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Friday, 29 July 2011

Have you heard of the Long-eared Jeroba?

The Long-eared Jerboa, is a nocturnal mouse-like rodent with a long tail, long hind legs for jumping, and exceptionally large ears. It is distinct enough that authorities consider it to be the only member of both its genus, Euchoreutes, and subfamily, Euchoreutinae. In 2007 Zoological Society of London sent a researcher to study human impact on its environment. The study returned with video footage that been noted as the “first time” the creature has been “recorded on camera”. This has helped to start a campaign to protect them.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Conserve water using these methods.

Water Conservation

Improving water conservation in your home can help you save not just on water bills, but also on expenses for heating water. Below are some ideas you can try to boost your water conservation efforts.

Removing Sediment Buildup 
Draining sediment from a water heater's tank is an energy-saving procedure anyone can do quickly and easily. Periodically removing accumulated sediment helps conventional water heaters operate at optimum efficiency. The sediment consists of hard-water minerals and other debris that enter the storage tank along with the incoming water. As the water is heated, the minerals separate from the water and fall to the bottom of the tank.

Over time, the mineral deposits build up to the point that they act as insulation on the bottom of the tank, isolating the water from effects of the burner firing below (on gas and oil units) and sometimes stacking up high enough to cover the heating element on electric water heaters. The harder it is for heat to get through the sediment layer, the longer the burner has to fire or the electric elements have to run in order to heat the water.

The solution is to remove the sediment layer. You do not have to turn off the power source (electricity, gas, or oil) to the water in order to drain the sediment.

A small drain valve is on the outside of the water heater tank's jacket near the bottom. It looks like a miniature hose bibb on the outside of a house. Attach a short length of standard garden hose to this valve, stick the free end of the hose into either a floor drain nearby or a large bucket, and open the valve.

Water will flow from the bottom of the water heater and out the valve and through the hose, taking sediment along with it. After draining five gallons or so from the tank, shut off the valve, disconnect the hose, and empty the bucket (if you used one) into a sink or toilet. You've not only improved the efficiency of your water heater, but you've also extended its service life.

What is the reason? There is a thin film of water that is trapped between the sediment and the bottom of the tank. When the burner fires, the thin layer of water heats to an abnormally high temperature that deteriorates the tank's glass lining, speeding up its rusting process. Accumulated sediment is also responsible for the popping, banging, rumbling, and percolating noises often heard from a water heater as the burner fires or the elements heat up.

Depending on the mineral content of your water, a water heater tank should be drained of its sediment at least twice a year, and more often in hard-water areas.

Insulating Pipes
What does pipe insulation do? It keeps heat inside the pipes where it belongs, rather than radiating out into the air. The result is that hot water reaches distant bathrooms faster than it would otherwise, reducing the volume of water that has to flow down the pipe for hot water to effectively arrive. And once hot water fills the pipe, it stays there for a long time. So if you use a hot water tap again shortly after the first usage, it's likely that the water will still be sufficiently hot.

In addition, pipe insulation helps reduce "standby" heat losses at the water heater. Standby heat losses occur while the water heater is just sitting there doing nothing at all. Over a period of time, heat radiating from the water heater's tank and the pipes entering and exiting the top of the unit reduce the temperature of the water inside the tank. Eventually, the thermostat is activated and the burner fires or the electric elements switch on. The water heats up again, only to cool down gradually through the cooling effects of the tank and pipes. It's an endless cycle, exacerbated by the heat loss through the pipes at the top of the water heater. So, although the hot water pipes are the logical ones to insulate, insulating the first five feet or so of the cold water pipe at the water heater is a good idea, too. That helps reduce the loss of heat that migrates up the pipe from the water heater tank.

Although insulating the pipes at the water heater might eliminate only one burner firing or element activation a day, at today's gas and electric prices, that can add up to substantial savings over the course of a year.

It may also be worthwhile to insulate another cold water pipe in your house -- the water service entry pipe from a municipal supply or well -- though not for energy-efficiency reasons. Throughout the winter and into the spring, water coming into the house through that pipe is cold. If the air is humid enough, condensation can form on the outside of the pipe and drip down onto carpets, suspended ceiling tiles, and anything else along its path. Covering the exposed pipe with foam insulation isolates the pipe from the humid air, preventing condensation from forming.

Insulating water pipes used to involve a large roll of itchy fiberglass insulation, a lot of time, and a lot of cutting and fitting the wrapping around obstructions. And even after all that work, the insulation was so thin that it didn't do much good. Insulating the water pipes in your home these days is simpler, quicker, and more effective.

