March 17, 2011

Today's Startling Realities...

photo via: Inhabitat

Libya holds Africa's largest crude oil reserves, so the world feels the impact.

Because their oil supplies have been disrupted, oil prices rose nearly 7% and the conflict shows no sign of subsiding.

The country's daily production of 1.6 million barrels has declined by more than half, leading the cost of a barrel of oil to reach a record high of $107.  This is the highest level since September 2008.

Drivers have noticed the impact as pump prices increased across the United States and the rest of the world.

As a precautionary initiative, Spain recently lowered its highway speed limits to reduce oil usage and will decrease train fares by 5 percent -- an incentive to get people to use public transportation.

Many food colorings are added to food to make the more attractive, and many 
of those food colorings are made from petroleum. via: Hufingtonpost

However as oil prices rise, it is not only the gasoline we should worry about but also the availability of petroleum bi-products.

In our day-to-day lives oil is not limited to re-fueling our automobiles. From what we eat to cameras, to aspirin, to clothes, to refrigerators and makeup we probably use more products containing petroleum than those without.

The rising prices of oil reminds us how dependent we are on this limited resource.  And more importantly, as we see how easily the prices can sway, we are face-to-face with the startling reality that our dependency in no way takes into consideration of sustainability.

While oil prices remain uncertain, rethinking some of our daily habits and being more conscience and careful of our resources and what we use is a very good idea.

Carpooling to work, using environmentally-friendly products, vacation at near home locations and engaging in old-school entertainment such as board games and cards might be the next up-and-coming trends.

Below are just a few alternatives to an oil-dependent lifestyle -- choices that can help us transition to a more sustainable life.

photo via: Inhabitat

1. Samsung's Solar-Powered LCD Television.  Samsung unveiled a solar-powered zero energy LCD television. The screen is transparent and it's technology can be applied to digital window blinds and storefront displays. (via: Inhabitat)

photo via: NY Times
2. Monopoly Live. Hasbro recently announced a new version of their classic game Monopoly -- Monopoly Live.

Set for release later this fall, the game is intended to bring back the lost entertainment of digital-free, face-to-face interactive board games.

Aiming to lure the 8-12 year old bracket, the game has been simplified and adjusted to a more fast-paced speed, set to compete against the more popular on-line games. (via: NY Times)

photo via: Springwise

3. Wind-powered Machine Knit.  Wind power takes on a whole new level as London-based Dutch designer Merel Karhof's reveals his creation The Knitting Factory which harnesses wind to knit a continuous series of winter scarves.  A video on YouTube demonstrates the machine "in action".

photo via: Inhabitat

4. Chevrolet Volt.  General Motors announced it will double the production of the Chevrolet Volt -- their extended-range electric car.

The Volt has a hybrid gas-electric engine system providing a gas engine-extended range of 300 miles to prevent drivers from being stuck without a charge (other electric vehicles get about 100 miles per charge).

Earlier this month, Toyota also announced the "Toyota Global Vision" -- a plan to launch 10 more hybrid vehicles by 2015.

We truly do hope electric cars will soon be the norm rather than the alternative.

From last week's high of $107/barrel, this week's oil price is down to $98 -- the result of Japan's shaken economy.

In the last few days, we have directly experienced what we cannot predict and it's direct impact on our day-to-day lives.

And although it may be a frightening, there ARE changes we can make in our lives thereby contributing to easing the potential damage.  We can start by being more aware, doing our best to save what is left.

photo via: Good 

Today we end this post our thoughts turn to the nation and people of Japan -- in addition to those many others who suffer injustice, tragedy -- both man-made and natural.

We share Reuter's list of several trustworthy organizations -- those doing their best to provide aid to victims of the Japan's earthquake and tsunami. GOOD also has an updated list of how you can help -- whether its through money or other donations, time and energy, or coding skills, the opportunities are limitless.

It is in times like these we are reminded how we are all interconnected. Please also do not forget about the crisis in the Middle East. Violence in Libya has lead tens of thousands of people to flee the country and cross to neighboring borders. With hundreds dead and thousands injured, many non-profit organizations need our help. Please consider making a donation -- we can all make a difference.

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