Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vacation :)

Hello everyone! Sorry for the sudden disappearance. I decided to pack up and visit my relatives in Germany so I'll be updating the blog with interesting and quirky eco news again in about 2 weeks time when I'm back on the island :) Remember that every little effort counts!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

An update on the Gulf oil spill

Chemical dispersants is being used to fight the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, only as long as their environmental benefits outweigh the costs. I wonder what they mean by it. Let's take a look at the cause and effect of this answer of theirs.

Environmental concerns of dispersants:
The primary ecological concern associated with dispersants is their ability to enhance the effective toxicity of oil via the dispersion process. Dispersants are able to enhance the distribution and movement of not just oil fractions, but also its more toxic, soluble, and mobile aromatic components, said an information sheet sent to Bellona Web by Richard Charter, a foremost expert on marine biology and oil spills who is a senior policy advisor for Marine Programmes for Defenders of Wildlife and is chairman of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. Dispersants transfer oil from the water surface into the water column, and while decreasing exposure to oil for surface dwelling organisms, such as seabirds, marine mammals, and sea turtles, it increases the exposure for the water column’s communities of fish, eggs and larvae as well as shrimp, corals and oysters. Dispersed oil particles tend to remain in the upper layers of the ocean and as they approach inshore areas, increasingly impact corals, oysters and shrimp. Dispersed oil particles tend to assume a less visible, more difficult to cleaned-up quality. They also assume pervasive presence in the environment, with increased opportunities for long-term ecological impacts, particularly in coastal areas. So basically its a "save either one" situation. The dispersants also make skimming oil off the surface of the water difficult as the balls of oil that form when dispersants are applied can clog skimming mechanisms. Due to time differences between Norway and the US Gulf Coast, it was not possible by press time to find out if the dispersants arriving from Norway are of the Corexit family, or if they contain 2-butoxyethanol, or 2-BE. 2-BE is known to cause heath dangers to clean up workers and wildlife alike. Chemical dispersants can concentrate leftover oil toxins in the water, where they can kill fish and migrate great distances. Corexit 9500 is associated with headaches, vomiting and reproductive problems as sides effects at high doses to clean-up workers. 2-BE has also been documented to cause the breakdown of red blood cells, leading to blood in urine and feces, and can damage the kidneys, liver, spleen and bone marrow of humans, effects not included on the information sheet for workers.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Eco-friendly Asiana :)

Asiana Airlines is not just flying high in the skies, but is also leading the way in environmental friendly efforts.

Aircrafts are a major source of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, but Asiana Airlines has recognized the importance of reducing global warming as part of its corporate social responsibility. The company certified as a 5-star airline for four consecutive years from the airline research organization Skytrax, is better known as a pioneer in the industry for introducing ways to lower its carbon footprint. In 1995, Asiana became the first airline to obtain the ISO 14001 (environmental management
system) certification.

It has introduced energy-saving programs for its aircraft, such as aircraft engine washing, flight plan improvements, reduced flight distances and altitudes and conducts weight management. As a result of washing aircraft engines, Asiana's aircrafts improved its fuel efficiency and reduced 3 million tons of CO2 in 2008.

The firm has been implementing Korea's first Carbon Offset Program for its customers. On board the plane, Asiana also serves coffee that comes with the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal of approval. The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit conservation organization that ensures coffee farms have met rigorous standards for the conservation of natural resources and rights and welfare of farm workers and local communities. Recently, Asiana Airlines tested the ``Eco Flight,'' featuring a low-emission airplane from Gimpo to Haneda Airport in Japan. The flight reduces fuel use by 18 percent, uses lightweight food cards and operates at a consistent speed and altitude.

Asiana also launched a ``Green Travel, Green Life'' campaign to educate passengers on how to reduce CO2 emissions in their daily lives and travels. Departing passengers were given leaflets that inform them of the level of CO2 emissions produced in everyday life, as well as tips on how to combat this. Tips include decreasing baggage weight, using public transportation and avoiding leftover food inside the aircraft cabin. For all their efforts, Asiana received the 2009 Korea Green Climate Award last year, in recognition for its green management policies. In 2001, it was designated by the Ministry of Environment as the first environmentally friendly company within the service industry. In 2006, it received an environmental distinction for its maintenance facilities at Incheon International Airport, and in 2008, the 2008 Presidential Award of the National Environmental Management Grand Prix for its energy saving and CO2 reduction activities.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Important read.

