Posts Tagged ‘energy’

A Climate Convergence in San Francisco

A Climate Convergence in San Francisco

Organizers call San Francisco “flagship” event for worldwide campaign

Christopher Penalosa / KQED More than a thousand people marched down Market Street in San Francisco for the Moving Planet rally.

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Posted 24 September 2011, by Sarah Terry-Cobo, KQED News – Climate Watch, blogs.kqed.org/climatewatch/

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About a thousand people marched in San Francisco on Saturday, chanting slogans, carrying signs and wearing costumes. But unlike many demonstrations that frequent the City by the Bay, the Moving Planet rally was one of hundreds around the world, calling for action and awareness to halt global climate change.

Organized by 350.org, the non-profit founded by author and activist Bill McKibben, the San Francisco rally brought together some predictable allies, such as the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the Berkeley-based Ecology Center, but it also included groups with broader aims, such as the National Organization for Women, Food Not Bombs and 100,000 Poets for Peace. McKibben’s group is devoted to reducing carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere to 350 parts per million (from the current 390 ppm), a number that some scientists estimate could stave off catastrophic effects of climate change.

Chris Penalosa / KQED Bill McKibben addresses the crowd at the Moving Planet rally in San Francisco

“Every country on Earth — except for probably, North Korea — is having rallies around this wonky data point, 350 parts per million CO2,” said McKibben in an interview after addressing the San Francisco gathering.

n the absence of national climate change legislation, McKibben told the crowd, it’s important to “put our bodies on the line.” The Vermont-based activist is one of about 1,200 people that was arrested August 20 for protesting in front of the White House the proposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring crude oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas.

Michael Brune, President of the national Sierra Club noted that his organization was the first to create “blue-green” alliances between environmental and labor groups.

“What we’re trying to do is find a way to make this an issue that brings us together, that doesn’t divide folks, so this doesn’t punish one industry and reward another,” said Brune in a separate interview.

Brune added that the Sierra Club is working with clean technology companies to ramp up renewable energy. “We firmly believe the road to a clean energy future is one that will make our country more economically resilient,” he said.

Chris Penalosa / KQED Carl Anthony, a long-time Bay Area activist for environmental and social justice, addressed the crowd.

Another focus of the afternoon rally was the connection to environmental justice, the concept that poor communities and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by pollution of all types. Carl Anthony, founder of Urban Habitat, one of the nation’s oldest environmental justice organizations, spoke to an energetic crowd packed into Civic Center Plaza. He emphasized that people, not just polar bears, are affected by climate change.

“Global warming is a climate justice issue,” he told the rally. “The people of color, the poor people, the indigenous people will bear the burden of climate change, even though they, less than anyone else, are responsible for our CO2 emissions.”

He continued, “This means that any solution we come up with for climate change must also be a solution for social and racial justice.”

“We have the opportunity in California, to take money away from suburban sprawl…to rebuild a public transportation system that works for poor people as well as rich people,” Anthony said, citing the Sustainable Communities legislation that would redirect $218 billion to rebuild public transportation.

Many people took public transit to the day’s event. Cassie Barr rode BART to the rally from Oakland with her six-year-old son, Philip. She said she wanted to make a statement that people should do more to avert climate change and that she supports an outright tax on carbon emissions. “I think it’s the only way to get businesses — corporations — serious about lowering their CO2 levels,” said Barr.

Jordan Pacheco also took BART from Moraga with his five-year-old daughter, Macy, “…because this is her planet too.” Pacheco works for the solar panel installation company Sungevity, on the firm’s design and engineering team.

In the future, he said, “I would like to see a more openness to any kind of alternative energy, whether its solar, wind, anything. I think the politics have taken over to the point where there’s no common sense anymore.”

Chris Penalosa / KQED Employees from Sungevity hold a parachute painted with a depiction of the Earth.

Bill Carney, president of Sustainable San Rafael helped to organize participation from Marin county. In recent years, activists there won state approval for a community-owned energy company, after much resistance from the investor-owned Pacific Gas & Electric, he said.

“There are many sources of renewables: hydro, solar wind, or methane and with the funding to our local power provider, they are able to buy that energy but [also] create a local marketplace for additional generators of that clean electricity,” said Carney.

Falling back on a familiar metaphor with a global warming theme, Carney said, “Events like this really are the tip of the iceberg of public awareness that is really growing by leaps and bounds.”

More:

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http://blogs.kqed.org/climatewatch/2011/09/24/a-thousand-descend-on-san-francisco-for-climate-rally/

Five modern trends in sustainable architecture

 

Five modern trends in sustainable architecture

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Posted24 September 2011, by Pratik Basu, EcoFriend (Instamedia), ecofriend.com

 

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With so many ecological concerns coming up every year, the need for the hour is to grasp the concept of Eco-friendly and sustainable architecture. The dawn of this green architecture came from the Eco-build in London, Cannes and the Earth Day and it seems to be develop rapidly in the developed countries. Green architecture can change the world. With rapid advancements in the field of Eco-friendly products, there is a huge demand for making buildings and construction techniques more greener and sustainable and less harmful for Earth. The world has grasped this idea very well. The need for new techniques and materials which can be easily recycled are taken into consideration. Here’s showcasing 5 trends in green and sustainable architecture which is a focus of attention amongst Eco-designers.

