Monday, July 6, 2009

A Paperless Society with a Wireless Reading Device

What is a paperless society? Obviously and as the name implies, it means living and working in an environment where paper will hardly be in use whether at home or in offices. To go paperless is the main aim to lessen our demand for raw materials derived from our already depleted forest.

Records show that about 80% of the world's forests have already been overused for different human purposes, fuel, lumber, paper and other wood products man could think of. However, it takes 10 to 20 years before the trees could grow back into maturity and be fit for consumption. What's worst, others tend to be indiscriminate in the use of these trees by not even waiting for the trees to reach full maturity.

If the paperless society will prevail, then our demand for raw materials derived from these forests will lessen. The European Environmental Paper Network berates UK for using 12.5 million tons of paper yearly. That is nothing compared to what the US posted as paper consumption in 2006 which amounted to 99,778,437 tons or an average of 663 pounds per US citizen. Here are some more facts about the paper industry's demand from the forests and which will greatly lessen in a paperless society:

1 ton of uncoated and non-recycled office paper uses about 24 trees

1 ton of coated, low grade magazine or catalogue paper uses about 8 trees

1 ton of coated high-grade magazine paper uses about 15 trees

10 reams of copier paper uses about 0.6 tree of a tree or a tree is used to produce about 8,333.33 sheets of copier paper

Ninety-five% of the raw materials used in producing paper come from the cellulose fibers of trees. These fibers are derived from softwood species like spruce, fir and pine and from hardwood species like birch, oak and maple.

Based on EPA's records, only 10% of the paper consumed will be retained to form part of a user's records, like photos, books, magazines and documents while the remaining 90% will all go to wastes. Although some recycle used paper, EPA records still show that recycling is not enough. After considering paper trash that went into recycling, paper wastes still represent one third of the country's garbage.

Hence, the paperless society promotes going paperless through the use of e-mails and e-cards, of online banking and payment of monthly bills, of using payment gateways and online shopping, and storing all our records in electronic devices such as flash drives and memory cards.

Further, technological development has brought improvement in the use of eBooks. Thus, electronic reading will no longer require a PC just to read eBooks. Today, there is the "wireless reading device" which can store as much as 1,500 eBooks and download almost all types of publications from newspapers, to magazines and blogs. In fact, everything will be in real time and covers almost all US states.

This "wireless reading device" runs on rechargeable batteries and a single charge is said to run for about 4 days. Very lightweight at about 10.2 ounces, a reader can bring "wireless reading device" anywhere even to the beach because of its adjustable lighting features and glare reduction capabilities. Driving alone in long distance travels will no longer be as boring because you can use the "talk-to-me" features of this "wireless reading device". You can choose either a male or female voice to read the book to you aloud.

The paperless society doesn't looks so dreary anymore because you will now have your reading pleasure using the "wireless reading device" for your eBooks. Besides, there will be no more shelves with books that gather dust aside from lessening our demand for paper.

There are other features you will find convenient about this "wireless reading device". Check it out at the The A consumer's guide to green products and a good place to learn more.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Harmful Household Cleaning Products and What They Can Do to Us

We live in a society that lives in constant fear of germs, dirt, bacteria and virus; hence manufacturers of household cleaning products can easily scare us into buying their wares. Regardless of the chemistry in household cleaning products, millions still choose to ignore how these household chemical hazards, affect not only our environment but also our health.

During the time that these products were introduced and in use for about twenty years, we were given a false sense of security that said cleaning materials truly eliminated the dreaded germs and bacteria. However, if this is really the case, haven’t you noticed that we are globally experiencing even worst cases of flu epidemics? In fact, a chronic disease such as asthma is now considered as a global epidemic. Recent statistics have shown that there is a growing incidence of respiratory illnesses common all over the world.

A recently published article A Closer Look at Asthma and Why it Reached Epidemic Proportions reported several reasons why asthma has reached epidemic proportions today, which include the harmful household cleaning products. Further, women are said to represent a large part of the asthma statistics because of their constant exposure to fumes emitted by these household chemical hazards. This and other chemical materials that were used to manufacture and build most of our household furnishings and building materials, contributed to the pollution of our indoor air.

Researches in Birmingham and Warwick universities in the UK fear that drug resistant bacteria developed through the run-off wastes of household chemical hazards, found in most of UK’s waterways. Part of the scientists’ fears is that the medicines available today will no longer be effective in controlling the diseases brought by these drug immune bacteria.

Most people are unaware of the fact that whatever is sent through the drain will be recycled and eventually form part of the local water source. The toxic wastes only encourage the growth of microbes carried in sewers, leading to streams and rivers and forms part of the local watershed where the community’s water supply comes from. Water supply may be treated but does not guarantee that all microbes therein have been eliminated. Hence, humans drink and use this water and will allow a microbe or two to thrive in the human body system. Any incidence of disease sparked by these bacteria can make any form of anti-bacterial or antibiotic medication become ineffective in combating the disease.

According to scientists, there are now drug resistant pathogens in our midst, slowly spreading out and creeping into communities. Over-prescriptions and misuse of antibiotics have caused this resistance and the medical community fears that their ability to control infections has eroded.

As of this period, the Earth is expected to experience another season of hurricanes, storms and floods which will render our houses susceptible to the wetness, dampness and growth of molds and mildew. Waters will surge with great amounts of debris and will leave our surroundings infected by all kinds of microbes. We will yet experience another of those urges to use these strong and potent chemically formulated household cleaning products.

