What is…Evapotranspiration?

October 25, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Green, Guest Posts, News

Say that ten times fast! Evapotranspiration is going to be popping up in the news a lot so let’s get the run down.

Evapotranspiration (ET) – This term refers to the ‘transport of water into the atmosphere’. Specifically from surfaces including soil (hence the “evapo” for evaporation) and vegetation (transpiration).

Why is this important?
As you may have guessed, evapotranspiration is accelerating due to various factors including climate change in certain areas of the World. With temperatures rising, more water evaporates from surfaces, feeding it into the water cycle, which is now being inundated with more water than usual. Some scientists have found that evapotranspiration has completely ceased in other areas. Their current theory is that we have reached the limit of certain water tables, and the land is not able to ‘give up’ any more water to the system. This is most common in areas that are suffering severe drought and unusual weather patterns due to climate change.

Although this sounds very “sciency” it is an important concept to become aware of and monitor in your own communities. The areas suffering from severe drought tend to be in the Southern Hemisphere including Africa, Australia, and parts of Asia. Although these areas typically have wet and dry seasons, scientists are finding that the dry seasons are far exceeding their limits on the natural balance.

To learn more about evapotranspiration, check out the Encyclopedia of Earth.

Photo Credits.

Got Milk? Got Hormones?

October 21, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Food, Guest Posts, Health, News

Who wants the unruly hormones of a teenager? How about a big dose of them in your glass of milk? For quite a few years now rbGH, or genetically modified bovine growth hormones have been slipped in your milk without even a notice. When dairy farmers found out, they tried to label their milk as “rbGH-free”. A term that Monsanto, a genetic engineering and agriculture company, almost got banned. They tried to make it unlawful for companies to put that label on their milk. Why? Because it could cost them their bloated market share of profits from rbGH milk.

What are Bovine Growth Hormones?

When companies focus on profits, not their product, their is room for error and maltreatment of not only animals but the end product. RbGH and its genetic counterparts were created to trigger the hormones in a cow that occur after they have given birth. Why? So they produce an excessive amount of milk. Simple business economics then step in. More milk from one cow means more profits, more profits mean cheaper prices, which mean a larger market share, meaning higher profits. If only the reality of that circle was accurate.

What is the risk associated with rbGH ingestion?

While still under-researched due to great efforts by Monsanto, the risks are starting to become exposed. The highest? Cancer. If you are at risk for any sort of hereditary cancer, immediately switch to milk labeled as either ” Certified Organic” or “rbGH Free”. Associations including the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association have publicly demoted the hormone-induced milk as a cancer risk. There are several other potential health risks associated with this milk. This is not to mention the risks of drinking milk from cows living in unhealthy conditions. Many cows who are fed hormones repeatedly are unable to stand on their own because their udders have become so swollen from the excessive milk production. Companies have designed ways to force them to stand, ways to re-strap their udders, and other less than pleasant solutions to something whose real solution is to get rid of hormones all together.

So get educated, and buy certified organic or hormone-free milk. These farmers care more for your health and the welfare of their animals than the large corporations such as Monsanto who have quantified in place of qualified their products.

Bottoms up on this wholesome treat, hormone free I hope.

Photo Credits:

Photo 1 and Photo 2

The FTC Cracks Down on Eco-Labels

October 19, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Government, Guest Posts, News

Fall is in the air, and the FTC is back at it again. The oversaturated “green” market is getting a little bit of a kick from the FTC again after the Bamboo Scandal in February of 2010. The Federal Trade Commission has decided to regulate the terms many big brands have started to use in promoting their products as a green as can be.

Why the Crack Down?

This regulatory body’s efforts to reinforce meaning in the green marketplace has come after a sea of over 300 third-party certifications have been created and big brands can’t market anything without a little eco-twist. The FTC has said that their interest comes from their responsibility to hold companies responsible for the claims that they make on their packaging. A lesson learned by several retailers after the FTC exposed them as selling Rayon in place of Bamboo.

Is it Good or Bad for Consumers?

It is too early to say. As for now, it should be a good transformation from random claims and strategic names of “The Eco Window 2000″ which has nothing to do with being eco-friendly outside of its name. As for the 300+ third-party certifiers, this information may come a little too late. Since the United States government has failed to regulate many products and claims the same way other developed nations have over the past 20 years, third party certifiers emerged as a solution to a growing problem in the US. They provided information and security in eco-claims. Now, the new FTC guidelines may make some of these certifications irrelevant, or they may even conflict with the new guidelines.

Where are these Mysterious Guidelines?

They are listed on the FTC’s website as: Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Campaigns found here. Check them out for yourself.

