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Overview Of Solar As An Energy Platform

(category: Environmental, Word count: 483)
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With renewable energy all the rage these days and fossil fuel costs soaring, solar energy is in the news. Here are some thoughts about solar as a viable energy platform.

Overview of Solar As An Energy Platform

Energy is an important topic that is on many peoples minds these days. With the rising costs of fuel and electric power, many households and individuals are considering alternative power sources. Solar is one of the more cost effective and biologically sound alternatives available.

One of the most interesting aspects of solar energy is how little of the energy production on the planet comes from the harnessing of the energy of the sun. In fact, only 0.1 percent of the power used today comes from converting sunlight into electrical current. It would be possible, however, to obtain enough power to run all of the worlds energy needs using solar energy. If more people were willing and able to install solar collectors on their homes and even their cars when technology gets to that point, solar energy could more than cover the Earth's power needs for transportation and housing.

Another of the interesting aspects about solar energy is how much solar energy is worth, or to put it another way, how much money you can save using solar energy. If you have a roof that is 1000 sq ft large, and you install solar panels on this roof, you could conceivably save as much as $6,460 dollars a year over the cost of oil heating. Unfortunately, the cost of installing the hardware needed to obtain the amount of power to save this money would be between $20,000 to $50,000; cost prohibitive to most home owners. These costs, however, are offset by tax incentives, rebates and net metering concepts in most states. While the upfront cost can be prohibitive, the savings over the life of the product are many times the initial burden.

One of the major hopes for reducing the cost of solar is found in Asia. Specifically, China is facing up to the fact it has massive pollution problems and is investigating renewable energy solutions. Working with American architects and developers, China is building entire communities that are made and powered by recyclable resources. Homes are made out of straw bales and powered with solar and geothermal heating. Given the sheer size of China and its population, the vicious pollution problem has spurred development in the renewable fields. With such a massive focus, it is hoped that the Chinese will develop more efficient, but less costly versions of solar energy for use around the world.

When considering solar as a platform, the most important aspect to keep in mind is that we have barely tapped it as a resource. If we can make systems that are more efficient and cheaper, the future of solar will be bright.

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Americans Get Serious About Recycling

(category: Environmental, Word count: 286)
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At home, at work and at school, Americans have successfully engaged in recycling programs-and one of the best success stories is paper.

In 2005, a record-high 51.5 percent (51.3 million tons) of all paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling. The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) hopes to increase that number and has set an ambitious goal of 55 percent recovery by 2012.

Every American can do his or her part. Although each community's recycling programs may be different, you can generally recycle newspapers, corrugated containers (cardboard), direct mail, magazines and catalogs. Check with your local municipality to find out what you can and cannot recycle.

The AF&PA Recycling Awards were created to recognize outstanding individual, business community and school paper recycling efforts. In 2006, the program was expanded to include a category for schools.

This year's award winners are:

Ed Hurley Memorial Paper Recycling Award (for individual achievement)

(*) Joel Ostroff, Macon County, North Carolina

AF&PA Business Leadership Recycling Awards

(*) Small Business: Bluegrass Regional Recycling Corporation, Richmond, Kentucky

(*) Large Business: Brewer Science, Inc., Rolla, Missouri

AF&PA Community Recycling Awards

(*) Small Community: North-field, Minnesota

(*) Large Community: Seattle, Washington

AF&PA School Recycling Awards

(*) Classroom: Heber Springs High School, Heber Springs, Arkansas

(*) Schoolwide: Mountain Home High School, Mountain Home, Arkansas

(*) College & University: tie between the University of Colorado at Boulder in Boulder, Colorado, and the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon

"This year's Recycling Award winners have exhibited innovation and social responsibility," said AF&PA President & CEO W. Henson Moore. "Their accomplishments in recycling have set new precedents."

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Goku Friends The Invasion Of Dragon Ball Z

(category: Environmental, Word count: 411)
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Dragon Ball Z is an anime show that has gone from cult following to smash sensation in the United States. What started out as a cult following among high school and college students has spread to enjoy a more mainstream popularity among these younger groups, while continuing to expand through other demographics. A Japanese creation, this show in many ways opened the door for others to follow.

Dragon Ball Z is the middle instillation of a three part anime trilogy. The whole thing started out with Dragon Ball, then went to Dragon Ball Z, and finally ends with Dragon Ball GT. While Dragon Ball had a cult following, it was Dragon Ball Z that really caught mainstream popularity in the United States. Dragon Ball Z started as a Japanese manga comic in the 1980's. Since then it has exploded into a truly international phenomenon spawning over 500 episodes, 17 movies/features and generating over $3 billion in merchandise, making it perhaps the most successful anime/mange in history. Dragon Ball Z has hit number one internationally, including the United States, Japan, France, Spain, Hong Kong, and Mexico.

