Uncreative Juices
Behind the blog: Jackie Garcia. Majoring in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz. I created a blog based on my interests in science and the environment. I hope to use this tumblr to inform the average consumer, and give you some cool stuff to look at too.
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Make this the year you reduce your energy use (and your utility bill) by air-drying your clothes as often as possible.

Canadian old-growth forest to lose "forest reserve" status. Ontario government opts to open area up to mining.

:(

Time runs out on Delaware’s offshore wind project

With no prospect of federal support in sight and no domestic or European buyer willing to assume future costs, Delaware’s offshore wind energy project is officially dead.

The (Wilmington) News-Journal reported today that NRG Energy terminated its landmark offshore wind power contract with Delmarva Power on Tuesday.

"The hard-won 2008 power purchase agreement, the first for offshore wind in the United States, was considered an essential ingredient in building a wind farm off the coast of Delaware. Tuesday was the final day under the contract for Bluewater to exercise an escape clause without forfeiting a $4 million security deposit.

“Officials at NRG, which purchased Bluewater in 2009, notified Delmarva’s parent company, Pepco Holdings Inc., of the termination Tuesday afternoon, said Matt Likovich, a Delmarva spokesman. Delmarva reported it accepted the termination.”

Researchers Make Advance Towards Paint-On Solar Cells

sciencedaily

Imagine if the next coat of paint you put on the outside of your home generates electricity from light — electricity that can be used to power the appliances and equipment on the inside.

Although the conversion efficiency is only 1% (as opposed to 10-15% for photovoltaic solar panels), it marks a breakthrough that will probably see improvements to in the future.  In addition, these paint on solar cells are cheap and easy to manufacture, and don’t use silicon.

Wind Turbines Prove Additional Help to Farms.

Wind Turbines have long been a popular technology on farms, as they provide cheap and renewable electricity to rural locations, and have minimal to no visual impact to neighboring areas as in more urban settings.  In addition, the middle section of the US shares both the “corn belt” of the country and the areas where wind speed is at it’s highest, making implementation of both ideal together. Scientists have recently discovered an additional benefit that wind turbines can have for farms. 

In ways similar to planting trees along the edges of crops to mix air flow, wind turbines have the same effect.  Turbines can help get more CO2 to crops, which is essential to their function as plants. 

Other effects a turbine can have are reducing dew levels on plants, which can make it less susceptible to fungi.  By changing air flow, they may also change temperatures, making nights warmer and days cooler.  One of the first studies on this effect found that in Southern California, nighttime temperatures were higher downwind from wind turbines.  The scientist agreed that the effects on crops will be complex, and “one good thing could offset another bad thing.”

Like Tatooine from Star Wars, UCSC astronomers contribute research to confirm first planet orbiting two stars

HOW TO SPOT AN ANIMAL TESTING COMPANY

uncaged.co.uk

Many cosmetics companies misleadingly claim their products are ‘not tested on animals’ but are not so keen to admit that they still use animal-tested ingredients. In these crude poisoning tests, chemicals are force-fed to animals, injected into them, dripped into their eyes and rubbed into their raw skin. Here is an overview that explains how to recognise the companies that try to give the impression they are cruelty-free, when they’re not!

  1. Chemical-producing companies that test on animals themselves or pay researchers to carry out animal tests on their behalf e.g.

    Beiersdorf
    Colgate
    Johnson & Johnson
    L’Oreal
    PZ Cussons
    Procter & Gamble
    Reckitt Benckiser
    Unilever


    They tend to be larger companies and often have a raft of different cosmetic brands, for example ‘Dove’ and ‘Organics’ are Unilever brands. ‘Herbal Essences’ and ‘Max Factor’ are P&G brands. ‘Garnier’ and ‘Lancome’ are L’Oreal brands, the Body Shop are now owned by L’Oreal too. So rule number one is always look to see who the parent company is.

  2. The second category are cosmetics companies that tend not to test on animals themselves but continue to buy, use and benefit financially from chemical ingredients that have recently been tested on animals by their suppliers. Many cosmetic brands fall into this category e.g.

    Avon
    Boots brands
    Chanel
    Clarins
    Clinique
    Estee Lauder
    Givenchy
    Revlon
    Tresemme

    Supermarkets:
    Asda
    Lidl
    Morrisons


    Most of them are very clever at deceiving the public with the claims they make about animal testing.

Cars Can Run Off of Recycled Newspaper?

