Urban Heat Islands and Paint

White reflects and black absorbs.

It’s a simple statement with massive ramifications if our society decides to use the science of color to fight global warming. For centuries cities in places like North Africa and the Mediterranean have been painting everything bright white to keep cool. White reflects the heat radiation back into space while darker colors absorb heat radiation and would therefore increase the temperature in and around the house.

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Why did we abandon this simple technique that seems like a no brainer in places like Los Angeles? The answer is that it is much cheaper to use dark building materials. Asphalt and tar are two of the most ubiquitous building materials we use to construct cities and roads. The detrimental effect of building like that is referred to as the “Urban Heat Island” effect. This is why cities are generally much hotter than the surrounding countryside.

In cities with ample precipitation, the best solution involves plants on places like rooftops and vacant lots. The city of Boston buried it’s largest highway and built a giant park in it’s place. The “Big Dig” was a disaster as far as construction projects go but the original concept was great. (When I was ten years old, the Major of Boston told me the Big Dig would be done in five years…I am now thirty and they just finished.)

big-dig-before-after-photo

The problem with this approach in Los Angeles is the complete lack of rain. No one should be watering large lawns because it’s just downright irresponsible. Replacing lawns with fake grass actually contributes to the Urban Heat Island and also destroys whatever ecosystem existed there before. Residents of Los Angeles can enroll in a rebate turf removal program whereby you replace the grass with drought resistant plants and get money back from the city.

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Of course if you can’t get people to vaccinate their children, the concept of deadly irresponsibility may not be salient for the residents of greater Los Angeles.

If you want to be a responsable member of society, however, paint white and tear up all that thirsty grass.

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Miscellaneous Electrical Load (MEL)

Miscellaneous Electrical Load (MEL)  in buildings are electric loads resulting from electronic devices not responsible for space heating, cooling, water heating, or lighting. MELs are produced by hard-wired and “plug-in” electrical devices, including home entertainment centers, kitchen electronics such as microwaves and toaster ovens, bath items such as hair dryers and electric hot tubs, and others such as security systems and ceiling fans.

Early generation phone chargers used a lot of electricity and were also a danger if left plugged into the phone. In recent years chargers for phones and other new electronics like laptops have more energy efficient features like an automatic shutoff and sleep mode.

MEL is estimated to contribute 4-12% of the total household energy usage and while many newer electronic devices will come with energy efficient features, things like refrigerators and microwaves are not replaced often so the likelihood of these devices being energy hogs is high.

The other major contributor to MEL are devices that are always connected to the internet. The increasing use of electronics connected to WiFi for example is only going to increase as we move inexorably towards a wireless world. Internet business experts estimate that by 2020 there will be 50 billion devices constantly connected to the internet. Some of the more futuristic things that will be connected to your phone or the computer chip in your brain are coffee makers, pacemakers, cars, and of course cows.

There are a few proposed solutions, some more feasible and long term than others. TheWhole House Switch is somewhat like a circuit breaker for everything in your house. The idea is that when you go out all the electronics can be switched off all at once. This solution requires some pretty serious rewiring that may not even offset the energy saved.

The best solution is a combination of advances in the technology combined with government incentives to upgrades appliances to the latest energy efficient models. For example, new advances in semi-conductor materials means faster and cheaper energy transmission with little environmental loss. When exactly these scientific progressions will be available for the homeowner is still a matter of some debate.

One short term solution is to put timers on the devices that don’t need to be on all night. I have a timer attached to my TV, modem, and cable box that shuts off automatically at night. Timers can be purchased from Tashman Home Center.

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Is Humanity to Blame for the Scarcity of Water?

wasting water

 

Although skeptics don’t believe humans are the cause of global warming, or climate change, we may be responsible for the scarcity of our own water supplies. Water does more for our community than simply keep us alive. We use this liquid component in a variety of tasks from flushing waste down to sewers to cleaning toxic chemicals to the excessive use each time we frack for gas. Instead of looking for alternatives and examining how our actions affect communities and the planet, humans are more drawn to the quick and easy way to accomplish goals.

