Europe to ban cars by 2050; Great news for the environment

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An all-bike parking garage in Eindhoven, Holland.

Image via http://yannatry.blogspot.com

Europe’s fight against gas guzzling vehicles has been taken to a whole new level. The European Commission recently announced their plan to ban all vehicles from cities by the year 2050.The proposal is called “Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area,” and aims to drastically lesson Europe’s carbon footprint in a radical, innovative, new way.

Siim Kallas, the EU Transport commissioner, says the law’s intention is to force people out of their personal vehicles and onto public transportation.

Instead, alternative methods of transportation inside the cities are to be encouraged like rental bikes, railways, public buses, and walking. All of these methods would equate to a healthier and less polluted environment.

The outcome of this drastic new change will be the reduction of CO2 emission into the atmosphere; by 60% over the next 40 years.

Cars and trucks are not the only target on this new plan.

Also included in the plan is an end to flights under 186 miles. The excess flights people book to travel such small distances are unnecessary and harmful to the environment. Railroads, for example, can do a much healthier and efficient job.

Lori Zimmer from ‘Inhabitat.com’ explains the policy further, saying, “It realistically assesses the world’s over-usage and dependency on oil as fuel, while calling attention to the pollution and carbon emissions caused by traffic congestion. The plan also calls for a “transport area” which would create a unified transportation infrastructure that would span the entire continent. This would drastically reduce carbon emissions, and confine them to specific areas.”

Although, not everyone is supporting the act. Many people are insulting Kallas’ sanity and suggesting that he is doing Europe and major disservice, sending it back to the almost ‘dark ages.’

Either way, this is excellent news for our planet and it’s conservation.

 

 

 

Fashion Revolution Day; Good for us and our environment

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who made your clothes? Wear ethical fashion. #INSIDEOUT.

Image via indigenous.com

One year ago today, one of the worst industrial accidents in history occurred. An eight-story garment factory outside of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka collapsed during work hours. 1,138 people died, which inspired the world’s first ever ‘Fashion Revolution Day’ today, April 24, 2014.

Fashion should be about diversity, celebrating culture and personal creativity. It is a travesty that is has turned into such a monstrous industry, enslaving people all over the world who work for almost nothing. 75 million people worldwide are employed by the fashion industry.

Dilys Williams, in her article “Fashion Revolution Day: What it is and why it’s important,” explains that the fashion industry has become one of the most complicated supply chains in the world.  “It secures livelihoods, grows crops, applies emerging technologies, but does so with huge environmental and social costs.”

So, today was designed with the idea to encourage people to ask the question, “Who made your clothes?”

The deaths of the Bangladesh factory collapse were a direct result of our unquenchable thirst for cheap, ready fashion, which puts pressure on the producers to deliver on time and at a volume which factories are not fit for.

Fashion Revolution Day is asking people to wear their clothes inside out, making the statement of interest and awareness of where their clothing was made.

Environmentally, today’s fashion industry is nothing but negative. The goal of this new declared ‘day’ is to hopefully sway consumers to educate themselves on where their clothes are really coming from, and by doing so, push them towards more social and environmental-friendly clothing manufacturers.

A Greenpeace investigation from November 2012 found hazardous chemicals in clothing from 20 of the world’s leading fashion brands that were examined. Zara, the leading brand in fashion retail proved to have clothes that contain certain dye chemicals which can cause cancer-provoking amines. Other recognizable brands include Levi’s, Calvin Klein, Jack & Jones, and the list goes on.

Toxics Campaigner John Deans on Greenpeace explains findings, saying “The use of these toxic chemicals is an industry wide problem that is turning us all into fashion victims.” Now if it’s not good for us, we know how bad it is for our environment.

Yifang Li, a clothing detox campaigner at Greenpeace in East Asia suggests, “The textile industry continues to treat public waterways as little more than their private sewers. But our fashion doesn’t have to cost the earth: Our clothes don’t have to be manufactured with hazardous chemicals.”

According to Greenpeace.org, at least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn the Earth’s raw materials into wearable items.

Many of these chemicals are toxic and pollute the environment, local water, and cause serious harm to workers.

