Endangered species act stirs strong feelings

Efforts in the U. S. Senate to update and modernize the 33-year-old Endangered Species Act (ESA) are an emotional topic for many. Opinions range from completely repealing the act to not changing a single word. Yet, it seems clear to many that sensible improvements-particularly those that focus on the recovery of species and not just habitats-are long overdue. Biologists say the ESA has not seen meaningful change since it was passed in 1973. As a result, of the nearly 1300 species listed as threatened or endangered, only 10 have recovered sufficiently to be delisted. During that same period of time, over 30 species have been found to be extinct. It can be argued that even those species that have recovered over the last three decades have done so with little help from ESA. For example, the bald eagle, which is recovered and about to be delisted, is often cited as an ESA success story. In fact, it recovered due to a ban on the use of the pesticide DDT and hunting restrictions that preceded passage of ESA. ESA specified critical habitat for the bird but, as it turned out, eagles are not particularly fussy about habitat. After a bad hurricane season destroyed critical habitat in Florida, the birds moved into residential neighborhoods where they thrived. The same is true of the peregrine falcon that recovered primarily due to a privately funded captive breeding program and now lives on the plentiful pigeons in the country's largest cities. Yet, the designation of areas as "critical habitat" are the primary tool of the old ESA. These designations do not require scientifically developed recovery plans-even though recovering species is the Act's stated goal. That is why Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo designed the House-passed, bipartisan Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act to require recovery plans rather than simple, arbitrary designations of critical habitat. Such plans would be peer reviewed using best available science. Should such plans find some kind of habitat protection necessary, such protections would be put in place. If habitat proves irrelevant to recovery of a species, other, more effective means would be used. If the Senate enacts similar legislation, we might recover considerably more than 10 species over the next 33 years.

5 great reasons to harness solar power

Very simply put, ‘Solar energy’ is energy that is derived from the sun. Our sun is an abundant source of energy; it gives of heat and light. The sun’s been revered by several cultures of the past and even by a few cultures still present today. The ancient Egyptians even worshiped the sun as a God. All said and done, it was not misplaced respect; the sun certainly is an abundant and limitless source of power, at least for several generations to come; the merits for using its solar energy are numerous. It’s free Every morning with each dawn, the solar energy released by the sun comes filtered through our atmosphere providing light and helping to radiate heat. This has been happening for millions of years yet it is only recently that we have begun to capitalize on this abundant source of almost infinite power. In the past the Greeks and the Egyptians have been known to harness the power of the sun to heat whatever they wished to by concentrating its radiation. It’s non-polluting The energy from the sun is clean and free of any pollutants; unlike various sources of energy present today like petroleum or organic fuels that leave back residues and often leave back harmful gases when utilized to create energy. Extremely reliable The sun has been burning for roughly four and a half billion years now and is likely to burn on for another four to five billion years to come. That’s definitely more than our lifetimes and certainly more than several generations of the future. Every morning it promptly shows up and vanishes for the evening while it lights up another portion of the globe. The saying “as sure as day” did not come about for nothing; assuming the sun is shining brightly, depending on which part of the globe you are you can harness the energy of the sun to either store it away or utilize its energy in a different way. Limitless There is no restriction on how much energy we can use from the sun. Apparently, the amount of energy that comes from the sun every few minutes if successfully harnessed can power the entire United States of America for a whole year. If we were only able to harness the immense energy of the sun we would be able to solve all the worlds’ energy problems. Why Ever wonder why no one thought about this earlier? How come if there’s so much energy just lying around, we simply cannot seem to efficiently harness it? How it that so much of the sun energy seems to go totally unnoticed and is ultimately wasted? Well one of the reasons that this wonderful power reserve is generally wasted is the fact that the sunlight that we actually receive is so thinly dissipated across the earth to be able to contribute substantially enough if we try to harness it. For us to be able to actually harness the power of the sun we have to be able to manipulate, focus and store the sun's energy. While this may seem simple it is easier said than done; So far we have only managed to develop three partially successful means of collecting solar energy. The Reflection Method – Mirrors / Parabola The reflection method is based on the concentration of the sun’s rays through a single or a set of mirrors onto one point and then utilizing the concentrated heat energy that is produced for out need. A parabolic mirror much like a dish antenna can be used to capture the sun’s rays and focus them on a single point. The radiation method This is the principle behind the solar water heaters. Painted black pipes sandwiched between two layers of glass, have water inside them that is heated thanks to the rays of the sun. Solar panels A more recent invention the ‘solar cell’ is composed of treated silicon crystals, which when hit by the rays of the sun knock electrons out of their orbits and thereby create a void that needs to be filled by electrons from the other silicon crystals, this creates an imbalance of electrons and hence a flow of current which can be either immediately utilized or else stored away in a rechargeable battery. What’s stopping us? Despite the apparent benefits of using solar power it is most unfortunate that there are very few solar power plants around the world. Sadly, with today’s level of technology, cost and reliability are two major factors that are still hurdles in the way of mass usage of solar energy. Technological limitations dictate that the most efficient solar cells created today are still not capable of generating enough power to be commercially viable without occupying huge surface areas. Furthermore, reliance exclusively on solar cells in not yet practical, for if there were to be a cloudy day it could reduce the amount of electricity generated and that would be disastrous for those people completely reliant on that energy. On the bright side, constant innovation and research on solar energy is resulting in much more efficient solar cells that are a fraction of the size of existing cells and churn out much more power. For now they are still expensive, but not far is the day when they will be affordable and available to the common man.

