March 06, 2007
IIT Mumbai, Powai, is saving electricity on a daily basis and it’s being done with a few thousand square feet of mirrors, discovers Piali Banerjee
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) is doing it with mirrors
nowadays. There’s an initiative to save electricity on a daily basis in IIT,
Powai, and it’s simply being done with a few thousand square feet of
There are 12 faculty offices in the mechanical department of IIT where
using tube lights during the day is passé. Diffused sunlight is used
instead. (Like most offices, these too are designed in a way where
artificial light is needed all day.)
"Saving electricity is more important than producing it. That’s why we
decided to use the sunlight with the help of mirrors," says Chetan Solanki,
who hit upon the idea and set up mirrors in his own office, only to find
many of his colleagues asking for deflected sunlight in their rooms, too.
So, today he’s a busy man, organising mirrors for everyone.
"I’ve just received a fresh consignment of mirrors, so I’m ready to do up
10 more offices," he says.
So, how do the mirrors actually work? "A long panel of mirrors is fixed
above the windows of the office, facing the floor. This deflects the
sunlight from outside, onto the ceiling of the room. The ceiling being
white, and not-so-smooth, this light is dispersed to the rest of the room,"
"One more mirror is placed near the ceiling, which can actually redirect
the reflected sunlight bang on to the desk. Since this is diffused light, it
brings no heat with it."
For a 10 by 15 sq ft office, you need about 15 sq feet of mirrors, at a
cost of Rs 30 per sq ft. Since every office is fitted with two tube lights,
for a working day of eight hours, this ’mirrorwork’ saves 700 Watthours of
electricity, which works out to Rs 3 saving per day. It takes about six
months to recover the cost of the mirrors… After that, it’s a free lunch
Source: Mumbai Mirror dated 6March 2007
February 27, 2007
In February, 2007 scientists from around the world kicked off the Amphibian Ark project, a global campaign to protect the world’s vanishing amphibian species from a ravenous killer fungus, widespread habitat loss and exposure to pollution and global warming.
Project organizers are asking zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums around the world to each take in at least 500 frogs from a threatened local species to protect them from the killer fungus, chytrid.
February 25, 2007
Green Tech: Eco Software
Environmental degradtion affects everyone; is being
caused-in varying degrees- by everyone; and demands
some action from everyone. Some of these actions
could be as simple as switching off the lights when no
one is around, or aligning the text in a document before
printing for optimal usage of paper, or turning off a
computer monitor when the machine is not in use. Yet,
few care to do these in today’s high-pressure work
environment. This is where software comes to
GreenPrint: It’s a software application that sits
between a web browser and printer to make web pages
printer friendly before it gets printed. While printing a
web page, it’s not uncommon to find that a whole page
has been used just to print a single line (often the url of
the page), or patches of ink for an advertisment. The
application automatically removes the ads and aligns the
text optimally. And thus saves paper.
Surveyor:It promises to reduce a computer network’s
energy consumption by putting PVs into low - power
status when users are away or switching them off during
non-work hours. A PC consumes 588kwH of electricity
every year on average. and managing it could cut upto
200 kwH .
Such software need not necessarily reside in computers. They could be embedded into other systems too.
February 22, 2007
Selling the Tiger to Save it?
"Enforcement of wildlife laws in China is lax, one of the main reasons that smuggling is so rampant and this laxity will extend to the tiger farms rendering any system of monitoring ineffetive. In the event of the lifting of the ban on trading in tiger parts,
laundering of wild animals through legal channels will thus be the more than likely outcome."
Dr. Xu Hongfa, China Director of TRAFFIC agreed with Indian wildlife experts that farmed tigers will always be more expensive than poached ones, doing little to dampen the profitability of poaching.
What the Chinese government really needs to be focussing on is habitat conservation, Dr.u says. He blames the dramatic depletion of China’s tigers on an equally dramatic loss of habitat for the animals as a result of deforestation and expansion of large-
scale agriculture. Until some of its natural environment is brought back, no amount of breeding will save the wild tiger, he concludes.
Source: The Hindu dated 21/02/07
February 20, 2007
“In India, as in China, stimulating an interest in nature is a task of the utmost and immediate importance. With both economies growing at rates of around ten percent
a year, whole ecosystems risk being destroyed. In India the most recent example is the famed bird reserve of Bharatpur. The increased demand for water in Rajasthan has lead to the diversion of the water supply from Bharatpur, the winter home of 70,000 migatory
birds, or rather what was the winter home of 70,000. Since the local river was re-channeled the birds don’t come anymore….
In Britain surveys have found that 85% of respondents have stated that they learn most about their environment from television. Patently India is not necessarily
a direct parallel, however there is no doubt that television could have a positive role to play in creating awareness among India’s 1.1 billion people. A sizeable proportion of the population do not have access to television, but hundreds of millions do. It
is vital then that a strong and vibrant natural history industry evolves to supply this huge market with home grown films to reinforce the sense of wonder and respect for nature that needs to be there, so it can be defended…..
………….In my personal view creating air time on Indian channels is vital to generate a successful Indian wildlife film industry not merely as a platform to sell to
American channels but also help preserve India’s wildlife treasures…”
Jeremy Bristow, award winning environmental film producer
February 13, 2007
When one talks about E-governance for conservation, most of us dismiss the idea as one whose time has not come.
But an article I read at the following link called
the 100 dollar un-pc
reassures me that the day is not far when we can achieve that.
