North American Orchid Conservation Center (by SmithsonianSERC)

An orchestrated conservation efforts to preserve the fragile ecology and endangered orchids of North America.

How to Keep Your Cool Without Air Conditioning (via Yes! Magazine)

Note:  This article was originally published by Yes! Magazine under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License

How to Keep Your Cool Without Air Conditioning

Lake jump, photo by Marco-Olivier Maheu

Photo by Marco-Olivier Maheu.

The torrid summer of 2010 will cap off the hottest decade ever recorded on our planet. American households have responded to the heat by doubling our consumption of electricity for air-conditioning since the mid-1990s. Our a/c use has, in turn, boosted greenhouse gas emissions from power plants—helping to speed global climate change and to ensure that future heat waves will be even more frequent and intense … and that we’ll soon be cranking up the air-conditioning yet another notch.

But around the country, people are starting to recognize this vicious cycle and trying to put a stop to it.

I’ve met many people from across the country who enjoy the non-air-conditioned life, even in the heart of the Sunbelt. Here in Salina, Kansas, a place where triple-digit highs are common, my wife Priti and I have lived without air-conditioning for ten years.

Air-conditioning plays an important role in protecting the more vulnerable segments of our population during heat waves. But that doesn’t warrant its lavish deployment throughout society for much of the year. Whether you live in a house on a shady lot or in a third-floor urban apartment, it’s possible to stay comfortable by reviving and updating simple hot-weather strategies that have been cast aside during the age of air-conditioning. And it can be done without costly equipment or home renovations.

The key is to focus on people-cooling, not building-cooling. Your body is constantly converting chemical energy from food into heat; hot and/or humid weather makes it harder to unload that heat. But filling a home with chilled, still, dry air around the clock is only one of the many ways by which we can help our bodies maintain their thermal balance.

Blue Number 1Keep air circulating. Air movement is highly effective in helping you evaporate perspiration and shed heat. On a merely warm day, a breeze through an open window is enough to do the job, but in truly hot weather, especially if it’s humid, turn on a fan. Ceiling fans are good, but the direct breeze from a portable or window fan can be more effective. In summer, we have a window fan blowing directly across our bed at night.

Using natural cooling can help reverse the trend toward isolation from neighbors and nature that has characterized the age of air-conditioning.

Don’t let the morning weather forecast scare you into reaching for the A/C switch. If all of the home’s occupants are away at work or school during the day, midday temperatures are not very relevant. If you are going to be home all day, the predicted high temperature or heat index may sound menacing; however, a naturally ventilated indoor space often remains at least ten degrees cooler than the outdoor maximum, and air movement knocks a few more degrees off the temperature your body is actually sensing. In a closed-up, air-conditioned home, a thermostat set in the mid-to-upper eighties would create a suffocating environment—but with open windows and moving air, living in such temperatures is no sweat.

Blue-Number-2.jpgChange your location with the time of day and sun position. If you’re fortunate enough to have a basement, take advantage of the geothermal cooling it provides. A fan enhances the effect. And if things get really tough, there’s no need to be an absolutist. For a few hours’ break, you can quickly and fairly efficiently cool down a one-room refuge with a window air-conditioner.

Blue-Number-3.jpgReserve sedentary activities for the hottest part of the day. When physical work is called for, just accept that you may need to wring out your shirt afterward. Don’t do your running or other exercise at three in the afternoon under a broiling sun, but don’t do it in an air-conditioned health club either.Research shows that regular exertion in the heat builds the body’s tolerance, helping you function better in hot weather.

Blue-Number-4.jpgDon’t make extra heat. Remember that any energy-consuming household device releases waste heat. Plan meals that involve less cooking—cut back on boiling and baking especially. Keep the dishwasher and any unneeded lights turned off. Use solar technology—a clothesline—to dry the laundry. And take cold or lukewarm showers to avoid burdening your indoor atmosphere with a big load of humidity.

