Natural Environment Blog

Blogging for the Natural Environment

Month: April 2009

3 Ways Studying Online Can Save Our Planet

Online colleges are gaining in popularity by the day, not just because they’re more convenient for people who want to work and study, but because they’re offering more comprehensive and accepted degrees as well.

Most of us are aware of the various advantages to studying online as opposed to going to a regular college – we save on commuting costs, we’re able to earn as we learn, and we’re allowed flexible learning schedules.

But how many of us know that an online degree helps in the fight against global warming too? If you’re asking how, read on to find out:

  • By minimizing our carbon footprint: When we cut down on commuting costs, we’re also cutting down on the usage of gasoline. And the less gas we use, the lower the impact of fossil fuel on the environment. Even if you were to stay in a hostel or dormitory on campus, it’s a cheaper option to study online because you’re minimizing the use of electricity. Online colleges do not have to use electricity to power classrooms and dormitories because there are no buildings.
  • By reducing the effect of construction on the environment: Since there is no need for classrooms, you’re reducing the use of materials, especially the natural ones like wood.You’re also saving the use of fossil fuels in their transportation and in the energy that would be expended to construct the buildings. When there’s no construction, you also minimize the amount of water that’s used.
  • By reducing the use of paper: When you study online, your word processor replaces all your notebooks. All your essays and lessons are submitted online in the electronic form, so you don’t have to use paper. When you minimize the use of paper, you’re saving trees in the rainforest from being cut down and are thus contributing to increasing rainfall around the world.Trees play an important role in bringing us rain, holding on to the soil so that the loose earth does not cause landslides, and in providing natural canopies that shade us from the harsh heat of the summer sun. In this way, they reduce the need for air conditioners and provide natural cooling effects.

This post was contributed by Claire Webber, who writes about the best schools online.  She welcomes your feedback at Claire.Webber1223 [at] gmail.com

Hybrid Economy

Hybrid cars are becoming much more affordable.

Hybrid cars are becoming much more affordable.

by Jack Taylor

Hybrid autos are often criticized as being expensive, but this false belief needs to change. 

This belief was caused by the high prices that hybrid autos had when the new technology was introduced. If you were to spend more on a hybrid auto than you’d have spent otherwise, you were unlikely to ever get your money back – even if you got rid of a gigantic, fuel-sucking SUV. This may have been true when hybrids were really expensive and the initial cost outweighed the gas savings. But it doesn’t seem to be true anymore.

Today, petrol prices are rising, used cars are getting cheaper, and the new car industry needs to lower the prices to be selling at all. Now, hybrid autos are within the same price range as other new and used cars. 

New Hybrids Cheaper Than Used Ones?

Some estimate that a new hybrid may even be cheaper than the used one. The example car for costs estimation was the 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid. John O’Dell claims in his article that price drop on the car market combined with the industry’s ubiquitous cut-rate financing offers, has made it cheaper to buy new than used cars. 

The hybrid autos’ manufacturer has lowered the costs of purchasing new cars, so much so, that it was cheaper to buy a 2009 Civic than a year old used one. The research was based on many factors and took into account several reasons for price reductions, like the national interest rate deal when choosing between new and used cars. 

Used Hybrids Cheaper Than Used Non-Hybrids

Extensive research has shown that used hybrid autos have become cheaper than other cars, especially if we take into account the rise in oil prices. 

Research has shown that the 2008 Toyota Prius Hybrid with 1.5L 4-cyl engine and 75HP electric motor/generator was far more fuel efficient than other used cars. The Prius’ measured fuel cost on a distance of 676 miles was 39 Euros. Other used cars didn’t even come close.

Surprisingly, driving 2008 Smart ForTwo with 1.0L 3-cyl engine cost 9.7 Euros more. The numbers do not lie. 

The 2008 Ford Focus costs around 30,000 Euros and is over 30% more expensive. A 2008 Toyota Prius Hybrid can be found for not much more than 20,000 Euros. 

Higher Standards

Owning a hybrid auto is also a step towards introduction of higher technological and ecological standards in automotive engineering. 

The European Commission has already adopted an action plan to achieve a 20% substitution of diesel and gasoline fuels by alternative fuels in the road transport sector by 2020. This is one of the reasons why car manufacturers are redesigning the drive train concept towards hybrid systems. 

To respond to the needs of our environment, with an ever-rising number of cars, we will have to make the switch to hybrid autos in the immediate future, then possibly solar powered cars one day.

Hybrids Are Here To Stay

Today, hybrid autos should no longer be perceived as new technology cars. Hybrids are an integral element of everyday economic and eco lifestyle. 

Whether you’re on the market for a  new or used car, you should look at all the costs of buying a car – not just the purchase price. You’ll find that a hybrid auto makes sense for both the sake of the environment and your budget.

 

Find used hybrid autos at Car Buyers’ Guide.

Jack Taylor is an expert in ‘green’ automotive industry. He is particularly interested in biofuels and hybrid cars.  

Loud Sonar Causes Deafness in Dolphins

Dolphins can be deafened by loud noises, which can lead to death.

A new study has found that loud sonar can cause deafness in dolphins.

The study found that loud, repeated blasts of sonar caused dolphins to temporarily lose their hearing for 20 to 40 minutes.

Published in the British journal Biology Letters on Wednesday, the findings could provide further evidence that human made noises can be attributed to dolphin and whale deaths. 

The study, led by Aran Mooney Marine Biologist at the University of Hawaii, exposed an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin to progressively louder pings of mid-frequency sonar. The dolphin was born in captivity and was trained. 

A suction cup was fitted to the dolphin’s head, with a sensor attached that monitored the animal’s brainwaves.

“What we found was if you play sound you can cause temporary hearing loss. The sounds have to be surprisingly loud and they have to be repeated over an extended period of time – two to three minutes.” Mooney said. “In that time you would expect them to swim away as fast as possible. They have to be within 40 metres of a ship, but when you have certain oceanographic conditions it’s hard for the animals to get out of the way.” 

Many people believe that human made noises, also referred to as acoustic smog, has been the cause of whale and dolphin beachings around the world.

Mooney acknowledges that, given the study was undertaken in a lab with a captive-born dolphin, it does not provide proof that military sonar is to blame for mass strandings. 

“We definitely showed that there are physiological and some behavioural effects [from repeated, loud sonar], but to extrapolate that into the wild, we don’t really know,” Mooney told AFP.

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