We can make a difference!

By Pooja Mishra

Source : eqt.com.au

Source : eqt.com.au

Our environment is constantly changing and we cannot deny the fact that we should be more aware of the problems that surround it. But being aware of the problems is not enough, we should come up with different ways to solve them. Whenever we think and talk about all the environmental problems that we are facing today, we usually refer to pollution, natural disasters, global warming, population, the depletion of natural resources, climate change, deforestation among others.  We tend to overlook all the small problems that we create with our daily habits without even realizing. The way we live our life and do things can also affect the environment. But there is a simple way of avoiding these problems by doing small things and adapting some eco-friendly habits in our day to day life.

I have seen many people while walking on the street, in subway, sitting in a coffee shop, who don’t even care about what is going on around them. But it doesn’t mean that I have not seen people who do care. I decided to talk to them and find out their concern towards the environment. I asked the same question to many people, what was the last eco-friendly choice they have made recently.

Mamta Saxena, mother of a 3-year old says, “My son is very young but I still try to teach him the importance of healthy and clean environment. I always ask him to throw all his garbage in the bin and now he understands that. Even in my community I have seen many people who don’t follow the waste disposal and recycling guideline, so this time in community meeting I raised up the concern that everyone should follow the guideline to keep the surroundings better.”

Zahara Shami said, “Since we are having a rough winter in Toronto, where everything is dull and dry and we hardly see any greenery around us, I decided to get some greenery at home. Recently I brought two plants and planning to get more.”

“I bought an eco-friendly car which is 50 percent gas and 50 percent electric. You can switch the mode according to your preference and requirement. I love my car. It makes less sound, is very comfortable, easy to drive and also saves me some bucks” says Irina with excitement.

Nidhi Desai mentions, “In my work place most of my colleague drink coffee and when their mugs get empty they dump the mug in the bins near to them. They don’t even bother to look for the blue bins around them. When I noticed this I decided to raise the concern and in my next team meeting I asked everyone to place one small blue bin near to them and avoid to mix the trash.”

Rosa Yoon, mother of two kids says, “I always try to avoid using plastic bags for my grocery or for anything. I always carry my grocery bags with me. That way I also set an example for my kids to never use these plastic bags for shopping. Whenever my kids come with me for grocery I ask them to carry bags so next time they remember to do the same. Not only this, I always try to set a good example for them to make right decisions and lead a healthy life.”

 

State of the Paris Climate Agreement

By Hannah Gartner 

Just under one year after the historic Paris Change Agreement was declared, it entered into force. This means that the treaty laid out in the agreement is now binding and that the countries who have both signed and ratified the Agreement can be held accountable. For this to happen 55 countries making up for 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions were required to ratify their signatures. The United States (17.89% of global emissions) and China (20.09%), the world’s two greatest polluters, both ratified the agreement on September, 3rd 2016. However, it was not until October, 5th, when eleven countries making up 6.71% of global emissions ratified, that the agreement became binding.

Paris Agreement Map

All countries that signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 are shown in blue. Source- BBC

The primary goal of the Paris Agreement is to bring global greenhouse gas emissions down to keep global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius since the pre-industrial era. However, the treaty also outlines the more ambitious goal keeping temperature rise below 1.5 degrees. Accomplishing this objective required all 194 countries that signed the treaty to set their own emission reduction standards depending on the infrastructure already in place and how much they contribute to overall emissions. Once the treaty was ratified these standards became binding, and any county that may want to opt out would have to go through a lengthy process and runs the risk of sanctions from the other members of the treaty.  Actually reaching these goals will be a lengthy, difficult process, something that is accounted for within the treaty. However, this doesn’t mean there is time before action must be taken.

 

Among the 129 countries that have ratified the agreement to date, many know this and have already begun to take clear and serious action towards moving our world towards a carbon neutral future. Over the last three years the level of global yearly emissions has inexplicably plateaued. Moreover, in the US, China, and Europe, there have been across the board reductions in the use of carbon. This is just the beginning of what needs to happen though. For one, reducing carbon is not enough. To get enough of the gas out of the atmosphere to stop catastrophic warming, scientists now warn that we must put increased energy into sequestration. Furthermore, reductions in carbon are just one aspect of the many changes that need to be made for humanity to achieve a heathy planet. One year into the Paris agreement, work has been done, but in many ways what is done just shows how much more there is to do.

