Tag Archives: environmental sustainability

Coral Reefs and climate change

Deepwater Coral Reefs Unlikely to Welcome Shallow-Water Animals ...

Climate change is the greatest global threat to coral reef ecosystems. Scientific evidence now clearly indicates that the Earth’s atmosphere and ocean are warming, and that these changes are primarily due to greenhouse gases derived from human activities.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, so far the oceans have taken up 90% of the excess heat generated by human-caused global warming. Even if emissions are aggressively curtailed, the oceans will continue heating at an accelerating rate for decades. What’s more, the oceans are acidifying. They’ve soaked up an estimated 20–30% of human carbon emissions; as carbon dioxide dissolves into these waters, their pH plummets.

Warming and acidification are stressors for corals (and for many other marine organisms). Heat causes coral to lose its algae and bleach. At the same time, increasing acidity makes it difficult for individual corals, typically millimeters in size, to build the calcium carbonate deposits that form large reef structures. If the pH is low enough and the corals unhealthy enough, reefs can even start to dissolve, making them vulnerable to shattering during storms.

Unhealthy reefs threaten not only the organisms that inhabit them but also the livelihoods of the people who depend on them. Reefs are the backbone of near-shore ecosystems around the world, providing a home for thousands of species of fish as well as mollusks, crustaceans, sea turtles, and countless other creatures. Without their associated reefs, nearby fisheries are at risk of collapse. The world’s reefs are valued in the tens to hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Each year, for instance, the Great Barrier Reef contributes about A$5.6 billion (US$3.84 billion) to Australia’s economy.

Scientists around the world are looking for all kinds of ways to protect and maybe even revive corals. One option is to create more marine protected areas—essentially national parks in the ocean. Scientists say creating marine refuges, where fishing, mining, and recreating are off limits, make the reefs healthier, and so more resilient.

Are gyms eco-friendly?

Time to run from the 'deadmill' gym treadmill

People nowadays are more concerned about their health and are going to the gym to achieve their fitness goals. Many exercisers find that running on a treadmill is easier, and therefore more preferable, than running outdoors. Those who face seasonal allergies or live in cold temperatures seem to have no option but to remain indoors for their workouts. There is also a sense of encouragement from joining a gym. By getting on the treadmill at their local club, they are now a part of a group who strive to be healthy. But by jumping on a piece of exercise equipment they may be helping their bodies but are harming the environment.

While the treadmills these gym-goers choose appear to be rather simple machines that wouldn’t require high amounts of power, one treadmill can burn the equivalent of fifteen 75-Watt light bulbs while in use. Most people would never want to have five lights on in their house, let alone fifteen, yet most people have no problem using a treadmill. While most treadmills are not constantly running, treadmills and other equipment still use energy while in standby mode. Some local gyms are also crowded enough that their machines are in almost constant use, burning large amounts of energy. The temperature raises in the gym, causing the use of fans and air conditioning in addition to the level that it is constantly running at. The lights at most gyms are consistently on and using electricity, even if no one is working out. The soda vending machine alone at a local gym can use about 10 times the amount of a home refrigerator.

An amazing alternative to the conventional gym is the Green Gym, a concept that allows gentle exercise out in the countryside in fresh air. Green Gyms involve members ‘working out’ by planting trees, rebuilding damaged forest footpaths or rebuilding walls. Participants have been found to exercise moderately over a period of about four hours – equivalent to a short session on a treadmill. However, the advantage is that the air is completely pure and, more importantly, the energy expended goes into producing a tangible product. This form of gentle exercise has been found to reduce heart attacks and strokes by about 50%.

Mental health organizations have commented on the well-being effects of the Green Gym. They say that people have a natural biological attraction to nature, which is often referred to as biophilia. Connecting with the natural environment can have therapeutic benefits and can significantly lower stress levels. Not only that, it can improve physical health too.

Carbon-neutral gyms are also starting to appear around the world. Many of these have environmental policies that aim to reduce waste, increase recycling and encourage users to think about the effects of their workout on the environment. Some gyms are even levying a charge on users so that tree planting projects can be resourced. One gym is able to reclaim over 800 cubic metres of rainwater from the roof. This is enough to fill their 25metre swimming pool.

So, going to the gym on a regular basis can have a great effect on your health and body. But it comes at a cost. For the discerning environmentalist, using a gym may be an acceptable option, but it is always a good idea to check that the establishment has an environmental policy, with aims and objectives clearly stated.

Pottery: A sustainable alternative

For the love of pottery | Delhi/NCR Activity with TogetherV

With the current environmental situations prevailing in our surroundings, it has become a duty and responsibility of each individual to use more renewable and recyclable products. It is a known fact that not all the products can be recycled, in which case, using products which have a high level of recyclability is advisable. Earthenware products are easily recycled and its recyclability rate is also extremely high. From the broken pots to old utensils, all can be recycled completely, with the help of a simple process and can be carved easily and quickly into newly desirable shapes. The recyclability rate of clay is 95 percent. This is a very high rate, highlighting that people should buy terracotta products more for preserving the environment. All the products that are made of clay possess the attribute of being highly durable and they are built with the main focus of being long-lasting. It is due to this aspect that they can tolerate a high level of wear and tear. In addition to this, the product has a high level of weather and heat resistance.

With growing concern for environment many people are replacing their steel/aluminum cookware with traditional vessels made of clay just like their ancestors. From cooking food to setting curd and storing water, their aim is to be self-sustainable and eco-friendly. Cooking in earthen pots and utensils also has additional benefits. These are:

Clay is alkaline in nature and when it interacts with the acidity in the food, it neutralizes the pH balance eventually making it healthier.

Due to its heat resistance, the food retains all the natural oils and moisture while slow-cooking, hence, extra oil need not be added.

Earthen utensils are not very expensive and cost-efficient compared to most other types of utensil.

Cooking in a clay vessel infuses the food with many important nutrients like calcium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium and Sulphur

Boiling milk, or making curd in Clay pots gives it better taste and texture than metal vessels, as told by veteran Chef Sanjeev Kapoor.

Clay being a porous material, allows heat and moisture circulate evenly through the pot during cooking, unlike with metal or stainless steel pots. This superior form of heat circulation helps in cooking vegetables and meat evenly.

Firstly, Clay cooking pots are extremely effective for slow cooking. Clay cooking vessels are porous in nature. It allows both moisture and heat to circulate easily through them. This aids in even, slow and delicate cooking.  Curry, gravy, and sautéing vegetables/meat are best done in earthenware.