Ways Your Family Can Stop Climate Change


Turn on the news or the radio, or open up an internet browser, and you will be overrun with news about climate change and the disastrous effects that human activity is producing on the environment. We have all enjoyed the music of the Live Earth concerts as the artists strove to spread the message of climate change and how we all can reduce our carbon footprints on the world. By now, everyone realizes that the choices we make every day will have lasting impacts on generations to come. We can admire at Al Gore as he warns about climate change and tells us about how he is installing solar panels on his house or marvel at George Clooney as he speeds by in his Prius; but, what can the average, middle income American family reasonably do to reduce its carbon intake and help our environment?

A 5 person family will be squished in a subcompact car, and besides, that family is probably not done paying for its minivan… A mom with kids would love to buy a more efficient washer and dryer, but she cannot afford to buy a new set, and besides, the one she has is perfectly capable… An environmentally-conscious dad wishes he could install solar panels on his house, but gasps at the costs for such an endeavor (and besides, he lives in an area with inadequate sunlight for solar panels!)… What is the average family to do? Following are some simple suggestions for lowering your family’s pollutants that are fairly easy to institute, yet can substantially reduce your environmental impact.

Turn your thermostat down (or up) one degree

If you do not honestly think that your family can completely turn your air conditioner (or heater) completely off, try a minor adjustment. As our summers get hotter and hotter, you may be tempted to turn the air down more and more… Take a step back and realize that it is the pollutants that come from appliances-such as the air conditioner-that are changing our climate. So, turn that air up (or the heater down), and dress accordingly. In the summer, wear lightweight clothing as much as possible, and take the blankets off of the bed. Have salads and fruit for meals so that you do not heat your home up with your oven. In the winter, layer up-both yourself and your beds. Your family will eventually adjust to not having your home constantly at the most ideal comfort level. Remind everyone that it was only about 2 generations ago that no home had air conditioners and heaters…

Change your light bulbs to fluorescent

This is probably one of the easiest things you can do to begin to make your home more environmentally-friendly. However, fluorescent bulbs can be a bit costly, so you may have to slowly save up to purchase them; perhaps by buying them a few at a time instead of for your entire home at once. While these bulbs have a higher initial cost, they will last you several years, so you save money in the long run.

Stop using paper plates and napkins

For working parents, paper plates have become a staple of meals. However, using paper plates and napkins greatly increases your trash contribution, in addition to contributing to the power used to make such conveniences. Invest some money in a good everyday set of plates and cloth napkins and use them for every meal. The minor inconvenience of washing the plates and napkins can become a fun family tradition, especially if everyone helps clean up after the meal.

Find a neighbor and carpool

Save Money and the Environment with Free Moving Boxes+


So, you are getting ready to move and are at that dreaded place where you have to start meticulously wrapping and packing all of your belongings for transport to your new digs. You know you need boxes – lots of boxes – and, if you are like me, you are cringing at the thought of dropping a couple hundred bucks on cardboard. And, also if you are like me, you are already thinking about the environmental impact of buying and then recycling all of those boxes after one use. But, if you can reuse some boxes that are already in circulation, you can save money and help out good old planet Earth at the same time. Recycling requires water, energy and transportation, so the more uses we can get out of items before they are recycled, the better it is for the environment. Not to mention that finding used moving boxes for free will save quite a bit of money, and moving is expensive enough as it is.

The first place to look is Craig’s List. Most major cities and lots of smaller towns around the world have a dedicated section on Craig’s List with classified ads just for that area. Look under the “free” section for moving boxes and packing materials that you can conveniently pick up at no expense to you (except for the gas to drive to the location). The key to getting free moving boxes on Craig’s List is to check early and often and to get to the address right away – moving boxes are a hot commodity on this site and will disappear quickly. Your best bet is to check right around the 1st and 15th of the month when most people are moving.

Doctors, dentists, veterinarians and other healthcare providers regularly receive medical and office supplies in nice, sturdy boxes that are perfect for moving. For the most part, these boxes are going to go right to the recycling bin once they’ve been unpacked, so call or go by your doc’s or vet’s office and ask them if they have any boxes that you can take. It will save them from having to break them down and lug them around and, if you ask them a few weeks before your move, you might even be able to get them to call you whenever they unpack a shipment so you can stop by and pick and the boxes up, then stash them until you are ready to start packing.

