Two Visionaries Tackle Climate Change With Rooftop Farms

Two Visionaries Tackle Climate Change With Rooftop Farms

As climate change becomes an increasingly alarming issue, more environmentalists are looking for sustainable ways to keep the effects of global warming at bay. Among these eco visionaries are Courtney Hennessey and John Stoddard of Boston. The duo is credited with the formation of Higher Ground Farm. This is a growing establishment that cultivates miniature farms on the rooftops of buildings in urban cities.

The project has really taken off with several roof farms already in place in New York and another one set to be constructed in Massachusetts. So far, plans are looking good with the company expected to grow up to 100,000 pounds of produce by the end of 2013.

Aside from providing fresh produce, rooftop farming also helps to mitigate climate change. Since the plants on the farm absorb sunlight, it would help reduce a heat island effect, which tends to plague large cities. A heat island effect occurs when a city develops higher temperatures than nearby rural areas as a result of human activity. This would also result in reduced electricity and cooling costs for companies that invest in rooftop farming for their facilities.

Another plus of rooftop farming is that it allows locals affordable and easy access to natural and organic produce, which is a good way to combat obesity and health problems that are rampant in poor urban areas.

Stoddard and Hennessy also hope to strike several partnerships by getting restaurants involved with Higher Ground Farm. This gives restaurateurs the advantage of advertising their cuisines as being served fresh from local sources.

Just like typical farming, rooftop farming also has its share of hurdles and problems. Plants and crops can be affected by wind, pigeons and seagulls. The goal of Higher Ground Farm is to fix a broken system of food production that relies heavily on genetically modified crops.

Scientists Propose Geo-engineering as a Possible Response to Climate Change

Scientists Propose Geo-engineering as a Possible Response to Climate Change

Scientists are brainstorming all sorts of ideas to combat global warming. Among these ideas is geo-engineering, a hotly debated and controversial topic in which the environment is manipulated to great extremes to quell the effects of climate change.

Rather than looking for a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, geo-engineering is a system of ideas that aims to control the carbon dioxide that is already present in the atmosphere. One of the proposed methods involves dispersing massive amounts of the mineral olivine into the ocean. This would increase the water’s alkalinity, which allows it to suck some of the carbon dioxide right out of the air.

However, laboratory tests done at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research shows that this method would be futile. Studies show that in order to effectively eliminate the majority of the carbon dioxide, 40 gigatons of olivine would be required. That is equivalent to 40 billion tons and would fill a fleet of 100 transport ships.

Even if scientists could feasibly obtain that gargantuan amount, the amount of energy needed to crush the mineral into fine powder would create a whole other set of environmental concerns. The massive amount of energy used during the grinding process would emit about a third of the carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. On top of this hurdle, the mineral would also release traces of iron into the sea, which would cause ocean fertilization and lead to a huge surge in plankton.

Geo-engineering continues to remain a hotly debated subject in the scientific community. Some dismiss the idea as utter nonsense that could have unforeseen side effects and irreversible consequences. Proponents, however, see it as a viable alternative and believe that it warrants further discussion given the fact that proposals to curb greenhouse gas emissions have resulted in zero progress.

Prince Charles Becomes an Activist for the Environment

Many celebrities tend to be very vocal about their beliefs and use their stardom to try to make a difference. When it comes to protecting the environment, some of the biggest activists include Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio. You can now add Prince Charles to that list as he says that saving planet Earth is “a grandfather’s duty.”

During an interview at Cambridge House, Prince Charles explains that he does not want his future grandchild to be born in a world where he or she has to tackle serious climate change issues because people like his or her grandfather took a passive stance. He added that if nothing is done, his grandchild and subsequent generations could end up inheriting a world that has become a “poisoned chalice.”

Prince Charles has in fact been a strong environmental advocate for many years. In 2007, he set up the Prince’s Rainforest Group, an organization dedicated to saving the few rainforests that remain in the world. He also spoke in front of the committee at the UN international climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009. A year later, he was invited as a guest speaker at the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference.

Prince Charles also commented on his current project and added that he is in the works of creating a team of volunteers in the UK following the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

With charitable-related issues set aside, Prince Charles also indulged in his excitement about becoming a grandfather for the first time. Prince William and Kate Middleton are expecting their first child due this summer.

On more serious issues, Prince Charles also echoed concerns for his son Prince Henry, who is currently abroad in Afghanistan. Prince Charles regularly meets with the relatives of those killed in action or seriously wounded while fighting the war on terror.