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1. Vertical Farming

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Vertical farming. Trends in sustainable architecture

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With an expected increase in population to 9.1 billion people within the year 2050, feeding all the people around the globe is a cause for major concern. Food production needs to increase by 70%. This would mean having higher crop yields and expansion of the area cultivated. However land available for cultivation is not evenly distributed, while others are suitable for cultivating only a few crops. Thus architects have been designing buildings where one can grow crops on all the edges surrounding the building. This gives more area for cultivation and helps solve the expansion crisis. The vertical farms can be integrated with residential buildings too, with farms being set up on the external periphery of the buildings. This provides a clean environment for the residents to live in.

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2. Straw

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Straw House. Trends in sustainable architecture

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Straw is a sustainable material which can be used as a building material. Many designers and builders today are making use of this natural material to make phenomenal designs which are Eco-friendly. These buildings can be made from prefabricated panels using straw. These panels can be assembled from locally sourced star which can be fit into the panel frame made from timber. This production style helps save money and energy and decrease build times and carbon emissions. Electricity can be generated by photovoltaic and solar thermal panels and the extra electricity can be sold to the electricity grid. The homes made by straw would be considerably cheaper, as straw is a product which is available in vast quantity. This low cost makes it more popular to the general masses.

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3. Phase change materials (PCMs)

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House from PCMTrends in sustainable architecture

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Phase change materials are used to store both cooling and heating energy. These new age materials can be embedded in the ceiling and the wall tiles from where they absorb heat to keep the space cool and reduces the need for air conditioning. These Phase change material tiles have micro capsules made of a special wax which is developed to contain heat during the day. Some companies selling phase change materials claim that using the material reduces temperature of your indoor surrounding by almost 7ºC, hence reducing air conditioning costs.

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4. Bees and biodiversity

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Bees and diversityTrends in sustainable architecture

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Bees are an integral part of our biodiversity. A small garden or a rooftop is all that is required to keep bees. They help in making delicious honey from plants and flowers in your gardens, parks and the tree lined roads. It is important to make an environment in cities that safeguards wildlife and also helps in further diversity. By incorporating biodiversity into architecture, we can make a cleaner and greener world. Hence keeping bees and making bee hives are an important step that needs to be taken to ensure a cleaner, greener environment. In London, vast number of bee hives have been created on the roof tops of buildings, attracting many bees.

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5. Sustainable materials

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Sustainable materialsTrends in sustainable architecture

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Apart from the many products used in construction made from recycled materials, many researchers are looking at the construction industry for other sustainable materials from other sectors which are rarely used in design and construction.

Thousands of samples have been taken from countries all over the world. These selected materials provide an Eco-friendly alternative to other resource hungry materials which generally have many by products which are harmful to the environment. These samples are being studied and their properties are made good use of. So it is essential that we find sustainable materials which can be easily recycled and are durable and appropriate for construction.

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http://www.ecofriend.com/entry/modern-trends-sustainable-architecture/

How to build a solar energy generator for less than $300

 

How to build a solar energy generator for less than $300

Connection diagram for a solar power generatorThis diagram will show you if you have made the connections in the correct order

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Posted23 September 2011, by Aravind Balasubramanya, EcoFriend (Instamedia), ecofriend.com

 

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The sun is a great supplier! The solar energy from a single day can meet all the needs of the planet for a few months. The challenge, however, has been in capturing this tremendous energy in a usable form. Like many things great and grand, we can make a humble beginning in this endeavor too. It turns out that with a little patience and effort, we can generate usable solar energy at our own homes. Since this is a DIY, the end result will come at a very economical cost. Let us get to the tutorial right away.

Difficulty level

This can be set to ‘moderate’. Requires some basic knowledge about drilling and making electrical connections, but any adult can easily venture into this project without much worry.

Time Required

About one to two hours must be sufficient once you have the necessary materials ready. This is a lovely DIY project to occupy a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Resources Required

  1. A small solar panel rated 12V or above.
  2. Deep cycle, rechargeable, 12V lead/acid or gel batteries.
  3. A battery box to cover the exposed terminals.
  4. A triple inlet model DC input ( adapter) for 12V to act as charge controller.
  5. An inverter to convert the battery-stored DC power to AC power.
  6. A multimeter to get various readings
  7. Few lengths of insulated wire
  8. A wire stripper
  9. A drill
  10. Bungee cords

Estimated Cost

You would be able to build a generator for under $300 and we are not going to crank up the prices! Maybe we shall enlist probable prices to help you in your purchase. The solar panel would cost about $100. Bought at a bargain, the batteries would cost about $50-60. The battery box is about $25 and the DC input will cost another $10. The inverter will cost about $50-100.

Instructions

  1. Use the drill to attach the multimeter and the DC input on top of the battery box.
  2. Start connecting the wires by matching the polarities ( + and – ).
  3. Connect the solar panel to the DC input or the adapter.
  4. Connect the DC inlet or adapter to the batteries. The red wires depict the positive terminals while the grey wires depict the negative terminal.

