Tag Archives: Climate change

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Water on Blog Action Day

Today is blog Action Day, and for a lot of people who do not know, its a day blogger like myself get to gather world over to write about a particular topic that requires world wide attention. Last year we wrote about climate change which made a bit of a difference during the Copenhagen Summit. This year I am joining 15,000 other blogger today on October 15, 2010 to write about something that will have an impact on all our lives weather it is now or in the next 20 years time. Water.

The elixir of life and soon to be liquid gold, is something that is definitely something that we need to be looking at seriously not only in terms of an irreplaceable resource but also in the context that, the same about of water exists on the planet for the past billion years and its not going to change. So the more water we actually pollute, the more we loose as water is not created, but transformed from one form to the other and one place to the other. I have also believed that it is definitely better to use presentations better than text where possible, because like we all know a picture is worth a thousand words and a presentation is worth an entire book.

There is three things I want to touch with this post, first of all the importance of water and what is available to us, the second well what would happen to us if we do not preserve it. Have a look at the below two presentations for it.

This third presentation is basically a presentation that is actually a letter from the future, a letter from someone who might live in the future and tell us what we are doing wrong in this lifetime especially when it comes to the precious commodity called water. Finally, another important word about the water we have.

Water is most definitely something that needs to be preserved and saved and unfortunately in a country like India where the water that is safe is still not really pure, it definitely seems like there are a lot of people who are trying to misuse the situation in a way that is detrimental to the economy and in a way that they might make more monetary gains. And this definitely is not something that can be tolerated.

I did write about how India is planning to import water in huge quantities from Alaska for drinking water, and then there are the Bisleri”s the Pepsi’s the Aquafina and million other Bottled Water brands that are well, driving the economy down and causing more harm with the plastic bottles that they use. Here is another short movie/ presentation that might be something that you need to not only take note of but also apply if possible.

Like I mentioned earlier, if I am able to even ensure that a few people who read this make a small change or even if this is shared enough that the message goes through, I am going to consider that this post for the Blog Action Day 2010 is a success, please let me know about what you think is the way to go keeping the above in mind.

India Innovation – Rice Husk powered Electricity

I am back praising the country for Innovation, this time its one of my favourite future fields, Alternative sources of Power Generation. A Start up from Bihar has come up with s solution for generating power from Rice Husk. Like they say Necessity is the mother of all invention, and availability is the father. This start Up has taken the problem of Indian farmers i.e no electricity and decided to solve it with the locally available source, Rice Husk.

An Indian company called Husk Power Systems is bringing electricity to some of the most rural parts of India by using rice husks as fuel. Rice husk is a by-product of the rice growing process and is generally dumped into landfills, but by using it to build miniature, off-grid power stations, they generate electricity for around 500 households for 8 to 10 hours a day per each power plant that requires just 3 employees to operate and maintain. The company has set up 25 of these eco-friendly plants till now that serve around 50,000 villagers. Husk Power Systems has received numerous accolades for their miniature power plants including a nomination at the finals of BBC’s World Challenge prize.

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Bill Gates trying to Save the Planet

A lot of people hate Microsoft and Bill Gates, well the policies of Microsoft and some of the marketing tactics that they used were of undeniable refute, however even the geeks will agree that he had an amazing vision, at a time when mainstream companies were really looking for Mainframes and Deep Blues, he believed that common people need access to the device called computer which can enrich their lives. Today all of us spend a considerable amount of time juggling between 3 screens, the TV, the Mobile and of course the computer, and the popularity of the computer and the internet has a lot to do with it, arguably Microsoft has a lot to do with it as well, when they made the computer accessible to millions with software that could run on most hardware. His vision of the future published over 15 years ago, called The Atlantic – A Road ahead, predicted a lot of todays tech then when it was difficult to envision these concepts.

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Oorja power, an Indians Invention taking on Bloom Box

Bloom Box is the brain child of an Indian, Mr. K R Sridhar who used to work at NASA and found that Fuel Cells using the right potent fuel for its input can be used to run entire house holds. Now Another Indian Mr. Sanjiv Malhotra is now looking to challenge the invention with another invention of his own which uses Methanol as the input fuel to generate clean electricity for the homes. Yes you read it right, two people from the sub continent in USA are working on technologies that can change the face of the earth.