Global Warming Could Spell Doom for Pasta Lovers

Sure, they may be high in carbs, but who doesn’t love their morning bagel, the pasta at dinnertime and the Mac-and-cheese they serve their kids? If you are among those who have to have a serving of rice or bread with every meal, then you might be alarmed to hear that global warming may soon make it harder to obtain the food that has become such a main staple in our diets.

Pasta and bread are derived from wheat
, and scientists are in near unanimous agreement that climate change can have a drastic impact in its production especially as temperatures continue to rise and droughts become increasing severe.

Global warming is responsible for extreme and violent storms as was evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Sandy. However, powerful hurricanes and flash floods are not the only worries. Rice, wheat and corn are the foods that most populations around the world rely on. These three are basically crops that grow optimally during the cool season.

Wheat production has declined by over five percent in the last 50 years. This is believed to be attributed to the one degree Fahrenheit increase in global temperatures. Some experts project that wheat production will decline by another 23 to 27 percent by the year 2050 if no actions are taken to curb the rise of climate change. Currently, there is action that is being taken to develop different crop systems that are able to tolerate and thrive in warmer temperatures.

This past July was the hottest recorded summer in U.S. history. This has led to a decline in soybean and corn production, which has caused massive protests all over the world over rising food costs. Unless swift action is taken, out future may be devoid of the food we take for granted today.

Greenpeace Hosts “Toxic” Fashion Show to Spread Awareness about Toxic Chemicals in Clothing

A “toxic” fashion show was held in Beijing to spread public awareness about the apparel industry, which is being targeted for its use of hazardous chemicals.

The fashion show was organized by Greenpeace
; the organization recently released a study that shows that as many as two-thirds of apparel that are manufactured contains traces of dye that can be harmful to the environment.

The campaign group is now pushing for action to have all fashion apparel companies to agree to produce eco-friendly apparel by the year 2020. This will require suppliers to look for alternatives that do not release toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.

According to Greenpeace, it tested 141 pieces of apparel from 20 top apparel manufacturers with a global presence. Each garment was tested for chemicals that may pose a threat to human health or the environment. The clothing are manufactured from 18 countries, most of which are from developing nations.

The findings showed that 89 of the garments showed traces of nonylphenol ethoxylates, which can break down and produce chemicals that can disrupt hormones in the body. In addition, two of the garments also contained detectible levels of toxic phthalates, which is commonly found in dyes and can cause cancer.

For the toxic fashion show, one model toted an IV bag with orange slime oozing out; another model wore a neck brace along with an oxygen mask. A third model wore black powder on her eyes to simulate the appearance of bruising and had her arm in a sling. The purpose was to make a grim statement and visualization of the adverse environmental and health impact that the apparel industry is causing.

As the fashion season approaches, more clothes will be purchased and discarded, which means they will likely end up in the landfill where the chemicals from the garments will be released into the air.

Deforestation Just as Big of a Factor to Global Warming as Vehicles and Factories

Most scientists are in unanimous agreement that emissions from vehicles and factories contribute to carbon emission buildup. However, this is only one side of the equation; there are other attributing causes that hasten the effects of global warming that are often not discussed.

Most experts agree that deforestation actually has a more adverse impact than all the emissions from cars and factories combined. According to a study released by the World Carfree Network, smog emitted from vehicles around the world causes about 14 percent of carbon emissions, while deforestation accounts for over 15 percent.

When a tree is cut down, it releases carbon into the air where it combines with greenhouse gases, which is a prime factor in global warming. The problem is that deforestation is often overlooked with much of the resources being devoted instead to creating fuel efficient vehicles and cutting down on overall automobile usage.

An estimate by the Environmental Defense Fund reveals that over 32 million acres of tropical and forested areas were cut down for industrial use between 2000 and 2009.

Of course, preserving tropical areas is much easier said than done. Most of the locals who live near the tropics and Amazon region rely on cutting down trees for their livelihood. Deforestation allows people to make a living by producing charcoal, pastures and timber. In addition to climate change, deforestation is also detrimental to biodiversity as about half of all wildlife species and plants – most of which are not found anywhere else in the world – thrive in these regions.

The United Nations have addressed the issue by developing the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation service. This program provides incentives for those who take measures to adopt more sustainable lifestyles that doesn’t involve cutting down another tree. The aim of the program is to outreach to developing nations that rely heavily on deforestation and provide them with alternatives.

