Global Clean Tech Summit

Leading the world into a cleaner thinking

Author: MRclean

Can dust actually help the environment?

If you read recent studies regarding air pollution in China, some would say so. It’s no news that China is one of those countries that suffers the most from air pollution. Walking through Hong Kong on a sunny day might actually not be so sunny, thanks to the thick smog. Foreigners often mistake the smog for a cloudy or misty day, when it’s in fact pollution that’s blocking out the sun.

But how does dust play a role in all of this? Well as researches have recently found out, dusts actually helps block out some of the solar radiation. The radiation from the sun is what’s causing a shift in our climate. If there’s a lot of it hitting the earth at once, wind speeds are reduced, which in turn creates large accumulations of air pollution.

Researches have found that lowered dust levels is the cause for the 13% increase in deaths in China related to air pollution.

What China will do to combat this issue is still unclear. One might argue that there’s actually not a lot to do, since manipulating dust from the deserts is almost impossible. “Right now all we can do is to watch our country get destroyed” said one terrified citizen of Hong Kong.

And we agree, it’s a shame that there’s nothing we can do to stop this. While China could affect their air quality by putting limits on cars and other vehicles using fossil fuels, there’s little to no chance of that happening the coming years.

Combining trends with green thinking

ase3If you’ve been reading the news lately you’ve probably stumbled upon the word “fidget spinner”. A trend that’s sweeping across the globe and it’s showing no signs of stopping. So what is it exactly? While some call it a toy, others call it a medicine for their ADD or ADHD. Whatever you want to call it, you can’t deny that this is a fascinating trend.

Where does green thinking come into play though? Even though these small gadgets have helped people be more relaxed, there’s unfortunately a big downside to these toys. They consume massive amounts of plastic and even though the actual process of getting this plastic might be as harmful as other materials, it still has a large impact on the environment. Luckily enough, plastic is also one of those materials is easily recyclable. We had an idea that we wanted to put to the test, so we searched the net for someone that was into 3D printing and fidget spinners. After a couple of searches, we found someone called the FidgetExpert, a normal guy that has a passion for tinkering and DIY projects, so it felt natural for him to start making fidget spinners.

We contacted him and told what we had in mind and he was thrilled. It turns out that he’s actually a big supporter of the environmental movement, so this was a clear choice for him. Since the FidgetExpert makes all his spinners through 3D printing, we researched the different materials used. The most common one being PLA (polylactide), while not the strongest one it’s actually biodegradable so there’s at least some positives to this. But we thought we could make it even greener, we got in touch with the guys at B-pet, a company that specializes in making 3D filament from recycled PET bottles. They like the idea and sent us a batch of their recycled filament.

During the next few days, our friend over at FidgetExpert got working and he printed several nifty designs. He was very pleased with the results he got from the environmental friendly filament, actually so much he said he’s switching over to it completely. As for the spinners? He loved them and told us he would be starting to sell these very soon in his store.

Hopefully more big players will join him and produce recyclable spinners. Because even if the cause of the spinner is very neat, we still have to keep in mind that the production affects the earth in a bad way. Let’s hope for the best!

How to go green in 4 easy steps

As Earth gets warmer by the year, we strive to find alternative ways to power our society. The need for clean and renewable energy is needed now more than ever. But what can the average Joe really do to cut down on his carbon footprint? Well there is a whole lot actually, and that’s what we’ll be covering today.

If you own a car, you might look into car pooling. For example, if you drive to work everyday try to see if you have some workfriends on your way there that you could pick up. Car pooling is a smart and easy to way to cut down on carbon emissions from your car. In the state of California there are special lanes on the freeways that give car poolers a faster way of travel. This encourages more people to carpool because they get something from it. It’s sad but most often people will not go green unless it benefits them in some way, so this is a great move by the state of California. Read more about the benefits carpool has on the environment here: http://drivelesssavemore.com/carpooling-benefits

Another favorite is to use green lightbulbs. These are mad from LEDs which are superior to tradional bulbs in every way possible. Not only are they brighter, they will literally last you a lifetime. Nowadays they aren’t very expensive either, sure they might cost a little more but in the end you’re saving money. Why? Because they don’t use as much energy as traditional lightbulbs, meaning the electricity bill will be much lower in the end of the month. And while you’re at it, we suggest you get yourself some flashlights that use dynamo charging or solar cells. By using a dynamo you can recharge them when cranking the lever, meaning in almost indefinite energy. There’s a good article on this here: http://theflashlightexpert.com/the-best-survival-flashlights/

