December 28, 2006
The term "greenbelt" refers to any area of undeveloped natural land that has been set aside near urban or developed land to provide open space, offer light recreational opportunities or contain development. The natural greenbelts along areas of Southeast
Asia’s coastlines, including the region’s mangrove forests, served as buffers and helped to prevent even greater loss of life from the December 2004 tsunami.
Greenbelts in and around urban areas have probably not saved any lives, but they are important nonetheless to the ecological health of any given region. The various plants and trees in greenbelts serve as organic sponges for various forms of pollution, and
as storehouses of carbon dioxide to help offset global warming.
Greenbelts are also important to help urban dwellers feel more connected to nature. Dr. S.C. Sharma of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in India believes that all cities should "earmark certain areas for the development of greenbelts to
bring life and color to the cement concrete jungle and a healthy environment to the urbanities."
Greenbelts are also important in efforts to limit sprawl, which is the tendency for cities to spread out and encroach on rural lands and wildlife habitat.
The concept has also caught on in U.S and Canada, with cities adopting mandates for the creation of greenbelts to combat sprawl. Urban greenbelts can also be found in and around larger cities in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The green belt concept has even spread to rural areas, such as in East Africa. Womens’ rights and environmental activist Wangari Maathai launched the Green Belt Movement in Kenya in 1977 as a grassroots tree-planting program to address the challenges of
deforestation, soil erosion and lack of water there. To date, her organization has overseen the planting of 40 million trees across Africa. In 2004 Maathai was the first environmentalist to be awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. Why "peace?" "There
can be no peace without equitable development and there can be no development without sustainable management of the environment in a democratic and peaceful space," said Maathai in her acceptance speech.
Source:E-the Environmental magazine
December 12, 2006
Singapore and Hong Kong have long competed for the title of Asia’s premier financial centre and favoured destination for foreign professionals.
Singapore’s claim received a boost in November when Merrill Lynch, an American investment bank, declared that Hong Kong's air pollution was so bad that investors should sell shares in developers there and buy shares in their Singaporean rivals. Spencer White,
the bank's analyst, also forecast that Hong Kong office rents might fall 5% in 2007.
Singapore has its own air-pollution problems, but this is usually an annual bout of so-called “haze”, caused by farmers in neighbouring Indonesia setting fire to tropical forests to clear land. Hong
Kong’s problem, by contrast, is a year-round miasma churned out mainly by factories on the Chinese mainland. “About 40% of those in my social circle who work in the financial sector are looking to leave [Hong Kong] because of the pollution,” Mr White told
a Singaporean newspaper. His investment advice was nothing more than “common sense”, he said, and he predicted Singapore would benefit as more people move there.
December 12, 2006
"The fact is that warming of the global atmosphere is possibly the biggest and most difficult economic and political issue the world has ever needed to confront. I say this because, firstly, emissions of carbon dioxide are directly linked to economic growth.
Therefore, growth as we know is on the line. We will have to reinvent what we do and how we do it. There will be costs, but as Stern says, the cost will be a fraction of what we will need to spend in the future.
Secondly, the issue is about sharing that growth between nations and between people. The fact is that global economic wealth is highly skewed. Put in climate terms, this means that global emissions are also highly skewed. The question now is whether the
world will share the right to emit (or pollute) or will it freeze inequities. The question is if the rich world, which has accumulated a huge 'natural debt' overdrawing on its share of the global commons, will repay it so that the poorer world can grow, using
the same ecological space?
Thirdly, climate change is about international cooperation. The fact is that climate change teaches us more than anything else that the world is one; if the rich world pumped in excessive quantities of carbon dioxide yesterday, the emerging rich world will
do so today. It also tells us the only way to build controls will be to ensure there is fairness and equity, so that this biggest cooperative enterprise is possible. Think of climate change as the fallout of the feverish embracing of the market.
Ultimately, climate change is the true globaliser. It forces our world to come together not just to make short-term profits for some, but long-term economic and ecological benefits for all. Let us continue to discuss how this can be done."
