Normally, it would be too early to think about busting out the grill and cooking up some barbeque, but with this years unseasonable warmth the time is already upon us. The normal cook-out procedure involves a stack of charcoal briquettes doused in lighter fluid left to burn until just right. This year, however, it may be time to consider some alternatives. It is estimated that on July 4 alone, 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide is released from charcoal grills. On top of that, charcoal also produces fine charcoal dust, with can get into our lungs and cause respiratory issues and cancer. Charcoal is also one of the top producers of benzene, which when inhaled can cause drowsiness, tremors, fainting, and death. These factors may make you think twice.
But don't worry, there are safer and greener alternatives. Propane and natural gas grills are more efficient and burn cleaner than charcoal. Even better are electric grills. Unfortunately, these grills may leave something to be desired in flavor. First, avoid charcoal made with additives such as coal dust, starch, limestone, or other petroleum products or have been soaked in lighter fluid. Instead, find alternatives such as lump charcoal made from recycled woods with no chemical fillers. More interestingly, there are some charcoals made from coconut shells, which are smokeless and produce little ash. Both of these charcoals can reduce chemical tastes and are easier to use and clean up.
Another big culprit is lighter fluid. Burning traditional lighter fluid produces many dangerous chemicals which can be harmful if inhaled or consumed. You can try using an electric starter to get your coals going, or use a coal chimney which gets coals burning hot quickly with no need for extra chemicals.
By utilizing cleaner burning and healthier alternatives to charcoal briquettes, you'll be able to do your part for the environment while improving your grilling flavors and experience.
Cheap, clean burning fuel alternatives to oil and coal are considered by many to be one of today's most important pursuits. While wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric options do exist, most energy providers believe them to be too expensive in their current state. The push towards natural gas become a popular option recently. Natural gas is a fossil fuel like oil or coal, but produces fewer hydrocarbons when burned. Hydrocarbons are the molecules that enter the atmosphere, trapping heat and raising average temperatures around the world. The fewer hydrocarbons, the better.
While natural gas is cleaner than coal, it may not be clean enough. A recent study found that if all coal burning plants were switched to natural gas, the reduction of the average temperature increase would be small, roughly 17 to 25 percent. Compare this to if those plants were switched to near-zero emission resources, the temperature increase would slow by a much larger amount, about 57 to 81 percent. Physicist Nathan Myhrvold states, "you must cut emissions by a dramatic factor" to avoid significant temperature increase.
Where is the harm in moving towards natural gas while searching for something better? Natural gas is better than coal, but are the benefits worth the time and money required. If more money is put towards fossil fuels, the industry will grow as will its political influence. Meanwhile, renewable resources remain slow to grow.
But whatever resource we use, as climate researcher Ken Caldeira states, "conservation and efficiency are essential. It's clear that the problem becomes much more difficult if you're using energy wastefully."
Water may very well be the most important resource on the planet. It is also the one which people seem least interested in preserving. It's renewable nature leads many to believe it will never run out, but sources of fresh clean water are dwindling quickly. Take a look at some statistics on water usage worldwide.
2.5 gallons: The amount of water per person much of the world is allocated.
400 gallons: The amount of water per person used by the average American citizen; 30 percent of this is used for outdoor purposes, such as watering the lawn.
70 percent: The amount of worldwide water use that is allocated to farming; most of these farming irrigation systems operate at only 40 percent efficiency.
263: The number of rivers that either cross or demarcate international political boundaries, in addition to countless aquifers. Major conflicts such as Darfur have been connected to water shortages, and lack of access to clean water.
1430: Gallons of water per capita in the United States; only 100 gallons of that is household use per person as most is used for agriculture.
88 percent: Of deaths from diarrhea are caused from unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation; this translates to more than 1.5 million of the 1.9 million children under five who perish from diarrhea each year. This amounts to 18% of all under-five deaths and means that more than 4,000 children are dying every day as a result of diarrheal diseases.