So the good news is that the US government has belatedly started to regulate environmental claims, and hopefully as third party certifiers with worthy certifications come to understand the new rules, they will work together to solve the discrepancies. It looks as though this may be the first significant step they will make in stopping the greenwashing game through regulation.

Photo Credit

What is…Slow Food?

October 14, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Food, Health, News

We are starting a new series of “What is…” to help fill out our collective eco-friendly vocabulary. Today we are taking a look at Slow Food, the opposite or counter revolution to Fast Food.

The Slow Food movement is typically accredited to starting in Italy. Italians love their food, and when they heard McDonalds was coming to encroach on their traditions, a Slow Food revolution started in 1989. It is about embracing your food, where it comes from, and the rich culture that surrounds food.

They believe that:

Everyone has a fundamental right to the pleasure of good food and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible.

To date the non-profit organization has over 100,000 members worldwide and growing. If you would like to learn more check out the Slow Food International’s website.

Photo Credit.

Did you Celebrate 10/10/10?

October 12, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Events, Green, Health

Oh the holiday season is upon us, and one of the most memorable for anyone concerned with cancer, food safety, and agriculture just passed. On October 10th, 2010 Non-GMO Day was celebrated worldwide with success and continues as October has been deemed “GMO-Free Month”. So what exactly was all the celebrating and food fighting about?

GMOs

GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, are most often plants that have been injected with genes from other species or synthetically developed strains to create a type of lab-made hybrid. The most famous example is when a tomato plant was given the genes from a fish, making the plant more tolerant. Although fascinating from a scientific prospective, these plants are grown with little research done on their long-term environmental and health impact. The reports don’t look promising for the GMO industry, but unfortunately they have large financial resources that have produced alternative propaganda in place of scientific research. It is often considered one of the most corrupt industries given the monopolies agriculture companies have and their tactics with farmers that work on leased land.

So Why the Celebration?

Many individuals have been determined since the advent of GMO-food to keep it out of their systems. European nations quickly banned it from trade quite some time ago, leaving the US to instead donate its excess of subsidized crops to third world nations. The ethics involved in these donations have been highly questioned. As American citizens, we are not protected from a government standpoint from GMO infiltration into our food, but we are given the option to “opt out’ of it through choosing organic food.

Learn More

Since food, genetics, and agriculture each have their own large respective industries and trade associations, it can be difficult to find information about the risks associated with GMOs. Your best source of information is the Institute for Responsible Technology to learn more about GMOs, what they are, and what issues you should be aware of going forward for your own health. If you are pregnant or have small children, it is highly recommended to review this information as the build-up of toxins and other things being injected into our food are not meant to be digested by our bodies.

A belated cheers to 10.10.10!

Photo Credit.

Golf And The Green Surroundings: 5 Reasons Why Golf Is The Ideal Activity For The Environment

October 8, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Green

Did you know that golf can be immensely beneficial to the environment? Many people have no idea of this fact today as a result of the number of articles that have previously been published about the negative consequences of poor golf course management. There have been plenty of them over the past decade, many of which discuss poor water management, the use of chemicals and the eradication of natural habitats. However, these articles did far more than raise awareness of these issues. They also revolutionized golf course management itself, which is now far greener than it has ever been. So what can a golf course offer to the environment? Much like effective golf swing tips, enjoying a little green golfing can offer a whole range of benefits including the following:

1. Well Managed Golf Courses Can Rehabilitate Degraded Landscapes

Golf courses used to traditionally be built on cleared land that contained natural habitats for plants and animals. However, this is not the case today. As planning permission will likely not be granted if natural landscapes are to be cleared, many companies submitting plans to build golf courses actually do so on degraded land. This helps the environment no end because it actually recycles the land and improves its environmental viability. It cleanses the land so you can enjoy a few games of golf where nobody would previously have ventured!

2. Golf Courses And The Surrounding Land Can Support Native Plants And Wildlife

Have you ever been to a golf course that has incorporated wildlife sanctuaries and natural areas that are to be undisturbed? If your golf swing means that you stray off the fairway regularly then this will expose you to more of the delights that such environmentally friendly areas have to offer. In many cases, gold courses vow to preserve specific areas, preventing golfers from straying into them, because this helps to guarantee the health of the greens and fairways as well. As such, you contribute to the success of these areas by supporting eco-friendly golf clubs.

