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Archive for April, 2015

Solar power to convert salt water to fresh water through desalination?

By admin on April 28th, 2015

Imagine a world where water is abundant and can be sourced from the oceans and seas as and when required. Wouldn’t that be a boon to mankind?

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Every life form on earth needs water in one or the other manner. Survival is one part of the water requirement and living is another. If there is water available, is it in abundance? This is the question that needs answering. Cities, states and countries, right from California to Japan are looking at creative ways to save and conserve water.

Recently as a part of an USAID project, a prize winning entry (Desal prize, USD 140,000) displayed the ingenuity of addressing the water need. The group from MIT and Jain Irrigation Systems developed a solar power generator using solar panels and batteries that in turn powered a desalination system using the electrodialysis method. This method involves removing salt particles from water using a small electrical charge. In addition to salt removal, the team also integrated a UV light device to ensure that the water is completely disinfected. The water thus coming out is fit to be used on crops.

Using solar power for desalination is a new and a dynamic idea that can bring water to many areas where the crisis rules the roost. This system was tested in New Mexico (Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility) for over 24 hours and desalinated about 2,100 gallons of sea water.

This system can be developed with scalability to address the needs of the water starved across the world.

Cutting Down on Those Hidden Smartphone Costs

By admin on April 25th, 2015

Three UK’s parent company, Hutchison Whampoa, has just reached an agreement to purchase O2 from Telefonica. The proposed £10.25 billion deal will make Three the largest mobile operator in the UK, giving them a 41% share of the market. The deal is still awaiting approval from competition regulators, but should the buyout go through it will reduce the number of mobile networks in the UK to three. This may simply seem like more of the same when it comes to corporate mergers, but the loss of competition in the mobile networking market could easily lead to higher costs for consumers down the line. But customers have more control over their phone bills than they may think, and there are steps we can all take to reduce our mobile costs in the face of corporate mergers and rising mobile tariffs.

Trimming the Fat

The secret to keeping your phone bill under control is knowing where to trim the fat, but sometimes that can be easier said than done. Network providers are very good at bundling services, and signing up customers for full featured plans that they may not really need. These bundles often have hidden costs that end up costing you more than you anticipated, and more than you were promised. If you want to reduce your phone bill, eliminating the hidden costs is the perfect way to begin. Let’s look at a few key points that will help you save on your smartphone bills.

“Unlimited” Data

Unlimited data is a major selling point for many network providers. Unfortunately, unlimited data doesn’t always mean what it says. While some networks do offer truly unlimited data plans, most apply a fair usage clause to your contract. You’ll have to dig down deep into the small print to find it, but the clause is there and it allows your provider to set an upper limit on your data usage. If you go over that limit you’ll begin to rack up hefty fees, so to avoid a sudden spike in your phone bill you need to watch your data allowance. But that can be difficult to do, especially if your smartphone is loaded with your favourite apps. Many of those apps continue to run even when they are not in use, constantly downloading information from the internet. This so called ‘background data’ includes everything from Facebook updates to GPS information, and it adds up fast. To prevent yourself from exceeding your data limit, and racking up any unexpected fees, use the settings control on your smartphone to disable the Background App Refresh feature. This will prevent those data hungry apps from continuously eating away at your monthly allowance.

Smartphone Insurance

Smartphone insurance has become a booming business, and most networks offer insurance plans for their customers. But smartphone insurance isn’t cheap, and some plans can add more than £300 to a standard two year contract. Now, having insurance for your smartphone isn’t necessarily a bad idea, particularly if you need your mobile for work. However, you need to be sure you are paying for the right plan and not overpaying for the wrong one. Before you add insurance to your network plan, read the small print and be sure that it covers all eventualities. Give special attention to deductibles and personal responsibility clauses. Also, before signing on, compare the plan with those offered by other independent insurers. It is not unusual to find a better plan, at a better price, from someone other than your mobile network.

4G and Wi-Fi

Many of us are upgrading to a 4G connection, chasing those faster download speeds. But moving from 3G to 4G can have an unexpected impact on your phone bill. Those faster download speeds make it all too easy to burn through your data allowance, racking up major fees in the bargain. If you are considering making the move to 4G, think about increasing your monthly data allowance as well. The additional data will help protect you from going over your limit, and incurring unwanted fees and penalties. Also, whether you’re on 3G or 4G, you can keep your data usage under control by relying on wireless networks for data heavy activities like streaming videos or playing online games. When you consider that fifteen minutes of streaming video can use up more than 1GB of data, you can see how easy, and how quickly, you can use up your monthly allowance. Relying on Wi-Fi for data heavy applications will keep you from going over your limit, keeping your phone bill check.

