Posts tagged ‘environment’

Hydrogen Fuel Cell

While the petrolium fuel price is skyrocketing with no end in sight, the search for a reliable alternative energy source is essential. Hydrogen is one of the most popular candidates.

So how does a hydrogen fuel cell work? (more…)


July 10, 2008 at 4:19 pm Leave a comment

Growth Hormone in Milk

From Scientific American’s Can Bovine Growth Hormone Help Slow Global Warming?:

There is currently a debate raging over the safety of bovine growth hormone. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993 ruled that it was not harmful and could be injected into cows to improve their milk production. But some studies have linked it with a risk of mastitis (udder infection) in cows, requiring the use of antibiotics that may in turn be contributing to the evolving resistance of bacteria to the drugs.

Bovine growth hormone is also known to stimulate the production of insulinlike growth factor 1 (IGF1) by the liver; some studies have shown that high levels of IGF1 in the bloodstream may heighten the risk of prostate and breast cancers as well as a woman’s chance of conceiving twins. As a result of consumer concerns, farmers in Australia, Canada, the European Union and New Zealand do not inject their cows with bovine growth hormone.

Back in high school (That was the 90’s. Geez, I feel so old), I read that high milk consumption had been linked to development of breast cancer. So it seems that growth hormone could be the culprit to blame. If the farmers can really sustain the same amount of milk production and keep the greenhouse gas emission in check without depending on injecting the cows with GH, everyone will be happy. And then I can keep drinking milk with an eased mind. I really don’t want to think about what to eat for breakfast. I’m happy with the bowl of cereal every morning. šŸ˜‰

July 8, 2008 at 2:07 pm 1 comment

Corn-Based Plastics

PLA = polylactic acid, is made from fermented plant (mostly corn) starch and considered a better alternative than the traditional petroleum-based plastic, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), used to make bottles. To make PLA, dextrose is extracted from corn starch, and them lactic acid is produced as a by-product in a fermentation process. Lactic acid is converted to lactide. The molecules then link together to form polymers that are polylactic acid. Therefore, PLA comes from a renewable carbon source, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and it does not release toxic gas when incinerated. The idea has been around for decades, but thanks to the technology that can now produce 1 pound of PLA for less than $1, more retailers are looking into PLA as their packaging option.

Don’t get too excited just yet. (more…)

July 4, 2008 at 2:39 pm Leave a comment

China bans plastic bags to fight “white pollution”

InĀ response toĀ Scientific American News – China Sacks Plastic Bags

The Chinese government is set to ban the manufacture and force shopkeepers to charge for the distribution of bags thinner than 0.025 millimeters thick as of June 1. People have been using plastic bags for everything — even to contain hot food for which plastic bags are not suitable. I’m glad to see that the Chinese government is taking the steps to recognize the importance of environmental issues such as this and educate its people. Everything China does will have a huge impact just because of the big population, so thisĀ is significant.

However, it remains to be seen whether this policy will hold up in the face of opposition. Manufacturers of the bags and citizens who are used to them already showed some displeasure. Also, people may end up putting more plastic in the landfill, because they just use the thicker plastic bags for convenience. This is what happened when a similar policy was adopted in Taiwan.

As I’ve written in Biodegradable Plastics, the idea of switching to biodegradable plastics may not be the best option because these polymers do not break down quickly as expected, because the conditions in the landfill is not ideal for degradation. I strongly recommend everyone, whereever you live, to reduce the use of plastic bags and get into the habit of bringing your own shopping bag.

Saving the Earth and fighting global warming is all about changingĀ our lifestyle and everyday habits. We can do it!

May 28, 2008 at 8:36 am Leave a comment

Earth Hour

from Yahoo!Canada News:

Backers hope Saturday evening gloom will be due to bright idea of Earth Hour

Fri Mar 28, 9:11 AM
By Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Millions of people across Canada and around the globe are expected to turn out their lights Saturday evening to raise awareness about pollution and global warming in an initiative known as Earth Hour.

