Living or Artificial Christmas Tree?

We are in December! This month is always about preparing for holidays, for Christmas and New Year. One of a greatest symbols and surely the most important is the Christmas tree. However, in this age when we are all asked to be aware of the impact we are having on the environment, it is not quite easy to decide what to  purchase, a real living tree or an artificial tree and use it year after year.

If you want a long-term solution , considering a matter of a Christmas tree,  artificial trees seem to be a good decision. Moreover,  the latest generation of plastic trees do not look that fake. Until you get close, you can not easily distinguish the artificial tree from the real one, except for the missing fresh pine smell. Economically, artificial trees can also be a cheaper solution. You can buy an artificial tree for the cost of a single large live tree,  and it will last for several seasons. However, despite those facts that artificial trees look the same as living trees, that are less expensive and can be used for many years, purchasing a plastic tree is maybe not the best option. They are manufactured using a polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is a petroleum-derived plastic. The raw material  is both non-renewable and polluting and furthermore, PVC production results in the unhealthy emission of a number of carcinogens, such as dioxin, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride.

On the other hand, a real tree is actually the greener choice. One can mention that there are some components of the Christmas tree industry that are not quite as green. The trees need  maintenance over a period of 8 to 10 years- after that are harvested. Some Christmas tree farms use pesticides and chemicals to speed growth. And chopping down a living tree is not an environmentally-friendly activity, is it? Fortunately, the good news is that while those trees are growing they help to absorb the carbon dioxide that is produced by industries.  Also, those farms that produce Christmas trees are placed in areas that would otherwise be unusable. Because of their hardiness, Christmas trees can be planted on barren slopes where few other plants successfully grow, as well as fill in areas under power lines. It is important that each tree that is cut down must be replaced. Thus, many tree farms plant even up to 3 new trees for every one that is cut down in order to to maintain a constant supply. Now we can relax realizing that the tree population is not reduced due to Christmas tree farming. Actually it is maintained, protected, and in many cases increased.

 

To sum up, it is important to look at the environmental difference between the two options. Although artificial trees can last for years, they are not biodegradable and cannot be recycled. But, when the holidays are over a real tree can be recycled. Even, they can be used as compost and help nurture and protect the next generation of trees. Enjoy the preparation for the coming holidays!

 

Worldwide Recycling

Since 1997, November 15 has been dedicated to recycling – it is America Recycles Day and this annual event has been launched by the National Recycling Coalition. Nowadays, as it is known, the matter of  reuse and recycle raw materials is really urgent. According to some statistics, the mankind has reached a worldwide population of 7 billion. Thus there is too much waste and America is responsible for consuming a disproportionate share of the planet’s resources. In many countries recycling is done by necessity, in others, reusing materials is done in a creative and useful way by artists, governments and businesses. Almost every used product or packaging maybe used as an artwork or other new, useful thing. Here are some purposes, ways how one material can act as a new, raw material for creating others:

As we consider recycling from the angle of industrial manufacturing, Ecotech Recycling Social Enterprise has done a good job. Managing Director Ming Cheung in this photo poses with fuel oil converted from plastic waste in front of his “Plastic Waste-to-Fuel System” plant,  Hong Kong , August 24, 2011. The project is designed to support the practical and cost effective solution to plastic waste management with energy regeneration. The result of this prototype machine is converting three tons of plastic waste into 1,000 liters of fuel oil daily. This fuel oil need further refinement and then it is suitable for diesel engine usage.



 

There is an interesting example where plastic bottles and other recycled plastic and waste products are reused. Precisely,  11.000 reclaimed bottles are

Carbon Retirement

Carbon offsets can be considered as the best idea in the world – a financial instrument created to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They are obtained by corporations or governments to comply with caps on the amount of carbon dioxide they can emit into the atmosphere. For example, the purchase of one carbon offset is corresponding to the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide. Generally, they are intended to fund projects that seek to reduce quantities of greenhouse gas emissions.
However,  large corporations are continuing to pollute the atmosphere and carbon offsetting  does not motivate them to invest in new technologies. Rather than try to run their companies at peak carbon efficiency, they can simply pay a nominal tax on the amount they go over. Moreover, some projects funded by carbon offsets are of doubtful origin, and there is no certainty they will indeed reduce CO2 emissions in levels equivalent to what is being produced.

In order to persuade companies not to use carbon offsetting as a crutch, the answer might be to turn to carbon retirement. What does it mean?

European Energy Strategy

All around the world, there is more and more attention that is paid to the energy consumption, energy sources and contemporary energy issues. Thus, in Europe, there is a plan how to approach  all the required changes. This energy strategy of  The European Commission requires that 20 per cent of all energy consumed within the EU should be from renewable sources by 2020. It is estimated that 12 per cent of overall energy use should be supplied by offshore wind and  member states are required to implement sufficient grid capacity to accept wind power.