With stationary fuel cells hot again, Oorja Protonics is jumping into the market. In a few months, the company, which specializes in methanol fuel cells, will release a fuel cell capable of generating 5 kilowatts of power, enough to run a home or small business or to provide backup power to cell towers. It’s somewhat small in size, as well. Check out the video: the 5-kilowatt fuel cell fits on top of a gurney. It is about the same size as a 500-watt device Oorja produced a few years back, then the market for this technology did not really exist. “This will sit on large forklifts. You could use it for auxiliary power for trucks, RVs or marine applications, or for off-grid power for homes or farms,” said CEO Sanjiv Malhotra. “This opens up a plethora of other markets.” For larger applications, the fuel cells can be chain-ganged together. Connect twenty of them and they would be capable of generating 100 kilowatts of power — as much energy as the recently unfurled Bloom Energy Server. Check out the video below.

Methanol is one of the mostly commonly produced chemicals in the world, costs about $1 to $2 a gallon and doesn’t have to be transported under pressure so it’s easy to ship. Many car manufacturing plants already have large tanks on site to store methanol because it’s the same chemical as windshield washer fluid. Methanol would be delivered to plants that don’t have large tanks in large plastic drums. Methanol also has environmental advantages over lead acid batteries. Oorja claims a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions even if the methanol for its fuel cells were produced from coal liquification or natural gas. But methanol can also be made using non-food biowaste, which would virtually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.

Malhotra founded Oorja, which means energy in Sanskrit, in 2005. The Fremont-based company employs about 35 and Aug. 25 announced a 60-unit sale to a Nissan factory in Smyrna, Tenn. Nissan has tested Oorja’s products for the last 18 months. Malhotra studied fuel cells in graduate school two decades ago, first at the University of Iowa and then at the University of California, Berkeley. “Back then, nobody had heard of fuel cells,” he said. “I remember looking for a job after I finished my Masters and people were sending me to gas stations.” After completing a Ph.D., Malhotra worked at H Power, where he landed an $81 million sale for H Power’s propane fuel cells. The company went public in 2000, raising $100 million and selling in 2002. After tiring of early retirement, Malhotra founded Oorja.

India leading the way in Telecom “Greening” process

Its rare to see developing nations showing the way to developed nations about new technologies and new methodologies. India on the other hand, has been making the transition very smoothly to a developing Nation to a slow developed nation in its own rights. And this time around the Government is making strides as well, which means it is not the Sleeping tiger stage but the waking stage.. lol. On a much more serious note, after taking on a huge responsibility to produce 20GW of renewable energy by 2020, India’s energy ministry seems to be making progress. Firstly the National Solar Mission announced that they will work on the world’s largest solar power plant through a joint venture between Airvoice Group, an Indian mobile phone and commodity export firm, and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam, a a joint venture between the governments of India and the district of Himachal Pradesh. They expect that over $50 billion will be invested over the next 10 years to make the project a reality.

If the news above does not make you go wow, feast your eyes on the second bit. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of the Indian government is likely to come out with a mandate that would require telecom operators to transform their cellphone towers from being powered by diesel generators to solar panels. This may not seem like such a big deal until you think about the numbers – India has approximately 500 million mobile phone subscribers (more than the population of any country except China) and still continues to be one of the two fastest growing telecom markets. That means that even more cellphone towers are going to be set up in the near future. India has more than 250,000 cellphone towers which consume 3-5 kilowatts power depending on the number of operators using the tower. These towers consume about 2 billion litres of diesel every year.  According to Cleantechnica, the switch over to solar power translates to a reduction of 5 million tons of CO2 emissions as well as a savings of $1.4 billion!

More and more initiatives like trying to make the government buildings green, and aiming higher so that the self proclaimed milestone can be reached; can be seen in recent newspaper articles. Its great to see the sleeping tiger slowly awakening. However, considering the vastness of the country and the plagues of apathy and irresponsibility, its going to have to wake up quicker and move swiftly.

Via CleanTechnica

How technology is helping rebuild places like Haiti

[tweetmeme] The greatest perils of modern human life is the reaction to “Acts of God”, no one knows when these will actually happen and however ready we humans seem to be to react to these earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes etc, we never seem to be ready enough. Haiti and the earthquake there has just proved it even more. Scientists are working all over the world to actually come up with a solution for early warning solutions, while that seems to be eluding us; there is another aspect of this problem that technology is really helping with, and that is rehabilitation and rebuilding, and they are doing it in a way that is ecologically sustainable.

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Containerization has revolutionized cargo shipping. Today, approximately 90% of non-bulk cargo worldwide moves by containers stacked on transport ships. The humble containers are now moving not just goods, but are getting to provide safe housing and quick. Shipping container architecture is a form of architecture using steel intermodal containers (shipping containers) as structural element, because of their inherent strength, wide availability and relatively low cost. There are inherit advantages to this soltuion if using shipping containers, Strength and Durability, Modular,  Transport, Availability and the obvious, Cost . The other side of the coin is actually that there is a downside which are, Temperature inside the cabin, Building permits to use this might be a problem, and others. However in places like Haiti where massive rebuilding needs to happen and quickly, these seem to be what the doctor ordered.

