The Chinese Strive to Clean Up Their Act

How big is your footprint?

How big is your footprint?

It was a couple of decades ago that global climate change became a major topic, glowing red with heat as soon as it entered the area. With political and economic undertones playing a hand in whatever argument supports it’s representative’s own convenience bias, if climate change was believed by many to be nothing short of a myth, and by many others, a serious threat. Today, it can be said with certainty that global climate change is indeed a force at work in our ecosystem, yet detractors and apathetic still remain. Easily stereotyped and oblivious to reality, those who shove environmental efforts by the wayside typically make one of three arguments to support their assertions.

The primary argument of course is that climate change doesn’t exist. A pretty convenient argument, but not one that’s grounded in proof, and quite the contrary, one that’s trumped by contradicting evidence. All the same, plenty of powerful people continue to subscribe to this belief.

The plan B for environmental apathetics is an exaggerated concern for the economy. Although sound economic theory would argue that the market will adapt to the consumers need in any situation, arguments fraught with scare tactics continue to pervade discussion surrounding global climate change and what we should do about it.

The beauty is nothing is irreversible...yet! We can still turn our world around!

The beauty is nothing is irreversible…yet! We can still turn our world around!

The final line of defense is the argument that there’s no point in making such an effort if other contributors to global warming, namely China, don’t take action themselves. A valid argument, and a textbook example of the bystander effect.

But finally, China has announced it’s intentions to reduce carbon emissions. The language is vague, and China’s proposals don’t suggest enough of a reduction to make the difference environmentalists would hope for. On top, China has it’s own detractors of global climate change, and face imminent heat from a sizable portion of the population. But all others things aside, we can finally invalidate the third argument of apathetics here at home, because finally, the largest contributor to global warming is making efforts to clean up their act.

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Top DIY Christmas Wreathes

Candy Cane Christmas Wreath

Candy Cane WreathCandy Canes encapsulate Christmas Cheer. What better than to bring two of Christmas’ most prominent symbols together in one package. Take the joy that candy canes bring, and bind them together in a great big ring; or more precisely: a holiday wreathe.

Option 1: Get a foam circle, get a hot glue gun, and glue on mini candy canes in a sort of collage.

Option 2: Get a sqaure plane of cheese cloth the size you imagine your wreathe to be. Next take your candy canes, and arrange them in a circle which looks pleasing to you. To secure the canes, poke a hole in the cloth, and tie them on using a bread tie or a decorative ribbon. See the picture as a reference.

DIY Clothes Pin Wreath

Clothespin Wreath, DIY Christmas DecorationsAnother impressive way to break out of the box with new decoration ideas is to look through household objects, and see how you can fit them together. An additional benefit to this design, is that you can display Christmas cards from friends out in the open, hanging from your wreathe.

Clothes pin (50-100 pack), Wire hanger, Red beads, Paint, Red ribbon.

Paint the clothes pins green. Get a wire hanger, unravel it into a circle. Alternate putting clothespins on the wire with the red beads. When you are finished and have filled up all the space, add a ribbon to pull the wreath together at the top. Tie the ribbon into a bow, and hang from your place of choice.

Now hang Christmas cards from the clothes pins!

Snowman Wreathe

Three sized wreathes. Our recommendation is 20 inch wreath, a 24 inch wreath, and a 30 inch wreath.

When you have them all together, tie the wreathes together with the smallest wreath on top, and the largest on the bottom. Now you have a series of wreathes in the shape of a snowman, ready to be decorated by children and adults alike.

Snowman Wreath, DIY Christmas Decorations

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Update of Fracking and the Supposed Energy Bridge

One of the main arguments for fracking, where shale is “washed” and natural gas is recovered, is that it will eventually reduce the carbon emission output of the energy creation industry. The idea is that because natural gas burns so much cleaner than coal, the most widely used fuel for energy creation today, it will act as a bridge between fossil fuel based energy production and the even cleaner, greener, nuclear power and natural power (including solar, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric). The clean burning natural gas, which is becoming plentiful thanks to the fracking techniques debuted in the last 5 years, will lower emissions by up to half from coal and then the other power sources can step in and lower it even further in the future.

A tower built for fracking stands well above the tree line in rural Pennsylvania.

A tower built for fracking stands well above the tree line in rural Pennsylvania.