The European Union has also constricted legislation on the internal electricity markets, and imposes that Transmission System Operators (TSO’s) comply bi-annual transmission development plans. The program is intended to create a single electricity market across Europe and the aim is to achieve improved system operation, fair access for renewable generation systems, and greater cooperation between TSO’s.

By 2050, these long term energy strategy targets will lead towards an 80-95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The new development of the European grid infrastructure has to consider the current issues of enabling connection to wind power and delivering electricity  from offshore wind to immediate targets.

The requirements for a new European infrastructure

In addition to the integration of renewable energy, Europe can achieve several benefits from a complete and continental wide electricity network structure. The cost of the move towards a carbon free society for individual countries will be reduced by a fully interconnected grid utilizing smart technology. This can immensely develop and improve the security of service for consumers, and guarantee efficient use and lower prices by the routing of energy to specific areas of demand. Also, it  also rises competition in the energy market in Europe.

Who is best suited to PRINCE2 Foundation or PRINCE2 Practitioner?

First some background: PRINCE2 training is the most widely used standard project management framework in the UK. PRINCE2 is an acronym for PRojects IN a Controlled Environment and describes a comprehensive methodology for project management best practice which is transferable across a wide range of industries. The methodology itself is published by the Cabinet Office and individuals are certified by APM Group, which is licensed by the Cabinet Office. Despite its public sector origins PRINCE2 is used across all industry sectors and so PRINCE2 training is the default choice for projects managers everywhere.

What is the difference between PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner and who should do both?
PRINCE2 Foundation is an introduction to Prince2 training and covers details of the PRINCE2 methodology and terminology plus the documents, roles and stages in PRINCE2. This is a 3 day course and you can take PRINCE2 Foundation exam at the end to gain the PRINCE2 Foundation qualification. For many people involved in projects, but not managing them, this is training well worth doing. So product managers, engineering leads and business analysts are key groups that should get PRINCE2 Foundation training and certification – but the additional benefits of PRINCE2 Practitioner are not always needed.

How To Streamline Your Business With Efficient Digital Asset Management

In the modern world of business, files and pieces of information are no longer kept only in physical form. They are also stored as digital files on computers. This is done so that everything can be kept track of in a very efficient manner. It is also done so that information can be shared easily. It is much easier to transfer a digital file from one person to the next than it is to mail them a copy of a piece of paper. The whole process of keeping things in order is called digital asset management, and you need to do this effectively if you want your business to run efficiently at all times. It is also important to back up this data using a data recovery system like SQL Server Recovery.

Using Central Servers
The first thing that you need to do is to store all of the files on central servers that can be accessed easily from any of your computer stations. This will allow all of your employees to get to the information that they need right when they need it. They will not even have to leave their terminals. You can still restrict who has access to sensitive information by putting it behind passwords. In fact, you want to make sure that everything that you have on your servers is not accessible by every employee or you could have information accidentally deleted, misplaced, or altered.

Sir Leon Bagrit – The Age of Automation

The process of automation started many years ago. There were debates and lectures about the increased technological development in computing and how it changed the world we lived in. We are going to share with you  a fragment  of a lecture by Sir Leon Bagrit. The lecture is from 1964, however, many of his ideas can be recognized even nowadays. Sir Leon Bagrit was a peoneer of automation and a leading industrialist in Britain. He predicted many features that are in developing today, so we can say that his company was a company of the tomorrow in his time. Let us read his outstanding ideas and enjoy in them.

“Science and technology have come to pervade every aspect of our lives and, as a result, society is changing at a speed which is quite unprecedented. There is a great technological explosion around us, generated by science. This explosion is already freeing vast numbers of people from their traditional bondage to nature, and now at last we have it in our power to free mankind once and for all from the fear which is based on want. Now, for the first time, man can reasonably begin to think that life can be something more than a grim struggle for survival. But even today, in spite of the high standard of living which has become general in the more fortunate West, the majority of people in the world still spend nearly all their time and energy in a never-ending struggle with nature to secure the food and shelter they need. Even in this elementary effort millions of human beings each year die unnecessarily and wastefully from hunger, disease, or flood.