The third tip we have is not as common, and quite controversial depending on who’s asking. But cutting on down the meat in your household can actually do a lot for the environment. We know, meat is tasty and beneficial for us humans. But eating too much of it can also harm us, it’s only healthy in doses. And speaking of healthy meat, most of the meat you find in fast food is NOT good for you. We’re not saying to go vegan, we’re just saying to cut down on your meat eating. http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/eat-for-the-planet-meat-and-the-environment/

Our last advice is to travel smarter. One of the biggest causes of global warming are big airplanes, these spew out emissions in crazy. If possible try to take the train. It’s more expensive, but worth in the long run. Maybe not for you, but don’t you want your grandkids to be able to live in a normal environment? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_aviation

New report says genetically manipulated food is ‘generally’ safe

A US study shows that the end product of genetically manipulated food is actually not that harmful as many people think.

On Tuesday, a well respected science board declared in their report that genetically manipulated, or GM for short, food remains safe for humans, animals and the environment. The science board, also known as The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine concluded in their latest report that just because the genetics of a certain type of food has been changed, doesn’t affect the environment. Some people like to call GM food “frankenfood”, but the science board means this is claim based upon misinformation rather than actual knowledge.

However, GM food is not as promising as many people thought. The whole reason behind GM food is to produce more for less. But the report shows that manipulated food does not actually produce much more yields than regular un-manipulated food.

In their report, they said that regulators need to shift their focus from the making procedure to the end product instead. They mean that if the end product isn’t harmful to humans, animals or the environment, it shouldn’t be such a big deal.

The report avoided to answer the hot issue of whether GM food should have a label or not. The author of the report say that labels aren’t needed for food safety, but that they could potentially be justified on social and cultural grounds. The exclusion of this got plenty of environment groups upset, meaning everyone should know what kind of chemicals they’re eating. Scientists criticized the environmental groups, saying that putting a label on a food that’s not toxic is unnecessary.

There is no real evidence of GM food affecting the environment in a negative way. But it does affect the growth rate of pesticide, some farms have developed something researches call “superweed”, a weed that has been genetically modified as a side-effect.

The most common foods that are manipulated are soybeans, corn, cotton and canola. In most cases the manipulation have made them resistant to certain insects and herbicides. But as for growth and yield rates, the GM foods were pretty much on the same level as the regular ones. The results of several experiments show that there should actually be a substantial  higher yield, but looking at data from the US Department of Agriculture shows otherwise.

Irish People Are Tired Of Having To Pay To Recycle

The organization called People Before Profit (PBP for short) say that charging the citizens of Ireland to recycle is backwards thinking and is actually damaging the environment rather than saving it.

The People Before Profit party have grown tired of this, recently they launched a campaign against the “pay-by-weight” system. A system that was introduced by Ireland’s former minister of environment, Alan Kelly, during his last days of sitting in the government.

Brid Smith, the leader of PBP said on Newstalk Breakfast: “The plan disproportionately punitive on the less well of and the charges should be abolished.”

She means that charging for the environment is backwards thinking and is actually not helping the environment in any way.”Recycling makes people make an effort.” she says. Charging people for making an effort will in the long run have a negative effect, and might scare away people who are poor but still try to recycle. Because recycling items generate their own profit, it shouldn’t be something the citizens have to pay for.

According to a statement made on the Depart of the Environment website, the removal of a flat-fee for refusal of garbage collection will “promote greater segregation of waste”, which they say will improve recycling and allow house owners to save some money.

They also claim that up to 87% of Irish house holds will save money through the new “pay-by-weight” system, which in their eyes is the most effective waste prevention mechanism.

‘Break Free’ protest the largest protest ever

Guess what, it’s not just you and me that are growing tired of fossil fuels. Thousands of people around the world have taken part in what some people call “the largest ever global civil disobedience against fossil fuels”. There have been dozens of activists arrested because they tried to shut down coalmines, rail infrastructure and a large port.

These protests have been held for over two weeks now, countries included in these protests are: UK, US, Australia, South Africa and Indonesia. The protester came with a strong and clear message, keep oil, coal and gas in the ground, not above it.

A coalition of a large variety of different environment groups, called the actions ‘break free’, and they are pushing to completely shift away from fossil fuel and use renewable energy instead.

Bill McKibben, founder of the climate group called 350.org, says: “This is the hottest year we’ve ever measured, and so it is remarkably comforting to see people rising up at different parts of the world to insist on a change”.

