How A Country Should Fight Pollution

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Why developing countries should always prioritize keeping the environment clean

As countries develop and grow, pollution becomes one of the main problems that they have to tackle. For a start, an economy on the rise means more people now have earning power than before and, as a result, are able to buy cars of their own; although, on the surface a scenario such as that looks really good, what it actually does is pollute the air with toxic releases from the exhaust of automobiles. As a result, what a country must do when it begins to rise is instead focus on improving both its local public transport network and roads for pedestrians so that more people do not go out and buy cars just because they now have an income to do so.

These types of development should really come before others, like glossing up a developing country and making it appear on the road to advancement with the introduction of countless malls, beautiful public gardens etc. because in actuality improved roads and transport networks can do this much better. Furthermore, the public too should aim to contribute to improving their locality’s environment by recycling more and roads which have been improved should be dotted with plenty of newly planted trees as well because trees also combat polluted air effectively; in my outlook, only a country which makes an effort and continually changes to take care of its environment is the type that can really be regarded as a country that is worth taking seriously.


Where is the Paris Agreement going?

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Why it’s necessary to revitalize the ‘climate change’ agenda once again to achieve targets set by the Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement in 2015 assured that climate change will be tackled effectively. More than two years later, reaching targets set by the agreement is proving a near-impossible hurdle and reportedly, there will be an increase in sea level all over the world, signalling greater preexisting problems of pollution (heat and melting of ice sheets in polar territories) than the agreement would have let on.

It’s the most disappointing of affairs: the Paris Agreement made it possible to visualize a world where the temperature would be less warmer than before; the temperature was actually offered to be taken down a notch – below 2C, but this is now on track to become a purely fictitious experience. In order to meet targets, greenhouse gas emissions must top by 2020 and the promise made in Paris must be close to getting met by 2030. However, this looks unlikely: for one, accelerated economic activity and fossil-fuel technologies are both busy getting responsible for an unacceptable amount of carbon emissions.

So now, the climate experience is heading towards an increase in temperature of 3C instead. It’s difficult to imagine that making global warming fall to a level lower than 2C will happen in the future if the target for 2030 isn’t met. The only way to stop this from happening is for countries to come together in an effort to tackle key challenges to bettering the global environment: from widening the use of renewable energy to preserving forests, there is a strong need for all of the 195 countries who had previously promised to make the facts dotting the Paris Agreement a reality, to act in a more spirited manner over climate change.

Already, the probability that three centuries later the sea level will still begin to rise, even if a reduction in temperatures around the world was achieved, as set by the Paris Agreement is dogging concern and if the targets are not met then sea levels are set to rise even further; global ocean levels are already apparently on the rise because of a warmer planet and is projected to rise even further in the next century.


Should our food be packaged before they are sold?

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Packaging meat and selling them in supermarkets will help keep it fresher for longer

I have always been a big fan of fast food. Burgers, french fries and soda are meals that almost seem impossible to live without some days – it is a little bit like packaged frozen mince meat which when you get the free time it’s fun to bring back home from your nearby supermarket and cook up a storm. But a concern over meat packaging has been prevailing  lately and it’s connection to the environment: packaging for meat has actually always been looked upon as an environmentally damaging option to sell meat in supermarkets.

And yet, this is where criticism directed at food packaging is very wrong because it is not a wasteful practice to package meats and sell them at all. In fact, packaging helps both the environment and food remain fresher for longer. Vacuum packaging specifically helps meat to be tender from before and also increase its lifespan from two-to-four days to five-to-eight days. It’s not only meat but cheese and dairy products benefits from well-thought out approaches to packaging them and this problem with the freshness of food is actually finding a good number of solutions. Earlier on, simply delivering food from farms to stores could mean that their freshness was no longer intact and this would in turn increase a lot of waste getting produced.

Furthermore, there was also trouble with shoppers not always buying fresh produce and stores being compelled to sell them at huge price cutoffs before the food would go completely spoiled and become non-salable food items. When food goes to waste, it damages our environment because plenty of resources, such as water and fuel were made use of to create that food in the first place. Consuming meat is also increasing tenfold for many countries, like China and India as populations begin to include it in their diets so keeping meat fresh for consumers, with the help of good grocery packaging should be an optimal trade concern for supermarkets because not only will it be a very green-friendly idea, it would also help cut down waste for trade and agricultural production.

India: Pollution + Economic Growth

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Environmental pollution and a barely-there, economic growth for India. Where is the local excitement?

