Earth Hour activities to participate in Dubai, Dare to go Green – 2012

Earth Hour is back this year, which means. It’s lights out for the UAE come March 31, as residents unite in a global cause to combat climate change.

This year, Earth Hour will again witness landmarks across UAE, including the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and Al Qasbah in Sharjah, as they plunge into darkness for one hour in support of the world’s largest environmental event in history.

However, the 2012 initiative will not just request a one-hour conservation pledge, but hopefully aims to target residents at the grassroots level by hosting a number of public events and social media campaigns to target the society at large to participate in the most essential cause.

“Earth Hour is not about turning off your lights for one hour, but an opportunity for all of us to reflect on how our everyday actions impact our environment”

So whats happening in Dubai

Candlelight march at Burj Park Downtown

Organised by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) and held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, families and friends are welcome to light the way for a better tomorrow as they bear witness to the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, switching off its lights for one hour to commemorate Earth Hour.

The walk will commence from the Burj Plaza towards Burj Park. The event starts from 5pm, while the candlelight march will begin at 8:30pm.

Light up a lamp at Dubai Internet City

Canon Middle East is inviting environmentalists and those who love Mother Earth to join them in this global initiative as its employees and their families gather outside the office building in Dubai Internet City with lamps as a sign of solidarity for Earth Hour and to make a pledge that they will take long term actions towards environmental conservation.

Additionally, Canon has also announced a public photo competition entitled “My Earth, My Lens, where people will be required to take a photograph that best symbolises what the environment means to them.

Photographs could range from images of the ocean to pictures of gardens, and will need to be accompanied by a photo caption that best captures the essence of the image.

If you are at Abu Dhabi

Drumming on the Corniche

The ongoing Abu Dhabi Festival is inviting residents in the capital to join millions of people around the world in celebrating the annual Earth Hour. Abu Dhabi will celebrate the evening with a drumming spectacular on the Corniche aiming to spread the important message of environmental awareness to passers-by.

The event kicks off from 7pm until 9.30pm at the Sahil Al Maydan Corniche in Abu Dhabi.

Cycle to save the Earth

For the second year in a row, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi plans to go beyond 60 minutes by generating 24 hours of clean, renewable green energy through cycling to further support the biggest climate awareness campaign from the World Wildlife Foundation.

From 10.30am on Saturday, March 31 until 10.30am Sunday April 1, the lobby of the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr will be outfitted with stationary bicycles.

With the use of dynamo technology and a full 24 hours of cycling shared amongst residents in the community, guests and hotel colleague participants, this “pedal power” will activate an LED lighting structure, fashioned after the property’s iconic facade, with symmetrical LED lights designed to reflect the water patterns of the Abu Dhabi Creek.

Sharjah and Northern Emirates

Family fun day

In Sharjah, a family event is being planned in Al Majaz Park by the Environment and Protected Areas of Sharjah.

Residents can participate in a host of activities including environmental competitions and a musical performance. The event starts from 6pm.

Music for the soul

In Ras Al Khaimah, the emirate’s tourism development authority has partnered with Al Manar Mall to invite the residents to join a public gathering with an acoustic performance by Fusion Again music band. The performance will start at 8:30pm.

Light the way

In Fujairah, a low-key event will take place in front of the municipality building, with candles and floating lanterns to mark Earth Hour. The event will start at 8:30 pm.

On Social Media 

There is another massive campaign online for Earth Hour is taking place which is more interesting than the offline campaigns and something that encourages people to work on the grass roots level. I will if you will. Check out 2 of my fav RJ’s on radio Catboy and Georgdie Bird on this one. The concept is simple: inspire others by challenging them to commit to an environtmental action in exchange for a dare.

Some more Dare’s below:

Check out more challenges and dares here.

Prediction : Future Phones will not come with chargers

The other day I was out of charge on my phone which is a rare thing considering that I got a new Galaxy Nexus (Yes I will post a review) which is not only energy efficient but by far the best battery I have seen on a portable device taking the phone to nearly 2 days of talking and wifi without the need of charging. Back to where I was,  the need for a charger was large and the charger was no where in sight, shopped around in the office and found a blackberry charger that well fit the phone very well. This got me thinking, well why don’t all manufacturers come up with some universal standard for the charger if required. At all other times they can use alternative means built into the phone itself. I have been writing about some of these here on the blog before. Lets see whats available.