September 16, 2006
Google earthday 2013 logo is a great way to experience our planet earth!
The ambitious founders of Google, the popular search engine company, have set up a philanthropy, giving it seed money of about $1 billion and a mandate to tackle poverty, disease and global warming.
But unlike most charities, this one will be for-profit, allowing it to fund start-up companies, form partnerships with venture capitalists and even lobby Congress. It will also pay taxes.
One of its maiden projects reflects the philanthropy’s nontraditional approach. According to people briefed on the program, the organization, called Google.org, plans to develop an ultra-fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid car engine that runs on ethanol, electricity
The philanthropy is consulting with hybrid-engine scientists and automakers, and has arranged for the purchase of a small fleet of cars with plans to convert the engines so that their gas mileage exceeds 100 miles per gallon. The goal of the project is to
reduce dependence on oil while alleviating the effects of global warming.
Read the full article at
September 10, 2006
The Economist writes in a survey:
"This survey will argue that although the science remains uncertain, the chances of serious consequences are high enough to make it worth spending the (not exorbitant) sums needed to try to mitigate climate change. It will suggest that, even though America,
the world's biggest CO2 emitter, turned its back on the Kyoto protocol on global warming, the chances are that it will eventually take steps to control its emissions. And if America does, there is a reasonable prospect that the other big producers of CO2 will
do the same." ..........
........ Arctic sea ice, for instance, is melting unexpectedly fast, at 9% a decade. Glaciers are melting surprisingly swiftly. And a range of phenomena, such as hurricane activity, that were previously thought to be unconnected to climate change are now
increasingly linked to it.
Read the full article at
September 05, 2006
Expedia.com®, became the first online travel agency to offer travelers the ability to purchase carbon offsets -- carbon dioxide reduction measures used to help cancel out the greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming.
Expedia® is offering the service through TerraPass, the leading
retailer of greenhouse gas reduction projects in the U.S.
"Expedia is dedicated to promoting responsible tourism, and we're
proud to extend environmentally conscious options to our travelers,"
said Steven McArthur, President, Expedia® North America Leisure
Travel Group. "We are committed to making a positive impact on
travel and tourism through industry advocacy, destination support
and the promotion of responsible tourism. Offering TerraPass carbon
offsets is just one way we invite our customers to join us in this
Airline travel currently accounts for about 13 percent of U.S.-
transportation-based emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary
greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. To help address this,
Expedia is partnering with TerraPass to make it simple for
environmentally conscious travelers to be carbon-balanced travelers
by purchasing a TerraPass from Expedia as part of their trip.
Expedia travelers can now pay a small fee to sponsor a measured,
verified reduction in greenhouse gas emissions directly proportional
to the emissions created by their plane flight. TerraPass funds
domestic clean energy projects, such as wind farms, innovative "cow
power" methane capture plants on American dairies, and the
retirement of carbon offsets on the Chicago Climate Exchange.
One year ago Expedia formed the World Heritage Alliance in partnership with the United Nations Foundation to support sustainable tourism to World Heritage sites.
Expedia.com travelers can choose from three levels of TerraPass to
purchase during the process of booking a flight or package, or as a
standalone component on Expedia's Activities page (
http://www.expedia.com/activities ). Prior to checkout, Expedia
customers will be offered a chance to purchase a TerraPass that
funds enough clean energy to balance out the CO2 emissions caused by
For example, a typical flight from New York to Los Angeles creates
about 2,000 lbs. per passenger of carbon dioxide (CO2), the
principal greenhouse gas. Pricing starts at $5.99 to offset about
1,000 lbs of CO2, the approximate amount per passenger emitted by a
2,200 mile round-trip flight. A TerraPass to cover cross-country and
international flights is $16.99 for up to 6,500 flight miles, and
$29.99 for up to 13,000 flight miles. Travelers who purchase a
TerraPass for cross-country or international flights will receive a
luggage tag that indicates their contribution to green travel.
Travelers who purchase a TerraPass for short-haul flights will
receive a decal.