Dragon Ball Z follows the adventures of Goku, who along with the Z Warriors, defends the Earth against evil. Their adventures are extremely action packed, sometimes with an entire episode being nothing but one amazing fight scene. This makes the show very entertaining, and the story line reinforces the concept of good versus evil. Dragon Ball Z teaches valuable character virtues such as teamwork, loyalty, and honor.

Akira Toriyama, the creator of the Dragon Ball franchise, was involved in the concept, approval and character designs for Dragon Ball Z, as well as Dragon Ball GT. Dragon Ball Z, the second part of the Trilogy, consists of 291 episodes. Dragon Ball Z arrived in the U.S. in 1996 and still continues today. The Dragon Ball Z DVDs are the highest selling anime DVDs, and Dragon Ball Z clothing has become very fashionable for teenagers and college students.

Dragon Ball Z is not going to fade away any time soon. Its good versus evil epic story line, fantastic animation, and intense battle sequences promise to keep the show popular for years to come, and after the sale of a million DVDs, it is safe to say that Goku and the Z team have made an impact far beyond what the original magna creator could ever have dreamed.

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Overview Of Geothermal Energy

(category: Environmental, Word count: 426)
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As we look to alternative energy sources for our power hungry world, geothermal energy is getting attention. Here is a brief overview of geothermal energy.

Overview of Geothermal Energy

There are many different types of energy available to power our world. For years, people have used the power of burning fossil fuels, such as coal (also used to produce steam power) to create energy. In recent times, there has been a shift to using renewable resources to create the energy we need. These resources include hydroelectric power, solar power, wind power, biomass energy and geothermal energy. While many people know about the first four of these resources, geothermal energy is less well-known.

The word geothermal comes from two Greek words, "geo" and "therme". These words mean "earth" and "heat", which pretty much describes what geothermal energy is. Geothermal energy is energy that comes from the heat of the Earth, deep underground. The Earth's core, where chemical reactions create massive amounts of heat, is 4,000 miles below the Earth's surface. In this core, temperatures can reach up to 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and this extreme heat can be used to produce energy.

While these are the basics of geothermal energy, there are many other parts in the process to make this sort of energy usable. We can't tap directly into the Earth's core to receive this heat, for many reasons. So instead, people must create systems that harness the residual heat that is in the magma (molten rock) under the Earth's crust. This heat is able to be used by tapping into the water reservoirs that are within the magma - these water stores can reach up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Think of Old Faithful in Yellowstone.

A well can be drilled down into the superheated water contained within the Earth's magma - the geothermal reservoir. Once these geothermal reservoirs are tapped into, the heated water and steam can rise to the surface, and be used to power geothermal power plants as well as in smaller scale projects for personal household use. When used in geothermal power plants, the steam from the heated underground water is often used to power turbines, which then generate energy which can be harnessed as electricity.

By using the Earth's own heat and water, energy can be created that can be used on a small or large scale. This renewable resource (you can't deplete the Earth's heat!) is also cleaner and safer than many other types of energy, making it a great type of ecologically sound energy source.

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The Revival Of Scotland S Castles

(category: Environmental, Word count: 541)
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How heartening after decades of decay and the destruction of many old fine homes, to see a revival of Scotland's Castles. After the war when many properties which had been either closed up or badly damaged by their war time guests, were facing a grim future. Many had been used as hospitals or temporary billets for servicemen and to use a modern expression, they had been pretty much trashed. Of course the end of the war also coincided with a period of heavy taxation and a huge shortage of raw materials. Many families simply buckled under the pressure and either sold up or pulled down the ancestral pile.

However fortunately some hung on and battled through a pretty grim four decades of heavy taxation and diminishing returns from their estates. With the passing of the estates onto the next generation and all the new prosperity that Britain was enjoying, many homes underwent extensive restoration, which breathed new life into these historic old homes. Whereas previously many castles only survived through government grants or by being taken on by the National Trust, Landmark trust or some other preservation organisation, they now were benefiting from new sources of revenue, like property development, mobile masts, wind farms and office developments in old farm buildings.

An even more exciting development was the emergence of new owners, many from the building industry, who had a passion for old buildings. They bought run down and in some cases ruined former manor houses, castles or keeps and restored them to their former glory. This often involved huge amounts of money and real dedication as they overcame many construction problems. However twenty years on, Scotland is dotted with such buildings and it is wonderful to see so many being enjoyed once more as private homes, small inns or as some form of cultural venue. They are a huge magnet for overseas guests and rightly so!

