Environment


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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:

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  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 Brian Merchant, Brooklyn, New York on 01.27.10

eats radioactive waste

Photo via Science Daily

// Nuclear waste is probably the most dreaded substances in existence, in part because it’s proved so difficult to effectively clean up and store. But a stunning new breakthrough has just surfaced that may make cleaning up radioactive waste easier and much more efficient–and the solution takes its inspiration from one of everyone’s favorite creepy plants. Researchers have developed a material that opens its pores to let in its intended prey–the radioactive ion cesium–then “snaps shut” to entrap it, according to Science Daily. It’s a Venus Flytrap that eats radioactive waste instead of flies.

The flytrap-like material is evidently a snythetic material made from “layers of a gallium, sulfur and antimony compound,” and was developed by researchers at Northwestern University.

The radioactive ion cesium, found in nuclear waste, is very difficult to clean up. And that’s because the ratio of harmless sodium ions to dangerous radioactive cesium ions is 1,000 to 1. There’s tons more sodium than cesium–one scientist on the project even said that looking for the radioactive material in nuclear waste is “like looking for a needle in a haystack.” But the material the scientists developed turned out to be extremely adept at removing the cesium from a sodium-heavy solution–thanks to its Venus flytrap-like qualities.

SD explains:

It is, in fact, cesium itself that triggers a structural change in the material, causing it to snap shut its pores, or windows, and trap the cesium ions within. The material sequesters 100 percent of the cesium ions from the solution while at the same time ignoring all the sodium ions.

Which is pretty amazing–a material that can selectively snag and confine only the radioactive ions in nuclear waste could be instrumental in nuclear waste cleanup. Especially since there are over a hundred nuclear power plants across the US keeping their radioactive waste in storage onsite.

excessive radioactivity

One of the most fascinating things about the discovery is how it can trap literally every single radioactive cesium ion without bothering to absorb any sodium ions–sort of like how a Venus Flytrap doesn’t bother with drops of rain or debris that falls into its ‘mouth’ and attacks only the flies. Again, SD explains how this works:

The snap-shut Venus flytrap mechanism occurs because ‘soft’ materials like to interact with each other. A cesium ion is big and soft, and the metal-sulfide material is soft, too. The cesium ions are attracted to the material, specifically the sulfur atoms, and together form a weak bond. This interaction causes the material to change shape, close its windows and trap the cesium — like a juicy insect in a flytrap. Sodium, which is clothed in water molecules, can’t trigger the response.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this develops, and if this can successfully be transformed into a major new way to cleanup nuclear waste.

SOURCE:   http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/01/venust-flytrap-snares-radioactive-waste.php?campaign=daily_nl

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Last Modified 3:35 PM, January 20, 2010

earthquake faults

The three different types of faults: subduction faults are normal or reverse faults

January 20, 2010—

As the world focuses on the heart-wrenching losses and unbelievable devastation of the recent earthquake in Haiti, researchers at Michigan Technological University, discuss what happened there and why.

“Every disaster situation is different,” says Bill Rose, professor of petrology in the geological and mining engineering and sciences department. “Haiti sits on a major strike-slip fault, where one side moves one way, and one moves another.”

“The Caribbean plate is moving eastward relative to the North American plate,” explains Wayne Pennington, professor and chair of the department.

“In Hispaniola, the island containing Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the plates are further split into one or two little plate slivers, with a northern boundary near the northern shore of the island and a southern boundary along what is called the Enriquillo fault.” Pennington says. “It is this southern fault that ruptured during the earthquake. Stress had been building up here since the last large earthquake along that fault, in 1751.”

“As geologists, we think in different time-frames,” Rose says. “An occurrence of every 200-plus years is not long, when we talk in terms of millions of years.”

The fault is actually similar to the San Andreas Fault in California, Rose says. And one unique characteristic of quakes like this is that they may occur in “timed clusters” where, when one part releases, others close by may follow.

“El Salvador had a major quake in 2001 and a second quake one month later was actually worse than the first,” Rose says.

Following Haiti’s quake, the same fault could release within the Dominican Republic to the east or perhaps in Jamaica to the west, says Rose. Another fault going through the island nation could release in Cuba. Any of these events could happen “soon.”

It has also been reported that the quake was a shallow one. The rupture of the Enriquillo fault began only eight miles (13 kilometers) below the surface, and that, too, has immense ramifications, according John Lyons, a PhD candidate in geology.

“Shallow earthquakes transfer substantially more energy to the surface than do deep quakes. This translates into more violent ground motion capable of producing the damage we are seeing across Haiti.” he says.

