Category Archives: Environmental Pollution

How Eating Meat Can Save the Planet

Meat production is said to create a staggering 18 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.

But in a new book being released in February 2011, Meat: A Benign Extravagance, Simon Fairlie claims that eating moderate amounts of meat could be greener than going vegan.

Fairlie argues that every agricultural system produces hard-to-use biomass that is best fed to livestock, and that animals kept on small farms also fend off predators and pests and fertilize the soil.

However, Fairlie tells Time magazine that:

“… [O]f course, it is not what we eat individually — it is what we eat as a whole society that has the impact on the environment. Some vegans may continue their vegan ways. I’m arguing for meat in moderation, not to eradicate meat entirely, nor to overconsume it.”


Source:
Time Magazine October 12, 2010

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232 Toxic Chemicals found in 10 Babies

Laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group have detected bisphenol A (BPA), a plastic component and synthetic estrogen, in umbilical cord blood of American infants.
Nine of 10 randomly selected samples of cord blood tested positive for BPA, an industrial petrochemical.

baby-bottle

BPA has been implicated in a lengthening list of serious chronic disorders, including cancer, cognitive and behavioral impairments, endocrine system disruption, reproductive and cardiovascular system abnormalities, diabetes, asthma and obesity.

In all, the tests found as many as 232 chemicals in the 10 newborns, all of minority descent. The cord blood study has produced hard new evidence that American children are being exposed, beginning in the womb, to complex mixtures of dangerous substances that may have lifelong consequences.

And in a separate study, researchers found that complications of pregnancy, such as preterm labor, preterm birth, and infection were lowest in women with the highest vitamin D levels.

Blood levels of activated vitamin D usually rise during very early pregnancy, and some of it crosses the placenta to bathe the fetus, especially the developing fetal brain, in activated vitamin D. But many — in fact most — pregnant women do not make as much vitamin D as they need.

4,000 IU of vitamin D per day during pregnancy was found to be safe (not a single adverse event). However, this amount only resulted in a mean vitamin D blood level of 27 ng/ml in the newborn infants, indicating that even 4,000 IU per day during pregnancy is not enough.


Resources:

Mothering December 9, 2009
Environmental Working Group
New Research Findings Two December 3, 2009
National Institutes of Health

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Reduce Your Trash & Save The Earth

Are you worried that you’re hurting the environment by producing too much trash? Here are some methods you could use to cut it down:-

1. No soda in cans
2. No water in plastic bottles
3. No coffee in disposable cups
4. No throwaway plastic razors and blade cartridges
5. Using non-disposable feminine-hygiene products that aren’t bad for women and are good for the planet
6. No Indian food in throwaway takeout tubs
7. No Italian food in plastic throwaway tubs
8. No Chinese food in plastic throwaway tubs
9. Taking your own reusable containers to takeout joints
10. Buying milk in returnable, reusable glass bottles
11. Shopping for honey and pickled veggies and other goods in jars only from merchants who will take back the jars and reuse them
12. Returning egg and berry cartons to the vendors at the farmers’ market for reuse
13. Using neither paper nor plastic bags and bringing your own reusable bags when grocery shopping
14. Canceling our magazine and newspaper subscriptions and reading online
15. Putting an end to the junk mail tree killing
16. Carrying a reusable cup and water bottle
17. Carrying reusable cloths for everything from blowing your nose to drying your hands
18. Politely asking restaurant servers to take away paper and plastic napkins, placemats, straws, cups and single-serving containers
19. Pretending McDonalds and Burger King and all their paper and plastic wrappers just don’t exist
20. Buying no candy bars, gum, lollypops or ice cream that is individually packaged
21. Making your own household cleaners to avoid all the throwaway plastic bottles
22. Using baking soda from a recyclable container to brush your teeth
23. Using baking soda for a deodorant to avoid the plastic containers that deodorant typically comes in
24. Using baking soda for shampoo to avoid plastic shampoo bottles
25. Keeping a worm bin to compost food scraps into nourishment that can be returned to the earth instead of toxins that seep from the landfills
26. Switching to cloth diapers
27. Not buying anything disposable
28. Not buying anything in packaging
29. Shopping for food only from the bulk bins and from the local farmer’s market where food is unpackaged and fresh
30. Forgetting about prepackaged, processed food of any description
31. Giving your second-hand clothes away to charities
32. Offering products you no longer need on Freecycle instead of throwing them away
33. Using old clothes for rags around the apartment instead of paper towels

Sources No Impact Man July 18, 2007

Related Links:

Get Rid of Your Trash and Save the Earth

Bag Wars — Paper vs Plastic: The Real Truth

Our Oceans are Turning Into Plastic

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Tulsi to The Envournmental Rescue

….TULSI->.
Will This Wonderful Herb Save the Taj Mahal From Environmental Pollution?

