Home is Where the Art Is

We all need a place to live that provides us with adequate shelter, protection from the elements and enables us to live in conformity with the social precepts of the civilization that we happen to be a part of. The size, location and design of our humble and in some cases not so humble abodes differ as greatly as our need to occupy every nook and cranny of the country that we call home.

Many homes are what are best described as fitting in with the norm. They are comfortable, averagely well furnished and decorated and fulfill their main function as a “roof over the head” and a place for a family to live, grow up and eventually leave. That’s fine if all a person needs in life are the basics to make that life as bearable as needs be.

Sprucing Things Up

But there are some of us that need more than just the basics of life in order to round out and make more interesting our own particular little corner of the world. For us, an average looking house or apartment is bland and uninviting as it is boring and lacking in the zest for life that we desire and appreciate.

Adding personal touches of imagination, color and style is what transforms our homes from the mundane into the amazing. Artistic design of interiors, selection and placement of furnishings and creating a certain ambiance in our homes is what sets them apart from the madding crowd.

Creativity

Maybe it’s a given that not everyone is so creative or even wants to live in the kind of home that has this artistic flare throughout its every room and passageway. But for those if us that need it to grow not only spiritually but also to inspire us to greater heights of physical health and well being, a more creative and environmentally sustainable house (see: homesteadingnow.com) is the only way.

For us, a home that exudes an up-beat personality, a sense of calm creativity and an atmosphere of welcoming, happy and healthy well-being is a truly attractive place to live and thrive in all areas. From the obvious increase to health from living in a place that makes us happy, it also inspires the creative senses and imagination to instigate new and fresh ideas and plans for a better future.

While this way of living is not to everyone’s tastes, to the artistic person who thrives on creative surroundings for inspiration and the development of inspired ideas, a home that is anything but normal is the order of the day. Neatness and order may be the desire of the mainstream, but strategic mess and chaos are the fuels that feed the creative mind!

The Growth of Economic Inequalities in the USA

A new year is upon us, and there are numerous stories of economic recovery across the world.  However beyond basic growth rates, there is another measure which often reflects more about people’s day to day lives.  I’m referring to wealth inequality and in the USA, it often feels more like the great depression rather than a booming new decade.

The depression of course took place in the 1920s and in those times, as usual the wealthy were pretty much shielded from the worse effects.  In fact during that decade, the wealthiest 10% of the population owned about 84% of the total wealth.  The situation evened out over the next few decades with that figure declining before starting to rise again in the 1980s.  However we’re now reaching levels that are very similar to those of the 1920s with the majority of US wealth held by a small proportion of it’s citizens.

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The statistics are now more accurate so in some senses a direct comparison is not always completely relevant.   However the overall result is the same, the level of wealth inequality in the US is extremely high and only heading in one direction.  You can see some aspects if you watch news and documentaries on the local media.  It’s certainly interesting to view the different perspectives – for US readers try watching the local news from the UK – you can use this, or vice versa for European readers.

Fortunately when these inequalities are combined with a growing economy, the effects seem less severe.  The US is doing pretty well, with unemployment heading to a new 6 year low and the job market consistently expanding.  However when you realise that the richest 0.1 % control as much wealth  as the poorest 90% you realise this is not a fair and equal society.

The rich are in fact getting even richer, while the poorer sections of society are increasingly stepping into levels of significant debt in order to simply survive.  Real incomes are growing, but at a much higher rate for the wealthy than the poorer levels.  In fact with under 1% income growth, it’s not getting much easier for those at the wrong end of the income ladder.

Of course capitalism has always produced such inequalities, but the argument goes that the growth in income actually is down to new businesses and opportunities for all.  However the studies suggest that the growth in wealth is not coming largely from entrepreneurial spirit but merely reflects the fact that the wealth is held in shares and bonds which naturally are worth more as the economy recovers.  Unfortunately this is unlikely to help bring many benefits to society at large, it will just make the rich, well richer!

 Further Reading.

Yes, You Can Drive Greener

You might feel conflicted about protecting the environment while being forced to use a car to travel around. Nevertheless, we actually do need an automobile in many cases for us to live happily. For those who have kids, you may have no alternative but to drive them to school and they too have different activities such as sport in their spare time. Fortunately, we are living in an age where greenhouse emissions are a big concern so now we have options for how we can balance protecting the environment while still being able to drive.

During the last couple of years, there are more cars available that are environmentally friendly. You today have electric cars that function as well as gas-powered cars though they do need frequent charging. If you find that electric cars are not practical for your situation, you could get a hybrid car which uses electricity but also uses gas for extra power and distance. When driving a hybrid, you don’t use as much gasoline and you’ll have lower emissions.
Electric Green Car

It could be that you’re not ready to move to this degree and as such you should do your research on what conventional types of car have the best results in terms of fuel consumption and emissions. The last decision you make may depend on the type of journeys you generally do but you can certainly find models that are both efficient and economical. Taking good care of your car by performing regular maintenance and keeping tires well inflated can also help with reducing fuel consumption.