The ongoing battle with all these buildings is meeting the huge cost of their upkeep and as traditional income sources like farming, forestry and sporting activities diminish. Owners now have to find other ways to generate sufficient income and many now rent out their homes for exclusive lets, corporate events, and film shoots. The opportunity to hire a Scottish castle is hard to resist. Even though some properties are still struggling, there is overall a much more positive mood out there and even the tourist board now appreciates that these wonderful old properties make up a vital part of the fabric of Scotland.

Very few owners these days can afford to live in the lavish lifestyle of their forebears and most now work incredibly hard to preserve their homes. Most visitors would be surprised and probably rather shocked at the sacrifices many owners have made to keep their homes in good order. The next generation will inherit properties in far better condition than their parents did but they too will face many challenges as upkeep costs spiral and their homes continue to age. However the revival in the fortunes of Scotland's historic castles and homes, is wonderful to see and encouraging for the future. Many are open to the public and nearly all are well worth a visit.

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Improving Your Home Can Make It A Nicer Place To Live

(category: Environmental, Word count: 325)
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The two most common home improvements are new kitchens and new bathrooms, for a variety of reasons. Few people replace their living room or bedroom regularly, but kitchens and bathrooms have so many fixtures and fittings that can quickly become dated, as there are constant advances in design.

When you're improving a kitchen, you're probably most interested in the decoration - function is important to some extent, but in the end kitchens work very similarly, and most modern fitted kitchens will have similar facilities. What you're looking for is a kitchen that you like the look of, and that suits your style. Metallic kitchens are quite fashionable at the moment, and are worth taking a look at, but there's nothing to say that you have to blindly follow fashion.

While bathroom improvements might seem similar at first glance (they are often sold in the same showrooms, after all), they tend to be much more about function than aesthetics. Yes, no-one wants an ugly bathroom, but most people who upgrade their bathrooms are doing it because they want a better bath or a better shower from a practical point of view. A popular improvement recently is to turn part of your bathroom into a shower room - it can be very nice if you have room, but don't try to squeeze it into too tight a space.

Of course, plenty of people also embark on much larger home improvement projects, such as extensions (including conservatories). This might be to add a bigger or extra bedroom onto your house, or a home office, or simply to make your living room larger. As you can't just buy extensions in a shop, you need to consult a professional architect and a builder first, but don't worry - a good one will be willing to listen to your needs and ideas and make something unique and great for you.

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Scotland S Castles And Estates Face Funding Challenge

(category: Environmental, Word count: 535)
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After centuries of being an agriculturally based economy, the more rural parts of Scotland are having to come to terms with huge changes in the global economy. Many estates and castles that dominate them, traditionally were supported by a mixture of agriculture, forestry, sporting rights and a huge annual grant from the European Union. All these sources of income have come under attack and in some cases have disappeared. Agriculture is extremely volatile and does not produce the income it did, forestry is depressed, grants are being phased out and there is a glut of shooting and fishing available. This has all hit the rural economy over the last decade or so.

Combine this with a huge increase in equipment costs and maintaining old buildings, along with a certain amount of wear & tear that our harsh climate produces and you have a challenging situation facing the owners of Scotland's old ancestral homes. Unless they have other income streams independent of the estate, they are facing a grim future. Many owners do indeed now work in other industries and channel those resources into maintaining their properties. Most do a combination of traditional farming and sporting activities, combined now with private lets and other commercial activities. These could include offering castles for rent, marketing the property as a venue for film shoots, weddings, concerts and corporate events.

Fortunately many are located close to wonderful golf courses, so make perfect venues for golfing parties, whilst others allow easy access from major cities so can welcome corporate groups to dine or to hold special events. More rural properties tend to specialise more in the sporting market, although Ackergill Tower, which is located near Wick, is the premier country house operation in Britain and you don't get much more rural that Caithness. They manage this by offering amazing service, huge amounts of Highland charm and wonderful facilities. Other properties have followed their lead and many now enjoy high occupancy levels.

There are now properties available to suit all incomes and preferences and it has been the saving of many of our fine old homes. The improvements and re-investment that many have made over the last decade is astonishing and the market for private rentals is now very sophisticated, with many properties offering hotel level facilities (swimming pools, tennis courts, spa treatments, broadband internet access, fancy chefs and premier cru wines). The interiors of many have been totally refurbished and additional bathrooms, new kitchens, media rooms etc have been added.

It should be noted that ownership of many of these homes has changed hands over the last decade or so and many that were the old family homes of prominent Scottish families are now owned by admirers of Scotland from all over the world. It is their enthusiasm, energy and most importantly resources that have brought back many properties from the brink of ruin. They have also be sensible to look to the future and many realised early on that only by diversifying into new areas like private rentals and corporate events could they recoup some of their upkeep costs. Indeed many of the homes run at a deficit of around

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America S Beauty Is Everywhere You Make It

(category: Environmental, Word count: 331)
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Each spring, as Americans head for the great outdoors, millions of volunteers rally for the nation's largest annual community improvement program. It's a great way to enjoy some fresh air, spend quality time with the family, meet new friends and make a difference in your community's environment. Over 15,000 communities across the nation are rallying to clean up, green up and fix up their neighborhoods. Their combined efforts preserve America's natural beauty for all to enjoy.