Scotland s castles and estates face funding challenge

After centuries of being an agriculturally based economy, the more rural parts of Scotland are having to come to terms with huge changes in the global economy. Many estates and castles that dominate them, traditionally were supported by a mixture of agriculture, forestry, sporting rights and a huge annual grant from the European Union. All these sources of income have come under attack and in some cases have disappeared. Agriculture is extremely volatile and does not produce the income it did, forestry is depressed, grants are being phased out and there is a glut of shooting and fishing available. This has all hit the rural economy over the last decade or so. Combine this with a huge increase in equipment costs and maintaining old buildings, along with a certain amount of wear & tear that our harsh climate produces and you have a challenging situation facing the owners of Scotland’s old ancestral homes. Unless they have other income streams independent of the estate, they are facing a grim future. Many owners do indeed now work in other industries and channel those resources into maintaining their properties. Most do a combination of traditional farming and sporting activities, combined now with private lets and other commercial activities. These could include offering castles for rent, marketing the property as a venue for film shoots, weddings, concerts and corporate events. Fortunately many are located close to wonderful golf courses, so make perfect venues for golfing parties, whilst others allow easy access from major cities so can welcome corporate groups to dine or to hold special events. More rural properties tend to specialise more in the sporting market, although Ackergill Tower, which is located near Wick, is the premier country house operation in Britain and you don’t get much more rural that Caithness. They manage this by offering amazing service, huge amounts of Highland charm and wonderful facilities. Other properties have followed their lead and many now enjoy high occupancy levels. There are now properties available to suit all incomes and preferences and it has been the saving of many of our fine old homes. The improvements and re-investment that many have made over the last decade is astonishing and the market for private rentals is now very sophisticated, with many properties offering hotel level facilities (swimming pools, tennis courts, spa treatments, broadband internet access, fancy chefs and premier cru wines). The interiors of many have been totally refurbished and additional bathrooms, new kitchens, media rooms etc have been added. It should be noted that ownership of many of these homes has changed hands over the last decade or so and many that were the old family homes of prominent Scottish families are now owned by admirers of Scotland from all over the world. It is their enthusiasm, energy and most importantly resources that have brought back many properties from the brink of ruin. They have also be sensible to look to the future and many realised early on that only by diversifying into new areas like private rentals and corporate events could they recoup some of their upkeep costs. Indeed many of the homes run at a deficit of around Ј100,000 a year and this is where new income sources come in handy for their survival. Of course as Scotland prospers and there is more and more building going on, along with wind farms, electrical masts and other light industry and office developments, many estates have found yet more ways of bringing in much needed funds. However most still use a combination of all or some of the above and many now welcome guests to take over their homes for a family celebration or other event and to live like a laird, without the hassle of actual ownership!

Climate change what is it

Climate change is an amazingly simple phrase for such a complex subject. Following, we have a go at defining climate change in today’s terms. Climate Change – What is it? In the current day lexicon of scientists, climate modification isn’t really a term of use anymore. The reason for this is that we have come to understand that the effect of the changes we make to our environment will increase the temperature in many locations on the planet, but will also cool a few places. In light of this, the thing you know of as climate modification is actually referred to as global climate change. Over all, however, the world is definitely warming. We need a simple definition for climate change in relation to the warming of the planet, one that gets the gist without excluding the simplicities. The simplest and most accurate definition is that climate change is the effect greenhouse gases have on the earth’s climate. Greenhouse gases include, but are not limited to, carbon dioxide and methane. While this sounds like a simple definition, there are a couple of key things to realize. First, climate change is both a natural phenomena and one created by man. Put another way, greenhouse gases are a natural part of the biosphere and would exist if man did not. Indeed, they are a critical component to the existence of life on this planet. If greenhouse gases didn’t exist, the temperature on planet earth would average zero degrees! Naturally occurring gases, however, keep the temperature at a much more livable 59 degrees. So, if climate change occurs naturally, what is the big panic about? The problem we are facing is the volume of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These gases act as thermal blankets for the atmosphere. The more gas in the atmosphere, the thicker the blanket and the less heat escapes. Over the last 80 years, we have been pumping massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the sky. At the same time, we have been reducing forestation around the planet, the primary plant collection that sucks greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. This double whammy is starting to show negative results, the increased heating of our world. The ultimate question with climate alteration is what will happen as the planet heats up. We are already seeing signs with the retreat of the glaciers. Glacier National Park, for instance, is going to have to be renamed since it has already lost 65 percent of all of its glaciers! While the exact end result of these environmental changes is not clear, we can expect major climatic changes over the next 80 years.

