Party Foul!

Oh boy! The econ department is having a party. This is a big deal because it is so infrequent and unexpected. I suppose it is because students are too busy to socialize given the battery of exams they must pass each semester, not to mention all the research papers. I expect it to be a blowout as a result. We have been cramming for weeks with many of us practically clued to the carrels in the library. As an environmentalist on the side, I have to squeeze this interest in between books on Keynes and Milton Friedman. I can’t attend the lectures and events I would like and must stick to the Internet to read what’s happening. I want to participate in local groups, but attendance is rare.

Meanwhile, let me tell you about the party. It was well attended and everyone had a great time. Everything went smoothly as we ate, drank, and talked about the years ahead. All of a sudden, I became the center of attention. Let me explain. I didn’t know this would happen, but somehow when I try new things, I can muddle it up. This time it was the trampoline. The host of the party had a rather large one in the backyard almost hidden by a chain link fence. It was open on one side so I assumed that jumping about was okay for the guests. I had used a trampoline before and know a few tricks—nothing fancy. I didn’t even have an audience while I executed a few twists, somersaults, tuck jumps, and seat landings. A few straddles and pikes even surprised me. I guess it is muscle memory that takes over.

I was getting very carried away and not just because I had just guzzled a few beers. I was jumping for joy and in the zone. A few students wandered over and wanted a turn, but then the trampoline attachments broke. Yikes. Was I too heavy for this device? Maybe it was just for kids. I couldn’t figure out how to repair it so I ran to get the host. He immediately set it right and told me not to feel bad. I was the right weight and height, but the trampoline had gotten a bit old. The connecting straps had to be replaced. He was grateful that I wasn’t hurt. I considered it a party foul and was mortified. “No,” he said. “Look here at this height and weight chart on Trampoline Choice. It clearly shows that you are in the correct range. I would have mentioned it when I first saw you approach the gate.”

I was relieved to hear this. Frankly, I had forgotten that there were set limits depending upon the trampoline size and fabrication materials. The host said that home versions should last almost as long as those at the gym because they are not use4d as much. He said that I didn’t need to apologizer and now that it was fixed, he encouraged me to take another jump. Just to be agreeable, I obliged him.

Be More Energy Conscious

Climate change is a reality that is having a significant economic impact. I am tired of all the sceptics out there who continue to waste energy thinking that the problem will somehow miraculously remedy itself. They are the ones who bury their heads in the sand because it is too painful to do otherwise and come face to face with a real world crisis in the making. They can’t imagine how using aerosol sprays creates holes in the ozone layer or why we should keep our AC units at high temperatures in the summer and low ones in the winter. In other words, we aren’t supposed to run them at all. They never recycle and scoff at those who do. Energy conscious are foreign words. They don’t buy recycled anything.

I hope they are reading along with the rest of you today. I have a few words to say about how much our modern appliances use in the way of energy and why science should dedicate itself less to better cell phones that can replace a laptop and more to machines and gadgets that run efficiently. I know we have marvelous electric cars, but it takes hours to charge them. There is much to work on although we have made a good start. Energy Star appliances are a case in point.

I am ranting and raving in this blog because I just attended a party at a neighbor’s house and noticed an energy sapping enormous kegerator housed on his ample patio. “Oh, it’s the best in the business,” my naïve neighbor exclaimed. “It is state of the art with three faucets so I can draw several kinds of homemade beer. What is your pleasure?”

I get it. He loves brew and likes to share his prize with others. On beautiful summer nights, we gather in his vast yard for a barbecue and swim party, the best way I know to save energy when cooking food. That’s not why he does it. It is the American way. The kegerator is just an extension of the same mindset and I have to admit that his special lager goes well with grilled chicken. So I have mixed feelings about the kegerator and bemoan its energy usage just as I am drinking a huge stein of ale. I also swim in his heated pool (talk about waste) as I contemplate the state of the world and the conservation of resources.