If you work in an office, speak to whoever is in charge of office supplies and see if you can take the boxes once they’ve been unpacked. Copy paper boxes are particularly great for moving – they are a great size for stacking and carrying, they are sturdy and they have those convenient lids that make them perfect for moving. Again, if you have a place where you can stash boxes before your move, start collecting boxes early so you will be sure to have plenty when it comes time for your move.

Another great place to find moving boxes is by doing a bit of dumpster diving, and sometimes, if you are lucky, the boxes will just be waiting for you beside the dumpster instead of having to actually jump inside. Check out dumpsters in alleys behind grocery stores, strip malls and apartment complexes and, while you are there, go in the grocery stores and ask someone in the produce department if they have any boxes you can take. Produce boxes are thick and are a convenient size, which makes them great …

Structured Environments


A little construction does wonders for outdoor settings, says Carla Jordan.

You could have a ground-level tree house for grown-ups, for instance.

When it comes to arches, arbors, and pergolas and you’re on a budget give these a try.

I’ve always liked Gazebos, the free-standing roofed structures open on all sides. The newest trend is to house outdoor spas in them, said Jordan.

You could also have a garden house, little homes that imitate their full-grown partners with solid roofs, walls, floor and customized features like copper covers and operable divided-light windows.

Or go with conservatories from the 19th-century Victorian England age, considered the ultimate room with a view.

Although traditionally chosen for cooler regions they are working their way in the other direction and made for warm climates.

“Whether you start with a simple arch or plunk down the bucks for a magnificent conservatory, experts offer the same tip: Buy for the long term,” stated Jordan. “Quality counts.”

To shop and compare without using time or gas go online to find a growing number of these items which are also featured in catalogs to save merchants brick-and-mortar store space.

The Western Red Cedar Lumber Association’s web site, wrcla.org, has information about these kinds of structures including design ideas for arbors, trellises, pergolas, fences, gates, and Gazebos.…

High-Tech Kite Used to Fight Changing Climate


Thousands of merchant ships transport 90% of the world’s oil, gas, coal, grains, and other goods across the high seas and around the globe. With this being said; the burning of fossil fuels to keep the merchant ships going are one of the major contributors to the increase of carbon dioxide levels into the atmosphere and adding to the rapidly changing climates. A German company called SkySails has finally had enough and developed a propulsion kite that will use wind as power and hopefully help to save the planet.

The first of these kites is over 400 feet long and cost $725,000. Flying three hundred meters above the water, it will haul the ship MV Beluga SkySails forward. By using this new high tech kite system, it will cause the ships to maintain use of their diesel engines and cut the use of fuel by at least 20%. Their current theory is the bigger the kite, the bigger the cut of fuel usage.

Skysails’ is looking to prepare over a thousand ships with these kites by 2015, but why wait so long to do that? Climate change is rapidly approaching and we need to act now and we need to act quickly. The maiden voyage of the original SkySails kite will be sometime this month across the Atlantic Ocean with its destination being Venezula. Well, it’s the first month of 2008 and this first voyage will give the developers a chance to find the kinks and bugs and develop a way to repair them, which of course can take time. But, if there are no problems and everything is a go, then why wait seven years to add them to ships? Seven years could be a great deal of help to our climate’s condition.

Even though Skysails’ have a great product that will greatly help our lives, money is still what fuels the world. Within the upcoming years, many companies are threatening that businesses will have to cut their emissions or will have to pay some type of fine or fee. Yes, this high tech kite will save merchant ship companies a lot of money, however when the future of our planet is concerned, I really think money should be thrown out the window.

European researchers have concluded that the emissions of carbon dioxide by shipping are double that of aviation, making their harsh contribution at a global total of 5% and rising. In October 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered shipping companies to order them to lower pollution caused by their ships. Many people never took this seriously and underestimated the actual effects that ships are causing onto our climate, until recently.

Scientists have confirmed that half of all of the carbon dioxide that is man made is absorbed by our oceans. As the absorption of carbon dioxide in our oceans climb, the thriving marine life decline.