The closed cell foam pipe insulation available at plumbing supply houses and home centers not only insulates far better than the old fiberglass material, but it's also easy to install. Each piece is slit along its length, allowing the insulation to simply snap over the pipe. The foam is so soft that it can be cut with a kitchen knife or a pair of heavy scissors.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

What is the meaning of Sustainability?

You must have often heard of the word 'Sustainability' on our page, but do you really know what it means? 
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. In ecology, the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. For humans, sustainability is the potential for long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions.
Healthy ecosystems and environments provide vital goods and services to humans and other organisms. There are two major ways of reducing negative human impact and enhancing ecosystem services. One approach is environmental management; this approach is based largely on information gained from earth science, environmental science, and conservation biology. Another approach is management of consumption of resources, which is based largely on information gained from economics.

(Information courtesy Wikipedia. Learn more: http://p1n.in/tHq)

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The earthian seminar

We're organising a seminar where you can learn concepts of sustainability and environmentalism. It's on the 27th of July in Delhi. 

Monday, 25 July 2011

Will we have to travel in boats in the future?

The Sea level is predicted to rise as higher temperatures expand the volume of ocean waters and melt the snow and ice situated on land masses, particularly Greenland and Antarctica.
Over 20 different GCMs (general circulation models) predict that the sea level will rise by 0.2 m to 0.5 m from 2000 to 2100. These models usually assume that glaciers will keep flowing (moving) at their current speed. Recent observations in Greenland, however, have shown that glacial flows are accelerating. The likely mechanism is that as temperatures increase, the ice along the edges of a glacier melts. This water makes it way to the bottom of the glacier and acts as a lubricant that accelerates the ice flow. An alternative forecast, which takes this phenomenon into account, predicts an even greater change in sea level: the sea level in 2100 will be 0.5 m to 1.2 m higher than in 2000.
A rising sea level will put coastal regions of the world at great risk. Cities with large populations, such as those along the Gulf and east coasts of the United States, will be inundated. Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest yet most populous countries, is perhaps the most vulnerable to sea-level changes: about 80% of this country is below 10 m in elevation, and so a 0.5 m to 1.0 m rise in sea level will permanently flood between 6% and 10% of its land area and displace between 3.4 million and 17 million people. In addition to worldwide flooding, the rising sea level may threaten the fresh water supplies of many coastal regions with contamination by seawater.

This is an excerpt from the book Global Climate Change: Convergence of Disciplines by Dr. Arnold J. Bloom and taken from UCVerse of the University of California.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The I.T. industry accounts for 2% of the global Greenhouse gas emissions.

Information and communication technologies have a critical role to play in combating climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The increased use of ICTs is undoubtedly part of the cause of global warming, as witness the hundreds of millions of computers and more than one billion television sets that are never fully turned off at night in homes and in offices. But ICTs can also be a key part of the solution, because of the role they play in monitoring, mitigating and adapting to climate change.
There are a number of different causes of climate change, many of which are naturally generated (such as variations in solar radiation, and volcanic activity). However, it is man-made climate change that is of major concern because it appears to be leading to a progressive and accelerating warming of the planet, as a result of the release of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon-based emissions. The work of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that global greenhouse gas emissions have risen by 70 per cent since 1970.
The ICT sector itself (in this definition, telecommunications, computing and the Internet, but excluding broadcasting transmitters and receivers) contributes around 2 to 2.5 per cent of GHG emissions, at just under 1 Gigatonne of CO2 equivalent. The main constituent (40 per cent) of this is the energy requirements of personal computers and data monitors, with data centres contributing a further 23 per cent (see Figure 1). Fixed and mobile telecommunications contribute an estimated 24 per cent of the total. As the ICT industry is growing faster than the rest of the economy, this share may well increase over time. ICTs have the potential to assist in finding a solution to reducing the remaining 97.5 per cent of global emissions from other sectors of the economy.

Read more here: http://p1n.in/to1

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Amsterdam sets the benchmark for 'Green' cities across the world.

In going green, Amsterdam is a pioneer among the world's largest cities. At first glance, the old historic town crisscrossed with canals might not look like an ultra modern energy-saving metropolis (if you don't count the prominent presence of millions of bikes). If you look deeper, however, you will discover that the city is becoming super green, its infrastructure is being transformed into ultra energy-efficient and its households will soon become ecology's best friends.

In mid-2009, Nuon, IBM and Cisco commenced an innovative energy management project run in 500 households. Thanks to that system, the energy usage is to be cut by 14% and CO2 emissions are to decline significantly as well. Moreover, around 700 household have an access to financing by some of the Dutch banks to buy energy-saving appliances, from bulbs to roof insulation. Amsterdamers intend to cut their emission by 40% until 2025.