3. Golf Courses Can Protect Water Resources

Instead of wasting water, golf courses can actually preserve water resources like lakes, rivers and ponds by maintaining them, protecting the native creatures that live within the water and by adopting green policies that prevent chemicals running off into the water and polluting it. Previously, this would not have been possible but management policies at golf clubs now ensure that it is. They use natural fertilizers and substances to encourage the health of the courses and this in turn encourages the health of the waters. Furthermore, many have irrigation systems in place that capture and use rainwater instead of other water resources to keep the grass healthy.

4. The Air Quality Can Be Improved By The Presence Of A Golf Course

Green areas help to purify the air by removing pollutants from it and filtering the oxygen. A golf course is of course a green area and can serve these functions as well as helping to moderate the temperature in the local area. This is why many golf courses can now be found in urban areas as well as rural ones. Golf courses are ideal for those looking to enjoy a little clean air and a stroll from time to time and if you happen to have a club in your hand then so much the better!

5. Golf Courses Can Increase The level Of Green Landscape In Any Given Area

This is a given really because the creation of a golf course is no easy feat at all. Golf courses, especially full ones, take up acres of space… acres of green space that comes complete with grass, trees, natural vegetation and natural creature habitats. This can seriously enhance the natural environment and improve the overall landscape in terms of the impact it has on the world we live in as well as the beauty that you are able to enjoy when you are taking the time to walk around the golf course. Taking the time to enjoy it can enhance your peace of mind and quality of life.

All of the above adds up to one thing ¨C golf can be one of the activities that help you to reduce your carbon footprint. This is especially important given how degraded the environment has become in recent years.
Now is the time to start playing golf to revolutionize the way you look at the environment, to enjoy it more and to take full advantage of all of the other benefits it has to offer. Now is the time to start learning your optimum golf swing so that you can enjoy the game as well as the environment with no frustration at all. Check out the only resource you will ever need to enjoy everything the game of golf has to offer ¨C online golf hints and tips by Jack Lenon.

About The Author

Jack Lenon, a native Floridian, lives with his wife and two children. Having played the game of golf for more than 20 years, he is knowledgeable on the topic and offers advice on the golf swing that can revolutionize your game. He is passionate about helping other golfers to improve their handicap via his website www.golf-swing-tempo.org. There you will find information about golf swing aids and other useful hints and tips to give players an edge on the green.

The Missing Piece of the Conservation Puzzle

October 4, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Green, Local

In a recent interview, U.S. Ecologist Gary Nabhan offered that “In other environmental issues we tell people to stop something, reduce their impact, reduce their damage”. Nabhan is a ethnobotanist/gardener whose promotion of biodiversity has caught the attention of many over the years.  He is known for his work in biodiversity as an ethnobotanist.  Since Coming Home to Eat was published in 2001, the local food movement has ignited, causing a worldwide green epidemic.

There has been an increase in the number of organizations and businesses, in recent years, that have contributed to the promotion of sustainability through conservation. The Earth Day Network has been playing a large part in bringing conservationist and green enthusiasts together, sharing ideas and discussing new ways to support the planet. Other large organizations and non-profits like Doug Band and the CGI (Clinton Global Initiative) have been working on successful emission reduction projects in the San Francisco Bay area. While climate control has continued to worsen, collaborative and individual acts are vital for any successful green campaign. As human beings, we’re constantly told to reduce our carbon footprint, consume less unhealthy foods, and spend less time in the shower! But let’s take a minute to step back and look at this from a different perspective; one that Gary Nabhan strongly suggests.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization confirms that only about a quarter of crop diversity is left and that a dozen species now gives 90% of the animal protein eaten globally. In accordance, just 4 crop species supply half of plant based calories in the human diet.

Nabhan states that eating foods that are home-grown will have a larger impact on sustainability for our planet as a whole. What can also be known as, “eat what you conserve,” is a well-established theory in that by eating the fruits and vegetables, we are attempting to conserve/save as well as promote the granular dissemination of various plant species.

Marco Contiero, agriculturist, suggests that “biodiversity is an essential characteristic of any sustainable agricultural system, especially in the context of climate change.”[1]  According to Conterio’s theory, this would suggest that as individuals we tend our own crops/plants, and should make sure to purchase localized farm products at supermarkets and groceries. In the end, this condenses export/import reliance, thus reducing our carbon footprint.

Nabhan and Contiero’s theories both relay greatly on an action oriented approach at conservation and sustainability. With an abundance of green movements following Earth Day 2010, organizations and individuals have taken a stronger following to expert opinions like the ones demonstrated by both of these highly influential agriculturalists. Be sure to visit your local farmers markets and apple orchards as fall approaches.  Also, as eco-conscious individuals, don’t hesitate to stop the next time you drive by a yard stand with fresh crops. Promoting biodiversity and localized farming is a crucial piece of the conservation puzzle.

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