New ergonomic desk chairs are also eco-friendly

By investing in a desk chair that improves posture and prevents waste, employees can incorporate green living ideas into their offices.

Many Americans spend the majority of their work life sitting in front of a computer, and that practice continues on for several at home. By investing in a desk chair that has the dual benefits of improving posture and preventing waste, employees can incorporate green living ideas into their offices.

Recently, the Mother Nature Network published a list of five desk chair models that are as environmentally beneficial as they are ergonomically sound.

The first chair featured is Embody by the furniture company Herman Miller. Designed specifically for creative professionals who spend long hours behind a desk, the chair was branded the world's "First Health-Positive Chair." And while the Embody itself adjusts to the sitter's movements, manufacturer is well known for its green practices.

Next is the Life task chair from Knoll. This option provides lumbar, pelvic and shoulder support, and is certified by the Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability. Life chairs are even built in a wind-powered facility, the source reports.

Another comfortable and environmentally friendly product is the Diffrient World chair by Humanscale Healthcare. This is another mesh-based chair that provides lumbar support, and is also made of 97 percent recyclable content.

The Leap chair by Steelcase also boasts impressive stats in that arena. This item is made from 30 percent reused material, and is 98 percent recyclable itself. It also has a "slouch-reducing, productivity-boosting" design based on four years of research into sitting patterns.

Finally, the Zoe chair by Haworth was endorsed by the American Physical Therapy Association for its body-friendly design. It also received a gold certification from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute for "its high levels of recyclable and recycled materials," the media outlet states.

For consumers looking for ways to lessen the negative impact of their daily activities on the environment, purchasing in an eco-friendly office chair could be the first step toward green living.

New study shows human effect on ocean warming

A report has been published that establishes the impact that human actions are having on global temperatures – but this latest study concerns the changes taking place underwater.

For the most part, global warming detractors aren't denying that climate patterns are changing. Most simply argue that the causes of those changes are yet to be determined. Why commit to renewable energy initiatives when they're not entirely certain that human energy consumption is to blame for the current climate?

But now, a report has been published that establishes the impact that human actions are having on global temperatures – but this latest study concerns the changes taking place underwater.

Research from the United States, Australia, Japan and India have put together a report that analyzes the causes and effects of rising upper-ocean temperatures. Titled "Human-Induced Global Ocean Warming On Multidecadal Timescales," the study shows that the ocean has warmed significantly over the last 50 years.

According to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which released the research, that increase is only consistent with climate models that factored in the effects of greenhouse gases. The researchers used multiple models and performed several tests to establish whether or not "natural variability" in climate could have caused the changes in oceanic temperature.

However, their findings produced no evidence supporting the possibility that organic shifts in weather patterns could account for the alteration. Based on that fact, the scientists concluded that an external factor – namely, human action – was also playing a significant part in the heating process. 

Though the source states that this is not the first report to link human activity with ocean warming, the use of a "multi-model setup" to simulate the various elements that influence climate patterns and the clear cut conclusion that, yes, human actions are impacting these trends could make it a useful tool to convince skeptics to use green technology.

U.N. reports shows green technology is on the rise globally

The United Nations released a report yesterday that estimated the total amount of money spent on green energy across the globe at $257 billion.

Though the debate over climate change may rage on in this country, it seems that nations around the world are increasingly taking steps to counteract it by investing in renewable energy sources. The United Nations released a report yesterday that estimated the total amount of money spent on green energy across the globe at $257 billion.

With the global investment in renewable energy programs coming to $210 billion in 2010, the new figure shows an increase of just over 17 percent overall. The numbers varied widely between different forms of green technology, though, with solar energy spending coming in at $147 billion, according to The Associated Press. Making up over half of green investment in general, that amount is also 52 percent the previous year's estimate.

The source notes that 2011 was a prosperous, but incredibly competitive year for solar power producers. Part of the industry's growth can reportedly be attributed to the demand that Italy, China, Britain, Germany and Italy had for rooftop photovoltaic installations, or solar panels.

In 2011, many solar energy industries went out of business, including Solyndra, which received national attention after filing for bankruptcy even after receiving a hefty federal loan in 2009. However, the report indicates that that is an example of the "growing pains" that industries experience, just as the car industry was initially flooded with over 500 companies before settling on a handful of quality manufacturers. 

The overall investment increase, while positive, fell short of the 32 percent rise between 2010 and 2011. However, according to the head of the U.N. Environment Program, it was still "an indication that renewable energy is drawing level with fossil fuels in some markets," the media outlet posits. But for now, fossil fuels and other more conventional modes of energy production are still dominating the marketplace, with renewable energy only accounting for 16.7 percent of 2010 global energy consumption.

