Thursday, 26 August 2010 09:00

Global Warming Stunting Plant Growth

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Earlier observations of plant growth spurred by warming temperatures are now staring in the face of a warmer world, which researchers say is hampering plant growth. The study, published in the journal Science, shows an overall decline in plant growth from 2000-2009 because of warming-induced droughts. As temperatures continue to climb, researchers are raising concern about food security and development of plant-based biofuels. "This is a pretty serious warning that warmer temperatures are not going to endlessly improve plant growth," said the study's co-author Steven W. Running of the University of Montana. As drought caused by warming reduces the land's ability to take up carbon, the result could be more carbon dioxide left in the atmosphere and thus more warming, explained co-author Maosheng Zhao of the University of Montana. Their study, based on data collected by satellites, found that while northerly areas experienced some increased plant growth from warmer temperatures, this was more than offset by warming-associated drought in the Southern Hemisphere. "We see this as a bit of a surprise, and potentially significant on a policy level because previous interpretations suggested global warming might actually help plant growth around the world," Running said.
Thursday, 26 August 2010 08:58

Make Your Blog or Website CarbonFree®

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We all know that activities such as commuting to work or lighting our homes contributes a substantial amount to our carbon footprints every year. What about your website or blog? You may not have considered it, but all websites and blogs have carbon footprints, and they are larger than you might imagine. Think about everything that has to happen when you view a website. Your computer downloads information, which is housed by other computers on the Internet, all of which are using a wide array of networks and servers to transmit the information. The energy use adds up. The average personal blog, for example, creates nearly a ton of CO2 in a year! Why choose to make your website CarbonFree®? 1. Brand Recognition Distinguish your website or blog as reducing its impact on the environment with the CarbonFree® logo. 2. Your donation supports third-party validated carbon reduction projects With Carbonfund.org, your donation goes to fund the same third-party validated projects that our other carbon offset programs fund. We don’t claim that you can offset an entire website by planting a single tree, nor would we expect you to believe that. 3. Custom Calculations Have a large business site or just a small family blog? No problem. We can calculate a custom website offset that fits any size of site with any amount of traffic. Get started by visiting www.carbonfund.org/carbonfreewebsite and choose the carbon offset that most closely matches your average monthly pageview count. After your donation is received, we will provide you the appropriate CarbonFree® logos to use on your site for a year. Show your visitors your commitment to the environment by making your website CarbonFree® today!
Wednesday, 25 August 2010 15:59

