Grateful to the LinkedIn Eco-Enabler post today.

Melaleuca and bamboo growth, conservation and sustainability

Don’t mess with Mother Nature … comments CSea
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10
March

Posted by Green Life Staff

Only someone living in a cave or under a rock will not be able to observe the climate change happening now.  We have unusual weather patterns where the winter season is colder and the summer season is hotter, not to mention that the seasons now overlap more than ever.  As many will say, you can smell it in the air, see it on the ground and feel it in your bones.

So what is a gardener to do when gardening heavily depends on the climate?  Well, let’s adapt to the changes, of course!  This is what our forefathers did before us and we can certainly do it again.

Select Native Plants

With globalization, we have experienced non-native plants being cultivated in many areas of the world.  In many ways, this is a good move considering that biodiversity is a desirable quality in our ecosystems.

The problem, however, begins when the non-native species begin to ruin the natural ecology of the area.  This is possible when the new species carry new diseases to which the local plants have no prior immunity as well as when the non-native plants become invasive.

With that being the case, we should consider reverting to native plants.  This way, you can bring back the natural ecosystem where the plants have been able to adapt to the local conditions.  Plus, you need not worry about feeding water-hungry plants in an area known for being dry and vice-versa.

Rein in Your Lawn

In the first place, do you really need a lawn?  Maybe not especially when you consider the negative impact lawns exert on the environment – the pesticides and fertilizers used on lawns can seep toxic chemicals into the soil while the lawnmowers emit noxious fumes into the air.

Instead, you should put your front yard to good use by planting fruits and vegetables in it. Not only will you be able to help the environment with organic gardening but you will also benefit in terms of good health from the organic foods and the exercise.

Mulch Like There Is No Tomorrow

And speaking of organic gardening, you should mulch as much as possible.  This accomplishes two things:  First, it lessens the trash thrown into the landfills as mulch comes from compost that, in turn, is made of kitchen and garden wastes.  Second, mulch acts as protective barrier against water loss and pests, thus, lessening the need for water and toxic chemicals, respectively.

Help the Animals

It is not only the human species that will be affected by climate change.  We must look after the animals of the Earth especially those involved in food production.  We are talking of everything from little insects like bees and butterflies to big animals like cows and fishes.

While you are it, you should also make sure that you do your part in conserving the other animals of the world.  We have hard choices to make and we have no better time than now to start making them.

Related posts:

  1. What to Grow, Part 2
  2. Creating a Backyard Habitat
  3. 5 Tips to Take Care of Pets and Environment
  4. Victory Gardens – How To Start A Community Garden
  5. What to Grow, Part 1
  6. Autumn Leaves: Healthy Alternatives to Burning Fallen Leaves

Date: 11-Mar-10
Country: US
Author: Jon Hurdle

Obama Aide Urges Listing Of Gas-Drilling Chemicals Photo: Jon  Hurdle/Files
A worker at EnCana’s Frenchie Draw gas-drilling rig in central Wyoming guides sections of steel pipe into an 11,000-foot well in this September 19, 2009 file photo.
Photo: Jon Hurdle/Files

President Barack Obama’s top environmental adviser urged the natural gas industry on Tuesday to disclose the chemicals it uses in drilling, warning that the development of massive U.S. shale gas reserves could be held back otherwise.

Joseph Aldy, special assistant to the president for energy and the environment, said concerns about water contamination from drilling chemicals could lead to states requiring disclosure and that could deter additional investment.

“You can’t leave this in the status quo if you think we are going to have significant shale gas development in the United States,” Aldy told Reuters after a natural gas conference.

Some energy companies decline to publish lists of toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, a technique used to extract natural gas from shale beds far underground.

Companies have been under pressure from critics of fracturing and from some lawmakers, who say the technique is damaging the water supplies of people who live near gas rigs.

Aldy said it is unclear whether fracturing chemicals are fouling groundwater but acknowledged the industry is under pressure from those who say the process leads to contamination with chemicals that can cause a range of illnesses.

“I don’t think we have the information to assess that,” he said.

Aldy said the industry could disclose the chemicals voluntarily, as some companies already do, or through regulation.

He declined to say whether the Obama administration supports the “Frack Act,” a Congressional bill that would require drilling companies to disclose the chemicals and give the Environmental Protection Agency oversight over the industry, which is now regulated by the states.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said on Monday she was “very concerned” about the composition of fracturing fluids and that she hoped the agency would conduct a study this year if it obtained funding.

U.S. shale gas reserves are estimated to contain enough of the clean-burning fuel to meet national demand for at least a century. A current boom in development has been made possible by fracturing technology that injects water, sand and a mix of chemicals to fracture the shale at high pressure.

(Editing by John O’Callaghan)

… by Michael Graham Richard, Ottawa, Canada on 03. 3.10


Lemon leaf with interconnected loops. Photo: RU

A team of biophysicists at Rockefeller University recently published a paper in Physical Review Letters about a new way to design distribution networks based on the veins that carry water and nutrients in most tree leaves. This is a great example of biomimicry! Evolution by natural selection maybe be blind, but it has had billions of years of trial-and-error to figure out efficient and robust ways to do things. The interconnecting vein loops in leaves are a good example of that, and we can learn from them.


