Climate change and Global Warming

A holistic view of climate change

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 04, 2008

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A holistic view on climate change

There has been much debate about climate change perhaps because we cannot see carbon dioxide when we exhale, or when we burn oil and coal to heat our homes, or use petrol to power our cars or fly planes. We do, however, have scientific instruments that can accurately measure what we humans produce and the increasing amount of carbon that we are adding to our environment.

The data is irrefutable - carbon dioxide concentrations have been steadily
increasing in our atmosphere as a result of human activity since the earliest
measurements began. We know that on the order of 4.1 billion tons of carbon are being added to and staying in our atmosphere each year. We know that burning fossil fuels and deforestation are the principal contributors to the increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in our atmosphere. We know that increasing CO2 concentrations has the same effect as the glass walls and roof of a greenhouse. It lets the energy from the sun easily penetrate but limits its escape, hence the term greenhouse gas.

Observational and modeling studies have confirmed the association of increasing CO2 concentrations with the change in average global temperatures over the last 120 years. Between 1906 and 2005 the average global temperature has increased 0.74 degrees C. This may not seem like very much, but it can have profound effects on the strength of storms and the survival of species including coral reefs.

Eleven of the last 12 years rank among the warmest years since 1850. While no one knows for certain the consequences of this continuing unchecked warming, some have argued it could result in catastrophic changes, such as the disruption of the Gulf Steam which keeps the UK out of the ice age or even the possibility of the Greenland ice sheet sliding into the Atlantic Ocean. Whether or not these devastating changes occur, we are conducting a dangerous experiment with our planet. One we need to stop.

The developed world including the United States, England and Europe contribute disproportionately to the environmental carbon, but the developing world is rapidly catching up. As the world population increases from 6.5 billion people to 9 billion over the next 45 years and countries like India and China continue to industrialise, some estimates indicate that we will be adding over 20 billion tons of carbon a year to the atmosphere. Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes to the global climate that could be more extreme than those observed to date. This means we can expect more climate change, more ice cap melts, rising sea levels, warmer oceans and therefore greater storms, as well as more droughts and floods, all which compromise food and fresh water production.

The increase in population coupled with climate change will tax every aspect of our lives. In a world already struggling to keep up with demand, will we be able to provide the basics of food, clean water, shelter and fuel to these new
citizens of Earth? And will governments be able to cope with new emerging
infections, storms, wildfires, and global conflicts?

So is there any way of avoiding these apocalyptic visions of the future coming
true? Many have argued that we simply need to conserve, to alter and regress our standard of living and block the industrialisation of developing countries. In
my view this is extremely naive thinking. Furthermore, even the most optimistic models on climate change show a dramatically altered planet Earth going forward even if we embrace all alternative options such as wind and solar energy, and electric cars. Our entire world economy and the ability of modern society to provide life’s basics, depend on the very industrialisation that contributes to our possible demise.

Yet, sadly, very little thinking, planning or projections about how to cope
with the carbon problem and climate change have taken into account the
capabilities of modern science to produce what we have long needed to help solve these global threats.

It is clear to me that we need more approaches and creative solutions. We need new disruptive ideas and technologies to solve these critical global issues.  This is where, I believe, biology and genomics, come in.

Source: Excerpts from  the annual Richard Dimbleby Lecture on BBC on (Tuesday 4 December 2007) by Dr J Craig Venter

Tribal Bill-How it will affect our forests

USA Experence

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 02, 2008

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The Trust for Public Land (USA) published a story which is very similar to our own Tribal Rights Debate.

 A land under dispute for over 130 years( 208, 000 acres of forest land) was recently released for native American Indians. Read the full story at

http://www.tpl.org/tier3_cd.cfm?content_item_id=21966&folder_id=3409

 

Bio-Diversity

Gene tweaked but is this brinjal safe to eat?

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 01, 2008

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Gene tweaked but is this brinjal safe to eat?

Reuse and Recycle

Using flyash

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 01, 2008

Blog

Using flyash

Fly ash is a by-product of coal combustion in thermal plants. Presently majority of the coal ash generated is being handled in wet form and disposed off in ash ponds which is harmful for the environment and moreover ash remains unutilized for gainful applications. India has sufficient coal reserves. In India almost 65-70% of electricity production isdependent on coal which produces a huge quantity of Fly Ash as residue which is allegedly a waste product in Thermal Power Stations.

Fly Ash has a vast potential for use in High Volume fly ash concrete especially due to its physic-chemical properties.  Using fly ash in construction activity is environment friendly, reduce energy demand and restrict carbon emissions.  
Transco Delhi and DMRC have been using flyash in construction activities.

When mixed with lime and water the flyash forms a cementitious compound with properties very similar to that ofPortland cement. Because of this similarity, fly ash can be used to replace aportion of cement in the concrete, providing some distinct quality advantages.The concrete is denser resulting in a tighter, smoother surface with lessbleeding.

A good amount of research has already been done inIndia and abroad on its strength and other requisite parameters.