However, stop for awhile and reflect. We have been using them for about twenty years now, but are we any safer and free from diseases since we started using them? Is it just us or even every nation all across the globe, who experience environmental degradation as well as health deterioration, in spite of our use of these products?

In fact, our condition is not any better than that of our old folks, who only used baking soda, lime, vinegar and other similar substances in keeping their homes clean. Today, household cleaning products contain some of the following household chemical hazards, and why they are considered as harmful:

Sodium hypochlorite or chlorine bleach is composed of chlorine gas absorbed by sodium hydroxide solution. True, it is effective when used as a disinfectant and stain remover, but it is also carcinogenic when mixed with other organic materials. The fumes of the chlorine compound can burn the eyes and skin on contact but the mere inhalation of its fumes can burn the mucus membranes.

Nitrobenzene, this chemical substance cannot be dissolved in water and is often used shoe polishes, floor polishes and other cleaning materials. It has been determined to cause damage to the nervous system, affect vision, impair kidney and liver, and cause anemia as well as lung irritations when a person has been subjected to prolonged exposure. It can be absorbed by the skin and can speed up the heart rate, cause convulsion and in rare cases, death. Fume inhalation can induce headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness; weaken the arms and legs and even death.

Phenol or carbolic acid widely used in cleaning materials, cosmetics, drugs and a host of other products used by an ordinary consumer. This substance is an alternative embalming ingredient to formaldehyde, also a substance widely used even in foods as a preservative. Prolonged skin contact to these substances lead to dermatitis, its vapors are corrosive even to the respiratory tract causing lung edema, and can affect the nervous system, heart, and kidneys which can cause impairment and eventual failure of the organs. In fact, this substance is a suspected carcinogen or cancer causing ingredient.

The above mentioned chemical substances form part of the chemistry in household cleaning products, and they are only examples of the rest. They affect human health as well as the environment when they are carried as waste water run-offs that pass through our drains and goes back down the streams and rivers. As time passes, they will continue to pollute our waterways and sources of water. They will come back to wreak havoc and maybe not in our lifetime but in our children’s and the generations that will succeed them.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ten Green Strategies to Help Improve Our Environment

If you think you need to join movements and lobby in Congress just to become an environmentalist, think again. There are many ways you can contribute to help the environment. Our air is largely polluted because of combustion emissions coming out of our cars. Our streams, rivers, and oceans became polluted because of industrial wastes from manufacturers whose products we patronize; only to carelessly throw them away later once we’re done with them. Our land resources are almost depleted because all we did is take and hardly gave back anything to ensure sustainability 

We all took part in ravaging the Earth and we all benefitted. If the results of our actions before created a monumental impact to destroy our environment, then it is possible that all of us can work together to restore our environment to what it used to be.

Let us all “go green”, that way we can demand from manufacturers to produce eco-friendly products that won’t produce harmful wastes and emissions. Let’s all adapt to green living strategies because the Earth is already suffocating with greenhouse gasses and detrimental wastes. Checkout these green strategies, once you start on in, you’ll find out that it’s not so hard after all:      

1.     Organize and participate in carpools; if it’s not too far, walk, jog or pedal.   

We all need to cut down on gas money anyway, with its constantly rising costs. Organize a carpool, or if there’s already one, be a part of it. Less cars on the road on the way to the grocery, mall or school, means less combustion to pollute the air and damage the ozone layer. Get some exercise by walking, jogging, or riding your bike to do some errands, you need to exercise more often.

2.     Clean with Green

Use natural or organic cleaning products for your housekeeping needs. You can also use vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice, these are the same basic materials used by manufacturers sans the harmful chemicals and less on the costs. There’s nothing wrong with going back to basics, people used them in the olden days and everything was also spotlessly clean.      

3.     Feed and Groom You Pets Green

Since the whole household will “go green”, green your pets too by feeding them natural and organic pet foods and by grooming them with “green” based shampoos, flea and tick repellents and other innovatively green pet supplies.

4.     Consider Other ways to Keep Cool or to Stay Warm

Save on energy and save on your energy money during the summer. Sweating it out a little isn’t too bad for your health. Beat the heat by wearing cool light clothes and by drinking lots of fluids. Health advocates tell us, drinking plenty of water helps in detoxifying our body. During the winter, bundle yourself up with enough warm clothes and warming gear to conserve on energy costs. Drink hot beverages to keep your body warm from the inside.      

5.     Patronize your Local Market

Patronizing your local market and commercial areas makes your community self-sufficient. You’re not only helping your community to grow but you’re also cutting down costs on your purchases. Make some sort of community wish lists for products not available in your community, perhaps your local grocer or suppliers can make them available. This way, the energy and fuel used for shipping will be limited to a few.  

6.     Maintain Proper Waste Disposal by separating Biodegradables from Non- Biodegradables

This simply means separate those that can be recycled from the non-recyclables. Recyclables include those that can be used for compost while the non-recyclables can be re-sold to manufacturers who are also into recycling.

7.     Try to Eliminate Paper Wastes

Try to keep your transactions electronic by e-mails, e-banking, e-shopping, and most other activities that use paper, which are now accessible online. Keep your files secured in flash disks instead of maintaining paper documents in dust gathering files.   