1. Deforestation – Less rainfall in particular areas of the globe can be correlated with the loss of plant life within those areas. The Amazon Rainforest, while being a prime example, isn’t the only area that has seen diminished rainfall from the lack of trees and plants. Deforestation has been greatly impacted by humans because of the need for cattle ranches, paper and other materials that could have been produced using other methods.

2. Cleaning and Waste Removal – Depending on the style of your toilet, you can use 3.5 to seven gallons of water with each flush. In a family environment, more than 100 gallons of water can be flushed down the drain each and every day. The water that fills this receptacle is the same water that we drink. While this is aside from the installation of “low-flow” toilets, showers and baths can consume a great deal of water for the family environment as well. While this depends on the shower head that is installed, a single 10-minute shower can use up 50 gallons of water. In a family environment, more than 350 gallons of water can be consumed just in the bathroom on a daily basis.

3. Fracking – Millions of gallons of water can be used in any particular “fracking” job in order to improve drilling for oil and natural gas. Although some of this waste water is recycled, a large portion of it is lost. Instead of investing in improved ways to drive our automobiles or keep the steam turbine generators spinning for power, we squander the very component life depends on even though droughts run rampant across the plains.

4. Existing Technology –
We have existing technology that can help drought-affected areas to support life, if not for the implications of a dollar amount. Large and small scale water condensers are being developed that can essentially pull the water right out of the air. Since it costs so much money to build these units, may don’t see them as a practical way to survive – as drought causes crops to suffer.

5. Lack of Effort – In areas that are affected by floods and where the humidity is so high, why can’t this extra influx of water be piped to areas that are suffering? Because it wouldn’t be cost efficient to do so. It would require effort by local and federal governments in order to provide a viable method to keep the populations alive with the one component that humans cannot survive without.

Climate change on a global scale may be caused by a natural occurrence of the planet, but humans do their part to be as detrimental to their own survival. Instead of being a species that cares for survival, we have become one that depends on the size of the pocket book. If it’s not profitable, it must not be the correct path, right?

 

 

This article is contributed by Madoline Hatter. Madoline is a freelance writer and blog junkie from ChangeOfAddressForm.com. You can reach her at: m.hatter12 @ gmail. com.

 

Electronic Medical Records and Personal Health Records

With the ever expanding Internet opening possibilities across various forms of business, we find ourselves in an age where information is readily available at our fingertips. Databases have been built regarding driving records, real estate, education, and more to provide a more efficient and less time consuming practice of data entry. Electronic medical records are no different and could be more important since the information is invaluable. There is a wide scope of possibilities for using electronic medical records.

1. Instant Sharing – In some care facilities, methods exist to share a patient’s information with another facility over the Internet in a different city. This could prove to be vital if the information requested pertains to a life threatening circumstance.

2. Clicks Away – With electronic medical and personal health records, the information is just a few clicks away. Instead of sifting through files and folders to find an individual’s information, it could just be a matter of entering a name search.

3. Billing – Most facilities have implemented some kind of a billing system for patients. Many of these billing applications can be used in conjunction with a medical record for further data analysis later on.

4. Web-Based – Data centers and the Cloud have increased efficiency of sharing patient information with practitioners around the globe. Some of these electronic records are based on the Internet alleviating a facility’s need for a sufficient data server. With the inclusion of images, x-rays, and more a server can get quite crowded with data in a largely populated area.

5. Cross Platform – Electronic medical and personal health records can be accessed across multiple devices. As some are web-based, a web browser on a tablet or phone would suffice. However, some of these EMR developers have made apps for Android and iPad for a more efficient tablet use. These apps connect to the database on the Internet without the need of a browser and all pertinent information can be viewed.

