Is your life environmentally friendly? If not, maybe it could be with some help from Green Pepper, the environmental and eco-living blog. This is an environmental blog that covers all bases, from news on communities and companies across the world, and what they are doing to reduce their carbon footprints, to how businesses and households could improve their environmental health.
Are we closer to turning food waste into energy? Can we hit the recycling targets set by the government? And how can we fund energy saving schemes, such as heating and insulation systems for the home? All these questions and more, answered on Green Pepper.
The OIE, or World Organisation for Animal Health, has sent out an urgent message to all its member countries regarding the Rinderpest virus which affects cattle as well as many other animals. They are asking those who have it stored to consider destroying stocks to prevent the accidental, or even deliberate, release of this highly infectious viral disease that apart from cattle affects domestic buffaloes and some of the even ungulates such as antelopes, giraffes, deer, warthogs and giraffes.
An announcement was made by the OIE in 2011 that Rinderpest had been eradicated, and the FAO, Food and Agricultural Organisation also confirmed this in June of that year. What many didn’t realise, however, that laboratories around the world still hold stocks of the Rinderpest virus, amongst growing concern that some are being kept in inadequate conditions that could lead to this horrendous virus making a very unwelcome reapearance.
A video as has been produced to get the message across about Rinderpest, and is a particularly informative piece that is highly educational for those who may have heard of Rinderpest but actually know little about it. Using words and basic animations, it tells the tale of how the virus was eradicated, the worries that remain about the stocks in labs, a little bit of history about the virus and the horrendous effects it could trigger off should it escape from its confines.
The message is clear; to avoid a potential disaster, the world needs to act now and those countries who have stocks are totally responsible for ensuring it never gets out, and the only permanent way of doing this is to destroy those stocks, which in turn would allow the population of the globe to breathe a sigh of relief that Rinderpest really has been eradicated, never to return.
The country has not fared well recently in its programmes related to environmental issues. This conclusion coming from a report filed by Dr Charlotte Burns from the University of York would have quite a far reaching effects on the country and its political agenda. Dr Charlotte Burns is the EU expert of formulating policies for the Friends of the Earth organisation.
The EU has recently challenged the UK’s membership in its union on this lack of environmental respect which has touched a new low in their relationship. Politicians like Lord Lawson and Nigel Farage are however not responding to these issues raised by the EU in a proper manner which could result in the future of UK being dropped from the EU.
UK has always had the tag of being the dirty man of Europe with emissions like that of sulphur dioxide being recorded as the highest all over Europe. This had even supposed to have resulted in the devastation of the Scandinavian forests.
The sea around Britain had also been used as sewage dumpers with all obnoxious elements being dumped in them as per a “dilute and disperse” program they followed. Even the drinking water in UK was purportedly contaminated with many chemicals in them.
The policy makers and politicians never took serious view of the damage that in some cases has turned irreversible. This mentality of the administration both bureaucratic and political is yet present as seen from the refusal of UK to follow the restriction on neonicotinoid pesticides that the EU is trying to implement. Neonicotinoid pesticides have been found to be the reason for decline of bees.
The EU forms its policies based on a Lisbon treaty which mandates that laws and regulations are to be implemented as soon as there is possibility of danger to human health and environment. Countries like Scandinavia, Germany and Netherlands take these issues very seriously and UK has no proper understanding of the effects.
These laws implemented by the countries provide for a better and cleaner living to the people in those countries than in UK. The EU membership is important for UK as it provides for maintaining good wild life habitat in the UK as well as services like flood defences, carbon sequestration, pollination, food, water and materials.
Climate change is a very real problem. Over the last century, the average temperature of the Earth has risen by around 0.75°C, and with consumer demand on the increase for manufactured products that happen to emit carbon dioxide, this trend only looks set to continue, with potentially disastrous environmental consequences.
While it may seem intimidating to consider what you could do to reduce your own carbon footprint, there are actually four very easy things that you could do, today, that will make a real impact in the fight against climate change and global warming.