13 seer earth day working together to improve the environment

The 35th anniversary of Earth Day will take place on April 22. Through the combined efforts of government, grassroots organizations and environmentally minded companies, Earth Day has evolved into a worldwide campaign to protect the global environment. In the U. S., the Department of Energy (DOE) is also concerned about protecting our environment and resources. To address these issues, the DOE recently issued a mandate that now requires all new, central air conditioners manufactured after January 23, 2006, to have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of at least 13. SEER is a number similar to miles-per-gallon in cars; the higher the SEER, the more efficient your air-conditioning system. According to the DOE, the 13 SEER standard is forecasted to save the nation 4.2 quads (quadrillion British Thermal Units) of energy over 25 years (2006 through 2030). This is equivalent to the energy consumed by nearly 26 million American households in one year. The standards are also expected to save consumers $1 billion over the same period.* Manufacturers like the Unitary Products Group of York-a Johnson Controls Company, haven't stopped at 13 SEER. York® also offers new home-cooling systems that reach 15 and even 18 SEER. Much of the improved efficiency associated with 13 SEER units is the result of an increase in the surface of the coil found in a system's outdoor unit, which is used to transport refrigerant. As a result, these outdoor units can be 50 to 90 percent larger than 10 SEER units and require as much as 40 percent more refrigerant than many indoor coils are capable of holding. It becomes very important, then, to match the size of the indoor coil with the new, larger outdoor unit. A mismatched system can lead to lower comfort levels, a higher utility bill, increased stress on the system and large repair costs. A qualified dealer can make sure your system is matched and installed correctly and is efficient and economical to operate. So, if you are considering replacing or upgrading the HVAC system in your home, talk to the experts at York. They can help you select a qualified dealer, who is equipped to maintain, repair and/or replace the components of your system.

Can home improvements increase the value of your house

One of the most common reasons people give when asked why they are improving their home is that home improvements increase house value. While this can often be true, it is by no means as universal as some people assume it is. When you’re about to pay out lots of money for a home improvement, it’s worth checking whether the value of your house will increase by enough to pay for it – or, worse, whether it might actually force your house value down. Let’s start with bathrooms and kitchens. While well-maintained and nice-looking kitchens and bathrooms do add value to a home, there’s nothing to say that they have to be the very latest thing. An older room that is well looked-after and wasn’t a complete abomination to begin with can often help the value just as much as a newly-installed one. Extensions, on the other hand, almost always increase the value of your home, as they make it bigger. A four-bedroom home can be significantly more valuable on the market than a three-bedroom one, as a bigger family can live in it. However, you need to watch out for building too far out into your garden if you only have a small one: get rid of too much of your garden, and you could knock even more value off your home than you gain from the extra bedroom. Although it might seem strange, this same rule also applies to garden features such as swimming pools and ponds. While you might like them, not everyone does – and you’ve just taken a piece of garden that could be used for almost anything and turned it into a single-use feature. Also, swimming pools especially can be very expensive to maintain, which can put off potential house buyers. Overall, it’s a bad idea to make home improvements just to make money, as you will almost always fail. Instead, just make the improvements that you want, while avoiding any that will really hit your house’s price.

Top tips for conserving water in your area

Of course, some of us live in areas where we get plenty of rain all year around, maybe even too much. However, in other areas water supplies can run low quickly, especially in summer. So, it is all of our responsibilities to conserve this essential natural resource when we can. And even if we are a little careful with our water usage habits, we can make a big difference. Here is some advice on how you can conserve water around the home. In the kitchen * See if you can redirect waste water from the kitchen sink to the garden. Also, use a bowl when washing dishes so you don't just leave the tap running. * If you have a dishwasher wait until you have a full load and use the economy cycle, again reducing the amount of water used. Also before putting the dirty plates etc. into the dishwasher, scrape the leftovers into the bin rather than rinsing under the running tap. * Wait until there is a full load before washing your dirty clothes and front loaders use less water than top loaders. In the garden * Water your garden early in the morning or just before sunset. This allows the water to be absorbed into the ground instead of evaporating in the hot sun if you water during the day. Also the water droplets left on the leaves from the watering can damage your plants if the sun is too hot, so better wait until it cools down. * If you have directed your bathroom and kitchen water to the garden and connected to garden hoses around the garden, puncture the hoses with holes which will allow the water to filter out from various places instead of from one end only. This lets the water to penetrate to a deeper level and encourages the plant roots to grow longer and stronger, and therefore enhances the plants' own search for water. * Water sprinklers are time-savers but do use huge quantities of water if left on for long periods of time. It is said they use 300 – 650 litres of water an hour. If left on over night, that’s a minimum of 2,400 litres! So, if you have to use them, please try only to use them for shorter periods of time and look for alternatives if possible. * Rain water is a free, natural and easy source of water. Get a large tank or water butt and place it where the roof water from your home runs off. This will fill quickly in a big rain and provide a great source of water for the garden, or even for washing. In the bathroom * Flushing a toilet can use between 12 - 20 litres of water, so put a brick or a plastic bottle filled with water into the toilet cistern and this will reduce the water you use. Or you can install dual flush toilets where you can opt for a small or a large flush. * Up to 4.5 litres of water is wasted when we brush our teeth because most people leave the tap running. Turn the tap off when cleaning your teeth or, even better, have a bottle of water and a glass near the basin and use these to rinse instead of running the tap every time you brush. * Showers are much more environmentally friendly than baths. Even if you use the shower, you may still be able to reduce the amount of water you use. Install a low-flow shower head if you can get one. Also, spray taps release smaller amounts of water but do the same job as a normal tap and these can be fitted to your bathroom and kitchen sinks. * Throw your rubbish in the bin and not down the toilet. * Consider ways to get water from the shower to the garden and use this water for your plants. These tips are not only directed at private households but to businesses as well. If you own or manage a business, or even if you feel your employer could do better when it comes to conserving water, try to use some of these methods at work. It is in all our interests that we have a plentiful and reliable supply of water. If you introduce these habits and measures slowly into your routine you will find that it really will have no impact on your day-to-day life, but you will save a lot of water.