6. Prescriptions – Advancements in technology have allowed some of the EMR applications the ability to send e-prescriptions to participating vendors. Programs such as Practice Fusion incorporate a variety of tools to create greater efficiency in the facility including messaging, reporting, and billing.

7. Quick Entry – Many EMR programs allow a practitioner the ability to simply click on symptoms to build a record reducing the amount of typing. This could also reduce miscommunications and illegible comments about how an individual patient has been treated in the past.

The days of old where we cut down trees to create paper for our records is slowly coming to an end. It was a method that worked, but technology and the need for efficiency are growing ever closer to triumph over archaic methods of communication. With a little ingenuity and innovation, we could very well create a single database that can be used to provide every piece of information about a specific individual.

About the Author:

Ken Myers is an expert adviser on in-home care & related family safety issues to many websites and groups. He is a regular contributor to www.gonannies.com. You can get in touch with him at kmyers.ceo@gmail.com.

Why Iran is lost to the West.

mossadeq

Sometimes we need to stand back and look at the historical origins of current problems.

In 1953 the CIA and MI6 assassinated the democratically elected president of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh because he intended to nationalize the Iranian oil industry. The coup, among other things, was and is a significant reason for regional war and fossil fuels issues. You may recognize the oil company that initiated the coup, it is now known as British Petroleum (BP).

Empire and Nationhood

  • ISBN-10: 0231108192

The sources used by Mary Ann Heiss in Empire and Nationhood are successful in providing credible background for her statements regarding British and American sentiments during the Iranian Oil dispute. The lack of sources from Iran means that it is a largely a two, instead of three sided account of the events. She creates a detailed picture of the negotiations from a western viewpoint using largely the correspondences of Great Britain and the United States while the viewpoint of the Iranians is pieced together from secondary sources and public announcements. The cultural bias of the western representatives is commented on, so although there is a record of Iranian negotiations, they are biased and often indignant descriptions by diplomats.
The overview of the Anglo-Iranian Oil crisis draws on many secondary works and a few books or articles written by people involved or living in Iran at the time. The secondary works are for the most part written by western historians whose titles do not suggest an evenly balanced perspective. For example the official history of the British Petroleum Company is cited a few times and many of the books are primarily concerned with the cold war. Iran was certainly important in the cold war but focusing on it might tend to show the perspectives of those fighting the war rather than that of Iran, which was a chess piece in the games being played between the US and the USSR.
The sources that contribute to the descriptions of the strained relations leading up to the rise of the nationalization movement and the rise of Mossadeq are a mix of British and American correspondences and books concerning the rise of Mossadeq and the political situation in Iran before him. This chapter, “too little too late” shows the greatest balance between eastern and western sources used. The difference is that the sources from the Middle Eastern perspective are written long after the events took place while correspondence on the part of the western diplomats give a more accurate sense of the feeling at the time. Authors whose names indicate Middle Eastern heritage are significant because they are referenced sparingly once Mossadeq is prime minister. This may have something to do with the secrecy Mossadeq afforded himself once in office. Also, the remainder of the book is largely an account of the negotiations between Mossadeq and representatives of England and the US. This means that presently we can look at the negotiations because there is a record of the internal consultations on the western end but we do not know the full extent of the pressure and constraints put on Mossadeq by political entities and public opinion. A dispatch from the state department to someone involved with debating Mossadeq on a key point shows the reasoning behind the American position while the reasoning behind the Iranian posture can only be guessed at.
Another reason for the one sidedness of the documentation is that for the most part, it was a Prime Minister talking to a diplomat who is already biased against the PM. Mossadeq had the power to make concessions so the political motivations behind his actions have to be derived from the situation in Iran. We have such a good record of the western motivations because American and British agents were constantly conferring with each other and their respective governments. It is unlikely that Mossadeq communicated with his advisors in writing and probably kept the details of his situation secret.
An important factor with regard to documentation that is not discussed in the book is the fact the Tehran at this time was chock full of spies. Channels of communication are never one hundred percent secure so information that was considered sensitive would be unlikely to be sent by telegraph for example. The author demonstrates the general fears of the US with regard to soviet interactions in Iran, but the specific threats, real or perceived, are not revealed. The author mentions documents relating to the MI-6 and CIA inspired coup that are withheld but only touches upon why the US thought the USSR would automatically take power in Iran if the economy were to fail. There is certainly logic behind the containment policy in Iran but because there is little mention of popular Iranian sentiment regarding communism aside from the actions of the Tudeh party, the policy seems to stem mainly from American paranoia.
The only primary sources that voice the position of Iran are the Correspondences between his/her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the Persian government, and related documents (concerning the oil Industry in Persia, February 1951 to September 1951) (Concerning the joint Anglo-American proposal for a settlement of the oil dispute, August 1952 to October 1952) The problem with these sources is that they were most likely documents that could be made public and were, if it suited a political aim. Most of the negotiations were done without the public knowledge or proposals were made informally at first with the reaction often eliminating the need to present them formally. What we can see in these formal documents are the last ditch efforts by Briton to save face by standing behind proposals they knew would be rejected.
It is clear that the United States was integral in the dispute between the Iranian Government, the AIOC and the British Government but the records taken from the national Archives verses the ones taken from the Public Record Office show that the available American records are more concise and therefore less accurate. The documents from the Public Record Office in England include minutes, memorandums and other immediate sources. These kinds of sources, if unaltered, are likely to be the most accurate and the most revealing. The record of the Secretary of Defense should in contrast be far less revealing and is certainly not cited as frequently as the Foreign Office correspondence. These American sources are not likely to contain information that could be considered inflammatory. That is to say that the United States would not be likely to make information public that could add to the hatred of the US by Iran.
The author does a satisfactory job of filling in the blanks created by the lack of Iranian primary sources. She gives a reasonable assessment of the political situation in Iran based on western perceptions that were probably fairly accurate because of the strategic concerns in Iran. The memoirs of Mossadeq may have helped to explain some of the pressures he faced in Iran but even a person’s memory of their own actions cannot be trusted as fact. While the author does not attempt to analyze individual Iranian sentiment for lack of material, it would seems possible to find a primary source written by an Iranian who was not Mossadeq or the Shah. She does a good job showing the shift from British to American domination of the Iranian oil as well as their reactions to the nationalist movement.

