Lower bills and lower CO2 levels- Who doesn’t want those two things?

Hey everyone,

Since it’s finally getting colder, like myself, I’m sure that you all are probably trying to keep warm. Heating your whole house is expensive, so wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to keep warm and keep your bills more reasonable? Energy conscious engineers in Madrid may be able to help you out!

Many people have been using solar panels to heat the water in their bathroom for several years now, but the engineers at the Madrid University Carlos III and Politécnica say that they can also be used to heat in the winter and cool in the summer large inhabited spaces. They’ve incorporated solar panels into a gas-based system within a larger absorption machine. This would reduce both energy expenditure and CO2 emissions!

The gas engine within this system generates electricity and can in use the residual heat that is produced in the conversion process during winter months. Then, in summer when we are sweltering, the residual heat powers an absorption machine which cools the water to provide air conditioning.

Pedro A. Rodriguez, the primary author of the study, explained that although it is only compulsory for establishments in order to meet the demand for hot water, a very limited number of them escape this by not having either showers or kitchens. In order to make establishments utilize this new energy system, the energy needs of buildings, one must consider the temporal trends in a specific area.

Although at the moment only businesses, train stations such as the Atocha Station in Madrid, and shopping malls have been utilizing this new green technology, maybe someday soon we all will have the ability to use solar panels to reduce both our energy bills and our carbon footprint!

Source: http://www.uc3m.es/portal/page/portal/actualidad_cientifica/noticias/solar_panels

 

OnAir says: How can you stay green as it gets colder? Let us know your ideas in a comment below!

Great news about asthma

Hi guys! I’m sure that this week’s topic will hit pretty close to home for most of you- asthma. As someone who suffers from asthma, when I first read this report from Duke, I wanted to talk about it.

It all starts out with those who have more genetic risks for asthma. These people are not only more likely to develop asthma at a very young age, but they are also more likely to continue to suffer from asthma throughout their entire life. Thanks to new results from a 40-year longitudinal study reported by Duke University, researchers have been able to study how genetics relate to one’s life course of asthma.

In the past, studies have linked a handful of genes to minute increases in asthma risk. The researchers at Duke, and others, wanted to know whether those risks actually add up. They chose to look at the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, a study of 1,037 individuals who have been tracked since their birth in Dunedin, New Zealand during a 12-month period from 1972-1973. If that number alone doesn’t daunt you, read what happened next.

The team calculated a “genetic risk score” for each of the individuals in the Dunedin study by adding up the number of risk variants each of them carried in their genes. They then interviewed as to whether those scores correlated to the development of their asthma from early childhood through their midlives.

And yes, in fact, they did correlate. Those who have higher genetic risk variants developed asthma earlier in life and remained asthmatic longer than did those with lower risk levels. Higher risk individuals also more often had allergic reactions associated with severe and persistent asthma and developed problems with lung function.

There is still a long way to go before genetic risk scores, like those done in this study, can be used in routine medical practice. However, until then the data found could lead to a better understanding of the biology of asthma and advance research to devise new treatment and prevention strategies, which for me, and the approximately 26 million other people who suffer from asthma in the US alone, sounds amazing! The numbers of asthmatics grow every year at a cost of billions of dollars; so, the sooner we get a real grasp on this situation, the better!

New School Year? New Ways To Be Green!

Hey Guys!

Since most of you, like myself, will be starting school very soon I thought we could talk about ways to make this school year your greenest yet!

There are so many easy ways to do this, like bringing a reusable water bottle and lunchbox. Most of those things you already know about, so I thought that I should bring up some ways you may not already know!

Before we get to go to classes and see our friends we have to GET to school, right? Well, how we choose to do that makes a huge difference and has serious effects on the environment as well as one’s health. Here are some ways to make sure that your carbon footprint is lessened this year!

1) Of course the best way to avoid releasing fossil fuels is by either walking, riding a bike or skateboarding to school. Obviously, if you live really far away from school, these aren’t options for you. However, if you live pretty close to your school, this may well be a good option. Not only are these your greenest options for transportation, you will also be getting some exercise! If you choose one of these three options, make sure to be safe–watch traffic, wear safety gear, and practice the buddy system!