- Buy locally produced, organic foodstuffs
The global food production system is one of the world’s leading villains when it comes to emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, with the distance that many foodstuffs are transported around the globe making a sizeable contribution to climate change.
By purchasing organic foodstuffs locally, not only do you reduce the number of air or land miles that your food has to travel, but organic farmers also rely less heavily on fertilisers that that break down into nitrous oxide, which is one of the most potent contributors to the greenhouse effect.
- Cycle to work
On average, a 10-mile round commute to work, in a mid-size car, five days per week, produces 1.3 tons of carbon dioxide, which certainly adds up over a year – and during your lifetime.
Not only does choosing to cycle to work reduce your carbon footprint, it also drastically improves your health, while reducing the chance of your suffering from heart problems in later life.
With many companies offering bike-to-work schemes, which involve purchasing a new bike on your behalf and allowing you to pay for it in very small instalments, cycling to work is a cost-effective and extremely feasible means of reducing your carbon footprint.
- Switch off your appliances
The average home uses around 4,000 units of electricity a year and a large proportion of that is wasted energy, derived largely from people forgetting to turn off their appliances.
While it would be ideal to purchase energy efficient dishwashers and washing machines, and replace all your traditional light bulbs with energy saving bulbs, simply remembering to turn off your appliances as you leave the house could drastically reduce your carbon footprint.
If you’re a little on the forgetful side, consider purchasing an automated mains switch, which automatically turns off your appliances when they are not being used.
- Recycle your unwanted goods
The final easy means of reducing your carbon footprint also guarantees putting a little extra money in your pocket.
If you have a house full of unwanted clothes, CDs, DVDs, games, or anything else for that matter – consider recycling them. Websites like Music Magpie offer a quick and easy way to recycle any of your unwanted electronic goods, while contributing to the fight against climate change, helping to clear clutter from your home and putting pounds in your pocket.
On paper the EV, or electric vehicle, looks ideal. You can still qualify for a grant to help you buy one, which reduces the price of a van by 20%, with absolutely no emissions from the exhaust. What many fail to realise, however, is that they rather eradicating pollution, they are actually transferring it to a different area of the carbon cycle, which smoke stack pollution replacing exhaust pollution.
Unless you have done your homework by calculating how much electricity you will use every time you recharge your EV, and have a renewable option in place to deal with this, photovoltaic panels for example, your vehicle will not be carbon neutral. Once you tap into the grid in order to recharge, you are dependent on the energy mix of the country you are living in. If you are in the UK, this is a picture that isn’t particularly rosy.
We are largely dependent on gas and coal in the UK, and is a recent survey which looked at the real impact of EV’s, the Norwegian research team took into account the EV’s carbon intensive production, with very disappointing results. Pollution is caused by producing EV’s, especially the batteries, and if you drive 100,000km, which is the average warranty of a battery, over your EV’s lifetime the benefit on the environment is a paltry 9-14% better that fuel.
Let us go back to the future for a moment. Petrol will inevitably get dirtier by needing oil to squeezed from the tar sand at a massive ecological cost while EV’s get cleaner and, as the technology becomes more mainstream, easier to produce. We are also told that the mix of the UK’s renewables will increase as, apparently, by 2020 only 11% of energy will come from coal.
Work is going on constantly to improve the performance of EV’s, such as producing heating and cooling systems that do not rely on the battery power, so although the focus is a bit blurred at the moment, it looks as if the picture will really come into focus over the next few years.
In an effort to reduce pollution caused by fossil fuels in America, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, when passed, will create jobs that invest in our workers skills, in an industry to generate clean electricity powered by the sun and wind and help boost the countries economy.
By investing in clean energy and infrastructure, University of Massachusetts economists estimate that over a two year period this would generate up to 235,000 jobs in California alone. Along with the help of the Presidents $80million economic recovery plan, and the passing of this bill, more jobs in clean energy would be produced and the United States will be a safer and cleaner place to live.
