Solar powered plane completes cross-country flight


Solar Powered Plane Sets Off on US Coast to Coast Trip by tvnportal

A solar powered plane has completed an historic flight across the United States, landing at JFK airport in New York. Events and milestones like this are critical for alternative fuel development, as people can see real progress.

It will be fascinating to see how solar technology can be incorporated into aviation to possibly save jet fuel, or at the very least power many internal and backup power needs.

One Simple Thing: Reconsider Your Toilet

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If we are going to make it as a society, we are going to have to make some tough, potentially gross decisions. One of those decisions centers around the toilet. A standard toilet in the average American household uses five gallons of water per flush and is flushed four times per day per person; that comes out to an average of 30 thousand gallons of water per year for a family of four.

If you want to reduce the water used by your toilet, you have four options.

Option 1: Get a low flow toilet.
Total potential water savings: 18, 500 gallons per year

There are a variety of low flow toilets on the market, and they way better than you think. Sure, some of them may have flushing problems for bigger “loads,” but with a little research, you can find the right one for you. Additionally, many of these models use different amounts of water for solid and liquid waste.

Option 2: Try to flush half as often.
Total potential water savings: 15,000 gallons per year
Total savings if combined with a low flow toilet: 20,000 gallons per year

If you have a standard toilet you would be saving around 15,000 gallons. With a low flow toilet, you would save around 5,000 additional gallons per year.

Option 3: Flush only for solid waste:
Total potential water savings: 22,800 gallons per year
Total potential water savings with a low flow toilet: 27,700 gallons per year
If you want to save even more water, you can try to only flush your toilet for solid waste. Sure, things may get a little grosser, but if you close your toilet seat every time, things shouldn’t get too bad.

Option 4: Compost that crap!
Total potential water savings: 30,000 gallons per year (Everything!)

If you want to almost completely eliminate the water that passes through your toilet each year, you could consider a composting toilet. With a composting toilet you take what normally passes through your toilet and simply bury it, or even use it to fertilize your flowers. Contrary to what you may think, composting toilets can be rater sophisticated and do not smell if properly maintained (as with any toilet). However, it is entirely understandable if you don’t want to go quite that far. However, if you are interested in this option, you could check it out here .

However you choose to save water, just be sure it works for you. Good luck!

One Simple Way: Turn Off the Lights!

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If you are reading this blog, chances are pretty good you are concerned with the environment. Unfortunately, many of us don’t do as much as we can as far as conservation goes. Most typically, this is because we either don’t know what we could do, or we think measures are overly difficult or expensive. These inhibitions are not completely unfounded. Installing solar panels can be quite expensive, and gray water systems can be quite an ordeal. There are a plethora of simple changes that we each can make that are simple, inexpensive, and can positively impact the environment. This is the first of a series of articles that provide you with such solutions.

Today’s topic is reducing or eliminating unneeded lighting. In less sophisticated circles, this is known as ‘turning off the freaking lights when you leave the room.” I know I may sound like your parents when you were a kid, but I am going to put you on the spot. Are there any unneeded lights on in your house right now? If you are anything like me, the answer is probably yes. However, if you have more than just a few lights on, don’t feel too bad. Energy use is often overlooked because, unlike physical waste, it does not sit around our house until we take it out. In the United States, approximately 50 percent of electricity is produced by coal-fired power plants. These plants emit sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, and heavy metals (including mercury).

Turning off unneeded lights is simple and free. In fact, it is better than free; it can save you money. It is simply a matter of changing habits. While the exact level of energy conservation depends on the type of bulbs you are currently using, your region, and the size of your dwelling, it is a reliable rule that if you are not using a light, you should turn it off.

If the environmental benefits are not enough to entice you, energy conservation through lighting can be a very frugal option. A very nice breakdown can be found here. Using natural lighting may also have health benefits. Many people find transitioning to natural light from artificial calming. This calming effect may be caused by renewed exposure to full spectrum lighting, which is very difficult to recreate via artificial light sources.