Sea turtles in north cyprus

These fascinating creatures come ashore on the deserted beaches of North Cyprus between May and August to nest and Alagadi Beach is classified as a special protected area. While on your trip in Northern Cyprus, you may be intrigued to know that this is home to some of the most significant turtle housing beaches in the Mediterranean. The two species that live and nest in Northern Cyprus are endangered species. Just about 10% of the loggerhead and 30% of the green turtles in the Mediterranean nest in Northern Cyprus. Bearing in mind that as little as 300-400 green and 2000 loggerhead turtles are likely to live each year in the complete Mediterranean, it is critical that people do all they can to help and protect these near endangered species. These North Cyprus Marine turtles start their lives on land, where they come out to emerge from eggs, just after 45-60 days of incubation on land and in the sand. When these turtles hatch and emerge they then begin to make the attempt to reach the sea, they swim anxiously out to sea waters where they stay put for the remaining years of their lives, the only break in this would be when a adult female will come to shore and lay her eggs. It is projected that only one single hatchling out from two thousand will make it and survive to full adult life and maturity. As soon as they are 25-30 years old, and reach 1-2 meters in length, the adult females and males with set out and migrate to waters off nesting beaches to eat and reproduce. For the duration of a nesting season a female lays 3-4 nests, each carrying just about 100 eggs.

she will nest every 1-3 years and will always return to the exact same beaches. There is no exact number on how long these marine turtles live but they have been suggested to live up to 160 years old. They are two species of marine turtles that find themselves nesting in the North Cyprus Mediterranean and they would be the loggerhead, caretta caretta and the green turtle (chelonia mydas) the grand total number of both of these turtles has said to be a estimated 300-400 for the green and 2000 for the logghead females that nest each and every single year. Both of these species of sea turtles are endangered , more so with the green turtles. It has said to be that North Cyprus and Turkey seem to be the only nesting grounds these turtles come to love. There is over 80 beaches along North Cyprus that between may and October and monitored closely for the precious turtle activity. While on your stay in North Cyprus and wish to see these lovely creatures you may indulge in a boating experience of the shore and see these turtles swimming, and with many places to see at night you might catch a glimpse of these night nesting turtles. Group of Ecologists and students have been observing and helping to protect these rare animals from extinction for a number of years. Some general information for you to keep on hand: Mating time for these turtles is May/June Hatching time is Aug/Sep Nesting time is June/July I hope that by through this article you can take away some general information on sea turtles in North Cyprus. If ever in the area on vacation or stay pay a visit to these wonderful beautiful creatures. Visitors are welcome to observe this exciting experience!!!

Concentrating sunlight for energy

One of the consistent problems with solar platforms has been the inefficient conversion of sunlight to electricity. New technology and strategies are dealing with this issue. Concentrate, Concentrate Traditional power generating plants work by using a fuel, often fossil, to heat a liquid until it expands or turns into a gas. The pressure or gas than rotates a turbine, which cranks up a generator and produces the massive amounts of electricity we all take for granted. This is a time tested method and is used in coal, nuclear, hydropower and most major power sources. The concept is now being transferred to solar platforms in an effort to get more bang for the buck out of these clean energy platforms. The problem with solar is sunlight is converted to energy at a rate of 10 to 15 percent efficiency, a truly uninspiring number. Put in sports terms, the best batter in baseball would have a batting average of 150, a quarterback would complete 1.5 of his attempted throws and Michael Jordan would have missed 9 out of every 10 dunks. The numbers simply aren’t pretty. The problem with solar power is the base construct of solar cells. Various forms of silicon are used to convert sunlight into energy. The material is simply inefficient and improvements are slow and incremental. The situation is similar to trying to turn a moped into a high performance racing bike. You don’t have much to work with. Given the limitations of silicon, solar producers are trying new strategies. One of the major new strategies is to use the sun as a direct heating component to produce power. Instead of trying to directly convert the sunlight with silicon wafers, producers are trying to use reflective panels to focus it onto a specific spot. This spot then contains a pipe or pool of liquid. The concentrated focus of the sun heats the liquid up and the traditional turbine to generator to electricity strategy is undertaken. If you’ve ever sat in a car in traffic on a summer day without air conditioning, you’ll understand the concept. Generating energy from the sun on a large scale has always been a bit of a head scratcher. Early returns on the concentrated energy strategy, however, have been extremely positive. Major fields are being used in Germany and the future appears…bright.