$11.3 billion: The amount of money required to provide basic levels of service for drinking and waste water in Africa and Asia.
$35 billion: the amount of money spent on bottled water in the most developed countries in the world.
1.5 million: Barrels of crude oil used for making PET water bottles, globally. This is enough oil to fuel 100,000 American cars for a year.
2.7 tons: The amount of plastic used to bottle water. 86 percent become garbage or litter.
Those are some staggering numbers comparing how much water we have, how much we need, and how much we actually use. Once we understand how simple but important it is to conserve water and reduce waste, we can start taking steps to do so. Stay tuned for some tips on how we reduce consumption and keep our water clean.
It's that time of year for students to get excited for Spring Break. For many, not only does this mean a break from school, but also a much needed vacation. But before you go planning a your trip, take a minute to consider some green options and alternatives to the classic spring break adventure. Whether traveling with friends or family, these ideas can turn any trip into a green escape!
Take a "Staycation". Transportation is often the biggest culprit when it comes to carbon emissions on spring break. Avoid cars and airplanes and the high prices that accompany them and visit sites nearby that you haven't explored yet.
Carpool, pack light, or bike. If the lures of exotic locations are too much for you, you can still reduce the impact of your travel. Packing light reduces weight and also the amount of fuel needed for transport. Likewise, carpooling keeps more cars off the road. You can also consider renting a hybrid vehicle. To really reduce gas usage, take your bike. Thousands of people travel the world by bicycle every year. It's a great way to take in all the sights and get more healthy.
Find green lodging. Many hotels these days are taking initiative to reduce their environmental impact. Take some time to search for a green hotel where you are planning to stay.
Eat locally. Avoid the fast food restaurants and chains. Many of these restaurants source their food in from large corporate farms. By eating at smaller, authentic restaurants you'll get a taste of local cuisine, help farmers in the area, and cut down on transportation emissions.
Go alternative. Many people these days are skipping the relaxing tropical vacation and instead choosing to lend a hand to small communities. These trips are often organized by colleges or service groups and involve planting trees, cleanings parks, building and fixing schools and houses, as well as other worthwhile green endeavors. This can be done locally, out of state, or even out of the county.
Whatever your plans are for spring break, there is always a way to make them more environmentally friendly. Give yourself and the Earth a break by following these tips.
The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, it is another gorgeous Monday, fit for another great show at the Crystal Corner tonight.
Through locking ourselves in the barn on Irish Lane, tossing some ideas around, as well as a few choice beverages to...
Hey everybody, we were thrown for a loop by the twist this week, but were able to make one of our "oldie but a goldie" songs fit the mold.
We have a few songs that we have played consistently over the years, and we are very happy that we will be...
We just received word of what this weeks twist is, and...oh boy. We need to take our "signature song" and cut it to only 2:30 without going over. Amberstein does not simply play 2:30 versions of our songs...so this could be interesting.
In 1984, Rockwell rose to number 2 for 3 weeks in 1984 with "Somebody's Watching Me." The backup singer for the song was Michael Jackson. How did Rockwell get Jackson to help him? Well, Rockwell's real name is Kennedy William Gordy and he...
Have you heard the song "Rumble and Sway" yet on Triple M?
The singer sounds like a raspy blues dude who's definitely been around the block a few times....but surprisingly, Jamie N. Commons is only 23 years old!
He was born in England, but...
Last week, I decided I would try one new, healthy food a week, and asked my facebook friends to make some suggestions.
The first thing I tried was mango. I'm sure I've had other mango flavored things, and mango as part of something else, but...
There's only one thing that might be worse than the Neil Diamond/Barbra Streisand duet "You Don't Bring Me Flowers." And that's Jonathan Suttin doing his best crooning...doing both parts. Most unpleasant.
A lot of people liked this song...
Hail From: Boston
Song: 'The Wheel'
Album: Diamonds From The Penny Arcade
Sounds Like: Hole, Pearl Jam
In Their Words: "Alchemilla had been trying to write a ballad for a little while but it wasn't happening. There...