Archive for March, 2012

Wind power!

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

This is so cool–I just found this using stumble upon, and it maps surface wind data from the National Digital Forecast Database. I thought it was really cool to see the wind patterns.

–AL

Conserving Biodiversity

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Since we were talking about biodiversity, and I think seed banks came up, I decided to look up the one and Norway and check it out.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is built underground, preserving thousands of seeds in case of global or regional crises. It gives priority to seeds that are used for crops, but tries to have a big diversity in the crops it has. Out of the 1400 (approx) gene banks, there are around 6.5 million seeds stored, but only 1-2 million of those are distinct breeds.
The Svalbard Bank

I think that places such as these are extremely important, especially for agriculture, but I wonder if this might be done for animal dna, as well. If we want to protect the plants, we also need to take into account the species that help them grow, such as bees or other pollinators. I think that, even though this would be an extremely expensive undertaking, it might be worthwhile in the long run.

–AL

For those of us who can’t make it to the film festival:

Monday, March 19th, 2012

They have a link to past films on the main website for the Environmental film festival. I’m not sure if this counts as an extra activity or not, I can ask, but I thought you might be interested.

The hidden costs to Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and those gorgeous bouquets

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

I listen religiously to How Stuff Works “Stuff Mom Never Told You” podcast, and there was one recently that was extremely interesting, on both a social and environmental side. The “Are there hidden costs to that Valentine’s bouquet” podcast raised some really interesting points about the flower growing practices used, as well as the working conditions of the women who harvest them. I highly recommend listening to the podcast to get the full idea.

This site also goes into detail, and there’s a pdf with the full article for you to download and read.

If you don’t have time to read or listen, here’s a basic summary:

* The chemicals used to keep the flowers fresh run off and cause eutrophication in the lakes nearby
* These same chemicals cause health issues for the women who harvest the flowers
* Because of the massive demand for the flowers before major holidays, these women have to work some 60 hours or more a week in the month leading up to them
* Since many of the flowers are grown in Africa or Brazil, the transportation to the US and the EU gives off massive amounts of pollution (airplanes, trucks, etc)
* There is deforestation to gain more land for the flower farming

Because we are such a consumer society, we aren’t very likely to change our habits any time soon. Unfortunately, this means that these flower farms will continue to be used, using power, water, and chemicals to grow as many as possible to meet the demand for bouquets over holidays. The chemicals aren’t only harmful to the environment, but also to the people, and as the article mention, the use of that much water, especially in a place like Africa where water is scarce, is a great misuse of that natural resource.