First off the Charger itself 

The mini USB is pretty much a standard charger at the moment for a lot of phones, my Blackberry, the Nexus One and now the Galaxy Nexus all seem to love it. But move Blackberry models and phones, you will quickly see that its not enough its just another in the large market for charger pins. In fact when I got this car charger from Merlin in Dubai, looked like there are a lot more than just the mini USB in the market.

Add the ever popular iPhone and the other Galaxy smartphones and the chargers change. I am not sure if the mini USB is the best standard, but considering that most people seem to have one lying around these days, looks like this could be a good standard to follow.

Getting to the Chargers built in with the phone 

First getting through the familier, here is a list of some you can read within the blog:

Indian Innovation : Wind Powered Helmet mounted Cell phone charger

Indian Innovation : Hand Powered Mobile Phones 

Thermoelectric boots charge your mobile phone

Charging phone from the movement of the owners

Charging Phones with residual energy from airwaves

Charging phones with body heat

Some more from other blogs that can fill up the gap with more innovations

Nokia Bicycle charging kit 

Some Eco friendly charging options (must see) 

Juicebox, the charging platform available in public places

Another Charger using movement of phones 

Mobile phones charged by the power of speech

Wind-powered mobile phone charger

Mobile phones in developing nations could charge up using dirt

Sound Charge t-shirt tops up mobile devices using sound

Solar powered tie charges your mobile phone

Piezoelectric generator creates power from shoes

Interestingly a lot of these were invented by Nokia in an attempt to make the lives of all better, but the lack of good software (ahem .. Android) has kind of made it difficult for Nokia to make it big in the market, we might be able to see some of these innovations in the Mobile Phones running Windows Mobile. Keeping fingers crossed to see the Lumia 900 with one of these built in.

From notifications that require attention of the users towards energy saving and other power saving tips to alerts when Phone batteries are fully charged, the chargers require an upgrade if possible to go with apps that are coming up on phones to do the same on the software side. All in all it seems like a really required innovation that the manufacturers are keeping away from the consumers, even though it seems like they have most of these figured out. Well only time will tell if these innovations will get lost or really get implemented into future phones. Are you listening Google, Apple and ofcourse Nokia.

Food waste in India the extremes – Blog Action Day

Today is blog action day, and world over thousands of bloggers like myself (although I dont think I am a serious blogger yet) are talking about a common issue. Since 2007, Blog Action Day has focused bloggers around the world to blog about one important global topic on the same day. Past topics have included water, climate change and poverty. This year, Blog Action Day will be held on October 16, which coincides with World Food Day, so naturally our 2011 theme is FOOD.

Here is a video put together by One.org on the issue of Famine and Food. As visible this campaign requires attention from all of us, from the celebrities to the nobodies.

FOOD is something we need to talk about in the near future, as more people are moving away from agriculture to cities in search of lucrative job options, the food crisis is going to get worse. And the situation is not any different in India. India is a country of extremes, there are cities where there are people starving and on the other we have lavish weddings where food is wasted, along with the aping spanish festival of la Tomatina. The worse of these is definitely the rotting of food in the warehouses of the government where food is stored for transportation.

A 2007 estimate from the ministry of food processing says a whopping Rs 58,000 crore (Rs 580 billion) worth of agriculture food items get wasted in the country every year. Private consulting firm Rabo India Finance had prepared the food wastage report and presented it to the ministry. Quoting from the report, Minister of State for Food Processing then, Subodh Kant Sahai told the Parliament that the fact that such a huge quantity of food items goes as waste in the country is an eye-opener for every Indian.

