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Ultimately, we may all face doomsday, but not today



Pseudoscientists, especially those who have books or films to sell, have long declared the end of the current Mayan long count calendar, December 21 2012, as the end of the world. Our planet faces many existential threats but the inner working of the Mayan calendar isn’t one of them.

Anyone who cares to read what real-life Mayan scholars say on this issue will see that the universal consensus is that the predicted Armageddon is a complete fiction and a misreading of the Mayan calendar and mindset. In reality, this would have been a time for great celebrations had their civilisation not collapsed in the 9th century. It’s a pity for them that they didn’t predict that.

The European fixation with the end of the world is buried deep in our psyche from pre-biblical times, running through the writing of Revelations to the millennium bug.

There is no astronomical reason for a previously unidentified planet or object to mysteriously appear and crash into us; there to be geomagnetic reversal; a solar maximum to erase life on earth; aliens to invade or any other such extinction level event. NASA even has pages dedicated to address people’s genuine concerns.

Lots of fiction and supposed factual works have been imaginatively, enthusiastically and profitably created to mine a naturally occurring and deep-seated fear that exists in humanity.

Extinction events can and do happen. There have been five major events in the last 540m years, when over 50% of animal species died. The most recent was 65.5m years ago and did for the dinosaurs, much to children’s dismay around the world.

The real threats to life on earth are much more immediate:

Another financial crash

There is little evidence that we have learnt the key lessons of 2007. The last financial crisis managed to drive the environment and climate change down the political agenda as nations fought for growth at any cost.

Much of the international work carried out pre-2007 was undone with the onset of financial shocks in the US and then Europe. 2015 is a critical year for securing a sustainable future. What needs to be done is so far down the priority list of world leaders that we look unlikely to make the changes we need. Another economic crisis would make that change almost impossible.

Pollution and waste

Literally poisoning our planet and us while running out of the vital resources that we need.  In 2007, a team at Cornell University estimated that up to 40% of global deaths are caused by water, air and soil pollution.

Oil is the single largest source of power globally. OPEC anticipates another 109 years of oil reserves, whereas independent global estimates put the exhaustion of reserves between 2050 and 2100. The majority of people born from now on will live through the end of oil.

War over resources

Oil was the late 20th century’s casus belli. Water, food and minerals will take centre stage in the 21st century. The Middle East (again), Central Asia and East Africa are all potential flashpoints.

Any border with nuclear weapons (Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Iran eventually) on either side is going to be a serious cause for concern and potential reason for us to become involved as the fourth largest spender on military globally (behind the US, China and Russia).

A global population of over 9 billion

There is a lot of misinformation about overpopulation. It is resource misallocation and overuse in the developed world, rather than population growth in the developing world, that is the main problem.

The per capita (per person) household final consumption of the US (population 315m) is 41 times that of the next largest country, Indonesia (population 236m). The world cannot cope with US levels of over-consumption. It would be more accurate to say that it is the growth of the middle class, with unsustainable consumption patterns of US dimensions, that is the problem.

That said, a world of 9.3 billion in 2050 is a very, very different place to one with 6.1 billion in 2000 or 2.5 billion in 1950. That’s an awful lot of mouths to feed and energy to create using current polluting and wasteful models. A crowded earth of competing nation state will need more resources and is likely to be a lot more conflict-ridden. Pandemics will also become more likely as populations move to find jobs and security.

Runaway climate change

Simply meaning the planet passes a tipping point where the natural balancing systems cannot regulate the earth’s temperature anymore. While unlikely in our lifetime, in this scenario it will be too late to mitigate against climate change, there will not be enough time to adapt to it and geoengineering will be essential but economically ruinous.

The above factors are all connected; a rising global middle class drives resource consumption, pollution and waste, which in turn accelerates climate change.

If you want to worry about anything, worry about these things. Nevertheless, as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would reassuringly say, “Don’t Panic.”

Enjoy the longest night and see you tomorrow.

Or we won’t.

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.


How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life



how climate change affect our lives
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Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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5 Things You Can Do Yourself to Improve the Value of Your House



home renovation and improvement
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Whether you want to own it or list it, every once in a while, a house needs a facelift. This will not only improve quality of your life but will capitalize your home’s value significantly, too.

The best way to improve home value by yourself is to upgrade only what is necessary and nothing more. For instance, why would you buy a new bathroom door when a little retouch and a coat of fresh paint will suffice? By taking this approach, you are allowing yourself to make several small improvements instead of venturing just one or bigger ones. Select projects thoughtfully and know when you should stop.

Pitch in for the kitchen

If you really want a return on investment one day, start in the kitchen. By many, the kitchen still represents the heart and the soul of the house, the central hub of a property and it will all on its own add colossal value to your home. Moreover, the kitchen can be a breaking point in selling the house, so you should not hold on to your wallet in this area.

There are many little things you can do to spruce up the overall image of your kitchen. You may paint the kitchen cabinets, replace old door handles, add additional storage space with a sliding wall or a kitchen island if there is enough room for it. In addition, you may open the living space up by taking a kitchen wall down. Possibilities for do-it-yourself are many.

Add an attic or a basement bedroom

Properties are usually valued by two things: land size and the number of bedrooms. The price range between a three to four-bedroom home is two to four hundred thousand. Since you can’t change the size of your land, you can at least increase the number of bedrooms.

If you are prepared to go full-scale, converting the attic or the basement into the bedroom is another especially favored project that will by far boost up your home’s value once you decide to put it on the market. Until you decide to list it you will enjoy in your own extra space for entertainment, living, sleeping, playing, exercising, or whatever you fancy.

Transformation with paint

If your walls have scrapes and stained paint, a vintage color or shabby wallpaper, several cans of paint can make a striking distinction. In order to increase the value of your home, it is recommended to go with neutral colors that will unify the whole house and make the space visually bigger.

transformation with paint

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Poznyakov >

Bottom line, nothing can transform a home like a cast of fresh new paint. It is the number one way to beef up a property value of any budget. Additionally, painting the house is still one of the easiest, fastest and highest value drivers.

Secure with style

All of your effort and money would be wasted if you can’t protect the investments you made. A good security door costs as little as a few hundred dollars but if it saves you just once from being robbed it instantly pays itself off. People avoid putting security screens on windows because they mostly do not look stylish enough, but there are other options, such as installing shutters. There are so many elegant and cool shutter options that we found at Independent Blinds & Awnings that it’s really hard not to find something for you.

Basic maintenance for a worry-free mind

A clean house is a healthier house for you and your family. By making a clean house your number one on the list for improving, you accomplish a couple of things at once.

First, you stay on track with maintenance issues and, consequently you are able to recognize future problems before they become costly ones. Secondly, you don’t allow dirt and garbage to pile up over time. Thirdly, smudged, dirty windows can have a bad impact on the overall perception of the house. Same as eyes are windows to the soul, windows are for the home. Therefore, you need to wash them properly.

Spice up the landscaping

Big backyard is an all Australian dream and still, it is more often than not the most ignored area of the house. However, landscaping is really important as it frames a property from every corner.

Simple, low budget cosmetic changes in the front yard including installing garden beds, adding plants, pebbles or mulch, and paving or painting the front walls will positively lift the curb appeal as well as the property value. As for the backyard, you may span a lawn to create more open space for you and your family to move freely, cut and reduce unruly trees and vegetation, and fix the fence if needed.

Adding value to your home through a cosmetic or structural renovation is an actual way to quickly enhance your money invested in a property. In the end, you need to make sure that if you will continue to live in the house and renovate, that your renovations will contribute to a good lifestyle and that it will give the impression of a “ready to move in” property once you decide to list it.

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