2) Another way to cut emission production is by riding a school or city bus. Although they may not be as “cool” as driving a car, you will have time to socialize with your peers and even potentially get some extra study time in the mornings/afternoons. Mass transit is also another way to cut your carbon emissions by two-thirds!

3) The third way to reduce your carbon emissions is by creating a carpool. Carpooling makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons. It is a time and money saver, reduces traffic congestion and pollution, and is a way to get to know your neighbors better!

So, there are several ways for you and your friends to make the most of this year by becoming more eco-friendly! Not only will the earth thank you, but you can also wrack up a bunch of points on this website by doing all of the above activities! Think about it… Why wouldn’t you want to make a positive change this year?

 

OnAir says: What’s another great reason to do all this stuff? Say it with us: AirCreds! Start earning points for your air-friendly acts today!

Eating like you mean it

We all know eating organic and local is the way to go when buying food because, as a teacher once told me, “every time you buy something, you’re voting for the kind of world you want to live in,” and making those decisions is choosing healthier plants, animals, workers, bodies, and planet. But do you know how you can supercede that decision to make even better eating and lifestyle choices? Stay tuned to find out.

Organic farming is designed to reduce pollution and conserve water without releasing harmful pesticides that harm health and wildlife. When buying organic, you also avoid the risks associated with pesticides, herbicides, additives, preservatives that come with conventional agriculture. By becoming an informed and aware consumer, you support practices that ensure your health and that of the world you live in. Here are some examples of how to start:

  • Look for the USDA Organic label on a product. It means that at least 95% of the food’s ingredients were organically produced or that the product was “made with organic ingredients,” which means the product contains at least 70 % organic ingredients.
  • Avoid the Dirty Dozen–and check out the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” cheat sheet of fruits and vegetables to determine which produce items have the highest and lowest pesticide amount.
  • Buy local and get better food while also ensuring that the money you spend brings twice as much economic wealth to your community. Moreover, purchasing locally and organically raised meats and produce reduces oil consumption significantly as the food industry consumes nearly a fifth of all the petroleum used in the United States.
  • Find out about and combat factory farming. An animal raised on a farm has its weight increased through a daily ration of antibiotics. Such unsustainable and unethical methods are only about maximizing profit and deeply neglect the condition or cost of the food produced.
  • Try meatless Mondays. Think about how far the food on your plate has come and if you’re a major carnivore, take a day or more break off meat a week. The production of meat, especially beef, uses humongous amounts of water and energy.

Your food will surely taste better when you know it’s been treated well and you feel like you’re making a statement of health and care just by eating it.

Sources:
http://www.organic-center.org/
http://www.jamieoliver.com/foundation/
http://sustainableagriculture.net/

Eco-friendly Ways to Keep It Cool

As much as we like to pump up the AC during the hot summer days to come, you can cool down in a variety of ways that feel good and lessen your impact on the environment. Here are some things to try:

  • Keep the windows closed during the day to keep out the heat, but open them at night to let in cool air.
  • Wear white or light colors to reflect sunlight and consider using white window shades or mini-blinds to reduce solar heat gain.
  • Take showers or baths during the cooler times of day so you don’t spend as much time in the water.
  • Keep lights off as much as possible and use candles at night. It can be nice and freshening.
  • When you’re not home, shut off as many electric appliances as possible. They’re probably generating a lot of heat.
  • Get rid of incandescent lights. They use more energy, but also generate lots of heat as compared to fluorescent or LED light bulbs.
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and replenish your body with cool water on days like this.
  • Plant a tree if you can. They can provide ample shade for your home.
  • Picnic in the back yard or hang outside in the evening with family, friends, or a good book.
  • And finally, get wet! A swim is sure to cool you down.

Have a great summer!