The report said the food wastage is mainly due to lack of post-harvest infrastructure such as cold chain facilities, transportation and proper storage facilities, etc. He said the loss due to wastages could be reduced by a developed food processing industry, strengthening of the post- harvest infrastructure and filling the gaps in the supply chain. The government, through its schemes for financial assistance for development of food processing industry and other promotional measures, plays a proactive and facilitating role for overall development of food processing sector in the country. Sahai said with huge potential of retail driven demand, many retail giants including foreign companies have shown growing interest in Indian agri and processed food products. But has anything changed ?? Not really.

A latest report (as late as May 2011) on the subject by Macroscan suggests that nearly 40% of the food we produce especially vegetables and fruits are lost in post-harvest losses in India and has been held up as the most compelling reason to permit a flood of investment in the new sector of agricultural logistics, to allow the creation of huge food processing zones, and to link all these to retail food structures in urban markets. The urban orientation of such an approach ignores the integrated and organic farming approach, as it does the evidence that sophistication in food processing has not in the West prevented food loss or waste.

All however is not lost, there are individuals that are helping make a change. Using wasted food from pompous weddings and other places, a firm called BIOTECH has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Kerala, Southern India and saved several tonnes of CO2 per year simply by converting waste to bio fuel. They were provided with the prestigious Ashten Award for Sustainability as well.

Their success is all down to their biogas digester. Designed to be easily installed, it comes in different sizes to process not only home waste but also market and municipal waste. Digestion produces biogas which in turn reduces reliance on more expensive and harder to access LPG. BIOTECH has calculated that the average family can pay back the cost of the digester in three years. They also facilitate the government subsidies which may cover part of the installation costs. By 2009 they had installed 16,000 plants in total.

BIOTECH is a burgeoning organisation. It has tripled in size since 2006 and now employs over 140 people with a wider network of installers. It continues to refine and expand the digester model and to spread the word across the country. Unsurprisingly demand is growing. After all, here is a product that works.

Now are we just going to read this post and think about the food problem or are we going to take an action. Action could be anything from sharing this post for people to read to signing a petition with the government to privatize the warehousing of food or even getting one of these Bio Gas converters for yourself. We need to take action some way anyway possible.

 

Wordless Thursday – Small things, Large Impact

Back again this week with Wordless Thursday, the feature that posts interesting infographics, which you guys love so much. Introducing this week’s Infographic is a pleasure to me, this is because I know and believe that these small things do really cause a large environmental impact. And with the environmental impact being positive we can hopefully offset some of the harming activities that we all so normally ignore. Like they say every watt saved, is a watt generated. Add to it the financial impact.

Wordless Thursday – Coffee vs Tea

The eternal debate is back, between coffee and tea. Which one is better for you and which one you should be drinking, if world wide sales are anything to go by, Tea seems to have a bit of a head start when it comes to consumption. I think its to do with Asians drinking Tea, and the westerners drinking coffee. However South India has more of a coffee culture than the west.

For the new ones on this blog, Wordless Thursday is my attempt of bringing teh Inquisitive world around us into the forefront in the form of Inquisitive Infographic. Although I do not create all the infographics, I still think they are worth sharing.

How gullible are we ? Ban DiHydrogen Monoxide.

I was browsing the blogosphere and stumbled across a very interesting article today, Dihydrogen Monoxide. Its ridiculous, there is abundance of this deadly chemical in the world, and I would really like to warn you about this chemical. So much so that I am willing to add more information about this chemical so that you all can make your judgement yourself. We see this chemical all around us, and although the governments dont want to tell s the truth about this chemical, I will attempt to. Even if most of the larger blogs do not want to talk about this really dangerous chemical. Please spread awareness about this chemical so that we can save our precious resources.

Below is a description done by a research student in his paper.

Dihydrogen monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and kills uncounted thousands of people every year. Most of these deaths are caused by accidental inhalation of DHMO, but the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. Symptoms of DHMO ingestion can include excessive sweating and urination, and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting and body electrolyte imbalance. For those who have become dependent, DHMO withdrawal means certain death.

Dihydrogen monoxide:

  • is also known as hydroxl acid, and is the major component of acid rain.
  • contributes to the “greenhouse effect.”
  • may cause severe burns.
  • contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
  • accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.
  • may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes.
  • has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.

Contamination is reaching epidemic proportions!