    Initial connections This diagram shows how you connect the solar panel to the batteries via the charge controller or DC inlet

    Initial connectionsThis diagram shows how you connect the solar panel to the batteries via the charge controller or DC inlet.
  5. Connect the batteries to the inverter. Some batteries have separate input and output terminals, some do not. If the battery has separate terminals, connect the output terminals to the inverter and input terminals to the DC inlet or adapter. If there is only one terminal each for the positive and negative on the battery, both the wires ( from the inverter and the DC inlet) go to the same terminals ( positive to positive and negative to negative).
  6. You can use a bungee cord to keep all the parts together.
  7. Your completed connections must be in the order as shown in the diagram at the beginning of the tutorial. Please check it once before finalizing the generator. The solar generator is now ready for use.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) For making the solar energy generator, could I make use of car batteries?

Car batteries are not deep cycle batteries. They are cranking batteries for occasional use, like starting your engine. Since our use is going to be continuous in nature, it is imperative that you use deep cycle, rechargeable batteries.

2) There are so many inverters available. Which is the best one to purchase?

Quality always comes with a price. The better quality of inverter you choose, the more it will cost you. That apart, it would be recommended that you make a rough estimate of the watts you would be using. For instance, to use a television (=60W) and a DVD player (=20W), you would need about 80W. You will have to necessarily get an inverter that gives you the desired wattage.

3) Do I need the DC inlet or adapter? Can I not connect the solar panel directly to the batteries?

If you notice, the DC inlet or adapter has the same specifics as the batteries (viz. 12V). This inlet is necessary as a charge controller. If not for this, surges in current may damage the batteries.

Quick Tips

  1. You could do a little more for the environment by getting ‘green’ rechargeable batteries from companies like batteries.com or Greenbatteries Store.
  2. If you are installing your generator in a pumpshed, garage or boat, you could save a few more dollars by avoiding the purchase of the battery box which is meant only to keep children safe.
  3. You could look at the DC input of appliances like fans, hair dryers, lights etc. to get a good idea of the DC input to purchase.
  4. The solar panel, the DC inlet, the batteries and the inverter have clear labels for the positive and negative terminals. Just refer to them as you make the connections.
  5. Connect all the negative terminals first and then connect the positive terminals.
  6. It will take about 5-8 hours to recharge a dead battery and about 1-3 hours to recharge a weak one.
  7. If it is your first time and you are a bit diffident, you could check the connections by making a diagram and getting it certified by your local electrician.

Things to watch out for

  1. While making the connections, handle only one wire at a time. This will save you a lot of confusion.
  2. Keep the solar panel covered and in the shade while making the connections. We do not want any shocking experiences along the way.
  3. This construction is scalable and can be made with larger panels, batteries and inverters. It is better to start small and then replicate the success to bigger projects.

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http://www.ecofriend.com/entry/build-solar-energy-generator-300/

Tamil Nadu nuclear row: Manmohan’s man in Chennai, thousands protest

Tamil Nadu nuclear row: Manmohan’s man in Chennai, thousands protest

The Koodankulam nuclear plant has been the eye of the storm for past 10 days with locals agitating to close it fearing a Fukushima type of situation could be repeated in the event of a Tsunami or earthquake.

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Posted 20 September 2011, by V Narayanasamy, The Times of India (Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.), articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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CHENNAI: Minister of state in the PMO V Narayanasamy arrived in Chennai on Tuesday en route to Koodankulam to hold talks with the locals who are agitating for the past 10 days against the proposed nuclear plant there.

“All safety measures in the plant are intact. We are hopeful that we will be able to convince the people and allay their fears over the plant,” he told reporters.

Narayanasamy has been deputed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit Koodankulam to talk to the people agitating against the project.

 Singh’s action came after he spoke to Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa yesterday seeking her guidance to resolve the issue after she shot off a letter to him, accusing the Centre of “abdicating” its responsibilities to address the safety concerns of the people.

Jayalalithaa had written to the Prime Minister, asking him to halt the project till the issue is settled.

The agitation against the project has intensified since late last month after the authorities announced that the first of the two 1×1000 MWe reactors set up at the coastal village of Koodankulam would be commissioned in December.

Thousands of local population and fishermen in and around Koodankulam have been protesting against the project. Around 100 persons are sitting on an indefinite fast for the past nine days, demanding the scrapping of the project.

Protesters fear that a Fukushima type of situation could be repeated in the coastal town in case of tsunami or an earthquake.

Protest to continue: Medha

Pledging her support to the agitation, social activist Medha Patkar said the protesting villagers have decided to continue their 10-day old fast till the state cabinet passed a resolution for stopping work on the project.

“The villagers (living in and around the project site) demand that the state cabinet pass a resolution for stopping the ongoing work and ensure the safety of the people and the natural resources. We completely support them,” she told a press conference here.

Patkar, speaking on her return from a visit to the protest venue near Koodankulam in Tirunelveli District, said the Central government should show the same urgency on the Koodankulam issue as it attached to the Jan Lokpal Bill.

“When West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee could stop Haripur nuclear power plant, why not the Koodankulam plant (be halted)? Tamil Nadu government should also follow a similar approach”, she said.

Hitting out at Jayalalithaa for sending two AIADMK leaders to express solidarity with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi during his three-day fast, Patkar said she had not bothered to depute even a single emissary to talk to the protesters.

While the villagers thanked Jayalalithaa for her steps, including writing a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she said they had decided to continue the fast until a resolution was passed by the cabinet.

