Interesting Article Alert: Why Disasters Are Getting Worse

Just doing my usual morning perusal of articles and I believed this one from Time Magazine looked worthy of a blog post! At first I was confused and I believed the article was trying to bring attention away from the climate change issue however I quickly realized that these disasters were still affected by human development paving over natural barriers to natural disasters. Here's a choice quote to get you intrigued!

If climate change is having an effect on the intensities of storms, it's not obvious in the historical weather data. And whatever effect it is having is much, much smaller than the effect of development along coastlines. In fact, if you look at all storms from 1900 to 2005 and imagine today's populations on the coasts, as Roger Pielke Jr., and his colleagues did in a 2008 Natural Hazards Review paper, you would see that the worst hurricane would have actually happened in 1926.

If it happened today, the Great Miami storm would have caused from $140 billion to $157 billion in damages. (Hurricane Katrina, the costliest storm in U.S. history, caused $100 billion in losses.) "There has been no trend in the number or intensity of storms at landfall since 1900," says Pielke, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado. "The storms themselves haven't changed."


Bill Nye...has a new TV Show!

Okay so this goes against last week's advice but Bill Nye's new 13 part series on Discovery's Planet Green channel is definitely more worthwhile than the latest "America's Top Model" episode. Why? The premise of the show is this:

On his new show Stuff Happens, acclaimed "Science Guy" Bill Nye explains to viewers what happens when we use stuff, where it goes when we're through with it, and what impact it all has on the environment and the entire planet. Whether it's in manufacturing, use, or disposal, all our stuff affects all our lives and the health of the Earth.

This definitely helps the general public make the connection that everything they do impacts the environment. Many of the children who grew up watching Bill Nye explain various topics like buoyancy and global warming are only gradually realizing that the problem of climate change will not be solved by their elders before the problem reaches them. The quick-fix solution to global warming is nonexistent...not to say it is impossible but that it will take several generations of humans working together to reverse the effects of almost a century of industrial pollution.

The reason why Bill Nye was so popular was because his show was easy to follow, full of interesting experiments and injected with bits of madcap humor. The show is still being shown in science classrooms today. I cannot imagine anyone else teaching us all why we need to start making changes in our lifestyles. His show already premiered on September 2nd at 9pm! Has anyone seen it? Please leave a review! The show will air weekly on Tuesday at 9pm.


Eco-friendly Habit of the Week: Turn Off, Unplug, Go Out!

Now I realize this generation is infamous for its technical knowhow, its ability to multitask using several electronic devices at once and for its inability to entertain itself in a manner that is carbon neutral. Let's change that! When should you do these recommendations? As much as possible is the ideal answer, however I recommend doing these things after you've just finished dinner, work or school. Best way to make this a habit however, is to start by doing it once a week for an evening or so.

The Conditions:
- TURN OFF and/or UNPLUG all unnecessary electronic devices must be turned off, you can keep your alarm clock, fridge and stove but your stereo or mp3 player is definitely not necessary, also remember to turn off all unnecessary lights
- GO OUT in your backyard, on your front porch, to the park...anywhere! Just don't lounge at home surrounded by the temptation of turning something on and vegging out
- Don't spend (a lot of) money, less than $10 if you really need to but be frugal!
- Don't drive anywhere
- Do ride your bike, skateboard, etc. Anything that doesn't involve electricity is a welcome activity

What You Can Do:

Go to the library
Expand your mind without spending a cent!

2) Go to the park
Take a walk in the park and breathe in some fresh air. Bring some sports equipment and play a quick scrimmage with your friends or some strangers if you are the extroverted type.

3) Take a walk around your neighbourhood
My parents like to do this to see what our neighbours have done to their gardens and just to spend time together, it gives them ideas for their own garden which brings me to my next point...

4) Grow Your Own Garden
Use your time at the local library to find out what veggies and herbs grow best in your backyard or even look up what plants would do well on a windowsill inside your apartment. Tending to a garden can be very relaxing and also provides you some fresh fruit, veggies and/or herbs for yourself and to share with family, friends...even neighbours! If you'd rather plant like flowers, make sure to grow many butterfly friendly species. Our famous Canadian monarch butterflies are losing many of their habitats to human development.