8.     Insulation for Conservation

Consider the use of solar power and heat giving insulators. They were designed to cut down on energy and to lessen the demand for electricity. The less electricity that each household consumes, the less production can be expected from the pollution emitting power plants.

9.     Go easy on Meat

 Lessen your demand for meat and you’ll lessen farm run-offs carrying animal manure. Besides, less meat  in our diet is not only healthy it’s also budget friendly. 

10.  Recycle or Buy Recycled

There’s nothing wrong in re-using things; the Internet offers many ideas on how to make things look new and re-usable. If you can’t recycle, buy recycled. You’ll be surprised on how imaginative and creative recycled things are coming along nowadays.

Work hand in hand with the community and perhaps ask your local government to provide more spaces where trees could be planted to make your community green. Trees will provide you, your protection from the scorching sun as well as give off fresh oxygen your community can inhale.

For your guide to green products visit The Green Ability, it's also a good place to learn more . 

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

How Global Warming Affects Our Pets

Global warming has brought about extreme weather conditions, extreme cold or extreme heat, which can even come unexpectedly. Have you noticed how the weather nowadays can seem to be out of date or out of season? Yet when they come, they always seem to be at an intense level.

The Department of Pathology and Animal Health, University of Naples "Federico II", Naples, Italy warned, that the effects of these climate changes include the increase in numerous vector borne diseases. Vector in biology means an agent or organism capable of transmitting disease-causing microorganisms from one infected human being or animal to another. The most common vectors are mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.

Humans are not the only ones susceptible to the effects of these severe climate conditions. Even our pets who are supposed to have built-in adapters for wild life condition can be affected. Why not? We have sheltered and protected them just like our own offspring. We feed, bathe, and care for them to make them feel comfortable so they would never run away from home. Just like humans, pets would prefer to stay snug, cared for, and cozy in a loving home. However, they are the likely carriers of fleas and ticks.

According to the paper reviews of the university, one such vector borne parasite is called "Dirofilaria" and poses a great risk of infecting humans and animals because they are mosquito-borne parasites. The past summer temperatures had been ideal for the incubation of these parasites and its impact can spread in different parts of the world.

As winters have become shorter and milder, ticks have more time to be active during the year. In Europe, dog tick is said to be responsible for spreading a malaria-like disease called "canine babesiosis" to other countries that rarely experienced any such diseases in their communities. In other cases, ticks called  "Ixodes' medically pinpointed as responsible for tick-borne encephalitis that occur in horses and dogs, are now gaining greater density in Europe. Cat flea typhus, which used to be a rare disease, is now feared to become widespread in both dogs and cats.  

As responsible pet lovers and owners, our tendency is to treat our household pets with anti-flea products that contain insecticides. They may come in the form of shampoos, spray or dusting agents to make sure fleas will not thrive to cause discomfort in our pets. However, there is still another problem to contend with.

As early as June 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave out its warning that flea control products sold as shampoos, dips, and other forms of flea insecticides pose a threat to its users, handlers and the pet itself. Most of them contain some of the most dangerous pesticides collectively known as "organophosphate" (OP). Individually there are seven known "organophosphates" widely used in pet products. These are: malathion, dichlorvos, phosmet, tetrachlorvinphos, diazinon, naled, and chlorpyrifos.

The CDC came out with this warning after several cases of children being hospitalized for "organophosphate" poisoning as a result of their exposure to pesticides found in their respective dogs or cats. The CDC further warned that children who will continuously be exposed to these toxic hazards face an increased risk of impaired brain development.

It was established that a child who is still in the developing stage of his or her nervous system is highly vulnerable to the toxic effects of "organophosphate". This report aims to bring to the consumer the knowledge that the anti-flea product they have patronized not only contribute to our environmental ruin but also threaten our health, especially that of our children.

Anti-flea shampoos are carried in water-run offs that will eventually find its way to canals, rivers and streams. Aerosol sprays evaporate and mingle in our atmosphere while dusting powders are particulate matters that contribute in polluting our air. There is a call to go green, which means changing our lifestyle including that of our pets, by utilizing products made from less hazardous raw materials.

There is a green and safer alternative to care for our pets.  The Natural Resources Defense Council suggests a little extra effort like regular washing and combing of pets as well as cleaning of furniture and vacuuming of carpets can control cases of mild flea infestations. If necessary, there are other newer substances known as insect growth regulators not classified as pesticides but as chemicals that are effective in arresting the propagation of young fleas. They are safe to spray and apply on our pets since the ingredients were verified to be non-hazardous.  

Based on the above report, the facts presented to the buying public aim to convince them of the need to go green. Change must also come from them because they are the end users and hazardous wastes result from their use of non-eco friendly goods. Increasing the public's demand for green products can lessen the demand on products made from toxic raw materials. 

Hopefully, we will finally see the day that environmental concerns for toxic wastes and pollution will become a thing of the past.  Don't you think it's about time we stopped using toxic products and all other consumer goods that result to toxic wastes? 

For your guide to green products, visit The GreenAbility. it's also a good place to learn more.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Quality of Air We Breathe

Accordingly, air pollution in the U.S. stems not only from the pollution originating from the country’s sources of air pollutants but also includes air borne pollution coming from global sources. Hence, tracking which source is the greatest contributor to air pollution, presents difficulties. The air moves along with the pollutants thus, the levels of pollution will differ from one place and one moment to another.   