It’s a scary thought about what happens to our clothes when we are done with them, and the damage these chemicals are doing to our environment.

For the safety of our planet and our people, Fashion Revolution Day is the necessary reinforcement to find out where and from whom our clothes are from, and it is the inspiration for us to make smarter and more eco-friendly choices when shopping for clothing.

NASA Satellites Spot Congo Rainforest Damage; Long-term drought taking a toll

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Satellite image of the Congo rainforest, where the browning and dry area is overwhelming the green, healthy areas.

Image via NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Africa’s Congo rainforest is the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, and it is in serious trouble.

Over the past decade, the rainforest has experienced a long-term drought, causing an enormous decline in greenness. Scientists’ new analysis of NASA satellite data has determined the severity of the drought, which is indicated through the “greenness” of forest regions shown. The greener, the healthier, and in Congo’s rainforest there isn’t much green left at all.

A recent study led by Professor Liming Zhou of SUNY Albany shows the decline in vegetation and water content in the Congo rainforest from 2000 and 2012. Even more unfortunate, this greenness decrease has become significantly larger and prominent over time.

“Under the stress of an increased severity of water deficit in a warmer and drier climate in the 21st century, the gradual loss of photosynthetic capacity and water content over a long period might alter forest species composition and structure and thus affect biodiversity and carbon storage of tropical rainforests,” said Zhou. “For example, drier conditions may favor deciduous trees at the expense of evergreen trees.”

This process of natural selection can lead to a loss in biodiversity, and the case of this ongoing drought is assumed to be climate change.

Sassan Saatchi of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains furthermore, “The recent climate anomalies as a result of climate change and warming of the Atlantic Ocean have created severe droughts in the tropics, causing major impacts on forests.”

Global warming, perhaps?

According to NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, in 2014, five new NASA Earth science missions are launching to expand our understanding of Earth’s changing climate and environment. With this new technology available, scientists will be able to find the root of this ongoing drought, and hopefully there will be some sort of explanation and solution.

 

 

Earth Day Appreciation; 10 unique facts about our planet

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Image via paraorkut.com

Yesterday was Earth Day!

I hope you had the opportunity to take in the true and real beauty of Earth. I hope you could take off your shoes on the grass, sit under a tree, smell the rain, or do anything that made you feel grateful and loved by our wonderful home.

This planet is our true home, and we will live in it our whole lives…Unfortunately, not many people recognize or appreciate the vastness and beauty we around surrounded by every day. By doing this, the human race as a whole, and our need to thrive and expand, has caused both neglect and destruction to all types of wildlife.

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated nationally on April 22, created to emphasize and remind people of the importance to protect and preserve our environment.

What a beautiful thing.

So, I figured it only fitting to conclude this Earth Day appreciation post with 10 unique facts about our home, Earth.

1.The desert “Baobab” tree can store up to 1,000 litres of water in its trunk.

 

2. Some of the oldest mountains in the world are the Highlands in Scotland. They are estimated to be about 400 million years old.

3. The Earth weighs 5,980,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons.

 

4. You may feel like you’re standing still, but you’re actually moving—fast. Depending on where you are on the globe, you could be spinning through space at just over 1,000 miles per hour.

 

5. Recycling one aluminum can  saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours.

 

6. Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year.

 

7. A modern glass bottle takes 4000 years or more to decompose.

 

8. The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year. 5% of the world’s people produce 40% of the world’s waste. We toss out two billion plastic razors, a million and a half tons of paper towels, and 12 billion disposable diapers annually.

 

9. A single elephant tooth can weigh as much as 9 pounds.

 

10. The honey bee has been around for 30 million years.

New app ‘Think Dirty’ enables users to buy clean; Learn to avoid purchasing toxic ingredients

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Image via mediapoondi.com

A new Iphone app is now available which forces users to start thinking dirty about the cosmetics and personal care products they’re used to purchasing.

Unbeknowst to consumers, their everyday products used on their face and body can contain handfuls of toxic ingredients. This can be avoided simply by scanning the barcode of the desired product, learning it’s ingredients and health risks, and then being given healthier options; all by a couple clicks on the Think Dirty app.