For this act to pass, the House of Representatives should include in the act some strong points that will drive home that this clean energy act will help the American economy transform. Included in the act should be that along with creating jobs throughout the country, this act will increase the countries clean energy standards by up to 20%.
Give the EPA the authority it requires to regulate carbon emission that factories produce under the Clean Air Act and to give incentives to industries who promote green jobs over jobs that generate pollution, and train employees in a correct and environmentally safe procedure.
With this bill being passed the government is hoping to reduce America’s global warming pollution by 17 percent before 2020 and to encourage the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. It is also hoped that tropical deforestation will drop by 10 percent and to reduce emissions by 83 percent by the year 2050.
The American Congress want to hear from people who are committed to creating this way of powering America with a cleaner, lower pollution energy source and embracing the new technologies available to create this safe environmentally friendly energy source.
Previously unpublished research conducted by the Government revealed that disabled people and older people are the least likely to take advantage of energy efficiency programmes due to the fear of incurring debt or because of their complexity. The Department for Energy and Climate Change accesses the take-up and perceptions of many people following the Energy Company Obligation and the green deal and discovered that these two specific groups were the least likely to take part.
The green deal offers loans to those who take advantage of it to make green improvements to their homes. In exchange, home owners pay back the loans via their energy bills so that they can continue to make improvements that help to lower the overall costs of energy consumption. The scheme was introduced to help vulnerable and low income groups make improvements to their homes.
This past March, the National Energy Action charity took a close look at families and households with disabilities, older people, and those that had long term health conditions via focus groups. They discovered that although many of these groups are struggling with the costs of utility bills such as heating, they are not willing to take any green energy saving measures because they are worried about the financial commitment that comes with more debt.
In addition, the group found that the financial climate was a hindrance, and that the ECO was too complex for them to understand. Instead, they felt that voluntary organisations and local authorities were a better source of information. While the research showed that people like the idea of pay as you go that is emphasised in the green deal, the public is worried about adding any more set costs to their bills.
A new Dutch study suggests that one of the most popular insecticides used globally is having a devastating effect on water based species and dragonflies. On Monday the European Union banned the use of the insecticide along with two others on some of its crops in order to help reduce the risk that it poses to pollinators such as bees which food crops need in order to produce properly.
Lead scientists Dr. Jeroen van der Sluijis from Uterect University stated that much more action will need to be taken however in order to properly address the effects on agriculture. He explained that we are continually putting too much at risk to the future of agriculture just to get rid of a few insects that can be pests. He went on to explain that the substance needs to be stopped around the world.
He also explained that every year about 20,000 tonnes of the insecticide known as imidacloprid is produced that is not subject to the EU ban because it is placed on pets and cattle in order to combat fleas. The problem is that it then ends up in surface water and has the same effect on killing pests that are important to the survival of crops.
According to the research, in water that was polluted with the insecticide there was a 70% reduction in invertebrate species when compared to clean water. In general there were also less species found in the polluted water. The pollution is estimated to affect mayflies, molluscs, and midges. In addition, it may also affect many birds that regularly eat insects as their main source of food like swallows.
Although the economic recession hurt many home budgets, thinkinsulation.com the energy saving advice website, conducted a survey and discovered that even though many homes are looking at energy saving DIY projects in an effort to save money, 25% of those who end up increasing their home’s energy efficiency do so out of concerns about the environment and climate change.
In addition, the survey also revealed that 23% of the houses that purchased energy efficient products choose their products based on their actual eco credentials, taking care to purchase products that were truly the best. The website conducted the research in an effort to mark June 5th, World Environment Day. The purpose of the day is to highlight how small DIY green projects can help to create a more sustainable green economy in the future.
The study also revealed that while about 50% of the homeowners had made some improvements to their home, most homeowners are actually overlooking smaller measures in favour of taking on larger products. For example, 59% of the homes in the survey invested in double glazing of their windows while only about 30% draught-proofed or added to their loft insulation.
