Category Archives: Environment

Anything and everything about the environment. From littering to nuclear fall out and climate change it’s all here.

Mobilize The World – Earth Day 2012

Happy Earth Day fellow earthlings! Today 22nd of April 2012 is the 42nd Earth Day. Earth – Our Blue planet unique in our solar system for supporting life, which has for millions of years sustained evolutionary changes and survived, is facing man made issues which threaten the very fabric of her future. At least on this day we need to take a look at ourselves; the way we live, the way we have an impact on our surroundings and be conscious about what we can do to reduce our carbon footprints

Earth Day: The History of A Movement

Each year, Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.

Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center.

The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.

As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”

In 1990 it was revived again when Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995) — the highest honor given to civilians in the United States — for his role as Earth Day founder.

Much like 1970, Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to a strong narrative that overshadowed the cause of progress and change. In spite of the challenge, for its 40th anniversary, Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day as a powerful focal point around which people could demonstrate their commitment. Earth Day Network brought 225,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, amassed 40 million environmental service actions toward its 2012 goal of A Billion Acts of Green®, launched an international, 1-million tree planting initiative with Avatar director James Cameron and tripled its online base to over 900,000 community members.

The fight for a clean environment continues in a climate of increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more victories and successes into our history. Discover energy you didn’t even know you had. Feel it rumble through the grassroots under your feet and the technology at your fingertips. Channel it into building a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come.

courtesy Earthday.org

What Can I Do?

Each one of us can make a difference in our own way. A few simple steps to get one started is listed below:

1. PLEDGE A GREEN ACT AND GET THE NUMBER OF GREEN ACTS TO 1BILLION

2. Donate to Save Yasuni national Park – a preserve in the Amazon Rain forest on the Ecuadorian side. In 2007, with the discovery of large oil deposits in the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini field (ITT field) located northeast of the Park, President Rafael Correa presented before the United Nations the decision to keep oil at ITT field underground indefinitely, if the international community cooperates with Ecuador providing at least half of the profits that the State would receive in the case of exporting oil.

Ecuador is committed to maintain indefinitely untapped the 846 million barrels of oil reserves in the ITT field, located in the Park. The international community will participate with a financial contribution, creating a capital fund to be administered by an international trust, with the participation of the State, Ecuadorian civil society, and contributors.

3. Spare a Dollar For a Tree –  The Canopy Project -Earth Day Network planted over 1 million trees in 16 countries in 2010 under the Avatar Home Tree Initiative, a project supported by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

4. Please, save a little water daily, during all water related activities (turning off water while brushing your teeth, showering instead of soaking in the tub, using the dishwasher instead of hand wash… options are unending)

5  Please, plant at least a Native tree annually at your home or community (a native plant garden too will help)

6  Please, keep off electric appliances a few minutes daily (switch off lights when you leave a room, use CFLs)

7  Please, suspend travel by personal car once a day (Car share, walking short distances, using public transport, bicycling… again options galore!)

8  Please, keep a day in a week luxury free (reduced consumption is reduced carbon footprint, using only what we NEED)

9 Please, do not throw away the waste wherever you like (Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!)

10 Please, No more junk food

11. Please, save one minute to think on Climate Change and Environment (a minute a day will in all probablity lead to more green actions =)

12. You Can Reduce CO2 Emissions, support organisations which plant Native trees worldwide.

13. Spread awareness – talk about it with your friends and family. After all we all share the Earth and we all share the responsibility.

 

Happy Earth Day everyone, off to do my bit.

 

SOURCE : http://www.earthday.org/

Trash Inc the Film On Trash by CNBC

Today after missing it many times I watched Trash Inc:The Secret life of garbage on CNBC, I have been seeing it advertised but did not get a chance to view it the first time it aired on the 29th of September. I think it is well made, simple and covers a wide range of what trash does once it leaves us- the consumers.

We buy stuff, use some throw what we don’t need into the trash cans, leave them at the curb and once the trash trucks pick them up and leave our trash bins empty we go back to fill it up again for the next week.. for most of us once the trash truck leaves our streets trash is no longer an issue. Being aware of where our trash ends up, I believe is part of personal responsibility. When we know how  what we throw out impacts our environment, how can any one amongst us sit idle with out taking action?