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Researchers at Clemson University are scurrying to figure out how to turn their project, known as SEED, into a way to contribute emergency housing to Haiti right now. SEED was initially conceived as a way to utilize some of the estimated 30 million shipping containers that were languishing in ports all over the world by turning them into homes for victims of hurricanes in both the Caribbean Islands and the United States. The design from SEED optimizes the usage of the container where it is simply cut in a few strategic places to allow for airflow and light while it is still in the port, then transported to the site for further modifications such as a coated with ceramic paint for insulation and fitted with wooden shipping pallets that act as “pods” for bathing and cooking.

Additionally, the containers are augmented with another surplus item: 55 gallon drums fitted with an interior slip to protect against leaching. On the roof of the container they become the real “seeds” of the project” filled with dirt and planted for “emergency food restoration.” Christensen says other surplus items such as old tires can also be made into raised beds for growing food.

Interestingly, the idea of using Shipping containers for housing has been around for a long time, in fact its very pracical usage is the Data Centers, Google maximizing the usage of these. Well housing is not something new as well, in fact if you scout the web, you will really find awesome examples of these containers. Check out some awesomely designed examples below:

all terrain cabin 10 Brilliant, Boxy and Sustainable Shipping Container Homes

mobile dwelling unit

port a bach 10 Brilliant, Boxy and Sustainable Shipping Container Homes

12 container house 10 Brilliant, Boxy and Sustainable Shipping Container Homes

If you are interested more, you could check out these great lists with more of these shipping container styled housing designs :

The story of stuff, we are just consumer numbers …

Its been about a year since someone sent me a viral video about the Story of Stuff, and I was enlightened, frightened, and motivated all at the same time. Historically, I have been a person who has spoken about made presentations about and actually published presentations about going green. And after seeing the video again, I realized that I am not doing nearly as much as I could be doing. The video attacks the linear economic model that our economy is currently based on. Some of the info. presented is new, a lot is repeat, but it’s brought together in a very clear and compelling way. You can download and watch the video also on their website http://www.storyofstuff.com/

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever. Since the film was posted, viewers in over 200 countries have visited the site over 7.5 million times. The Story of Stuff is more than a video cleverly explaining the life cycle of stuff. It’s a catalyst for awareness that gets people thinking about how all of our stuff is connected to environmental and societal issues.

Here is my list of 10 little and big things we can do, to make a change :

  1. Power Down: A great deal of the resources we use and the waste we create is in the energy we consume. Look for opportunities in your life to significantly reduce energy use: drive less, fly less, turn off lights, buy local seasonal food (food takes energy to grow, package, store and transport), wear a sweater instead of turning up the heat, use a clothesline instead of a dryer, vacation closer to home, buy used or borrow things before buying new, recycle. All these things save energy and save you money.
  2. Waste Less: There are hundreds of opportunities each day to nurture a Zero Waste culture in your home, workplace, community. This takes developing new habits which soon become second nature. Use both sides of the paper, carry your own mugs and shopping bags, get printer cartridges refilled instead of replaced, compost food scraps, avoid bottled water and other over packaged products, upgrade computers rather than buying new ones, repair and mend rather than replace … the list is endless!
  3. Talk to everyone about it: At work, your neighbors, in line at the supermarket, on the bus… A student once asked Cesar Chavez how he organized. He said, “First, I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.” “No,” said the student, “how do you organize?” Chavez answered, “First I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.”
  4. Make your voice heard: Write letters to the editor and submit articles to local press. In the last years, and especially with Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the media has been forced to write about climate change. As individuals, we can influence the media to better represent other important issues as well. You could use your social networks like Facebook and Twitter for the same as well.
  5. Detox: Many of today’s consumer products — from children’s pajamas to lipstick — contain toxic chemical additives that simply aren’t necessary.
  6. Unplug: The average person watches TV over four hours a day. Four hours per day filled with messages about stuff we should buy. That is four hours a day that could be spent with family, friends and in our community.
  7. Park and Walk: Car-centric land use policies and lifestyles lead to more greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel extraction, and conversion of agricultural and wildlands to roads and parking lots. Driving less and walking more is good for the climate, the planet, your health, and your wallet.
  8. Change your light bulbs: Changing light bulbs is quick and easy. Energy efficient light bulbs use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer than conventional ones. That’s a no-brainer.
  9. Recycle your trash: Recycling saves energy and reduces both waste and the pressure to harvest and mine new stuff. Unfortunately, many cities still don’t have adequate recycling systems in place. In that case you can usually find some recycling options in the phone book to start recycling while you’re pressuring your local government to support recycling city wide.
  10. Buy Green: Shopping is not the solution to the environmental problems we currently face because the real changes we need just aren’t for sale in even the greenest shop. But, when we do shop, we should ensure our support businesses that protect the environment and worker rights.