Your driving practices can also effect the environment like over-acceleration would end in using up more fuel than steady driving. When you go on an extended trip, be sure to plan the drive so that you won’t waste gas by being lost or taking the long way. Additionally it is easy to overload your vehicle especially when going away, so try to be sensible in what you really need to take and get into the habit of traveling light whenever possible.

There are many green driving tips available online and it’s worth checking out reviews on popular motor car shows, there are some reputable ones on British TV (not really Top Gear!) which you can access through this method.

You’ll probably find occasions when you use your car or truck when it really isn’t necessary. If you walk to nearby stores or restaurants, you will be able to get some exercise while safeguarding the environment. In addition, you can likely find school runs or group activities where car sharing is a possibility. Most of us probably would prefer to drive in our individual cars but if you want to cut emissions then there are sacrifices to be made.

If you modify some of your driving behaviors and check out ways to reduce emissions, you will still be able to drive while helping the environment.

Associated Source

Reducing Our Meat Consumption – An Environmental Necessity

There are predictions in a new report that the greenhouse gases produced by meat and dairy consumption will rise by around 80% if we continue along our current path.   The report states that the global consumption of meat must be reduced if we are to avoid serious environmental repercussions.  These include food scarcity as well as the overall environmental atmospheric impact that our current consumption popints too.

The report was produced from a collaboration of research between Aberdeen and Cambridge Universities which suggests globally the American diet seems to be the blueprint for the world.  This for many countries will mean a huge increase in the consumption of meat and dairy produce.

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The problem is that there are many was to produce the food we need to live.  However the efficiency of rearing livestock for meat is easily the most inefficient.  The report suggests that the standard measure of energy of producing food is less than 3% in the case of producing meat, which is extremely low and inefficient.  As our demand for meat increases so does the pressure to convert scarce resources like land away from traditional arable consumption simply to produce feeds for the animals.

The problem is not with the methods employed by farmers, but simply our choice of food stuffs.  There is no method by which meat production can ever be as efficient as producing vegetable or other traditional crops.The danger is that the environmental damage caused by increased meat production makes all food production more costly and difficult too.

Of course there are many scare stories about human behavior affecting the environments.  At the moment in Europe there is a huge rush to buy high powered vacuum cleaners as the overall power will be restricted later this year, the implication is that this is a ‘green initiative’ designed to reduce energy consumption although it’s easy to be sceptical about this initiative.  There is a lot more evidence around food production though and although most developed countries for the most part are able to finance and support this ‘meat and dairy’ demand, it wouldn’t take much in the way of climate changes to make it completely unsustainable in  many parts of the world.

There are a series of environmental discussions taking place at the moment on the UK TV network primarily the BBC and Channel 4, if you wish to watch these then this link might be useful which enables full access to most UK and US stations which broadcast online irrespective of your physical location.

Joe Hameers

Author and Blogger at http://dnsproxy.co.uk/

India Perhaps Ready To Change

It’s come as a bit of a surprise to some but it looks like the Indian Government may be on the verge of a major change in it’s climate change policy.   In it’s new 5 year plan there is an agreement to a global emissions cap prior to the more developed countries making their biding pledges for reducing emissions rapidly.

The Indian Government had previously stated in climate change meetings that rich and developed countries must take the lead. But it looks like the country now will be prepared to carry out a reduction of climate change domestically under it’s own steam.  There previous stance was that both financial and technological support from richer countries must come first.

It’s potentially a huge breakthrough if true.  One of the big problems is that countries like India are preventing any form of true global agreement.  However the reality of climate change is that countries must proceed to do much more with or without this global agreement.

The positive economic aspects are perhaps partly responsible for this big shift.  The benefits of aggressive energy efficieny drives given a real incentive due to the recent huge power cuts across the entire country.  Accelerated roll outs of renewables and addressing the high pollution industries that exist across India.

However as usual in this area – there is rarely a concensus and the USAs lead negotiator has suggested that the 2C warming target perhaps should be scrapped.  This was a very depressing statement and roundly condemned by the Eu and many others. However if you want to get a feeling of how the US feels about global warming then check out their main News channels.  You can find information on how to get a US IP address on this site – http://www.proxyusa.com/ this will allow you to access these programmes, there’s also quite a bit on the Canadian media which you can access through this method.   You will quickly see that the economy is way higher up the agenda in the US than global warming is (although arguably they are not alone in this!)