5) Go to a live show!
Support your local musicians or acting companies by attending their free/inexpensive shows advertised in your local paper. Also if there are free events in the area (several communities have fairs, festivals and carnivals) attend them and say hello to your neighbours! It never hurts to go to something that's free!

6) Go to the museum/art gallery/zoo/science center...
Attendance numbers are dwindling and in an appeal to the younger generation, several of these fine institutions are offering either free or inexpensive nights for all, these are usually weeknights. Remember not to spend money when it comes to the gift shop!

7) Go for a ride
Bike, skate or board in a scenic part of the city, make sure to obey your signals and traffic laws though!

8) Go to the beach/the Islands!
Walk on the boardwalk, skip rocks, take pictures or just relax.

Leave a comment if you can think of anything else!


Waste Heat Recovery, Something Different but not New

Great read for the day from CNET, they're always great for new technology news. Just to convince you to read it, I'll quote something VERY promising:
One customer is taking wasted energy from a steel smelter to make 220 megawatts of electricity. That's on the order of a single large solar-power plant. Through waste heat recovery, the U.S. could generate the equivalent of 400 coal-fired power plants, Munson said.


A Note on Green Labels

The article below is definitely a promising turn of events. Although several environmentalists blame multinational corporations for the majority of the destruction of our environment they have the resources and the power to fuel the innovation in new environmentally beneficial technologies such as this one.

That being said, there is always an issue of "greenwashing" taking place when companies begin to promote their environmentally-friendly policies and products. Although green is good, sometimes when a company attaches a "green" label to a product, the truth is the product/company may be masking what they are actually doing during the production process of all their products.

Before I go further I do not believe Google is necessarily greenwashing their image to the public (I am sure there are those who disagree). I think they are making a tentative investment in a new technology (that is the nature of business, you weigh the risk and invest according). Although it would be very encouraging to see Google invest $100 million into the project, they are nonetheless a business.

However there is still something to be said about those green labels you see on many of the new products on our store shelves. To be honest, buying a 'green' product is not going to save the planet. Conserving energy, buying less, reducing our consumption of nonrenewable resources and doing our homework before we buy a product are the best ways to make a positive impact on the environment. It is only common sense to not believe everything you read! Caveat emptor fellow environmentalists!

Pushing the Envelope: Google Investing $10 mill+ in Geothermal Energy

Quick definition first...

Geothermal Energy:
energy harvested from heat naturally stored/produced underground

According to this CleanTechnica.com article Search engine giant Google is investing $10.25 million into Enhanced Geothermal Systems, a promising new energy technology. A very interesting fact to quote is:
"According to an MIT report on EGS, only 2% of the heat beneath the continental US between 3 and 10 kilometers (depths we can reach with current technology) is more than 2,500 the annual energy use of the United States."


Link of the Day: Bioplastics Beneficial in More Ways than One According to Study

According to this Discover article bioplastics made from renewable resources such as corn are beneficial to our atmosphere due to the lower amount of carbon dioxide produced during the fermentation process required to make plastics.


Before You Buy that Book

Oh my, this post highlights a habit I have...its almost an addiction...to books. Now, I walk past a book liquidators booth at the CNE and I can't help but rifle through every volume and find at least 5 books I want to buy but I have to stop myself and think about the implications of just mindless book buying. For example, 24 books are made from one tree, one tree less to absorb the carbon dioxide in our air. It doesn't make sense to buy a book you aren't going to look at for more than a couple weeks. So here are some questions you should ask yourself before you buy that book!

1. How long will it take me to read this book? Can I read it within two weeks?
If you are a fast reader (like me) you can absorb a book within a week...maybe a night! If you are a fast reader you definitely don't need to buy a book that you will read in a night and not refer to again.

2. Is this book multipurpose?
If this book talks about multiple subjects you will use it as a reference for, then this book will be useful to purchase, but if not, you may want to borrow it from the library instead.

3. Can I find it at the local library/school library/company library?

Self-explanatory, if you can borrow it, why buy it?

4. How many times will I want to refer to this book again in a year? In my lifetime?
With this question you ask yourself how "useful" the book will be to you in your library at home. If it will provide a bit of information but only serve to insulate your walls for the years to come, you might as well not bother buying it.

5. Will I donate this book after I read it?
You could donate the book you buy to charity and share a wealth of information as well as help a good cause.

