chris sell. Thus with this marriage of beef and corn a new way of marketing steaks was born, and the American palate has become accustomed to the flavor ever since.


But there were those individual cattle ranchers who remember what life was like before the massive feedlot owners began demanding more and more cattle and offering less and less for them. They remembered the days when they would be able to raise their cattle on grasslands for upwards of three years before taking them to market and fetching a fair price for them. They reminisced to their children and grandchildren about the “good old days” when one animal was worth more then, than three are today. They talked about the days when they were able to thrive in the industry as opposed to struggling today while watching the feedlot owners make all the profit. Thus was born the beef cooperative among cattle ranchers. These were the children and grandchildren who paid attention to their forefathers and determined that there was a better way to provide healthy and flavorful beef to the consumer all the while bypassing the feedlots where these animals were fed improper diets, antibiotic laden feed and growth hormones to make them grow even faster to satisfy an ever demanding population. These cooperative ranchers realized they had strength in numbers and began to organize themselves. They hired meat fabricators to properly prepare their free range beef for market and they hired sales representatives to go into restaurants and grocery stores to promote and sell their products. They received USDA approval and took their high quality beef to the market.


Today there has been a renaissance of sorts in the beef market, but there is still a long way to go. Fast food restaurants like Burgerville are becoming pioneers when they purchase beef produced by these cooperatives and refuse to purchase feedlot, mass produced beef. The grocery stores who offer organic high quality beef at competitive prices are providing a valuable service to the end consumer. With this new cottage industry, consumers have been able to reconnect with the origins of their food and that is a very important thing in this day of mass produced foods. People are becoming more cognizant of what they eat and the quality of their food, and they realize that good food should not be just for a select few who can afford it. Good food, quality food needs to be available to everyone.


The image below is of a typical ranch which supplies beef you see in many local grocery stores and restaurants. These cattle will never see a feedlot, nor will they ever see a syringe filled with growth hormoses aimed at their backsides. They will be fed a proper natural diet, which in turn leads to more complex and flavorful meat. Based on the two images shown in this blog post, where would you rather your next meal come from?


Posted by Charles Wilcox

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Energy Efficiency Education Starts Early


Posted by Shuyu Feng

The topic of energy efficiency is becoming popular in our society, along with a lot of practices on sustainability. The problems of global warming, transportation, food and water are all very important to us and everyone around the world. Since our environment is getting weaker day-by-day, it is essential that we teach our future generation on energy efficiency as early as possible.

One of the ways to inform our children the most effectively is through school programs. As children are learning with each other in a large group, it will be easier for them to accept the material and practice within the school area. Having programs such as energy saving in school will not only provide opportunity for children to learn, it also benefits schools in reducing energy costs.

One of the successful examples of that is The K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP), it is created by a school in Wisconsin, the main goal of the program is to inform teachers about the focus on energy programs in school and also encourage children to participate in energy saving activities. The course mainly has its focus on evaluating the energy use in school buildings throughout Wisconsin, and also providing guidelines for teachers to use school buildings as a tool for the education. The course provides teachers and students with education on energy systems and energy flows within a school building. Everybody is able to learn from the program on how the school buildings consume its energy. The program has also help school districts to learn about each school’s energy resources and effectively develop future plan of actions on energy.

Children are able to learn a lot from the school program as some of the parents commented according to the KEEP website. A lot of children are more familiar with habits of turning lights when leaving rooms, turning off the water when washing hands in soap, and also creating more activities outside of home. Parents are very happy and surprised of how much children learned from these programs.

These great programs should not only happen in Wisconsin. Every state has its available resources for schools to begin creating energy efficiency education for our children. I believe by incorporating these programs to our schools, our future use of energy with the next generation will be reduced substantially. The current situation with our environment will then be improved with help from our children. Trust them, they can really make a difference.

