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Reflecting on a cooler world: 333 months ago



Disturbing data released recently indicates that November 2012 was the 333rd consecutive month in which global temperatures were above the 20th century average. So will February 1985 go down in history as the last cool month on record?

It’s astonishing to think that in my lifetime, I’ve never experienced a cooler-than-average month. For every single one of my 273 months on this planet, global temperatures have been above the 20th century average.

This is a run that stretches back to a time even before I was a mere twinkle in my mother’s eye – for 333 consecutive months, to the beginning of 1985, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Back then, the world was a very different place indeed.

It’s somewhat ironic that it was International Youth Year the last time global temperatures dipped below the average. And given the circumstances, nothing could be more profound and poignant than the following resolution released by the United Nations almost 28 years to do the day ahead of the commencement of the year-long celebration of youth: “Emphasising again that the United Nations should pay more attention to the role of young people in the world of today and to their demands for the world of tomorrow.”

It’s safe to say that very few people predicted the current severity and urgency of the climate crisis that we find ourselves in today. The 1985 environment of tomorrow, in which we now live, is not as thriving and healthy as it once was.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and thousands of climate scientists from across the world cite a 2 degrees temperature rise as the threshold by which the worst effects of climate change – droughts, floods, extreme weather and so on – will come into effect. And it’s frightening that the mood in the camp – in terms of our chances of avoiding this particular rise – is slowly dampening.

I recently asked James Balog, star of the fantastic Chasing Ice, which is out in various cinemas across the UK now, whether humanity was doing too little, too late, or whether he remained optimistic about our planet’s future. His response ought to be a reality check to all.

I’m worried that we might be doing too little, too late, but for the sake of my sanity, I can’t go there. I have to believe that there is still time”, he told me.

We are clearly in the middle of a crisis already. We are not looking at the crisis coming at us in the future; the crisis is upon us.”

This is a man who has studied climate science; who has seen the devastating rate at which glaciers are retreating with his own eyes. But he is optimistic, too.

One of the reasons I am optimistic is because I’m absolutely certain, based on all of the information I’ve been assimilating over the past six years, that we have the economic and technological solutions to this problem. We also have the policy solutions to this problem”, he added.

What we’ve been lacking is political willpower which is a question of human perception. Human perception has been changing and now it’s incumbent on all of us to push hard on those political policymakers to get their act together and do what needs to be done.”

An Associated Press poll from last week showed that recent spates of extreme weather events such as flooding, wildfires and superstorms have gone some way to changing the way sceptics view climate change.

This visual evidence – coupled with the hard, stark data that maps the 333 consecutive months for which global temperatures have been above average – should be more than enough evidence to suggest our climate is changing, and more specifically, warming.

Whatever your stance on climate change, there’s absolutely no denying the need for a sustainable planet. Polluting our atmosphere, destroying our trees and killing our oceans are not sustainable activities, and are making 1985’s world of tomorrow an increasingly inhospitable place to live.

It was 27 years ago since the world experienced a cooler-than-average month – an excellent website,, provides some thought-provoking perspectives on this alarming fact.

I’d add the sinking of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior ship by the French government to the list. The vessel was sunk in New Zealand, killing photographer Fernando Pereira – all because activists were protesting against the testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific Ocean, 40 years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The UN’s International Youth Year that also took place in 1985 was set up with the hope of “shaping the future of mankind”. And until we unanimously accept the urgency of the task ahead, humanity is going to become increasingly misshapen.

What do you think of Blue & Green Tomorrow? Complete our short reader survey and be in with a chance to win an iPad mini or a Kindle Fire. Survey closes December 21.

Further reading:

Chasing Ice star James Balog on saving the planet: ‘I have to believe that there is still time’

Climate change: it’s not just an environmental issue; it’s a human rights issue too

Melting ice caps, deforestation and dead oceans

Visual evidence, not science, shown to sway climate sceptics

From austerity to scarcity: the coming global crisis


How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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