Trash Pickup and recycling waste is a billion dollar industry. Most of the trash generated which can be recycled ends up in the developing world where cheap labor makes it easier to break and sort things for recycling. It was also eye opening to see how trash dumps have evolved over they years into energy producing technological marvels. The film pretty much takes your through the route a piece of trash can take and it was an educative experience for me.

It was eye opening, seeing where trash ends up, and how large the landfills and the garbage patches in the oceans are etc… What was equally interesting and shocking was the knowledge that even when one thinks one is recycling by sorting plastic and paper etc al, the percentage of plastic recycled is 1 in 5 bottles in the United States! and we use 51 billion plastic bottles approximately a year! and to think only 1 in 5 gets to recyclers, imagine the sheer magnitude of just plastic bottles which end up in the landfills and water ways…

I do recommend that the documentary is worth watching for every one of us. It is on at 8PM EST on the 6th of October 2010 on CNBC, check it out and you be the judge.

Below are a couple of video sneak peeks from Trash Inc:

Tracking trash using technology –


In South Carolina BMW has a manufacturing plant which runs on Methane from a landfill!!check it out

Prayer Of The Forest

Have a Wonderful Weekend! This being the Labor day weekend we are taking a short break, If this is your first time here Thanks for visiting us and do catch up with our earlier posts 🙂

The Verse on the picture is the Prayer of The Forest – I have seen it on Hoardings in the forest regions of India, and to me it would be what the forest would say, if only we were listening…

Connect-Green will be back in 2 days! Enjoy your Labor day weekend!

Coral Reefs Dying At An Alarming Rate

I read a report about Indonesia’s Coral reefs dying at an alarmingly fast rate last week. The news report from The Guardian UK said that the coral which had survived the 2004 Tsunami and its aftermath whre dying at one of the fastest rates ever recorded due to the dramatic rise in water temperature in North western Indonesia.

Teams of Marine biologists from the Wildlife Conservation Society noticed that the water temperatures in the Andaman sea had risen by 7°F to 93°F over long term averages. They also noticed massive bleaching of coral which occurs when algae living inside coral tissues are expelled.

What are Coral Reefs?

Coral Reefs are structures made of calcium carbonate which are secreted by the tiny animals which call the reefs their home “the Coral”. Each coral reef is made up of millions of individual polyps which form hard skeletons or protective coverings for the organism inside and is constructed over generations. When a polyp dies another one grows on top of the empty shell. Corals are marine organisms.

Coral reefs are considered the tropical forests of the sea because of the biodiversity in its eco system. Coral reefs cover just about 1% of the all the world’s Ocean surface, but provides home to 25% of all sea-life.

Interesting Coral facts:

  • There are almost 500 different kinds of Corals.
  • Corals are primarily nocturnal.
  • Corals feed on planktons and use their tentacles to capture plankton or small fish.
  • Coral reefs grow about half an inch a year! Imagine how long it would have taken for the reefs we see around to grow!
  • Coral reefs grow best in Sunny, shallow clear water.
  • Coral reefs are of 3 kinds: Fringing Reefs – grow continuously with the shore, Barrier reefs- Separated from the shore by a deep lagoon, and Atolls, which are reefs which surround a lagoon.
  • Corals live with the algae zooxanthellae
  • Coral reefs are home to fishes and mollusks which would not survive without the coral reef.
  • Coral reefs control the amount of carbon dioxide in the Ocean waters by acting like a filter.
  • Coral reefs protect shores from strong currents and waves before they hit the shore.
  • 10% of all the world’s coral reefs are already destroyed.
  • Philippines is where the destruction is worse and more that 70% of its coral reefs are destroyed and only 5%is said to be in good condition.
  • Corals have growth rings like trees which can help one understand how long it has been around.
  • The majority of reef building corals are found within tropical and subtropical waters. These typically occur between 300 north and 300 south latitudes. The red dots on this map show the location of major stony coral reefs of the world.
  • The diversity of coral is far greater in the Indo-Pacific, particularly around Indonesia, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. Many other groups of marine fauna show similar patterns, with a much greater diversity in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Although they possess a smaller number of species the corals of the Atlantic are still unique, with few common species between the two regions .

What are the problems facing Corals?

Like what I mentioned in the beginning the warming temperatures are destructive to corals, so is pollution, over fishing, habitat destruction etc… The worse kind of fishing habit was the use of explosives to blow up a coral reef to catch the maximum number of fishes at one shot, which also killed many other animals and left the survivors homeless with a destroyed coral reef.