Golf Carts Go Green

In the recent past, people have become more aware of how they hurt the environment; this is why we have thousands of websites, like OnAir, and thousands of organizations to help us see how we affect the Earth and its delicate ecosystems. As more of us are starting to lean towards more eco-friendly products, companies have noticed this and are rapidly creating products that will please consumers. But in Peachtree City, Georgia, there is already a product that is rare for a family not to have: golf carts.

The intended use for golf carts is self explanatory: they are used by golfers to save time and not walk to all eighteen holes. They are charged electrically, and most models used nowadays do not use any gasoline, which would emit harsh chemicals into the air. In Peachtree City, where I live, people use golf carts as a major source of transportation. More than 9,000 households own golf carts– more than any city in the world! This lowers air pollution, while also providing a more scenic road to take. Golf cart paths cut through some of the forests, but are skillfully made to leave as many trees up as possible. There are approximately 90 miles (145 kilometers) of golf cart paths that web throughout Peachtree City.

At one of the local high schools, more golf carts are driven to school than cars and buses combined! Students and teachers are encouraged to drive golf carts due to limited parking space; the plus is improving the air quality. This is not the only city that is practicing eco-friendly transportation. Lafayette, Louisiana and Goldsboro, North Carolina are two cities outside of Georgia that practice this, but there are not many other cities that actually do. Less than twenty cities in the United States have most of their population owning and driving golf carts.

Peachtree City has been ranked in the Top 100 places to live in the United States for six years, usually at a very high ranking. It is awarded this prize along with other factors, but its environmentally friendly transportation has contributed a lot to its ranking. Maybe you can try to introduce this eco-friendly way of transportation to your community and other people around it. If you can do this or attempt to, know that you are a responsible person that cares for their environment. Safe driving!

 

OnAir says: Golf carts are great for not emitting exhaust like cars do. What exhaust-less ways can people get around in your town? Got some new ideas? Let us know in the comments!

Do Car Emissions Affect Your Risk of Type Two Diabetes?

Hey guys!

When we’re little, we have generally have no choice in where we have to live, which means that we can’t control what environment we are exposed to. A new study from German researches has showed that children growing up in areas where air pollution levels are high or get higher over a period of time is tied directly to raises in the risk of insulin resistance, and thus diabetes, in children. The research was published in “Diabetologia,” which is the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD).

Now, this isn’t the first time researchers have identified that there are major links between air pollution and other chronic conditions such as atherosclerosis and chronic heart disease. However, these past epidemiological studies that examined associations between long-term exposure to air pollution and type 2 diabetes in adults are inconsistent; and studies on insulin resistance in children are scarce due to the leeriness of specialists concerning research done on children.

The head of the research team, Heinrich, discussed in the article how “although toxicity differs between air pollutants, they are all considered potent oxidisers that act either directly on lipids and proteins or indirectly through the activation of intracellular oxidant pathways.” The stress produced by exposure to extreme amounts of air pollutants may in fact play a major role in the development of insulin resistance, especially in young children.

In this new study, researchers took blood samples from 397 10-year-old girls and boys in a cohort studies. Exposure to traffic-related air pollutants at their birth address were estimated by analysing a combination of emission-levels from road traffic in each of their neighborhoods, population density and land use in the area, as well as the association between air pollution and insulin resistance. This was calculated by the research team by using a model which took into account things like the socioeconomic status of each family, initial birthweight, pubertal status, second-hand smoke exposure at home, and BMI.

To quickly summarize the data for you, insulin resistance levels tended to increase with increasing air pollution exposure, and this remained high even after the adjustment for the other potential negative factors, including socioeconomic status, BMI and passive smoking.

Luckily for us, the results of this study support the notion that the development of diabetes in adults might have its origin in early life and include negative environmental exposures.

If you’re a number lover, I suggest you check out the full data here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130509184817.htm

Go Green–and Go Outside

Summer vacation is ALMOST HERE! Time to run around, roll in the sand at the beach, eat loads of ice cream, go to the park, and picnics…we love picnics.

Or you could be the one barricaded at home with the air-conditioner on, playing video games. And not showing off your tan because you don’t have one.

