Should the Tar Sands Oil Flow?

keystone pipeline protestors

If you are a parent or a grandparent, if you have not taken a stand in opposition to the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline, what in the world are you thinking? You have an obligation to your children, and to your grandchildren to leave them a planet on which they will be able to live. We all owe that to those who will need, just as we needed, a planet that is as livable as we’ve enjoyed.

I often ponder the question, “Why would a parent sock away money for their child’s, or, their children’s education?

Most parents would say, “Because I want my children to have an opportunity to get a good job, with the hope of making a good living.”

I ask you, the parent, to consider this question, “What kind of life, or, better yet, what kind of living can our children possibly have when the livability of our planet may be so dire and so horribly depleted that no amount of money will make a difference in how an occupant of planet Earth will live?

In my view of where the quality of life on Earth will be going in the next 10 to 100 years, here’s my analysis of what we will most likely experience, unless we promptly and seriously, curtail our consumption of Fossil fuels:

We must quickly, and dramatically reduce our dependence on crude oil. The damage we are causing in the extraction, production, refining and transmission processes, are so completely and quickly destroying forests, grasslands, soils, freshwater and saltwater ecosystems — as well as the quality of air we need to breathe — that are all so vitally important to the health of our planet and ultimately to human health. The quality of air we need to breathe is continuing to deteriorate. As well, the ability of humans to enjoy safe and nutritious foods depends on the continued health of all ecosystems. When our major ecosystems fail, we will ultimately fail.

We must promptly and significantly reduce our dependence on coal. The decimation and destruction we are causing in extraction processes such as mountaintop mining (mountaintop removal) in West Virginia, are so thoroughly and violently destroying forests, streams and rivers, healthy and productive soils, the freshwater and saltwater ecosystems that are all being dramatically, and negatively altered, and that are so vitally important to the health of our planet and ultimately to human health. The continued burning of coal is so heavily burdening our lungs’ ability to support our need for clean, breathable air.

We must rapidly and substantially reduce our dependence on natural gas. The damage being caused in the extraction, transmission, and production processes are so thoroughly and devastatingly altering the forests, grasslands, productive soils, the freshwater ecosystems and drinking water aquifers that are all so critically important to the health of our planet and to human health and existence. The continued poisoning of our groundwater, our aquifers, and surface waters is so completely in violation of any reasonable manner of behavior expected of a caring and humane society. As with crude oil and coal — both forms of fossilized carbon — the emissions inherent in the extraction of, and processing of natural gas, are wreaking tremendous harm on human health and our ability to breathe the quality of air we need to sustain a healthy existence.

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The detrimental and harmful effects on humans and all species due to the continued accumulation of and increase in the amount of greenhouse gases, particularly CO2, are wreaking damage that is fast approaching a level of destruction from which we may not be able to recover. The climate change occurring may not be reversible. The degradation of the quality of our air may be beyond the point of having breathable air in another 30 years. The damage being caused to marine ecosystems may be ultimately cemented when the majority of our last living coral reefs disappear into extinction in another fifteen years. As climates shift beyond natural history’s well-preserved record, we will continue witnessing record numbers of species struggle to find food as they return to birthing and feeding grounds that are increasingly out-of-sync with those species’ long-established genetic memory. As we lose each fellow species, we are that much closer to our final demise.

We can turn this around, and, we must do so now. Not later. We must not push this into 2015, and beyond. Today we must begin reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

We must be the ones who determine what our world, our only planet, will look like and what it will provide us and our children. We cannot leave that decision to those who are driven only by money and greed.

We must invest in renewable energy technologies such as solar photovoltaics on our rooftops. Both the roof on our home and the roof on our place of work. Every major metropolitan area of the US has a residential solar PV lease or purchase plan available to all electricity users. Tax credits are available from the Feds, and local utility providers offer rebates. A typical home of 2000sf can produce between 4kW and 8kW of power for an investment of less than $8000. In many cases, that will power much of our needs. Wind generated power is a bit trickier, and still doable. Electric vehicles are real, they’re here, and they’re reliably getting upwards of 150 miles per charge, with charging and supercharging stations abundantly available in metropolitan areas and along most major interstate highway systems — many charging stations are less than 100 miles apart.
If you’ve not yet changed your residential lighting to LEDs, do so. LED lighting can use as little as 1/10th the wattage of incandescent, with no degradation in light quality or brightness.