bp

Review Bibiography

International History Review v. 21 no. 4 (Dec. 1999). Mejcher, Helmut, reviewerhttp://metaquest.bc.edu:4000/sfx_local?sid=HWW:ACIT&genre=article&pid=%3Can%3E199901501686015%3C%2Fan%3E&aulast=Amuzegar&aufirst=Jahangir&issn=0026-3141&title=The+Middle+East+Journal&stitle=Middle+East+J&atitle=Empire+and+nationhood+(Book+Review)&volume=53&issue=1&spage=138&epage=140&date=1999&ssn=winter—There was an error with the Factiva server when I tried to print this review before class but I had read it with the paper.
Diplomatic History v. 23 no. 3 (Summ 1999). Hoffman, Elizabeth Cobbs, reviewer. http://www.blackwellsynergy.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=0145-2096&date=1999&volume=23&issue=3&spage=559

Cloud computing and the wasteful excesses of data centres

data-center

Cloud computing and the wasteful excesses of data centres

 

With the rapid increase in the use of cloud services and the number of cloud service options available, more data centres have popped up all over the globe, bringing with them a higher demand for electricity. Recent reports by the Energy Conservation Bureau suggest that data centres now consume 3% of all electricity generated in the United States. A September New York Times article, “Power, Pollution and the Internet”, reports that data centres waste large amounts of energy, with only 6 – 12% of energy used by data centres going towards computing.