In conclusion, with the shipping industry throwing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and oceans by the hundreds of millions of tons, at the rate we are going the number will enter the billions in the next few years and we shouldn’t have to wait until the price is right for shipping companies to start contributing in the safety of our planet, because at the rate we are going there may not be one left.…

Zebras at Wildlife Safari


Ever had a zebra try to chew on the back of your head? Well I have, and let me tell you it was really something. It all started when my family went to Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch during spring break in Texas. This is where you drive through a park in your car, and the animals roam around and most of these animals were abandoned exotic animals that were given up to these reserves. Well, the last time we went the zebras wouldn’t go near any of the cars even though we can feed them.

Well this time it wasn’t the case. In fact they started sticking their heads in the car, which is what you are seeing in the picture. Well right after this picture was taken the zebra knocked the food out of my hand all over the floor of the car. Without thinking I bent over and started to pick up the mess when I started to feel something pull at my hair. I thought it was my daughter because she was right next to me and loved to play with hair. Instead she and everyone else were laughing, and then I realize that something was not right.

I tried to sit up, but something was weighing me down. It was the head of this zebra that was enjoying chewing on my hair so much. After I was able to distract the zebra it started eating out of my hand again until all the food was gone. It then went for my 2-year-old daughter, who quickly jumped in the back seat where the windows were rolled up.

So there we were in the middle of this trail surrounded by zebras, and without any food to give them. They wouldn’t move and made it impossible to drive away as you can see. We had to wait until another car came by for them to notice. Apparently they realized that these cars that had just showed up had food with them, so they quickly ran towards those cars and surrounded them, which let us make a break for it. Only problem was I had a cowlick sticking out of my head the rest of the day.…

Using Eco-Friendly Appliances In Your Home – How Does It Help?


Many countries introduced new laws and programs designed to help individuals and families to save energy, and to live in homes having a smaller carbon print. With the increasing worries about global warming and energy consumption, people are more and more interested about the subject.


The effects of uncontrolled increasing energy consumption might threaten the existence of humankind, especially in large cities and areas of the world that are heavily industrialized. In the past, these matters were of no major concern. Today, the increased rhythm of development imposed new qualitative requests from modern people.

Eco-Friendly houses – houses of the future

A building is considered green if by design, construction materials used, and technologies, reduce energy consumption and the negative impact on the environment. The concept does not apply only to buildings that integrate nature, but it has to be expanded to the old buildings and building concepts as well.

A greenhouse can be one build of eco-friendly materials, but old buildings are just as suited for being renovated to integrate environment-friendly elements. It has many advantages, including the faster building time and the reduced costs with energy consumption on the long term. The main characteristics of these houses are the natural materials that they are built of and the capacity to obtain solar energy for electricity and heating. However, a green house is a lot more than an eco-friendly passive house. Modern eco-friendly houses and appliances like microwaves and ovens are almost intelligent, with efficient insulation and recycling capacities such as a system to reuse rain water.

Even if the materials used to build such homes are sometimes cheaper, the overall costs which include highly skilled labor are higher. However, considering the lower thermal exchange coefficient these houses have with the exterior environment, they will save money on the long term. Plus, the capacity of self-ventilation of these houses makes them a lot more pleasant to live in.

The eco-friendly qualities of a house are measured by its capacity to protect natural resources and to satisfy high demands of its inhabitants in terms of comfort and health:

  • Saves natural resources: energy, water, soil
  • Reduces pollution of water and soil
  • Reduces the production of non-recyclable waste

Building an eco-house

While a common house consumes natural resources and throws waste in the environment, an eco-house protects the environment and it integrates in it perfectly. It means efficient lighting and unconventional building materials used, such as solar panels, heating pumps and wind turbines. However, it also depends on where the house is built. For the eco-houses built in areas where sun shines across the year, it is easier to use solar panels. In countries where sun is sparser, the energy of the wind can be used with the same efficiency.