Animal Activists stop Dog Meat Festival in South Korea

June was to be the month of a dog meat festival sponsored by the Korean Dog Farmers Association.  South Korea is one among many other Asian countries that have been known to consume dog meat.  The purpose of this festival was to try to raise public awareness about the conditions on dog meat farms by featuring videos of canines being raised in clean environments.  Luckily, animal activists ended up preventing this event from happening.  Despite the fact that eating dog has been a common practice for Koreans for a while, younger generations are beginning to step up against this practice, and believe that this is making South Korea a laughing stock of the world.  There are infact, many Koreans who are against this practice, and in the future we will most likely see a huge drop in the amount of people in the world who do consume canine species.

Although reading this did make me happy, I soon thought, why is this idealogy only applied to canines? Do other animals not deserve this same right to live simply because they arn’t “mans best friend?”

Source

Liquid fuel net imports (including both crude oil and refined products) fell from 57 percent of total U.S. consumption in 2008 to 49 percent in 2010 because of rising domestic production and the decline in consumption during the economic downturn. EIA forecasts that liquid fuel net imports’ share of total consumption will decline further to 47 percent in 2011

Heal the world, make it a better place.: 12 Questions and Answers about Why we actively fight palm oil

gretekas:

Why we actively fight palm oil:
Basic arguments and explanations about the substance that destroys the rainforest

Palm oil plays a decisive role in the lives of almost everyone of us. Being a low-cost resource, palm oil is in great demand and is contained in virtually everything. You can find it in foods ranging from frozen pizza to chocolate bars, in laundry detergents and cleaning agents, in cosmetics, in diesel fuel tanks and in combined heat and power plants. Here are some facts about palm oil you may have been unaware of.

1. From the rainforest to palm oil monocultures
The oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis) grows to 30 metres tall and is native to the African rainforest. As of today, oil palms are bred in industrial plantations embracing an area of 15 million hectares along the equator. Oil palm trees depend on the tropical rainforest climate to flourish: They rely on constant high humidity, high temperatures and full sun. In order to guarantee this, the ground is cleared of its natural vegetation when establishing a plantation. Huge amounts of pesticides and herbicides are employed to kill off weeds and vermin on the monocultivated fields. At oil mills, the oil is extracted from the fruit using heat and high pressure. Palm oil is gained from the pulp of the orange-coloured fruit, while the kernel contains palm kernel oil. Per year in a hectare, oil palm trees yield about 3,5 tons of raw palm oil on the average.

2. Clear-cutting the rainforest in favour of palm oil
Together, Indonesia and Malaysia account for 85 per cent of the global palm oil production. In Indonesia alone, oil palms are grown on an area of 9 million hectares. But aside from these nations, Germany also imports large quantities from Colombia, Papua New Guinea and Ivory Coast. Governments grant big concessions on rainforest land to corporations. What is more, the tropical timber and palm oil industries are closely intertwined. Felling and selling precious wood often serves to finance the investment costs for palm oil plantations. The rest of the forest vegetation is simply burned.

3. Palm oil plantations are the enemy of biodiversity
Following deforestation and transformation of the rainforests into industrial monocultures, the most species-rich habitats on earth are destroyed. According to experts, the destruction of tropical forests is responsible for more than 50.000 animal and plant species to become extinct per year. Orangutans, Sumatran tigers and elephants are among the highly endangered species. But the people who live there lose their livelihoods as well. Natives and farmers are driven off their land; herbicides and waste from the oil mill factories pollute their soil, their rivers and their lakes.

4. Palm oil brings large profits to corporations
Palm oil is by far the cheapest vegetable oil on the world market. In large quantities, it is traded internationally. Worldwide annual production in 2010: 53 million tons. Owing to its chemical property, palm oil proves to be very versatile in food and chemical industries. Because of its high melting point, it is supple and easy to spread. It is vitally important for many products.

5. Palm oil in the supermarket
Palm oil is an integral part in thousands of grocery store products. But only few manufacturers – mostly producers in the organic sector – label the palm oil contained in their products on the packaging. Most companies try to disguise this fact and put down “vegetable oils and fats” instead. Products that usually contain palm oil: 
Foods: margarine, frozen pizza, any convenience food, ice cream, biscuits, chocolate spread, cereal bars, potato crisps. Even when it comes to yoghurt, the milkfat is replaced by palm oil in some cases. The food industry makes excessive use of it and is by far the largest processor of palm oil. 
Chemical products:
 detergents, soaps, household cleaners, candles, beauty products (creams, lipsticks).