I am sure you can think of many more uses of the same, the point is we need to do something. Anything.

The Human Footprint … Alarm !

Lately I have been organizing my computer, and the past couple of days have been dedicated to Bookmarks. While I was doing so, I came across a bookmark that I had placed for a page on neatorama.  Neatorama had a post about the Human foot print, It listed out sort of all the various consumables that we would go through in our life. Of course it is completely from the American perspective, like most of the Internet. However, it gives an idea of the consumables that we would go through our life. Check out the infographic below.

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Quite Interesting statistics there, Now I was looking to find the episode of National Geographic that had a full feature of this. It can be viewed online in various countries; but unfortunately not here in the UAE. So I had to look for some other source of the information and stumbled some more interesting inforgraphics as well as statistics.

First the statistics

Food and drink

  • Milk15,951 pints. To produce this amount of milk for the population, 2.1 million cows are needed, eating 100 kilograms of grass a day.
  • Meat- 89% will eat meat. 4 head of cattle, 21 sheep, 15 pigs, 1200 chickens and13,345 eggs.
  • Potatoes2327kg
  • Bread 4283 loaves
  • Fruit and Vegetables5272 apples, 10,866 carrots
  • 95% of our food is imported.
  • Food packaging8.5 tons
  • Chocolate8.2kg a year10,000 chocolate bars in a lifetime.
  • Bake Beans845 tins.
  • Alcohol- 10351 pints1,694 bottles of wine0.7% of the world’s populationis drunk now!
  • Tea- 74,842 cups in a lifetime.

Human Waste, Waste and Sewage.

  • Wind -1-1.5 litres of gas a day, 12-25 times a day, 35,815 litres!
  • Toilet rolls4239 to cope with 2,865kg of faeces.
  • Sewage150 litres per day per person, but also disposed of across the country in a day are 2.5 million tampons1.4 million sanitary towels700,000 panty liners and 270,000 condoms.
  • Nappies3,800
  • 2.5 billion disposed of each year, largest contributor to landfill, take 500 years to decompose, at age five we will have produced more carbon dioxide than that of a person in Tanzania over their lifetime.
  • 40 tons of waste sent to landfill sites over a lifetime.

Relationships with others.

  • Language- average vocabulary is 25,000 words, only 4% of the English Oxford Dictionary.
  • We speak on average 4,300 words a day, more for women, less for men.123,205,740 words in a lifetime.
  • People will know 1,700 people over a lifetime.
  • We will have 300 people in our social group at anytime.
  • Partners10 different partners4,239 times having s*x, about 2 times a week!
  • Love – we will fall in love 3 times.
  • Marriage11.5 years70% will attempt a marriage once.

Personal Hygiene

  • 7163 baths in a lifetime, 1 million litres of water.
  • 656 bars of soap, 198 bottles of shampoo, 272 deodorants, 276 tubes of toothpastes, 78 toothbrushes, 411 skin care product , 37 perfumes, 35 tubes of styling gel, 25 bottles of nail polish, 21 sticks of lipstick, 11,00 tampons/sanitary towels, 5.6 bottles of fake tan!
  • Shower gel components take 800 years to disappear from the water system.
  • We wash our hair 11.500 times in a lifetime.

Wealth and Spending.

  • £1,537,380 spent in a lifetime.
  • Housing, food and clothing £552,772, tax £286,311, leisure and entertainment£236,312.

Consumer goods

  • 3.5 washing machines, 3.4 fridges, 3.2 microwaves, 4.8 televisions, 9.8 DVD players, 15 computers.
  • 240kg of fossil fuels, 22kg of chemicals, 1.5 tons of water needed to produce a home computer, externality (doesn’t reflect their true cost, in relation to the environment.)
  • £920 spent per person on the average Christmas.
  • 628 Christmas gifts received over a lifetime.
  • 8 cars per person.

Clothing

  • Clothing market is worth Â£23 billion in the U.K., £385 per year spent on clothes,£3,222 pounds spent on clothes over a lifetime.
  • 500 litres of water and 40g of pesticides needed to produce a t-shirt.
  • 570kg of chemicals added to the water system through washing clothes.