Going green could help with Eurodebt, says report

European experts are looking to green technology as a means to ease the burden of debt throughout the continent.

As much trouble as America is having with post-recession recovery, it hardly compares to the issues that Europe now faces. Even countries like Germany, which seemed to weather the economic downturn well, have had to band together to support other nations in the European Union. And recently, European experts have been looking to green technology as a means to ease the burden of debt throughout the continent.

On June 8, a group of influential economics and energy professors published a plan to relieve European debts by investing in alternative energy. The strategy, labeled the Renewable Energy Concessions for Debt-Reduction Plan, hinges on the idea that certain European countries, including Ireland, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece, can reduce their national debt by up to 30 percent by devoting a small part of their land to green energy development.

According to the source, these countries "offer excellent conditions for harvesting renewable energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources," so they are ideal candidates for  "solar panels, wind parks or geothermal power stations."

In the piece, the authors propose that creditors give concessions to countries that invest large scale renewable energy programs that can provide adequate revenue over time for the parties involved.

The source reports that Ireland, Portugal and Greece would have to devote less than two percent of their land land to these efforts – and that percentage can be broken up into smaller local sources of "decentralized energy."

The compilers state that this plan would have three major benefits for the region, as it would ease debts, reduce pollution by boosting green energy and create jobs for a younger generation of Europeans that is currently struggling with high unemployment rates.

The plan was published in the Dutch publication NRC Handelsbad, and the compilers have asked the European Union Committee on Economic & Monetary Affairs to the proposal under serious consideration as they tackle the issue of mounting European debt.

Energy consumption is a big concern for Americans, poll shows

A recent poll published by the AP-NORC revealed that the majority of Americans prioritized reducing energy costs over other household considerations.

Though the U.S. economy does show signs of recovery, families across the country are still monitoring their budgets closely. A recent poll published by the AP-NORC, a public affairs research center operated by the Associated Press, revealed that the majority of Americans prioritized reducing energy costs over other household considerations.

The media outlet reports that the poll was conducted via phone interviews with 1,008 adults across the country between March 25 and April 5 of this year.

In those interviews, many of the people surveyed voiced their concerns about energy consumption, on both a personal and national level, with 64% stating that "Americans use a lot of energy and are unwilling to reduce their demand," the news source reports.

The vast majority of those polled – approximately 9 out of 10 people – told AP-NORC that they had "taken some action to reduce their energy." 

However, though energy conscientiousness was high, most respondents stated they were unable to convert to green technology due to limited budgets. Instead, many opted to reduce their energy intake by taking smaller steps at home, like "turning off the lights, turning down the heat, installing more energy-saving appliances and driving less," the source states.

By questioning their subjects about their daily lives, AP-NORC revealed a few discrepancies between eco-conscious rhetoric and eco-conscious action. One California-based woman was adamant about the need to utilize renewable energy for the sake of future generations, but reportedly had two vehicles in the driveway – a Dodge Durango and a Lincoln Continental – with low fuel efficiency ratings.

During their interviews, respondents were asked to rank a number of statements from one to five in terms of personal importance. The majority of participants chose reduced energy consumption over saving up for a vacation, but ultimately having access to a reliable vehicle was the top priority.
 

Oceans could be key component in solving the world’s hunger games

Hunger and the degradation of the environment are two of the biggest problems our planet faces today.

Hunger and the degradation of the environment are two of the biggest problems our planet faces today. While these issues seem insurmountable, one organization believes that they can both be dramatically improved with one solution.

Oceana, an advocacy group that works globally to improve the oceans, released a report today in which it detailed a plan to both save Earth's waters and provide food for everyone on the planet. The report states that just over two dozen countries are in control of roughly three quarters of the entire world's fish stocks, and if those nations adapted fisheries management strategies that are proven by science, seafood could become a sustainable food source for 700 million people every day.

"Putting in place proper management in the 25 countries that are responsible for more than 75 percent of the world's global marine fish catch will boost the amount of wild fish available to our increasingly hungry planet," Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless said in a statement.

"This is a rare win for both conservation and food production – we can save ocean ecosystems and feed millions of hungry people by establishing these proven conservation policies in the countries that control the world's wild fish catch," he added.

While global hunger is a big enough issue today, it will inevitably become a bigger problem by 2050, when the United Nations has predicted the world's population will have increased by 30 percent to a total of 9 billion people.