I don’t say a word, but when he offers to help me select the best outdoor kegerator of my own, I politely refuse. It would be rude to put down the very thing that he admires. It has helped expand his social circle and is the source of many new beer-chugging friends. Who doesn’t like a person who loves to entertain and is so generous at heart? Why can’t we just buy some beer at the liquor store and chill it in the cooler? I know it is antiquated, but it works!

What an Amazing Trip!

As an econ student and self-titled environmentalist, I attend conferences of interest from time to time to help me disseminate promote new information to the public that will change minds. The more facts you know, the more you will be convinced that climate change is indeed a reality not to ignore. It is time to find some real solutions. Recently, I went on a quick trip to the beautiful state of Alaska to study the business model of some eco-tourism companies. I admire what they are doing in combining travel and recreation with environmental education. There might be something here for me I thought. It may be peripheral to my main concerns, but I felt there would be some opportunity to expand my knowledge.

During one of the conference sessions, I met a very interesting person, a professed gold miner who took the time to give me some tips about prospecting in Alaska. He stood out in the crowd and drew me in immediately. I loved his enthusiasm for his work, and I had to take a selfie to share on Facebook. One of the companies represented had hired him as an expert to talk about opportunities for tourists to enjoy gold prospecting in the region at certain times of the year. He’d even written about it at  It seemed that the focus of the meeting was on this innovative plan. They explained the concept so well that I wanted to sign up on the spot. What would such prospecting be like?

First, I had to know where to go and if there would be a guide. Would the tour include a panning kit or a gold sluice? I had just learned about these prospecting supplies. These were mentioned by the miner in the course of our discussions. No, I would not be wielding a heavy pick. That was strictly old school. Whew! He proceeded to give me a bit of local history.

Prospectors discovered the precious metal in 1848 on the Kenai peninsula. It happened to be a Russian mining engineer. The rush soon began when word got out. After the U.S. purchased the territory (“Seward’s Folly”), before which many miners had already left in disappointment, gold was also found southeast of Juneau opening up new areas to explore. Major lode veins were near Windham and Sumdum Bays around 1880. The story goes on, but in the end, I can say that there are numerous gold localities remaining to this day, enough to please avid tourists. Resources on locations come from the U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Investigations in Alaska.

This was enough to tell me that the gold excursions would be viable. While visitors would flood into the state for fun and profit, the geologists would continue their ecological studies. This is the kind of news I like to hear. I hope gold fever keeps the Alaskan economy pumping along. It has always enjoyed an ample share of tourism, and this new prospecting idea will give it a definite boost.

Thoughtful Purchasing

A lot of affluent people “pooh pooh” concerns about environmental dangers. They have other more materialistic issues on their mind. They write supporters off as bleeding heart liberals or anarchists. They certainly don’t read any of the literature on the subject. They call it rhetoric. Well, I am here to say that there are many of us who do care. We stay abreast of the facts and try to spread the word. We try to live our lives in an ecologically-friendly way. Thus, we don’t just give lip service to being green. Where do you stand? Do you sort your trash for recycling? Do you try to reuse anything you can? Do you think about dumping toxic waste and loading landfills with non-biodegradable items?

I want to put my money where my mouth is so to speak. For example, I need a new workbench for my woodworking projects, and I want to consider the sustainable of the wood used in the design. In short, I want the smallest environmental footprint. I do my research and find and read everything I can find on the topic, so I can find out the truth. I call this thoughtful purchasing and I encourage readers to follow suit. If the wood is rare, why not make another selection. If low-paid labor is used in the fabrication, reject it at all costs. No exploitation need be acceptable whether in the manufacturing or the materials. I am saying wood over and over because I don’t think a metal workbench is the way to go. In a few years, it will end up rusting and then go to the junk yard taking up space forever. I know you can clean up old metal objects, but will you? Or anyone else? It is a consideration. I know price is always a factor, but for me my decision will be based on environmental impact.