Around 50 or so protesters were arrested in the state of Washing for trespassing as they camped out on large railroad tracks. But these tracks weren’t just any tracks, they are mainly used for transporting oil to Shell and Tesoro refineries. The protesters action managed to close down the whole rail line over the weekend.

In Washington DC thousands of people marched in a call for Obama to call off the offshore drilling for oil and gas. At the same time, a thousand people protested against the newly planned expansion of a BP refinery in Chicago. Five people were also arrested in Albaby, New York, for attempting to stop a train transporting fossil fuel.

And it’s not just the US seeing protesters taking action. Australia had a group of kayakers using inflatable kayaks trying to shut down the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle. Around hundreds of people invaded the largest opencast coalmine in the UK, which is located in South Wales. The largest opencast mine in Europe, which is located in Germany was also attacked by protesters trying to shut it down.

More of these activities have taken place in Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa and also Canada. Some of the biggest protests took place in Indonesia and the Philippines, combined together there was an estimate of 10,000 people marching together.

Many of the protesters have expressed anger towards last year’s climate deal, which were supposed to have nations around Europe keep global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius. But somehow the exclusion of fossil fuels were not included in this deal.

These protests couldn’t happen any time sooner, as we’ve already covered in a previous article, the global temperatures around the world have been broken 7 months in a row, with April being the hottest one ever recorded. These global temperatures were aided by a hefty El Niño, which caused the drought in Africa, corals around Australia to perish and the Arctic to experience a new low in ice.

Scientists were surprised as the 400PPM milestone was reached way sooner than expected. Sadly a large amount of warmth has already been locked in, which no future emissions cuts will help. This warmth will lead to the sea level rising, food become all more insecure and will also lead to extreme weather events around the world.

On a more positive note, global renewable energy grew by 8.3% last year, solar and wind technology are now outpacing new coal facilities. Data from the gridnetwork in the UK showed that the amount of electricity provided by coal reached zero several times last week.

The US energy information administration have however warned that fossil fuels will stay make up 75% of energy production up to 2014. The cause for this is caused by non-OECD countries like India and China.

Naomi Klein, author and climate activist says:” This is a race against time. Our movement is stronger than ever, but to beat the odds, we have to grow stronger”.

Sources:

April has been the hottest month ever recorded

You probably enjoyed the warm weather in April, and for a good reason too, it’s been the warmest April month ever recorded in history! To add to the fact, it’s also the seventh month in a row to break global temperature records.

April absolutely smashed the previous April record by the largest surplus ever recorded.

For the last three months, each month have broken the previous records by large margins. And for the last seven months the temperatures have all been at least 1 Celsius above average. It wasn’t until February earlier this year that scientists began treating this warm weather as a “climate emergency”.

Nasa released some figures that show that both the temperature of the sea and the land was about 1.11C warmer than any year recorded in history.

All assured, we can expect 2016 to be one of the hottest year ever recorded (99% that it will happen according Gavin Schmidt).

The current warmth we’ve been feeling all over the globe is the after math of a massive “El Niño“, which is a release of warm water in the Pacific ocean. Thing is that this El Niño is not the biggest recorded in history, meaning these temperatures records are not caused by warm water rather by global warming.

The director of ARC at the Climate System Science at the University of New Soutj Wales says: “The interesting thing is the scale at which we’re breaking records, it’s clearly all heading in the wrong direction. Climate scientists have been warning about this since at least the 1980s. And it’s been bloody obvious since the 2000s. So where’s the surprise?”

These high temperatures have been wreaking havoc on ecosystems all around the world. They actually started the third recorded global coral bleaching. 93% of the coral reefs in Austraila have all been affected by the bleaching. If this trend continues we can except to have coral reefs gone in a couple of years, if note even less.

5 Tips For Easy Green Living

If you liked our previous article covering 14 different tips for a greener life style, you’ll love this one.

Precycle, save money while saving the planet

That’s right, not recycle by precycle. This is the art of recycling an item already before you buy it. An example of precycling would be to buy a product that has less packaging, thus leaving you with less to recycle afterwards. When it comes to food, you’re better of buying fresh food from local farmers markets or co-ops. These will allow you skip on all the packaging that’s associated with grocery shopping.

Not only will it save you the environment and money, it helps your longevity since local food is always fresher and contains way more vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health.

If you can’t find a local farmers market you could always buy yourself a large container to store food. Instead of buying several small packages of your favorite food, buy one extra large instead and keep it in the container for future use.