Future energy concepts the fuel cell

With global warming, general pollution and rising fuel prices, our future energy needs are a hot topic. Fuel cells may represent a solution, one coming sooner than later. Future Energy Concepts – The Fuel Cell A fuel cell is a fairly vague phrase thrown around by those in the know and those that know relatively little. Regardless of the particular design, a fuel cell is essentially a cell similar to a battery in which a chemical process occurs to produce electricity. In this case, however, the fuel is hydrogen. The basic idea is to combine hydrogen with oxygen in a process that produces electricity. This electricity is then used as we would normally use it in our lives. If you read the paper or watch the news, one would think the concept of hydrogen fuels in a new one. In fact, it is not. The first one was created in 1839. The problem, of course, was it was inefficient and there wasn’t much interest since fossil fuels were plentiful and our energy needs were tiny compared to today. It wasn’t until the 1960s that much interest was shown in the energy platform. As with many advances, NASA decided to use fuel cells to power the Gemini and Apollo spacecrafts. Unfortunately, the trick has been translating this limited use to wide spread applications in daily life. A common misconception is a fuel cell represents renewable energy. Very clearly, it does not. It is a device, not an energy platform. It is like saying a hydroelectric dam is a renewable energy. The dam is a machine to harness a renewable energy resource, but not an energy source in and of itself. The fuel cell works much the same way. It is a methodology for harnessing energy from hydrogen. The particular method can be clean or dirty, to wit, one can use water or coal for the base material. Obviously, coal is not much help. Fuel cells can be run, in theory, on any material containing hydrogen. This means renewable energy sources such as hydrogen, biogas, and so on. The primary goal is to focus on water and other renewable sources because of their inherent clean advantages. When hydrogen is used, for instance, it produces no tangible pollution or greenhouse gases. The byproduct, instead, is simply water. There are a few hurdles that must be overcome before hydrogen fuel cells really become a viable energy platform. First, the technology is such that the fuel cells are far too large and heavy to be used for practical purposes. The infamous hydrogen car is not currently viable because of this, although test cars from primarily German manufacturers are being evaluated. The second problem is efficiency, which is to say fuel cells are not. Currently, fuel cells produce energy at a cost of about 10 times that of fossil fuels, and that is a positive estimate. Again, not a viable option. While these may seem like significant hurdles, they actually point to the viability of hydrogen fuel cells as a power source. These problems are focused on technical aspects of delivery, not on whether the process works. If there is anything we are good at as a species, it is making technological breakthroughs. If we can build a hydrogen nuclear weapon, surely we can build a hydrogen fuel cell.

Uses for solar in every day life

Many a person, myself included, has gone on and on about the benefits of solar energy. While theoretical arguments are always interesting, what about daily applications? Uses for Solar In Every Day Life Solar energy is an important advance in the effort to save the environment. Perhaps the most easily usable and most convenient of the renewable energy sources (which also include wind and water), solar energy has been used since the beginning of time as a heating source. In the 1830's one of the other solar energy platforms was developed, as a solar energy cooker was used on a safari. Since then, many other solar energy applications have been formulated, and almost everyone can take advantage of one of these. One of the most common of the solar energy application is to use it as a power source. Since the 1970's, many people have been putting solar collectors on their roofs and using the resulting collected power to run their households. While having enough solar collectors to obtain power that will run an entire house may not be common, it is becoming more so. Most of these types of solar powered homes run their appliances and other needs directly off the solar collectors' power during the day, and use power that was stored from the solar cells in batteries at night. In this way, the homeowner can avoid ever having to use power that was generated by a non-renewable resource. Another of the common solar energy applications is to use solar power to heat your hot water. These systems can either use passive solar energy (in the case of heating a tank of water by leaving it out in the sun) or by using solar collectors with a heat transfer fluid. These systems require the homeowner to install solar panels, behind which run tubes filled with fluid. These tubes collect the heat from the sun and transfer it into the fluid – these tubes, filled with the heated fluid, then run around a water storage system, and the heat from the fluid is transferred into the water. Another way is to have water running through the tubing and have it obtain the sun's heat directly - this heated water is then pumped into swimming pools, so that pool owners don't need to run a pool heater to keep their water warm. In the last 10 to 15 years, solar manufacturers have started to develop new, creative applications for solar power. One development is the portable solar panel, a popular product used on RVs by vacationers. On a smaller scale, there are solar panel packs that fold out like a small ledger and are used to power up anything from laptops to cell phones. As time passes, new products along this line are expected to continue to come on the market. It doesn't matter which of the solar energy applications you choose to implement in your own home or life – even a small change to solar power over traditional power sources can help the environment. The more we can use solar energy, the less dependent we become on non-renewable resources, and the more we help the Earth.

Help for our economy and ecology

There are several ways you can conserve energy and protect the environment: • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. • Air dry dishes instead of using the dishwasher drying cycle. • Use your microwave instead of a conventional electric range or oven. • Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use. • Plug home electronics, such as TVs and VCRs, into power strips and turn power strips off when equipment is not in use. • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater; 115° is comfortable for most uses. • Take showers instead of baths to reduce hot water use. • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. • Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds. • Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. Every 100 pounds can cut MPG by 2 percent. • Avoid engine idling. More good news: Getting oil from where it's found to where it's needed-without ruining any ecosystems or running up costs-may be a bit easier. That's because of a slick new way to move giant oil tankers. These ships often have to navigate narrow, winding channels in places like the Bosporus or the Suez Canal; and they have to do so at the highest possible speeds. There is a new way to prevent an oil spill and save money, time and even lives as well as protecting the environment. Now there is a new type of high-tech tug that can push the tankers in any direction in an instant, no matter what the wind, weather or water condition or even how well the ship's own propulsion and steering systems are working. That means the oil in the carriers will more likely get to the homes and cars safely. This is all made possible by a unique propeller system that moves much like a fish's tail does as it swims. In fact, the Voith Water Tractor has been recognized as the "Best Available Technology" by environmentalists and is used at more than 120 ports worldwide.