Helpful Tips

The hardest thing about turning off lights is breaking bad habits. Here are a few tips to help you change your behavior and save money.
*Try putting reminders next to switches or room exits/doors.
*Try going without artificial light during the day. You will be surprised how much energy you waste simply because you are in the habit of turning on switches when you enter certain rooms.
*At night, consider using task lighting instead of lighting the whole room. For example, if you are writing, use a desk lamp instead of lighting your entire office.
*If you have outdoor lighting, consider putting it on a timer or switching to solar powered lamps.

I hope you found these suggestions helpful. Check out the site next week for your next Simple Way to be a little more green.

Fish Endanger Great Lakes

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To those unfamiliar with lake ecology, a fish does not seem like the kind of thing that could endanger the Great Lakes; however, Asian Carp are doing just that. The set of species known collectively as Asian Carp were brought to North America in the 1970s for aquacultural and sewage treatment purposes. As with many such experiments, the introduction did not go according to plan. Since introduction, Asian Carp have spread the entire length of the Mississippi River, to a number of its tributaries, and now threaten to take hold in the Great Lakes. In 2007, the species were declared invasive by the United States Department of the Interior and are now being monitored by other United States and Canadian agencies.

The two primary aspects that make Asian Carp so dangerous to their non-native ecosystems are their mobility and diet. The Asian Carp’s ability to leap out of the water give them a distinct advantage when it comes to expanding territory. This ability allows them to not only leap over natural barriers, but also man-made ones. In 2010, Asian Carp penetrated an underwater electric fence that was put in place to keep them from spreading from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. They have also injured recreational boaters as flying fish collide with passengers on fast boats.

Without their appetite, the spread of these fish would not be of such great concern. Asian carp are veracious eaters, and their food of choice are the plankton that are at the base of the food chain. Asian Carp can grow to be 80 to 100 pounds and consume 40 percent of their body weight each day. This, in turn, is harmful to less aggressive native species, namely smaller fish and the young of larger fish.

Luckily, biologist report that most invasive species fail to take hold. We may be at an advantage against the Asian Carp since they have been detected before establishing a reproducing population. While not completely successful, the electric barrier between the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan has contributed significantly to their containment. Those who enjoy fishing are being encouraged to focus their efforts on Asian Carp. The fish are reported to have a good taste and produce a substantial amount of meat. Food and Water Watch, which as traditionally been very critical of the fishing industry, also backs focusing on the Asian Carp as a food source.

More information on this issue is available through the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee

Legal issues and shale gas boom

The shale gas boom and fracking revolution are having a significant impact on the economies of states like Ohio. Some environmentalists are also seeing the positive side despite the drinking water controversy as natural gas burns much cleaner that coal.

But many legal issues remain and loom on the horizon.

Ohio’s anticipated energy boom from hydraulic fracturing of shale deposits has oil and gas companies, investors and property owners scrambling for a piece of the action.

On the way to digging up the expected treasure, though, are legal sand traps that could slow or even stop production. They go well beyond the basic issue of who owns the buried oil and gas rights, disputes hashed out in courts since the start of the Utica shale rush in 2010.

Emerging battles concern possible threats to endangered species, Clean Air Act violations and claims that oil and gas drilling in Ohio is abnormally dangerous.

The Utica shale layer, centered in Ohio but stretching from Quebec to Tennessee, has been touted as holding hydrocarbons worth tens of billions of dollars — maybe $500 billion worth, if you believe the prediction of Aubrey McClendon, chief executive of Chesapeake Energy Corp., the top driller in Ohio.

The Ohio Shale Coalition estimates that almost 2,000 fracking wells will be drilled in the state by the end of 2014.
Recent fracking-law discussions at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and the McDonald Hopkins law firm in Cleveland, as well as interviews with energy-sector attorneys, suggest a boom of another sort — in legal questions that riddle the shale play.

Stay tuned as this issue develops.

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