6. Is this book a necessary purchase?
Sometimes if the purchase isn't necessary its pretty obvious whether or not you should buy it. If its more of a "want" than a "need" you should lean towards finding a more eco-friendly way of fulfilling that need.

7. Is this book made from post-consumer recycled paper?
If you're buying the book, you might as well make sure it is as eco-friendly as possible.

8. Have I checked the freecycle postings of my local area for this book yet?
Perhaps someone has this book up for pickup, free of charge in your neighbourhood.

9. Can I buy this second-hand at a used-book store or second-hand shop?
If you must have it, buying it used means one less tree was chopped down to make it!

10. Do I need this book right now or do I have time to search for a used copy?
If you would like the book but not immediately it would be fun to hunt down a used copy in the musty stacks of a used book store. Almost like finding a treasure of your own!

11. Can I borrow this book from a friend?
If a friend recommended the book to you, ask if you can borrow their copy. Take good care of it!

12. Can I find this information on the Internet?

Several books can be found online for free at websites like Project Gutenberg. An ebook could also be available


Useful Widget

This widget is pretty neat, I especially like the Steven Wright quote that pops up. Remember to pledge and see who else in your area (or where else in your area) other people are trying to reduce their carbon footprint!

Good news!

Great news for me and hopefully more readers (and comments). I have recently been listed on the website: http://www.bestgreenblogs.com

My blog is under:

I have also been listed at http://www.blogcatalog.com

My blog is under here: http://www.blogcatalog.com/blogs/green-me-up-scotty.html

More posts coming soon...stay tuned!


From Four Wheel to Two Wheel...Some Things You Should Know!

Considering biking rather than driving? Good for you! But here are some things you really should know before you invest in a bike.

- Go to several local bike shops for opinions on bikes as well as research online reviews to find a bike that suits your needs
- Save your money! Or that is...see if your bicycle purchase is exempt from retail sales tax, according to this website Ontarians that purchase bicycles and their related safety equipment before December 31, 2010 will not pay retail sales tax
- Local bike shops are knowledgeable about bike routes in your area and can help you plan your daily commute

Protect Yourself:
- Take a course on bike riding, not only to learn how to ride in busy areas but to learn the proper hand signals and biking ettiquette/laws
- Invest in safety equipment and wear a helmet
- Make sure your bicycle has a bell and learn traffic signals

Protecting Your Investment:
- Register your bike here
- Maintain your bike, make sure you take care of your mode of transportation
- Use two different locks to discourage thieves, most only carry one tool to work with one type of lock
- Make sure you research your locks and be prepared to use at least 10% of the cost of your bike towards these locks
- Lock up both wheels of the bike as well as the frame of the bike if possible, you don't want your bike disappearing in pieces
- Lock up your bike to a sturdy object that cannot be tampered with
- Don't leave any space between your lock and your bike, the less space a thief has for leverage to use a tool with, the better
- Talk to your insurance broker to see if it would be a good idea to insure your bicycle under your home insurance, it can cost as little as a couple dollars a month

4-Day Work Week? Telecommuting? How is your company dealing with the increasing gas prices?

With increasing gas prices employees and employers are both scrambling to figure out how to make up for the extra $100 a month gas is costing the average commuter. This New York Times article explains some creative ways employers in the US are taking on the problem.

Many are also sacrificing space and comfort for proximity to their places of employment to offset transportation costs. To those who live in cities with dedicated bicycle lanes (Toronto is...sort of one of those) it is highly encouraged that you invest in a bicycle for your own personal health as well as a cheaper form of transportation. Some notes on biking will be posted soon!


Exfoliate? More like suffocate!

Fellow readers do you follow a beauty regimen that requires that you exfoliate? Do you do so using a product that has "Poly-Ethylene" listed in its ingredients? Did you know that those little plastic beads in your exfoliating scrub cannot be filtered by municipal water treatment plants and thus, enter our great lakes and oceans, only to clog up the gills of our fish?

STOP! Stop buying exfoliating scrubs unless they use natural exfoliants that will not harm our fish! Write to those companies that do use them and ask that they stop as well. Or make your own natural exfoliating scrubs (I used bath salts on my legs) and save money too!

Tuesday Tips!