Quantities of dihydrogen monoxide have been found in almost every stream, lake, and reservoir in America today. But the pollution is global, and the contaminant has even been found in Antarctic ice. DHMO has caused millions of dollars of property damage in the midwest, and recently California and Japan.

Despite the danger, dihydrogen monoxide is often used:

  • as an industrial solvent and coolant.
  • in nuclear power plants.
  • in the production of styrofoam.
  • as a fire retardant.
  • in many forms of cruel animal research.
  • in the distribution of pesticides. Even after washing, produce remains contaminated by this chemical.
  • as an additive in certain “junk-foods” and other food products.

Companies dump waste DHMO into rivers and the ocean, and nothing can be done to stop them because this practice is still legal. The impact on wildlife is extreme, and we cannot afford to ignore it any longer!

The American government has refused to ban the production, distribution, or use of this damaging chemical due to its “importance to the economic health of this nation.” In fact, the navy and other military organizations are conducting experiments with DHMO, and designing multi-billion dollar devices to control and utilize it during warfare situations. Hundreds of military research facilities receive tons of it through a highly sophisticated underground distribution network. Many store large quantities for later use.

Unbelievable isn’t it ? What if I told you to read the name again, dihydrogen monoxide :

DiHydrogen = Hydrogen x 2 and
Monoxide = Oxyden x 1

More commonly known as H2O or our beloved water.

Well I was not lying after all, if you go back and read the research paper you will see that most of the statements are applicable to water. In  is enough to fool the best of us, In fact, In September 2007, news media reported that a New Zealand MP was tricked by a letter from a constituent asking her to raise the issue of “dihydrogen monoxide” (DHMO). Obviously the letter went to his experts who confirmed that the substance cannot be banned as “withdrawal effects of DHMO are even worse”.

This example does aptly demonstrate the kind of fallacious reasoning that’s thrust at us every day under the guise of “important information”: how with a little effort, even the most innocuous of substances can be made to sound like a dangerous threat to human life. Moreover, you cannot really take everything you read in the papers seriously, Indian Media is making sure that things like this are taken to a limit of journalism, making news of anything they can get to steal some air time of the viewers.

I guess this one will end up being a public service announcement, research the things you read and see. if you think the above article is not really there, well there is proof on Snopes.com, you can see here.

The Earthquake, Tsunami and how the world has changed

First of all, my heart felt condolences to all those who have lost lives and property in the earthquake that just happened in Japan today. It is considered the 5th largest one since 1900, from when we started keeping serious track of these earth quakes. This time however, the effect of something like the world’s 5th largest earthquake is not bringing in as much news of destruction and loss. Its an absolutely fantastic thing to happen, so what has changed ? A few years ago if there would have been an event like this one in a place like Japan, where cities have some of the highest density of people on the planet, there would be more loss of life and property.

What has had an impact is the engineering and the government codes and standards. These are the unsung heroes of Japan, who might or might not be recognized in the near future, but should be. Having spend the last 7 years in the building industry, I know how incredibly difficult it gets sometimes for engineers and architects to keep with the budgets, while maintaining budgets. Japanese architects and engineers have since mastered the art, with the infamous Japanese Engineering. Like testing entire building strengths for Earthquake proofing, or designs like the door above that works as a shield in terms of an earthquake.

Apart from the fact that the building codes and standards are helping with the incident, the other part is the way the digital world has evolved, from providing up to date information on the quake on Twitter right up until, videos on YouTube and Facebook. Videos Like these below have been showing up on Youtube and Facebook at the rate of  hundreds per hour.

But the real power of Social Media was not really shown by Twitter or Facebook, but the miracle of Social Media happened when Google showed up to help.

Unlike companies who are providing condolences on their website, Google has reacted to the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan with a tool that helps you find a person or provide information on missing persons. The site also aggregates important resources, maps and other related information.

Google has previously used the Person Finder tool. The Japan earthquake version of the tool currently lists about 5,500 records, but the number is rising quickly as news about the catastrophe spreads around the world. Although the tool can be useful for finding information about a friend or a loved one, Google warns users that it doesn’t review or verify the accuracy of the data.