The article talks about the revolutionary product Nova net tv which is a PC costing less than Rs 5000/-
Rajesh Jain, co-founder of Novatium
says that in India’s PC market there are 10 million relatively wealthy Indians at the "top of the pyramid" who buy computers just like consumers in developed countries. There are an additional 30 million urban Indians at the "middle of the pyramid" and
100 million very poor Indians at the "bottom of the pyramid." "What we are saying is how can you dramatically bring down the entry levels for computing in this country and make it accessible to the middle of the pyramid?" he says.
Novatium’s approach has been to completely redesign the computer, slashing costs while keeping the form and functions typical
of a top-end PC. Once it’s set up, it doesn’t look all that different from a conventional PC—the basic box plus a keyboard and monitor. It installs and operates as simply as a television—you plug it in and switch it on. And the money doesn’t come from government
budgets or philanthropic largesse, but from Jain’s profit-oriented business model.
The concept owner and cofounder Prof. Jhunjhunwala and researchers at IIT came up with a plan that builds on the "thin client" concept
that has been popular in the West for years, but only for business applications. It uses a cheap microprocessor and removes the hard disk, CD/DVD drive and other costly and problem-prone components, leaving the keyboard, screen and USB port. Easier to maintain
than regular PCs, sales of thin-client PCs to businesses are growing at about 20 percent a year in developed nations, even as sales of regular PCs flatten. Instead of working backward from the PC, Jhunjhunwala pioneered a new architecture from the ground up,
replacing the expensive microprocessor with the guts of a mobile phone—thus tapping a supercompetitive industry with enormous economies of scale. In 2003, Jain and Jhunjhunwala cofounded Novatium, along with Analog Devices Chairman Ray Stata, with the aim
of taking thin-client computers into the home market.
Read the full article which appeared in News Week International at
February 11, 2007
Documentary film making in India has always been a challenging task.
Commissioned projects end up in the can after being screened to a select audience.
The public do not get a chance to see them as the screening opportunities are limited.
But “Vikalp” in Mumbai and traveling film festivals of Centre for Media Studies, New Delhi, and “film vans” in Kerala and Bengal are changing all that.
If you are an independent producer who spend hard earned money in making films one finds the investment does not come back and making more films remains a dream.
But there is hope here too. Production costs and Camera costs are coming down for one. Outlets for distribution like youtube.com and google videos offer a free platform to reach your videos to a wider audience. Video CDs and DVDs
are a possible distribution method too.
Read an interesting take on the subject at the following link
Making business sense of documentary filmmaking
February 07, 2007
HIGHLIGHTNING TOURISM’S ROLE IN CLIMATE RESPONSE
"There is now
unequivocal proof from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
and the Stern report that climate challenge is real and that we must
all play our part in its resolution. Tourism is an important sector
of the global economy and a vital link in human communications,
cultural interface and development. Like other key sectors, we play a
part in the problem and we have to be responsive and responsible as
temperatures, sea levels and other climactic conditions evolve. We
will work even more closely with UNEP and other sister agencies like
the International Civil Aviation Organization, as well as the private
sector, in exploring new patterns of consumption and conservation, as
well as fast track strategies for adaptation", Mr. Frangialli, UNWTO Secretary-General, said.
There will be two overriding considerations for UNWTO, the Secretary-
General added. "First, promoting responsible growth of tourism to
advance global trade, as well as strengthening the links between
people and cultures which foster mutual understanding. This will mean
innovative adaptation across the sector using all the tools and
technologies as they become available. Second, ensuring that tourism
remains a key tool to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and
helping poor nations lift themselves out of the poverty trap.
represents 40% of services exports and the world’s poorest countries
have comparative advantage in this area which must be encouraged as a
part of responsible climate change strategies."
UNWTO and UNEP have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in a
number of ways – most immediately, UNWTO will join the billion tree
planting campaign of UNEP and the environment agency will strengthen
its support for UNWTO’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism to upbeat
the sustainability and climate response components. The organizations
will collaborate on the Tourism Climate Change Summits.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - BillionTree Campaign
February 06, 2007
IPCC Report on Global Warming
The most authoritative scientific report on climate change says with
90% certainty that the burning of fossil fuels and other human
activities are driving climate change.
The report, from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) says the rise in global temperatures could be as high as 6.4°C
by 2100. The report also predicts sea level rises and increases in hurricanes.
The new IPCC report is the work of 3750 climate experts, who have
spent six years reviewing all the available climate research. It was
released in Paris, France, on Friday.
Considering the human role in causing climate change, the IPCC report is damning: "The understanding of [human] influences
on climate has improved since the  report, leading to a very high confidence that human activities" are responsible for most of the warming seen since 1950, says the report’s summary for policymakers. “Very high confidence” is described as “at least
a 9 out of 10 chance of being correct”.
Before the industrial revolution, human greenhouse gas emissions were small, and the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas – was about 280 parts per million (ppm).
Thanks largely to the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use, such as agricultural exploitation and deforestation, the atmospheric
concentration of carbon dioxide reached 379 ppm in 2005
Read the full story here:
February 04, 2007
A picture story sent in by a friend was so moving I thought we must have a blog topic exclusively for "anthromorphism". Anthropomorphism, also called personification, is the attribution of human characteristics and qualities to nonhuman beings.
Scientists at one time used to look down upon such stories-as figments of human imagination. But as human beings are observing and flming more deeply into the private lives of animals, realisation is slowly dawning that we were probably too egoistic to acknowledge
that animals have intelligence and emotions!
Read the story at this link