This being considered, it would be best to place greater concentration on the sources of air pollutants in general. The most powerful emitters of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide are the power plants, cars and trucks, and industrial smoke stacks. Most of the pollutants travel while in the air and eventually forms the acid rain that we now know of. As soon as they precipitate, it rises in the form of rain or snowfall and goes back to the ground.

The major sources of mercury pollution are the coal-fueled power plants and industrial waste incinerators. All these sources include carbon dioxide in their emission hence; it remains the most inexhaustible of all the greenhouse gasses that has continued to damage the Earth’s atmosphere.

The American Lung Association’s listings of the most air polluted state are based on the number of hospital admissions within a particular area; this admissions or hospital visits pertained to treatment of patients for health problems linked to long or short-term exposure to particulate matters that pollute the air. The statistics included deaths aggravated by the said type of air pollution. Hence, the state with the most number of health cases linked to air pollution reported, qualifies as the area with the highest level of pollution.

In the U.S., the consensus is that, California still holds the title of being the state with the highest level of air pollution. In fact, four of California’s metropolis, San Bernardino, Riverside, Bakersfield, and Fresno lead the pack of California’s collective cities and counties listed in the American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report as of 2006. Liberty, Pittsburgh comes in next as the first area outside of California to have the highest level of air pollution while Dearborn, Michigan holds the title to being the second area outside of California to have high level of air contaminants. 

Certain political views blamed the Bush administration for the worsening of the air pollution in some state. Certain changes in the enforcement of policies to ensure air quality involved relaxing inspection requirements. Under the relaxed rule, states are required to inspect pollution sources only once in every five years, in spite of the presence of factories that were previously monitored to have given off tons of harmful pollutants during the past years.

America’s children are reportedly paying the price for this disregard in ensuring clean air in our environment. Asthma has become prevalent   and now a major health issue since medical statistics shows asthma as the leading cause of children’s hospitalization during the past years. Parents are now faced with the dilemma of forcing their kids to stay indoors.

However, indoor air pollution is another issue.

Read a related article about Air Pollution in the U.S.  

Do We Keep Our Kids Safe from Pollution by Keeping Them Confined Indoors?

Staying indoors most of the time does not guarantee our protection from air pollution. People, particularly children, often suffer from asthma attacks despite staying within the confines of their homes. Some of us may not be aware of it but indoor pollution is also a threat to our health and that of our children’s. Some of the medically verified allergens we should be aware of are:

  • The secondhand smoke exhaled by a family member, as he or she exhales the cigarette, pipe, or cigar inside an enclosed room or car. 

  • The dust mites, who are too minute to be perceived by the human eye but can be sensed by our olfactory system; these allergens can be present in almost every home, in bedding materials, mattresses, stuffed toys, curtains, and upholstered furniture.

  • Molds that thrive on wet or damp areas often found in bathrooms, kitchen, and particularly the basement. The growth of mold spores is accounted during rainfalls followed by great humidity or in rooms where there are cold and dry conditions.

  • Cockroaches and other insects are carriers of allergens in the form of their droppings and secretions. We know for sure that these pests are capable of these things but it is something not totally visible to us. Hence, they merely evaporate in our surroundings and become part of the air that we breathe indoors. Eliminating them in our households as much and as often as possible lessens the composition of our indoor air pollution.

  • Our pet’s skin also sheds off flakes and fine particles of hair not to mention other secretions they may leave in their litter boxes or in the specific spots in our homes that they consider as their special places. We may have provided them with scratchboards or mattresses, but could take us a week or more before we could attend to. The accumulation however can rise in the air and becomes part of the air we breathe.

  • Nitrogen Dioxide, the emission that comes from our indoor fuel burning equipment especially if our homes do not have enough air vents. These are fuel burners such as gas stoves, gas space heaters, wood stoves, gas or oil furnaces, and unvented kerosene fueled heaters.

Our children are at risk from both indoor and outdoor pollutants. Statistics gathered from hospitals, place asthma as the number one cause for hospitalization among children while schools have recorded asthma as the leading reason for student absences.  

These are certain environmental issues that cause detrimental risks to our health. The call for change and order can get a good start right in our own homes.


Monday, March 16, 2009

The Main Reasons Why We Should All “Go Green”

Looking Back in the Pre-“Green” Era

In the early 1960’s, being “green” was a cool idea only among the hippies. Environmentalists then were considered as radicals and merely needed an excuse to become recluses. The acceptable norm was that the Earth had limitless capacity to absorb all the wastes of modern technology. People saw only the vastness of the lands, the immensity of the oceans and the endlessness of the skies. 

Today, after more than forty years, the vast land is almost depleted, marine life is disrupted, and the skies are detrimentally polluted. Now the concept to “go green” seems to be the only way to rectify all that was neglected. How our resources and environment came to be are the obvious reasons why there is now a global effort to “go green”. We, as individuals should consider several underlying reasons why we should be in agreement with this “green” movement. Take awhile and ponder on some of these reasons: 
Think About the Living Conditions of Future Generations

Has it ever crossed your mind that the ones who will suffer are the children we cherished and kept protected all through their growing up years? Soon, these young ones will bring forth future generations. Consider the kind of legacy we have in store for them. A world full of contamination and less of the life sustaining resources that their forefathers enjoyed during their lifetimes.
Wouldn’t it be better if our children and the next in their line learn and enjoy the values of an Earth-friendly way of life? 