This seems like a great idea on the surface, but when it is explored, as researchers recently did in the scholarly journal Nature, it falls to pieces. It is true that natural gas burns cleanly but it’s effect on the energy production industry will almost certainly be negative. The reasons why are myriad but can be reduced to one, the ever increasing supply of shale natural gas and the ease of and opportunity for collecting more.

Because it is so cheap to and because there are so many places on the planet that are untapped, the supply of shale natural gas is skyrocketing. This propels the price for the gas down and that is where the problems begin. A lower price point means it will be adopted by many energy producers in the industry and those producers will be able to sell energy at very affordable rates. The competition for the energy market will increase and the natural, renewable sources of energy production will be pushed out of the market.

As one of the researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory that published the study, Haewon McJeon, puts it, “[New] technology could double or triple the global natural gas production by 2050. But greenhouse gas emissions would continue to grow in the absence of climate policies that promote lower carbon energy sources.” So, unless governments step in and subsidize renewable energy sources to make them more affordable than the natural gas alternative, most consumers will choose the cheaper option. The lower price will also allow for more frivolous use of energy (it’s cheap so why not use it?) leading to more energy production and higher carbon emissions.

The energy “bridge” will be built by the frackers and their shale natural gas, yes, but it would seemingly go on forever, never reaching the other side where renewable energy waits. And, in the long run, that will do more damage to our environment than sticking with coal and moving more quickly to renewable sources.

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Inside Out Design

During the summer, it is too hot to want to do much of anything outdoors, which is the perfect time to make your home look beautiful inside. You could take up project like creating a mosaic tile backsplash for your kitchen, or just move some furniture around to get a brand new feel in your home. But, now, as the summer months slip lazily into fall, you can take advantage of any outdoor space that you might have overlooked during the summer.

Outdoor arrangements like this are possible with modern materials.

Outdoor arrangements like this are possible with modern materials.

A lot of people love to grill in the summer and it is a great time to do it! The trouble is, do you really want to eat a hot meal outside when it is 100 degrees and sunny? You don’t have that same trouble when you are in the fall. Grilling in the fall gives you the best of all worlds, it is still warm enough to comfortably be outside but not so hot that you are begging to turn away from the flames. The question is, is your patio or deck or other outdoor space ready for outdoor dining, entertaining, and just general relaxing? Here are a few thing to think about as you get whatever space you have prepared for an autumnal adventure.

Interior design used to be restricted to the interior. This was because many materials simply could not stand up to unpleasant weather. So, unless you were willing to drag your patterned sofa and stained glass installation inside every evening and back out every morning, you just stuck with rod iron furniture or heavily weather-proofed wood. But now, thanks to innovations in fabrics and other materials, many items that used to be indoor only can be taken outside without a care for their wellbeing. This means that you can have the same ultra-modern looking glass coffee table outdoors that you have in your living room. So, shop around for pieces you love and then search for an outdoor friendly version.

Another tip is to spend a little extra on your outdoor furniture. Because it is exposed to the elements, outdoor furniture shows its true value much more quickly than the same quality piece would inside. Fraying, staining, rotting, and even breaking will occur faster outdoors if the piece is not of sufficient quality. Sure, it will be a little more upfront, but it will be worth it as a good piece of outdoor furniture can last for 25 years or more!

Light up the grill, put some logs in the fire pit and relax in your new-found living room outside! The fall is the perfect time for it and nothing is stopping you now from doing it in style!

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UN Climate Summit Promises Change

On the surface, it may seem like the UN Climate Summit, put together by the current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, did not accomplish a thing. There were no sweeping decisions made, no laws were enacted, no treaties signed. There was not even an official agreement to speak of. But, despite that, the summit left a lot of people in the environmental policy world feeling optimistic about the future of our planet.

Climate change was officially shown to be on the minds of world leaders at the UN Summit.

Climate change was officially shown to be on the minds of world leaders at the UN Summit.

The summit was not much more than 120 world leaders making speeches. One after another, leaders from countries both large and small made four minute speeches about climate change. That was it. There was not even any discussion (until later sessions) allowed. Just one speech followed by the next until all 120 leaders had spoken. Big names like President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli attended the conference and spoke. In many ways, what they had to say was the most interesting and the most influential.