Air-conditioner = waste of energy. Especially if you can be outside and actually enjoying your summer vacation. So don’t stay cooped up this summer–go green by going out! Here are some suggestions:

  1. Have a picnic. All you need is a cooler (replaces the fridge), sunlight (replaces the light in your kitchen) and sandwiches (replaces the oven/stove). You’re set.
  2. Go tanning at the beach. Why do you need to go to a energy-hogging tanning salon if you can just step outside and get a bronze-y glow? What’s that? You don’t have a beach near you? Just step outside; an hour or two in the sun will get you all the glow you need. But make sure to wear sunscreen with a decent SPF–that’s no joke.
  3. Play sports. You know, instead of going to the gym or working out at home. First off, it’s beautiful outside, so why wouldn’t you want to? Second, being in a gym or at home wastes electricity because of the lights and the equipment. Third, for goodness’ sake, you’re outside. And you’re getting tan. And you’re playing volleyball with your friends. Just go.
  4. Start a garden. This is the perfect weather to do so, and plants help out the environment and produce clean oxygen. And you’ll be outside getting tan. (How many times have I mentioned this now?)

 

Got any more eco-friendly suggestions for summer? Let us know in a comment below.

Photo credit: National Geographic

Water and Air Pollution

One might think air pollution is different than water pollution, but that person doesn’t realize that everything in the world is correlated.

First, let’s see what air pollution REALLY means. According to Princeton worldwide net, it defines air pollution as pollution in the air. Meaning, the greenhouse gases released by the machines go in the atmosphere.

So then what happens? The gasses actually condense like oxygen, and then become clouds. As the cloud gets heavier, it starts raining. The rain is not just water, but it is mixed with the gasses. Finally, the rainfall which is contaminated goes into water bodies which contaminate the whole area.

See how it is related? One problem causes the other which causes another whole different problem.

Which should we work on first? Air or water pollution?

OnAir says: What do you think are the biggest causes of air pollution, OnAir community? Let us know in the comments. Also, give a big welcome to our new blogger Rasika! We’re excited to have her on the team. If you’d like to apply to be an OnAir blogger, click here to get started now!

Cleaner Cooking

Hello OnAir Readers!

This week I’d like to talk about something that I think is very important for our collective future, and is also very interesting.

Each and every one of us uses energy every single day, and I’m not just talking about physical energy which we have all learned about in biology. No, in this instance I am talking about the energy used in cooking and stoves. In a new study, universal access to modern energy (that is, modern sources of energy for everyone on the planet) can only be achieved if we invest between $65-86 billion a year, every single year until 2030. These estimates are much higher than those that came before this study found in “Environmental Research Letters.”

This amount may seem drastic, but readily available access to things like electricity, etc. seems to combat for approximately 4 million deaths annually from poor household air pollution, which is generally caused by traditional cooking practices. International research has shown that with more access to clean cooking fuels, we could easily avoid up to 1.8 million premature deaths as well as simply enhancing people’s well being. In order to do this, we would need to add between 21 and 28 gigawatts of energy in order to create the most modest amount of electricity for the average rural household.

In addition to the costs, there is a need for a new set of dedicated policies to help households ease into cooking in better and cleaner ways. However, this is no small project, and would involve over 40% of the entire world’s population.The estimated cost of this would be approximately $750-1000 billion within the next 20 years.

There are so many details and so much money involved, that even the head researcher Dr. Shonali Pachauri doesn’t fully believe that universal access to clean and modern energy is possible. In fact, she states in another interview that the scale of the investment is so enormous that it would probably require additional sources of finances from private companies. However, the benefits are equally enormous and thus we must all begin to consider whether or not these benefits out-weigh the bad.

In addition to this study with its program, the UN also declared 2012 as the “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All,” and has made their own promises for 2030. Even without the establishment of a full program, even the barest framework would bring cleaner energy to up to 810 million people around the world in rural or impoverished areas by 2030. However, millions more in rural Asia and sub-Saharan Africa would remain without access to these modern energy sources. So, the next time that you’re cooking a meal in your more-than-likely modern kitchen, be thankful!

For more information you can visit here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502225855.htm