Think About the Safety of the Weak and the Geographically Disadvantaged

Have you noticed the harshness of the weather? Where heat and cold could be at extreme levels, some members of our global society don’t have the means or capacity to protect themselves from its ill effects. Global warming has transformed hurricanes, cyclones and “tsunamis” to something more dreadful than before, because they can come unexpected and leave a place totally devastated. Consider the health of the young ones and the elderly as they breathe in air full of pollution particles and potent gasses. 

Do we wait until we become the next victims or be proactive and get into green living?

Think About the Advantages of ”Green”

To “go green” in our lifestyle means not only the promotion of health through eco-friendly sustenance, but the creation of a demand for naturally grown and organically based products. Manufacturers often take their cue from what the public demands. Soon these manufacturers will supply a demand for eco-friendly products without need for smokestacks, chemicals, and harmful synthetics. 

In fact, the small businesses have been the fore runners in adapting the green living concept in their products. There are now green cleaning materials, organic fertilizers,  solar powered batteries and chargers, organic foods, organic coffee,  and countless other green products just to save the Earth that we live in.  

The “green” way of life will eliminate wastes that pollute the rivers, streams, and estuaries. These are where polluted rainwater run-offs carry the wastes and debris used by man in his day-to-day life.

Greening the environment will mean more plants and trees to give shade and provide fresh sources of oxygen. We can walk with leisure, ride our bikes, and have less demand for carbon dioxide emitting vehicles that contribute the most harm to our ozone layers.

The best part of all? Less green bucks will be taken out of our wallets because “green” products cost less.

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Read a related article about Sustainability via this

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Monday, February 2, 2009

The Plight of the Sad-Faced Elephants

Do you think elephants are sad-faced? Actually, they have a lot reasons to be. Not just the “Dumbo” type of reason but by the way they are being inhumanely treated. Today, they are under the endangered species list; Asian elephants are classified as full-fledged endangered while African elephants are classified as threatened-endangered. So big and so majestic and yet these gentle creatures are subjected to cruel treatments very few of us are aware of.

The African Elephants 

During the 70’s up to the late 1980’s, the world market’s demand for the elephant’s ivory tusk was high. The market price commanded as much as $90 per pound because the smooth texture of these ivory tusks was very ideal for exquisite artistic creations. They were used for decorative carvings, religious images, handles, piano keys, jewelry, and other exquisite ideas of artisanship. Besides, during that era, plastic as an alternative smooth material was yet unheard of.   

These ivory tusks are actually the elephant’s extra teeth, which it uses for digging deeply into the ground in search of food to sustain its humongous body. What we see of its tusks is only a 2/3 part while the remaining part is embedded deeply in the elephant’s skull. Hence, poachers slaughtered these elephants in order to get those precious ivory tusks. In those days, it was common to see herds of elephants killed in multitudes in the plains of Africa, their carcasses left to rot in the heat of the African sun for vultures to feast on.

It was only in 1989 when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) unanimously voted to ban the international trade for ivory tusks, that these killings were put to a temporary halt. The government of Kenya finally found a support for their local laws in banning the sale of products from their wildlife preserves.

It was only temporary of course since poachers still found a way to smuggle the ivory tusks out of the African countries. As recent as 2006, several contraband items containing ivory tusks were confiscated in several Asian key ports and on different occasions. The ivory tusks found were still fresh with blood and bits of flesh at the time of confiscation.

It could end on a happy note that the African nations have provided wildlife reserve areas where these elephants are protected from poachers. However, as these elephants are huge and with equally huge appetites, the funding for these reserves could not meet the resources needed to maintain the growing number of elephants. Thus, the government and the wildlife officials decided that culling measures be implemented to lessen the demand for wildlife reserves.

Culling is how they call their selective and regulated method of deciding which elephant should stay and which elephant should be killed. The tusks of those who were culled was again the subject of trade on the grounds that the proceeds will be used to fund the wildlife reserves. This move gained support from the local farmers, since they were not too happy with the way elephants invaded and destroyed their cultivation once the reserves’ food provision could not satiate the elephant’s large appetite.    

The only problem is the poachers and the smugglers found another opportunity to continue with their trade. This time though, the massacred elephants were found deep in the forests. The poachers too were well prepared, since they have set-up camps in the woods. They came complete with high-powered guns and rocket launchers in case anyone, including the forest rangers, interfered with their poaching activities.

If only these gentle giants could run as fast and as agile as their other jungle counterparts could, they would have eluded these poachers. Alas, they are big and slow as well as traveled in herds, which made them easy targets for the poachers. Hence, this is the plight of the sad-faced African elephants.         

The Asian Elephants

The Asian elephants are different. They are endangered not because they are victims of poaching. In fact, greater value is given to a living Asian elephant since they are literally used as beasts of burden. The value of two ivory tusks is nothing compared to the number of logs it can haul in a day’s work.

In Burma, elephants haul and pull logs in steep inclines and steadily rising grounds at times covering a distance of about two miles. They strained and pulled logs, sometimes crying out in pain since each pull managed to open up the sores on their flanks. As a reporter empathized while watching the elephant, it was accordingly a scene too difficult to witness. Finally, after about an hour and a half, the elephant will complete its task of dragging illegally felled logs.

