Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Plastic bottles and their uses.

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Ask anyone and they will undoubtedly tell you that plastic bottles are bad for the environment, their manufacture requires oil based products,  they take a long time to decompose, and even though they can be recycled many plastic bottles wind up in garbage dumps and landfills, and that is especially the case for bottled water that is not consumed in or near the home. So what to do with all that bulky waste?

How about using plastic bottles to generate energy.  Industrial designer Chris Allen has developed a plan to use stacks of capped plastic bottles to build huge platforms in the ocean to generate energy. Certainly an interesting idea if one can ignore the danger of these towers disintegrating, and littering the ocean with millions of bottles.

Or, on a much smaller scale of course, one can take an example of what must have been a school project in a nearby village. Plastic bottles, each a unique specimen, painted and glued into various forms, mounted on sticks and merrily spinning in the breeze were in front of many houses. Real eye catchers.

I found a use for plastic bottles too, not as artistic as these, but quite useful still. I put them on the ends of the poles that hold the tomatoes so I don’t poke out my eyes when I bend over them ;)

carefully testing the waters …

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

well, that was quite a break from blogging, and if you think I was just goofing off let me tell you I really truly wasn’t. Things got in the way, mostly work, and though I was tempted many times to talk about things that might be of interest these thoughts never made it to the virtual paper. Procrastination I guess, combined with a need to just step back for a while.

But first I have to tell you that I am thrilled/amazed/blown away by the fact that some of you actually missed my posts! If that is not encouragement I don’t know what is ;) So my sencere thanks to you for giving me that extra push that I apparently needed.

Many things have happened, and focussing on the positive, one of the first things that comes to mind is the Clean Energy bill that passed the House of Representatives just a few days ago, sadly with not as much support as one could wish for and not nearly enough for what we would need, but maybe we have to count our blessings that it even made it this far. The combination of industry and money is such a powerful force that what happens to the environment seems inconsequential. And we must not forget the coal plants that are still spewing dirt and poisons into the air. There is still a lot to be corrected.

On the other hand people are getting together to take up the slack where governments fail.  Ocean Grove is a small and fabulously pictureque town on the New Jersey shore, just south of Asbury Park (yep, that is the place where Bruce Springstein with the E Street Band played at the Stone Pony  – I had to throw that in just because ;)  where cars used to be banned on Sundays. Ocean Grove bills itself as ‘God’s square mile at the Jersey shore’ and the no-car rule was until a few years ago enforced for purely religious reasons. Now there are towns springing up, I read about one of them recently in Germany, where people ban motorized vehicles from the streets. You want to live there you better know you have to park on the outskirts.  Isn’t that a great idea though, cleaner air, no traffic noise, a safe place for kids to play, it is something one could get used to.

JG supplied the picture of one of the yellow daisies that will take over the world if I don’t get out there soon ;)

Earth Day 2009

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

April 22nd has always been  a special occasion in our family, a celebration way before we even knew there was an  ‘Earth Day’. You see, April 22nd is also my brother’s birthday – so bear with me when I shout – HAVE A HAPPY BIRTHDAY, and many more, brother dear! He is still my baby brother and I love him dearly, even though his beard these days is more white than brown, and his hair, well, as they say, god gives and god taketh away ;)

Which brings me to this day when we supposedly stop to think about our earth and how we take care of it.  Maybe therein lies the problem – one day out of the year? If we want to see any measure of progress we have to be aware not once a year but every single day in how we live our lives, in the actions we take as individuals and as a group.

A year ago things looked quite dire and the temptation to give in to desperation was huge. Now? I have a strong feeling that things are beginning to head in a very different direction. The new administration is moving right along proposing changes that are good for the environment and even attempting to undo what the previous administration so casually and callously implemented.

And still – if I only look at the reports within the past month or so – scary stuff.

;( Promises by the biotechnology industry that its genetically engineered crops will produce higher yields turns out to be not quite factual. The increase in yield is negligible, the use of pesticide and fertilizer however quite large.

;( Reports claiming that U.S. manufacturers, including major drug companies, have released at least 271 million pounds (!) of pharmaceuticals into waterways that provide drinking water. Quite legally it seems.

;( A story about legal issues related to the pesticide ICON manufactored by  Bayer CropScience. It appears that when rice farmers used ICON to control rice weevils the pesticide also sterilized crawfish which were raised in the same fields as the rice. Splitting hairs whether this unfortunate event is caused by negligence or callousness, the end result is still the spoiling of the environment, countless people losing their livelihood, and it will take years and years to eliminate the results of these poisons.

Scary, isn’t it! The motive? None other than greed.

But, there is also positive news.

-) ‘The US government is to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, having decided that it and five other greenhouse gases may endanger human health and well-being.’ This is quite a switch from the Bush administration which ruled that California for instance could not set targets for vehicle efficiency.

-) The administration has a ‘Vision of High-Speed Rail in America‘ that would link communities across the U.S.

-) Under pressure from shareholders McDonald’s will opt for less pesticides in potatoes used in their kitchens.

-) Good news also on my side of the ocean – Germany barred genetically modified corn even though it is allowed (encouraged?) by the European Union, and of course by the chemical companies that manufacture it.

So on this Earth Day of 2009 I hope that we all come to realize that if we do not take responsibility for our actions in our daily lives, put pressure on our government, on various companies that put profit over environment, on anyone who can make a difference, we may not have much to pass on to our children and their children. As I look out my window the sun is shining, the apple trees are in full bloom, birds are singing, what a treasure we have. Let us treat our earth with the care it deserves, and give the generations that follow a chance to enjoy a healthy environment where the water runs clear and the air smells of flowers.

Is the contraceptive pill polluting our environment?

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

It is really way too early in the day to read a story like the one I just came upon. It upsets me. A great deal. It is so far fetched that at first I assumed it to be a spoof, but alas, it seems to be for real.  In the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pedro Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, president of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, claims that the pill “has for some years had devastating effects on the environment by releasing tonnes of hormones into nature” through female urine. HohKay!

But it gets better: “We have sufficient evidence to state that a non-negligible cause of male infertility in the West is the environmental pollution caused by the pill,” he continues.

Can’t you just picture the circle of purple robed men, the pope wearing Prada (the combined cost of these garbs could probably feed a small nation for a year) , saying things like “brimstone and hellfire have lost their charm, let’s try another approach”? And isn’t an implied threat to the male psyche just the thing!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against large families, I was, after all, raised Catholic, but I also saw the questionable result of preaching abstinence in the number of children our neighbors brought forth. One of my best friends in school had 18 siblings when we lost touch. The difference in that family however was the fact that the parents wanted many kids – I later heard that the cardinal came to the baptism of their 20th child. My real objection to the article in the Vatican paper in this case is not as much about the Vatican’s objection to contraception of any sort, which is another story altogether, but the underhandedness of this story.

One sentence in the above mentioned article made me somewhat happy though – “Millions of Catholics distanced themselves from Rome as a result” . Way to go!

There’s a new wind blowing in Washington

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

and doesn’t it feel good! There finally is hope that things will change in Washington. And for the better, as if one had to mention that. President-elect Barak Obama has taken a significant step towards taking on environmental issues by nominating top climate experts to key science posts in his administration. There is Harvard physicist John Holdren as Mr Obama’s scientific adviser, marine biologist Jane Lubchenco is to head the US oceanic research body, also on board will be Nobel Prize-winning scientist Harold Varmus and Eric Lander, a specialist in human genome research. Things are definitel looking up!