Workbenches are a must for those of us who like to ply their peripheral trade at home. I need one to execute all kinds of woodworking projects. I could buy a used one, but I am spoiled and have particular needs. The newer models are more compact and easily accommodate all your tools. But I am going to be careful what I purchase. I will read the label and detect where the item comes from and what kind of wood is used. Surely, there is something acceptable on all fronts. It is a bit of a dilemma.

I opted for a wood workbench as opposed to metal. I just like the look and feel of the traditional lumber. It goes with the whole idea of making hand-made things at home. Metal surfaces are fine in a factory as they get a lot of wear and tear. I don’t have to worry about how long my workbench will last. I only use one from time to time; so, it is going to be around for a lifetime. I am not going to harbor any guilt about this.

Construction Improvements

If you are adamant about always considering the well-being of the environment, there are many parameters to consider. You can get into being green in your daily life by using only biodegradable products. You can recycle your trash and help rescue the over-saturated landfills. You can ride a bike to work or simply walk and take some pressure off gas usage. You can vote for the right ordinances and elected officials who represent your point of view. You can make sure that sustainability and climate change issues are always on the table in your house. You can educate your kids about the subject and propel the citizens of tomorrow to take action. It is never too late to get started. It is a scary, almost dire, situation. Most people are just going to let the planet go to pot.

Being careful about waste disposal even extends to the metal filings left over from welding. So I assume that it is universally accepted that plasma cutters (where no such debris exists) are better than traditional cutting and welding methods. Most people have heard a bit about TIG, MIG, stick, and arc welding. I went online and looked up plasma cutter reviews. A typical unit is hand held and has a build-in compressor. The new ones for average use are rather light weight. If it is for a construction worker, it may be heavier and more complex. An automated mechanized system may be preferred. The big benefit for both models is the lack of shavings that have to be dispensed with. We forget about this and its importance given the vast number of buildings that are erected today around the world—many highrises. It adds up to tons of metal cast-off material that has to be safely housed.

As this is a rather new concern for me, I went to the local welders union to ask about various practices and what they felt was safest and most environmentally friendly. The plasma cutter got the most votes. It turns out that the members had been discussing the issue in that it has garnered a bit of new-found publicity on Twitter. I was delighted to see that it is now exposed. People do care after all. It gives me great hope for the future of humankind. Not enough people are taking action, but it is starting to happen a little bit at a time.

The union rep tells me that using a plasma cutter instead of a TIG or MIG welder, for example, doesn’t sacrifice productivity and good results. There is no sacrifice in making the switch. You can work with a variety of cuts and materials as you like. Thickness seldom matters. It is all about cutting speed and the plasma device has this in spades. They are made for the demands of modern construction life. For the home user, the plasma cutter comes in an easy-to-operate system.

Slowly but surely the world is jumping on the eco bandwagon. For this, I cheer and shout. My little blog does its part in its own way to keep the issues alive and kicking.

Making an Eco-Friendly Choice

Climate change is no joke. Crisis is approaching in certain areas. The ozone layer is thinning, the Amazon forests are on the wane, the ice caps are melting, fresh water is sparse in some continents, and sustainability is the watchword of the day. As an econ student and environmentalist, I have my ear to the ground. I want to know who attends the international conferences, and what leaders want a role in making a difference. Is this a fly-by-night fad or will we finally come to see the light. Each and every one of us can do our part to make eco-friendly choices. I don’t care if it simply recycling your trash in the back alley, keeping appliances as long as you can (to avoid stacking old ones in an over-stocked landfill). We are such a consumer society and forget that it takes valuable and expensive energy to produce new things. I am sure if you are reading this kind of blog, you have other points for the followers to ponder. And I don’t mean not using paper bags to tote groceries home from the market.

I know that there is a hard core group that wants to protect the environment and monitor climate change in order to head off the inevitable destruction of resources. I don’t want to be there when it happens. Have you ever seen pictures of that tiny, shriveled, dry corn that Native Americans had to eat in a drought? It will scare you to death. I know there are watchdog organizations out there communicating with our government administration. It is not rhetoric. Let’s not wait fifty years and face harsh reality that there is nothing left but desiccated corn.