Even a single degree rise or fall in temperature has shown significant impact on corals. The Pollution associated with the huge urban areas and their waste is another major cause of concern as the silting destroys the coral.

What is being done?

  1. Educating the governments and the people who live off the ocean on sustainable fishing practices
  2. Making people aware of the importance of survival of the coral reefs,
  3. Encouraging governments to reduce the pollution in the oceans and
  4. Taking steps to fight global warming.
  5. Educating and encouraging tourists to be careful while out in the ocean among coral reefs etc…

Some of the Groups which are active in protecting the coral reefs are:

Coral Reef Alliance

Reef World

Planetary Coral Reef Foundation

Indonesia’s Coral Reefs

Sea surface temperatures in the Andaman Sea—an area that includes the coasts of Myanmar, Thailand, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and northwestern Indonesia—have been on the rise. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Hotspots website, temperatures in the region peaked in late May, when the temperature reached 34 degrees Celsius. This represents a dramatic 4-degree rise over the long-term averages for the area.

“It’s a disappointing development, particularly in light of the fact that these same corals proved resilient to other disruptions to this ecosystem, including the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004,” said WCS-Indonesia Marine Program Director Dr. Stuart Campbell.

WCS and JCU have been working in the region since March 2005. Surveys conducted in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 revealed that the many reefs of Aceh were largely unaffected by this massive disturbance. Indeed, reefs severely damaged by poor land use and destructive fishing prior to the tsunami had recovered dramatically in the intervening years due to improved management by local governments and communities. But the recent bleaching and mortality will have a profound effect on reef fisheries.

Of particular concern is the scale of the sea surface temperature anomaly, which the NOAA website indicates has affected the entire Andaman Sea and beyond. Similar mass bleaching events in 2010 have now been recorded in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and many parts of Indonesia.

“This is a tragedy not only for some of the world’s most biodiverse coral reefs, but also for people in the region, many of whom are extremely impoverished and depend on these reefs for their food and livelihoods,” said WCS-Marine Program Director Dr. Caleb McClennen. “It is another unfortunate reminder that international efforts to curb the causes and effects of climate change must be made if these sensitive ecosystems and the vulnerable human communities around the world that depend on them are to adapt and endure.”

We will have to wait and see what will happen.

Wrapping up with a quote from president Clinton said ” Pollution, overfishing, and overuse have put many of our unique reefs at risk. Their disappearance would destroy the habitat of countless species. It would unravel the web of marine life that holds the potential for new chemicals, new medicines, unlocking new mysteries. It would have a devastating effect on the coastal communities from Cairns to Key West, Florida — communities whose livelihood depends upon the reefs.”

Coral Reef Adventure (IMAX) [Blu-ray]

Sources :

WCS

Rising CO2 levels could dissolve Corals

NWF

Solcom

NOAA

National Geographic

The BBC – 1/3rd of all Coral reefs facing extinction

Monarch’s Have Yet Another Hurdle This Year

In early May I did a post about Monarch Butterfly migration and the threats it was facing. Last year was the worst year for Monarch butterflies, the orange and black cloud which descends on Mexico every winter migrating all the way from as far North as Canada. Read the Post HERE

This year they are suffering from a double whammy sort of added to the already existing issues,  severe storms hit their forests in Mexico. The Nature Conservancy said in a news conference that storm damage in Mexico’s  Oyamel Forests 13,000-hectare (32,124 acre) monarch reserve is yet another blow to the fragile butterflies. Illegal logging has long been a major problem in these forests, this year torrential rains and heavy winds have damaged hundred’s of acres of the forest leading conservationists to feel even more worried for the Monarch.

A 1986 presidential decree in Mexico established the Monarch Butterfly Special Biosphere Reserve. This consisted of 60 square miles of protected forest. The Monarch Butterfly Reserve is strictly protected from logging.

