Archive for October, 2011

October 26, 2011

Since Records Began…

The UK has just experienced the ‘hottest October since records began’ but who recorded the first weather event and when was the first weather forecast reported? And was this really the hottest ever?

The early Chinese, Persians and Egyptians already observed the weather and tried to draw conclusions, but of course professional weather records started much later.

In the US state leaders were amongst the first who were very interested in weather. Benjamin Franklin recorded the movement of a hurricane for the first time in 1743, while Thomas Jefferson even had a thermometer as well as a barometer and made regular observations between 1772 and 1778, mainly about temperatures.

Although there were many tools available for such recordings the telegraph eventually helped in collecting data from vast distances. In 1849 the first observation network was set up between telegraph companies and by the end of that year about 150 volunteers reported the data. By 1860, 500 stations operated all across the country.

In the UK one of the most famous early meteorologists was Dr John Rutty who recorded weather data for forty years in Dublin, which he eventually published in his book in 1770.

Also, from 1659 and 1766 various non-official records were kept, called the Central England Temperature and the England and Wales Precipitation series, respectively.

The Met Office 

Met Office UK

In the UK the Met Office was founded in 1854 as an experimental government department, with the objective to forecast weather, primarily for sailors. Its leader was a naval captain, Robert FitzRoy, who developed the first storm warning service, and created the foundation of several forecasting methods, including charts.

In 1861 The Times published the first weather forecast in a few short sentences covering only the next two days, also written by Robert FitzRoy.

US National Weather Service

The US National Weather Service was founded as the Weather Bureau in 1870, with the aim to provide meteorological observations at military stations, as well as to forecast storms. In those days however the primary forecast assumption was that a weather pattern in one location will move on to the next, while by 1902 notes on weather expectations were already sent to ships at sea wirelessly. The first weekly forecasts were started in 1910.

Today

The UK Met Office today considers 1914 as the beginning of official records, as they say, because reliable methods were only available from this time on.

This however means that the hottest, the wettest or the driest days may not actually be those – as said – ‘since records began’.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

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October 18, 2011

Learn From the Celebrities

Celebrities can afford to live in the most luxurious and enormous mansions in the most expensive parts of the trendiest neighbourhoods, however some decide to make their homes environmentally friendly as well.

These houses commonly feature solar panels for power or heating, while these ‘stars’ also like to install energy-saving appliances and gadgets.

One of the most famous green celebs is Daryl Hannah, who regularly attends protests and sometimes even gets arrested. She lives in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado in an off-the-grid house with solar panels for generating electricity and providing heating, while water comes from a spring and recycling comes as standard. There is also a biodiesel generator for emergencies, and the whole house is now set up to utilize the most of the sunshine thanks to its design. She has an organic garden and even a couch, which is basically a stone with moss.

Another well-known actor engaged in green issues is Leonardo di Caprio, who not only drives luxury electric cars, but also owns green homes. His house in Los Angeles features solar panels and even the bedsheets are green, while he recently purchased a new flat in New York, with aerators in the bathrooms, water saving solutions and green paint was used for decoration. Also, currently he is staying in an eco home, while filming in Australia.

Besides solar installations, Julia Roberts’ house has recycled tiles, and wood was sourced from a sustainably managed forest. Alicia Silverstone also uses recycled materials for furniture, and even has a low-energy heating/cooling system installed to save power.

Johnny Depp has a whole Caribbean island turned into an eco-paradise, entirely running on solar-hydrogen power. Inspired by him, Orlando Bloom built an environmentally friendly house in London, also with solar panels and energy-efficient light bulbs, while for his new baby they used eco paints in the nursery.

And even oil tycoons can be environmentally conscious. Larry Hagman, aka J.R. Ewing, is not only a famous advocate of the solar industry but also used to live in the largest solar-panel-powered house of the US before he sold it in 2009. And another Texan ‘celebrity’, George W. Bush’s Texan ranch features recycled water and a geothermal heating system, amongst other things.

Fancy an own eco home? Build an earthship

There are several opportunities available to anyone to build eco-houses, and some of the greatest examples around the world are the so-called ‘Earthships’.

These passive houses are built to utilize the sunshine or geothermal energy for heating, while they recycle rain or snow as well as grey water, and are powered with either solar or wind energy. Building materials are also all natural or recycled. The features change with every single house based on local characteristics and requirements.

Earthships can be found all over the US and Europe, including a house in Scotland and in Brighton in the UK. They can be visited by anyone sourcing for examples for greener living, while there are even courses available for learning to build such an eco-home.

 

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

 

 

October 7, 2011

Performing ‘Green’ Arts

The issue of climate change has been weaving into every part of our lives, and many of us try to do something about it every day. The really committed ones can now even become greener while enjoying performing arts.

It may sound unusual but besides dozens of catastrophe movies, also directors, playwrites and composers have been inspired by climate change.

There have been several plays introduced on stage covering climate change-related issues in the last few years.

In 2009 there were three plays running simultaneously, all focusing on the environmental and sustainability challenges our planet faces. These were The Contingency Plan – which by many is considered the most successful of all so far , Grasses of a Thousand Colours andWhen the Rain Stops Falling, discussing the issues of rising sea levels, genetically modified food and the dangerously decreasing number of fish.

Earlier this year further plays were introduced: the National Theatre’s Greenland summarised several expert opinions on what the world may be facing, while The Heretic introduced a scientist who wonders what facts can actually prove the climate change.

Seven Angels

Besides plays, recently even an opera was staged on climate change, titled Seven Angels. It showed seven angels dreaming about a flourishing garden that used to be in the desert they now live in. The opera was taken on a tour around the UK in June and July.

Greener theatres

The theatres themselves are also doing their bit in addressing environmental challenges, focusing on energy reduction or recycling.

The Arcola Theatre for example wants to be the world’s first carbon neutral theatre by implementing a comprehensive programme, including bottle recycling and  LED lights powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Their Green Sundays series offers an arena for those interested in environmental issues to meet similar-minded people or to discuss the most interesting and latest topics.

Another great example is the National Theatre that recently introduced several energy-saving measures: the new LED lights both inside and outside reduce energy usage by 60 and 70 per cent, respectively. The car park now uses these lights and the CO-emission extractor fans are used only when necessary, while water and paper recycling is also key.  Several energy-saving policies are now in place both for employees and during performances – for instance on how long lights are switched on or when computers should be turned off -, and further plans include improved insulation and a Combined Heat and Power solution.

How to find green performances?

It is now easy to find green entertainment thanks to some online sites.

The Ashden Directory  was first launched in 2000, and it’s a great source for performing art pieces with environmental links.

Besides that, Julie’s Bicycle [9] is an organisation supporting arts and creative industries on how to reduce their environmental impact. They work with several theatres, festivals, venues and even orchestras to help them in becoming ‘greener’. These information are all available on their website.

Enjoying “green art”

Nowadays there are countless opportunities to enjoy green plays and even opera, which are not only entertaining but can teach the audience on issues related to climate change.

And watching these in ‘green venues’ can even further add to efforts tackling climate change issues.

 

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

Image: The Opera Group

 

 

 

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