Google’s Crisis Center also shows a map of the earthquake, the latest related news and lists link to warning centers, disaster bulletin boards, and train and blackout information. Another example of why I love Google, and how a complete City Wide Data Management can be achieved through some of Google’s tools.

Driverless Cars from Google

Yes you heard that right, Driver less cars are here, and guess who is working on them ? Its all of our beloved Google. Yes, Google has retro fitted a Toyota Prius to be the latest in the field of Car technologies. Autonomous Driving cars, used as part of their Street View program are going to ensure that the future that was dreamt for us, with automatic cars that drive themselves might just be a reality. Remember iRobot ?? Of course we are not quite there yet, but its a start. So before you asking questions in your head of why and How, I think you should read further.

First of all, what does this car look like ?? yes I have got a picture to picture the car as we look further into why and how are they making it possible.

The Why ?  – My Analogy

If there would be one company that stands by its motto of doing no evil, arguably I will say Google. I know there are many out there who would start talking about privacy concerns and the rest, but with Facebook around privacy is no where close to be the same as it was. So leaving the online role aside Google’s continued attempt at working out solutions in new and emerging markets is something of an astonishment. I am sure that there is no other organization around who tries to give back so much. If we do look, you will know people hate Google for not just privacy :) Here is a funny video that would throw some light :)

Getting back to the topic, with a view of giving back and in order to optimize fuel usage and space on the streets of the world, Google’s venture into autonomous cars, is a welcome breadth of fresh air, in the sales driven cars market.

As of 2010, Google has tested several vehicles equipped with the system, driving 1,000 miles (1,600 km) without any human intervention, in addition to 140,000 miles (230,000 km) with occasional human intervention, the only accident occurring when one of the cars was rear-ended while stopped at a red light. Google anticipates that the increased accuracy of its automated driving system could help reduce the number of traffic-related injuries and deaths, while using energy and space on roadways more efficiently.

The How ?

The modified cars’ most noticeable feature is a rotating sensor on the roof that scans 360 degrees for more than 200 feet in diameter, creating a 3D map of the car’s location. A sensor on the left rear wheel measures the car’s movements in detail and helps locate it on the map. A video camera on the windshield near the rearview mirror finds pedestrians, bicyclists, traffic lights and obstacles in the rod and sends that data to the car’s onboard computer. Radar sensors at front and back help locate more distant objects. A GPS receiver, a laser range finder and an inertial motion sensor complete the package.

There are a few videos that have started creeping up on youtube and the likes of the Google Automated Cars driving, like these below.

What’s the Google angle? Not surprisingly, the cars relate back to Google data centers to process the information the cars gather and need to use. Google says its goal, though, is “to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use.”

Google also says it has a “trained safety driver” behind the wheel at all times and a “trained software operator” in the passenger seat — and that the local police have been “briefed…on our work.” Read the information from the Horses mouth, here on the Google Blog.

Unlike a lot of people, I like driving. I’m sure there are others out there too who like driving, but a majority of people seem too busy to be bothered to enjoy the experience. Then again, I don’t have a hectic daily commute and I don’t deal with traffic very often. I worry that one day, driving a car yourself might actually be outlawed and driverless cars will be law, rather than an option. Getting these cars off the ground also will pose a problem, many people will have their own misgivings about trusting a car to deliver them safely to their destination, and manual override systems will be a must. There is also the cost; while Google hasn’t said what all this technology costs, I know it wasn’t cheap. It would probably be cheaper to just hire a chauffeur instead.

All that aside… the future is now, people. Driverless cars are possible within our lifetime, and we may one day find ourselves sitting shotgun as the computer takes us to work.

Wordless Thursday – Honey Bees Extinction

Hi again, and back to this week’s wordless Thursday. For those of you who don’t know about it, it is something unique to this blog. Most blogs have wordless Wednesday’s where is they post photographs that they have taken. Since I have a separate Photo-blog running, I thought it would be more interesting to have an infographic showcase, wordless Thursday.