Wind power advantages

Sometimes when the electricity supply goes off unexpectedly due to a power cut it can last for several days. Having no hot water, no cooking facilities, a lack of refrigeration and no form of heating or lighting are just some of the inconveniences incurred. Power grid independency is only one of the many reasons to consider installing wind power preventing you from becoming solely reliant on the electricity companies. Installing wind power will allow you to be in charge or your own environment. The problems experienced by others through the failure of mainstream electricity supplies will not affect you. In fact, you may not even be aware that anyone else is having difficulties until they contact you asking for your assistance as they are suffering in either hot or freezing conditions! Another great benefit of wind power is the rebate offered by many states for people who are willing to install wind generators in their homes. In overall terms it is likely to take up to ten years or maybe a little more to see the monetary benefits of having the original installation carried out, but from that time onwards the best part of your power will be free. Just imagine the fact that the running costs of your home or business, or even both, can be reduced to practically nothing.

This is because your meter will slow down considerably as your wind power equipment kicks in, thereby reducing your supply from the grid. This low usage from the grid will be maintained until such a time that the wind is not strong enough to produce power and you will then notice your meter speed up again whilst power is being drawn from the grid supply. In California, if you have wind power within your home, it can in reality replace power back into the grid, so your meter will go backwards; in effect giving you credited power to use in the future. This or similar systems may be introduced in other states in the near future, thus expanding the advantages of wind power more widely. Although wind power is not perfect, it is a safe and honest cost effective plan for the time ahead of your family and country. Take a minute to sit down and work out just how much you expect your power bills to cost you for the rest of you and your children’s lives.

Make a comparison with that of a wind power supply and the benefits will be clear to you. Even if you feel having wind power installed is an expense you just cannot afford at the minute, it may be worth considering taking out a loan as the savings you are likely to make will be more than adequate to repay the amount you have borrowed. Make sure you check out the information available about which schemes are on offer to you.

Bird watchers flock to florida beaches

There's now another good reason a growing number of bird-watchers are flying toward Florida beaches. The newly opened south loop of the Great Florida Birding Trail brings 116 sites across south Florida into the 2,000-mile highway trail designed to conserve and enhance bird habitat by promoting bird-watching activities and conservation education. With more than 300 species of birds visiting or living along The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, visitors come from all over the world to explore sites along the shoreline, shallow mud flats, inland waters, back bays and forests. Birds are so prevalent in the area, it's been named the top bird-watching destination in the U. S. by USA Today. Bird-watchers can spot egrets, wood storks, ibis and herons of every description and color. Rarities such as limpkins and reddish egrets may also be seen, as well as birds of prey such as red-shouldered hawks, bald eagles and osprey. Mark Kiser of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission serves as birding trail coordinator. The Florida Birding Trail program identifies interesting sites for bird-watchers in a Birding Trail guide available, free, at the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary or floridabirdingtrail.

com. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary was selected as a premier or "gateway" site because of its extensive services for visitors, from a 2.25-mile boardwalk, to state-of-the-art Blair Audubon Center and a variety of educational activities, as well as more than 200 species of birds, including the largest nesting colony of endangered wood storks. The area encompasses more than 13,000 acres of natural habitats; there's even the largest stand of old-growth bald cypress trees.

Green choices give valentines day gifts with the planet in mind

Here are a few distinctive gift ideas that make a positive ecological impact: Give Organic Flowers Conventionally grown flowers are often dangerous to the environment and the workers involved with growing them. An option to giving cut flowers is seeking out locally grown live houseplants. There are plenty of flowering varieties available, and they are beautiful, year-round gifts, which add vibrancy to homes and offices. One of the advantages to purchasing plants grown close to where you live is that you are not contributing to the resource use and greenhouse gas emissions of air shipping, which is common with imported flowers. Give Natural perfumes and fragrances Many perfume fragrances are synthetic and often made from toxic petrochemicals derived from crude oil. There are more earth friendly alternatives and it is easy to make your own natural perfume too. Give cards that use recyclable paper, send e-mail cards, or make your own. - Choose a locally made card, rather than one that has been mass-produced and traveled a long way to reach you. - Choose a card with little or no glitter - these are easier to recycle. - Make your own card - you might get extra points for effort. - Go traditional and write your own love note. - Send an e-card (save the trees!). Give Organic Wine and Spa Set Picture this: Your loved one walks into the bathroom — and it has been transformed into a spa. A lavender-scented hot bath has been drawn. Wine and chocolates are waiting in a tray by the tub. Moreover, you are waiting to give a massage with natural oils. Sound good? This case has all the organic goodies you will need — just add candles. Only problem: You will have to clean the tub. Now, that is love. Fair Trade chocolate is sweeter Everybody loves chocolate. It tastes excellent; it makes you feel good; and it is hard to imagine Valentine’s Day without its sweetness. However, all is not well in the chocolate industry. Like coffee, chocolate is produced in some of the most economically disadvantaged regions of the world. Cocoa bean farmers find themselves under tremendous price pressure from buying cartels. The result is institutionalized poverty and an alarming reliance on abusive child labor. It all filters down to the candy aisle at your favorite grocery store. The solution for responsible consumers is Fair Trade cocoa and chocolate. Fair Trade certification guarantees that cocoa farmers receive a guaranteed “floor price” of at least 80 U. S. cents for non-organic cocoa, and a premium for produce meeting organic standards. This is often well above the market price, and the upcharge is passed to consumers. In return, the cocoa producers warrant a variety of progressive labor and environmental practices. It works out for everyone. Use your imagination Romance is about spontaneity, inventiveness, and the personal touch. We have given you five specific suggestions for greening your Valentine, but there must be dozens more. And don`t forget: use only reusable bags, bottles or recyclable containers.