The city also plans to install several hundred power hookups for electric cars recharging and solar panels on townhouses. Until 2016, €100m a year will be spent for upgrading the electric networks to smart grids that will lower energy consumption.

Our animals are becoming extinct and it's all our fault!

The Holocene extinction:

The Holocene extinction event is a term used to refer to the ongoing extinction of numerous animal species due to human activities. It is named after the geologic period of the Holocene, which began 11,550 years ago (about 9600 BC) and continues to the present. The Holocene extinction has eliminated between 20,000 and several hundred thousand species over the course of the last 12,000 years. The Holocene extinction is composed of two major pulses: one pulse 13,000 to 9,000 years ago, during the end of the last glacial period, when much of the Pleistocene megafauna went extinct, and a recent pulse, starting around 1950, when mass deforestation and other human activities have resulted in the extinction of many species.

Animal species extinct from the first pulse of the Holocene extinction include several species of mammoth, the dire wolf, short-faced bear, cave lion, cave bear, cave hyena, dwarf elephants, giant swan, giant rat, mastodon, American cheetah, ground sloths, marsupials of many species, numerous giant flightless birds, and many other animals. Most scientists are in agreement that these animals went extinct due to human activity, as many of them disappear within 1,000 years of the introduction of humans to an area. Some of the most precise findings are from evidence in Australia and the Americas, which were relatively isolated until the arrival of humans.

Animals that have gone extinct recently, during the latest pulse of the Holocene extinction, include the dodo, aurochs (a large type of horned cattle), the tarpan (a small horse), the Tasmanian Tiger, the quagga (a zebra relative), Steller's Sea Cow (relative of the manatee and Dugong), the giant Aye-aye (a nocturnal primate), the Great Auk (a penguin-like bird from the Atlantic region), the passenger pigeon (with about five billion birds in North America, was formerly one of the most numerous birds on the planet), the Golden Toad of Costa Rica, and many others. Biologists agree that the current extinction rate of animal species is several hundred times higher than the typical background level.

The dodo, a bird of Mauritius, became extinct during the mid-late seventeenth century after humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes and introduced mammals that ate their eggs.

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011-2020 the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity (Resolution 65/161). The UN Decade on Biodiversity serves to support and promote implementation of the objectives of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, with the goal of significantly reducing biodiversity loss.

What is a bio diversity Hotspot?
A biodiversity hotspot is a bio-geographic region with a significant reservoir of biodiversity that is under threat from humans. Around the world, at least 25 areas qualify under this definition, with nine others possible candidates. These sites support nearly 60% of the world's plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species, with a very high share of endemic species.

The biodiversity hotspots by region:

North and Central America

·         California Floristic Province

·         Caribbean Islands

·         Madrean pine-oak woodlands

·         Mesoamerica

South America

·         Atlantic Forest

·         Cerrado

·         Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests

·         Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena

·         Tropical Andes

Europe and Central Asia

·         Caucasus

·         Irano-Anatolian

·         Mediterranean Basin

·         Mountains of Central Asia


·         Cape Floristic Region

·         Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa

·         Eastern Afromontane

·         Guinean Forests of West Africa

·         Horn of Africa

·         Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands

·         Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany

·         Succulent Karoo

South Asia

·         Eastern Himalaya, India

·         Indo-Burma, India and Myanmar

·         Western Ghats, India

·         Sri Lanka

East Asia and Asia-Pacific

·         East Melanesian Islands

·         Japan

·         Mountains of Southwest China

·         New Caledonia

·         New Zealand

·         Philippines

·         Polynesia-Micronesia

·         Southwest Australia

·         Sundaland

·         Wallacea

High-Biodiversity Wilderness Areas

High-Biodiversity Wilderness Areas (HBWA) is an elaboration on the IUCN Protected Area classification of a Wilderness Area (Category Ib), which outlines five vast wilderness areas of particularly dense and important levels of biodiversity. The sub-classification was the initiative of Conservation International (CI) in 2003 to identify regions in which at least 70 percent of their original vegetation has remained intact in order to ensure that this is safeguarded and these regions do not become biodiversity hotspots. Currently the areas listed as HBWA's are:

·         Amazonia, Brazil

·         Congo Basin, The Democratic Republic of Congo

·         New Guinea, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea

·         North American Deserts, Southwest United States and Mexico

·         Miombo-Mopane Woodlands and Savannas, South Central Africa

Monday, 18 July 2011

Plastic Bottle House

Here's a 'Green' house that reduces Greenhouse gases: http://p1n.in/toY.
It's made of 8,000 plastic bottles!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Endangered Species: Saiga Antelopes