Blue-Number-5.jpgGet wet. High humidity may be the enemy, but water in liquid form is an essential ally. When it’s feasible, hit the lake or local swimming pool with your friends and neighbors. When it’s not (and if water supplies are sufficient), nothing cools like the old garden hose or lawn sprinkler.

Blue-Number-6.jpgStay near plants. Head to the woods, where it always feels cooler. Plants can cool twice, by blocking sunlight and by absorbing heat as they transpire water. If you have a yard, you can further reduce the peak indoor temperature by creating more shade [pdf]. If possible, have trees, especially to the south and west. If that’s not possible, a dense stand of other kinds of tall plants—giant reed (Arundo donax) or sunflowers, for example—can be tall enough by July to shade the sun-baked sides of the house. We have grapevines covering a couple of windows.

Blue-Number-7.jpgBring in the night air. If, when the sun starts going down, the outdoor temperature drops below that in the house, it’s a signal to pull in some of that outdoor air. Use a whole-house or attic fan if you have one; otherwise, set up one window fan blowing in and another out.

Blue-Number-8.jpgMeet your neighbors. Especially in the evening, spend time under a shade tree, patio umbrella, or screen porch, or head for the neighborhood park. Using natural cooling can help reverse the trend toward isolation from neighbors and nature that has characterized the age of air-conditioning.

The most important adjustment to be made is not in the thermostat but in our own view of what constitutes comfort. When people say they couldn’t survive without air conditioning, they tend to be thinking about the last time they dashed from a sun-baked parking lot into a chilled home or business. But focusing on those extremes ignores a wide range of perfectly livable, pleasant environments—that come at a much lower cost to you and the planet.


Stan Cox author picStan Cox wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Stan is the author of Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer). His website is LosingOurCool.com.

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futurejournalismproject:

The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”
FJP: Still edgy after all these years.

futurejournalismproject:

The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

FJP: Still edgy after all these years.

usnatarchives:

It’s time for a July 4 pop quiz!

Who was the oldest signer of the Declaration of Independence?
Who was the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence?
How many of the signers were born in Great Britain?
Which two future Presidents signed the Declaration of Independence?
How many men signed the Declaration of Independence?
How many of the signers were clergymen?

 
[Answers: Franklin; Edward Rutledege, age 26; eight; John Adams and Thomas Jefferson;56; 2]

If you answer all 6 questions correctly, you are an honorary Founding Father; answer 4 correctly, you are still a patriot; answer 2 or less correctly, then you must return your tricorn hat and go back to school!

We hope you will join us on July 4 for a reading of the Declaration on the steps of the National Archives. Details here: http://go.usa.gov/vsE The event will also be carried by C-SPAN, so tune in!


Image: mural of the signers, painted by Barry Faulkner, that hangs above the Declaration of Independence in the National Archives in Washington, DC.

Happy July 4th!  

usnatarchives:

It’s time for a July 4 pop quiz!
  • Who was the oldest signer of the Declaration of Independence?
  • Who was the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence?
  • How many of the signers were born in Great Britain?
  • Which two future Presidents signed the Declaration of Independence?
  • How many men signed the Declaration of Independence?
  • How many of the signers were clergymen?
 
[Answers: Franklin; Edward Rutledege, age 26; eight; John Adams and Thomas Jefferson;56; 2]
If you answer all 6 questions correctly, you are an honorary Founding Father; answer 4 correctly, you are still a patriot; answer 2 or less correctly, then you must return your tricorn hat and go back to school!
We hope you will join us on July 4 for a reading of the Declaration on the steps of the National Archives. Details here: http://go.usa.gov/vsE The event will also be carried by C-SPAN, so tune in!
Image: mural of the signers, painted by Barry Faulkner, that hangs above the Declaration of Independence in the National Archives in Washington, DC.

Happy July 4th!  

Forever Young

Post written by Olive Dove


Age is just a number.  

Our attitude towards age determines if we could stay forever young. We would be forever young at heart if we could constantly:

  • engage the world
  • embrace diversity
  • have a thankful heart
  • be humble (to God and others) 
  • keep abreast with new tech and knowledge
  • stay active physically, mentally and spiritually