Lily Tse, Founder and Ceo of Think Dirty explains that this September, Think Dirty partnered with the Breast Cancer Fund charity, to spread the message of breast cancer prevention through avoiding potentially dangerous ingredients in products. So now, each time you scan a product through the app, Think Dirty Inc. will donate $1 to Breast Cancer Fund.

Tse says, ” Although many products are labeled “all-natural” or “organic”, there is little transparency in labeling cosmetics. There was also no real tool out there for consumers to find information easily. With my background in design and marketing, I wanted to develop and create something not only for myself but for others as well, and that’s how Think Dirty was founded.

Think Dirty empowers and educates the consumer on the cosmetics industry by allowing them to make an informed decision on what products to purchase.  The mobile app launched in Summer 2013 with more than 68,300 products listed.”

This app is quite a breakthrough is the step towards supporting organic-based products, and opeing up a window to a brand new market. Not only are toxic ingredients in common-brand products bad for us, but they are bad for the environment as a whole, as well as animals.

According to Environmental Working Group’s “Investigative series on the Cosmetics Industry and Products”, major cosmetics companies have not publicly committed themselves to removing harmful ingredients. And shockingly, “The FDA does not have the legal authority to approve cosmetics before they go on the market. As well, it acknowledges, ‘cosmetic companies may use almost any ingredient they choose.’ Worse yet, the agency lacks the authority to recall possibly unsafe products.”

Scary to consider the lack of safety and regulation to the products we have trusted so dearly. This app allows users the opportunity to avoid unhealthy options, as well as increasing their chance for illnesses such as breast cancer.

An app like Think Dirty is something the public has needed for a while now, and another plus? It’s free.

For more information, visit thinkdirtyapp.com.

Zimbabwe goverment orders land grabs; Elephants to be poached into extinction

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‘Wildlife trafficking’  is not an unfamiliar phrase…but ‘Government involved in wildlife trafficking’ is definitely a head-turning factor to this story.

According to a nonprofit research group’s report that examines government collusion in wildlife trafficking, both political elites and the military are joining forces to seize the land of designated elephant communities, leaving the majestic animal in the open for poaching and trafficking.

 / ©: WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY

(Image via WWF)

Zimbabwe has been facing economic difficulties recently, according to Tendai Marima in an article for ALJAZEERA called “Zimbabwe turns 34, but struggles economically”. Marima explains this this is credited to “ongoing liquidity problems in the banking sector, as well as donor and investor uncertainty of 2013’s presidential and general elections.”

Marima continues further, saying “The nation is in a period of deflation, and Faced with absence of economic growth and debt repayment problems, it might be likely that a return to the Zimbabwe dollar is inevitable.”

It is no wonder that elephant’s safe lands are being eliminated by the struggling government, considering  how much elephant parts can be sold for, and the fact that  China is demanding that product from Zimbabwe now.

Richard Lardner explains about how in-demand elephants are in his article, “APNewsBreak: Africa Land Grabs Endanger Elephants.” Apparently, north of Zimbabwe in central Africa, about 23,0000 elephants were killed last year. One pound of elephant tusk sells for roughly $1,500 on the black market. That price is more than double the price of last year’s, which speaks volumes of why there is such an immediate demand.

No comment has been made by their government by the way, in  case you were wondering.

With the combination of Zimbabwe’s financial struggle and the value of elephant parts, it explains why elephants are so endangered of losing their bastions to the government.

What the government is doing right  now is troubling for multiple reasons, especially since the elephant population is dwindling.

According to ‘The Action Blog’, a site dedicated to raising awareness of endangered animals, the existing census of African elephants is about 600,0000. In the 1980’s, there 1,000,000. Some studies indicate that by the year 2020, roaming groups will no longer exist.

That is a terrifying thought. Elephants are an exotic, wise, and beautiful addition to our wonderful planet, and the loss of them to an example of human greed would be a cruel and pitiful fate.

To get involved, make your voice heard. Perhaps visit World Wildlife Federation online, and spread the world, and donate to help support African elephant programs and to reduce conflict between human and elephant populations.