The recent spate of telecom company mergers in the UK may be good news for big business, but it is likely to result in higher phone bills for consumers. With fewer mobile networks competing for customers, companies will have less of an incentive to keep basic phone costs down. That means that customers like you and me will have to find our own ways to cut costs and keep our phone bills under control. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to cut out hidden mobile fees, so we can all keep our hard earned money where it belongs – in our pockets.

World Earth Day 2015

By admin on April 23rd, 2015

Did you have a date on 22nd April, Wednesday, with Planet Earth?

I am sure you have, for the sake of our very own Planet Earth. It was Earth Day and a very important day for the modern civilization. So important, that the very survival of the planet depends on it.

How did the World Earth Day come about?

World Earth Day is celebrated annually to enhance the environmental safety awareness and underline the importance of environmental protection measures. It was celebrated for the first time in 1970 and is today celebrated across 140+ countries.

John McConnell of San Francisco was an active environmentalist and had a futuristic vision. He actively took part in environmental movements at the time and proposed to have a remembrance day for environmental safety. He chose to celebrate the same on the spring equinox (21st March, 1970). However, another environmentalist and the then US Senator for Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson chose to celebrate the same on 22nd April, 1970. After a long outreach, it was decided that the event would be celebrated on both days for that year.

The underlying reason for such Earth Day celebration was the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill which resulted in massive pollution killing marine and plant life. The first ever Earth Day celebrations saw many college groups involving themselves to protest against the oils spill, toxic dumps, water and air pollution, use of pesticides, raw sewage, industrialization and many other issues.

Come 1990, Denis Hayes, the coordinator for Earth Day events decided to celebrate the Earth Day only on 22nd April every year and he proposed that a whole week of celebrations be underatken, calling it the Earth Week. So, a complete week is celebrated by addressing environmental issues wherein the campaign normally begins with planting new trees.

Why is Earth Day Celebrated?

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Earth Day is celebrated to remind the mankind of preserving natural resources which are being used commercially without a concern for the environment and the critical life balance that rules the planet. The results are acid rains and global warming which is already a threat to the environment. Reducing pollution, planting new trees, limiting deforestation, reducing energy consumption and having a smaller carbon foot print for individuals as well as businesses are the main objective of celebrating Earth Day.

Earth Day celebration include many events which may include, but not limited to:

  • Planting new trees wherever required.
  • Outdoor activities with family such as emptying the garbage on the street or building the dog house or identifying their role in the biological cycle.
  • Illuminate others and discourage them from using plastic to reduce soil and water pollution.
  • Teaching neighborhood kids about recycling.
  • Participate in cleaning up activities.
  • Taking part in discussions, and knowledge-gathering sessions that include seminars and activities which relate to environmental safety or conservation.
  • Motivate others by wearing earth, vegetation or sky (brown, green or blue] colored clothes.
  • Getting the message to others that every day is Earth Day and the care towards environment should be practiced daily and not annually.

In the recent past, every Earth Day was celebrated with a theme:

  • 2007 “Be kind to the earth – starting from saving resources”.
  • 2008 “Trees Please”.
  • 2009“How Do You Get Around”.
  • 2010 “Reduce”.
  • 2011“Clear the Air”.
  • 2012 “Mobilize the Earth”.
  • 2013“The Face of Climate Change”.
  • 2014“Green Cities”.
  • And this year, 2015, it would be “Water Wonderful World”.

Earth Day every year

Every year, the Earth Day is celebrated by almost everyone across the planet. A typical Earth Day celebration involves colleges and environmental organizations protesting and discussing issues of pollution control, planned industrialization, dealing with toxic wastes, ozone layer deterioration, controlling polluting businesses and many more. The major chunks of people are from colleges and people who like to create awareness on such issues.

The result of such celebrations is positive and as a result, many governments and groups have actually taken steps to curb pollution and improve the environment. The inspiration taken from Earth Day is very positive across all 141+ participating countries and this has resulted in concrete steps to curb global warming.

