Congratulations to reader Jeri for submitting the most popular Blog Action Day green hack as voted by readers and snagging the (recycled, eco-friendly) prize!
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As a proud participant in today's mass blogging event, Blog Action Day, we're devoting our special feature to Blog Action Day's topic: the environment. Last Monday, we put out a call for your best ways to live greener, and as usual, Lifehacker readers did not disappoint. We received quite a few green hacks in our inbox, and after much winnowing down, the best 10 suggestions made it to the top. After the jump, check out some easy ways to live greener, and vote on which hack is the best of the best.
The next release of video game franchise extraordinaire - The Sims - will include climate change as one of the factors which can affect a player's city, writes the EcoGeek blog. The game, SimCity Societies, comes out next month.
"Players can build their cities with ecofriendly options, such as wind turbines, hydrogen fuel stations, and green buildings. Their decisions will ultimately drive the climate of their city and even imperil it with disasters should their CO2 levels go too high. Pollution also affects the health of the population, and quality of life. Building these green options are more costly than conventional ones, which lends a realistic approach to the game as well."
I have to admit that it's been a good few years since I was a Sims player, but it's awesome to see that they're building in some environmental awareness to the game. As the EcoGeek wrote: "The latest supercomputer climate models won't capture the interest that a video game can... Hopefully this Sim will be able to make an impact IRL."
SimCity - SimClimateChange
If you've ever found an injured native animal by the side of road, you know it can be quite nervewracking if you don't know what you can do to help them. Often if you come across an injured animal, they've been hit by a car, so they're traumatised and need medical attention - just like a person would!
First of all you need to remember that unlike household pets, wild animals are not used to being handled and are very susceptible to stress. You want to minimise their human contact and thus their stress level!
There are numerous groups dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating native animals, including WIRES - the NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Information Service. Their website has a guide on what to do with an injured animal:
Remove any threat to the animal. This may mean locking up cats and dogs until the animal is rescued by a licensed rescuer.
Minimise stress by placing a towel or blanket over the animal, then gently place in a box. Put the box in a warm, quiet, dark room and DO NOT DISTURB. The stress associated with human contact can result in death.
Fauna Search is a handy online tool which lets you look up a wildlife rescue or rehabilitation group in your local area. Or if you're in NSW you can call WIRES on 1300 094 737. Your local parks and wildlife service is another option.
WIRES (or the equivalent group in your state) will give you advice on what to do until a trained rescuer comes to take the animal to a vet or foster carer. The foster carer will look after the animal until it is ready to be returned to the wild. You may be tempted to care for the animal yourself, but remember that it's against the law to keep native animals taken from the wild. They must be passed on to an authorised carer with a licensed wildlife rescue organisation.
According to WIRES, Australia holds the world record for the country with the greatest number of species extinctions in the last 200 years. Considering the amazing and unique species we've already lost - like the Tasmanian Tiger - let's take care of our four legged friends.
If the sheer, skyrocketing cost of electricity isn't enough to make you start looking to reduce your power bill, then maybe a reminder that electricity = fossil fuels burned = more carbon emissions = global warming will remind you that there's more than just a large electricity bill at stake here.
Here's some stats from the Treehugger website:
1. Of the $US250 billion spent per year on powering computers worldwide, only about 15% of that power is spent computing-the rest is wasted idling.
2. Electronics make up 70 percent of all hazardous waste.
3. Making the average PC requires 10 times the weight of the product in chemicals and fossil fuels.
4. 15 billion batteries are produced annually worldwide.
5. 40% of the energy used for electronics in your home is used while these devices are turned off.
Geek households tend to have an above average number of computers, electronic appliances and gadgets, so it's fair to say we're using more than the average amount of power per household! Fortunately, Treehugger wrote a really cool guide with geeks in mind. It goes waay beyond the simple 'turn off appliances at the wall' advice (although that could potentially save you around 10% off your power bill) to look at ways to reduce and optimise your use of batteries, and make decisions about extending your PC life or recycling it.
The guide also has a whole bunch of links to other resources, which range from places selling green-friendly PC peripherals, such as the recycled wood iPod case, to websites giving information about PC recycling programs. Worth checking out.
And if you're interested in taking it a step further and buying 'green power' for your home, check out the Green Electricity Watch website, which provides a ranking of green electricity products to help consumers choose which ones make the most difference to Australia's and their own greenhouse gas emissions.
For those of you who want the availability of an always-on computer, but don't want to waste power during its idle time, I'd point you back to our recently published hack which lets you save energy with an always available computer.
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to attend an event on climate change where Australian of the Year Dr Tim Flannery was speaking. He's very blunt in his assessment of how slow Australia has been in acting on global warming, but the thing which struck me the most was when he spoke about the predicted human impact of rising sea levels. He posed the question "How do you deal with several million people on the move and looking for new homes?" It really helps put things in perspective - reducing your own carbon footprint and use of fossil fuels doesn't seem quite so onerous after that!
Flannery has published several books including one on global warming called The Weather Makers. The book's website also has a handy list of 11 Realistic Ways You Can Help Reduce Global Warming, such as choosing energy efficient household appliances and lights, The page includes contact details for the power companies which provide accredited 'green power'. Basically what that means is by paying slightly more for your power, you can choose for some or all of your power to be sourced from renewable energy sources such as solar or wind - reducing your reliance on non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels, which create the carbon emissions responsible for global warming.
Links and Resources - Accredited Green Power suppliers, Carbon Footprings, Car, Water