“It is not a battle between Jayalalithaa and (Union Minister) Jayanti Natarajan but a battle between the people and the state”, she said referring to the Chief Minister’s charge that Natarajan had washed off her hands over the impasse.

Patkar, who is also the convenor of National Alliance of People’s Movement, said an inquiry commission would be formed with eminent scientists to go into the impact of nuclear policy and power plants vis-a-vis the rights of people to know about the safety of such projects.

(With inputs from PTI)

RELATED ARTICLES

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http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-09-20/india/30179808_1_koodankulam-thousands-protest-jayalalithaa

UN: Indigenous Peoples abused in race for natural resources

UN: Indigenous Peoples abused in race for natural resources

Indigenous peoples suffer abuses in race for natural resources – UN rights expert

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Posted 20 September 2011, by Brenda Norrell, Censored News, bsnorrell.blogspot.com

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Special Rapporteur James Anaya

UN News Centre

20 September 2011 
Posted at Censored News

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Extraction of natural resources and other major development projects in or near the territories of indigenous peoples is one of the most significant sources of abuse of their human rights worldwide, an independent United Nations expert warned today.

“In its prevailing form, the model for advancing with natural resource extraction within the territories of indigenous peoples appears to run counter to the self-determination of indigenous peoples in the political, social and economic spheres,” the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples James Anaya told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In a report based on answers to a questionnaire he distributed to governments, indigenous peoples and organizations, business corporations and other actors, he cited conflicting viewpoints on the potential adverse impact and benefits of such activities as mining, forestry, oil and natural gas extraction and hydroelectric projects in indigenous territories.

He said he had made it a priority to reconcile the differing views and courses of action to ensure the full protection of indigenous rights and promote best practices through a broad dialogue with governments, indigenous peoples’ organizations, corporate actors and international institutions, in which consensus-building would be a key element.

“The lack of a minimum common ground for understanding the key issues by all actors concerned entails a major barrier for the effective protection and realization of indigenous peoples’ rights,” he added, praising a new Peruvian law compelling private companies to consult indigenous communities before going ahead with major projects such as mining.

Among key concerns, Mr. Anaya included the gradual loss of control by indigenous peoples over lands, territories and natural resources; water source depletion and contamination for drinking, farming and grazing; the adverse effects of water and airborne pollution on overall community health; and an increase in infectious diseases spread by interaction with workers or settlers.

Another concern was the adverse impact on indigenous social structures and cultures, including alarming rates of alcoholism and prostitution previously unheard of among such peoples, imported by illegal loggers or miners, non-indigenous workers and industry personnel in specific projects, and increased traffic due to the construction of roads and other infrastructure.

“Submissions by indigenous peoples and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also reported an escalation of violence by government and private security forces as a consequence of extractive operations in indigenous territories, especially against indigenous leaders,” Mr. Anaya noted. “A general repression of human rights was reported in situations where entire communities had voiced their opposition to extractive operations.”

Several governments highlighted the key importance of natural resource extraction projects for their domestic economies that, reportedly accounting for up to 60 to 70 per cent of the gross national product (GNP) in some countries, with positive benefits for indigenous peoples.

Mining companies noted that indigenous peoples have been direct beneficiaries of basic infrastructure construction such as roads, communications, electricity and water services, as well as health and educational opportunities.

But most indigenous peoples underscored the adverse effects on their environment, culture and societies, which they said outweighed the minimal or short-term benefits arising out of extractive operations.

For example, a member of the Pemon people of Venezuela reported that benefits from extractive industries were not a top priority within the community, which sought “healthy communities, with no infections, in a pollution-free environment,” Mr. Anaya said.

Similarly, an organization representing the traditional authorities of the Cofan people of Colombia concluded that “indigenous peoples are left with no option other than to try to find something positive for their communities out of the disaster left behind by the extraction of oil, mineral, and other resources” in their lands.

“The vast majority of indigenous peoples’ responses, many of which stemmed from the direct experience of specific projects affecting their territories and communities, rather emphasized a common perception of disenfranchisement, ignorance of their rights and concerns on the part of States and businesses enterprises, and constant life insecurity in the face of encroaching extractive activities,” Mr. Anaya said.

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http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/09/un-indigenous-peoples-abused-in-race.html

The Personal Mega-Sized Eye of Horus: Naomi Campbell’s Eco-Mansion

 

 

The Personal Mega-Sized Eye of Horus: Naomi Campbell’s Eco-Mansion

The Personal Mega-Sized Eye of Horus: Naomi Campbell’s Eco-Mansion

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Posted 19 September 2011, by Vrushti Mawani, Industry Leaders Magazine, industryleadersmagazine.com

 

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An ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power and good health, the Eye of Horus has been reproduced in its most physically monumental form on the Isla Playa de Cleopatra in Turkey in the form of Naomi Campbell’s eco-palace.

The 25-bedroom home, designed by Spanish architect Luis de Garrido, reported as being the architect’s gift to Campbell, has been designed to function in a largely self-sufficient manner.

With features that enhance the ability of the building to be self-sufficient in terms of its energy and water needs, Campbell’s new island mansion functions as an off-grid home complete with photovoltaic panels, a sophisticated geothermal system and an interior landscaped terrace.