The world's eco-systems are at risk of "rapid degradation and collapse." That’s among the grim findings of a new United Nations (UN) report.The third Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) published by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) warns that unless "radical and creative action" is taken quickly " the variety of life on Earth, natural systems that support lives and livelihoods are at risk of collapsing.”

Based on more than 100 national reports and future scenarios for biodiversity, GBO-3 shows that world leaders failed to deliver on their commitment to reduce the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.The five main pressures directly causing biodiversity loss: habitat change, over-exploitation, pollution, invasive alien species and climate change.

The report also finds these stresses on the environment are either constant or increasing in intensity.Vertebrate species fell by nearly one third between 1970 and 2006, natural habitats are in decline, genetic diversity of crops is falling and 60 breeds of livestock have become extinct since 2000.“Business as usual is no longer an option if we are to avoid irreversible damage to the life-support systems of our planet,” said Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, calling the report “a wake-up call for humanity.”The Economics of EnvironmentalismThe authors of the GBO-3 report argue that for a mere fraction of the money summoned up instantly by the world’s governments to mitigate the economic crisis, the serious and fundamental breakdown in the Earth’s life support systems could have been avoided.“Many economies remain blind to the huge value of the diversity of animals, plants and other life forms and their role in healthy and functioning ecosystems from forests and freshwaters to soils, oceans and even the atmosphere,” said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP.“To tackle the root causes of biodiversity loss, we must give it higher priority in all areas of decision-making and in all economic sectors,” says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.In remarks made in February, Ki-Moon argued the Earth’s eco-systems are our “natural capitol” and protecting them is really a bottom line issue. In fact, a UN-backed study estimates that loss of natural capital due to deforestation and land degradation alone stands at between $2 trillion and $4.5 trillion each year.“Too often environmental protection is seen as conflicting with economic protection. In fact they are two sides of the same coin.

All over the world, ecosystem services are a massive undervalued subsidy provided by the environment. When we lose these services through mismanagement, crops fail, profits drop, people become poorer, economies suffer,” said Ki-Moon.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Another reason to have a Stellar after a long day at work!

Over the past 12 months, InBev-owned Stella Artois has taken various measures to lessen its environmental impact, making its packaging greener and engaging consumers in recycling initiatives.

Since the start of their "Recylage de luxe" campaign last July, all Stella Artois' cans have been made from at least 50% recycled aluminium, the brand is working with its suppliers to ensure all its bottles are above the industry standard of 75% recycled glass, and its corrugated Stella Artois boxes are made from 100% recyclable paper. In November last year, Stella Artois launched two further advertising campaigns focusing on its use of compostable carton board and highlighting that its beer is brewed using just four ingredients. So little, yet so yummy :) burp! Stella Artois says that the overarching campaign has so far "been very successful". It says that its marketing has been "very motivating for consumers".

InBev has pledged to continue taking measures to improve the environmental credentials of its packaging and will continue to use advertising to communicate developments to consumers. The only downer for me is my lil' beer belly and age is really not helping in keeping it away hee hee hee but I just can't stop myself! One more Mr.

Tip of the day: Slow down to save on your fuel and lessen your pollution. It will benefit the air around you, save your hard earned money and make you a more patient man/woman ;)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fake Organic Products

With the growing success of organics and increasing consumer interest in buying foods grown on sustainable farms without toxic chemicals, many food companies are launching new marketing campaigns full of environmental-friendly catchphrases and re-packaging products that lend the appearance of the company “going green” ,even if little or no actual change to the product has occurred.

In February, mega-food company Sara Lee launched the Eco-Grain™ label for its EarthGrains breads with a major marketing campaign that blanketed the Web, Facebook, Twitter and National Public Radio. Sara Lee billed the trademarked product as “environmentally friendly” bread that “will save the earth, one field at a time” because Eco-Grain wheat is grown with “precision agriculture.” Though actually used in small proportions in its EarthGrains brand breads, Eco-Grain is touted by the company as more sustainable than organic grain.

The trouble with calling Eco-Grain environmentally friendly is that synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, neither of which are environmentally friendly, are still used in the production of the wheat that is used to produce Eco-Grain. Also, precision agriculture isn’t exactly something new, or something exclusive to Eco-Grain farmers. In fact, more and more conventional farmers of all the major commodity crops are using precision technology in applying chemical fertilizer to their fields. In precision farming, satellite imagery is used to identify various levels of soil nutrients of a given field to determine fertilizer requirements for different areas of that field.