Expedia is offering TerraPass to its customers at cost, so all
proceeds will go towards TerraPass' greenhouse gas reduction
efforts. For more
information, visit http://www.expedia.com/activities
July 07, 2006
Troop withdrawal from Siachen is still to be resolved but Indian and Pakistani scientists have begun pushing for a geosciences lab to study the glacier and eventually convert it into a science park.
With them are scientists from the US and Canada. Separate meetings are being held in Islamabad and Dehra Dun to develop a suitable work plan for researching the high Karakoram ranges in what is being referred to as the "Siachen Science Laboratory."
What has given impetus to the initiative, according to geologist John H Shroder of the University of Nebraska, is the October 8, 2005, earthquake in Kashmir. "It was a message from the gods that India and Pakistan need to have urgent cross-border dialogue,''
he said. The little-understood Himalayas are rapidly changing due to human intervention. The still provide sustenance for over a billion-plus south Asians by ensuring fresh water and energy security. But there are dangers -- retreating glaciers, rivers changing
course, dams triggering earthquakes -- and geo-scientific research is vital.
Already, the initiative has faced roadblocks. A joint "Science for Peace" international conference, funded by the US National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research of the US Navy, was to be held in Islamabad in May. Over 100 researchers from
the US, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Italy, Afghanistan, Germany, and China were to attend. But at the last minute, Pakistan withdrew official recognition for the event.
Undeterred, the key organisers of the event, the University of Nebraska, Omaha, organised separate meetings, one of Pakistani scientists in Islamabad, and one of Indians in Dehra Dun early this week. Together, they have tried to formulate a "collaborative
research agenda for Indo-Pak scientific activities in the western Himalayas."
Topping the agenda are:
• Assessing seismic hazards
• Studying the impact of climate change on Himalayan ice
• Document glacial changes
The earthquake was a wake-up call, for it came as a surprise that the Muzaffarabad faultline turned out to be active, says Shroder. Researchers don't want to be caught napping and hope to install a dense network of seismic stations across the mountains to
understand earthquake risks.
The advice to the scientists from Shroder, who has researched the Karakoram for some 40 years, was not to get disheartened by the unique logistical hardships of the region. "Just keep pushing the edges, and little by little good science can be done. There
can't be a better natural earth science laboratory than the high Himalayas," he told the Dehra Dun meeting.
Concurring with him is Baldev R. Arora, director of the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehra Dun. He says enough blood has been shed, and now the time has come for "the science for peace initiative to take off" for the good of all Himalayan neighbours.
Report from Indian Express, 4th July 2006
July 06, 2006
How is it possible for one species to give rise to more than one subsequent species?
One process by which this can occur is through the dividion of a population into two or more smaller populations by a geographical barrier. If the environments of the respective populations differ, different traits will be selected for in each, and the evolution
of these populations will follow different courses. As the two groups become isolated from each other, they would stop sharing genes, and eventually genetic differences would increase until members of the groups can no longer interbreed. At this point, they
have become separate species and the speciation is complete. Through time, these two species might give rise to new species, and so on through millenia.
Another process that may give rise to speciation is climate change. When climate changes, species try to follow the climate they are adapted for. Hence they move around the landscape to stay in the same climate space. When they do that, some populations
that are left behind might get isolated enough to spur morphological (physical) or genetic changes. One may get a species or population trapped in a region where climate is changing, which would induce a selective force to make them change or become extinct.
Excerpts from article by Dr.V.B.Kamble
June 02, 2006
"I think climate change is the major challenge facing the world. I have waited until the proof was conclusive that it was humanity changing the climate.
The thing that really convinced me was the graphs connecting the increase of carbon dioxide in the environment and the rise in temperature, with the growth of human population and industrialisation. The coincidence of the curves made it
perfectly clear we have left the period of natural climatic oscillation behind and have begun on a steep curve, in terms of temperature rise, beyond anything in terms of increases that we have seen over many thousands of years."
Excerpts from an interview published on Wednesday, May 24, 2006 by the Independent/UK
May 29, 2006