Insulation.com leader Lydia Sharp stated that the research proves that while some people are thinking about how they can make their homes more energy efficient, they do not always consider how much value small DIY home improvements can hold.
For instance, loft insulation is an easy one day DIY task that costs just £50 to £300 to complete depending on the size of a loft. On average homes save about £175 per year just for adding insulation which can quickly add up in a few years making it well worth a few pounds.
No question: energy costs are going up and not likely to go back down in the foreseeable future. This is a matter of concern to everyone, but it hits hardest when it’s up close and personal, in your own bank account. The good news is that you can save money, specifically on heating costs as the winter sets in, with just a few simple home improvements.
The Energy Saving Trust (EST) reports that the average householder can save about £280 per year on an average annual cost of £1,300, without any major investment of time or money. They suggest that simply insulating your home is the easiest (and cheapest) of the many measures you can take to save on home heating costs.
Here are a few of the tips they offer that can be implemented for a few pounds or less and require very little time or effort. The first is to attach ordinary kitchen foil behind your radiators to reflect the heat. A hot water tank cover, which costs about £15, can save you £50 over one year. Sealing any gaps around windows, doors and skirting, using rubber strips, self-adhesive foam and draught excluders, can save you another £50 a year.
A couple of minor lifestyle changes, which cost you nothing, can save as much as £80 to £100 per year (depending on how well you remember to apply them). Unplug appliances that are not in use, don’t just turn them off. Shut down your computer instead of always leaving it on standby. Turn off lights when you don’t need them. Wash clothes at a lower temperature (30 degrees rather than 40, say) and use the outdoor breezes instead of the tumble dryer when weather permits.
The status quo about energy prices is they are increasing most of the times. However, due to government based reforms, energy efficient plans and competition between electricity providers, it is possible to save money the green way on electricity deals.
Understanding the tariffs
Ignorance maybe bliss, but that shouldn’t be the case when it comes to electricity tariffs. The first thing you should know is how different tariffs work. You should also ask yourself ‘Did I select the best for myself?
An incentive that is in place is the concept of online tariffs. This has been considered as an eco-friendly way of selling electricity. The reason is no bills are required to be printed, which leads to a reduction in the cutting down of trees.
Another thing is that when online, people tend to compare the rates that they are paying with other companies. This means the tariffs which are accessible online are available at competitive prices.
Using the green tariff
Using green tariff is the best way to go especially when it comes to saving the environment and reducing the carbon footprint. In 2012 and this year as well, a lot of focus was geared towards the expansion of alternate energy.
Leading economies are enforcing legislation in favor of this form of energy by offering tax benefits. Similarly, there are price cuts on electricity too, if you opt for a green fuel package.
The source of electricity/gas that is being provided to you is from a renewable source. These are generally less expensive, because electricity companies are getting tax benefits on it. For instance, windmill based renewable energy is available in many states in U.S like Texas and on the South side. The companies that provide electricity rates are quite cost effective and consumers can check out the rates at websites like www.shopelectricityratestexas.com and other electricity rates websites based on their respective state residence.
Using dual fuel tariff
Another possible means for you to save money on your electricity bill is by opting for a dual fuel tariff. What is dual fuel tariff? Well, in today’s competitive economy, electricity and energy provider companies want to maintain and increase their customers. Generally, people get their gas and electricity from different suppliers. However, if you opt for a dual fuel tariff, you can get pretty decent discounts from the same energy supplier.
Option for efficient energy
One of the most important things that you can do is opt for energy efficient plans. For the purpose, you can check from your providers if they have something in this category. What you have to do is install appliances that not only cost you less, but are also good for the environment.
For example, LED technology has helped developing efficient bulbs that save energy. The same is the case for solar based panels. While these are considered as an expensive option, some electricity providers are offering good deal for installation. The government has offered these electricity providers with special incentives if they are able to promote a certain percentage of green energy. So you can use this government based incentive in your favor.
The bottom line is to be educated about your tariff and what you are paying for your electricity. In this way, you would be able to identify the possible green options that are affordable.