Let’s recycle, repurpose, sustain, and avoid waste right now today. I have an example for you. I need a new hot water heater. It is a perfect case of the necessity of choosing the most energy-efficient unit. I wouldn’t dream of resurrecting some old tank model that stores gallons of stagnant water. I don’t care if it is on sale. In researching the pros and cons, I find on this web site that the electric tankless water heater is designed to give a household just the amount it needs for average use. It’s a forced way of conservation. By average, I mean that people can stop taking half-hour steaming hot showers every day. Limit yourself to a reasonable amount. Twitter suggests that should be no more than 4 minutes. There is no difference if you are in the gym.

Your energy bills will make you very happy when you see the positive change. The savings, more than 40% of bills for old tank appliances, will pay any additional cost for a new device. Even if your current hot water heater, with the old-style gas pilot, works pretty well, consider replacement as an act of environmental concern. You can choose from many sizes, styles, and prices, and even custom design something ideal for your space. You might even have some room left over for storage shelves.

Weather Changes Brought on by Climate Change

Indicators of climate change are increased weather events. We’re seeing this in the form of changing weather patterns throughout the world. Temperatures are increasing throughout the world showing an increase in averages with extreme weather events happening with a greater frequency. Extreme storms, record flooding, and droughts are taking their toll on the earth and on the economic resources of the regions being affected.

Key temperature change observances

The past three decades have generated statistics that confirm changing weather patterns. The United States of America have recorded eight of the top ten hottest years beginning in 1998. Regions most profoundly affected include Alaska, Northern and Western states. Statistics show that there is less cooling during the overnight periods than in previous decades. More records reflecting heat increases are common than extreme record lows.

Changing weather pattern effects on precipitation

Precipitation levels have also been affected. Portions of the Southwest receive notably less precipitation in recent years. Areas in the Eastern and Southern portion of the country are more consistently receiving heavy precipitation with intense single day events dumping record rainfall leading to massive flooding. NOAA has noted that the annual precipitation totals in key regions are abnormally high. They also noted that tropical cyclone activity in the Caribbean, Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico has increased in the past 20 years. While the actual number of hurricanes has not gone up, the intensity has. This is believed to be a direct result of the warming of ocean surface water temperatures.

Drought is also an issue that has been steadily increasing. While some areas are inundated with floodwaters, other regions experience abnormally dry weather that has resulted in drought conditions. This leads to distressed farming conditions and has a negative impact on the national economy, driving the price of agricultural products higher.

Final thoughts

Our reckless behaviors have lead to an imbalance in the delicate ecosystem of the planet and are largely responsible for the changes in weather patterns that we’re currently experiencing. We’re setting new records in devastating weather events. The economy is suffering because of the lack of responsibility for preserving the environment on a global level. Efforts to turn this around are currently being made as world leaders recognize the significance of our actions. Not everyone is taking the topic of climate change seriously and some believe that it is little more than a fabricated hoax for capitalist gain. It’s difficult to explain under any other rationale why we’re seeing the weather phenomenon and environmental changes that are happening now. If this isn’t proof that the climate is shifting, I wonder what it will take to convince the non-believers of the reality that climate change is underway.

Not in my Backyard: Why People Only Believe in Alternative Energy in Theory

The debate over renewable energy continues with heated discussions about whether these options are really in our best interest or not. The Not in My Backyard concern deals with the impacts that solar and wind power operations have on nearby residents. There are pros and cons that are associated with each type of renewable energy resource and the opponents are taking their concerns to the courts.

Belief in the need for alternative energy versus desire to take action.

Although there are some citizens and companies who believe that it is time to get serious about moving towards renewable energy sources, there are those who will agree that there are benefits, but they are not willing to make any sacrifices at this time. Wind farms change the landscape and there are quite a few property owners who are not happy with the change in visual aesthetics or the noise that is sometimes generated. Although solar power generation is quiet, the reflective solar panels perched on rooftops can make a neighborhood appear quite differently and everyone does not welcome these changes. These are concerns that can hold up the implementation of renewable energy farms for years in a court of law.

