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Climate change and Global Warmimg > The Green movement
Posted by Susan Sharma on October 29, 2007

"...without bringing America’s underclass into the green movement, it’s going to get nowhere...

The leaders of the climate establishment came in through one door and now they want to squeeze everyone through that same door.  It’s not going to work.  If we want to have a broad -based environmental movement, we need more entry points.

The green economy has the power to deliver new sources of work, wealth and health to low income people-while honouring the Earth."

                                       -Van Jones, Social Activist, Oakland, Caifornia

Engineers and Environment > solar power
Posted by Susan Sharma on October 25, 2007

Solar power could be the world’s number one electricity source by the end of the century, but until now its role has been negligible as producers wait for price parity with fossil fuels, industry leaders say.

Once the choice only of idealists who put the environment before economics, production of solar panels will double both next year and in 2009, according to U.S. investment bank Jefferies Group Inc, driven by government support especially in Germany and Japan. 

Similar support in Spain, Italy and Greece is now driving growth in southern Europe as governments turn to the sun as a weapon both against climate change and energy dependence.


Subsidies are needed because solar is still more expensive than conventional power sources like coal, but costs are dropping by around 5 percent a year and "grid parity," without subsidies, is already a reality in parts of California.
Very sunny countries could reach that breakeven in five years or so, and even cloudy Britain by 2020.


"At that point you can expect pretty much unbounded growth," General Electric Co’s Chief Engineer Jim Lyons told the Jefferies conference in London on Thursday, referring to price parity in sunny parts of the United States by around 2015.


"The solar industry will eventually be bigger than wind."
The United States’ second largest company, GE is a big manufacturer of wind turbines and wants to catch up in solar, said Lyons.

Source: www.enn.com

Urban Wildlife > Metamorphosis!
Posted by Susan Sharma on October 23, 2007

Observing around the tiny green space around the house can be rewarding for a wildlife lover. Here is something which fascinated me for over two weeks.

Can you make out the pupa on the curry leaves branch? It is shaped and coloured like a curry leaf. The second photo is a close up of the pupa. The third one is the empty pupa.

Though I kept observing the branch everyday for more than 10 days, the butterfly flew away early morning one day leaving the empty cocoon for me to document. I could not verify what the butterfly (the pupa could be that of a moth too) was like, when it spread its wings and flew away. I am also including the pic of a commonly seen butterfly which sits on the curry leaves tree. May be this is the butterfly whose metamorphosis I witnessed!

See the pics at

http://indianwildlifeclub.blogspot.com/

Tiger Task Force Report > A first step to make Sariska tiger friendly
Posted by Susan Sharma on October 23, 2007

Following the recommendations of the Ministry of Environment and Forests which made a case for the translocation of tigers to Sariska, the Rajasthan Forest Department decided on voluntary relocation of 11 villages from the core areas in Sariska. Out of these, four were to be relocated first on a priority basis. There are 17 more villages in the reserve.

Although voluntary relocation of the villages had been tried in Sariska in the seventies, it had not been successful due to various reasons. This time however, the approach was more focussed and Bhagani village was selected to be the first of the four. An eco-development committee was set up in mid-2006 and by October 2006, every family had given its consent to move out to a better life outside Sariska.

"For a Greener tomorrow," Ashok Kumar (Vice Chairman, WTI) planting a Neem sapling in the new settlement

Source: http://www.wildlifetrustofindia.org/html/news/2007/071018_sariska_relocation_of_village.html

Bio-Diversity > An Un"bear"able future
Posted by Susan Sharma on October 20, 2007

"So as the trees are felled and land cleared of its carbon-stripping units, the earth simmers and mourns the growing loss of creatures that have survived ice ages but not the fatal pincer of man’s insatiable hunger for land, lumber and lips-smacking mammalian delicacies. As ecologist Richard Corlett noted, many long-studied forests in Southeast Asia have nothing left but deer and boar, and some not at all. And as the elephants, rhinos, orang-utans, gibbons, tapirs and bears vanish, they take with them the future generations of trees that once relied on these beasts to disperse their seeds and carve new clearings in the jungle where saplings might sprout. "

-------------

"Unfortunately, the sun bear’s preferred haunts are also where fine furniture lovers obtain their raw materials, such as Bornean ironwood, a tree so densely built that it sinks and takes nearly a thousand years to reach a harvestable size. With the additional impetus of biofuels that now drives a crazed and counterproductive frenzy to cover the region with ’climate friendly’ oil palms, the sun bear and its homelands, face a future that is bleak at best and at worst incapable of sustaining advanced life. "

Source: http://www.wildasia.net/main.cfm?parentID=2&page=article&articleID=359

Nature Heals > Nature in hospitals
Posted by Susan Sharma on October 18, 2007

Incorporating Nature in Hospitals

Hospitals still need to bring nature into the clinical setting. But there are a few trailblazing institutions as well as people like Becky Pape, CEO of Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital in Oregon, who have become believers.

Indeed, only a curving bank of ceiling-to-floor glass separates patients undergoing chemotherapy at Samaritan Lebanon’s Emenhiser Center from a 11,250 square-foot Japanese garden. Designed by an award-winning father-and-son team, Hoichi and Koichi Kurisu of Kurisu International, the garden boasts three gentle waterfalls and mature black pines.

“We now know that exposure to nature is not just a nice thing—it’s essential,” says Pape. “We’ll never build anything the way we did it before when it was all about technology. I’ve been completely converted. Before the garden, I would have bought a CT scanner or the equivalent with a large sum of money, but now I think we have to marry the technology with an improved environment for patients and staff.”