Data centres often consist of rows of servers, computers whose primary purposes are to process data. The heat generated by these servers can melt crucial computer components, risking data loss. As data centres have grown many now spread rows of servers over hundreds of thousands of square feet and utilize industrial cooling systems to combat overheating. Tens of thousands of data centres now exist to support the heavy demands of internet use, with many of the largest internet companies running servers at full capacity regardless of demand, resulting in the excessive wasting of energy.

There are ways to build more energy-efficient data centres. Providers can consider re-evaluating their redundancy, utilizing storage virtualization, consolidating their servers, and upgrading to energy efficient technology. Some data centres utilize their environment to cool their systems, such as a local waterfall or cold Arctic air. If clients outsource data centre management to high quality facilities that follow these practices, they can avoid forming their own poor management habits. Outsourcing can also save clients from having to upscale and downscale their own equipment to match the changing demands on their business.

Though outsourcing offers advantages, if large data centres are not optimally managed, these industry practices only contribute to more energy consumption. A large data centre is not inherently more energy efficient than a small one, and the spreading of load does not guarantee a reduced need for capacity. It stands to reason the cloud service providers need more spare capacity available to serve their clients than if clients operated their own facilities. Some argue that cloud services help to improve the situation, leading to a consolidation and centralization of computing among large, well-operated data centres. This is not necessarily the case.

Powering the internet is a very environmentally unfriendly prospect. Cloud computing presents a path towards improving the situation, but it is not a solution in and of itself.

 

Mac Connolly has worked in the technology industry for the past 25 years, working for various well-known brands. He is currently working with Melbourne Server Hosting as a freelance writer sharing his experience of technology and the advances within green hosting and data centres.

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Going Green in Small Things

Going Green in Small Things

When we think of going green we typically think of things like adding solar panels to your home’s roof or massive wind farms or building a home out of used tires. However, going green does not have to mean making massive, expensive changes to your lifestyle. You can just do a few little things and make a big impact on the environment. Here are some little things you can change –

  1. Light Bulbs – We all know that the classic light bulb is a huge waste of electricity and heat. Thankfully we have other options today. Even big chain stores carry a variety of eco-friendly lighting choices. LED lights are becoming cheaper every year and use almost no electricity while still providing more than enough light.
  2. Car Maintenance –Keeping your car maintained is an easy way to help the environment. A well maintained car does not give off as much pollution and a car with inflated tires and a clean fuel injector assembly does not use as much gas. Not only are you reducing emissions, but you are also reducing the drain on non-renewable resources and the transportation and processing required to get them to your local gas station.
  3. Insulation –An easy and inexpensive way to make your home more eco-friendly is to replace your insulation. A well-insulated home stays warmer in winter and cooler in summer, reducing your need for utilities to heat and cool your home. It also helps to replace your windows with double paned glass. This double layer of glass means that less cool air will escape in the summer and fewer icy breezes will get in during the winter. You can even have your windows tinted or add dark colored screens to reduce sun exposure and keep your house cooler.
  4. Recycle –This simple idea has been around for a long time but is still something that we need to be reminded to do every once in a while. You should be recycling everything you can. Things like soda cans, glass jars, and plastic jugs can be recycled into new, useful things. Even paper products can be recycled. If your community does not have a recycling program you can form one or find your closest recycling center. Oftentimes your local public school will have a recycling program in place and would be glad for any donations you care to provide.
  5. Shop Smart –Las but not least, learn to shop smart. Try to buy locally as much as you can, reducing the transportation costs and emissions to get the products to the store. Try to find items that are made from recycled materials and thingsthat can be reused instead of thrown away.

All these little steps add up to really help the environment. Remember that you do not have to be rich to be green. Just a few thoughtful changes and a little effort on your part can help us to keep the Earth in shape for the next generation.

Author Bio:

Jason Miner plays a vital role for www.blogcarnival.com. He is an expert in writing topics of different categories. He is helping the carnival team to grow & working on making this an even better place for bloggers. 

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