Also known as “variable rate technology” (VRT), this allows the farmer to pinpoint which areas of the field need more or less fertilizer, instead of blanketing the entire field with one big dose. It’s more of a cost-saving practice for farmers, not an environmentally friendly or sustainable method of production. Another point of confusion for consumers is in the term ‘natural’ which splays across the label in bold print: “Eco-Grain 100 % Natural.” How can it be 100% natural when they still use chemicals and pesticides? And there is a growing number of corporations like Sara Lee, who are seeking to profit from consumers’ interest in ecological and healthy food production. But unlike organic companies, these companies are doing practically nothing to ensure that ingredients are truly ecologically produced.

So all I have to say is; til someone stops these selfish, harmful companies from using deceiving "organinc-like" terms on their products, we should all be more careful when shopping and READ THE INGREDIENT LABELS OF ANY FOOD PRODUCTS so we won't be conned by them again.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I want this!

With the onset of summer in Jammu (India), earthen pots are becoming more and more popular.

The pots are widely used by the poor but this year, however, it has been observed that even the middle- class and the elite are readily buying these environment-friendly refrigerators. Only the poor would use earthen pots to cool water but now even the middle class is adapting this trend. Maybe it's because of health concerns and rising number of diseases, or due to recommendations from doctors.

The pots not only keep the water cool but do so in an environment-friendly way. It is also believed that drinking water stored in earthen pots is also much healthier. After one year or one season of use, the earthen pot can be broken and it can be mixed with earth again, which means it is reusable. And if we limit the use of refrigerants like neon and all, they all cause depletion of ozone layer which contributes to global warming. So using these pots would decrease global warming. The water stored in a clay pot has a refreshing flavor and gets cooled to as low as 14-15 degrees Celsius within a few hours naturally. Nice.

Tip of the day: Switch to a corded phone. You'll save energy cos you won't need to recharge the corded phone. Yes, it is not cool nor modern but it will do good for the Earth even if it is in a small way.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Banned Plastic Bottles

Concord's (a town in America) Town Meeting has just approved a ban on the sales of bottled water. I do understand their concern of plastic bottles but I think it is a bit over the line right. Wouldn't it be better to instead just sell bottled water in recycled plastic and teach the community about the importance of recycling? Or better still, only sell recycled products or beverages packaged in recycled materials.

I think this would be more practical then banning plastic bottles. I mean, the production of glass requires alot of energy as well, aluminum and steel cans are made out of toxic ores extracted from the ground by mining , not to mention that mining is dangerous and the environmental costs are huge. And not as if they are banning all plastic bottles. They still allow the sales of sweet drinks in plastic bottles so people who are thirsty have no choice but to buy these unhealthy choice instead. If you want to ban it, ban it all the way.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More on the Gulf oil spill :)

Rush Limbaugh, an American conservative political commentator, told his radio audience that there's no reason to spend millions of dollars cleaning up the recent massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The radio host, now being called an "Oil Spill Truther", says oil spills are natural events. "The ocean will take care of this on its own if it was left alone and left out there. It's natural. It's as natural as the ocean water is." Hmmm.. I wonder how it can be natural when man, not god, drilled a hole deep underground to reach the oil. Unless he's calling us humans god.

Natural or not, this particular massive oil slick was caused by an explosion (Apr. 20) inside the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the Louisiana coast that left 11 workers missing and presumed dead. The rig sank two days later but oil still pumps from the drill head. Eco experts predict the environmental impact will be worse the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster that contaminated over 200 miles of Alaskan shoreline.

Limbaugh then takes another tact, suggesting that the oil rig explosion was an inside job, that "environmental wackos" as he calls them blew it up in order to stop the off-shore drilling that President Obama approved. Well, whatever the case is, if the drilling company had installed acoustic switches (these are mandate in countries such as Norway and Brazil), they could have stopped the oil flow remotely. The U.S considered mandating such a remote-controlled shut-off mechanism several years ago, but dropped it on strong resistance from the drilling companies who wanted to save cost.

Money money money, always money :)

Tip of the day: Use unwanted parts of your vegetables as compost for your plants. My mom uses it as fertilizers and her plants are growing well :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We've been banned!!

There are too many tourists heading to Gangotri, Valley of Flowers and highly eco-sensitive zones of the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand.