If you really want to invest in your kids future, be proactive. Get up and make a difference.
Be the change that you seek in the world. In your children’s world.

Everything we humans do…

  • Growing our food
  • Bringing water into our homes and businesses
  • Protecting our self and family with shelter
  • Breathing for life-giving breath

These all require energy, currently, mostly fossil fuel energy, to be available to us for our survival.

Growing our food requires diesel, gas, and oil to till, plant and harvest with combustion-engine powered farming equipment.

Water could not exit our faucets without fossil fuels to power the plant that produces the electricity to run the water utility plant, pump the water through the supply system, to enter our homes and our places of work. If we draw water from a well, it must be pumped, most likely powered by fossil fuel generated electricity.

Our homes are built with power supplied by the utilities which are using coal, or, to a lesser extent, natural gas, and to an even lesser extent, wind or solar. Most homes on the US grid are powered by coal-fired power.

The quality of the air we so vitally need for life is critically dependent on what’s being emitted by our power generating, industrial and transportation processes and systems. At this time, we’re poorly managing the quality of air we need long-term for quality of life.

All of the above systems can be, and ultimately, must be powered by renewable energy sources, not fossil fuels. You can be proactive in making that transition now, sooner than later. Please do your part in making that happen.

Call your local power utility provider and ask to sign up for their wind-generated power option, or their solar power option. If they don’t have those options available, click here to find a power provider who does provide wind-generated power.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming tomorrow.

 

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Recycling Ink and Toner Cartridges

images_recycle3What do you do with your empty ink and toner cartridges?

Tossing them into the trash seems like the easiest way to dispose of the unnecessary cartridges, in fact, 60 – 80 percent of empty ink and toner cartridges used in laser printers, fax machines, and copiers end up in our landfills. In North America alone, 300 million cartridges end up in landfills each year!

Out of the 300 million cartridges thrown away we could circle the earth over 3 times. Not to mention that inkjet cartridges discarded in landfills leak into our soil, waterways and hard wild life. Especially carbon black toner, it has been classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

001It’s very easy to recycle your empty cartridges; whenever you  need to go to your local office supply store just remember to take your empty cartridges, some stores have recycling bins at the front of the store if you’re in a hurry and just need to drop them off. Dolphin Blue also offers an Inkjet & Toner Cartridge Recycling Program; we have free pre-paid shipping labels accepting all brands of empty printer cartridges, used cell phones and printer fusers.

So what’s the importance of recycling your cartridge?

Well you might not see the importance directly but the change will be there. A laser cartridge can take up to 450 years to decompose while others can take up to 1,000 years, that’s crazy! By recycling just one of your empty ink cartridges you’ll keep about 2 pounds of waste out of landfills.

Recycling cartridges helps us conserve our natural resources such as timber, water, oil/petroleum and minerals since we reduce the need to use raw materials. More than 3 quarts of oil is consumed to produce each new laser cartridge and for manufacturing a new inkjet cartridge, roughly about 3 ounces of oil is used. We can save an estimated of over 11 million gallons of oil by recycling our cartridges.

You’ll also help save energy and decrease greenhouse gases emissions that contribute to climate change.

Remember we can all help sustain our environment, not just for our own well being but for our kids and future generations to come.

 

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Can Post-Consumer Recycled Products Save the Songbirds?

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Many terms get thrown around in the field of sustainability, with some carrying more weight than others. Amid all the terminology floating about, “post-consumer recycled” is truly one worth knowing — and understanding.

In simple terms, post-consumer recycled (PCR) refers to the portion of reused material that might be part of a product’s total material composition. It’s the recycled portion of a product that’s derived from material collected by the consumer after the product from which the recovered material came was used for its intended purpose.

That’s a rather dry explanation, though — what it can even more succinctly be defined as is the key to saving life on earth as we know it. From the songbirds above our heads that croon a tune to the snails below our feet that inch along, the world’s creatures are relying on us to conserve resources.

