My 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Week One

By Kirk Lilwall

I must have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week sometimes to make it up.    ~ Mark Twain

One week ago, I decided to try switching to a vegan diet.  I also decided that I would blog about my experience; sadly it has taken me a week to come up with a first entry.

The plan is to try it for at least a month and, if it doesn’t prove too dramatic or difficult, I would consider remaining vegan ‘forever.’  I will be using a wide variety of resources including the many, varied vegan blogs that exist, internet vegan cooking shows, (I found one called The Vegan Zombie that is amazing,) various cookbooks, (The 30-Day Vegan Challenge for example,) and my friends and family.

I will try to document for you my ups and downs as I move through this month and beyond.  With that in mind, here are some things that came up during my first week:

  •  My love of both Indian and Mexican foods is serving me very well.
  • Reading labels is very important, as there is dairy hiding in the strangest places.
  • If you find out that you accidentally ate something non-vegan, (ex. “These onion rings were cooked in the same oil as the chicken,”) it’s just not a big deal.  Chalk it up as a lesson learned and move on.  Maybe, accidentally eating something non-vegan is no reason to throw out the whole experience.
  • Lots of junk food is not vegan; I may lose weight this month without even trying!
  • Cheese-less pizza is amazing!

As I learn more of these lessons, I will pass them onto you.  I’d also be happy to answer any questions people may have (just leave me your query in the comments.)  I’ll also be trying many new recipes this month that I will review here.  Some of them will involve animal protein substitutes, (ex. Tempeh bacon,) and others will be vegan by design (ex. curries and burritos!)

Thanks for reading and happy eating!

Kirk

Flowing in the Future: Water in a Changing World

By: Luisa Cristini, PhD. University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Water is life. The development of both animal species and human society worldwide has always followed water resources. We need water for our fundamental needs and to maintain high living standards. But water is also the basis of Earth’s fragile ecosystem. These reasons make water unique among our planet’s natural resources.

Nowadays, water resources are under many pressures, of both natural and human origins. To assess the state of worldwide water resources, the United Nations Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2009 released its third report on world water development: Water in a Changing World. This report is an important document that aims to inform the worldwide community, in particular decision-makers, about the risks to this precious resource and to suggest effective water-management practices.

Freshwater on Earth is finite and is distributed on the planet through the hydrological cycle (or water cycle). This cycle is composed of rainfall, evaporation, groundwater and storage and includes water in all its three physical states: liquid, solid and gas. The components of the water cycle all differ in their chemical and biochemical properties (i.e., dissolved chemicals and nutrients, oxygen levels), spatial and temporal variability (e.g., seasonal variations), resilience and vulnerability to pressures (e.g., how quickly pollutants are removed). This makes the water cycle very sensitive to changes, including land use, climate change and pollution.

Throughout Earth’s history the hydrological cycle has been changing due to natural cycles. In the last couple of centuries, however, continuing human activities have become the primary “drivers” of stress and change in the water system. These pressures are generally related to human development and economic growth.

For many years groundwater resources have been heavily used for agriculture and human supply. Now all industries make use of large amounts of water in the production of goods and services, including energy. Through impacts on both quality (i.e., water contamination) and quantity (i.e., water supply), human activities have interfered with the role of water as prime environmental agent. In some areas of the world, pollution of economically important river basins and aquifers has reached, or exceeded, the point of no-return. In those areas a future without secure water resources is now a real possibility. Additionally, water is linked to the crises of energy, food and climate change.

As the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) assessed in its fourth report published in 2007, the global climate is changing and there is strong evidence that the change is human-induced. Climate scientists agree that current and future global warming will result in an intensification, acceleration, or enhancement of the hydrological cycle and observations indicate that this is already happening. Human-induced climate change is expected to have substantial effects on energy flows and matter recycling through its impact on water temperature. This would result in algal blooms, increases in toxic bacteria and reduction in biodiversity. Water-related hazards for both humans and environment can result from too much water (i.e., floods, erosion, landslides, etc.) or too little (i.e., droughts and loss of wetlands or habitat) and from the effects of chemical and biological pollution on water quality and in-stream ecosystems.

Nevertheless, the natural variability of water resources can provide opportunities for management strategies to respond to potential climate change threats. Research and innovation are critical to develop appropriate adaptation strategies. Effective management of water resources requires reliable information on the state of the resource and how it is responding to external drivers such as climate change and water and land use. This information can be achieved by increasing the data network and a more efficient use of existing data, including ground-based observations and satellite data.

Strengthening organizational structures, improving the operating efficiency of water supply utilities and cooperation between governmental and non-governmental entities will help to improve water resources management and service quality. Solutions to current issues and future challenges are possible by implementing more resource-sustainable policies and practices.

 

References and further resources

Hello world!

Gamiing Nature Centre decided to start a blog bringing up to the minute environmental news, stories, research, information and more.  We will have a variety of contributors on a variety of nature related topics – so check back often.  Some highlights of what we hope to include are:

  • News about Gamiing property and the Pigeon Lake area including exciting wildlife sightings, photos, events and workshops.
  • News and information about environmental issues that affect the Kawarthas region, particularly issues that affect the freshwater systems that are such an important part of the Kawarthas.
  • News and information about environmental issues that affect the world, and the impacts they have on water systems and the Kawarthas.
  • Historical information about the region and about environmental practices
  • Stories about things like environmental heroes, Gamiing and area history, exciting events and more.
  • Book and literature reviews on books written about the natural environment and environmental issues.
  • Questions and topics for discussion on the blog, or in your life.
  • Tips for what we can do to help.
  • And more!

Thanks for checking us out, and sharing with your friends.  Also check us out on facebook at www.facebook.com/gamiing or on Twitter @GamiingNC.

For the earth,

Rebecca Niblett for Gamiing Nature Centre