Yet, in the West, science and technology have made it possible for us to have a plentiful supply of food, produced by only a fraction of the labour that was necessary even a few decades ago. In the United States, for instance, one man on the land produces more than enough food to feed fifteen men in the cities, and, in fact, there is a surplus of food grown even by this small proportion of the American labour force. We have considerably extended our expectation of life. We have enriched our lives by creating physical mobility through the motor-car, the jet aeroplane, and other means of mechanical transport; and we have added to our intellectual mobility by the telephone, radio, and television. Not content with these advances, we are now thrusting forward the stars, and the conquest of space no longer strikes us as Wellsian or Jules Vernian. And with the advent of the new phase of technology we call automation, we have the promise both of greater leisure and of even greater material and intellectual riches.

But this is not inevitable. It depends on automation being adequately exploited. We shall need to apply our scientific and technological resources to literally every aspect of our society, to our commerce, our industry, our medicine, our agriculture, our transportation.

Stress at Work

It can be said that stress situations too easily appear at the work place nowadays. Over  several decades there has been little change or variation in the way that people used to work. People  started to work after they left the school and continued at the same job or at least the same company until they retired. It was, in fact, a job for life. Moreover, people used to work more or less the same hours, mainly at workdays. Now, on the other hand, there are more challenges  and changes in career, and people often change from one job to another. Also, there is a big issue about stress.
Stress, a real source of tension and frustration may arise through a variety of related influences on behavior, including the individual, group, organizational and environmental factors. Recently, a survey has been led about attitudes to work and 1,000 randomly chosen  workers was asked to specify the biggest problem at work. The second most common response after poor pay ( 18%) was stress (17%). This support the argument that stress was a problem from the nineties till now. The causes of stress are numerous and complex. Stress is also a very personal experience, because each individual has different attitudes toward work and different beliefs about how best to cope with the causes and the effects of stressful situations. Although stress is considered as a negative impact, a certain amount of stress may be seen as positive and even as a good thing, which helps and promotes a high level of performance. Keeping the balance is a challenging task of management.

There are several situations that are most commonly considered as stressful:
– Responsibility for the work of others – conflicting objectives of groups and organizations, groups and individuals, self and superiors.

Solar Facade System

The well known and largely used energy resources of the planet, due to the increasing exploitation, are rapidly consumed. The world is already in a hectic search for alternative energy sources and technologies that can enable their implementation. Thus, the mass production of hybrid cars is announced , bio-fuel is already heavily used, as well as systems for the exploitation of wind energy, solar energy.In this manner, there is also a product that can  help in the process of  protecting the planet.

Kreuzroither Metallbau GmbH is a company from Austria which also tries to contribute to energy savings with a product called Heliopan BIST.  What is actually Heliopan? It is the “energy facade” that differs from conventional solar panels in that it offers a range of solutions in the choice of colors, shapes, sizes, and therefore many architectural features.  It can heat buildings, provide domestic hot water, power and at the same time improve the insulation and overall appearance of buildings. They are convinced that the Heliopan are building facades of the future. Heliopan energy panels, built-in blocks of glass and aluminum, all sizes and shapes, enable the efficient utilization of solar energy. They provide cooling in summer, winter heating, patented that can produce and store electricity. These panels are manufactured in 11 different colors, which all together give architects the opportunity for countless marvelous designs. The base of this  facade system are very delicate solar hot water collectors which are directly integrated into the shell of a building through aluminium glazing or structural glazing and become part of the building shell.

The advantages of these panels , with their energy potential, and the diversity of sizes, shapes and colors, and their exceptional applicability in construction. They can be used in the construction of office buildings, shopping centers, industrial buildings, hospitals, houses, training centers and so on. Preserving and restoring energy, this board, according to the Austrian company,  returns the investment in less than seven years. Moreover, their environmental contribution should not be neglected: every kilowatt of produced energy reduces the emission of carbon dioxide into

The Billionaires of Future

Along with the extreme increase in the number of poor in the world, the list of enormously rich people also rise. According to Forbes list, the richest man in the world is Carlos Slim, followed by Americans Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Last year, the fastest-enriched was Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.

The wealth of the world’s billionaires has increased by 25 percent, to 4.5 trillion dollars, which exceeds the gross domestic product of Germany. Their average wealth was increased to 3.7 billion. According to Forbes estimate, the number of superrich women  increased to 102 from 89 in the previous year. It is interesting that in China the number of billionaires has doubled and now there is 115. In Russia, there are 101 billionaires. Moscow has more billionaires than 79 (compared to New York City which has 58). India has increased its number of billionaires in six and now has 55, but their wealth on average is higher than the wealth of Chinese billionaires. 30 billionaires live in Brazil. Brazil, Russia, India and China “produce” the half of 214 new billionaires in the world.

The number of nouveau riche in the Asia-Pacific region last year was 105. The region now has 332 billionaires, significantly more than the previous year when there were 234. For the first time in the last ten years there are more billionaires in Asia( 332) than in Europe (300).