Keeping America beautiful does not have to be a daunting task; there are many ways to lend a hand. People can get involved by joining in one or more of the 30,000 Great American Cleanup activities taking place throughout all 50 states through the end of May. Anytime of the year, you can follow these five steps for combating litter, reducing waste and beautifying communities:

(*) Recycle. Find out how to recycle in your area and do your part. Also, try to "complete the loop" by purchasing recycled products whenever possible.

(*) Reuse the products you can. There are hundreds of uses for everyday items such as plastic grocery bags, food and beverage containers or scrap paper.

(*) Properly dispose of cigarette butts. If you smoke, carry a personal ashtray and always use public ashtrays when smoking outdoors. Quitting smoking is good for both your health and the environment.

(*) Create a beautiful green space by planting trees, flowers and shrubs in an area in need of improvement in your community.

(*) Teach a child about personal responsibility, the environment and recycling. It's important that future generations understand and respect the environment. Hands-on community improvement events like the Great American Cleanup are a great way to spend some time with the kids.

America's companies are also dedicated to supporting and sponsoring the efforts for the 2006 Great American Cleanup. The 2006 Great American Cleanup National Sponsors are American Honda Motor Company, Inc., Firestone Complete Auto Careā„¢ TiresPlus

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Why Use Solar Power 6 Great Reasons

(category: Environmental, Word count: 754)
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Perhaps you are happy with the status quo of today. Perhaps you feel all is fine and you don't feel the need to change a system that's worked for over a century. If you do, consider a few of these benefits to solar power and you may just recognize its potential in a somewhat more responsible, yet selfish, light.

I don't care about the environment?

Perhaps everything in the world is fine with your life. The last thing you care about are trees, fresh air and clean water. Heck, the water shows up every time you turn on a faucet, the heat comes on when it's cold, the light switch brings you light. What's there to worry about? Consider that this is just the problem. If you don't care for the environment, the faucet may not bring you clean water, the heat may not go on and the car certainly will not start. If the environment is kept clean and left to do what it was intended to do, everything will continue to work fine. But get in its way and everything you thought was fine won't be for long.

One way to accomplish the goal of keeping all the comforts of home working properly is by using other sources of power generation like the sun, not generating nasty things that get in the way of the environment doing its job. Current sources of power come from dead things like old forests gone millennium ago. Environmentally responsible power, heat and transport come from living or energized things like water and oxygen molecules. Sun can be turned into electricity and used to power your car, heat your home and generate your light. But to make the process work, you need to be able to see the sun, which means caring for the environment and not getting in its way.

Cost savings

One of the best things about caring for the suns ability to do its job is that it saves you money in the long run. Once solar systems are purchased and installed, they cost little if anything to operate. In most instances, the government will even help to pay for the upfront costs of installing the system through tax incentives. Additionally, power companies in most regions are required to pay you for energy that you have generated and not used. Yes, you read correctly, the power company will pay you!

Profitable

In most instances, 70% of the northern hemisphere can generate enough solar power to run and heat their homes with existing solar systems. This means that whatever is left over goes back to the power grid if you so choose. Just think of your power meter running backwards. The extra power you need for that cloudy day is stored in ever more efficient batteries. Most current users indicate that the use of solar systems only takes a little thought in power management.

Off the grid

Depending upon how you feel about the topic, one of the better reasons to use solar power is that you can take yourself off the "grid" so to speak. Many people don't enjoy being a part of the social collective that is interconnectivity. Going solar takes you away from this one aspect of community and puts you closer to self reliance.

Versatile

Even though the solar power generation systems of today have come a long way to providing power, heat and a host of other services there is a long way to go. This is not to indicate, however, that solar power is not currently versatile in form and function. Solar panels can currently be formed into thin sheets to for car top electric powered cars. They can cover suburban rooftops and not be noticed, unlike those 1970's units. Costs are also coming down almost as fast as the flat screen TV's of today. Flat screens that solar power can power up through the use of a process called photovoltaic's.

Personal responsibility

Past the cost savings and environmental benefits that solar power brings you should consider using it because you are part of a larger social order that will procreate. The human species has not been around for all that long and is doing its best to end its run in one way or another. If you would like to give your children's children a better shot at continuing the human species run on this planet solar power is one small contribution that you can make all by your little self.

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