In addition to the lack of depth and high magnitude, which was 7.0, the type of earthquake is also important, both Rose and Lyons say. The earthquake in Haiti occurred at a strike-slip fault, which has a different motion than a subduction zone fault, where tectonic plates collide, sending one over the other. The latter “can lift or lower a huge volume of water, generating a tsunami” Lyons says. A recent example was the devastating Sumatran earthquake in 2004.

The need for research is now, the geologists agree.

“We need to do geological fieldwork,” Rose says, “to measure where the fault is and where it has moved or not moved.

“In the past couple of decades, there had been some debate about whether or not we should expect an earthquake along that fault,” Pennington notes. “But modern GPS measurements have demonstrated that the stress has been accumulating, and scientists published a paper in 2008 showing that a magnitude 7.2 event could be expected there at any time.”

He added that earthquake prediction has not yet shown precisely when, where, and how large an earthquake is expected.

“But we do know which areas, in general, are more hazardous than others, and this earthquake, as tragic as it is, was not unexpected. The same is true of many areas. In some parts of the world, preparation for large earthquakes is standard practice.”

In California, for example, Pennington says that building standards are strictly enforced, and civil defense authorities have stockpiled supplies to be used if necessary. “Communication procedures are practiced for use in disasters, and the people have at least a general notion of what to do in the case of a large seismic event,” he says. And earthquake drills have been organized in each of the past two years.

“All of these seismic-safety practices are absent in Haiti,” he says, “where widespread disregard for whatever building codes may exist resulted in unstable structures that crumbled during the shaking. A lack of infrastructure that could survive the earthquake resulted in the chaos we now see hampering the rescue effort.”

Of course, the initial requirement for the international aid community is to save lives and relieve the massive suffering being experienced by the Haitian people, Pennington adds.

“But, within a few weeks, the task of rebuilding or recovery will begin,” he says. “As in many cases, a serious effort will be made to ‘build back better’ and incorporate practices of infrastructure development that can be sustained by the local population and will prove safer in the future. The goal will be to create resilient communities: ones that can survive and bounce back from disasters or other shocks to the system.”

It will not be easy.

“For generations, Haitians have suffered from lack of opportunity,” Pennington says. “In addition to building ‘things’—roads, buildings, water treatment and supply systems—it will be necessary to build an economic system that can provide ongoing support for maintenance, and education for the people who will provide that maintenance. This is our next challenge.”

Michigan Technological University (mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.

Date: 11-Jan-10
Country: US
Author: Richard Cowan

Beleaguered U.S. Climate Bill Seeks Obama Lift Photo: Shannon Stapleton
The Valero St. Charles oil refinery is seen during a tour of the refinery in Norco, Louisiana August 15, 2008.
Photo: Shannon Stapleton

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech to Congress could indicate how badly he wants a global warming bill, which opponents say will cost U.S. jobs and raise prices — a scary prospect for politicians trying to ride out a horrible economy in an election year.

Obama, who played a dramatic role in negotiating a nonbinding international climate change accord last month in Copenhagen, now faces a tough economic and environmental balancing act to win the climate change legislation in 2010.

Administration officials insist it can be done despite the political difficulties in an election year. “President Obama and this administration … expect that a comprehensive energy bill, which includes a climate portion, to be passed this year,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu told reporters Wednesday.

For that to happen, Obama must put a “job-creation focus” on the bill to build a U.S. economy that would run more on alternative energy than dirty-burning coal and oil, said Daniel Weiss of the Center for American Progress. “The more specifics the better” in the State of the Union speech, Weiss added.

On Friday, Obama announced new tax credits to encourage investments in clean energy development that he said would help combat climate change and create jobs.

“This initiative is good for middle-class families. It is good for our security. It is good for our planet,” Obama said.

A House-passed bill is floundering in the Senate, where Obama has to convince 60 of 100 members to back a bill.

In one area — government incentives for expanding nuclear power — Senate sources said progress has been made in closed-door talks in search of a “sweet spot” for a compromise on the legislation that they hope to pass in coming months.

Even so, Senate backers and environmentalists off Capitol Hill say they are uncertain of climate change victory in 2010.

Difficult negotiations are expected between senators who want to require industries to cut their carbon emissions and those who see a climate bill as a vehicle for also helping domestic producers of nuclear power and oil and natural gas.

And, many Republicans are working hard to cast doubt on claims the climate change bill will create jobs.

Within the next few weeks, Senator Lisa Murkowski could force a Senate vote to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions as a fallback if more comprehensive climate legislation is not enacted.

“This is a vote about the economy, not about the climate — whether these regulations will harm the economy,” said a Senate Republican aide.