Eye-ball Home Details

Naomi Campbell’s palatial eco-home, with its over two dozen bedrooms and five lounges, is one of the latest to join the rapidly growing list of eco-friendly celebrity island abodes, like Johnny Depp’s solar hydrogen fuel powered home in the Bahamas.

The large steel-and-glass dome, the eyeball of the Eye of Horus, is light and transparent, letting in natural light and warmth all year round. The intensity of how much light and warmth filter in is controlled by horizontal louvers, landscaping, and glazed windows.

Campbell’s personal Eye of Horus in Turkey has been designed by devising an ingenious system of structuring photovoltaic panels which helps generate a large share of the energy required to run the building. The rest of the energy requirement is met by a highly sophisticated geothermal system and passive design.

The design of this eco-mansion also includes a detailed rainwater harvesting system, while wastewater from the home is treated on site with the use of a biological treatment system, further increasing this home’s overall energy efficiency.

The architect has also tried to ensure that the house is well-ventilated, to address any concerns about the greenhouse effect creating an uncomfortable humidity level. The indoor landscaped terrace on the top floor of this eco-palace further contributes to the home’s superior microclimate.

Architect Luis de Garrido

Architect Luis de Garrido has, over the last few years, been in the spotlight for his signature style of creating designs based on the theme of “artificial nature”.

Luis De Garrido’s bold, yet respectful, design philosophy states “The architect can even surpass Nature, but to do so, they must understand it, take it in, and love it with all their souls.”

De Garrido’s expertise where new-age sustainable architectural technologies are concerned is demonstrated perfectly in projects like GREEN BOX, which is the first modular Garden-House that is prefabricated, can be built in just 15 days, is reusable, transportable, has an infinite life cycle, is bioclimatic, has zero energy consumption, and does not generate waste.

Intermodal Steel Building Units (ISBU) awarded Luis de Garrido the 2008 Architect of the Year Award for his sustainable Bio-climatic architecture, educational symposiums and the innovative award winning architectural designs.

 

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http://www.industryleadersmagazine.com/the-personal-mega-sized-eye-of-horus-naomi-campbell%E2%80%99s-eco-mansion/

Why I’m Donating My Heinz Award Money to the Fight Against Fracking

Sandra Steingraber beautifully shares why the fight against fracking is so important.

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Posted 15 September 2011, by Sandra Steingraber, AlterNet, alternet.org

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Photo Credit: todbaker

I’m thrilled to receive a Heinz Award in recognition of my research and writing on environmental health. This is work made possible by my residency as a scholar within the Department of Environmental Studies at Ithaca College. Many past and present Heinz Award winners are personal heroes of mine–and Teresa Heinz herself is a champion of women’s environmental health–so this recognition carries special meaning for me. And it comes with a $100,000 unrestricted cash prize. Which is stunning.

As a bladder cancer survivor of 32 years, I’m intimately familiar with two kinds of uncertainty: the kind that comes while waiting for results from the pathology and radiology labs and the kind that is created by the medical insurance industry who decides whether or not to pay the pathology and radiology bills. Over the years, I’ve learned to analyze data and raise children while surrounded by medical and financial insecurities. It’s a high-wire act.

But as an ecologist, I’m aware of a much larger insecurity: the one created by our nation’s ruinous dependency on fossil fuels in all their forms. When we light them on fire, we fill the atmosphere with heat-trapping gases that are destablizing the climate and acidifying the oceans (whose plankton stocks provide us half of the oxygen we breathe). When we use fossil fuels as feedstocks to make materials such as pesticides and solvents, we create toxic substances that trespass into our children’s bodies (where they raises risks for cancer, asthma, infertility, and learning disorders).

Emancipation from our terrible enslavement to fossil fuels is possible. The best science shows us that the United States could, within two decades, entirely run on green, renewable energy if we chose to dedicate ourselves to that course. But, right now, that is not the trail we are blazing.  Instead, evermore extreme and toxic methods are being deployed to blast fossilized carbon from the earth. We are blowing up mountains to get at coal, felling boreal forests to get at tar, and siphoning oil from the ocean deep.

Most ominously, through the process called fracking, we are shattering the very bedrock of our nation to get at the petrified bubbles of methane trapped inside. Fracking turns fresh water into poison. It fills our air with smog, our roadways with 18-wheelers hauling hazardous materials, and our fields and pastures with pipelines and toxic pits.

I am therefore announcing my intent to devote my Heinz Award to the fight against hydrofracking in upstate New York, where I live with my husband and our two children. Some might look at my small house (with its mismatched furniture) or my small bank accounts (with their absence of a college fund or a retirement plan) and question my priorities. But the bodies of my children are the rearranged molecules of the air, water, and food streaming through them.

As their mother, there is no more important investment that I could make right now than to support the fight for the integrity of the ecological system that makes their lives possible. As legal scholar Joseph Guth reminds us, a functioning biosphere is worth everything we have. This summer I traveled through the western United States and saw firsthand the devastation that fracking creates. In drought-crippled Texas where crops withered in the fields, I read a hand-lettered sign in a front yard that said, “I NEED WATER. U HAUL. I PAY. “

And still the fracking trucks rolled on, carrying water to the gas wells. This is the logic of drug addicts, not science.  I also stood on the courthouse steps in Salt Lake City while climate activist Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in federal prison for an act of civil disobedience that halted the leasing of public land for gas and oil drilling near Arches National Park. Before he was hauled away by federal marshals, Tim said, “This is what love looks like.”