Stop using bottles and cans

This is the same kind of idea as precycling. Plastic bottles can take between 400-1,000 years to decompose while cans average 350. We know, they can be recycled and so on, but if you can skip the recycling part from the beginning you’re doing mother earth a huge favor.Buy yourself a reusable water bottle and start using it, if you’re a soda drinker it’s a good time to stop drinking it, it will recycle your insides. But if you need to pour soda into your stomach from time to time, a soda streamer might be a good investment, but even then, you have to buy gas canisters and new flavors (which come in plastic bottles), so you’re really better off with just water.

Buy things second hand

Most of the time, the things you want to buy (not including food) can be bought second hand. The problem here is that most people associate the term “second hand” with old and trashed items. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Almost all of my items I own are bought second hand, all of my camera gear, my bicycle, my skateboard, my desktop and plenty more! Believe it or not but there are actually people caring for their items, not everything you find will be destroyed, but we of course advise you to check the item out before buying it.

There are plenty of flea markets and Facebook groups where you can either sell, buy or swap your old items. If you live in the USA you can go to Craigslist and check their free stuff listings, there are plenty of hidden gems there just waiting for you. Some interesting finds are pianos, couches, motorboats and even a free possum.

Unplug electrical stuff you don’t use

To save energy, money and the environment it’s smart to unplug stuff you don’t use around the house. Not using that charger for your cellphone? Unplug it. Coffee maker not brewing any coffee? Unplug it. Not watching TV? Unplug it. You get the gist.

But we also know that unplugging everything around the house is easily forgettable, there’s a product called “Smart Strip LCG” which is produced by 3M. It’s an energy saving surge protector with a smart auto switching technology. Meaning that if you’re not using your electrical items, the device will automatically turn them off.

Create your own cleaning products

Not a lot of people know this but you can create your own cleaning products, they work just as good as the real thing but cost much less to make. The follow the precycling rules, which allows them to be used over and over again. The ingredients are also way less toxic than commercial products, in other words they pollute less but offer the same effect. If you can’t be bothered to create your own products, try to find locally produce cleaning products.

14 EASY ways to live a greener lifestyle at home

What many people these days don’t know is that living green is actually not that hard. Many will think you need to sell your house, move out to a cave and eat grass every day, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth! Did you know that a simple task as buying a different type of brand can have huge effects on the environment? We’ve covered 14 super easy ways to live a greener lifestyle at home without compromising it too much.

Buy your items for the long run. Sometimes it might be better to buy more expensive products, most of the time more expensive products will last a lot longer. Sure, in the moment you might save yourself a couple of hundred dollars, but in the long run you’ll actually lose money. Say you’re buying yourself a new couch, buying the cheapest you can find will leave you buying a new one every 5 or so. A high quality couch can last for decades, if not longer!

When buying food containers, make sure they’re free from harmful materials like bisphenol (BPA for short). This chemical can leak out from the plastic itself and leach itself into your food.

We know it’s nice to have it warm and cozy in your household, but lowering the temperature a couple of degrees will reduce your carbon footprint. See it this way, with it being colder you have more reasons to get under blankets and cuddle!

Buy a reusable bag, those made out of cotton mesh are readily available and will last you a looong time. Plus they’re considered fashion nowadays, it’s a win-win situation.

If you’re renovating your home you can add some much needed character by salvaging old items, pallets being one of the most popular ones. Pallets can be made into literally anything, tables, wall decorations, beds, and lots more.

Buy ecological items, they have to travel less thus decreasing the amount of toxins released into the atmosphere.

Paper towels, everybody loves them but please, you don’t need to buy new ones everyday! Buy paper towels that are reusable and washable, saves you money in the long run and the environment.

Find ways to improve your households energy consumption and efficiency. Some easy to do and common upgrades include: upgrading your windows, using a programmable thermostat, planting your own vegetables and herbs.

Throw out your standard light bulbs and start using LED lights, they are actually 75% more efficient than ordinary light bulbs, who knew? It’s virtually impossible to notice any difference as well, so why are you still using old fashioned light bulbs?

Make sure to recycle your food and compost it accordingly.

And while you’re at it, make sure to recycle and sort your other waste as well. It takes only a couple of more minutes but reduces the footprint by a lot.

Want to buy new appliances? Make sure to buy only those which are energy-star certified.

Use a barrel or some sort of open container in your garden to collect rain water, this water can then be used to water the plants in your garden.

If you’re reading this during the summer you can turn off your dryer and put your clothes on a drying line outside.