For more information about KEEP, please visit

http://www.uwsp.edu/cnr/wcee/keep/index.htm

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ecological vs. Human Economic Interests

Posted By Dylan Ribb

One thing that I struggle with when it comes to my desire to be “ecologically aware” & “environmentally friendly” is a rather nagging question: How do we balance our desires to preserve ecosystems and environments with human problems such as poverty, hunger, famine, and economic failures? If we choose to focus on the environment, must we exclude human desires? Does the reverse apply if we choose to focus on human needs? These are problems that are not only philosophically difficult, but also causes of much consternation in practical terms. In addition to the “surface” issues, we are also faced with the much more troubling philosophical problem of uncertainty in future events. We really don’t have any idea what’s going to happen five years from now, let alone fifty years from now. So, with all this uncertainty, where do we go from here? The solution, I think, Is an integrated viewpoint, wherein the environment and humanity are not exclusive, but necessarily connected, and we view them not as one being more important than the other, but both being equally important and one depending upon the other.

There is a lot of favoritism that occurs in our country. Many people, who claim to be “environmentalists”, choose to take extreme action toward protecting ecosystems and the environment, yet disregard the very human issues of poverty, lack of education, and poor economic performance. These are the kinds of people who tell doomsday stories about global warming and forget that we have children starving in Africa who need to be fed and cured of HIV. There are also, of course, those who ignore the environment and focus solely on human interests. These are the kind of people who would rather buy a Hummer simply because it “looks cooler”, than a more fuel-efficient vehicle that leaves a significantly lesser impact on the environment. These ideals are portrayed a lot in the media (although I must admit that lately advertising and big media have done a better job at synthesizing them).

However, there are those, such as myself, who hold much more complicated viewpoints on the environment and human activity. We forget that human beings are actually a PART of nature, including our cities and industries. With this in mind, we have to realize that not only do we have a negative impact, but also a positive impact. “Nature” tends to strive for equilibrium, so who is to say that man is not simply doing nature’s bidding at this very moment? However, even if this may be the case, we must not ignore our “duty” to preserve our living space. But why should we let millions of people starve to death while we build another “sustainable” building that no one’s going to live in? On the other hand, why should we indulge our desires to own condos and SUV’s but ignore the cutting down of trees and strip-mining large portions of land for fuel? These are all complicated questions, which may or may not have answers.

To sum up, my main point is this: There is a horrible lack of balance between environmentalism and humanism. And it’s an odd lack of balance, because the scales do not tip to the left nor right, but they lack any sort of pivot point at all. This is something that needs to be fixed if we are going to learn how to live "peacefully" within our environments and ecosystems. Instead of focusing our efforts on one thing, why don't we spread out our resources and make life better for everyone and everything? We can take the excess of funds that go towards sustainability and apply them to poverty reduction programs and disease prevention. We can also focus more on education and give people the means to make better decisions who would otherwise lack the skills to do so. Ultimately, by helping humanity and the environment at the same time, we can make the WORLD a better place, by not only improving the environment in which we live, but also by improving the quality of life for those that live in it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Organic Foods




