Monday, February 15, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reducing your carbon footprint.

Here's how:

  1. turn off the electrical devices when not in use – lights, tv, dvd players, computers and don't leave them in stand-by. They continue to consume power in that mode.

  2. Cut down on the use of heaters and air conditioning. It is stupid to be wearing shorts inside your homes in the middle of winters and sleeping in quilts in summer. One way could be switching them off at night before sleeping once the room has cooled down enough in summers or warmed up in winters.

  3. When doing laundary, make sure your washing machine is filled to full load. Do it once a week if you have to. This will save electricity as well as water.

  4. Use pressure cooker for cooking. Cover the pans with lids. Heat up only as much water in kettles as required.

  5. Travel less. Do your weekly shopping in a single trip. Car pool. Use public transport when possible and walk or cycle to the public transport station. For short journeys walk or cycle. Ask your employer if it is possible to work from home once a week.

  6. Buy energy saving electrical appliances. They may be more expensive to buy and install than regular appliances but they will prove economical in the long run.

  7. Use fuel economy cars and bikes. Turn off the engine at red lights. Try to Drive at a constant pace and don't brake or accelerate often. Maintain a good tyre pressure.

  8. Don't buy bottled water if tap water is safe to drink. Install a water filter at home other than relying on bottled water.

  9. Buy fruits and vegetables that are grown locally and are in season. Transporting exotic varieties and varieties that are not in season leads to consumption of energy directly. And indirectly as a result of storing them in cold storage.

  10. Follow the 3 R's – reduce (your consumption) . Reuse (materials that has once been used, like a plastic bag or bottle). Recycle. Try not to consume use and throw products.

  11. Cut down on use of paper. Read newspaper online if you can. Don't print your emails unless necessary. In fact don't print anything unless necessary. Use electronic medium as much as possible. Like that idea ad!

solid waste management

Save our planet. Sustainable development. Green technology....we hear these phrases and terms more often than Tiger Wood changes his girlfriend. And yet we take them at their face value and not think over them. For example, how many of you have heard about the use of jute bag instead of plastic? I congratulate you if you haven't. Why? Simply because using jute instead of plastic is just not sustainable. How, you may ask. It's simple math. Jute bags are made out of jute. Which is a crop, which like other crops needs land for cultivation and, if not organically grown, fertilisers, insecticides etc. So far so good. Problem is, we are a nation of over a billion people. Growing jute to meet the demands of such a large population is simply not sustainable. Jute needs certain specific geographical conditions to grow, the most suited of which is the Ganges delta. The Ganges delta is also most suited for another living thing – tigers. It is either them or jute bags.

A more sustainable approach would be to use artificial materials (plasitc?) and then recycle or reuse them. Waste management is what we should be looking at instead of lobbying for something that only looks good on paper, pleases a few environmentalists and fools people into thinking that they are going green (ethanol, anyone?). Alomst everything that we manufacture can be recycled – metal, paper, glass, building materials and even plastic. And when i say recycle, i am not talking rocket science. The technology exists today to seggragate materials from a heap of junk, collect them together and recycle them. Plastic bottles can be made into high strength bridges. Your discarded cd player can yeild gold and mercury – some very precious metal. The waste news paper can be turned into dazzling white photo print paper. All we need is a will to do this. That and political support.

And if you think recylcing is too much of a trouble then how about creating electricity from your waste? And for doing so you don't even need to seperate materials into different stacks. All you need is a chamber where you introduce high voltage eletctricity that can heat up the waste to disintigrate it into its elemental form, and in the process produce electricity. It does not discriminate between different types of waste – hospital waste, baby diapers, toxic metallic wates, radial tyres...they are all same. The process i am talking about is “plasmagassification” and it works on a simple principle. You create in a close chamber an artificial lightening by introducing high voltage electricity between two electrodes. The heat would instantly transform any material that is in the viscinity into plasma – the fourth state of matter (you heat up solid and you get liquid. You heat up liquid you get gas. You heat up gas and you get plasma – the same material that is in the sun, and all the stars). And in doing so releases emmense ammount of electricity that not only helps the incinirating plant to be self-sustaining but also produce excess that can provide electricity to the second party. Whats more! The end product of this process is miniscule ammount of slag – a material that can be used in buildning, roads and even jwellery. A ton of waste leaves a little more than a kilo of slag. Thats 0.1% residue.

Think about the acres of arable land we can save from unsustainable land fills. The precious ground water we can protect from contamination due to toxic metals and greenhouse effect we can abate by checking the release of methane and CFC into the atmosphere...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

a thought

this is a view of a mayan pyramid which was lost in the forests of mexico. the civilisation existed merely 1000 years ago and this same spot was site to over 50000 strong human city. now barely the remains of that great civilisation exist. in its place has spawned a dense tropical forest. the rise and fall of the mayan civilisation might be an important event in human history, but not for the earth. this same spot has witnessed something much more dramatic. some 65 million years ago a meteor struck our earth at this spot which was instrumental in wiping out the entire population of dinosaurs. but there is no sign that tells us that such an event took place, not to an untrained eye. and even the paleontologists had to really scratch the surface to discern that. the earth is more robust than we think she is. so is life. she has witnessed more destruction and worse calamities than the present climate change. and she can deal with everything that we throw at her for she has something that we don't - time. we can cut down all her forest, burn all the available resource of fossil fuel, fill her atmosphere and land and seas with toxic wastes, wipe out entire populations of wildlife and yet she will take only a few lakh years to repair the damage that we do her. and new species will evolve to fill the fresh environment. only, we don't have that luxury (of time). we should protect our environment not for the sake of earth and our fellow living beings, but for ourselves. earth is more than capable of taking care of herself.