The first one included 5 sites:

  • Altamirano
  • Sierra Chincua (open to public)
  • El Rosario (open to public)
  • Chivati-Huacal
  • Cerro Pelon

Seven more overwintering sites were later discovered:

  • San Andres
  • Mil Cumbres
  • La Mesa
  • Lomas de Aparicio
  • Piedra Herrada
  • San F. Oxtotilpan
  • Palomas

In the year 2000, a Presidential decree expanded the reserve creating a protected corridor of 216 square miles. The Oyamel forests are the perfect micro-climate for the Monarch Butterflies and years of tracking has proved that they have continued to return to the same wintering sites annually since 1976. 2010 United Nations Climate talks are to be held in Mexico and Mexico has committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 50 million tons by 2012.

We can all help in tracking what is happening to the Monarch butterfly by keeping our eyes open and recording the butterflies you see HERE the tracking officially starts this year on 26th August 2010, watch out for Orange and Black 🙂 What the website wants you to look out for:

Watch for Monarchs that are:

  1. Flying Overhead
  2. Fueling at a nectar source OR
  3. Resting at an overnight roost

Lets hope things have improved and more Monarchs make it down south, keep your eyes open and remember the Website address Tracking Monarch Migration Hopefully it is not too late for the Monarch and the magical migration…

Read the entire Reuters article here

Watch the Monarchs in their forests courtesy of the Discovery Channel:

Check out “On the Wings of the Monarch” an exciting nature documentary that follows host Libby Graham on an amazing journey into the life of the monarch butterfly.

On the Wings of the Monarch [VHS]

Toxic Dumps NIMBY?

I am always thinking and talking about not adding more non-biodegradable waste to the landfills. Personal responsibility is what is being talked about because that is where we all can: as individuals, families and communities make a difference for the betterment of the environment and our planets future. In the midst of this sometimes one kind of does not notice the waste generated by the corporations and factories which also make their way to landfills which we don’t get to hear about because they generally are not in our backyards…

The reason for my noticing or rather posting about this hazard is the about to be settled one of the largest ever class action lawsuits in the UK. This was about the illegal dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast three years ago. The case is against Trafigura one of the largest independent companies trading commodities today.

The chemical waste came from a ship called Probo Koala and in August 2006 truckload after truckload of it was illegally fly-tipped at 15 locations around Abidjan, the biggest city in Ivory Coast. In the weeks that followed the dumping, tens of thousands of people reported a range of similar symptoms, including breathing problems, sickness and diarrhea.

The story of this toxic waste dump started in a Mexican Oil refinery in 2005, the toxic byproduct of petroleum refining coker naptha, a dirty form of gasoline which could not be treated on site. Trafigura realized it can make a killing by buying the waste cheap and refining it elsewhere. So it charters Probo Koala loads the coker naptha and while off the coast of Gibraltar they added caustic soda and a catalyst to it, to clean it by the process called caustic washing. As a result of this process a highly toxic waste is produced which is banned universally. So they tried to pass it off on the Dutch as harmless oil-water mixture which was routine stuff, which the Dutch authorities tested due to the strong smell emanating from the waste and found to be toxic. Then it was packed off back on the Probo koala and Trafigura was told if they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars it could be treated and neutralized. Trafigura took the easy way out and found a local contractor who had no knowledge of what to do with the toxic stuff and dumped it in Ivory Coast or Cote De Ivorie as it is now known.

When the sickness and death surfaced there was immediate reaction in form of a class action suit by Greenpeace in the name of 31,000 people who were adversely affected by the toxic waste. That case garnered interest and the UK press covered it extensively. The settlement has come about as it came to light that Trafigura employees had knowledge about what was happening throughout. BBC had an in depth article about the incident which it supposedly took off its website in late 2009. The article can be found HERE on wikileaks.

Now Trafigura, which has been for years claiming it has done nothing wrong, has agreed to a Global settlement. It still claims it has not done anything wrong, it blames the contractor for the untreated waste being dumped in the landfills. At last something positive might be coming out of gross negligence on the part of a huge multinational and how little it cared about human life.

This is just an example of what is going on world over, most of the “recycle” tagged electronic wastes make it to ports in Asia and Africa where laws are laxer and the companies or governments or in some cases both close their eyes and turn their backs unless something substantial happens. Nuclear wastes, industrial waste etc… every kind of waste that needs to be neutralized before making it to a landfill makes its way out of the producing countries because of strict regulations.

Large number of the ships in the world head to the Coast of Gujarat in India to die! Ships were once either sunk or taken apart in the countries where they were built, before high costs and environmental restrictions drove ship breaking efforts elsewhere. 80% of ships these days are broken down in The Indian subcontinent and China.