Save the Environment by Wearing a Pair of Jeans

Just about everyone would like to make a contribution to help out the environment in every small way they can. For most people, this simply means throwing that empty cereal box in the recycling bin instead of the trashcan. Those who really take the issue to heart and have the financial resources can take it a few steps further and have their home fitted with solar panels or drive an electric car.

There is now a whole new way the average person can make more of a difference and it is even easier than recycling. To make a positive environmental impact, all people have to do is wear a pair of jeans. Yes, that is right; wearing a pair of jeans in public can actually help the environment.

Scientist Tony Ryan and fashion mogul Helen Storey have worked together to come up with a brand new pair of jeans that are described as “super cleaner denims.” The two discovered that a dangerous pollutant known as titanium dioxide can stick and cling on to denim like a magnet. Once the compound is on the jeans, it can be completely neutralized when the jeans go in the washer.

Ryan and Storey are currently working on a project called Catalytic Clothing, which is a line of fashion apparel with a theme on environmental awareness.

Roughly 1.3 million people die prematurely as a result of exposure to toxic emissions, which are produced mainly from vehicles and factories. Poor air quality can cause asthma and respiratory illnesses.

There is still much to be studied though theoretically speaking, people in the future can actually protect the environment simply by walking around in their favorite pairs of denims. This seems like a completely plausible scenario given that there are more pair of jeans than there are people in the world. This finding combines fashion with environmental awareness; it is the best of both worlds.

Global Warming may Lead to Depletion in Fish Growth

It has been long suspected that global warming has contributed to rising temperatures. However, not very many scientists have really studied the impact that global warming will have on the ocean and its billions of inhabitants.

A team of ichthyologists from the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia have published studies suggesting that drastic changes in oceanographic conditions could lead to the rapid depletion of fish populations.

The study surmised that if global warming continues at the current rate over the next 40 years, the marine environment could be altered to the extent that most fish species and water invertebrates will no longer be capable of maintaining the energy needed for sustainable growth.

The primary problem is the reduction of oxygen content in the ocean. Rising temperatures decreases the water’s ability to hold onto oxygen. Oxygen is critical for a fish’s metabolic and respiratory functions. Less oxygen also impairs a fish’s behavioral and biochemical processes and impedes its ability to swim and even to lay eggs.

Aside from a decrease in population, the size and weight of fish may also gradually begin to decrease by up to 10 percent within the next 40 years. Scientists project that tropical areas and particularly the Indian Ocean will suffer the gravest consequences. Additional factors such as pollution and overfishing can further exacerbate the problem.

Global Warming continues to be a heated debate. Skeptics claim it is a myth caused by hysteria and the liberal media and has no scientific basis. Believer, on the other hand, have cautioned that climate change is directly responsible for severe droughts and variations in weather patterns.

If global warming is as serious as some scientists contend it is, then our scaly friends in the ocean will suffer the dire consequences just as much as we will.

Airline Company Designs Compostable Food Boxes

Everything from cereal boxes to egg cartons should be disposed of in the recycle bin rather than being dumped in the garbage. A little recycling can really go a long way in helping the environment. Aside from individuals, some companies are also striving to make their products more sustainable. A Swedish Airline company is now going a step further in making their food boxes compostable.

Malmo Aviation is an airline agency based in Sweden. It has recently released a new form of food boxes that are made from a special type of paperboard that is not only compostable but also saves space and helps extends the shelf life of the food it holds.

The paper is made from a material called Invercote, which was designed by Malmo Aviation along with the catering company Pcknick and Omikron. Invercote is designed to keep the food inside it fresh and prevent the contents from fogging. It is made from bioplastic, which means that it also can be thrown into the compost heap along with other scraps of food. This makes it far more efficient than the standard food box container.

Aside from being environmentally friendly, they are also smaller in size and weight. This makes them easier to handle, load and serve to passengers during a flight. Tony Noren, who is the CEO of Omikron, commented that the new food boxes can reduce the need for storage space by half in airliners. In addition, the food will also retain its freshness longer and is less impactful on the environment.

With Invercote boxes, the packaging is just as biodegradable as the food itself. This means that it can be used for composting with the material being returned to the source from which it was derived from. This way, nothing is gone to waste and everything is reused and returned to the environment.