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The Purple Waffle plant (hemigraphis alternata) can help clean the air in your home by filtering out noxious household chemicals like benzene (found in glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents, and cigarette smoke) and trichloroethylene (found in adhesives, paint removers, and spot removers).
Like many other houseplants, the Purple Waffle works during the day while the soil in which it’s planted works at night to remove gases and other impurities. For more information about natural air cleaners, visit sciencedaily.com.
According to the Chinese lunar calendar, the Year of the Tiger begins on Valentine’s Day. There’s little reason, however, for tigers to celebrate considering as few as 3,200 remain in the wild. On the positive side, World Wildlife Fund is attempting to double the number of wild tigers by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022. You can help by clicking http://www.worldwildlife.org/species/finder/tigers/year-of-tiger.html.
HAT TIP: secure2.convio.net.
El Naturalista is a footwear company that’s actually trying to reduce their footprint. This fashion-forward international shoe brand makes comfortable yet fashionable footwear inspired by nature and people.
The company has taken great strides in using less harmful materials in the production of their shoes, including natural dyes and recycled materials including recycled polyurethane inner liners and the recycled rubber soles. In case you missed it above, click here for more information.
The roof of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, is comprised of two and a half acres of undulating hillocks that help regulate the building’s temperature and filter water runoff. It’s also a habitat for a wide variety of indigenous plants, flowers, butterflies, and birds.
Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the Academy is “the largest public Platinum-rated building in the world (according to LEED standards) and also the world’s greenest museum. To see more, visit calacademy.org.
How’d you like to have your backyard (or your front yard for that matter) qualify as a certified wildlife habitat? Follow a few relatively simple rules and the National Wildlife Federation will take care of it for you. Start by using native and indigenous plants (e.g., cactus gardens in deserty Los Angeles). Fertilize organically, watch water consumption, use all-natural compost, and you’re on your way. For more information, visit http://planetgreen.discovery.com.
originally uploaded by DjJoha
The following is from Adbusters: “An ecological footprint is the amount of productive land area required to sustain one human being. Globally, there are about 1.9 hectares of productive area per person, but the average ecological footprint is already 2.3 hectares. So we would need 1.5 Earths to live sustainably.
The largest footprint belongs to citizens of the US, at 9.57 hectares. Five Earths would be needed if everyone in the world consumed at that rate.”
You can calculate your own personal ecological footprint here: footprintnetwork.org.
Häagen-Dazs, which relies on honey bees for many of the natural ingredients that go into it’s ice cream, has donated more than $500,000 over the past two years to scientific research that will help save them. Last week, the company collaborated with TwitCause in a “sponsored tweets” campaign in support of the bees. Here’s how a “sponsored tweet” works: every time you send out a qualifying tweet in support of a cause, the sponsor (in this case Häagen-Dazs) makes a donation to that cause (up to a maximum, of course). In this case, the bees collected $7000 (a grand a day).
Check out helpthehoneybees.com (also sponsored by Häagen-Dazs) – a beautiful and informative website.
originally uploaded by Sakanta Running Wolf
Three Fort Collins, Colorado researchers have found that vehicle and industrial noise is interfering with the way animals communicate, mate and prey on one another. One of them is quoted as saying that “many animal species evolved hearing sensitive enough to take advantage of the quietest conditions (and) their hearing is increasingly compromised by noise.” For example, when exposed to the sounds of highway traffic, female grey tree frogs have difficulty locating and finding calling mates.
Hat Tip: news.bbc.co.uk
Researchers have concluded that a recent installation of cell phone towers in Southern India is behind the sudden collapse of the local honey bee population. Dr. Sainuddin Pattazhy – who led the research – believes that electromagnetic waves emitted by the towers interferes with the navigational skills of worker bees. “If towers and mobile phones further increase, honey bees might be wiped out in 10 years,” Pattazhy says.
Note: there are many theories re. the disappearance of honey bees and the issue in general is highly controversial. Wikipedia offers a comprehensive look at the subject: en.wikipedia.org
Hat Tip: www.redorbit.com
The prime minister of Bangladesh is requiring government employees to help ease the country’s energy shortage by no longer wearing suits, jackets, and neckties. Even ministers now will no longer be expected to wear suits and ties. The new dress code (which even allows men to wear their shirts untucked), is expected to reduce the demand for air conditioning during the hot months between March and November.
The government intends to ask private businesses to follow its example.
The Polymer Energy company has been working hard for years and claims to have struck oil in a most unexpected place – your local landfill. Using a process called “catalytic pyrolysis,” the company claims to have developed a viable way to turn plastic waste (including disposable shopping bags and household cleaner containers) into crude oil. Finally – a domestic energy source we can all get behind. Learn more here.
Lily, a 5th-grader at Montgomery County, Md., Public Schools’ Great Seneca Creek Elementary School, talks about attending a LEED-Gold school.* For more information, visit www.buildgreenschools.org.
*The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria.
Biomimicry is a new science that “studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems.” Here’s an example of biomimicry in action: the air conditioning system at the Eastgate Building in Zimbabwe, is modeled after self-cooling mounds created by termites. The termite structure maintains a constant “indoor” temperature 24 hours a day even though the outside temperature can vary up to 40 degrees centrigrade. Eastgate’s architects mimicked the termites so well that the building uses 90% less energy for ventilation than other buildings its size (saving the owners over $3.5 million in air conditioning costs. For more information, visit biomimicryinstitute.org.