President Obama urged China, currently the world’s greatest producer of greenhouse gas and home to many of the top ten cities with the worst air quality in the world, to show leadership and take a firm stand on policies that would slow the production of greenhouse gases in their nation. Zhang, who has been notoriously slow to step up to the plate on these issues, made a clear statement that China would have data released about, and a date set for, their peak emissions. This is interesting and important because once they have reached their peak, the production will begin to slow. It is impossible to expect China to just suddenly decrease their emissions by 50% or even 10%, it is going to be a process. But, from the looks of it, this process has begun.

In later sessions, business leaders also answered the call to protect the environment. Many big banks and other financial firms pledged to support green, low-carbon investment opportunities to the tune of 200 billion dollars in the coming year. That means that anyone looking to get a share of that huge amount of money will have to follow strict green guidlines throughout their processes. Financial incentives always motivate change and if these institutions live up to their words, and they should, there are 200 billion reasons to start making businesses green.

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Carlex Glass Co. Expanding

Guardian Industries Corp. has agreed to the terms set out by Central Glass Co. and ownership of two of Guardian’s subsidiaries, Guardian Automative Products Inc. and Guardian Automotive-E S.A. will transfer soon. This is good news for Carlex Glass Co., itself a subsidiary of Central Glass Co. Carlex will inherit the companies that are being acquired by Central Glass Co. and will be in charge of operations at the two sites.

Interestingly enough, Guardian Automative Products Inc. is located in Michigan and Guardian Automotive-E S.A. is located in Luxembourg so, their respective glass manufacturing plants can be found in Indiana and Luxembourg. This international spread is something that attracted Central Glass Co. and Carlex Glass Co. to the deal. They were interested in expanding their global presence and this acquisition gave them just such an opportunity. Members of the leadership at Carlex implied that the access to new customer bases and improved efficiency for shipping were two factors that made the deal enticing.

The factory floor at the new plants might look something like this.

The factory floor at the new plants might look something like this.

In addition to the perks added by the locations of the acquired facilities, the new plants will allow Carlex Glass Co. to produce a more diverse group of products for aftermarket distribution and for a range of large automotive manufacturers as well. Both sides are looking forward to a smooth and efficient transition of ownership and control. The president of Guardian Automotive, Mike Morrison, said, “Carlex’s agreement to purchase Guardian’s OEM business, coupled with its previous purchase of Zeledyne’s auto glass manufacturing facility in Nashville and aftermarket distribution center in Lebanon, Tenn., is strong evidence of its commitment to the automotive glass business in both OEM and aftermarket. Our people will be joining an established brand with a long-term focus on the automotive glass business.” Clearly the two companies are joining on good terms and do not expect any serious problems.

That is, assuming the regulatory approvals and traditional closing conditions are met. That is not anticipated to be an issue but it is worth noting that the deal has not officially be approved.

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PCB Degrading Bacteria Found

PCBs are one of the most dangerous chemicals man has ever created and, to make matters worse, they are almost impossible to destroy. PCB is short for polychlorinated biphenyls, a compound made of chlorine and biphenyl that was used as coolant fluid in many electrical products in the past. Thankfully, we have improved our electrical equipment and, after seeing the negative effects they had on people and the environment, no longer use these terrible compounds to help run everyday appliances. This is a huge positive step for man and the environment. The only trouble is, what happens with the PCBs that we already released?

PCBs like the one shown in the diagram above are nearly invincible pollutants.

PCBs like the one shown in the diagram above are nearly invincible pollutants.

The answer is, these PCBs, thanks to their incredibly hearty nature, continue to pollute streams, rivers, bays and wetlands across the globe. They have been proven, in a variety of studies, to cause cancer and a range of other harmful effects in animals. Human trials are obviously more difficult to undertake but based on studies of humans exposed there is evidence that PCBs cause similar if not identical problems for us. For many years, despite knowledge of the dangers of these chemicals, nothing could be done besides scooping massive quantities of water and dirt from the bottom of a body of water and dumping the contaminated detritus in a landfill. This was inefficient and did damage to the environment in its own ways. But finally, an answer might be coming!

Scientists at the National University of Singapore have found three strains of bacteria (all belonging to a genus known as Dehalococcoides) which can eat away at PCBs and render them more inert. The engineers and scientists found these bacteria but did not stop there, they also went on to innovate ways of nurturing and collecting these bacteria on a grand scale so they could be used effectively to degrade the PCBs in a particular body of water.

It will still be a time before these new bacteria are optimized and made ready to help depollute areas affected by PCBs but it is a comfort to know that one day, we might be able to undo the damage we have done to the environment.

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