Guide to maintain plants amidst falling temperatures

By Pooja Mishra
428348286cca007567ede4a59f6e268cSource : Pinterest

Fall is here, and it’s beautiful and slightly chilly outside, a reminder that it will be extremely cold soon once winter hits the door. I love winters and keep in touch with nature by going out and enjoying all the winter activities like hiking, skiing, sledding, snowboarding, Ice skating, and even making a snowman.

But this is also a time when we see our plants and trees dry up and wither. It is a repetitive cycle of birth and death, but all the hard work that has been put in growing a beautiful garden around our home quickly gets undone when temperatures start falling. It is easy to maintain the indoor or outdoor plants in summers when the weather is perfect for plants to grow; but, protecting plants in cold weather when you hardly get any sun is a lot more daunting.

So after a lot of thought, experiments, and research here’s a list of some simple and effective ways that can help you to protect your plants in this cold weather:

  1. Bring your potted plants indoors and place them either in the garage or use them as home decor by placing them in your living room. This is an easy first step that one should do. Never place them near a window as cold transfers from the window and damages the plants.
  2. I have seen many people cover their plants with some thick material. It is also a good way to protect your plants. Wrap them with wrapping plastic, blankets or any other thick cloth but never forget to leave it open in the day time when you see little sun or bright light outside and cover them again in the night time.
  3. It is important to water the plants in the cold temperature. Make soil around the plant completely wet. Wet soil gives more heat than dry soil. But don’t over water it.
  4. Applying a layer of mulch on the soil of the plant can protect the roots from becoming damaged. You can use leaves as a mulch, they will maintain the temperature and give heat to the plant.
  5. Put a heat source around your plant. You can even put lights on your plant. It will not only provide heat to the plant, but will also make your room more alive.

 

It’s time to change your habit!

 

By Pooja Mishra

download

Source : truehuenews.com

Recycling can easily make a big difference in protecting the environment. It helps reduce energy and other useful materials from being wasted. There are a lot of people out there who always keep in mind what things can or can’t be recycled and follow the instructions. But you may be surprised to know the fact that the things you have been throwing away in the blue bins, actually don’t belong there.

The Toronto city launched a campaign earlier this month as a reminder for people on what can and can’t go into recycling bin.  You will be surprised to know that those takeout coffee mugs, which we use on the go and have been throwing away in blue bins, thinking that they are recyclable, actually have to go in trash.

The takeout coffee mugs are coated with plastic and wax so they can’t go in recycle. There black lid also can’t go in blue bins, only non-plastic lids and cardboard cup sleeves can be recycled. According to the city, last year estimated 45,000 tonnes of garbage was mistakenly put into recycling bins.

Here is a small list of those things which we use on a daily basis and which can or can’t be recycled. We can help reduce global environmental damage by keeping this in mind and adding it to our daily routine.

 Can:

  1. Food packaging (Unwaxed only)
  2. Boxboard (Shoes box, gift box, cereal box)
  3. Aluminium foil
  4. All colors glass bottles and jars
  5. All plastics number 1-7
  6. Clean grocery and retail plastic bags
  7. Beer and wine bottles
  8. Kitchen cookware (metal pots, pans, tins, and utensils)
  9. Brown paper bags
  10. Newspapers and magazines

Can’t:

  1. Paper coffee cups
  2. Pizza boxes (with food and wax)
  3. Wet paper
  4. Plastic bottle caps
  5. Plastic Bags
  6. Juice Boxes
  7. Styrofoam
  8. Paper napkins or towel
  9. Heavy died papers
  10. Broken glass

 

 

 

Social Impacts of Melting Sea Ice in the Arctic

By Hannah Gartner
As climate science has grown two of the areas most closely monitored are the poles. This past January saw record breaking lows of sea ice in the Arctic. For the years between 1981 and 2010 the average extent of sea ice for this time of year was measured to be 14.57 million square kilometers. Since 2005, January has consistently seen sea ice extent below 14.25 million square miles, and this year it reached only 13.53 million square miles. The effects that this loss will have on climate change remain unclear, yet there is consensus that there will be effects.