Energy can also be saved though a smart design of the house and this is why the architecture of these houses is usually unique. The cost of designing the house is sometimes the biggest if you are planning to contract someone to build such a house for you.…

Saving the Environment


Saving the environment shouldn’t be seen as something so phenomenal, because if seen that way, doing it would mean so much resolution and hard work. Saving the environment is simply going back to the basics. It is simply remembering how uncomplicated we used to live, how we never knew fast-food, how we chewed our food slowly and talked over dinner, how we patiently rose from our couch or bed to change the tv channel.

There are several opportunities available to every individual at any time of the day to help save mother earth. These are absolutely not-scary ways that anyone is capable of doing.

First, we should remember to savor each moment. There is no need to rush even if there are a hundred and one deadlines to beat. We think more clearly and more intelligently when not rushed or stressed, hence, walking or biking to work shouldn’t be such a silly idea. We should use the stairs more often and the elevators and escalators only in the event of dire need or extremely weak knees. Motorized vehicles, as well as elevators and escalators that consume too much energy, were invented for faster movement but are not meant to completely substitute human physical exertion.

Second, we should take time to breathe and smell earth in its true form. Thus, we must try to lessen our dependence on climate-controlled rooms. Air-conditioning units use too much electricity and energy. After all, sweating is good for expelling toxins from our body.

Third, we should start remembering the joys of cooking at home and enjoying meals served on a regular dinner table. Hence, we should let go of drive-throughs and of Starbucks coffee while going to or from work. By doing so, we use regular dining utensils rather than styrofoam and plastic utensils that harm the environment.

Fourth, we must begin to relive those days when we used to spend our weekends and holidays in the park or in our village streets playing regular games and just biking around. Hence, we must try to stay out of enormous climate-controlled malls with innumerable fast-food restos that use styrofoam and plastic dining utensils.

Fifth, we become children again who sweat under the sun, run in the rain, and drink water from the faucet. Thus, we must endeavor to stop buying bottled water in the hope of slowly diminishing the use of plastic bottles.

Sixth, we cease to be wasteful and start to reuse and recycle items in the house. If there are unused clothing, shoes, tools, and furniture, we put up a garage sale or donate them to the less fortunate so these items that have lost their usefulness to us will be put to good use by others.

Seventh, we use a lot of imagination and creativity on how to put to good use old and dusty stuff in the house, in the garden, or in the dirty kitchen. Perhaps we can come up with an art form out of some old buttons and frames, and display that imaginative art form in our living room as an ode to the environment.

Eighth, we learn a little from the indigenous people, who believe that nature is the source of all life and wisdom. We therefore respect nature by always remembering to dispose of our trash properly, “greening-up” our own yard, and helping trees grow abundantly.

Ninth, the refrigerator is a huge consumer of electricity. It would be a wonderful opportunity to market or harvest from our own garden what our body needs for the day, and give the fridge some rest day. As all the …

Living with Wildlife at the Forest’s Edge


Thump! That single bang of something smacking my window sat me straight up in bed. Four in the morning, I’d been sound asleep. Now my brain muzzily ran through the possibilities.

I don’t know why it latched onto “owl,” because my next thought was: “if an owl’s flown into the window in the middle of the night, there must be something wrong with it.” Or there’s something wrong with it now, after hitting the window so hard.

The bottom ledge of that window is over seven feet off the ground, so a deer was unlikely. Somewhat more awake, I fumbled for the light.

Bam! A second strike.

My fuzzy head was thinking it unlikely that the owl had knocked itself out, got up and flown into the same window twice. I wondered, with the force of it, that the glass hadn’t shattered.

I found the light switch, and reached for the window at the same time. Sliding the pane open, I saw the bird feeder mounted by the window swaying without a breeze. I looked down.

One big, black paw was clinging to the bottom windowsill by heavy claw tips. The sleek, furred face of a black bear looked up at me and our eyes met. Something wild stirred in my heart. My fingers were mere inches from her paw. I could nearly touch her ears. I had the strongest urge to reach out and stroke her fur.

A Disney upbringing is going to get me killed. My body had better sense than my brain, and slammed the window shut.

In the same breath, she dropped to all fours. Three loping strides, and she melted into the forest. Dark beast into black shadow. If it wasn’t for the swaying birdfeeder, you might not have believed she’d been there.

If the window was slightly lower, things could have turned out differently. Trying to give the newly arrived birds a break, I’d left the feeder out too late in the spring. With the weather warming, I should have known that the bears would be waking up soon.