“No matter where we live, the Great Lakes affect us all. And as species of fish disappear and rates of birth defects and cancer rise, it seems on thing is clear: the Great Lakes are changing and something’s not quite right with the water.”
CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE OR VISIT WATERLIFE.NFB.CA TO SEE A BEAUTIFUL AND MOVING WEBSITE PRESENTATION about the Great Lakes.
An organization called, Matter of Trust, is collaborating with thousands of hair salons around the globe who donate hair clippings for use in soaking up oil spills. The effort was inspired by hair stylist Phil McCrory who began testing the oil-absorbing potential of hair after noticing the oil-soaked fur on Alaskan otters after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. For details, click www.matteroftrust.org.
Many agricultural crops all over the world are pollinated by bees. The disappearance of bees as a result of so-called Colony Collapse Disorder would therefore be a calamity. The Beehaus provides a warm, secure, and dry place for bees to live. And thrive. It can be used in your garden or on your rooftop and is especially useful in urban areas where bees have difficulty surviving. For more information, visi www.omlet.co.uk.
The Mannahatta Project at the Wildlife Conservation Society is working to uncover the original ecology of Manhattan which was once a natural landscape of forests, fields, valleys, 573 hills, freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, ponds and streams and home to a wide variety of wildlife including mountain lions, reptiles, black bears and wolves. The project is brought to life in computer images that can be seen at the Museum of the City of New York through October 12, 2009.
For more information, visit themannahattaproject.org.
Several times a month, Food Forward – an all-volunteer, grassroots group of Angelenos – convenes at a private property (by invitation) and glean the excess fruit on its trees, donating 100% to local food pantries. For more information – or to join them – visit foodforward.org. You can also read more about the Food Forward movement here.
Hat Tip: Kiko and latimes.com.
The Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School produced this 10-minute film that reconnects audiences to the importance of the marine environment for all life on Earth.
Remember the eco-project that used old subway cars to create habitats for marine life (greenlandoceanblue, July 20th)? Well, it’s run into some difficulty. Of the 48 cars that found a new home off the coast of Delaware, only two are upright and intact. Most of the others quickly disintegrated. The EPA has said that the cars would last 25 years. Ah, interesting.
Hat Tip: earthfirst.com
This is what could happen if all humans disappeared:
On October 11, 2004, 13 Indigenous Grandmothers from the Alaskan Tundra, North, South and Central America, Africa, and Asia gathered at Tibet House’s Menla Mountain Retreat to form a global alliance; to work together to serve both their common goals and their specific local concerns. Women of both prayer and women of action, they have agreed to be part of a network to rebalance the injustices wrought from an imbalanced world. They are now the subject of a feature documentary – For The Next 7 Generations – which is being screened this month in Pennsylvania and New York. For more information, visit forthenext7generations.com.
To help improve the environment, the city of Madrid, Spain is building an “Air Tree.” Created by Urban Ecosystem, the structure is completely self-sufficient, generating all its own power with solar cells. Surplus energy is sold to the electrical grid. Built from recycled materials and filled with plants, the Air Tree will also act as a natural air conditioner as it absorbs solar energy and produces oxygen that cools its surroundings.
Hat Tip: www.inhabitat.com
Research on cone snail toxins has shown an unprecedented potential for advances in the world of medicine* – yet another reason to protect their tropical coral reef and mangrove habitats while we can.
* E.g., Prialt, a drug based on a synthetic version of a cone snail peptide, was approved in 2004, and is believed to be up to 1,000 times as potent as morphine. In addition, the drug comes without the typical opiate side effects of addiction and tolerance buildup, and has proven very successful at reducing extreme pain in cancer and AIDS patients. Cone snail peptides have also shown potential to aid treatment of medical conditions as varied as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and strokes.
You can read more about the cone snail at conservation.org.
Climate change is causing a breed of wild sheep in Scotland to shrink, according to a team of scientists. It appears that milder winters help smaller sheep to survive, resulting in this “paradoxical decrease in size”. Given the warming temperatures, even the slower-growing sheep have a chance of surviving and this means that smaller sheep are becoming increasingly common in the population. The team also found that younger sheep tended to give birth to smaller lambs – a phenomenon they termed “the young mum effect.” But according to one of the researchers, “it’s too early to say if, in 100 years, we will have chihuahuas herding pocket-sized sheep.” More on small sheep here.
“Water security links together food, energy, climate, economic growth and human security challenges, which the world economy will face over the next two decade. The world is now on the verge of water bankruptcy in many places with no way of paying the debt back.”
For more information about the global water crisis, visit circleofblue.org.
Climate change may threaten the survival of thousands of species, but biologists still document up to 20,000 new ones every year. For example, in 2008, a new microbacterial species was discovered in off-the-shelf hair spray. Microbacterium Hatanonis, which has been named one of this year’s Top Ten New Species, “…presumably just turned up here as a contaminant,” said Quentin Wheeler, director of the International Institute For Species Exploration.
Hat Tip: news.nationalgeographic.com
Behavioral ecologist Elizabeth Derryberry, a behavioral ecologist at Louisiana State University, has discovered evidence that “vegetation density can influence birdsong over time.” Derryberry plans to extend her research to investigate how habitat changes associated with global warming might cause birds to change their tune.