Sea Ice, Jan 2016
Source: ecowatch.com

What is more apparent is how sea ice, or lack thereof, impacts people in the Arctic. For over a century we have known of the Northwest Passage, a boating rout that takes one from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific through archipelagos above the Arctic Circle. For those in the Northern hemisphere this allows for a much shorter journey to the other side of the World then the conventional one through the Panama Canal. Over the past decade the number of vessels making this journey has risen to around 30 per year. Still, for large shipping containers the voyage can only be made in the Summer months when sea ice is lowest, and they need to bring along ice breaking technology.

As the ice recedes the tourism industry has also moved into the Northwest Passage. They too can only voyage in the Summer, but this does not change the fact that they are stopping in ports that previously would have been impossible. One example is Cambridge Bay, a town of 1,500, which until recently was only accessible by air. The added tourism is changing the culture of these towns. Tours and cultural centers have begun to crop up and the increased traffic is also increasing revenue.

Arctic Cruise
Source:bestholidaytrips.co.uk

For other areas though the outlook is not so positive. Shishmaref, a island town on the western coast of Alaska, has historically relied on Fall sea ice to stop the damaging impacts of storms. However, now the ice isn’t forming until December and the impact is the loss of about 50 feet of shoreline annually. The future of the people of Shishmaref becomes more uncertain each year, and there is consensus that they must relocate or perish. In the face of all this unknown, there is one nonnegotiable fact about receding sea ice – there will be massive affects that dramatically change life within the Arctic Circle.

Dialogue Through Art at COP21

by Hannah Gartner

The first two weeks of December saw that most important climate talks in years. From these talks, called COP21, have come the most concrete plan on how to mitigate global warming and its effects to date. Each country involved is now creating an individual plan of what this will look like. Starting in 2018 these plans will be revised every five years. The international goal is to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, with a more ambitious side goal of staying below 1.5 degrees of warming. To achieve this already developed nations are pledging to contribute funds to developing nations so that they may grow their alternative energy economies.

The steps taken during COP21 may be a turning point for the environmental movement. No longer are global warming and climate change being portrayed as fringe issues. They now exist within the public consciousness in large way, something that was vividly apparent throughout the talks in Paris. Along with the politicians, activists and everyday citizens flocked to the city to make their voices heard. Among them where a number of artists who used a diverse array of methods to increase the dialogue around these issues.

One of the most remarkable art Livegreenblog.cominstallations at COP21 was by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. He shipped twelve massive pieces of Greenland ice and arranged them in a shape of a clock in front of the Pantheon. The installation, titled Ice Watch, was then left to melt. The symbolism here is very clear: our planet is running out of time and action must be taken now.

Source HighsnobietyPublic art also served as an alternative to protests, which following the terrorist attacks on November 13th had been outlawed throughout the entire conference.  French artist JR and American filmmaker Darren Aronofsky collaborated on a projection piece they call The Standing March. Showing the image of over 500 people, the purpose of this piece is to show that the world stands in solidarity on the need to care for our environment.

 

About 200,000 activists had planned to march on November 29th to further cement this idea. With strict rules on mass assemblies in place though, the protesters opted for a second best. That morning 20,000 pairs of shoes were placed in the Place de la Republique. Since the people could not walk, they let their shoes stand in their place.

Paris Climate Summit: A platform for a bigger change?

By Pooja Mishra

While leaders of 196 nations were discussing key policies in Paris to save earth from global warming, death toll continued to rise at various places because of natural cataclysm.

Rising temperatures are affecting our life on a daily basis. It affects our food, our surroundings, and all the work we do. Most cities in the world are experiencing a much warmer winter this year. Toronto celebrated the warmest Christmas Eve recorded in the last 175 years. Today climate change is like a ticking time bomb; the greatest threat people all over the world face.

In recognition of the growing problems of climate change, over 40,000 people gathered in Paris from November 30th to December 11th to take some corrective actions. The main objective of this conference was to achieve a binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

After two weeks of negotiations, the Paris climate change agreement was signed. To make this agreement successful all nations volunteered to make cuts in their carbon emission to relatively safe level of 2C degree with an aspiration of 1.5C and also to participate in a program of regular assessment and adjustment every five years starting 2020. Leaders made bold promises to save the earth from climate change.

This was the biggest gathering of world’s leaders, who came together for a single purpose. It was a historic moment for all the countries. Developed nations pledged not only their commitment but promised to provide help to developing and poor nations to cut down their emissions.