Ginko leaf, without interconnected loops. Photo: RU

“Operations researchers have long believed that the best distribution networks for many scenarios look like trees, with a succession of branches stemming from a central stalk and then branches from those branches and so on, to the desired destinations. But this kind of network is vulnerable: If it is severed at any place, the network is cut in two and cargo will fail to reach any point “downstream” of the break.”

A good example of that can be seen on the two pictures in this post. The big dots are damage in the network. In the pic on top, you can see that the flow isn’t stopped, and can go everywhere in the network. In the second pic, the flow is stopped everywhere downstream of the damage point.

“Operations researchers have appreciated that these redundancies are an effective hedge against damage. What’s most surprising in the new research, according to Marcelo O. Magnasco, head of the Laboratory of Mathematical Physics at Rockefeller University, is that the complex network also does a better job of handling fluctuating loads according to shifts in demand from different parts of the system — a common real-world need within dynamic distribution networks.”

This kind of network full of loops can also be found in the blood vessels of the retina, the architecture of some corals, and the structural veins of insect wings.

It remains to be seen if the benefits of more robust and easy to balance networks will outweigh the negatives (it would probably be more expensive), but I think resilience and robustness are worth a lot since our society is so dependent on these networks.

For something a bit similar, check out how slime mold can help design public transit networks.

Via Physical Review Letters, Rockefeller University

by Michael Graham Richard, Ottawa, Canada on 03. 3.10

Lemon leaf with interconnected loops. Photo: RU

A team of biophysicists at Rockefeller University recently published a paper in Physical Review Letters about a new way to design distribution networks based on the veins that carry water and nutrients in most tree leaves. This is a great example of biomimicry!

Evolution by natural selection maybe be blind, but it has had billions of years of trial-and-error to figure out efficient and robust ways to do things. The interconnecting vein loops in leaves are a good example of that, and we can learn from them.


Ginko leaf, without interconnected loops. Photo: RU

“Operations researchers have long believed that the best distribution networks for many scenarios look like trees, with a succession of branches stemming from a central stalk and then branches from those branches and so on, to the desired destinations. But this kind of network is vulnerable: If it is severed at any place, the network is cut in two and cargo will fail to reach any point “downstream” of the break.”

A good example of that can be seen on the two pictures in this post. The big dots are damage in the network. In the pic on top, you can see that the flow isn’t stopped, and can go everywhere in the network. In the second pic, the flow is stopped everywhere downstream of the damage point.

“Operations researchers have appreciated that these redundancies are an effective hedge against damage. What’s most surprising in the new research, according to Marcelo O. Magnasco, head of the Laboratory of Mathematical Physics at Rockefeller University, is that the complex network also does a better job of handling fluctuating loads according to shifts in demand from different parts of the system — a common real-world need within dynamic distribution networks.”

This kind of network full of loops can also be found in the blood vessels of the retina, the architecture of some corals, and the structural veins of insect wings.

It remains to be seen if the benefits of more robust and easy to balance networks will outweigh the negatives (it would probably be more expensive), but I think resilience and robustness are worth a lot since our society is so dependent on these networks.

For something a bit similar, check out how slime mold can help design public transit networks.

Via Physical Review Letters, Rockefeller University

More on your ‘cookprint’.

These healthy eco-friendly kitchen gadgets and appliances will save energy.

By Ronnie Citron-Fink
Rhinebeck, NY, USA | Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:30 AM ET

©iStockphoto.com/Thinkstock

READ MORE ABOUT:
Eco-Friendly Kitchens | Energy Efficiency | Green Appliances | Green Home | Green Your Electricity | Home Energy Use

Would you like to cut your electric bill every month? If you’re like me, you have drawers and kitchen cabinets full of gadgets and small appliances. In an effort to pare down and conserve energy, resources and cash, which of these energy sucking kitchen wonders should you ditch (donate away) and which should stay?

WATCH VIDEO: Emeril’s Vermont Adventures

First, let’s consider at the materials and resources that use energy to prepare a meal. While the term “cookprint” is often used to remind us to eat more plant-based, locally grown and sustainable food, it also represents which appliances and gadgets to cook with. Consumer Reports chose “cookprint” as a top buzzword to describe the energy needed to prepare the food we eat.

“That energy use encompasses the appliances and techniques used to prepare and store food, though the management of leftovers and food waste also factors in–you lower your cookprint by composting rather than tossing scraps into the trash.”

Ditch These Kitchen Appliances and Gadgets

1. Coffee Grinder
OK, it’s early in the morning and it’s awfully easy to plug in the coffee grinder to pulverize fresh beans. Just think how much faster you’ll wake up if you have to do it yourself. Bodum makes preparing and drinking coffee a stylish experience. Check out their hand-crank coffee-grinding beauty.