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http://www.alternet.org/water/152427/

Kishanganga hydel power project threatens an ancient culture


Kishanganga hydel power project threatens an ancient culture

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Posted 17 September 2011, by Iftikhar Gilani, Tehelka (Anant Media Pvt. Ltd.), tehelka.com

 

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The Dard Shin tribe of Gurez, speakers of the Shina language, are to be uprooted to Srinagar. But what is a pastoral hill community to do in the city, asks Iftikhar Gilani

Imagine the kind of uproar civil society and rights groups would have created had the Centre decided to shift the indigenous Jarawas from their native Andaman and Nicobar Islands to New Delhi. However, no such noise has been made so far even as the Dard-Shina tribe, said to be the last of the original Aryans living in the remote Gurez region is being robbed of its hearth and home. The tribal community will be relocated to Srinagar, making way for the 330-MW Kishanganga hydro-electric project in Kashmir. Away from the high-profile land acquisition cases of Bhatta Prasaul and Nandigram, this scenic place on the north-western tip of the Valley has hardly had anyone crying foul after the Centre announced relocation plans.

Since there is no land in this heavily militarised region close to Line of Control (LoC), the Government has decided to rehabilitate the tribals to Srinagar. Hyder Ali Samoon, a sub-inspector, a resident of Badwan village looks at his ancestral house with a sense of foreboding. The water from the dam will submerge what has been home to him and his ancestors. Pointing towards a nearby graveyard, where his ancestors lay buried, Samoon tells his sons and grandsons to engrave and store images of the house and the picturesque beauty of the village in their minds so that they can, at least, pass on their heritage to the future generations.

Nearly 300 families belonging to three villages of Badwan, Wanpora and Khopri are being relocated to Srinagar city. Against their peers across the Kanzalwan mountains in Bandipora, these villagers are getting a compensation of Rs 5.75 lakh per kanal (a unit of area). The farmers in Bandipora, on the other hand, with more fertile lands are being paid only Rs 2.25 lakh per kanal. Why this difference? Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir Asghar Samoon, who incidentally was touring the area, told TEHELKA that Gurez tribes are being paid more because they are not only losing land but also their culture, civilisation, and will probably become extinct over the next few decades, thanks to the hustle and bustle of Srinagar.

The controversial Kishanganga project, which envisages diverting water from the Kishanganga river through tunnels to the Wullar Lake in Bandipora district of Kashmir Valley has not only come to focus due to Pakistan’s opposition invoking the clauses of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) to complain against India to the World Bank but the project has drawn enough attention to itself for being ambiguous about its nature. What is intriguing is that the National Hydel Power Company (NHPC) officials have kept the voluminous environmental assessment report of Kishanganga undertaken by the Centre, for Inter-disciplinary Studies of Mountain and Hill Environment, close to its chest. Not only has it refused to share it with the state government, but it also did not accede to the request of former Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, when as a minister he wanted to see the report, before it went to the Cabinet.

Ed Note: Please visit the original site for a photo gallery associated with this article. Click on the image above to go to the original site.

The Rs 3642.04-crore power project will displace 362 families and consume a total of 4280 kanals (535 acres) of land. The Centre and the NHPC’s move to relocate the displaced families outside Gurez Valley were influenced by several factors. For instance, land in the mountainous valley is very limited. Some 27 revenue villages, inhabiting the region with a population of 31,900 (latest census) houses around 26,000 troops. Total land under Army occupation is 2802 kanal, out of which 918 kanals are unauthorised. Out of 1883 authorised occupation, the Army provides rent for 1140 kanals. The LoC fencing has consumed 339 kanals.

The local magistrate of Gurez Mohammad Ashraf Hakak said that the only land that was available on the foothills of mountains was prone to avalanches. Therefore, the Government, with the help of the NHPC, decided to shift the affected families to Mirgund, around 16 km from Srinagar.

At the core of this rehabilitation exercise stands the Dard Shin tribe of Gurez. Speakers of the Shina language, the rare tribals will be cut off from their culture, livelihood and roots if moved to Srinagar. Many historians and anthropologists claim that the Dard Shin people are pure Aryans.

For more than six months Gurez remains cut off from the rest of the world. Until Jammu and Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan, Gurez was part of the Gilgit state.

“Relocating people outside Gurez is an attempt to divide and rule the people of Gurez,” said the chairman of J&K Dard-Shin tribal minorities, Mir Hamidullah. Unhappy with the plan, he said that in order to preserve their culture and language, the people of Gurez should be provided land and rehabilitated in Gurez itself. “Shina language is the mother of Sanskrit. We are a people with our own history and relocating our people outside Gurez will hurt the community,” said Mir.

The price of development:

Apart from jeopardising their cultural identity, the move to rehabilitate them will also risk the state of cultivable land in the area, which will be shrunk further by the dam. “This project will affect whatever little agricultural land is left in our village,” said Abdul Khaliq Ganie of Tarbal, the last village near LoC, about 20 kms from Gurez town. “We have been losing our cattle to the minefield areas every year, and now this project has added to our worries as this village remains cut off from the Kashmir Valley for most part of the year,” he added.