If Murkowski, whose state of Alaska is a major oil and gas producer, manages to get a strong vote, even if less than needed to pass her measure, some undecided Republicans and Democrats could have second thoughts about voting later this year on a more comprehensive climate bill.

SENATORS SEEKING COMPROMISE

Despite all the hurdles, a bipartisan group of senators is forging ahead on a bill to cut carbon emissions by utilities, refineries and factories over the next four decades by 17 percent from 2005 levels.

Senator John Kerry, who is leading the effort, expects to be recovered from surgery and back in Washington when the Senate reconvenes on January 20, to huddle with independent Senator Joe Lieberman and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, according to a spokeswoman. The two are key to winning support from moderates and conservatives.

One Senate staffer said 17 pro-nuclear senators have had input into what could become a major provision of the bill aimed at luring Republican votes. “That part (nuclear power) ironically is in fairly good shape at this point.”

While nuclear power plants do not emit the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, the industry has been weighed down by prohibitively high construction costs and controversy over nuclear waste storage.

Expanding domestic oil and gas drilling is another important goal for Republicans and that component of a climate bill is “still 100 percent in flux,” said the Senate source.

While producing more oil and gas here will do nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it would reduce dependence on foreign oil and potentially lure Republican votes.

On the sidelines of the U.N. climate meeting in Copenhagen, Kerry left open the possibility that the core of the climate bill could be scrapped. That is the “cap and trade” system for reducing carbon emissions through ever-dwindling pollution permits that could be traded on a new exchange.

A carbon tax and a “cap” without the “trade” component are among possibilities. But for now, Kerry, Lieberman and Graham are sticking with cap and trade, aiming to quell nervousness over the scheme by including tougher market controls.

(Editing by Jackie Frank and Bill Trott)

© Thomson Reuters 2010 All rights reserved

 

As the world changes because of  ‘growth’.

 

via World Environment News – Multiyear Arctic Ice Is Effectively Gone: Expert – Planet Ark.

EarthShare is an organization that keeps their thumb on the pulse of the topics directly related to actions we can all get involved with.  The reception is growing tremendously and proven to be effective.  Do your part, get involved, get your children and grandchildren involved.

Together Everyone Achieves More… CSea Perkins

Are Americans cooling on global warming? 350

What do a rural farmer in New Zealand, students in Boston, and a group of architects have in common? They’re all affected by climate change.

People from every background showed their support for global climate change action and leadership on October 24, the International Day of Climate Action. Coordinated by 350.org, the event brought participants together to raise global awareness of climate change prior to the United Nations climate change meetings in December. More than 5,000 demonstrations were held around the globe! You can check out www.350.org to see international images of people taking unique action in support of our planet’s health and future.

This effort comes on the heels of a recently published poll indicating that some Americans’ opinions on climate change may be changing in the face of the other pressing crises affecting the nation. Although more than half of the 1,500 adults surveyed still believe global warming is occurring, this represents about a 20% decrease since 2006.

What do you think? Talk to us in the comments section at the bottom of this page, or email us! You can also learn more about the pending Climate Bill and participate in the discussion with Environmental Defense Fund’s Twitter guide.
Holy cow! Meat and dairy = major greenhouse gases. Cow

You may not think the food you eat can affect the air you breathe or the water you drink, but it does. According to Worldwatch Institute, more than 50% of greenhouse gases are generated by the meat and dairy industries!

What can you do? Consider reducing the amount of meat in your diet. Meatless Monday is a growing sensation advocating skipping meat just one day a week to reduce your environmental impact.

You might also end up introducing some delicious new fruits and veggies into your diet — check out an excellent curried eggplant recipe! Worried that kids won’t go for it? More than 80,000 Baltimore students now go meatless every Monday, and Baltimore County Public Schools plan on building community gardens at each of their public schools.

If you don’t want to or can’t give up meat one day a week, you have other options. Buy meat from your local butcher or at a nearby farmer’s market. The meat goes through less processing, doesn’t require Styrofoam packaging, and barely travels to get to you.

Our friends at the Center for a New American Dream also have excellent online resources that help you “cater to the Earth” by making smart decisions when buying food. They work to help Americans consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and promote social justice. Taking care of the planet can be delicious!

Take our Green Quiz Challenge!

Baby, it’s cold outside! As your family migrates indoors for the winter, you want to keep them happy and warm. But not everyone properly prepares their home for the coldest season, often forgetting to use weather-stripping, remove air conditioning window-units, or neglect to put draft guards down.

So how much of your home’s heat can escape through gaps in windows and doors? If you know the answer, take our quiz and you could win an eco-friendly prize!

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