Creating a Future

The percentage of PCR material used in the manufacturing of a new product generally determines the level of environmental responsibility awarded a product (or the manufacturer of the product) by consumers, a third-party certification organization, the manufacturing industry, or any of the numerous environmental groups that grant awards for the level of environmental responsibility of a product or process. The higher the percentage, the more eco-friendly the product.

All PCR content has a past — and, fortunately, a better future than what it could have been destined for. Instead of being hauled to a landfill in a socioeconomically depressed area (that’s where landfills are always located, after all) where it would burden the ground with yet more trash, it skips the waste stream. Instead of being burned in a waste-to-energy facility, where it would likely produce adverse effects on human health, such as noxious emissions, it escapes being released into the air in the form of something toxic.

Instead, it finds new life as everything from children’s toys to facial tissues — which is much more productive than being buried or burned, I’d say.

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How Does It Work?

Let’s say you buy a gallon of milk and drink it. You place the empty plastic jug (#2 HDPE, otherwise known as high-density polyethylene) into the blue bin. The jug gets picked up and returned to a recycling center. It goes from there, with thousands of other jugs, to a plastics processor that supplies post-consumer recycled plastic stock to manufacturers. The bales of #2 HDPE plastic, including your empty jug — along with all your neighbors’ empty jugs — re-enters the economic marketplace as feedstock to make a perfectly new, safe, nontoxic, and environmentally responsible children’s toy. How’s that for teamwork with the family down the street? And you didn’t even have to call a neighborhood meeting to do it.

Here’s another example: This time, you buy a ream of paper and use it to make copies of garage sale flyers, while your partner prints a presentation for work and your kids create artwork masterpieces destined for the gallery of your kitchen fridge. Once the papers are no longer needed, you place them into a recycling bin. The paper gets picked up and returned to a recycling center. It goes from there, with millions of other sheets of previously printed paper, to a paper processor that supplies post-consumer recycled paper stock to paper products manufacturers. The bales of paper, including your paper — again, along with all your neighbors’ contributions — re-enters the economic marketplace as feedstock to make perfectly new, safe, nontoxic, and environmentally responsible copy and printer paper (and yes, it’s just as nice-looking as the non-recycled stuff — I bet you can’t even tell the difference).

confused-personPre vs. Post

PCR sounds pretty great, right? And it is. Keep in mind, though, that the process only works when consumers both recycle everything they can, and then buy the products with PCR content. If you reward manufacturers who institute earth-friendly practices, your loyalty — and your dollars — say a lot.

However, it can be confusing at times when you’re staring at products on the shelf and trying to decide which one is best. Pre-consumer recycled products are also labeled recycled, although it’s not quite the same thing. These products incorporate manufacturer waste, like the leftover scraps and by-products that never made it to market for whatever reason, as opposed to items that did find their way into the hands of consumers and went through the recycling process. Anything recycled is better than anything not recycled, mind you, but post-consumer recycled beats out pre-consumer recycled in positive earth impact — so look a little closer at labels to be sure that’s what you’re getting whenever possible.

There’s Much at Stake

Recycling saves massive amounts of energy, conserves huge volumes of water, eliminates the use of chemicals, and saves precious natural resources, like trees, air, and water. As I mentioned before, though, recycling isn’t enough — you have to go that extra step and purchase the recycled products to really make a difference.

We’re a very interconnected population of creatures who, without each other, cannot continue to exist. As we destroy our forests, we destroy the homes of beautiful songbirds. When the songbirds die off, we see an increase in the number of insects. Songbirds eat insects, and without songbirds, we’ll only use man’s way of dealing with insects — bringing out chemicals that are toxic to us and many other creatures. We then see a rise in the occurrence of disease, cancers, and numerous other health disorders.

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As we preserve our natural world by reducing, reusing, and buying products made from recycled materials, we allow the planet to regenerate itself. With 7 billion of us now inhabiting the earth, and that number projected to expand to 9-plus billion in the next 50 years, we’re over-burdening this world’s capacity to renew itself. We’re endangering the opportunity to live a bountiful and thriving existence — for us, for the songbirds, for everything else.

Buying PCR content products is only one small action we can all take, yet it is one big step in the right direction.