Saigas are antelopes that were once found from the western Europe, across the Eurasian continent and into Alaska. Their numbers were once in the millions only two decades ago. But today only less than 50,000 remain. This creature is very unusual in appearance because of it huge, inflatable, and humped nose which looks very similar to the nose of the tapir. Its very large nose makes the head look unusually large and bulging. Saigas are short with round bodies, thin legs, and a short tail. The average length is about 3.8 to 4.8 feet and the average height is about 2.5 feet. They can weigh up to 112 lbs. They are very good runners and can reach up to 80 miles per hour in a short time. During migration, they can swim across rivers. Their coats are thick with bristly hair to protect them from the cold environment. During the warmer season, their coats get shorter and lighter in color.

Saigas have suffered from habitat degradation and disturbance by humans, severe poaching, drought, and disease. The Mongolian subspecies (S. t. mongolica) is said to be the most threatened and endemic ungulate species. Only two populations of this subspecies survive in the Great Lakes basin area of Mongolia. Its population is currently at less than 1500 and is said to be decreasing due to the absence of conservation measures and poor climate conditions. Some are still hunted for their horns which have medicinal value. Although the international trade and hunting of all saigas has been banned, law enforcement is difficult in the areas where remaining populations are found. 

It's in our power to save our planet from global warming. Here are 50 ways to help reduce global warming: 
  1. Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (cfl)
    CFLs use 60% less energy than a regular bulb. This simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
  2. Install a programmable thermostat
    Programmable thermostats will automatically lower the heat or air conditioning at night and raise them again in the morning. They can save you $100 a year on your energy bill.
  3. Move your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summer
    Almost half of the energy we use in our homes goes to heating and cooling. You could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple adjustment.
  4. Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner
    Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
  5. Choose energy efficient appliances when making new purchases
    Look for the Energy Star label on new appliances to choose the most energy efficient products available.
  6. Do not leave appliances on standby
    Use the "on/off" function on the machine itself. A TV set that's switched on for 3 hours a day (the average time Europeans spend watching TV) and in standby mode during the remaining 21 hours uses about 40% of its energy in standby mode.
  7. Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket
    You’ll save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple action. You can save another 550 pounds per year by setting the thermostat no higher than 50°C.
  8. Move your fridge and freezer
    Placing them next to the cooker or boiler consumes much more energy than if they were standing on their own. For example, if you put them in a hot cellar room where the room temperature is 30-35ºC, energy use is almost double and causes an extra 160kg of CO2 emissions for fridges per year and 320kg for freezers.
  9. Defrost old fridges and freezers regularly
    Even better is to replace them with newer models, which all have automatic defrost cycles and are generally up to two times more energy-efficient than their predecessors.
  10. Don't let heat escape from your house over a long period
    When airing your house, open the windows for only a few minutes. If you leave a small opening all day long, the energy needed to keep it warm inside during six cold months (10ºC or less outside temperature) would result in almost 1 ton of CO2 emissions.
  11. Replace your old single-glazed windows with double-glazing
    This requires a bit of upfront investment, but will halve the energy lost through windows and pay off in the long term. If you go for the best the market has to offer (wooden-framed double-glazed units with low-emission glass and filled with argon gas), you can even save more than 70% of the energy lost.
  12. Get a home energy audit
    Many utilities offer free home energy audits to find where your home is poorly insulated or energy inefficient. You can save up to 30% off your energy bill and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Energy Star can help you find an energy specialist. 

    Continue reading: http://p1n.in/tAN

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Is your city cool enough?

Hundreds of cities in the United States have joined together in the "Cool Cities" program. They have made commitments to stop global warming by signing the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. As of February 2007, 376 mayors have accepted the challenge to address climate disruption. In addition, more and more states are addressing global warming on the state political level.

Learn more: http://p1n.in/tAR

Monday, 11 July 2011

Meet North America's largest insect!

You'd have to look pretty closely at this tree to notice that there was a bug on it. The walking stick insects are very highly specialised insects that have adapted to their environments by blending in. You can probably guess that they are called "walking sticks" because they really look like sticks with legs. They come in many colors and sizes, all depending on the type of tree or bush they like to live in. The plants these insects live in are their primary source of food. Giant stick insects are some of the longest insects in the world. In fact, the longest insect on record is a stick insect of the species Pharnacia kirbyi, found living in the rainforests of Borneo, and it can grow up to 20 inches 
(Information courtesy: Extreme Science http://p1n.in/tA5)

India goes REDD!