Known for its scenic beauty, Gurez is separated from the Valley by the north Kashmir mountain range that runs west of Zojila Pass. For more than six months Gurez remains cut off from the rest of the world. Until Jammu and Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan, Gurez was part of the Gilgit state. The taxes would be paid at Drass, which happens to be the only area on this side of the LoC that shares its language, culture and customs with Gurez.

The compensation being offered to the people for their homes and land, the locals say, is too little. “They are giving me one lakh rupees for one kanal of land, but how am I going to survive on this little amount along with my nine children,” rued a resident of one of the affected villages in Gurez.

According to civilian officials, the NHPC has promised (under the new relief and rehabilitation plan) to pay Rs 5.57 lakh to the families whose houses will be affected by the project and construct a new house per household outside Gurez. The powerhouse will be located in Kralpora village of Bandipora. Waters from a fast flowing Kishanganga—from Teetwal to Gurez—would be stored at Gurez and diverted to the Bandipora power station. The water will then go into the Bonar Madhumati and eventually flow into the Wullar Lake.

“Shina language is the mother of Sanskrit. We are a people with our own history and relocating our people outside Gurez will hurt the community,” Slug: Kashmir

Pakistan has raised objections over the water diversion part of the project as it believes the inter-tributary transfer amounts to a violation of the IWT of 1960. Pakistan is worried that the diversion of the river will leave thousands of acres of its rice fields, fed by Neelum (that’s what Kishanganga is known as in Pakistan) dry, and impact Mangla Dam and the viability of its upcoming Neelam-Jhelum power project.

Environmental experts say that the rise in water level of Kishanganga will adversely affect the ecology of Gurez, submerging substantial plantation and leaving an impact on its agricultural land and wildlife. The dam will also affect the breeding cycle of trout fish, found in Kishanganga. “There will be no breeding of trout fish because of this dam as they need fast running water to breed,” said an official from the fisheries department. The dam will also lead to an extreme winter in Gurez, which already has a long winter, as the river will freeze because of the dam, some experts said. “There is a danger of floods too as the water level increases and this will affect other adjoining villages as well,” revealed a government official.

Work flows, unhindered:

However, despite many pitfalls, work on the power project continues on both sides of Gurez and Bandipora. The Hindustan Construction Corporation (HCC) has been allotted the EPA contract by NHPC for implementing the project. An amount of Rs 269.96 crore has been spent until March 2010, sources said.

Conceived in 1996, the work on the project began in 2007. HCC is constructing a 37m-high rock-filled dam, and a 23.50 km headrace tunnel to take water to three turbines (110 MW each) for generating 1,350 million units of energy a year. The HCC, last winter, spent a crore on the helicopter service to reach the dam site in Gurez.

In addition to the various problems associated with the project, the HCC has been accused of discriminating against Kashmiri engineers and employees. The HCC authorities, locals alleged, are forcing families in the affected villages to vacate their houses and land even before providing them with compensation.

“The affected families are asking the HCC authorities to give compensation before they vacate their lands,” said a Kashmiri engineer working for the HCC site in Bandipora. “People of Kralpora, which is the most affected village, were recently beaten up by the HCC authorities for protesting and demanding land compensation,” he added. The HCC and NHPC officials, however, refused comment.

Local labourers alleged that they are paid less than the outsiders. “NHPC did not employ the people from the villages that will be submerged because of the dam. They should have been given preference, but the project authorities brought employees from outside the valley,” a government official said.

Minefield of historical wealth:

The region with its unique history is littered with gems of archaeological interest. Archaeologists believe that there are many sites in Gurez, which have inscriptions in Kharoshthi, Brahmi, Hebrew and Tibetan. Experts are of the opinion that an archaeological investigation of Gurez valley will give further insight into the history of the Dard Shin people and about Kashmir in general.

Incidentally, Gurez valley falls along the section of the ancient Silk Route, which connected Kashmir valley with Gilgit and Kashgar. Archaeological surveys in valleys north of Gurez along the Silk Route, particularly in Chilas, have uncovered hundreds of inscriptions recorded in stone. The Kishanganga project will also affect this route, which has traditionally been crucial for trade in Central Asia. One of the three villages that will also be affected by the project is Kanzalwan, which is believed to be an archaeological site of historic importance. The last council of Buddhism is said to have been held in this village, and further down the stream, the ruins of ancient Sharada University lie preserved along the Neelum.

The toll the project is going to take on the local population is heavy. It will mostly hit people who are entirely dependent on agriculture and allied activities for their livelihood. “Those families whose livelihood is entirely dependent on agriculture will be affected more as they have to look for other avenues of employment after their land compensation is exhausted,” said a government official in Gurez.

Iftikhar Gilani is Special Correspondent with Tehelka.com.
iftikhar@tehelka.com 

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http://www.tehelka.com/story_main50.asp?filename=Ws170911Kishanganga.asp

Fracking Mother Earth for Dollars Scheme Exposed


Fracking Mother Earth for Dollars Scheme Exposed

Non-Indians target Blood Nation, Kawacatoose and Fort Peck

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Posted 13 September 2011, by Brenda Norrell, Censored News, bsnorrell.blogspot.com

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Blood Nation women blockade /Photo Arnell Tailfeathers

Non-Indians have targeted First Nation and American Indian lands in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada, and Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes in Montana, throwing large sums of money at elected leaders for oil and gas drilling, with no regard for future generations or the environment.