In 2015 Earth Day has been organised by various groups and businesses in various countries. On the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, the agenda is to get economic growth to join hands with sustainability. And, there is ample chance and hope that the world leaders will unite for mother earth and pass the climate change treaty that would be binding on all participating countries.

Quotable quotes on Earth Day:

  • Charles A. Lindbergh“Man must feel the earth to know himself and recognize his values…. God made life simple. It is man who complicates it.”
  • Rabindranath Tagore “Trees are Earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.”
  • Barry Commoner“Earth Day 1970 was irrefutable evidence that the American people understood the environmental threat and wanted action to resolve it.”
  • Greg Dworkin“One billion people in 175 countries will mark Earth Day. That puts tea parties in perspective, doesn’t it?”
  • Jackie Speier“Every day is Earth Day, and I vote we start investing in a secure climate future right now.”

On this Earth day, let us all unite and take a stand – “We shall divest from using fossil fuels and spend our hard earned money on renewable energy solutions, environmentally friendly gadgets and finally take a step towards ridding the planet of unwanted waste, toxins and pollution”.

Are all of you with us? Let us all unite and show the world that we stand against pollution and mindless destruction of the environment and are committed to create a cleaner and ecologically balanced planet, together.

By the way, we are inviting all to send in their posts ([email protected]) related to Earth Day, we would be glad to publish them.

THRIVE Solar Lantern Launches Online Sales

By admin on April 21st, 2015

In time for the 2015 camping season, Cosas AutoSuficientes, LLC (CAS) launches the online sale of THRIVE Portable LED Solar Lanterns. The solar lights were normally sold abroad to those who live in rural and remote areas of the developing world with little to no access to an electrical grid. 3.5 million solar lights have been sold in 15 countries since 2007 prior to online sales. The Solar LED Light is catching attention for its high quality and low price along with the manufacturer’s socially driven business model.

For most online customers, the THRIVE Portable Solar Lanterns are good to keep as emergency flashlights in survival kits as they do not have to rely on external batteries that may end up dying during long periods of storage. Lightweight at 3 oz, small and portable (15 cm x 7.5 cm x 3 cm) – it emits up to 8 hours of bright white light after a full day of charging under the sun. The solar panel is built-in on the backside of the lantern, so no separate cords needed. It’s all-inclusive.

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Campers would find good use for the solar lights as handy flashlights, as well. For the 2.3 billion who have to deal with regular blackouts or life outside of an electrical grid, the solar lights act more than just flashlights. They provide a cheaper, reliable, and cleaner source of lighting to enable life after sunset, like studying extra hours and continuing entrepreneurial activities. Without solar powered devices, these people may spend upwards of 20% of their meagre incomes on dirty and hazardous kerosene fuels just for light after dark. This in turn deprives them of a chance to save their money and work their way out of poverty.

The THRIVE Solar Lantern is touted as the most inexpensive, high quality solar light in the market today. In place of a light bulb, it utilizes an LED light chip invented by Shuji Nakamura, the recipient for the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes. Nakamura has a special partnership with THRIVE Solar Energy because of their social mission. Nakamura’s LED invention brings the cost down significantly for those who need the Solar LED Light for everyday use, particularly those in the developing world who earn only $2.50 per day.

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The Solar LED Light is retailed by Cosas AutoSuficentes for US$15 via Amazon

The online sales contribute to THRIVE’s charity, the “One Child One Light Foundation.” The foundation works with local NGOs and governments around the world to donate its solar lights to communities in need. The online sales also help THRIVE sustain its community empowerment business model, in which it manufactures the solar lanterns in places where job creation would impact poverty eradication programs the most.

THRIVE supplies as much of its materials from local economies, and has one of the few, if not only, solar devices in the market that does not have to label “Made in China.” “Made in Kenya” or “Made in India” is a proud label to bear. THRIVE allows quality high-tech, green-tech products made right out of India and Africa. By the way, the THRIVE factory in India is run entirely from solar energy.

Maria Caluag, owner and founder of Cosas AutoSuficientes, said, “I believe selling these solar powered products will help increase the awareness of energy poverty faced by billions abroad while promoting the use of money-saving, cleaner, greener technology. Solar powered devices are very useful to those who live in and outside of the USA.”

Originally published @ Business Fights Poverty Blog