The World Wildlife Fund effort that began in Sydney, Australia last March 29 now appears to have caught the imagination of people in dozens of countries, nowhere more so than in this country.

“This has really just blown up across Canada,” said Tara Wood, spokeswoman for the fund in Canada.

“Canada is really going to be the shining star in this global effort.”

Initially, the fund’s idea was to test the Canadian waters in one city – Toronto – to see how the effort should be rolled out in future years. That proved impossible.

“There was no way to control it once people got wind of this really cool lights-out event,” Wood said.

“It’s been truly phenomenal.”

What began as a simple attempt at bringing climate change down to the living-room level has snowballed, burying those who argue Earth Hour is mere tokenism that will do little to cut greenhouse gas emissions or that participating businesses are only interested in their cash registers.

More than 240,000 people and almost 18,000 businesses in countries as far-flung as Botswana, Vietnam and Denmark have all signed up as participants this year via a website groaning under the strain.

But the number of people marking the event that runs from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. local time is expected to be far higher.

About 55,000 Canadians have registered, just behind the United States and ahead of Australia. But 70 per cent of Canadians polled recently said they planned to mark the hour.

Municipalities from Charlottetown and Ottawa to Toronto and Vancouver, from Corner Brook, Nfld., and Melfort, Sask., to Lasalle, Que., and Terrace, B.C., are all recognizing Earth Hour.

In all, about 150 communities across Canada have signed on.

In Hanover, Ont., Zoe Soper, 18, who has challenged fellow students to participate, said she planned to pull the power breaker to her home.

“It’s a pretty small thing to just get people to turn off their lights for an hour,” Soper said. “Hopefully it will make people more aware of the issues surrounding energy waste.”

Cafe Koi in Calgary will attempt to operate without electricity for the entire evening.

Owner Philip Wong said a special menu is in the works that will include food that can be prepared beforehand or without electricity and served by candlelight.

“We’ll try to operate as normally as possible,” Wong said.

In Toronto, the lights will go out at City Hall and the focus will be on an acoustic concert outside featuring Nellie Furtado.

Ontario, which would usually use between 16,000 and 17,000 megawatts of power on Saturday evening, is forecasting a drop of about 800 megawatts – almost five per cent – during Earth Hour.

That’s more than the dip that occurs during the moments of silence each Remembrance Day, said Terry Young, spokesman for the Independent Electricity System Operator in Ontario.

More important than just saving power for an hour, Wood said, is getting people to think about what they can do to help fight climate change – whether it’s by turning off lights, washing clothes in cold water or taking public transit.

“Turning off your lights doesn’t have the huge energy savings with it, but what it does do is show how individual acts add up to make a big difference.”

Last year, about two million people and businesses in Sydney took part, pushing down demand for power in the city by 10 per cent – the equivalent of turning off 50,000 cars for an hour, World Wildlife Fund said.

Some facts:
What: Earth Hour 2008
When: March 29, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. local time.
How: Turn out the lights.
Who: About 30 major cities around the world, 150 communities in Canada.
Why: Cut greenhouse gas emissions, raise awareness of conservation and climate change.
Registered participants: 240,000 people worldwide have signed up online, 55,000 in Canada (many more expected to take part)
Planned events: Candlelight dinners, smooching, sleepovers, acoustic concerts, lantern walks, star gazing.

Source: World Wildlife Fund

Our household was part ofĀ Earh HourĀ last Saturday. I was glad that my sister happily agreed to co-operateĀ in this meaningful event. We had to spend half an hour eating dinner by a candle light (No, it’s not romatic if you can hardly see). When I looked out the window to see if our neighbours participated as well, I saw several other families watching TV in the dark just like us. So I came to a conclusion: We can live without light for a while, but we can’t live without TV!

By turning off the lights for just one hour, Toronto save 8.7% in electricity! (see the news report here) Earth Hour is also meant to remind everyone of the importance of energy saving and the concern about climate change. Missed it? Plan your own Earth Hour every now and then to help save the Earth! And it’s fun to stay in the dark once in a while, too.

April 2, 2008 at 10:17 pm Leave a comment

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