Organic Foods“Organic food is, in general, food produced without the use of artificial pesticide, synthetic fertilizers. In common usage, the word organic can apply equally to store-bought food products, food from a home garden where no synthetic inputs are used, and even food gathered or hunted in the wild”. However, the term organic is increasingly associated with certified organic foods, which are produced and labeled according to strictly regulated standards. Organic food sales have reached a double digit annual growth. Many people are realizing the importance of consuming organic food.Many people turn to organic food because of concerns about pesticides. Around 350 pesticides are permitted in conventional farming and “the Soil Association says an estimated 4.5billion liters of them are used annually”. In terms of the environmental benefits, organic farms naturally promote biodiversity as the lack of herbicides and pesticides encourages wildlife. Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without the use of artificial fertilizers, chemical toxins and genetically modified organisms. They’re not only safer, but they’re also more nutritious because of higher vitamin and mineral concentrations. That means you get more for your money. Organic fruits and vegetables usually taste better than commercially grown varieties.The more you know about the overall benefits of organic food, the better value it seems. Demand for organic food is increasing rapidly. “The National Cancer Institute states that 30% of insecticides, 60% of herbicides and 90% of fungicides are known to cause cancer. And that’s just one negative side effect”. These chemicals can also lead to damage of both the nervous and hormonal systems. Children are even more vulnerable than adults to these dangerous substances. “According to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, children fed conventional supermarket produce had six to nine times’ higher levels of pesticides in their blood than those fed organic foods.”Organic food does not contain artificial additives, preservatives, colorings or flavorings, and no hydrogenated fats. Most of the additives that are used in regular food are not even necessary. There are some questionable substances in our food. Because of consumer demand, many supermarkets now carry a few organic foods. It is possible to find organic food at decent prices. A far cry from the farmers' markets and food co-op's of years ago, organic products are now marketed in major supermarkets across the country, and the industry is enjoying double-digit annual growth.When most consumers think of organic food, dry, boxed cereals. These are the first of them that come to the mind. Now, we can get foods like wine, cooked food, etc. Because of mass marketing and health-conscious consumers, organic food is getting very common. U.S. organic food sales have grown between 17 and 21 percent each year since 1997, to nearly triple in sales, while total U.S. food sales over this time period have grown in the range of only 2 to 4 percent a year. According to the findings, organic food sales now represent approximately 2 percent of U.S. food sales. Organic foods are increasingly found in more mainstream retail establishments. In 2003, 44 percent of total organic food sales were handled through supermarkets and grocery stores, mass merchandisers, and club stores. Meanwhile, independent natural product and health food stores and natural grocery chains accounted for 47 percent of sales. (OTA’s 2004 Manufacturer Survey). Direct sales through farmers’ markets, co-ops, foodservice operations, and exports represent the remaining 9 percent.“Organic food sales at the retail level totaled $10.4 billion, according to Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association. This year, retail sales of organic foods are expected to exceed $15 billion — with more than $32 billion projected by 2009. While the conventional food industry still dwarfs the organic sector with $550 billion in yearly sales, it is producing an unappetizing 2 to 3 percent annual growth rate, while the organic industry has savored several years of 17 to 20 percent growth“. Wal-Mart and Costco are now among the 700 U.S. companies selling organic as well as conventional food products. With the help of the competition in organic food sellers, prices have dropped.The organic industry is big and still growing. We will see it expending in the near future. There will be a time where we would be able buy organic food from any store. As we consume more organic food, we are more likely to contribute pesticide-free food plantation. The more each of us supports organics, the more active the economic cycles that will bring prices down.1-Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) 2004 Manufacturer Survey. 
Posted by Yasemin Candelen at 3:23 PM 0 comments
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

LED – The Light Bulb of the Green Future?


Posted by Kelly Wu

As electric bills continue to go up, consumers will keep trying to look for things they can do to lower their home energy use and reduce their electric bills. One of the easiest ways to reduce the electricity usage is by switching to the energy efficient light bulb. Government all over the world also involves to encourage phase out of incandescent light bulb. So what are the choices of energy efficient light available in the market today?

Compact fluorescent light (CFL) is today’s most popular choice of energy efficient light bulb. According to EPA, Energy STAR qualified CFL bulb use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulb and can save about $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb’s lifetime. While this is very attractive in terms of saving energy uses, thus reduce carbon emission due to less electricity usage, CFL bulb does have a down side that can impact our health and the environment. Every CFL bulb contains a small amount of mercury, an average of 4 milligrams in each bulb. Mercury is highly toxic and if CFL bulb is not properly disposal or recycle, it can contaminate the environment and harm the whole ecosystem, therefore CFL bulb is not as green as you thought.



With incandescent light bulb which is not energy efficient and CFL bulb which contains mercury, consumers’ choice on energy efficient light bulb is limited to light emitting diode (LED) bulb. LED is not something new, it has been widely use in many applications, like digital clock, cell phones, and watches, but it was impractical to use as a light bulb. However, advance in technology allows LED to evolve to be more energy efficient than both incandescent and CFL bulb. Also, unlike CFL bulb, LED does not contain mercury. As with all new technology, they all come with a high price. A LED bulb with an equivalent brightness of a 100 watt incandescent bulb cost about $80, but its power consumption is only 13 watt and can last for over 50,000 hours (incandescent bulb has a rated life of less than 1,000 hours). Keep in mind that this is a one time cost and in the long run with the consideration of saving on electricity, LED bulb can actually help cut cost.