We all hope this summit will provide a good platform to come together to make our resources more sustainable. But given the gravity of the situation, it is high time we join in this effort and take a pledge to start bringing changes from our home. Each individual needs to look at their contribution to climate footprint and if needed, modify some of their lifestyle choices. That’s what Paris is all about, changing our lifestyle, before it leads us towards complete disaster. It calls for a an acknowledgement and action at all levels.

Footnote

The key measures in the agreement included:

  • To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century
  • To keep global temperature increase “well below” 2C (3.6F) and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C
  • To review progress every five years
  • $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.

Our Water, Our Land

by Hannah Gartner

At the beginning of the month President Obama rejected the proposal for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have run crude oil from the Canadian Tar Sands in Alberta to the gulf coast refineries outside of Houston, TX. Over the past few years this pipeline has become a pet project for environmentalist and conservatives alike. One of the reasons that environmentalists have been so adamantly against the Keystone pipeline was its planned path through the Ogallala Aquifer.

The Ogallala Aquifer is a 174,000-square-mile reservoir which lies beneath the states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, South Dakota, and Wyoming. It supplies water to millions of people, and irrigates the fields of farmers in this region. Lying beneath the earth, it is easy to forget that it is there, yet it is so important that it was able to play a role in halting the creation of Keystone XL.

There are many ways in which one can know the world around them. With more than half of the world’s population living in cities, most see it as a man-made, concrete jungle. It is more common for someone to know every player in the world series than where their water comes from. The danger than becomes that things like endless tap water are taken for granted, always expected and not preserved.WWF

The United States Great Plains; Source: World Wildlife Fund

The Ogallala Aquifer is just one of hundreds that lie beneath the surface of North America. The map below shows the vast extent of land carrying these underground pools in the United States alone. Aquifers are formed when rock is porous enough to let water flow through. The layer of rock and water that is formed is called the water table. Depending on the type of rock, that water will run faster or slower. This also dictates how quickly the water in an aquifer can replenish itself. Through clay this can take a very long time, while a sandstone water table may refill much quicker. This is incredibly important to think about when using an aquifer as a water source.

aquifers in the US

Aquifers in the United States; Source: USGS

It would be amazing if we were able to say that the Ogallala Aquifer is safe now that Keystone XL has been vetoed, but this is not the truth. Since the 1940’s Midwest farmers have used this water source to grow vast amounts of corn, cotton, wheat, and cattle. The  current estimate is that 30 percent of the water in this aquifer is already depleted, and it is projected that this percentage will only rise over the coming years. As of yet that farmers and citizens who utilize the Ogallala Aquifer are not taking action to stem this problem.

Even if you live very far away from this particular aquifer, there is a lesson to be learned here. The Earth is plentiful, but it is not endless. It is important to understand the land and water systems were you do live though. This may mean looking beyond the surface to what is hidden underground. Take the time to do your research, become an informed citizen, and try to find the ways to interact with your land in the most appropriate ways.

 

A Growing Storm

By Hannah Gartner

Source NASAOn October 23rd
Hurricane Patricia made landfall on Mexico’s Pacific coast. Thishurricane, which was the strongest ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, narrowly missed causing severe damage despite reaching wind speeds of 200 mph. A week later no deaths have been reported and the damage is limited to flooding and mudslides within rural Mexico. This is due to a few factors, namely the fact that Patricia avoided a direct hit to more populated areas such as Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, and that once on land it lost power very quickly. An excellent response from the government also made a huge difference in mitigating the damage.

This storm is just the latest to be added to the list of record shattering weather events. Although the research is ongoing, there is indication that global warming will cause an increase in storms to this caliber. Last August The Weather Channel published a list of the top ten most powerful hurricanes to ever occur within the Atlantic. Five of these storms have taken place since 2000, and only two occurred before 1950. It seems that the intensity of storms is on an upward trend. Some climate scientists even predict that we will have a storm on the level of Hurricane Katrina every two years.

Source Boston.comOther natural phenomena are also on the rise due to global warming. California is currently entering its forth year of draught and has been consistently recording its highest on average temperatures. On the other end of the spectrum, the record shattering snow in New England last winter has been attributed the disruption of the Arctic polar vortex which is occurring through global warming. These two examples only scratch the surface of the many instances of changing weather.

After Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013, Yeb Sano, the country’s climate change representative, said the following words in front of the United Nations: “We can take drastic action now to ensure that we prevent a future where super typhoons become a way of life.” After seeing his country destroyed by this storm he knew he had experienced climate change first hand. Action must be taken to slow down, stop, and reverse the degradation of the natural world or these storms will become the norm. We cannot count on the luck that Mexico received last week. There is hope, but only if business does not continue as usual.

Listen, Talk and Understand

By Pooja Mishra

Heavy rainfalls and a large amount of debris precipitated a muddy flood in Southern California last week on October 16th. Hundreds of people were trapped and stuck in their homes, cars. While many of them have been rescued, the rescue efforts are still ongoing.
Similar torrential rains had struck South Carolina on October 4, 2015. The flood had caused damage to many shelters. The whole South Carolina was gripped by floodwater. According to the National Weather Service, that day was the wettest day in the history of Southern Carolina.

 
The weather pattern is not a local phenomenon. 11 people died and 65,000 villagers left their home as a typhoon battered northern Philippines on October 18, 2015. It is a scary though that these floods might be just a preview of what is coming in near futureSource Luis Sinco and Los Angeles Times“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”
These words of Albert Einstein say everything about life. It describes the connection of a man with nature. Nature has all the answers to your questions; whether these are related to you, your life, your relations or your work. All we need to do is listen, talk to and understand it.

 
Everybody loves to get out into the nature and feel the real charm of life. Living in Canada, I am fortunate to have so much beauty and splendor of nature all around me. The autumn season is here. The crisp and cool breeze makes us feel the summer is gone and fall is in the air. In Canada, autumn is the third season of the year. It is the time when leaves start to turn in different color red, yellow, orange and brown. It is amazing, an awesome creation of God. The glory of nature mesmerizes one and all. We forget everything in the lap of nature and just enjoy the pleasure of being there.

 
Nature is derived from the Latin word Natura, which means birth. It has its own way of existence and the mountains, beeches, hills, forest, rivers, sunrise, sunset, flowers, clouds in the sky, various season and so on together make an incredible spectacle. It is a privilege being surrounded by these. But as the saying goes, every privilege comes with some responsibilities.

 
Ed Begley Jr once said, “I don’t understand why when we destroy something created by man we call it vandalism, but when we destroy something by nature we call it progress.”
Every time we build a new house, new road, parking space or even a concrete over a garden we astray ourselves to think that we are making the world a better place to live in. The natural resources are not infinite. They are limited and the way we are using it, that day is not far when we will have nothing to pass on to our future generations.
These days’ floods are the most frequent natural disaster worldwide. Recent splurge in population and the changes in land use patterns are the main causes of flood.
We are constantly cutting down trees and plants for our daily needs. One and a half acres of forest is cut down every second and agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation. We get wooden furniture, decorative items for the interior of our house and offices but we do not realize that we are cutting our own feet by making wood from trees and plants. If the current rate of deforestation continues, it will take less than 100 years to destroy all the rainforest on the earth. Cutting of trees can be avoided if we cut down our materialistic needs and shift our focus in different direction.

Source National Bank and Nature Conservancy
According to The World Counts, 13 million hectares of forest have been converted for other uses or destroy by natural causes. We cannot deny the fact that our environment is constantly changing. Global warming is slowly becoming a more daunting threat with each passing day. Our environment is warming up and we are definitely responsible for it. Since the industrial revolution and the large scale of burning fossil fuels has increased the amount of heat in the atmosphere has also increased by 40 per cent.

 
All across the world people are facing different kind of environmental problems every day. Some of them are small and localized. Whenever a natural calamity hits a particular area, we talk about it for a few days, feel miserable and then forget. We never think that somewhere we are also responsible for that. We are making this earth not habitable by neglecting the nature and its requirements. From time to time nature warns us in many ways; we need to listen to it and make some changes before we reach a point where we won’t have anything left except regret.

 
As human, the earth is our home. This is the place where we live, eat, enjoy, raise our children and dream for their healthy, safe and beautiful future. Our entire life is dependent on the well-being of earth, environment and all the species. It is the home of all natural beauty that we praise. But the relationship with nature is not a one sided relationship. We need to form a closer bond with nature, we have to live within it to understand and feel it; not only for the betterment of our life but the lives of our future generations.