Monday, January 31, 2011

Dirty Dishes? You'll get over it!

Recently, 16 states passed a law to remove phosphate from dish detergent sold in stores within their state lines. Many consumers are complaining about their dishes being unclean without thinking about the benefits of having this additive, which is harmful to the environment, removed from their favorite liquid dish and dishwasher soaps. Many consumers are even angry at the companies, such as Proctor and Gamble, that produce these soaps because their dishes are not getting clean as they were before the phosphorus was removed.

While phosphorus acts as a great food and grease remover as an additive in dish soap, it can also be harmful to many aquatic environments. Making up to 35 percent of many dish soaps, phosphorus has the ability to find its way into lakes and streams by way of septic systems that drain directly into waterways. Furthermore, phosphorus is also found in fertilizers which seep into these aquatic ecosystems and wreak havoc on their intricate bio network. The phosphorus from fertilizers and dish soaps cause algal blooms in waterways and therefore cause oxygen to be depleted from many of these important areas. Without oxygen, aquatic organisms will not be able to survive which eventually will cause extinctions of important fauna and disrupt waterway ecology.

I suggest that people worry less about having perfectly clean dishes, and more about the reason behind the new regulations on phosphorus. Your dishes won't be used if there aren't food resources to put on them!

Read the complete story HERE!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Trash Today, Electricity Tomorrow

The first solar energy landfill project is under way in DeKalb County, just north of Atlanta, Georgia. The landfill is converting garbage into a power-producing solar energy farm. What may look like a giant green tarp is actually an enhanced geo-membrane liner. The liner is placed on the surface of the landfill and then covered with solar panels. The panels measure 15 inches wide, 18 feet long, and a quarter of an inch thick. David Stuart of Georgia's Republic Services, says that they are expecting to produce 1 MW of power from the landfill. This is enough power to produce energy for 150 homes. Once the project is complete, more than ten acres of the landfill will be used to produce energy.
This process does not interrupt with the landfill's natural process of breaking down garbage, but can also produce solar energy while capturing the landfill gas to heat homes. The EPA estimates that there are more than 100,000 closed landfills in the US. Under those landfills are about 100,000 acres that have the potential to also produce energy.
The test site for the project was created in San Antonio; however, the site in Georgia is around seven times the size of the original test sight.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

White Paint Helps Cool The Planet

Whether you believe in Global Warming or not, many think that it is on an increasing path. A new method for reducing the speed and cost of this occurrence is quite simple and relatively inexpensive but requires a little time and physical labor (minor expenses for saving the planet). The new fight against Global Warming is white paint. Painting roofs with the white paint actually helps to cool the planet. With the paint applied, some of the sun's radiation is reflected back into space which means that our planet will receive less of the sun's energy. Along with this, less energy means less heat therefore keeping the temperatures inside the homes and buildings with white roofs cooler. Less electricity would be needed for air conditioning which means fewer greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. It is predicted that having the white roof reduces one's energy costs by 20-30% per year. Wow! Along with white roofs, it is possible to apply white glazes to buildings and use light-colored concrete. Of urban surfaces, this could increase reflectivity by 10%. This could cancel out 44 gigatons of carbon dioxide (where in comparison, the world emits 28 gigatons per year from fossil fuel emissions). California researchers estimate that painting the roofs white or installing white tiles could offset 1.5 years or man-made carbon emissions.

--Source found at

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

First week's posts

For this first week, practice posting by selecting an interesting news item concerning any environmental issue of your choosing.  Post a 200 word blog on the significance or importance of the item, and post the link to your source.   Adding pictures or video to the blog when appropriate can enhance interest and educational value of the post.

Welcome to the Ashland University Environmental Science Blog

You are here at the beginning of the course blog for EVS 476- Issues in Environmental Science.  This blog will provide a forum for sharing interesting news, information, important developments, and perspectives on environmental issues along with links to different web resources.  We will consider environmental issues from a variety of perspectives, with a goal of considering both the science behind the issues as well as possible solutions or strategies for dealing with them.  All of us in the class will be contributing posts and comments over the semester.  Check back soon for more substantive posts.