Source: http://energyboomer.typepad.com/energyboomer/2009/01/evolux-led-light-bulb-review.html


Other than its energy saving, LED bulb has not had positive review so far. Similar to CFL bulb when it first appeared in the market, consumers found the light from the LED bulb is not as bright or as comfortable as incandescent bulb, but since LED bulb is still new in the market, there is a lot of potential for future growth as its advance with new technology. When that time comes, LED bulb should stand for “less electricity deal” bulb, and it is truly the green lighting option of the future.

More information from LED bulb manfacturer:
Advanced Lumonics, LLC
Lumoform, LLC

More information from EPA about:
CFL bulb
Mercury

Greenwashing and Organic Food Labeling

Posted by Mia Nguyen

Companies want us to buy their products, they know us-the consumers feel more comfortable spending on products we consider "green". They take advantage on advertising to magnified every aspect of their product that is healthy for the environment. The thing is do they have any profit to prove that their claims are accurate? The organic labels have become very common. We can find tons of "feel-good labeling" in any grocery store. New marketing labels being reached to food packages, we sometimes do no have a clue about what they mean. Advertising blinding us with excessive nutritional information and health claims to make us feel comfortable to buy their products, use exaggerating language to overstate the environmental benefit and make claims that can not be verified.An article in Business Week 2008 stated that consumer demand for organic production has increased lately, leading organic into an over $20 billion a year business. This encouraged corporations to move into organic business. The article also mentioned that consumers can go to a useful website to find more information about untruthful organic food labeling instead of sending email or making a call to a company to verify what a claim means or as for proof.


The questions for companies that are using misleading advertising on organic food that is " If consumers lose faith in product labeling, will they be affected by that?"

Recycling Companies Must Recycle More

In August 2007, a new program was generated (though it began January 1st, 2009) by Oregon Metro to increase the Oregon’s recovery rates of recyclable material to 64% for 2009 in the Mulnomah, Clackamas, and Washington Counties. The Enhanced Dry Waste Recovery Program (EDWRP) was designed as a measuring tool for Metro to monitor and evaluate the amount of recyclable materials which are “overseen” and land filled. EDWRP’s primary focus is on Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) who process dry mixed waste. Focusing on metal, cardboard, and wood; the goal is to have no more than 15% of “tipped” (drop-boxes and self-tipping trucks) loads to have such recyclable materials in them once the load has been sorted and set up to landfill.

A testing procedure has been required through Metro for all dry MRFs to comply with. Each MRF must test their “trash” residuals three times per quarter year by removing (approximately) 300 pounds of the residuals heading to the landfill and hand sorting any piece of cardboard or wood which is greater than 12 inches in any direction, and any metal greater than eight inches in any direction. Simple tools can be used by MRF facilities to measure any overlooked recyclable waste; most facilities are using “homemade” wood squares which are 8” X 12” (see image), if a piece of metal or wood can get through then it is not recordable. However, if a pieces of wood, metal, or cardboard are too large, and can be recycled, it is saved and then weighed once the trash pile is finished being sorted. From a 300 pound sample pile, if more than 45 pounds of recyclable waste is recovered, then the MRF is not meeting the expected recycling percentage which Metro is requiring. In addition to the MRF’s self sampling (see sample form below), Metro officers will also perform scheduled and random sampling tests to be sure MRF operators are correctly and accurately being performed. For MRF who fail to comply with the EDWRP requirements, Metro can fine and write Notice of Violations to the company; and if the MRF continues to not comply; Metro has the authority to revoke the MRF’s license (though this would be the worst case scenario).

For more information about EDWRP please visit Metro’s web site at www.metro-region.org.
Submitted by Tim Bergam

Friday, April 10, 2009

Greenwash

Greenwash is a term used to describe companies that deceive their customers to believe the companies are environmental friendly when they actually not.