This week’s Wordless Thursday looks at dangerous evidence that honeybees are in terminal decline. If you have seen the animated movie Bee Movie, you will know what the outcome of not having bees around is.

Artificial Raindrops keep falling on my head !

It’s been a really cloudy day today around Dubai, with showers in parts of the city. Will stop sounding like a weatherman on the radio and get to the point. The point that I am trying to make is that the rain that is currently expected in Dubai may or may not be created naturally. Is that even possible you ask ?? Of course it is. The process is called Cloud Seeding and people have been trying it in India from years. What is really concerning is not the current sort of expected rain for this time of the year, the issue is a bit more larger.

Apparently the Abu Dhabi government has been asking their scientists to experiment with cloud seeding during the summer months. And believe you me, the experiments are working. Fifty rainstorms were created last year in the state’s eastern Al Ain region using technology designed to control the weather. Most of the storms were at the height of the summer in July and August when there is  no rain at all. The scientists have been working secretly for United Arab Emirates president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. They have been using giant ionisers, shaped like stripped down lampshades on steel poles, to generate fields of negatively charged particles. These promote cloud formation and researchers hoped they could then produce rain. In a confidential company video, the founder of the Swiss company in charge of the project, Metro Systems International, boasted of success. Helmut Fluhrer said: ‘We have achieved a number of rainfalls.’ It is believed to be the first time the system has produced rain from clear skies, according to the Sunday Times.

In the past, countries like India and China have been utilizing chemicals for the sake of Cloud seeding, it’s the first time that there is a sort of a non chemical approach to cloud seeding. Last June Metro Systems built five ionising sites each with 20 emitters which can send trillions of cloud-forming ions into the atmosphere. Over four summer months the emitters were switched on when the required atmospheric level of humidity reached 30 per cent or more. While the country’s weather experts predicted no clouds or rain in the Al Ain region, rain fell on FIFTY-TWO occasions.

So how does it actually work ?

The Metro System scientists used ionisers to produce negatively charged particles called electrons. They have a natural tendency to attach to tiny specks of dust which are ever-present in the atmosphere in the desert-regions. These are then carried up from the emitters by convection – upward currents of air generated by the heat release from sunlight as it hits the ground. Once the dust particles reach the right height for cloud formation, the charges will attract water molecules floating in the air which then start to condense around them. If there is sufficient moisture in the air, it induces billions of droplets to form which finally means cloud and rain.

The cost savings using the Weathertec technology are huge with the system costing £6 million a year while desalination is £45 million. Building an ionising system is about £7 million while a desalination plant would be £850 million and costs a lot more to run.

But in the long run what effect this might have in the entire global picture of the planet, global warming, and such we don’t really know. Is it good ? well if technology is non chemical, non toxic, cost saving, and life giving then I will say yes. Only until we find the downside to it, for now it might seem too good to be true without side effects. What do you guys think?

Some references of further reading for people who are interested:

http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/01/03/scientists-create-52-artificial-rain-storms-in-abu-dhabi-desert/

http://www.arabianbusiness.com/abu-dhabi-backed-scientists-create-fake-rainstorms-in-11m-project-371038.html

http://www.itp.net/518649-further-unseasonal-bad-weather-hits-uae

Some Dubai Maps that you can use

One of the irritating facts about maps is the fact that it is difficult to actually locate a place of importance. We have been planning a small vacation and every time we look at a map, especially on Google Maps, it does show the location of places and definitely helps in finding out routes if you know where you are going. Now if you don’t really know where you are going and just want to discover things, Google maps by itself is not very handy. But the community has woken up to fill in the gap, people have started using Google Map Maker to make special maps of places of interest and the sort. Here are some Maps for Dubai

Dubai Consulates


View Dubai consulates in a larger map

Map of parks in the UAE


View Parks in the UAE in a larger map

Maps of UAE Shopping Malls


View UAE Shopping Malls in a larger map

Map of Golf Courses in Dubai


View Golf courses in the UAE in a larger map

Map of Museums in Dubai


View Museums in the UAE in a larger map

UAE rain flood hotspots


View UAE rain hotspots in a larger map

Hope the above maps are useful, Please let me know of more that you can think of.