The future of renewable energy resources.

Legislation is still moving towards establishing more renewable energy sources and this will continue to advance and make progress. The timing of needed changes is unknown. It can take years for issues of this magnitude to be taken seriously and acted upon. The business sector is no different than the private in this regard. Having the knowledge that there is a problem doesn’t mean that everyone who agrees will make an effort. Personal interest, comfort, and competition are the drivers that are slowing the move towards cleaner energy and when the economic advantage is on the table, the gloves come off on both sides of the argument.

One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

Although much progress has been made in at least raising awareness and creating more clean and renewable energy resources, each positive stride is met with resistance from one faction or the other. Corporations that continue to pour pollution into the air, auto manufacturers who falsify carbon emission testing results and green companies who promote products under deceptive advertisements are not making contributions towards the solution to the crisis. If anything, they’re making the problem worse. When it appears that forward progress is being made, we’re actually moving backward.

Final thoughts

While the picture appears to be quite grim, there is still hope. The pathway to economic growth is dependent on many variables and it’s looking like slowing the progression towards climate change is a necessary component. Perhaps the upcoming UN talks on climate change will include a reference to the new data and its implications. Every contribution made may seem small, but each does make a difference and the cumulative effort of true conservationists is definitely needed. Support of green legislation and lobbying for change in monitoring and accountability has proven to be of some effect and must continue.

Demand for “Green” Products on the Rise

It is encouraging to see that there is an increase in the demand for green products. This is a strong indicator that people are starting to see with their own eyes, the damage that has taken place and also have an interest in turning the situation around. These consumers realize that the talk about climate change is a lot more than just talk; it is a reality that we are living in right here and now. The proof is all around us and those who have opened their eyes are doing what they can to become a part of the overall solution.

Is the Business World Really on Board With Climate Change?

Before we become too excited about the swing towards green products, it’s important to look at the drivers behind it. Whether businesses believe that climate change is a reality or not, they are following trends which will increase their revenues and offer them tax incentives. The EPA is taking a lead in environmental preservation, aided by the FTC which is in full support of enforcing eco friendly changes. This is after all, a capitalist society and big business is obligated to comply with the green initiatives that have been passed in order to reduce their carbon footprints. This doesn’t mean that they are in agreement about climate change at all. It means that they can profit from the changes that they are required to make.

Wise Investment Strategies

Corporations who invest in green practices can advertise their eco friendly approaches and sell more green products to consumers and they’re coming out well by doing so. But what makes us so certain that all of the companies claiming compliance are making great strides in conservation? There are companies that use the greenwash approach and actively use deceptive advertising to promote green products that have not actually been verified as being what they represent them as. Deceptive terms are being bandied about including carbon neutral, sustainable and compostable but most consumers have no idea what these claims really mean when it comes to the environment.

More Work Needs To Be Done

The FTC has been working on guides for consumers to help them understand the claims made by marketers. These Green Guides are filled with useful information but it doesn’t mean that there is absolute truth in advertising. The hope is that with the recent crackdowns and revisions in Green Initiatives that a broader enforcement of the regulations and requirements will be observed. As it stands, we’re making some very good strides towards the goal but it still doesn’t come close to where we need to be to make a real and lasting positive impact on the environmental ills that are the major contributors to climate change.

Environmental Guilt: How Solar Panel Companies Turn Neighborhoods into Solar Farms

Solar panel companies may be onto a green resource with the capacity to improve the environment, but is their marketing approach doing more good or harm to the cause? While environmental guilt may be effective for some people, it creates hostility in others. We’ve seen an increase in homes which sport the latest solar panels from the roof tops, often in consecutive rows in some neighborhoods. While there may be more people in the community who do believe that solar energy is a good thing, they aren’t thrilled with the way that the panel positioning is changing the landscape.