Blood Nation women formed a blockade to halt fracking on their land on Friday, exposing a non-Indian corporate scheme behind the new fracturing Mother Earth for dollars.

Lois Frank said the Blood Nation members were never consulted about the widespread oil and gas drilling and fracking that they are now faced with in southern Alberta, near the Montana border.

In the corporate flush of dollars, an in-between fixer has emerged, the non-Indians at Native American Resource Partners in Utah. NARP is designed to entice First Nations and American Indian elected leaders with large sums of money. NARP, as shown on its website, is owned by non-Indians who use the name “Native American” because the company targets Native American lands for exploitation. 

NARP owners began destroying the land for oil and gas drilling on Southern Ute in Colorado and on Uintah and Ouray lands in Utah, before expanding into Canada.

NARP’s investment money comes from another corporation of more non-Indians, Quantum, based in Houston, who are exploiting natural resources around the world.

Besides entering into an agreement with the Blood Nation, NARP also entered into an oil and gas deal with Fort Peck in Montana. The Fort Peck Energy Company formed a new co-partnered Tribal energy company with NARP in August, according to the Fort Peck Journal. NARP provided capital dollars to Fort Peck.

Fort Peck Energy Company is initially owned 50 percent by the Tribe and 50 percent by NARP, with the capital investment made by Quantum, Fort Peck Journal reported.

NARP also provided dollars to the Kawacatoose First Nation in Saskatchewan, focusing on treaty land rights, in August.

NARP announced a partnership with the Kawacatoose First Nation (Kawacatoose) of Saskatchewan, Canada. “The newly-created company, Kawacatoose Energy Company, will pursue the development of resource projects on lands and minerals secured by the Nation through the Saskatchewan Treaty Land Entitlement program (TLE,)” according to the press statement.

On the Blood Nation in Alberta in April, Kainaiwa Resources, Inc., the natural resource development company of the Blood Nation, announced that it had formed Kainai Energy in partnership with NARP.

Kainai Energy entered into two joint venture agreements, with NARP kicking in $100 million in capital commitment, according to the Blood Tribe’s press release.

“In forming Kainai Energy, the Blood Tribe has retained all of its rights to royalty payments from development of its reserve land by industry partners Murphy Oil Company Ltd. (“Murphy”) and Bowood Energy Ltd. (“Bowood”), while securing needed capital to participate in its own resource development. The Tribe has also retained exclusive rights to reserve lands outside the existing joint ventures for future development.”

Kainai Energy will initially focus on the existing joint venture areas in the Alberta Bakken, the press release states.

Hydraulic fracturing poisoning drinking water and rivers

Hydraulic fracturing is already poisoning drinking water and rivers, according to the New York Times.

The New York Times obtained concealed documents from the government and drilling industry that show hydraulic fracturing of gas and oil wells is even more dangerous than previously known.

The secret documents from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and drilling industry participants, prove hydraulic fracturing wastewater from gas drilling operations contains high levels of radioactive contaminants. It is being released into waterways supplying drinking water.

The process of injecting “fracking” fluid at extreme pressure creates fissures in the rock formations and extracts gas that was previously trapped.

Drilling companies use between two and five million gallons of “fracking” fluid in the hydrofracking of just one gas well. This toxic cocktail is a mixture of water, sand and hazardous chemicals. Then, 50 percent to 75 percent of fracking fluids stay in the ground, potentially leaking into soil and ground water by way of rock faults or faulty well casings, according to the New York Times.

Then, the situation becomes more critical. The used fracking fluid, called produced water, once it comes back up, is even more dangerous after exposure to rock deep in the earth. This drilling wastewater is hazardous waste because it now also contains heavy metals, radioactive elements such as radium, known carcinogens including benzene and other toxins.

Sewage treatment facilities of the wastewater are incapable of removing some contaminants from drilling wastewater, including radioactive contaminants. These releases are discharged into rivers and waterways and are currently contaminating drinking water sources.

The media is playing its role in the exploitation and destruction of Mother Earth, cheerleading for revenues and economic development, without researching the detrimental effects of oil and gas drilling, or fracturing,  on the land and health of the people. 

Blood Nation: Toxic drilling and dealsBlood Nation members released this statement on Friday:

“The first issue is the toxic nature of the drilling and its capacity to do irreversible damage to the land and water on the Blood Reserve and surrounding areas. Furthermore, fracking poses a major threat to human health, wildlife and livestock.

“The second issue at hand is the nature of the deal between KRI, Murphy Oil, and Bowood Energy. We believe this to be highly problematic for a number of reasons: Blood Tribe members were not consulted during the negotiations of this deal even though the drilling will occur on Blood Tribe land.

“KRI and the Blood Tribe Chief and Council neglected to maintain any degree of transparency during and after the negotiations. Ultimately, leaving a large population of tribal members completely unaware of the situation until after the deal was made.

“Above all else, the health and well-being of Blood Tribe members and all future generations will be compromised due to the rash and reckless decision by KRI and Blood Tribe Chief and Council to sign this deal with Murphy Oil and Bowood Energy.”

http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/09/fracking-mother-earth-for-dollars.html