Hope everyone had a fantastic Simcoe day! Back to the green blogging for me!

I know I'm guilty of vanity...but I shouldn't hurt the environment with this vice now should I? Onto awesome websites that green up your beauty routine.

Natural Living for Women

Actually the whole site is full of tips for women on living green/organic.

W Network Article: Top 10 Tips - Eco-Friendly Beauty Products
10 absolutely awesome beauty products with packaging that grows into flowers or companies that have raised millions for green charities.

Recycline Online
Eco-friendly products including recyclable razors and toothbrushes.

But its not just a link dropping day...I'll be posting another blog post later on today!


Being Green: For Authors

Now I think this is a rare gem! How many places do you find tell you how to green your book? Not many! Well let me direct you to this link on greening your publishing. There are several ways for you to do so but the most important things you can do is ask for green publishing and push for it!


DEET Free Bug Repellents

I wanted to direct my readers to a very useful review from Grist detailing five different DEET-free bug repellents. Enjoy nature without the bites!

Keeping Positive...some reasons why

I've spoken to some of my friends about consumerism, the environment and our generation. In my sociology class it was really difficult not to get depressed, realizing that our generation (specifically in the developed world) is trained to consume and throwaway what is no longer "useful". Where "useful" can mean the item is trendy and meets the latest fashion requirements, not just if it works and does what you need it to do.

But I got some news for you from the Additupontario.ca website that made me realize that we can still make a difference. We already have made a difference in fact.
- 40 years ago lead pollution was a major problem, now they are only a fraction of the levels they used to be because we reduced lead in gas and removed it from our paint
- 30 years ago acid rain damaged many ecosystems, however after reducing emissions many ecosystems are recovering
- 15 years ago CFCs and other aerosol chemicals were destroying the ozone layer, but they have been banned and the ozone layer is beginning to recover

We have done all this, but we can do more. It's not the end of the world yet, but we have to make sure it doesn't get to that point by acting now. As long as we keep working towards a green sustainable future, we can make a difference!


Tipping Tuesday: Greening Must Tips!

Happy Tuesday y'all! So you wanna know things you must do in order to make your lifestyle more energy efficient and less wasteful? Now you know what I'm pretty sure a lot of these items you are already aware of but I'd like you to personally check off which ones you already do. To be honest, these are very easy things that are not simply suggestions of what to do, but basic rules to living an energy efficient and less wasteful lifestyle. Changing a light bulb won't stop global warming, but if we keep taking more and more steps towards living environmentally-friendly lifestyles we can make a difference!

1. Don't over-AC or overheat your home. Invest in a programmable thermostat that can increase or decrease the temperature in your home while you are away or asleep. Whenever possible, use fans and install ceiling fans in your home to regulate cool air when you are not using your AC. This will conserve energy and save you money!
A good temperature guideline for the summer is nothing below 25 degrees Celsius and likewise a good temperature guideline for the winter is nothing above 20 degrees Celsius.

2. Use reusable grocery bags, paper bags or no bags at all. There is a debate that plastic (the regular kind) is better than paper but the truth is that paper comes from a renewable resource whereas plastic is made from petroleum products which are not renewable (in our lifetime). Ultimately I think reusable canvas/plastic grocery bags are the best.

3. Walk, bike/roller blade, take public transit or carpool whenever possible. If you must drive do not carry unnecessary items in your car to ensure you are being fuel efficient. If you are considering a new home or apartment, look for one that has an environmentally friendly route that is also convenient for you. Close to public transit, bike lanes or pedestrian friendly areas will encourage you to take advantage of these environmentally friendly transportation systems. It'll be easier on our wallet too!

4. Don't trash what can be donated or put into the freecycle system for someone else's use! Checkout freecycle groups in your area to let other people know you have something they may want. If you look you may find something you want as well!

5. Reusable bottles (I like the special Pom ones with their funny shapes!) are great, you don't need to buy a snazzy $10 one if you already have a perfectly good plastic beverage bottle.

6. Give your wet clothes some fresh air! Rather than using your dryer, hang up your clothes. If you can't hang up your clothes, a way to decrease drying time is to put a dry towel in with your wet laundry. Also, make sure you don't overdry your clothes!