The Upside of the Situation

An increase in solar energy means that there are fewer households that are dependent upon electrical utility companies. They are using a far cleaner and renewable resource for their power supply. The fact that neighborhoods are showing rows of telltale signs means that something positive is happening in this arena. The Solar Power companies are making a go of it and consumers are paying less for electricity.

The Downside of the Economic Battle

Although solar power is becoming more popular, contractors are having problems marketing it. Residential markets are behind in sales because of the lack of sales training that they have been given. They aren’t prepared to close the sale so potential customers are lost in droves. This isn’t even the tip of the iceberg of the issues coming down the road for solar energy companies. We see powerful utility companies taking an adversarial stance and defensive actions to stop the spread of solar powered homes.

Hawaii As An Example

When the statistics showed that one in ten homes on the island of Oahu were solar powered, the Hawaiian Electric Company decided it was time for an intervention. They began refusing to approve new solar power systems, claiming that they are unreliable and unsafe. Their further assertions implied that the high number of homemade solar power systems had saturated the power grid and the potential for voltage spikes and circuit malfunction was greatly increased creating the possibility of a power blackout. They further offered that any necessary upgrades to accommodate increased solar power usage could result in a cost of thousands of dollars. This seemed to place a hold on new solar installations and the effect has spread nationwide.

The Downside of Solar Power Companies

The predictions for catastrophe have not happened in Hawaii and there is no effort being made to complete a study that began at the time the Electrical utility went into panic mode. Consumers who have already committed to transitioning to solar power have no recourse and are simply out for the money that they’ve already spent. The situation looks grim for solar power in this region. The grid is equipped for one-way power flow and although some installations are approved, the flow has slowed significantly.

The Edison Electric Institute has also joined in the anti-solar power campaign. They report that solar energy power is a way for homeowners to avoid paying their fair share of the expenses for maintaining the power grid and that they are killing revenues while increasing the risk of electricity service disruptions. Utility companies nationwide are fighting against the advance of solar power.

The Economic Reality of Solar Energy

Solar energy is competing with utility companies and taking a good share of their profitable revenues away from them. Decreased electricity bills are so attractive to consumers that many have chosen to make their own solar power by purchasing the components and setting them up. The fight is just beginning and we’ll have to see where it goes, but for now, this clean and sustainable energy resource is under fire.

The Real Costs of Climate Change

We’ve seen the impacts of climate change on the earth and in communities ravaged by intense weather events. Hurricanes, heavy precipitation, excessive heat and strong winds. The economic damage is evident when neighborhoods must be rebuilt and the country is charged with rebuilding damaged roadways and other public venues, but this isn’t the extent of the cost of climate change. It extends beyond the billions of dollars spent in rescue, emergency aid and rebuilding efforts.

The impact of temperature increases

Stanford and UC Berkeley analysts have composed a study that looks backward through fifty years of history to assess how rising temperatures affect the economy. The study took into account one hundred and sixty-six countries across the globe. The studies show that countries with a consistent temperature average of fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit were the most productive. Those with cooler averages there is a notable increase in productivity but higher average temperatures reflect a consistent decrease in economic productivity. Each degree correlates to a significant drop in performance.

What this holds for the future with climate change

This data suggests that further average temperature increases could cause a worsening of the economic conditions for countries that are the most susceptible. Established wealthy nations from naturally cooler climates are not as likely to see much change in their economic status based on these findings, but regions in the Americas and South African countries could see further economic decline. More research into the topic is needed to fully understand the dynamics in play, but the figures are consistent on a global level so it is assumed that there are correlations between climate and productivity. These findings add an incentive to find ways to reduce carbon emissions in all sectors of society. From private citizens to large corporations, greater environmental responsibility is needed to slow the forward progression of the changes in our atmosphere. There is a lot at state and the U.N. climate talks are on the horizon.

The cost of climate change and its equivalent

Yes, there is a tremendous cost associated with climate change, but it is more catastrophic that the cost of inaction is at the root of the problem. Societies continue doing business as usual without taking the needed steps to lessen the carbon footprints that they are leaving behind them. From all indications, it is the indifference to the issue that is the overriding issue at this time.