There they are stripped down and the metal is reclaimed, some of those vessels would have harmful chemicals etc on them including asbestos and PCB’s (Poly chlorinated Biphenyls) which unbeknownst to the workers who harvest the metal, take a toll on their health which would be visible may be many years later. Environmentalists have been talking about this for years and nobody seems to pay much attention at all. It is also interesting to see that in spite of these risks many workers do not even get basic protective gear while working to dismantle these ships.

Articles about Ship breaking dumps – Greenpeace

India World Shipping’s toxic Waste Dump

Also check out toxic victories by Greenpeace

Electronic Waste makes it way to Asia and Africa. The third world pretty much takes on the responsibility of being the waste dump as the poverty and cheap manual labor makes it lucrative for businesses there to take on these shipments and turn profit. The health impact and the environmental impact are mostly not paid any attention what so ever. Europe exporting electronic waste a report from the BBC

Toxic waste appears in many forms and in the end if they are not neutralized: which is costly in Dollars, but even costlier if it gets into the environment needs to be paid attention to. Hold our work places responsible, it is personal when it is about the environment. Factories and Multinationals and all organizations at the end of the day are made of people and we decide to do the right thing not just for the bottom line but for the future of generations who will be living on our planet, I believe we will try our best not to do what we don’t want in our back yard anywhere else. In some ways dumping toxic waste on the developing world by the developed nations could be termed Environmental racism.

Check out this video by Greenpeace to see how it is recycled and reclaimed in the developing world… Eye opening video

I believe the world is connected in more ways than we can imagine, and the similarities between people is much more than the differences we have and what happens in one place can have an impact on the rest of the world… Live Green!

Want to do something about it Join Greenpeace

UPDATE August 13th 2010 – Check out this article in the NYTIMES Magazine Where computers go to die…

Sources and interesting reads:

Wikipedia

BBC

List of Hazardous waste landfills in the US

Americas Nastiest Toxic waste dumps

Shocking -Are you walking around with Toxics?

Mob allegedly Dumping radioactive waste in the Sea!

EPA internal investigation into San Joaquim valley community and its toxic dump



Where Did the Oil Disappear ?

Deep Water Horizon Oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico spewed oil in to water around for 86 days, after many different trials and errors BP managed to cap the well and a few days later there was hardly any oil to be seen on the surface. As per estimates around 200 million barrels of oil leaked into the waters of the Gulf Of Mexico. The NOAA says almost 3/4th of the oil was either skimmed, burned, dispersed or consumed by the microbes in the water. There by leaving around 54 millions gallons of oil in the gulf which is still nearly five times the size of the 11 million-gallon Exxon Valdez spill, which wreaked environmental havoc in Alaska in 1989.

I found it interesting that 200 million barrels of oil could be taken off from the waters in the gulf. The skimmers were getting around 20+million barrels of oil a day. The government says about a 1/4 of the oil evaporated or dissolved in the warm Gulf waters, the same way sugar dissolves in water, federal officials said. Another 1/6 th naturally dispersed because of the way it leaked from the well. Another 1/6 th was burned, skimmed or dispersed using controversial chemical dispersants. Easily explained away with the percentages and combination’s et al, but in reality it just sounds too good to be true.

I have seen and heard news reports where local boat captains and others who have been involved in the cleaning and skimming operations say they were finding it difficult to accept the claims that only 1/4th of the oil remained in the gulf of Mexico. BP is now conducting a static kill on the well in place of the 75ton cap.

During the static kill BP pumped 2,000 barrels (84,000 gallons) of synthetic drilling mud into the well, beginning 3rd August 2010. The way the system works is in a static state, meaning that the downward weight of the mud is counterbalancing the pressure of the oil pushing upward from the reservoir.

The locals along the Gulf coast are outraged by the clean claims of BP and the slowing down of the cleaning activities in the gulf.

” According to WVUE correspondent John Snell, local officials dispatched a dive team to a barrier island off of southeastern Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish to scan the sea floor for oil. The team, however, could barely see the sea floor, due to the current murky state of the area waters. But when the divers returned to shore, they made a rather remarkable discovery: Tiny holes that burrowing Hermit crabs had dug into the ground effectively became oil-drilling holes. When the divers placed pressure on the ground near the holes, oil came oozing up.”