2. Can Opener
Jaymi has written about electric can openers before and she makes the important point that, “Electric can openers are handy but they don’t save time or effort when compared to a quality manual can opener.” Classic swing-away can openers get the job done.

3. Electric Knife
My mom’s generation swears that the electric knife must come out when the Thanksgiving turkey is ready to curve. But really, why use an electric one when a nice sharp knife can do the same job? Try a hand-held knife sharpener and a good knife.

4. Juicer
Are you surprised to find an electric juicer on the list? This is an easy switch that won’t screw up your healthy juice regimen. Hand-held juicers require a little muscle, but they produce big energy savings. Here are some hand-held juicers to choose from.

5. Electric Mixer and Stick Blender
An electric stick immersion blender has a single mixer attachment, so to make something like whipping cream, a hand-held mixer is your best bet. The old fashioned, quiet hand mixer works like a dream. Often you can find these in antique stores with wooden handles.

Keep These Appliances and Gadgets in Your Kitchen

1. Rice Cookers
Although rice cookers use electricity, they are an eco-friendly alternative to firing up your stove to make rice. Finding a rice cooker with a stainless steel–not “non-stick”–insert is the healthiest choice, because most “non-stick” pots are made with Teflon or aluminum. Teflon contains PBDE, a prevalent contaminant known to cause to the human body and the environment. Here are a bunch of rice cookers with stainless steel inserts.

2. Countertop Grills
These grills are inexpensive and an energy-saving solution to turning on a stove when you want to just make, say, a grilled cheese sandwich. Be aware that George Foreman and similar grills can be coated with Teflon. What’s an eco-cook to do? Get a stainless steel countertop grill.

3. Waffle Irons
The same advice applies for waffle irons as grill pans, especially if you eat waffles often. We have an old, old cast iron waffle iron that makes the best waffles. If you can’t score one of those, I would suggest finding a secondhand waffle iron with cast iron inserts.

4. Hand-Crank Blender
Again, the older “historical technology,” does a fine job. TreeHugger posted on a hand crank travel mixer, and here are some other crank blenders.

5. Mortar and Pestle
A mortar and pestle can be a manual food processor. It’s been used for centuries to make everything from ground spices to mayonnaise. The mortar and pestle’s best feature: It will never require replacement parts.
Are you seeing a trend here? The oldies-but-goodies are making a strong comeback. And making these small changes can significantly lower your cookprint.

More on your ‘cookprint’.

These healthy eco-friendly kitchen gadgets and appliances will save energy.

by Lloyd Alter, Toronto on 03. 2.10

Cash for Caulkers

President Obama is set to announce a new residential renovation funding program that they call a “triple win”: a jolt to the sickly construction industry, saving Americans money on their energy bills and reducing dependence on oil and other fossil fuels. Last month they might have called it a “quadruple win” and mentioned greenhouse gas reductions, but they don’t do that any more, Senator Inhofe would complain.

If they do it right, the six billion dollar program can create a lot of jobs; caulking and sealing is labor intensive, and can put a lot of people to work. But with the power of modern media, it is really easy to do it wrong.

When Planet Green started out, we did a series of posts based on a terrific document prepared by the Rocky Mountain Institute: Cool Citizens: Everyday Solutions to Climate Change: Household Solutions, that looked at the cost of a renovation item, the amount of energy and carbon it saved, and calculated the bang for the buck. It is now eight years old and much has changed, as fuel got more expensive and compact fluorescents a lot cheaper. But the order is probably still pretty much correct.

Some of our Planet Green posts following the RMI order:

Where To Start
Get a Programmable Thermostat
Stop the Air Leaks
Add Attic Insulation
Insulate Your Water Heater
Add Attic Insulation
Install Efficient Showerheads
Install Faucet Aerators

Notice that window replacement is nowhere on the list; it is so far down the list in terms of energy saved per dollar spent that it is almost off the bottom. If I were handing out the bucks, I would ensure that everyone followed the list; no windows unless you caulk first.

But then Pella is spending more on full page ads than Obama is on the stimulus these days, so that won’t happen. And of course, Glenn Beck ran Mr. “put down the handgun and pickup a caulking gun” out of the White House, so the bucks will go to big business.

Environmental justice means the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to environmental policies.

The Faces of the Grassroots contest is an opportunity to publicly exhibit creativity with environmental justice stories, and connect with others working to raise awareness of the movement.

Videos can focus on any environmental justice activity, issue, or topic. Examples would be a music video about climate change, or a video recording a successful environmental justice project that has made a community a healthier and happier place to live.

Awards will be given to the winning submissions in each category. The videos will also be featured on EPA’s Web site and may be used as public service announcements.

Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, April 8, 2010. EPA will announce winners in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

Categories and prize money:

Public Service Announcements (30 or 60 seconds)
1st Place – $2,500
2nd Place – $1,500
3rd Place – $1,000
Student Winner – $500 (13-18 years old)

Informational Video (3-5 minutes)
1st Place – $2,500
2nd Place – $1,500
3rd Place – $1,000
Student Winner – $500 (13-18 years old)

More information and the promotional video: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/environmentaljustice/events/video-contest.html

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