Tulsi, commonly called “sacred” or “holy basil,” is a principle herb of Ayurveda, India‘s ancient holistic health system. In India, the Tulsi herb has been widely known for its health-promoting properties — for body, mind, and spirit — for over 5,000 years.

What is Tulsi?
In India the Tulsi herb is worshipped as a sacred plant. It is a part of Indian households, typically grown in earthen pots in the family home or garden. It is also an important part of India’s holistic health system and because of its potential health benefits, it has been for centuries.

Tulsi is rich in antioxidants and contains hundreds of beneficial compounds known as phytochemicals. These compounds possess potential adaptogenic properties, which means they may help your body adapt to and resist stress, as well as immune-enhancing properties that may help promote your general health.

It’s because of these numerous and wide-ranging benefits that I now recommend Tulsi tea as a delicious and healthy alternative to coffee. But there was something else that really drew me to one company in particular, Organic India.

This company, which manufactures Original Tulsi Tea Mix and Holy Basil Capsules, is committed to helping preserve and enrich the environment, and their latest endeavor with the Taj Mahal is evidence of that.

How Can Tulsi Help the Taj Mahal?
The Taj Mahal, the 17th century monument that is now revered as the finest example of Muslim art in India, is being constantly bombarded by air pollution. In fact, its white marble walls are now turning yellow, the result of airborne particles that are being deposited there.[A]

Among the main culprits are automobiles and industry, which release high levels of sulfur dioxide emissions. When sulfur dioxide combines with oxygen and moisture, it contributes to a destructive fungus referred to as “marble cancer,” which corrodes the marble.

Now, a joint exercise being undertaken by the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and Organic India will plant 1 million Tulsi saplings near the Taj Mahal in an effort to protect it from this environmental pollution.

Why Tulsi?
Organic India’s CEO Krishan Gupta explains:
“It is one of the best plants which purifies the environment. Its cleansing action is due to its property to release high amounts of oxygen, which minimizes the adverse impact of industrial and refinery emission.”

Organic India has committed to providing 1 million Tulsi saplings to plant near the Taj Mahal and in the surrounding city, this year.

Already, saplings have been distributed free of charge in the city by forest officials, and local people and schools were encouraged to participate in the plantation drive.

This is just the type of solution I like most: simple and natural, yet extremely effective and powerful.

Forest officials believe Tulsi will be able to absorb harmful gasses from the air and serve to insulate the area from environmental pollution. Plus, because Tulsi has such esteemed religious significance in India, they are confident that people in the area will care for the plants.

You may click to know more about Organic India

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:

Reuters.com May 15, 2007
Unesco.org July 2000
Decan Herald February 4, 2009

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Seaweed Can Take On Warming

BALI: Slimy, green and unsightly, seaweed and algae are among the humblest plants on earth. A group of scientists at a climate conference in Bali say they could also be a potent weapon against global warming, capable of sucking damaging carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere at rates comparable to the mightiest rain forests.

“The ocean’s role is neglected because we can’t see the vegetation,” said Chung Ik-kyo, a South Korean environmental scientist. “But under the sea, there is a lot of seaweed and sea grass that can take up carbon dioxide.”

The seaweed research, backed by scientists in 12 countries, is part of a broad effort to calculate how much carbon is being absorbed from the atmosphere by plants, and figure out ways to increase that through reforestation and other steps. Such so-called “carbon sinks” are considered essential to controlling greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere and are blamed for global warming.

The conference in Bali is aimed at launching two-year negotiations for a new global warming pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012, and using the earth’s natural resources to remove carbon from the air is a major topic of discussion.

While the lion’s share of attention to carbon sinks has been on forests, the seaweed scientists say the world should look to the sea, where nearly 8 million tons of seaweed and algae are cultivated every year.

Sources: The Times Of India

Termites to the Rescue

White ants could offer a solution to the problems of global warming. T.V. Jayan reports

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It is one of the most destructive species ever known. It can turn houses to dust in a very short time and chomp its way through huge quantities of wood or paper at a frightening speed, posing an enormous threat to homes and offices. But although the termite problem causes billions of dollars in damage every year, the tiny insects — also called white ants — may actually help find a solution to a major problem mankind faces today — climate change.