7. Control your energy use by using powerbars! Switch off your electronics when not in use and if they are connected to a powerbar, switch that off too.

8. Grow your own garden (it doesn't even have to be in a backyard, it can be a window box inside your home), buy local. Eat less meat, eat in-season and make sure you are eating food that was harvested in sustainable ways. After you finish your meal...compost and help your garden along! Use your green bin if you cannot compost. It's a great way to divert waste from our landfills.

Keep checking my blog for more!


Food for Thought: Think Soy Milk is more Environmentally Friendly than Cow's Milk?

Interesting article alert!

Slate magazine has an article on whether soy milk or cow's milk was more environmentally friendly. The article is well-researched and mentions that the origin of soy beans used in soy milk may not be from sustainable environments which is something many consumers may not be aware of. It also brings up a recent story that Amazonian farmers are destroying their forests to grow soy bean crops. This demonstrates that a consumer must be vigilant about their purchases and not simply skim the surface when it comes to being conscious consumers!

Canadian Environmental Gem of a Community!

Drake Landing Solar Community is located in Okotoks, Alberta, Canada and runs on 800 solar panels! Click here for the article link. What a great read!

Eco-Friendly Habit: Eating One Meatless Meal a Week

Having trouble committing yourself to being a vegetarian? You don't have to convert immediately and completely, but the Earth will thank you for trying out this activity: eat one meat-free meal a week! What's one meal out of 21 (or more) meals a week? A decreased demand for livestock means less livestock will be raised and that means less greenhouse emissions (think...cows and methane).

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2007/09/13/meat-study.html

Support your community and buy local!

So here's the scenario...

You walk into a grocery store and see a fantastic deal for say....tomatoes. You immediately reach for a bag and as you start to check the firmness on a ripe juicy tomato you look at the label on the box. "GROWN IN VENEZUELA" or another country/continent.

Now let's consider the journey of that tomato to your hands. Probably in a box on either in a shipping container or on a truck across thousands of kilometers (doesn't sound very fresh does it?). Think of all that gas polluting the air just to get that tomato to you. Now think of all the thousands of markets these tomatoes are supplied to, and the effect of the shipping pollution magnifies!

In a time when gas prices are rising to record breaking highs, the cost of all non-locally grown produce will increase to make up shipping costs. That or costs for growing will be cut...possibly in ways that will still negatively affect the consumer. Less stringent standards for pesticide use (though that's a whole 'nother can of worms!), cheaper genetically modified crops (which, if sold to the unknowing consumer with severe food sensitivities could spell discomfort if not disaster) and unhygienic growing methods (consider the tomato scare of recent news).

If you buy local, the cost of transportation will still affect the price, but they won't be as pronounced. Rather than over a thousand miles, it'll be over 50 miles...what a difference! Local farmers are regulated by laws you will be aware of, which you have control over, and which are more often than not, more stringent than those of developing country far far away.

It is much more sustainable to buy produce that is grown within 100 km of you, because you technically keep the resources used to grow the produce within your "habitat". Did you know that severe drought is affecting areas in Africa that grow huge crops of flowers to be shipped all around the world and used in bouquets? Flowers use more water than normal crops and by shipping these flowers away, you are taking away even more water from a drought-stricken environment. The same can happen with vegetable crops. Developing countries need those croplands and resources for their own people...not exporting to developed countries looking for cheaper goods. Prices at farmers markets are comparable to prices in grocery stores that do not purchase locally...so long as the crops are in season. I understand that you may desire to eat strawberries in the winter but that is a luxury you don't have to indulge in on behalf of the environment.

When you support your local farmer, you also support the local economy and foster a stronger sense of local community when you can actually talk to those who grew your food. You can also make a family outing of it, and teach your kids the importance of buying local, knowing where the products you consume come from, as well as teach them to be more environmentally aware! There are always things to do at the market!

Here are some links to check out for your local farmers market, but I'm certain you'll find more using your usual search engine!

Ontario Links:

Welcome to "Green me up, Scotty!"

Hello y'all! "Green me up, Scotty!" is a blog I developed for both personal and public use. This is where I will be posting all the neat environmentally friendly ideas and stories I come across in my day to day life. Let's cut a green path through this consumer-driven throwaway world and leave a trail of flowers and sustainability behind us! WOOHOO!