Here in Burma, the elephants are fed, bathed and cared for as well as trained, scarred and marked. The upkeep of a healthy herd of elephants is important for Burma’s logging industry which up to now carries a way of life long forgotten from the rest of the other regions.

As ironic as the life of the African elephants, Asian elephants found in Burma can be sustained by large forest reserves because Burma is the only place in Asia with the largest remaining wild lands. Unfortunately, they live in a country meted by sanctions by the international community, hence, the country is isolated from the rest, and only a few organizations can help regarding the issue of elephant conservation.  

The life of an elephant both in Africa and in Asia is hard. If the two could communicate, one would probably ask the other,” Where do you prefer to live? “In a vast land where you are not allowed to roam too far, lest the poachers will kill you or here in an equally vast land where you are cared for in captivity  because they need you to be strong for tomorrow’s work?”

Now you know why elephants have sad faces.  

Read a related article entitled: "Poaching: Still a Threat to Elephants despite Internation Ban on Ivory Sales", via this link:

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Water Pollution - How Unsafe is our Water?

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The rate by which our waters is getting polluted has caused environmentalists to call for more rigorous control measures on water safety monitoring as well public filtration processes. Current proposals in Congress are inclined on transferring the responsibility of ensuring safe and quality water from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to local governments regardless of whether they are ill equipped or insufficiently funded.

There is still uncertainty as to what measure to adopt; whether Congress will require the State and local government to improve on their water purifications techniques and EPA to bear down heavily on standards for possible cancer causing chemicals. The other alternative is for EPA to loosen up and regulate only those chemicals that has the greatest potential risks, like lead. Neither one of the two proposals seems to ensure that the water we will be drinking will be made safe. 

Environmentalists feel that there is a need to inform the public as to the real extent of the water pollution issue. This will create an awareness that they should take certain steps in making sure that their water is safe to drink or use. Below are some environmental issues that have rendered our sources of water unsafe:    

Polluted Snow/Rain Water Run-offs

We as community dwellers should be the firsts to be responsible about this. Since most of our grounds today are considered as altered lands being covered with concrete and all that, the rain water that falls are hardly absorbed by the ground. Rain, storm, snow, flood waters called as run-offs flow through canals and roads and will eventually reach its destination in streams, rivers, and estuaries. On their way out, these waters will meet all sorts of debris thrown carelessly by humans such as detergents, pet wastes, construction materials, vehicle oil drip offs, salt or fertilizers used for defrosting driveways, and other similar substances disposed of carelessly.

Studies have shown that these water run-offs have contributed largely in polluting our water resources since the grounds they flow on hardly has the capacity to absorb the water. In fact, even groundwater, which is the main source of deep-well water, was likewise tested as contaminated. 

Farm Water Run-offs

If you are living in areas near farms and other agricultural areas, research findings have disclosed that they are the major contributors in contaminating the river water. The U.S. Geological Survey has linked nine states, namely: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee as having contributed in polluting the Gulf of Mexico. Accordingly, this is due to their farm run-offs which contained high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous. In fact, researchers have described the Gulf of Mexico today as over-fertilized.

Researchers from Yale University and Louisiana State University report that over the past 50 years farm run-offs have pumped rivers with excessive carbon dioxide. This has made not only the rivers acidic but the ocean as well. This is one of the reasons why coral reefs today appear bleached and dying; as a result, there is disruption of marine life.

Atmospheric Pollution

The Earth’s atmosphere now contains levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that have caused temperatures and climate changes. As the atmospheric composition precipitates and falls as rainwater or snowfall, a large part of it goes back into the ocean. The quality of water that goes back into the ocean is now contaminated with carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses including methane. Methane is said to be several times more potent than carbon dioxide.      

Chlorine as Medium for Water Disinfection

Chlorine is actually not a pollutant and is intentionally infused in our water to act as disinfecting agent. However, only a few of us are aware that the use of chlorine with chloroform as its main composition is cancer causing, which is now receiving much attention from the EPA.  

Not all Bottled Water are Safe

After knowing all sources of pollutants listed above, we will then resort to bottled water as our presumed safety measure to ensure that our drinking water is safe. Often promoted as “safer” and “chlorine free,” it may come as a surprise to you that about a third of bottled water in the U.S. come from public water supplies, based on reports. On top of that, consumers are not aware that regulations that govern the preparation of these bottled water are said to be less than strict, hence you are not sure if what you are drinking is safer than what you obtained from the faucet.

Our utmost concern is the safety of our drinking water by using home filtration. It can at least provide us the assurance that the water we are drinking went through proper filtration and disinfecting processes. In addition, we could probably refer to certain sites such as “Your Guide to Green” at this link to get ideas on how we could ensure quality and safety in the water we drink. 

Article source:

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Greenland is Losing Glaciers: An Ice-Free Greenland in 2040?

Global warming and the resulting rise in the Earth's temperature is causing chunks of ice to melt faster than what was expected. In fact, scientists say that the rate by which the ice is melting in Greenland is way ahead by thirty years based on their previous studies. The Arctic people, the Inuit  Eskimos are finding their houses and roads shifting on what was once frozen grounds. Quite a number are seriously considering relocating before total ice melt down takes place. Even Polar bears are losing their means for hunting seals as frozen seagrounds have melted.Greenland is expected to become totally ice free by year 2040.

