Wednesday, April 23, 2008


This is the first of many postings regarding energy and resource conservation related news and tips from Chicago Energy Consultants.

With all the things to be worried about in life, we could do much better at prioritizing what we direct our attentions to. From the moment we wake up it seems like insurmountable issues dominate all of our time, stressing us out and consuming more and more of our time every day. It is oftentimes hard to keep track of what is really important..

I think a good way of 'keeping it real' is thinking of how long we as humans can survive without something (these are estimates, but shouldn't be that far off the mark for most situations):

Air: ~10 minutes
Water: ~12 days
Clothes / Shelter: ~5-14 days (in severe conditions)
Food: ~15-30 days (probably more for most Americans with ample 'reserves')
Basic Sanitation / Law / Peace: hard to say, but think hurricane Katrina and Iraq for recent examples of reduced life expectancy.
Love / Companionship: you can remain alive without these, but you won't really be 'living'.

Why is it seems that the more we need something, the less that we consider or value it?

Speaking from the standpoint of the average American:

Air: Our homes, cars, planes, power plants and ships are fouling the air with an ever increasing volume of emissions. Globally, nations striving to reach our capitalistic heights are consuming with wild abandon their stores of natural resources. Research suggests that we spend 90% of our time indoors, yet amazingly, air quality inside the average home was found to be worse than that outside. Not a small feat in the Chicago metro area, as it currently ranks as the #13th worst in the US for small particle pollution. EPA testing has found that concentrations of gases called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) were found to be 2 to 5 times higher inside than outdoor air.

Water: Our astronomical amounts of trash have helped to form a garbage patch in the ocean estimated to be the larger than twice the size of Texas. Ocean currents carry our trash around in the sea for years, where it slowly breaks apart and accumulates, turning the sea into a plastic soup that kills ocean life. Runoff from fertilizer is choking our local lakes and rivers as we push farmland to produce season after season of corn due to biofuel demand, while before crop rotation and letting fields go fallow was adequate to restore nutrients to the soil.

Clothes: We have our natural fibers cleaned with perchloroethylene (currently banned in California), a harsh toxic chemical that is not only damaging to the water supply, but "a probable human carcinogen causing a number of types of cancer".

Food: We increasingly import more food from across the world, and many times food even crosses the globe 2-4 times during processing, packaging, and shipment. Mass production of food results in mass-contaminations resulting from poor practices during growing, harvesting, shipping, and processing.

Shelter: We build our homes out of substances that off gas toxic fumes for many years. Many accepted building codes and practices create environments that trap moisture and can lead to toxic mold growth, as well as trapping radioactive gases that are as detrimental to our health as smoking.

Things don't need to be like this.. and there are many simple things we can do as individuals to help to stop poisoning ourselves.

Keep your eyes on Chicago Energy Consultants - News for new postings that will inform and educate on the many ways we as homeowners, neighbors, community members, and humans can help to make a difference in preserving life and the limited resources that are available to us all.