Earth-sized Exoplanet Discovered; Breakthrough in search for life outside of Earth

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A new planet has been discovered, roughly the size Earth. No big deal right? Guess again.

The ongoing search for potential life in outer space has taken a surprisingly positive turn of events, as NASA recently announced a new discovery.

The exoplanet spotted has been named Kepler-186f,  after the telescope that spotted it, NASA’s Kepler telescope.

Kepler-186f is approximately 500 light years from Earth, in a constellation called Cygnus.  It orbits within what is called a “habitable zone.” This means that it is neither too close nor too far from it’s source of light, possibly allowing water. This news is monumental of course, because water is one of the most important components to survival.

In other words, this new planet could contain life.

Elisa Quintana of the SETI Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California explains that the planet is “the right size and the right distance to have properties that are similar to our home planet…We can now say that other potentially habitable worlds, similar in size to Earth, can exist. It’s no longer in the realm of science fiction.”

This discovery has given hope to the idea of extraterrestrial life, opening up a new world that scientists used to only dream of.

Kepler has five other planets that orbit the same star it does, which is called M dwarf. M dwarf is a star about half the size of our Sun.The mass and composition Kepler are yet to be determined, but most scientists predict that given the location and circumstances it is possible to be rocky and have mixed terrain, like our own planet.

Image
Image via nasa.gov

Kepler-186 orbits its star M dwarf once every 130-days, receiving only about one-third of the energy from its star that Earth gets from the sun. This represents it’s location is closer to the outer edge of the habitable zone.

Research on this new planet is unfinished and there is much more to learn, so it is unknown if this planet does or even can contain life. Just because it is inside a habitable zone does not necessarily mean it is able to host living things.

On the surface of Kepler-186f, the brightness of its star at high noon is only as bright as our sun appears to us about an hour before sunset. This makes the planet darker in comparison to Earth, but still light enough to wonder…

Either way, whether it has life or not, this is big news for the future. In 2017, NASA prepares to launch a new device that will allow us a deeper understanding of Kepler called a ‘Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite’.

Until then, keep yourself updated by checking NASA’s page dedicated to the mission, http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/main/index.html

 

Toss Your Cigarette and Plant a Flower Garden; All in one motion

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New “Throw it and grow it” cigarettes brings a new meaning to ‘all natural’ cigarettes.

Although cigarette butts are small, they create huge environmental hazards. They pollute our Earth, seep into our soil and poison our healthy planet. But now thanks to new patent-pending technology, new environmental-friendly cigarettes have filters with flower seeds embedded instead of it’s usual unhealthy ingredients.

The company “Greenbutts” explains how they did it, saying ” Organic cotton and natural de-gummed hemp form the filter body. Wheat flour and pure water bind the filter elements as they are spun together. No chemicals or hidden additives…. Our filter is made of an all-natural hemp and cotton blend that can be combined with a wide variety of grass and flower seeds. Partner our product with additive-free tobacco and you have a true all-natural cigarette.”

Cigarette filters are generally made of cellulose acetate tow, and they can take decades to degrade. Even when they finally decompose, it’s never a good thing for the environment. The toxicity in the filters causes serious damage, and according to the Texas Department of Transportation, “Each year more than 1 billion pieces of litter will accumulate on Texas highways. Of those, 13 percent are cigarette butts. That means 130 million butts will be tossed out in Texas alone this year.”

Not only are these figures staggering, but they are also a cry for help, to which “Greenbutts” has answered.

Although this product is still in it’s preperatory phase, it is definitely something to keep an eye out for. If these flower-seed filters really work, it will be an amazing leap forward in our environmental recovery. Maybe even sooner, they will be able to plant trees with this technology instead of just flowers. Trees are something the world always needs more of.

Globally, tobacco curing requires 11.4 million tons of wood each year, which is ridiculously harmful to the environment. Can Greenbutts be the key we need to bring back nature? Hopefully that answer is yes, and this eco-friendly approach to the most commonly purchased item in the United States is the type of breakthrough us treehuggers have been hoping for.

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Image via Greenbutts