Five Ways to "Brighten" Your Life

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Our partner Viva-Lite shares their perspective with us in a guest blog this week. If you haven’t checked out their full spectrum lights yet, make sure you do. They make a huge difference in your mood, your health, your productivity and the way you work. Below, Viva-Lite’s founders offer their top five places to switch to full spectrum lights and brighten your life: 1. Offices and factories [caption id="attachment_5652" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Good lighting is crucial in the print and design industries. © Gerard J. Corts"][/caption] Are you in charge of people who are spending the majority of their day under artificial light? Then you may want to investigate the difference that full-spectrum lighting can make to their health and performance. 2. Farmers, especially poultry farmers, zoos and animal houses Birds are especially affected by the quality of light in their living environments. In the absence of direct sunlight, full-spectrum lighting can help birds and other animals thrive. 3. Nurseries and greenhouses Plants are sensitive to the quality of light that surrounds them. Poor quality light can limit their growth and productivity. Where plants don't have access to true sunlight you can use full-spectrum lighting to get better results than ordinary artificial light. [caption id="attachment_5653" align="alignright" width="300" caption="For people who spend the majority of their day at a computer, full-spectrum li ghting can improve performance. © Gerard J. Corts"][/caption] 4. Graphic design, photography and print industries In an industry that prizes aesthetics and accuracy, lighting is crucial. Artificial light replicates only a portion of the sun's spectrum meaning that the colors you see under artificial light will differ from what you would see under sunlight (or full-spectrum light). Consider changing your lights to full-spectrum lighting. 5. Your home To brighten your home and keep your family cheerful, consider installing full spectrum lighting in your house’s well trafficked rooms. Viva-Lite invites anyone who is interested in how light affects all our lives to subscribe to their free educational newsletter or to visit their website today.
To know how to reduce your business’ carbon emissions, you need to know what & where you can reduce. Carbon ExpressTrack™ from Carbonfund.org is an easy, affordable way for any business to monitor, track and manage carbon emissions. User-friendly and web-based, Carbon ExpressTrack empowers you to make business decisions that improve your environmental performance and save you time and money. For example, you can enter utility usage securely, include any business vehicles, travel or other business emissions, review emissions trends and view charts or reports. Carbon ExpressTrack is easy to use, including small & mid-size businesses as well as large businesses. Carbonfund.org is offering special introductory pricing, and as a Carbon ExpressTrack Partner of Carbonfund.org, you will receive immediate, customized set-up, expert support as well as a partner logo, partnership page on the Carbonfund.org website and more. View a demo and get started by visiting www.carbonfund.org/cet.
In an interview with the DAWN Media Group, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is quoted as saying, “when you have the changes in climate that affect weather that we’re now seeing, I think the predictions of more natural disasters are unfortunately being played out.” Secretary Clinton was referring to the severe flooding in Pakistan, where about 16 million people have been affected by the unusually intense monsoon rains this season. [caption id="attachment_5660" align="alignnone" width="304" caption="Image Credit: BBC"][/caption] The BBC reports that an estimated four million people have now been displaced in the city of Sukkur alone. Meanwhile, the UN has described the humanitarian situation in the country “critical,” as tens of thousands of people continue to be displaced by flood waters moving south through the country. Clinton’s remarks harken to concerned comments by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) this summer about extreme weather events. The WMO said, referring to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:
Several regions of the world are currently coping with severe weather-related events:  flash floods and widespread flooding in large parts of Asia and parts of Central Europe while other regions are also affected by heatwave and drought in Russian Federation, mudslides in China and severe droughts in sub-Saharan Africa. While a longer time range is required to establish whether an individual event is attributable to climate change, the sequence of current events matches IPCC projections of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming.
Wired notes that Indian subcontinent monsoons have been getting more extreme for a half-century. "The Indian Ocean’s surface waters have warmed by two degrees Fahrenheit since the late 1970s. That heats up the air, allowing it to hold more moisture, ultimately sending about eight percent more water vapor into monsoon systems over land. That extra eight percent stirs up the storms, causing them to pull in even more water."
Calling all college students: school will begin soon and there are a number of steps you can take to reduce the carbon footprint of your dorm room.
  1. Make someone else’s garbage your treasure. Browse Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for futons, desks, chairs, etc. instead of spending a fortune buying new furniture.
  2. Sharing is caring. Do you and your roommate really need separate mini-refrigerators and TVs?
  3. Think organic. Consider 100 percent organic cotton or bamboo linens and bedding.
  4. Take charge. Use power strips to easily manage your appliances and unplug whatever you aren’t currently using.
  5. Turn off the lights and all appliances when you’re not in the room. Encourage dorm-mates to do so in lounges or other dorm common areas too.
  6. Choose energy-efficient products such as CFL/fluorescent lightbulbs and Energy Star rated appliances.
  7. Invest in a reusable water bottle. It will cost less than $15, and some cafes give a discount when you use a reusable bottle for drinks.
After you have mastered your dorm room, encourage your university to go carbon neutral. Carbonfund.org partners with a number of colleges and universities to reduce their carbon footprint and support third-party validated carbon reduction projects. Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Dell is offering up to $400 in savings on its line of Studio laptops and desktops just in time for the new school year.

Head over to Coupon Craze to browse great deals from big name retailers like Walmart and Amazon.

Skoobit offers college students the option of renting, rather than purchasing textbooks. For as little as $10.99 a month, students can rent a textbook that would cost many times that amount to purchase. And for a limited time, Skoobit is offering a free trial period.

BookRenter.com also offers the option for students to rent books. As an added incentive, Book Renter provides free shipping both ways. Every month, Book Renter gives away two $250 scholarships; click here to learn how to score one.

Staples is the place to go for your back-to-school supply needs. Click here to check out this week's hot deals.

At any given time, half of the hospital beds in the developing world are occupied by people suffering from water-related illnesses. The average American uses about 100 gallons of water per day, according to NIKA, while those living in poverty use less than 5 gallons per day. NIKA also mentions that an investment worth $9 billion would achieve universal access to clean water and sanitation. That’s less than what Europe collectively spends on ice cream every year—shocking, right? Through the sale of its premium water product, NIKA hopes to bring a voice to the world’s poor who suffer without the basic right to clean water and simple sanitation. By donating 100% of profits to support clean water projects in impoverished countries, NIKA will provide the basic tools and critical assistance to help thousands of families improve their lives in a meaningful way and end the cycle of poverty. NIKA’s ethical consciousness does not stop at the community level. NIKA is certified CarbonFree® by Carbonfund.org and as a part of certification, the company supports the third-party validated Return to Forest reforestation project in Nicaragua.