It is shameful that the largest oil spill in the nations history is being covered up without much thought, it will be decades really before we know the real extent of Deep Water Horizon Oil Spills lasting impact.

A Video from FOX  WVUE on BP’s Oil on the Louisiana Barrier Islands:

A video About how Oil Dispersants Work?

A CNN Video interview with Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungusser,Dated June 16, 2010

The Latest on BP in the Gulf of Mexico – as they are working on the static kill and the relief wells to confirm it worked, BP announced it’s plans to drill another well somewhere nearby!  BP’s  COO Doug Suttle “Clearly there’s lots of oil and gas there and we’ll have to think about what to do with that at some point,” Read the entire article HERE

This Video is about Corexit the Dispersant extensively used by BP in the Gulf

Will update as I learn more, it seems like yesterday when Deep Horizon was front page news…

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Growing Steadily…

Reading an article on Planet Green reminded me of a line from message in a bottle by the Police “100 million castaways looking for a home” it is kind of how the garbage patch on the Pacific looks right now… If only we could send all of it back to the sources wonder how many of us would get a parcel from the Oceans!! When any trash gets into the rain gutter flows into the waterways ending up in the seas, or what every vacationer on the beach thinks is ok to leave behind on the beach, it all finds its way into our oceans.

Source of Photograph by  Fabi Fliervoet Creative Commons  Attribution

As the article in Planet Green says “People create, consume, and carelessly toss plastics and the litter ends up in the water ways. As the plastic reaches the shoreline, currents carry it out into the ocean and a convergence of currents swirl the plastics into one general area.”

In the Oceans plastic bags are confused by turtles and fish as jelly fish or other food and get consumed, there have been many instances where sea life has been found with plastic inside their gut causing their death. The non-biodegradable trash in the Oceans is very much like the stuff in the landfills: in the land fill it stays for 10’s of hundreds of years with out moving unless it is moved whereas in the Oceans it stays for relatively the same amount of time but moving around with the Ocean currents.

The Effect on the marine environment is unmistakable, we have all heard about the Great Pacific patch of garbage which is actually the size of Texas and growing!, but it is not really the only one. There are 5 such patches all across the world check the picture below to see where they are.

The Picture above courtesy Wikipedia.com

The Garbage in the Oceans is not something we can remove over night. Discovery News reports – According to Stiv Wilson of the 5Gyres project it is estimated he estimates that there are 315 billion pounds of plastic in the ocean right now.

The point of the calculations is this: cleaning up the plastics in the ocean ain’t gonna happen. Well-intentioned programs designed to take the fight to the high seas, like Project Kaisei and the Environmental Cleanup Coalition, for example, are exercises in futility.

“I’m not trying to call them out,” Wilson told Discovery News. “What I really fear is a barge full of plastic coming in under the Golden Gate bridge, the media taking pictures and people thinking ‘oh good, we’ve solved that problem.'”

A real cleanup would be astronomically expensive, both in terms of dollars and equipment.

Found these two cartoons below by Jim Toomey

Sherman’s Lagoon Cartoon By Jim Tooney

Also Check out this TED Talk by Capt. Charles Moore on the seas of plastic

An amazing video on the trash in the Ocean called” Plastic is FOREVER” by Philippe Costeau can be found here do check it out

Sherman’s Lagoon residents has a list of organizations which are helping to keep the Ocean healthy and you can find them HERE

You can read the article on Planet Green here

and DO CHECK OUT THE 5 GYRES PROJECT HERE

Using less or no plastic at all is the only solution really, but until we find a viable alternative to plastic the least we can do is to reduce the trash which goes where it should not.. Live Green!

Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion (Scientists in the Field Series)

Climate Change and Major Vegetation Shifts

According to a new analysis vegetation around the world is on the move, and climate change is the culprit. The study of global vegetation shifts was led by a University of California, Berkeley, ecologist in collaboration with researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Credit: Map by Patrick Gonzalez et al

Researchers present evidence that over the past century, vegetation has been gradually moving toward the poles and up mountain slopes, where temperatures are cooler, as well as toward the equator, where rainfall is greater and an estimated one-tenth to one-half of the land mass on Earth will be highly vulnerable to climate-related vegetation shifts by the end of this century, depending upon how effectively humans are able to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Approximately one billion people now live in areas that are highly to very highly vulnerable to future vegetation shifts,” said the study’s lead author Patrick Gonzalez, a visiting scholar at the Center for Forestry at UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources. “Ecosystems provide important services to people, so we must reduce the emissions that cause climate change, then adapt to major changes that might occur.”