Suntan oil how protected are you

Lots of people consider that a tan makes them more attractive and more healthy-looking, and so go out of their way to sit in the sun for hours and get one. However, this doesn’t always result in much of a tan, meaning that you will often have to sit in the sun for days on end to see any noticeable effects. The solution to this problem, at least supposedly, is sun tan oil. Tanning oils are there to make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, meaning that it absorbs more and therefore goes browner. This is controversial, as UV rays have been linked to skin cancer among other diseases, and it is believed that using tanning oils can lead to skin damage – a high price to pay considering the only reason to use them is, essentially, vanity. The alternatives leave a lot to be desired, though. Using a tanning bed has the same problems in terms of skin damage, and costs a lot too. Fake tan tends to be very fake-looking, making you go more bright orange than brown, and it is hard to escape the feeling that you’re a little tragic if you use it. With this is mind, many consider the tanning oil alternative to be the best of a bad bunch. It is possible to go some way towards minimising the risks of tanning oil if you get oil that protects you from the sun at least to some extent (look for ones with SPF on the bottle), and try to only stay in the sun for half an hour or so. Since you have put on the tanning oil, it is very important not to stay out for too long, and this is the mistake that many people make. Whatever you do, remember that tans are not really as healthy as people think they are: a tan is actually your body’s way of dealing with damage that has been caused by the sun, in an effort to stop you from getting sunburn. If you are going to have a tan, it’s wise to limit the times when you do rather than try to have one all year round, and to be very careful with the sun. If you hurt yourself now, you might not know about it until you’re 50 or even older, but when you find out it won’t be a nice surprise for you.

How to do your bit to protect the environment

Climate change and the environment is top of the global agenda today as the need to cut down on carbon emissions becomes increasingly apparent. As world leaders negotiate to come up with a plan to halt climate change and cut down on emissions, we can also play our part. Reducing the amount of energy we use in our home, in our workplace and in our cars can have a significant affect on emissions. Not only that, it can save you money too. If everyone makes an effort in their lives, it can make a huge difference on a global scale. Here is some advice on how you can cut down on your energy usage. In the home * Switch to energy-saving light bulbs. They cost slightly more, but save up to ten times their price over their lifetime. * When you are boiling water, or heating anything, only boil the amount you need. You do not need a kettle full of boiling water for one cup of tea. * Switch off appliances when you are not using them to save money and energy. TVs, videos, stereos and computers left on standby can use use a lot of energy. * Recycle everything that you can. We throw away our own weight in rubbish every month, but bottles, cans, paper, card, plastic and aluminium can all be reused or recycled which saves energy. For example, it takes the same amount of energy to make 20 cans from recycled material as it takes to make one can from scratch. Recycling will also save you money on refuse charges. * If you live in a sunny area you could potentially meet all your energy means using solar panels. * Turning down your thermostat by just three degrees will save you 10 per cent in energy costs. Also, make sure that your home is well insulated so that it keeps the heat in. * When washing clothes and dishes make sure the appliances are full. Also, try using lukewarm water. * Keep the lid on pots and pans when you are cooking. In the office * Where at all possible, store all documents in digital format on your computer or another storage device. If you must print something, use both sides of the page. * There is no need to fly half way around the world for a meeting. Online audio and video conferencing has effectively cut out the need for face to face meetings and conferences. The amount of energy that can potentially be saved here is huge. * Turn your computer off completely or at least put it to sleep when you are not using it. Computers still use a lot of energy when they are on screensaver mode. In the car * For shorter journeys, leave the car at home and use a bike instead. Bikes are a healthy, quick and enjoyable way to get around, and a great way to avoid congestion if you live in a big city. * Experiment with car pooling to get to and from work. It will save you money and could get you to work faster. * Join the hybrid revolution. Do you really need that gas guzzling SUV? Buy a hybrid and use a fraction of the energy for your journeys. * Public transport is far more energy efficient than driving. Also, remember that air travel is a major polluter so use ground transport wherever possible. In the shops * Do not accept plastic bags from shops. Always bring your own reusable bags. * Try to buy organic food that is grown locally. Organic food is farmed less intensively and usually requires less energy to produce. In addition, the fact that it is grown locally means a reduction in transport costs. * Try to eat less meat. Livestock are a major source of greenhouse gases. Water While water isn't strictly energy, it is a finite resource that we need to preserve and take care of. Here are some tips on how to cut down on your water usage: * Always use the shower instead of the bath. * Never leave the tap running while brushing your teeth. * Only use the dishwasher or washing machine with a full load. * Try to install a system to use your waste water run-off to keep your garden watered. This will also encourage you to use non-harmful soaps and washing powders. * Water your garden early in the morning or just before sunset. This allows the water to be absorbed into the ground instead of evaporating in the hot sun if you water during the day. * Water butts or large water containers are a good idea for the garden. Situate them under the edges of your roof so they receive run-off when it rains. These are just a few of the simple, yet effective, ways that you can help cut down on energy usage and reduce your carbon footprint. Even if we all follow just a few of these steps it will make a big difference and save us money as well.