According to a rough estimate, thousands of pilgrims, who visit the hill state during the Kumbh, Chardham and Kanwar and other religious congregations, travel to these areas leaving heaps of non-degradable waste, including plastic, which are hazardous to environment. The Centre has decided to ban 2 key hydropower projects in the region last month and the state government has decided not to allow tourists to come near the Gaumukh glacier, the origin of the Ganga in Uttarkashi district.

In 2008, the government had restricted the number of tourists visiting Gaumukh and other Gangotri glaciers to only 150 per day. Another move is afoot to even restrict the number of tourists to 100 in future. According to a report of the Dehra Dun-based Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), the glaciers are melting at a rate of 17-23 metres per year. The issue had become more contentious in the wake of controversy surround the inter-governmental panel on climate change (IPCC). Similarly, the government is trying to put restrictions on pilgrims to Hemkund Sahib and other shrines which are close to the Valley of Flowers, a world heritage site. Thousands of Sikhs travel every year to Hemkund Sahib, which is situated in an area known for its rich flora and fauna, and leave huge waste. The government had restricted the entry of tourists to the 14-km long area of the Nandadevi Biosephere Reserve few years ago. The government is also planning to carry a renewed campaign through tourist brochures and media telling travelers to remain sensitive to these areas with the slogan: “Leave only footprints and take only memories.” Why does it seem like we are irresponsible kids instead of thinking adults?

Tip of the day: Recycle your recyclables. It is one of the main steps to a greener you and a better life :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Another man-made disaster

Five times as much oil as previously thought is leaking from a ruptured BP well.

The British energy giant launched one of the biggest containment operation ever, with the military joining dozens of ships and aircraft. The slick is estimated to cover an area of 4,700 square miles, making it one of the biggest oil spills in history. Despite attempts to slow its advance by setting it on fire, winds had blown the leading edge of the slick just three miles away from the mouth of the Mississipi Delta. The US Navy said it had sent 66,000 feet of inflatable boom and seven skimming systems to the disaster area to control the movement of spills.

The US Coast Guard said a scientist from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had concluded that oil was gushing into the sea at the rate of 210,000 gallons (5,000 barrels) a day, five times more than earlier estimated. Thats a lot of precious oil and imagine the damage it will and has done. The head of BP's exploration and production arm admitted it had discovered a substantial new leak and conceded the revised US estimate of the amount of escaping oil could be correct. He said drilling a relief well to plug the leak, which is a mile down under the sea's surface, could take up to three months.

The spill followed an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, leased by BP, on April 20 in which 11 workers are presumed to have died. The rig sank two days later some 50 miles off the coast. The slick could cause severe environmental damage to beaches, wildlife and estuaries in Louisiana and other states such as Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, in which a tanker spilt 11 million gallons of oil off Alaska, is going to pale into insignificance in comparison to this as it goes on. Mr Miller, whose company became famous by dousing 180 of the 600 oil fires in Kuwait after the Gulf War, said the new slick bore comparison with the Kuwait fires but was likely to be far more environmentally damaging as it was at sea rather than in the desert. He criticised BP's initial response, saying it worsened the slick by putting the fire out on the rig. That action led to the rig sinking, cutting off the only connection to the well and ensuring the leaking oil went into the sea rather than being burned off, said Mr Miller.

Another short-term solution reportedly being implemented was a plan to set up a bell-shaped device to catch the oil as rose to the surface from the well, before being pumped into container ships. This all happened because of our greed and need for oil. If we weren't so dependent on it might never have happened. We are all guilty.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Will we ever learn? (Part 1)

So last night I went to Stereophonics concert, who decided to start one and a half hour later. Rockstars.

I guess age is catching up to me so I am getting abit more impatient. And plus their stage presence wasn't that great. I might as well pop in their dvd on a large screen and press play. So overall it was all just ok.

What disappointed me the most is that everyone is talking about recycling and going green but there was no recycling bin to be found at the concert venue, which was held at Fort Canning Park.

As the night progressed, more and more litter was collected on the grass instead of the bin. I only saw one bin on the left hand side of the park which was slowly being filled with mainly cans and plastic bottles. And guess what were the main leftover of these litter-friendly concert goers? Beer cans and plastic bottles, which could all be recycled. These events companies should provide a recycling bin at all events.

Placing it there is a huge statement on its own. It will make people think twice about just disposing recyclable materials in the regular bin or littering. But the saddest thing about whole thing is that these people are all of a matured crowd.... If we adults can't even be responsible enough to not litter, then what about the simplest act of recycling? When are we ever gonna grow up....