Even as thousands of climate scientists and policy hawks from all over the world meet for yet another biennial jamboree on the beautiful island of Bali, trying to figure out better ways of cutting the emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that heat up the earth, microbiologists working on termites — collected from the evergreen rain forests of Costa Rica — offer a glimmer of hope. The way to a greener biofuel future is through the tummy of termites, they claim in a recent issue of Nature.

The work, spearheaded by researchers at the California-based Joint Genome Institute — part of the US Department of Energy — reveals the remarkable metabolic machinery that helps termites digest hardy plant materials with amazing efficiency.

Termites can devour wood because their bellies harbour more than 200 unique microbes whose concerted action helps break down the stuff. This consortium of microbes works in tandem with chemicals generated in their gut to produce an ensemble of enzymes that are so far the most efficient biochemical means to digest wood.

If scientists can crack the genetic code and synthesise these novel enzymes on an industrial scale, it would make for one of the best available methods to efficiently convert wood or waste biomass into valuable biofuels.

A United Nations Development Programme report released last week touted biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel as a viable energy option to mitigate the threat of climate change because, unlike fossil fuels like petroleum, they are carbon neutral. Carbon dioxide, released into the atmosphere by biofuel burning, is of recent origin and is hence part of the ongoing carbon cycle. Using fossil fuels, on the other hand, releases carbon dioxide that has been sequestered for millions of years as oil or coal, adding to the carbon dioxide build up in the atmosphere.

The rain forests of Costa Rica are a well known hotbed of biodiversity for termites. The “higher” termites that the scientists chose, to further the frontiers of science, belong to the genus Nasutitermes.

While termites have been the subject of keen scientific study for more than a century, the precise identity and role of the microbes in their digestive tract remained a mystery. The current work, a collaborative effort among scientists from the US, Costa Rica and Germany, is the first to throw light on the symbiotic orchestration that goes on in the belly of white ants.

Termites eat wood, but they can’t extract energy from the complex lignocellulose polymers within it. These polymers are broken down into simple sugars by fermenting bacteria in their gut, using enzymes that produce hydrogen as a byproduct. A second wave of bacteria uses the simple sugars and hydrogen to make the acetate the termites require for energy.

Another remarkable finding was that like cows, termites too have a series of stomachs, each home to a distinct community of microbes that have specifically assigned jobs along the conversion pathway of woody polymers to sugars. The real work is carried out in the rear portion of the gut, where the enzymatic juices exuded by the bacteria attack and break down cellulose and hemicellulose which along with lignin form the basic building blocks of wood.

Subsequently, the scientists extracted and purified the contents of the third paunch, or hindgut, of more than 150 worker termites, mapping the extract to ascertain their genetic content.

“Our analysis revealed that the hindgut is dominated by two major bacterial lineages — treponemes and fibrobacters,” said Philip Hugenholtz, who heads JGI’s microbial ecology research. While it was earlier known that treponemes exist in the termite gut, fibrobacters were an exciting new find, he remarked. Their relatives found in the cow rumen are excellent in degrading cellulose.

While experts feel that cellulose can be an excellent raw material for producing energy, as it is theoretically a great source of hydrogen, extracting hydrogen — the cleanest possible fuel — is difficult because it requires a huge amount of energy and money.

But termites do the job exceedingly well, without using harsh chemicals or excess heat, thanks to their microbial guests. Theoretically speaking, termites can convert a sheet of A4 paper into two litres of hydrogen, said Andreas Brune, a biogeochemist at Germany’s Max Plank Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg. Cranking up such a large amount of hydrogen from a cellulose source (the main content of paper is cellulose) calls for unbelievably high efficiency. As a result, termites are often referred to as one of the most efficient bioreactors in Nature.

Figuring out which enzymes are used to create hydrogen and which genes produce them is the first step towards developing a process that can help generate hydrogen commercially from biomass.

“To get there, we must first define the set of genes with functional attributes for the breakdown of cellulose. This study represents an essential step along that path,” said Edward Rubin, JGI director.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

25 Resources to Help You Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse Plastic Bags

In case you did not already realize it, the one trillion plastic grocery bags used worldwide every year are becoming a serious drain on the environment.

21st Century Citizen
has compiled a great list of the Top 25 resources to help you reduce, recycle, or reuse all those plastic bags you carry home from your grocery store.

Their list includes creative gems like:

  • Where to find a recycling location near you, in case your local grocery does not offer a recycling bin

  • Sites that sell reusable shopping totes

  • Creative ideas for reusing plastic bags for other things around your house

  • Novel classroom projects for teachers

  • Patterns for turning plastic bags into reusable items such as hefty tote bags and all-weather rugs

With so many options, there’s bound to be a solution that works for you, reducing your environmental impact, and saving you money in the process! For the full list, check out the source link below.