In America, Montana's Glacier National Park is also rapidly losing its glaciers. The original count of 150 glaciers have now dwindled down to less than 30 glaciers. In Tanzania, the legendary snow of Mt. Kilimanjaro has depleted by at least 80% meaning only 20% remains and is expected to reach total melt down by 2020. In the Sierra Nevada mountains, plant life has changed from alpine flowers to sagebrush. Sagerbush thrive on dry regions why alpine flowers are known to flourish between the timberline and snowline vegetation zones.

The effects of global warming have quite a negative impact but some good may yet be seen out of it. As the Arctic Ocean becomes free of ice, it has slowly paved the way for the opening of a new route for a faster sea travel. The Northwest Passage presents a direct route from Europe to Asia  which means sea travel can be shorter and will entail less fuel consumption. In fact five countries namely US, Canada,UK, Russia and Greenland  have already expressed their interests in gaining control over this new route. An offshoot of these new travel possibilities is that Greenland can be a potential source for new investments, as its long hidden resource are beginning to unfold.However, the race for Greenland before it finally thaws out into an ice-free zone is becoming complicated. The effects of the ice meltdown seem to be reaching more than ecological problems. Political issues are now cropping up.

For more information about this, read a related article entitled " Greenland Losing Glaciers May Mean Shorter Travel Routes" by following this link:

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Noise: Pollutants, Remedies and a Trivia

Noise per se isn’t harmful; in fact, it is common in places where there are crowds and each person present wants to be noticed or heard. In the market, noise is to be expected since every merchant wants to attract the buyer’s attention. In sports arenas, where supporters cheer and shout their moral support for their favorite team or player. You can even add the noise of jeers hurled by hecklers and sore fans. In schools, especially when the teacher is not around to rap their sticks on the table and impose authority for them to keep their voices down. You’re not supposed to complain about noise if you stay in these places for some time.

Noise becomes irritating if you’re in the comfort of your home and an endless drone of low flying airplanes will pass overhead. It causes your blood pressure to rise since the occurrence can shake your walls and rattle you window panes. On top of that, you have read so many incidents about how accidents can happen; that by some stroke of misfortune any one of these planes may accidentally use your roof as landing pads.

 Noise becomes a form of pollution if you’re living in the city and the traffic could bring a lot of cars honking simultaneously as their way of trying to protest the long hours they have been waiting in queue. Add the multitudes of pedestrians who’d rather walk than wait it out in the city traffic, most of them talking simultaneously, enough to create a din. Noise in the city can disrupt your sleep, invade your privacy when you find it hard to carry on with a simple conversation or create an unpleasant atmosphere for work done at home.

If you live in the suburbs, you might think that noise pollution can’t touch you here since the neighborhood are mostly residential properties and only a few cars pass by.  That’s possible, if your neighbors are aware that the use of lawn mowers and leaf blowers is capable of making intrusive and disruptive noise that can get into your nerves.

Even the workplace can be vulnerable to noise if the office interior wasn’t properly equipped with sound proofing materials or acoustics. Factories and its factory lines with the constant whirring sounds can deafen your ear if you get a daily dose of it as a worker.    

Noise pollution is an environmental issue if it is invasive and disruptive causing negative effects on health and productivity.

 Remedies for Noise Pollution

 Homes located in areas near airports, factories and cities adapt their homes against noise by adding noise barrier and sound absorption materials such as barrier walls, acoustical foam, custom sound enclosures, pipe wrap, acoustical doors, windows and ceiling tiles as well as double paned windows.

Offices use a “white noise” machine which helps cover up unwanted and intrusive noises to diminish the sounds that can disrupt the work in an area. The machine produces a casual and non-directional sound that comes off as harmonious enough to cover whatever unwanted noise is spreading through in the work place.

Trivia: A Unique Type of Noise Pollution

In the Philippines, people love to while away their time by singing along with their karaoke or videoke machines. It is quite common among the neighborhood in slum areas to set the decibels of their machines at several notches over and above than that of their neighbor’s.  Imagine a place where houses with but single pieces of ply-woods to separate them, will have people singing at the top of their voices using microphones and accompanied by blaring sound machines with high powered speakers to boot.

Imagine these people finding themselves uplifted from their slum origins through the hard work of their overseas relative and are now residing in quiet residential neighborhoods. The more reason they have to enjoy life and sing to their heart’s content and the neighbors have no recourse but to put ear plugs in their ears.   

 Ciel Cantoria also writes for Brigh Hub. Read a related article about Noise Pollution and Its Sources also by the author at this link:

The author also answers several "what if" questions at her site at:

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Contaminated San Francisco Estuary Still Contaminated Despite the NEP

Do you live in California? Lately, there have been reports that striped bass baby fish or fingerlings found in San Francisco estuary are deformed. In fact, studies reveal that even while in the mother fish 's womb, the developing larvae shows signs of abnormality. Some parts have yellowed areas indicative of blistered and dead tissues and the spinal cord is unusually curved. What this information is telling us, is that the San Francisco estuary and the fish from its waters is unsafe.