Read more from Science Daily website.

Thumbnail Credit: Tomas Rotger

Celebrating The Environment

Happy World Environment Day 2010

 

Happy WED2010! Wondering what WED stands for? June 5th is the day United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Celebrates the World Environment Day – WED! It has been observed on 5th June since 1972, WED is one of the principal mediums through which the UN motivates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.

Why is the Environment on the front page these days? It is not about just the oil spill, or deforestation, or climate change alone… it is about all of these and more, it about the quality of life on our planet, it is about taking small steps and making a difference. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon says Although individual decisions may seem small in the face of global threats and trends, when billions of people join forces in common purpose, we can make a tremendous difference.”

It is estimated that we share the world with around 5 million plus species of which only around 2 million have been identified. It is also estimated that around 35 species go extinct every day just in the rainforests. Why is there such a rapid deterioration around us? Winters are colder, summers warmer, droughts and floods abound and other natural disasters too…

Scientists have found that in Earth’s history before the Industrial Revolution, Earth’s climate changed due to natural cause’s not related to human activity. These natural causes are still in play today, but their influence is too small or they occur too slowly to explain the rapid warming seen in recent decades. So for something that we have contributed to in creating is it not our responsibility to make amends?

So this WED day take your own small step, does not matter how small you think it is, it will make a difference.

A list of things one can incorporate in everyday life easily:

  1. Plant a tree! Help achieve UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign target of planting seven billion trees – one for every person on the planet! Let us start one by one…
  2. Use cold water for washing clothes and a laundry line with air drying helps too!
  3. In Summer leaving the windows open is a good way to get some fresh air and also help with your carbon footprint by not using the A/C. When you really feel the need to switch on the A/C use a fan with it to spread the cold air around more effectively.
  4. When cooking match the size of your pan to the heating element and use a lid, lowers energy wastage.
  5. Don’t throw your jeans into the hamper after a day’s use unless it is really dirty, lesser times you use the laundry the more efficient your use of water!
  6. For washing use eco-friendly products, helps the environment and if you have the space plant a tree J
  7. Plants are the best air purifiers, add to the beauty of your room and also help to clean the air! Green at its best!
  8. Turn off all unnecessary lights and remove idle chargers plugged in to the sockets when not in use, will save you up to 25% on your power usage.
  9. All PC’s Laptops, Printers etc have a power saver option (look for the Energy star) and turn them off at the end of the day!
  10. While printing (if you really need to print it out) print on both sides; it helps save trees!
  11. You are a coffee drinker like I am? Take your favorite mug to work, that way you won’t be using non-biodegradable cups. What a way to be Green!
  12. If you get stuck in traffic a lot, consider turning off your engine if you will be idling for long periods of time.
  13. Did you know cruise control on straight roads is fuel efficient!
  14. Keep a few cloth tote bags in your car for use whenever you want to buy something.
  15. Go vegan once a week at least, producing meat releases loads of greenhouse gases.
  16. Using an electric or hand razor with replaceable blades is GREEN, avoid disposable ones as it adds to landfills.
  17. It would seem like the most normal thing to do, but many of us forget that we can save water in simple ways like not letting the tap run while shaving, washing your face, or brushing your teeth you can save up to 200 gallons of water a month.
  18. Drinking tap water when safe is a better choice than bottled water and those plastic water bottles.
  19. Making green food choices also has global consequences. Buying local means supporting the local economy and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions required to get food from its origin to your plate.
  20. Buy things you need not want. Reducing consumption be it of oil or anything else helps in reducing our carbon footprint.

The Earth is like a large breathing and feeling living-being, every small step each of us takes good or not affects one and all. I truly believe we are all connected to each other and to the earth, so what I do every day has to be thoughtful so as to not hurt another.

I start my day by remembering this Native American saying (well it is the first thing I see every day :)) “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

Remember the 3R’s Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! Every Day is Earth Day! Have a Green WED 2010 day!! Live Green! and yeah Don’t forget to plant the TREE 🙂