Wildlife

Endangered Giraffe

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 27, 2008

Blog

A Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) study revealed that man and nature are threatening at least six distinct species of the African Giraffe, which are highly endangered and could face extinction if not protected. 


The extinction threat was real since giraffes are listed as lower risk in the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List, "under the assumption that giraffe species are considered a single species and therefore managed as such". 

"Severe poaching and armed conflict in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya reduced the number of reticulated giraffes   from about 27,000 individuals in the 1990s to currently fewer than 3,000 individuals over the past decade."

Environment Awareness

Cigarette butts

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 23, 2008

Blog

Cigarette butts, snack wrappers and take-out food and beverage containers are the most commonly littered items. Cigarettes are one of the most insidious forms of litter: Each discarded butt takes 12 years to break down, all the while leaching toxic elements such as cadmium, lead and arsenic into soil and waterways.

Interlinking of Rivers

Dams Coming Down in U.S!

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 23, 2008

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Dams Coming Down

 

Two years of closed-door negotiations between farmers, Indian tribes, fishermen, conservation groups and government agencies have resulted in an unprecedented (but very conditional) agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams now operating along an embattled 300-mile stretch of the Klamath River in southern Oregon and northern California. The goal of the dam removal is to restore runs of the now-endangered salmon that were once plentiful in the region and to re-assign contentious water usage rights throughout the region accordingly..............

 ...........................................

 

Though it was once the third-most productive salmon river on the West Coast, the Klamath has suffered over the last several decades as a result of misguided hatchery practices, overfishing, development and the loss of habitat to dams, mining and logging. For the dams to actually be removed, the federal government would have to approve the dam removal plan (and put up the estimated $400 million to cover costs). Then, if dam owner PacifiCorp (a major regional utility) is willing to go along with the plan, the dams could be removed as soon as 2015.

 

 

Source:  http://www.emagazine.com/view/?4054

Climate change and Global Warming

Organic farming combats global warming!

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 21, 2008

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Organic farming combats global warming

 

Data from The Rodale Institute’s® long-running comparison of organic and conventional cropping systems confirms that organic methods are far more effective at removing the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere and fixing it as beneficial organic matter in the soil………..

 

The key lies in the handling of organic matter (OM): because soil organic matter is primarily carbon, increases in soil OM levels will be directly correlated with carbon sequestration. While conventional farming typically depletes soil OM, organic farming builds it through the use of composted animal manures and cover crops………

 

 

"Agriculture and forestry are a very potent sink--they will make the emissions problem easier to get a handle on,”

Organic farming for carbon capture is also compatible with other environmental and social goals such as reducing erosion, minimizing impact on native ecosystems, and improving farmer livelihoods.

 

Source: http://www.newfarm.org/depts/NFfield_trials/1003/carbonsequest.shtml

Environment Awareness

Are plastics the villain again?

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 17, 2008

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Thousands of chemicals have come on the market in the past 30 years, and some of them are showing up in people’s bodies in low levels. Scientists studying obesity are focusing on endocrine disrupters - which have already been linked to reproductive problems in animals and humans - because they have become so common in the environment and are known to affect fat cells.

But could something in the environment also be making Americans fat in epidemic numbers?Animal studies in recent years raise the possibility that prenatal exposure to minuscule amounts of common chemicals - found in everything from baby bottles to toys - could predispose a body to a life of weight gain. The chemicals, known as endocrine disrupters, mimic natural hormones that help regulate, for example, how many fat cells a body makes and how much fat to store in them.These findings have led some scientists to put forth a provocative argument: They say diet and too little exercise clearly are key reasons for the worldwide rise in obesity in the past 20 years, but they may not be the only ones. Food intake and exercise just haven’t changed that much in that period, they argue. And while genetics obviously play a role - just think of someone you know who can eat three Big Macs a day and never gain an ounce - these researchers say it would be impossible to see such widespread genetic change in just two decades, giving them more reason to suspect the environment.

Source:
http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2008/01/14/is_plastic_making_us_fat/

Corporates and Environment

Who is responsible

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 17, 2008

Blog

"In early 2007, thousands of cats and dogs in North America fell ill with kidney ailments. Many of the pets had dined chez Menu Foods Inc., a company in Ontario, Canada, that manufactures pet foods for more than 100 brands, including Procter & Gamble, Iams, Colgate-Palmolive’s Science Diet, and Wal-Mart’s Ol’ Roy. By mid-April, investigators had traced the animals’ illnesses to melamine, an industrial chemical that tainted a few of Menu Foods’ raw ingredients. They then followed the thread to two suppliers in China, which had spiked the ingredients to cut costs and boost profits.

So where should the public point its finger? Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Wal-Mart, and the many other corporations that own the pet food brands? Menu Foods, which mixed the kibble? The Chinese manufacturers, which adulterated the ingredients? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which failed to detect anything amiss? The stores that didn’t remove the foods from the shelves, even after Menu Foods recalled them? "

Read the full article at http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/the_responsibility_paradox/

 




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