As it stands, Oceana states that the 25 countries that control most of the planet's fish stocks are actually home to more than half of the hungry people in the world. There's no question that if they make sure they use their resources more efficiently it could help feed empty stomachs. It may not completely end world hunger, but it's a step in the right direction.

First solar-powered plane to travel across continental borders makes safe landing

The Solar Impulse made history by crossing over from Europe into northern Africa on a 20-hour trip to Rabat, Morocco.

Recently on this blog, we talked about the complications involved in green air travel. On June 5, however, there was a major breakthrough in eco-friendly aviation.

The Associated Press reports that for the first time ever, a solar-powered plane completed an intercontinental flight yesterday. Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard, who has circumnavigated around the globe in a hot air balloon, took the plane from Switzerland to Madrid first, and then made history by crossing over from Europe into northern Africa on a 20-hour trip to Rabat, Morocco.

At first, it may seem curious as to why Morocco was the destination chosen for the monumental landing, but it makes all the sense in the world. In 2009, the nation revealed a $9 billion project to generate 40 percent of its energy from solar power by 2020. In order to do that, the country plans to make five solar energy plants in that timeframe.

"With solar energy you can do many things, you can fly a plane from Payerne, Switzerland to Rabat, you can use solar energy for daily activities – it's no longer just in the realm of science," Mustafa Bakkouri, the head of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen), said to the media outlet. "We have to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, most of which we import."

And, despite its location in close proximity to the Middle East, the cost of oil has overwhelmed the Moroccan economy, according to the source. With the landing of the innovative Solar Impulse plane and the proceeding "lavish ceremony," Morocco was able to proudly celebrate concrete progression toward energy sustainability.

United Nations celebrates 40th World Environment Day

The theme for WED 2012 is “Green Economy: Does it include you?”

First established in 1972 by the United Nations, World Environment Day (WED) has been celebrated on June 5 to observe and promote environmental awareness. The theme for WED 2012 is "Green Economy: Does it include you?"

"Practically speaking, a Green Economy is one whose growth in income and employment is driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services," the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) states on its website. "These investments need to be catalyzed and supported by targeted public expenditure, policy reforms and regulation changes."

A green economy is one that strives toward the betterment of the social equality and well-being of all humans, the site indicates. To honor the WED, the UNEP has asked that everyone do what they can to help the green economy, and furthermore, to share that work with those around them.

Organizations and individuals from all over the world have reported what they were doing to observe WED on the UNEP website. In Boston, Massachusetts, the John Hancock Financial building was honored for becoming the first commercial office building in New England to be LEED certified at the platinum level. And, in Houston, one woman said that she planted trees, herbs and vegetables for her and her neighbors, and then, she helped clean a beach.

In order to encourage green activities, UNEP is hosting the WED Challenge. People are asked to submit what they are doing to help the green economy today. If they get the most people to help them, make the biggest impact, use social media the most effectively, have the most creative idea or fits this year's theme better than any other submissions, they could win an eco-friendly car.

Shrinking shorelines causing problems all over the world

A number of notable locations are starting to erode due to rising ocean levels and vicious storms that have ripped apart their sandy foundations.

There's been a lot of talk in the past few decades about the preservation of beaches, as a number of notable locations are starting to erode due to rising ocean levels and vicious storms that have ripped apart their sandy foundations. If people aren't going green and love going to the beach, they may want to take another second and think about their lifestyle before they let their car idle for 20 minutes for no particular reason.

In particular, California's Goleta Beach County Park, a two hour drive north of Los Angeles, has experienced such significant erosion that the there is a debate whether to build a 500-foot wooden defense on the beach or to completely abandon it altogether, according to a recent article from the The Associated Press.

While there have been talks of moving parking lots and underground utility lines, the thought is that with global warming progressing so rapidly and already failed attempts to slow erosion, the battle versus the rising seas may be one that's impossible to overcome.

"The issue of whether to stay or flee is being confronted around the globe," the article states. "Places experimenting with retreat have adopted various strategies. In Britain, for example, several sites along the Essex coast have deliberately breached sea walls to create salt marshes, which act as a natural barrier to flooding."

On America's east coast, laws have been enacted to prevent development within a particular distance from the Atlantic Ocean. Up in Alaska, entire communities have been left with no option but to relocate to areas that are at higher elevations. Some of Hawaii's beaches are getting smaller as the tides encroach on the land, and relocation has been talked about there as well.

There shouldn't be much more incentive to go green than contributing to the betterment of the earth, but if beach-lovers need one, they have it now.