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What could you live without? July 1, 2009

Posted by Tom in Green Decisions, Research, Studies, Uncategorized.
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512141_ipod_nano_1This post on CleanTechnica.com brought up a lot of very interesting issues. The results of a recent survey have been released in which more than 1,000 people answered questions about green choices, and what they would be willing to give up for the sake of the environment. When faced with a choice between comfort, convenience or the environment, 38% choice convenience, 36% chose comfort and the minority, 26%, chose the environment. The survey’s subjects were also given a list of items and asked which they would be willing to give up if they were harming the environment. The list included an iPod, dishwasher, TV, car and other items that many people use on a daily basis. Only 6% of those surveyed said they would give up all of the items, and 21% said they would not give up any of them.

The results don’t completely surprise me, because the survey asked if people were willing to give up items “if [they] thought these things were harming the environment.” Well, many people continue to excessively use many things even though they know they are harming the environment, such as automobiles. However, I do think that the survey brings to attention current society’s collective mentality when it comes to environmental issues and taking action. While many people are buying green products and claim to be concerned about the declining state of the environment and the rise of global warming, most consumers are more concerned with their own personal comfort and will be “green” as long as it isn’t an inconvenience, which isn’t very green at all, in my opinion. So what do we do with this information? Does it mean that companies need to create greener products with less of a carbon footprint? Do we need to work to change the collective mindset to pick the environment over comfort and convenience? Or is a combination of many things?

What do you think? And what would you give up for the environment?

‘Game Changer’ Report on Global Warming June 24, 2009

Posted by Tom in Government policies, Research, Studies.
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thermometerLast week, White House science adviser John Holdren and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Jane Lubchenco released a report on how climate change is already affecting the United States. It points out that U.S. temperatures have increased over the past 50 years and will only continue to increase, causing extreme changes in weather and adverse effects on public health. While Lubchenco called the report “a game-changer,” Senator James Inhofe called it “yet another alarmist report” and “nothing new.”

So what side do you agree with? Is climate change something you feel that we need to worry about now?

Global Temperature on the Rise April 21, 2009

Posted by Tom in Government policies, Interesting stories, Research, Studies.
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1169983_global_warmingThe National Climatic Data Center released data on Thursday that revealed the Earth’s temperature from the first three months of 2009 was the 8th warmest ever recorded for that January-March period. If this trend continues, this year will be the 33rd consecutive year of above-average global temperatures.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research also reported that if we cut greehouse gas emissions by 70%, we would be able to greatly reduce the affects of global warming. But as carbon levels continue to rise, how is this affecting us? How will it affect us in the future? One reason many people remain apathetic about the issue of global warming is because most of us, in our everyday lives, are unaffected by it. Sure, we feel good after setting the thermostat one or two degrees up in the summer or down in the winter, and it’s nice to know we’re helping the environment by flipping off the lights when we leave a room, but what are we actually helping to preserve?

As human beings, we may feel no more than a little warmer as a result of climate change, but many species of animals around the world build their lives around temperatures, and the changing of the seasons. The migration lengths of some birds are lengthening, putting their lives at danger because they may not be able to adapt to traveling such long distances without food. Another study concluded that over a million species could be driven to extinction from global warming since so many animals are affected by even the slightest temperature shift.

If that isn’t enough, there’s always the deadly, more immediate effects of global warming on humans, including the spread of disease because many disease-carrying insects will migrate north because they can survive in the now-warmer weather. Hurricanes become more frequent with warmer oceans, there will be increased droughts, and these natural disasters could have tremendous effects on the world economy. If that’s still not enough, go through this list of things that we could have to learn how to live without if global warming continues to progress.

Fortunately, there is still hope for the future if we continue to push for lower emission standards as well as do our own part by saving energy every day. But as these studies show, it’s important to start now, before it’s too late.

California Ranks in Top 10 for Highest Energy Costs April 16, 2009

Posted by Tom in Energy costs, energy savings, Research, Studies.
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The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council released their Energy Cost Index for 2009 ranking the states in order of energy prices, taking into account electricity and gas costs. Unsurprisingly, California came in at #44 tied with New Hampshire; in other words, we have the seventh highest energy prices in the nation. However, the title of state with the highest energy costs went to Hawaii, while the the lowest energy prices are in Wyoming, followed closely by Idaho.

Chief Economist at the SBE Council wrote in the introduction to the Index, “The costs of energy are impacted by a variety of factors, including economic growht, investment in exploration and evelopment of resources, the particular energy resources being utilized (such as coal, natural gas or renewables), political risks (for example, in terms of risks to oil production at home and around the globe), and government mandates, regulations and taxes.”

This news kind of makes me want to move to Wyoming, considering the current state of the economy and how difficult it is to shell out wads of cash to keep the lights on every month. However, this report is a good reminder that because energy prices are so high, there is a lot of potential there for big savings, if we monitor our energy use habits. So before you leave the house with the lights on, blast the air conditioning or drive to the store that is a couple blocks away instead of walking, think about how much energy – and money – you could be saving. To download the full list of states and their rankings, click here.

How Much Water Do You Use? March 24, 2009

Posted by Tom in Green Decisions, Interesting stories, Research, Studies.
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A while ago, I blogged about a great image that Good magazine created on vampire energy. Well, The folks at Good magazine have done it again (with the help of Fogelson-Lubliner)!

This time the topic is water, and how much we are using every day. It’s hard to believe that we could ever run out of a natural resource that covers over 70% of the planet, but once you take a look at the chart you may get a better understanding of why conserving water is important. The chart is great because it also gives you alternative choices for daily activities and how much water you would potentially save. To view the full size chart, click here.

Also, a term that is brought up in the accompanying blurb is becoming increasingly relevant: water footprints. We’ve all heard of carbon footprints, but being aware of the amount of water we use is important too, and if we make the effort to reduce our water footprints we can save significant amounts of money as well, which is always a plus!