(Information courtesy: Down to Earth)
India’s first pilot project to be recognised under the UN’s mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) could be in the East Khasi Hills in Meghalaya.
A watershed project, started jointly by a California-based non-profit and a tribal community in 2005 in the northeastern state aims at checking deforestation and has shown potential as the country’s maiden REDD pilot. REDD is a mechanism for encouraging developing nations to preserve their forests by giving an economic value to the carbon saved by stopping deforestation.
For the past six years Community Forestry International (CFI) has been working with the Mawphlang tribal community to preserve a sacred grove. Rich in biodiversity, the grove covers about 75 hectares in the Umiam basin’s watershed area. Umiam Lake is a reservoir in the hills 15 km from Shillong.

To continue reading: http://p1n.in/tov

Friday, 8 July 2011

Unique Tribe: The Agoris

The Aghori or Aghora are a Hindu sect believed to have split off from the Kapalika order (which dates from 1000 AD) in the fourteenth century AD.

Many mainstream Hindus condemn them as non-Hindu because of their taboo violation of orthodox practices.  Aghoris or Aughads command extreme reverence from rural populations as they are supposed to possess powers to heal and relieve pain gained due to their intense practices. Aghori are denizens of the charnel ground.

The Aghoris are prevalent in cremation grounds across India, Nepal, and even sparsely across cremation grounds in South East Asia. The Aghoris distinguish themselves from other Hindu sects and priests by their alcoholic and cannibalistic rituals (see necro-cannibalism). The corpses, which may be either pulled from a river [including Ganges] or obtained from cremation grounds, are consumed both raw and cooked on open flame, as the Aghoris believe that what others consider a "dead man" is, in fact, nothing but a natural matter devoid of the life force it once contained.

Learn more on this unique tribe: http://p1n.in/tAB

(Information courtesy Wikipedia) 

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Dung Bettle is full of it!

We came across a very interesting article yesterday in The Green Ogre. It's about the mighty Dung Beetle. They feed partly or exclusively on faeces. The Green Ogre takes an amusing approach while talking of this species. Here are some snippets of their blog post:

For the dung beetle, crap doesn't just happen. It's very happening!

Nature works in cycles. What is created must be consumed, only to be created again. What arrives must leave only to return. What rises must ebb, only to rise again. 

The Dung Beetle we encountered at Agumbe is nature’s waste management agency. It plays a role similar to that of vultures in cleaning up rotting flesh. The Dung Beetle’s role, though it may seem unpleasant to us, is a significant one and may have been the reason why the Scarab figured prominently in ancient Egyptian lore. Whether the dung comes from an elephant, gaur or domesticated cattle, the Beetles work fervently to break it down. While the dung of omnivores does show up on the menu of a Dung Beetle Bistro, the creature's preference is for herbivore dung.

Read more here

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

What is the earthian?

As the years go by, our love and respect for the environment has started dwindling. Our life has become a pursuit of materialistic things. We've become wasteful. We've started taking Nature for granted. Hence to bring back a sense of eco-consciousness, an initiative was started: the earthian awards. The earthian strives to promote a sustainability program for schools and colleges. We want to also ingrain an eco-friendly attitude in the Indian youth.

Any Indian school/college student can become a part of the earthian. You just need to create a project based on any of our themes. Winners can win a cash prize of 3 lacs and recognition for their school!

Join us in our initiative today.

Click here for more details: http://p1n.in/erthn
Like us on Facebook: http://p1n.in/ertfb 
Follow us on Twitter: http://p1n.in/erttw

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

What are catchments?

A catchment area serves a storage space for the collection of rain water.

There are two types of catchments:
Roof catchments- The rooftop is usually the most common catchment surface and can be flat or sloping.
  • Smooth, hard and dense roofs are preferred since they are easier to clean and are less likely to be damaged and release materials/fibres into the water.
  • The catchment surface should slope slightly towards the down take pipes so that water does not stagnate on the roof.
  • A catchment that slopes towards a single direction, preferably in the direction of the sump / borewell will reduce piping costs
Ground level catchments- If the storage tank is below the ground level, paved flooring surfaces and open grounds can also serve as catchments.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Effect Of Climate Change On The Economy

They say things are connected. A change in one sphere can lead to several transformations in other areas. It's like a domino effect, where once one domino falls, it takes down a horde of dominoes along with it. 
Similarly climate changes can not only impact our eco-system, but also other aspects of our lives like our economy. Find out how our economy is affected by changes in the climate: http://p1n.in/ecnmy
This would serve as fodder for a great project, don't you think?