Living on the edge of a national forest, the rules are a bit different than living in town. Pay attention to your surroundings – because of animals, not people. People are rare here. Animals are not. Watch where you put your feet. Give up going barefoot. There are often snakes or spiders hanging around the paths and their edges. Every summer someone makes the news stepping on a Copperhead in the middle of some campground at night. This ruins the evening for both the you and the snake.

You can have a compost bin, but don’t put food scraps in it. Doing that here will draw anything from the smallest deermouse to the largest bear. Don’t expect to use outdoor garbage cans. Don’t leave food in your car, even that fast food bag you meant to throw out.

Later that same year, in the heat of summer, I encountered the bear again. This time, on my way to the shed, I switched on the outside light. Movement caught my eye just before I opened the door.

Gorgeous as ever, there she stood about ten feet from my side door, right in the middle of the path. If I hadn’t looked, my dog would have been out the door in a flash. She’s small, so you can guess who probably would have won that encounter.

It’s quite possible to enjoy wildlife around your property and be safe. Just use your senses, and your common sense.…

Crime and Environment


Crime, and deviance from the norms of society may be as old as human society itself, but criminology, or the study of crime, remains relatively young. Among the groundbreaking work in criminology from the sociological perspective that was done in the early twentieth century is the social disorganization theory, which was propagated by sociologists such as W.I. Thomas, Florian Znaiecki, Robert Park and Ernest Burgess, among others (Schmalleger, p. 208).

Social disorganization theory credits a lack of, or diminishment of “the influence of existing social rules of behavior upon the individual member of the group” as a primary cause of criminal behavior and deviance (Keel, 2008). The early proponents of social disorganization theory, specifically Florian Znaiecki and W.I. Thomas, examined the effects of social upheaval and conflict upon crime, by studying the high crimes rates in communities of Polish immigrants in Chicago (Schmalleger, p. 208).

The main idea of the initial work in social disorganization theory was that these new immigrants, who found themselves displaced and occupying a new role in the social structure of their community, were unable to maintain their grasp on social norms (Schmalleger, p. 207). The effects of displacement into the new community, where most certainly immigrants who had perhaps been prominent or successful in their mother country, now found themselves at the bottom of the socio-economic structure, led them in some cases to commit crimes.

While the actual physical displacement of immigrants and the subsequent loss of norms that occurred featured prominently into the earliest forays into social disorganization theory, later work focused on criminal activity in relation to the environment, or community, which became known as social ecology (Schmalleger, p. 208). As this was being studied primarily out of the University of Chicago, the sociologists who studied crime in the rapidly changing city of Chicago became known as the Chicago School of Criminology (Schmalleger, p. 209).

Robert Park and Edward Burgess studied crime in the community by dividing the city into areas, divided up into concentric zones (Schmalleger, p. 208). These included residential zones, working class neighborhoods, business districts, and what they referred to as transition zones, which were often areas of low income, dilapidated housing, that often contained abandoned buildings, and where in a state of transition from residential to business uses (Schmalleger, p. 208). It was in these transition zones that crime rates were the highest. The ecological approach was further articulated by Henry McKay and Clifford Shaw, who developed the idea that crime becomes attached to specific geographic areas in a community (Schmalleger, p. 209).

When immigrants who populated the transition zones became economically successful they moved outwards towards residential districts or suburbs, and the vacancies they created were filled by immigrants who had just arrived (Schmalleger, p. 209). This new group experienced the same social displacement issues that served to create a continuation of criminal activity, and was referred to by Shaw and McKay as cultural transmission (Schmalleger, p. 209). This effectively demonstrated a relationship between criminal activity and geographical location in a community, regardless of the ethnicity of the groups resided there.

While much of the social disorganization theorists dealt in terms that seem ethnocentric, it is important to note that they were working in Chicago in the 1920’s and 1930’s, which was a city with a large immigrant population during a period of elevated immigration into the United States. These concepts, to my mind, can be applied to any city, and any ethnicity, as well. The social pressures that are prominent in social disorganization concepts, such as “Social change, social conflict, and the lack of social consensus,” can …