Fracking in France

There have been some incidents which have briefly pleased those of us who care about the environment.  One of those which gave me hope personally is the commitment from the president himself that hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) as it’s known is banned completely in France.  Unfortunately the pressure is growing from the powerful energy explorers, oil and gas companies and other profit driven companies who are happy to destroy our environment to enhance their balance sheets.

The process involves blasting millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand into the rock formations below our feet to release oil and gas reserves.  It sounds crazy when you explain it – actually fracturing the rock.  The idea is that it allows access to the gas which would have previously been inaccessible.

 

The fact that when this happens methane gas and various chemicals are poured into the ground and can easily contaminate the water table or sources of water seems to have been overlooked.  Some studies have reported that methane in drinking wells near a fracing site can be 17 times higher than normal.  Of course much of the damage will probably long term as we slowly poison people and the planet with yet another mad polluting idea to extract gas and oil.  A high proportion of the toxines used in Fracking are left in the ground, and not before you ask none of it’s biodegradable.

The problem is that although this is a terrible practices with probably more dangers than we can think of, France probably sits on one of the most valuable resources of shale gas in the huge Paris Basin.  This is the tactic companies like Total and GDF are taking, evaluate the reserves that France is sitting on before decisions are made.  Of course this will put huge pressure on any ban being upheld as billlions of dollars will probably be adequate compensation for destroying and poisoning the land and people.

The debate is happening now in France and you can keep up with developments in the French Online media from anywhere in the world.  Le Monde has a great web site with lots of news and debate, their are a few decent online media channels too – my favourite is M6 Replay which has news and entertainment channels all accessible on the internet.  Unfortunately these can only be accessed in France so if you’re outside you are going to need a French proxy – here’s an example.  This is a computer based in France that allows you to route your web browsing through, this gives you the appearance of a French IP address and then you can watch anything without issues.

 

The River Risk in the USA

I was watching a programme the other day on the BBC, it was a science show being syndicated across radio and the TV station.  I’d listened to the initial broadcast which was on the World Service about the river pollution and problems in the UK and how they had started solving them.  Unfortunately I thought I’d missed the BBC show as initially I was blocked from the BBC Iplayer site because of my location.  Fortunately I was able to spend a few bucks after someone showed me this web page which explained how to access British TV online and I was able to stream it across the internet without problems.  They certainly had their problems but some strong legislation has ensured that the quality of UK rivers has improved greatly over the last decade or so.

However there are similar concerns being raised in the US now, where the environmental group American Rivers has recently released it’s report on the most endangered rivers in the United States.  I was surprised to hear that one the biggest worries is that of the Colorado river.  Now I’ve just been on the Colorado during a visit to Las Vegas, and it looked mightily healthy to me.  However apparently the report has suggested that outdated river management techniques is sucking the mighty river dry – apparently the mighty Colorado River doesn’t even make it to the ocean before running dry.

Here are the top ten most endangered rivers according to the report.

  1. Colorado River (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming)
  2. Flint River (Georgia)
  3. San Saba River (Texas)
  4. Little Plover River (Wisconsin)
  5. Catawba River (North Carolina and South Carolina)
  6. Boundary Waters (Minnesota)
  7. Black Warrior River (Alabama)
  8. Rough & Ready and Baldface Creeks (Oregon)
  9. Kootenai River (British Columbia, Montana and Idaho)
  10. Niobrara River (Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming)

There’s some incredible rivers there, but apparently these are really at serious risk.  One of the big problems is that the current water management techniques are ill suited to modern times.

You can take a lot more water out of a river when the rainful is plentiful than you can in the current climates.  Global warming is going to claim a lot of victims and unless we all globally try and reduce our consumption of water – some of our most loved rivers will be amongst them.

Reference – American Rivers Report 

Additional – http://www.iplayerabroad.com/

The Eco Choice for Jewelry

For anyone who is keen to minimize their environmental impact on the planet – jewelry can be a tricky area.  After all there’s no essential need for that necklace or silver ring, but lets face it we all need cheering up sometimes.  So perhaps you’ve decided you might want a new gold or silver piece of jewelry – how can you reduce the impact of your purchase?

Well of course the obvious first question is regarding the raw materials – the metals used. Mining for silver and gold can cause huge environmental impact if it’s not done properly.  There are many jewelers who try and use only recycled silver for example.  These come from secondary refiners who deal with recycled and scrap silver from other sources other than directly from a mine.

It is difficult to check the origin of precious metals though and it’s unlikely you can guarantee the origin of any item completely.  Silver to use our example is often mined as a by product of industrial mining of other products.  Most commonly the production of copper and zinc will produce a certain amount of silver ore as a by product.

The reality is though that if everyone only used recycled silver then the price would soon explode to an unsustainable level.   However there is another option that probably has the minimal impact on the environment.  That is simply to look at the many sources of antique jewelry in existence.  There are stockists who deal in antique silver items for example, like this place – http://anythingsilver.org/ whose environmental impact is long since passed.