Source:  http://www.emagazine.com/view/?3863

Urban Wildlife > What can bring back the birds?
Posted by Susan Sharma on October 17, 2007

What can bring back the birds?

"Better knowledge about the birds, more green in the city and more parks.  If the environment is clean, the birds will be back"


-S.Theodore Baskaran

Environment Awareness > Flooding Rivers in India- Why?
Posted by Susan Sharma on October 13, 2007

Flooding Rivers in India -Why?

We know that the areas classified as flood-prone-defined as area affected by overflowing rivers (not areas submerged because of heavy rains)-has progressively increased over the past decades. It was 25 million hectares (mha) in 1960, which went up to 40 mha in 1978 and by the mid-1980s an estimated 58 mha was flood affected. But importantly, over these years the area under floods increased each year even though average rainfall levels did not increase. In other words, we were doing something wrong in the way we manage the spate of water so that rivers would overflow each season.

The answer is not difficult to find. In flood-prone areas-from the flood plains of the mighty Himalayan rivers to many other smaller watersheds-the overflow of the river brought fertile silt and recharged groundwater so the next crop was bountiful.

But over the years, we learnt not to live with floods. We built over the wetlands, we filled up the streams that dispersed and then carried the water of the rivers and we built habitations in lowlands which were bound to be inundated. We cut down our forests, which would to some extent have mitigated the intensity of the flood by impeding the flow of water. All in all, we have become more vulnerable to annual floods.

The current floods are all that, and much more. In recent years, the flood fury has intensified because of the changing intensity of rainfall. The deluge comes more frequently because of the sheer fury of incessant rain, which has nowhere to go. Just last week torrential rain in villages of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka killed over 60 people. We know that climate change models had predicted extreme rain events. Is there a connection here?


We know that dam authorities maintain high reservoir levels because of the uncertainty of rains. We also know that when there are intense bursts of rain and levels of water rise to an extent that could endanger the dam, the gates are opened and the water rushes out. If this flow of water is combined with even more rain in the region, then a deluge becomes inevitable. We know that variability in our rainfall is increasing at the sub-regional level. What then will this mean for the management of our reservoirs in the future? The question is do we understand the phenomenon of floods?

We don’t. We have no mechanism to be informed of the changing intensity of rainfall; of the increased inflow into our reservoirs and of the water released by dam authorities. The fact is that today’s floods are a double tragedy: of mismanagement of our land and water combined with mismanagement of science and data.

This mismanagement is criminal. Let’s at least know that.

Source: Editorial by Sunita Narain
http://www.downtoearth.org.in/cover_nl.asp?mode=2

 

General > Human Elephant Conflict
Posted by Susan Sharma on October 12, 2007


Elephants’ Fear Of Angry Bees Could Help To Protect Them


At a time when encroaching human development in former wildlife areas has compressed African elephants into ever smaller home ranges and increased levels of human-elephant conflict, a study in  Current Biology,  suggests that strategically placed beehives might offer a low-tech elephant deterrent and conservation measure.

The researchers found that a significant majority of African elephants fled immediately after hearing the sound of bees, providing "strong support" for the idea that bees, and perhaps even their buzz alone, might keep elephants at bay. By contrast, the elephants ignored a control recording of natural white-noise, the authors reported.

"We weren’t surprised that they responded to the threatening sound of disturbed bees, as elephants are intelligent animals that are intimately aware of their surroundings, but we were surprised at how quickly they responded to the sounds by running away," said Lucy King of the University of Oxford. "Almost half of our study herds started to move away within 10 seconds of the bee playback." King is also affiliated with Save the Elephants, a Kenya-based organization that aims to secure a future for elephants.

Earlier studies had suggested that elephants prefer to steer clear of bees. For instance, one report showed that elephant damage to acacia trees hosting occupied or empty beehives was significantly less than in trees without hives, the researchers said. In Zimbabwe, scientists have also seen elephants forging new trails in an effort to avoid beehives.

This behavioral discovery suggests that bees might very well be a valuable addition to the toolbox of elephant deterrents used by farmers and conservation managers across Kenya, King said. She added that such innovative approaches are sorely needed "to avoid extreme solutions such as shooting problem animals."

"But if we could use bees to reduce elephant crop raiding and tree destruction while at the same time enhancing local income through the sale of honey, this could be a significant and valuable step towards sustainable human-elephant coexistence."


Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071008130405.htm

 

 

Corporates and Environment > Corporate Example
Posted by Susan Sharma on October 10, 2007

BP Solar Decathlon

The BP Solar Decathlon is a parntered event by BP that has received 20 selected teams by the U.S. Department of Energy to work on this project. The teams are from various colleges and universities from around the world and will work together as teams competing in a competition to design and build the most energy efficient and aesthetically appealing home powered by solar energy. The event started this month and will be based off of 10 different contests for the overall winner. The homes will ultimately be transported to the national mall in Washington D.C. for viewing. The whole event is a great opportunity to showcase the young bright minds of new clean and renewable technology.

This is a great idea that could inspire many young and aspiring students for the new wave of alternative energy building methods and the new wave of green tech. For one, this is great PR for BP considering it got a lot of negative attention over its Oil Refinery in Whiting, Indiana. Now this could a chance for BP to regain its name as a "green" company that truly cares about the environment.

With BP fully supporting this competition, they have designated an on-site reporter to which the reporter and the teams can all post about the challenges of the event. The whole idea is to have the competition get media coverage through the internet as well as other means.

From an environmentalist point of view, this is a very good move for BP. It shows that it cares about the future of renewable energy and hopefully it convinces the many residents surrounding the Great lakes as well.

 


Source: http://www.theenvironmentalblog.org/atom.xml
   

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