Save energy money and the planet every day simple steps make a difference

At a time of record-high energy prices and increased attention to global warming, nearly everyone is looking for ways to save energy, save money on utility bills, and help to protect the environment. Here are simple actions you can take this Earth Day, and all year round, recommended by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1. Look for products that have earned the Energy Star® for energy efficiency. Energy Star-qualified products prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency criteria. The Energy Star label comes on more than just appliances-look for the government-backed symbol on electronics, lighting, ceiling fans, dehumidifiers, room and central air conditioners, and many other products. 2. Replace your five most frequently used lights, or the bulbs in them, with energy-efficient, compact fluorescent models that have earned the Energy Star. This action alone will save you $60 a year. 3. Cool your home smartly-Get your cooling system ready for summer by cleaning or replacing air filters, and having a contractor do a preseason checkup in the spring. Proper maintenance keeps your system running at peak performance and can help you save energy dollars this summer. 4. Seal up your home-Adequate insulation and home sealing can help you save on cooling bills and improve your home's overall comfort when it's hot outside. 5. Share these tips with friends and family. Help spread the word that energy efficiency is good for our homes and the environment. Most people don't realize that the average household can be responsible for nearly twice the greenhouse gas emissions as the average car. These simple steps will help you save energy and money, while also contributing to a better environment for your family and community.

Overview of solar as an energy platform

With renewable energy all the rage these days and fossil fuel costs soaring, solar energy is in the news. Here are some thoughts about solar as a viable energy platform. Overview of Solar As An Energy Platform Energy is an important topic that is on many peoples minds these days. With the rising costs of fuel and electric power, many households and individuals are considering alternative power sources. Solar is one of the more cost effective and biologically sound alternatives available. One of the most interesting aspects of solar energy is how little of the energy production on the planet comes from the harnessing of the energy of the sun. In fact, only 0.1 percent of the power used today comes from converting sunlight into electrical current. It would be possible, however, to obtain enough power to run all of the worlds energy needs using solar energy. If more people were willing and able to install solar collectors on their homes and even their cars when technology gets to that point, solar energy could more than cover the Earth's power needs for transportation and housing. Another of the interesting aspects about solar energy is how much solar energy is worth, or to put it another way, how much money you can save using solar energy. If you have a roof that is 1000 sq ft large, and you install solar panels on this roof, you could conceivably save as much as $6,460 dollars a year over the cost of oil heating. Unfortunately, the cost of installing the hardware needed to obtain the amount of power to save this money would be between $20,000 to $50,000; cost prohibitive to most home owners. These costs, however, are offset by tax incentives, rebates and net metering concepts in most states. While the upfront cost can be prohibitive, the savings over the life of the product are many times the initial burden. One of the major hopes for reducing the cost of solar is found in Asia. Specifically, China is facing up to the fact it has massive pollution problems and is investigating renewable energy solutions. Working with American architects and developers, China is building entire communities that are made and powered by recyclable resources. Homes are made out of straw bales and powered with solar and geothermal heating. Given the sheer size of China and its population, the vicious pollution problem has spurred development in the renewable fields. With such a massive focus, it is hoped that the Chinese will develop more efficient, but less costly versions of solar energy for use around the world. When considering solar as a platform, the most important aspect to keep in mind is that we have barely tapped it as a resource. If we can make systems that are more efficient and cheaper, the future of solar will be bright.

Horses and their regions

Copyright 2006 Rob Daniels Horses thrived and survived in various regions and climates. Each area developed distinct breeds with qualities that were vital to the people of that region. In many ways, horses changed the lives of the people they served. Desert Nomads and Horses In the desert and grasslands, camels are more practical as they can survive long periods without food and water, unlike horses. As a result few true desert bred horses exist today, so they are rarely seen in show rings, remaining mostly for breeding. Other desert type horses evolved, but none were ever considered by the Bedouins for their Arabians. The nomadic people were the first to domesticate horses. They encouraged both pacing and other flying gaits which could carry their tribes long distances without tiring the horses. The severe climate required the nomads to share food and water, and sometimes even their tents with their horses. In addition, with the nomadic nature of the Gypsy peoples, their horses had to be adaptable to varying climates, terrains and living conditions. The result of this culling has led to the Gypsy Vanner Horse being one of the most docile horses in the world. Icelandic Horses Centuries of isolation in Iceland has produced an extremely sure footed horse who is agile on rough terrain and shows great reserves of stamina. The Icelandic Horse has been able to keep it's due to the purity of the breed, being the only breed in Iceland. Of the most fascinationg feature of the Icelandic horse is it's extreme genetic purity. The hardships they survived have given a horse that is not afraid to face the world. Both horse and people have had to face cold and starvation on more than one occasion in Iceland. The horse carried it's owners over the rough terrain of Iceland which includes lava fields, mountains, and many rivers. It is certainly not an ideal setting for the horse. Vikings and Horses The Vikings recognized the value and political power of their horses and gave them a place of great honor in their history and culture. To them, the horse was more than a war horse or a means of travel. So, when the first Vikings set sail to explore Northern oceans, along with them went the strong little horses. American Indians and Horses Indians of that era had never seen horses and to them the horse and rider team were a godlike being. Many religious ceremonies were based on the horse and its contribution to the life of the Indian. To try and keep this belief, it was illegal for some years for an Indian to ride a horse much less own one. The acquisition of the horse completely changed the Plains Indian's way of life, transforming them from plodding pedestrians to nomadic hunters and warriors.

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