What is an estuary? An estuary is that part of the bay area where the river water and ocean water meets usually near a coast. Before 1987, prior to the establishment of the National Estuary Program (NEP), estuaries were considered as worthless and were commonly used as dumping sites. Hence, out of the 102 estuaries found in the US, 28 estuaries were considered as threatened and were placed under the National Estuary Program for rehabilitation and control. The San Francisco estuary is one those placed under this program.

Then why are the fish in San Francisco estuary contaminated or deformed? The waters in San Francisco estuary is still contaminated inspite of being under the National Estuary Program (NEP) for more than twenty years. Cleaning up the San Francisco estuary is not an easy task and may take more than what it took to clean up the other estuaries. This is simply because the contamination found in this estuary dates back from 1848 when the mining industries were booming in California due to the famous California "gold rush". Mining companies meant the use of mercury and the estuary then was their dumping sites, hence San Francisco estuary was the recipient of a legacy of toxic wastes.

The pollution of the estuary didn't stop there either, studies showed that the presence of copper is also high in the list of pollutants as California went into modernization. As California progressed, so did the quality of the pollutants that were deposited in the estuary. Flame retardants, chemicals used in making paper goods, electric transformers, pesticides and a wide range of chemicals that were banned decades ago are also the contributing pollutants in the waters of San Francisco estuary. So one need not wonder why it's taking too long for the NEP to cleanup these waters, more than one century and a half of toxic wastes have been deposited in this area. 

So now do you live in San Francisco, California? 

For more information about San Francisco and other estuaries, read a related article entitled 
"Water Contamination in San Francisco Estuary Blamed for Deformities in Baby Fish" by following this link. 

Where Have All the Frogs Gone?

Did you know that frogs are now endagered species? An affliction has been besetting frogs all over the world and biologists say that this has something to do with global warming. However at this stage, researchers still can't place it all in one solid explanation. One thing is for sure, frogs are dying globally and in massive numbers at that.

Do you remember the time when you could hear frogs croaking in unison? We never stopped to think about it, but sure enough we no longer hear those phenomenal frog conciertos anymore. As early as 1996, the Sierra Nevada frogs were noticed to be decreasing in numbers. Whereas before, they croaked and leaped in abundance both in the low and high of the Sierra Nevada ranges, the last survey in 1999 came up with only 2 Sierra frogs remaining.

In 2003, Conservationsts sued the Fish and Wildlife Services for refusing to list the frogs under the Endangered Species Protection program. They wanted to give the frogs protection from several factors they considered as detrimental to the frog's existence, namely: grazing, recreation, dams and water diversion, roads and predation. They scored a victory in 2006 when the Federal judge ordered the Fish and Wildlife Services to list the Yellow-legged frog and the Yosemite toad under the Endangered Species Protection program. So they thought the problem will be kept under control

Recent developments however showed that frogs all over the world are dying and in massive numbers including those in tropical countries. What the Sierra Nevada folks thought as an isolated case was happening globally. That's the reason we no longer hear the "blidits" and the croaks nor see them hop-hop- hopping along the road anymore as we pass by the mountainsides. In fact, can you remember those times when you saw bodies of frogs on the roads obviously  victims of hit and run incidents? 
Scientists have now devoted their time in researching for answers and to find out what seems to be wiping out these frogs on the face of the Earth. Actually, it's no longer just a matter of frogs dying, the issue is now about biodiversity - where every living thing, even in the minutest of form is essential to maintain a balanced ecology. 

They have considered global warming and the rise in temperatures. They have connected it to a certain fungus but this fungus was supposed to have been extinct a long time ago. Scientists are still baffled while frogs continue to die. If the next generation ever gets to read about the frog prince, kids in the future will never get to see a real frog and understand why the princess refused to kiss it.

For more information about the plight of these frogs, read a related article entitled "Sierra Frogs- Will They Survive Global Warming" by following this link:


What if Global Warming Continues?

The damaged ozone layer is still the most critical environmental issue that our world is facing today. For one, the green house effect is a natural occurrence in the Earth’s make-up. Solar energy naturally radiates through the Earth’s atmosphere designed to transmit thermal heat as an important factor to sustain all of Earth’s life forms. 

As a result the environment in our planet gets warmed due to the layers of carbon dioxide and methane, which protects the Earth from absorbing too much solar heat. This protective layer of gasses is more commonly known as the ozone layer. As the ozone layer protects the Earth from absorbing too much thermal energy, it has the dual role of preventing the warmth from bouncing back into space. This is then what we all know as the “greenhouse effect”. 

However the Earth is old or even ancient since it dates back from the very beginning. Man in turn became smarter and smarter, in fact too smart for his own good. The earth’s atmosphere became too saturated with carbon dioxide and all sorts of gasses coming from man’s technological innovations, unaware that it was damaging our protective ozone. Until one day, man became conscious of the sudden changes in climates and temperature, in the weather and the natural calamities. 

We now have acid rains, hurricanes and typhoons in stronger forms and duration leaving some parts of the world in total devastation. Too much solar heat has permeated the atmosphere beating down on our large bodies of water. The volume of evaporation and moisture form into low pressure areas and depressions and the winds get tangled and trapped in the Earth’s spinning motion. Hence we are met with natural catastrophes of greater magnitude. 

After understanding all these, what‘s next? What can man do that he hasn’t tried before?Actually it’s not just the hair sprays and the aerosols but also the smoke coming from power plants, factories and automobiles. Can we do without all of these?