6. Palm oil from the outlet
350.000 tons – more than a quarter of all German imports of palm oil which amount to 1,2 million tons (current number from 2009) – are burned in so-called block heat and power plants in order to generate electricity and heat. By means of the Renewable Energy Source Act (EEG), the Federal Government promotes this with up to 19 cents per kilowatt hour. Palm oil combustion is financed via an “EEG Apportionment” scheme which is included in the monthly bill of every single customer. However, 500 of the largest industrial consumers of electricity are excluded from this.

7. Palm oil in your fuel tank
Binding statutes in Germany and in the EU lay down that petroleum diesel must be blended with 6,25 per cents of the so-called pure biodiesel (2010). Samplings by Greenpeace at German gas stations confirm that instead of biodiesel palm oil is used to a great extent.

8. Palm oil warms the climate
Global warming is fuelled by palm oil dramatically. In the acts of clear-cutting the rainforest and draining the peatlands, huge amounts of carbon are released. Because of the deforestation of its rainforest, Indonesia comes in third place at being responsible for warming the climate (after China and the US). In order to cultivate palm oil, large quantities of fossil energy are spent on tillage, fertilizer, pesticides, harvesting, transport and processing. Methane, a very strong greenhouse gas, escapes the production residues. So, energy from palm oil is never “climate neutral”.

9. Palm oil makes you sick
Palm oil is half saturated fat that can cause high cholesterol and heart diseases and that is decried as fattening. 
Apart from that, palm oil also contains the so-called fatty acid ester (3-MCPD and glycidol fatty acid esters) which international science committees classify as being carcinogenic. These fatty acid esters arise in the process of refining vegetable fats and oils. So far, the highest values have been detected in refined palm oil. Glycidol fatty acid esters can be broken down during digestion and can release glycidol. 
For a long time, refined vegetable fats are used for the fat content in foods. Even chocolate spreads usually contain a lot of palm oil. Since the health risk depends on the amount absorbed and on the body weight, especially children are at risk.

10. “Organic” palm oil is not the solution
Companies in the organic sector rely heavily on palm oil. More than 400 products by well-known manufacturers such as Alnatura, Allos, Rapunzel, The Body Shop etc. contain palm oil. Rainforest Rescue has discovered that their suppliers, the Daabon-group in Colombia, have a history of serious accidents, water wastage, pollution, deforestation and eviction of peasants. Here, too, monocultivated fields stretch out over thousands of hectares. From Rainforest Rescue’s point of view, these monocultures do not deserve an eco-label certifying “ecological” farming at all.

11. Palm oil label is a fraud
In collaboration with the WWF, the big palm oil producers and processors have formed the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). It is the goal of this association to help develop a new acceptance for the discredited palm oil by means of a new “label” and to establish more and more palm oil plantations. RSPO does not even rule out deforestation; social aspects and climate protection are ignored completely. 256 environmental and human rights organisationsdismiss RSPO and accuse the association of false labelling

12. What you can do
Note whether the products you purchase contain palm oil. If the packaging merely indicates “vegetable oils”, please contact the manufacturer. 
If you want to avoid palm oil, do not buy convenience food. Use seasonal products from your region instead. Apart from that, all we can do is recommend to be more careful and economical when it comes to our resources. 
Send letters to the Federal Government and to the EU. Ask them to put a stop to palm oil imports immediately, to cancel allowances for electricity produced from vegetable oil and to repeal the mandatory biodiesel-blending. Food must not be burned for the sake of energy. 
Furthermore, you can participate in our signature campaign directed at Chancellor Angela Merkel. You can download it from our website at www.regenwald.org/Unterschriften

How Car Companies Will Meet Obama’s New Fuel Standards

Good.is

President Obama announced today that by 2025 the cars and trucks sold in the United States would have an average fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon. The White House says vehicles that use less gas and emit less carbon will save consumers $1.7 billion over the course of the program, which starts in 2017. (The 2011 standard is 28.3 mpg.)

Read rest of article here

Healthycal.org: Blacks & Latinos Care More About Clean Air, Climate Change

healthycal:

Think environmentalism is only a concern for upper-middle class white people in Santa Monica or San Francisco? Think again.

According to a statewide survey published Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California, blacks (42 percent) and Hispanics (41 percent) were more likely…

North Sea Oil Leak: Shell Under Fire Over Silent Tactics

Oil has been flowing into the North Sea from a leak at a platform off the coast of Scotland for a week, but Shell has failed to be open with the public. Details of the leak are scarce, and information on the amount of oil which has escaped so far remains uncertain.