Using existing items means there’s no requirement for raw materials, no production impact from mining or producing the item.  It of course is dependent on finding the right piece but this can normally done from the comfort of  your home and an internet enabled laptop.  It’s an attitude that’s growing in popularity, if you look across the world’s media sites then you’ll see this for yourself.  There’s many more shows about reducing your effect on the environment, there’s even quite a few on Canadian TV – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REwJq5iQn0Q, and also surprisingly in the US.

Help the Environment by Gardening and Making Compost

The world today is very reliant upon fossil fuels, so much so that we’re killing our atmosphere very rapidly. There are many things that you can do to counter the negative way we treat our planet, and one of those ways is through gardening. A garden will help soak in the carbon dioxide and give us oxygen. The more plants, trees and greenery there are, the better off we are. Not enough people are into gardening, so it’s best to at least consider making an effort in starting a garden.

One of the best gardens that you can have is a greenhouse garden. Greenhouses give you the opportunity to plant any type of seeds you want any time of the year. This is because you can control the temperature and water vapors of a greenhouse, allowing for almost any type of plant to grow within in it at any time. A greenhouse garden will also allow your plants extra protection from the weather, and also from insects and pests trying to get to your plants. Looking online will show you a variety of greenhouses for sale.

Gardening in general, whether it’s through a regular garden or a greenhouse garden is very good for you and the environment. You can plant and eat your own fruits and vegetables, and you’ll be doing the Earth a favor as well because the plants will give out oxygen and absorb the carbon dioxide.

So what else can you do to help the environment that can also help out your gardening? Make your own compost at home.

The only problem in making compost is making it for one home. This means you need to gather the right ingredients to make the compost. An ideal compost pile will need two-thirds “greens, “nitrogen-rich materials, and on thirds “browns,” which are carbon-rich materials. “Greens” are fresh plant materials: vegetable scraps, clippings, and grass. “Brown” materials are dead plants: fallen leaves, straw, and old plants.
You can gather your grass clippings, leaf bags and horse manure and collect as much of it as you can. Once you’ve done this, you can start layering them into a pile, and start soaking them as you make the layers. Do this in a circular bin, a wooden bin, a large trash can or right on the ground.

Next, you’ll add your “greens’ the mix, along with coffee grounds, and make the pile as big as you need it to be. It’s very important that your pile stays moist. Make as much or as little as you want. Remember, the more that you make, the more that you’ll have to use. You can make a pile that will last a week or even a pile that will last a whole year. It’s all up to you. Just remember, you’re helping out the environment by doing so.

Safe Environment Means Safeness Of The People

Who among us wouldn’t like to live somewhere safe and calm? People are always dreaming to live a safe environment and do not harm anyone. Microsoft Dynamics GP would explain more about how important to have an environment that would let you feel the safety of the place to live. If we try to see the current situation of our environment today, we would see that there are places wherein the environment are clean and safe from any harmful substances or wrong doings done by the people. There are also some places wherein the environment is suffering from wrong doings and activities of the people. It is bad to here that the people who are responsible on the safety of the environment are the ones who are doing the destruction of the environment. We should realize and ne aware that we are the ones who can benefit on the environment as human being and we are also the ones who are putting ourselves at risk. When you find out that there are activities that would absolutely destruct the environment then we should stop it as early as possible. Microsoft Dynamics GP is based on data mining and can help people realize how environment sustains our life and how does it becomes vital to the lives of every individual. A safe environment usually means safeness of the people living in it.

Microsoft Dynamics GP is now ready to explain how people should threat the environment. Let us check on some human activities that would destruct the environment such pollutions. Yes, pollution is now a big and serious problem that was encountered by our environment and until now. So, it is important that these pollutions must stop as it threatens the lives of human beings as well as the living things in this world. Microsoft Dynamics GP would let people realize their wrong and correct it. The people are the ones who are responsible on the welfare of the environment and we should take good care our environment. Pollution becomes a serious problem since from the time that it was not discovered and still continually in dangers the living things as well as the human beings. Meaning, we must be responsible as to what are the things that we do and we should have to make sure that it doesn’t harm anybody.

Microsoft Dynamics GP guides many people today to stop water pollution, air pollution, noise pollutions and whatever kind of pollution it might be. To live a safe environment assures to have a healthy living. It can be useless if we live as to what we want to be but our environment is gradually destroyed. Always remember that our environment plays a big role in our daily lives. If in time that we find out our environment is now at risk of being totally destructed, we are also putting our lives in danger as well. No matter what kind of solutions and activities to stop destroying and destructing our environment as long as we are not doing anything that can harm the living things, the environment and the people surround us. Let us protect our environment and we are also protecting our welfare at the same time.

Source: Microsoft Dynamics GP