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Mother’s Day Fun Facts

Mothers_Day-1024x768With Mother’s Day being this Sunday, we wanted to give you some fun and interesting facts about Mother’s Day.

  • 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day!
  • About 85% of adult men and women celebrate Mother’s Day
  • Mother’s Day is always on the second Sunday in May.
  • Mother’s Day is the second most popular holiday for gift-giving, Christmas is the first.
  • In the vast majority of the world’s languages, the word for “mother” begins with the letter M.
  • Ancient Egyptians believed that ‘Bast’ was the mother of all cats on Earth, and that cats were sacred animals.
  • In the U.S., there are about 82.5 million mothers.
  • Mother’s Day is widely reported as the peak day for the year for long distance telephone calls.
  • Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for many restaurants.
  • In the Bible, Eve is credited with being the ‘Mother of All the Living.’

Not only should you give lots of love to your mom this Mother’s Day but give some love to our Mother Earth as well!

Check out the cool infographic SheKnows made when they asked moms for their little secrets and compiled “The 7 Secrets of Mom’s Heart,” (for moms and the kids that love them). 

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Meet Our Adopted Dolphin Tilly!

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Photo Credit: Dolphin Communication Project

We are happy to introduce to you all our newest member, Tilly!

She was first seen in 2006 in Bimini, The Bahamas, were she was un-officially added to the photo identification Dolphin Communication Project catalog based on a linear scar above her left pectoral fin and a notch in her tail.

Photo Credit to Dolphin Communication Project

Photo Credit to Dolphin Communication Project

Being spotted again in 2007, 2008 and 2009 she was officially added to the Dolphin Communication Project Catalog when she began to develop her first spots. Joanne Birchall named her Tilly in honor of her beautiful dog who sadly died in 2009.

When Tilly was younger she survived a shark attack and although her injuries have healed very well she is now missing a bulk of her dorsal fin. It’s okay though! She seems to be doing just fine without it!

She is an energetic juvenile dolphin often seen playing, swimming and leaping clear out of the water with other juvenile dolphins and young adult dolphins.

We will be updating everyone on Tilly from now on, giving you some facts and pictures about Tilly and her adventures!

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What is a Carbon Footprint?

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Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds we produce as individuals, groups, etc., due to consumption of fossil fuels. The greater your carbon footprint is the more affect you have on our planet.

Carbon dioxide is released when we burn carbon based fuels such as:

  • Petrol and diesel- from our cars
  • Gas, oil and coal- from our homes and power plants
  • Jet fuel- from airplanes

How long is Carbon dioxides lifetime?

Carbon dioxide is not destroyed over time, instead it moves amount different parts of the ocean, atmosphere and land system. Some excess carbon dioxide will be absorbed by the ocean surface but some will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years because the process by which carbon is transferred to ocean sediments is very slow.

Watch this 2 minute video explaining carbon footprint.

Why is it important to be aware of your carbon footprint?

We all indirectly and directly impact our environment. A direct impact can be your day-to-day transportation and use of electricity in your home. While an indirect impact can be how far did the fruit you bought at the grocery store travel before it was consumed.

It’s great to know just how much a simple choice in your daily life can impact our planet. The more you know the more you can grow.

How can we reduce our personal carbon footprint?

  • Opt for riding your bike or walking when possible
  • Reduce the amount of trash you use
  • Recycle anything that can be recycled
  • Use renewable energy sources
  • Conserve electricity and heating
  • Use energy efficient appliances, Energy Star appliances
  • Conserve water; shorter showers!
  • Buy locally made products
  • Vacation closer to home
  • Proper insulation for your home
  • Plant trees!

Carbon Footprint Calculators

The Nature Conservancy’s -estimates how many tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases your choices create each year.

EPA Waste Reduction Model (WARM)- helps solid waste planners and organizations track and voluntarily report greenhouse gas emissions reductions and energy savings from several different waste management practices.

EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator-This calculator may be useful in communicating your greenhouse gas reduction strategy, reduction targets, or other initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

My Footprint-estimates the amount of land and ocean area required to sustain your consumption patterns and absorb your wastes on an annual basis.

Paper Calculator- premier tool for measuring the environmental impacts of paper and discovering the best paper choices

 

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