Sources: 21st Century Citizen

Diesel pollution could harm heart

NEW YORK: A study by US researchers suggests that diesel fumes appear to raise the risk of heart disease in people with high cholesterol.

The researchers combined the pollutants and fats and cultured them with cells taken from the inner lining of human blood vessels. A few hours later, they extracted DNA from the cells for genetic analysis.

They showed that the genes that promote cellular inflammation had been activated, reported the online edition of the BBC news.

Next, they exposed mice with high cholesterol to the diesel particles and saw that some of the same genes were activated in the animals’ tissue.

The scientists, however, said they could not understand exactly how air pollutants cause cardiovascular injury.

“But we do know that these particles are coated with chemicals that damage tissue and cause inflammation of the nose and lungs” University of California, Los Angeles researcher André Nel said.

“Vascular inflammation in turn leads to cholesterol deposits and clogged arteries, which can give rise to blood clots that trigger heart attack or stroke,” Nel added.

Scientists said that the damaging particles in diesel fumes and the cholesterol act in combination to switch on genes that cause potentially dangerous inflammation of the blood vessels.

Their combination creates a dangerous synergy that wreaks cardiovascular havoc far beyond what’s caused by the diesel or cholesterol alone.

Source: The Times Of India

WHO warns on global warming!

KUALA LUMPUR: The World Health Organisation warned that global policy makers must act quickly to address the critical problem of global warming, or face serious health and economic consequences.

Shigeru Omi, WHO’s regional director for the Western Pacific region, said the current crisis was masked by the fact that global warming issues did not present as much a tangible problem to many governments, as compared to immediate health problems such as communicable diseases.

However, he warned that the international community needed to take the issues seriously to avert what would be definite health implications caused by global warming.

“For environmental issues, if you wait for the crash to happen, it’s already too late.

“We know it is just a matter of time, and unless we take measures disaster will come,” Omi said.

“So far, it’s already causing health issues, but if this trend continues, it will upset the economies of the world,” he said.

“We should not wait for that to happen.”

Earlier, Omi told delegates that climate change has been responsible for adversely affecting the health and lives of populations across Asia, from destruction of crops to increasing rate of diseases.

“Increasing temperatures are among the variables that affect malaria and the disease is emerging in places where it did not exist before,” he said in his opening speech.

Omi cited that in Singapore, the annual temperature rose by 1.5 degrees centigrade in 20 years. In the corresponding times, the number of the mosquito-borne dengue fever cases increased more than 10-fold from 384 in 1978 to 5,258 in 1998.

The WHO had released a statement last week saying that an estimated 77,000 deaths are recorded annually in the Asia-Pacific region due to health problems arising from global warming.

The health agency also estimates that about one quarter of the global burden of disease is due to modifiable environmental factors including climate change.

“The global community has become more and more aware of the environmental issues,” said Omi.

“Certainly, the level is higher than say three years ago.

“But a lot more political will is needed. Now is the time to give more attention and focus to global warming issues,” he told reporters.

More than 60 health experts have gathered in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the effects of increasing global temperatures. Key findings of the workshop would be shared at a ministerial meeting in Bangkok on August 8 and 9.

Source:The Timers Of India

Global warming claims 77,000 lives

KUALA LUMPUR: The World Health Organization said Thursday that an estimated 77,000 deaths are recorded annually in the Asia-Pacific region due to health problems arising from global warming.

The statement by the world health body comes ahead of next week’s meeting of international health experts from 14 different nations at Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur to discuss the effects of increasing global temperatures.

“We have now reached a critical stage in which global warming has already seriously impacted lives and health, and this problem will pose an even greater threat to mankind in coming decades if we fail to act now,” Shigeru Omi, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Among the potential effects of global warming would be the appearance of mosquitoes in areas where they were previously absent, with the accompanying threat of malaria and dengue fever.

The conference will also reveal that some regions might be at risk of reduced rainfall, causing a shortage of fresh water and introducing the danger of waterborne diseases.

Millions of people could be at risk of malnutrition and hunger if arable lands become unworkable, the statement warned.

Delegates at the four-day conference will also be told that the increasing frequency of summer heat waves in temperate zones, and typhoons, hurricanes and floods throughout the world are signs of changing weather and climate patterns.

Key findings from this workshop will be shared at a ministerial meeting in Bangkok on August 8 and 9, which will be attended by ministers of health and environment from 14 countries in the Southeast and East Asia regions.

Source:The Times Of India