Travel

  • 197 miles walked per year, 15,464 miles in a lifetime.
  • We will drive 452,662 miles in a lifetime. 135,950 litres of petrol will be need.
  • 59 foreign holidays.
  • 737 tons of carbon released into the atmosphere.

Information and Culture.

  • Television, 148 minutes a day900 hours a year2944 days in a lifetime.
  • 533 books read in a lifetime.
  • 3% can’t read in the U.K., 40% choose not to read, more households own two cars than two novels!
  • Newspapers read 24551.5 tons of paper
  • 24 trees will be used to make the books and newspapers you need.

Religion

  • 6 acts of worship a year, 390 over a lifetime.

Democracy

  • You will vote in fifty elections.

Health

  • Cigarettes - 77,000 over a lifetime. 1/3 of all cancers are from smoking.
  • Vomit2 times a year, five buckets over a lifetime.
  • 314 visits to the doctor.
  • 30,000 pills in a lifetime.
  • Tears shed 61.5 litres.
  • 104,390 dreams in a lifetime.

Death

  • 1700 people we know¦
  • 305 die of heart disease, 179 stokes, 111 flu and pneumonia, 99 from lung cancer,92 from lower respiratory diseases, 63 from dementia, 49 cancers of the colon, and32 from breast cancer, 10 from suicide, 9 in road accidents, and 1 in a fire.
  • 1 in 3 will know a person who has been murdered.

Couple all the above statistics, with the next infographic, i.e

[clearspring_widget title="ClosR Widget" wid="49ba8181fdb85afc" pid="4b4b729116532816" width="500" height="405" domain="widgets.clearspring.com"]

The real water taken to produce some of the consumables mentioned above. What do you have? A disaster waiting to happen!  Hope something like this will help enable our governments to sort out their differences amd come together on a consensus on the climate change, and the reduction of the Human footprint on the planet.

Let’s all do something, anything …. To save the planet.

Copenhagen, Hopenhagen or Hipocratagen ??

There has been enough material and discussions worldwide on the newly coined “Climategate” referring to the leaked emails from the American Climate Monitoring agency and I am not referring to that. I am also not refering to all the debate about wether the climate change saga has anything to do with human impact on the planet. On that front I am absolutely certain that we humans are responsible to a large extent. So then what am I talking about ??
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The hippocrates that are attending the summit. I was actually quite interestingly looking for the world leaders who are visiting the summit to actually lead by example in terms of using eco aware transport, stationary and or eco aware services. So I started to look up to check on all those technologies that are displayed on green design and technology websites, to actually be used at the summit, like some shown on one of my favourite sites Inhabitat. But instead I stumbled Upon this article in the telegraph. If I were one of the leaders at the summit my head would bow down in shame ..  I have some exerpts from the article.
Copenhagen climate summit: 1,200 limos, 140 private planes and caviar wedges

Copenhagen is preparing for the climate change summit that will produce as much carbon dioxide as a town the size of Middlesbrough.
Ms Jorgensen reckons that between her and her rivals the total number of limos in Copenhagen next week has already broken the 1,200 barrier. The French alone rang up on Thursday and ordered another 42. “We haven’t got enough limos in the country to fulfil the demand,” she says. “We’re having to drive them in hundreds of miles from Germany and Sweden.”
And the total number of electric cars or hybrids among that number? “Five,” says Ms Jorgensen. “The government has some alternative fuel cars but the rest will be petrol or diesel. We don’t have any hybrids in Denmark, unfortunately, due to the extreme taxes on those cars. It makes no sense at all, but it’s very Danish.”
The airport says it is expecting up to 140 extra private jets during the peak period alone, so far over its capacity that the planes will have to fly off to regional airports – or to Sweden – to park, returning to Copenhagen to pick up their VIP passengers.
And this being Scandinavia, even the prostitutes are doing their bit for the planet. Outraged by a council postcard urging delegates to “be sustainable, don’t buy sex,” the local sex workers’ union – they have unions here – has announced that all its 1,400 members will give free intercourse to anyone with a climate conference delegate’s pass. The term “carbon dating” just took on an entirely new meaning.
Instead of swift and modest reductions in carbon – say, two per cent a year, starting next year – for which they could possibly be held accountable, the politicians will bandy around grandiose targets of 80-per-cent-plus by 2050, by which time few of the leaders at Copenhagen will even be alive, let alone still in office.
The US, which rejected Kyoto, is on board now, albeit too tentatively for most delegates. President Obama’s decision to stay later in Copenhagen may signal some sort of agreement between America and China: a necessity for any real global action, and something that could be presented as a “victory” for the talks.
You can read the whole article here. And another article here for the climate change naive guys.