One common case often being referred to is the bush Administration's clear Skies Initiative, which many have argued that it actually weakens air pollution laws.

As people are more and more aware of the environmental protection, the buzz word, "Green", has become famous. Most businesses, even schools, are trying to get a share in it to attract more customers. For example, "Green Apple" (Apple, Inc.) or "Green PSU". However, by putting on "Green" on their products, does it autometically mean that they are environmental friendly? Apparently not! Many products many claim to be friendly to the environment regards to the ingredients they use; however, how they produce the products maybe very harmful to earth.

Such deceptions are all over businesses. One example I have found is Kleenex producer Kimberly-Clark, which was "named an EPA Energy Star Partner of the Year due to its 'ongoing efforts to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across its operations.'" Yet, "it seems strange that a company which cuts down 200-year old greenhouse gas-absorbing trees should be praised for its reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. And if Kimberly-Clark can take the time to use sustainable energy, why can't it use sustainable resources--i.e. recycled fiber? Because as we recently learned, soft, fluffy recycled tissues are possible." (By Fast Company, for detail information, click here.)

It seems it would be difficult for customers to know the insight of what's really going on with companies. Customers rely on organizations to be ethical and honest about their products and what they have to offer. Other than that, customers can only rely on the media to inform them the truth, which sometimes can be deceiving as well.

Happily, April 2, 2009, the Australian Association of National Advertisers passed its Environmental Claims Advertising and Marketing Code. In the article, No Greenwash, Please - Industry Introduces Its Own Codes, Lee stated that "advertisers will no longer be able to use images of nature and call themselves "environmentally friendly" unless they can back up any green claims under new proposals put forward by the advertising industry. The new self-regulatory green marketing code - thought to be the first of its kind in the world - will also prevent companies from passing off a mandated environmental initiative as something it has voluntarily adopted. Advertisers will have to prove that the benefits to the environment are "significant" too." (For more information, click here.) Even though, we all know that advertising is deceiving, there are many customers still tend to buy in their words. Hence, with this code being introduced, customers can be protected from greenwash companies.

Peddle Power









The United States of America is a great nation, however, it has a few problems. Two of these problems are obesity and pollution. Over 64% of Americans are consider overweight or obese; this fact causes many problem and issues, such as, diabetes, heart disease, increased heath care costs, etc.... the list goes on and on. The other problem America faces is pollution. Just in California the pollution has gotten so bad that they have special SMOG meters that let people know how safe it is to go outside! Also, you can't even use your home fireplace unless it's on only a few certain days.





There is a way to fix both of these problems with one easy solution – electricity generating bicycles. If every household in America invested in an electricity generating bicycle the benefits would be amazing. For starters, the consumption of fossil fuel energy would shrink; thus helping to clean the air we all breath. People would save money on electricity bills; thus giving them more disposable income to use on other things; thus stimulating the economy. Also, the electricity generating bicycle business could be a huge business growth opportunity to help jump start the economy. And finally a really important effect is that people would lose weight and be healthier. If people were in a healthier condition, then the out-of-control high cost of health care would become lower and in control.


People may think it's too expensive to install the bike and batteries necessary for this system, however, in a very short time the money saved by using it would pay for the initial cost. Also, the government could give some sort of rebate on the purchase of this system. Like when we change our rain gutter drains we get $50.

It would be nice to live in a world that was happy, healthy, with clean air, and people had a few extra dollars in there pockets; and the electricity generating bicycle system could help to make that world a possibility.





Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nuclear Energy and Sustainability: Benefits and Concerns

Posted by Dylan Ribb

When you think of “Nuclear Energy”, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II? Or perhaps it’s the Chernobyl disaster in 1986? Or do you think of an affordable, efficient, environmentally friendly way to provide large amounts of energy to large amounts of the world’s population with lower costs than fossil-fuel based energy, a smaller “carbon footprint”, and relatively low risks to health? For most people, the first two examples immediately come to mind when someone mentions building a nuclear power plant in favor of a coal-based energy facility. However, few people realize that these major events in our world’s history are episodic, and not epidemic. Aside from Chernobyl, there has only been one other major disaster involving nuclear power (The event I’m speaking of being the Three Mile Island incident). Even so, the public opinion of Nuclear is that it is expensive and dangerous.

Currently, 14% of the world’s power comes from nuclear energy, and these facilities are safe, clean, and efficient. Contrary to popular belief, nuclear power plants are well-maintained and very unlikely to fail. Failsafe measures are installed in modern plants, and building materials have risen in quality greatly since the Chernobyl incident. Measures for reclaiming and disposing of nuclear waste have also become more efficient, with facilities being built and maintained to temporarily contain and reduce radioactive hazards while long-term solutions are being discussed. Presently, only 1% of all toxic waste is nuclear waste, and 95% of that waste can be reclaimed and reused. Nuclear Power plants are also far more cost-effective in the long-term, and have a longer “shelf-life” than coal-based power plants, especially with fossil fuels becoming sparse throughout the rest of the century. Nuclear power is also expected to be far more sustainable than fossil-fuel energy, and have a significantly lesser environmental impact. According to a segment done on 60 Minutes, nuclear power gives France the cleanest air of any industrialized society, and provides the cheapest electricity in all of Europe.

While nuclear technology is growing rapidly and proving to be a good alternative to fossil fuel based sources of energy, there are some concerns. The storage and disposal of toxic waste, for one, is a big issue in the field. However, researchers are in the process of coming up with ways to contain and get rid of nuclear waste. Another concern that many have is connected to the history of nuclear proliferation and the public idea of nuclear energy being connected to atom bombs and warfare. I admit, this is a concern of mine also, but providing nuclear energy for social applications does not necessarily mean that it will lead to nuclear warfare. It all depends on how those who have control of the technology choose to use it.

There are many other alternatives to nuclear power that I haven’t touched on. Solar power, wind power, hydroelectric plants, and hydrogen-based technologies are all viable options. However, I think that these other technologies must be used in conjunction with one another. And due to the potentially large amounts of energy that nuclear power can provide at a low cost and relatively low risk, I think it’s another great alternative to our current energy program.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tonia Castilleja


This term my main goal would be to learn just how much electricity I conserve as a household. I have especially recently noticed how my electrical bill has increased. I am very curious to see how to save dollars and conserve. I also want to research the importance of going organic we are hearing more and more of this topic. I have been wanting to research just seem to really never take the time.
My husband and I have tried over and over to come to an understanding on how to save on the electrical bill it just always seems we are unsuccesful. Learning how to conserve waste full products will really be something I want to learn about. If it is not every day one wonders just how and why we do the things we do. It was not until 2 terms ago I took a class on Environment Sustainability. When I first registered for this class it was really something I never payed any attention too. Since this class I recycle all products and I am very cautious on how preserve to keep my environment sustainable.
My interest in this class would be to research just how important it is to turn to organic products. I also want to see just where my money goes after paying such high electric bills.
Organic foods are the products from farmers and gardeners who have grown organic food, to protect our environment, recycle natural sources, increase local food production, support rural communities, and illiminate for consumers the connection between healthful food and environmentally sound growing practices. This is actually a topic I would like to learn more. You know I find myself buying my daughter more and more organic baby food, but I just don't know the whole why or why not?
The meat, dairy products and eggs that organic farmers produce are from animals that are fed organic feed and allowed access to the outdoors. Unlike conventionally raised livestock, organic livestock must be kept in living conditions that accommodate the natural behavior of the animals. For instance, ruminants (including cows, sheep and goats) must have access to pasture. Although they may be vaccinated against disease, organic livestock and poultry may not be given antibiotics, hormones or medications in the absence of illness. Instead, livestock diseases and parasites are controlled largely through preventive measures such as rotational grazing, balanced diet, sanitary housing and stress reduction. I really find all of this interesting and really was something I have wanted to know more about just never found the time to research it now is the time.