India is one of the most densely polluted countries in the world. Everyday it sees fine powders of arsenic, black carbon, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide in it’s metropolitans, especially in the capital; in fact, this environmental damage is twice the amount that China has to witness daily, and Beijing is already known around the globe, for it’s less-than-average green credentials. In stark contrast, economic growth is happening for India (a first in the millennium) and China is instead trailing India in it. Overall, the last quarter of 2015 saw India lose out on economic growth, but this is still considerably higher than the economic growth rate for it’s rival, China.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies Delhi as the most polluted developing city and this is a growing concern for the health of all residents. Many people in Delhi die annually because of air pollution, and admissions to hospitals to treat respiratory illnesses is sometimes even ballooning. But where is all of the big smoke coming from? Confined to plenty of other Indian metropolitans too, the causes for the smoke aren’t cars or factories, primarily but instead it is home cooking. North India, specifically, has this problem because of stubble-burning in a rural environment. Cars and other vehicles are a major contributor to pollution too: recently local government efforts saw the implications of emissions standards for brand new passenger cars, and it is hoped that the same set of standards will follow suit for both two-wheelers and three-wheelers. There is also a great big rush in the government-level to make sure the calibre of fuel gets a lot better.

If all of the efforts are rolled out by 2020, then environmental pollution will be slashed into fractions of what it is today. Other such similar expected measures, includes the development of the metro network in Delhi, and sustaining roads more, which singularly feed into air dust. All of these new initiatives run parallel to the ones introduced more than ten years ago, when rubbish-burning was curtailed, both power plants and industries badly polluting the country were no longer allowed to operate, and vehicles, such as buses, auto-rickshaws and taxis were required to use natural gas as fuel to drive. The government also did very little in the past to ease environmental concerns when it dwindled diesel to attract support from farmers using it for both water pumps and tractors. This move catapulted a push towards the vehicle industry mushrooming into a diesel-dominating one. The new initiatives, because of that, are welcome moves because more and more vehicles travel on the roads in India now, than they did back then.

Meanwhile, the major roadblocks to economic improvement for India, range from cement production to investment, but as a developing country, India, has alone come a very long way. Issues of bureaucracy are still hurting the local Indian business environment, which is a major issue for a country predicted to become the third largest economy in a little over decade, right behind the United States and China. Furthermore, the dampening of weather conditions lately has impacted agriculture, and Narendra Modi has highlighted that his government prioritises all farmers worries, and stressed the importance of a good calibre of seeds and irrigation patterns. There are also plans to introduce refrigeration facilities, raise the incomes of farmers, profits free-flowing from reaped produce direct to the pockets of farmers, and decrease any losses amounted by farmers, right after harvest season.

Plastic Bags & The 5p Charge At Supermarkets

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How worried should you be about this move that is supposed to be good for the environment?

Today is the day you say goodbye to plastic bags everywhere in supermarkets. In England, supermarkets, the really large ones, will now be charging shoppers 5p for plastic bags to carry their groceries home with them. If you are having your goods delivered to your home address then be ready to have somewhere around 40p around because a handful of them will be charging you a flat rate of 40p.

The motive behind the initiative is to have them stop littering streets. This is actually a genuine problem in most countries around the world. In Malaysia, it is still only during the weekends we are charged for plastic bags at supermarkets but I never found caring for the environment a hassle – I almost always have Hello Kitty shopping bags with me to carry around my many purchases back home, with me.

I welcome this move because it contributes to the environment positively. Plastic bags are already an issue for sewerage systems and a standard point of problem to how general waste works in developing economies. On the streets they look ugly and toxic to the climate, they are responsible for pollution, they affect marine life and in fact they are one of Mexico’s most pressing problems.


Saving The Ecosystem: Wildlife Tales

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Wolves in Yellowstone are benefiting greatly from living in a pack. They can take a prey down easily, raise families, and defend their horizons, their territory, with ferocity. The wisdom to group living fails when it comes to getting infected with something contagious, but this thought does not stand for wolves.

Made extinct by hunting in the early 1900s, they were brought back to life from the dead in 1995, and have been closely observed as a wildlife species, since then, by the National Park Service.

Some 25 or so wolves have to be tranquilized annually and fitted with radio collars, so that they can be tracked. The studies have showed that the kind of pack matters, alongside the size of it. Larger wolves are more successful at preying than smaller wolves – they can hunt, and protect themselves and act as better leaders, too.

Saving The Ecosystem: Wildlife Tales

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Living things are known to be bedazzled by the colours provided to them from pigment molecules – a good reason why in the flesh, seashells look so different in paleontological museums, rather than on canvas, in print, or on film. In the 1970s, a technique helped to change this, as ancient seashells were doused in sodium hypochlorite, and then had them face ultraviolet lights, which reveal colours, patterns.

This was not possible before, but it is now, despite its lack of fame. If things progress faster a lot can change however, as research shows that this technique can increase the lifespan of seashells, when examined with it. In France, specimens from the Jurassic period, revealed that complicated patterns give the sea shells a certain colour, that scientists believe did not arrive some 100mn years later.

The colour comes from leftover, degraded, pigments, so it is not possible for them to exhibit this trait in life – this new discovery will always go towards contributing to the greater debate over ancient gastropods and bivales led to the colours in seashells we see active today.

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Saving Elephants in Africa

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Poaching of animals is  major issue in Africa. In November 2011, poachers, thousands of them, rode  on horseback from Sudan, some thousands of miles, loaded with different kinds of ammunitions, and killed dozens of elephants, and removing their tusks to sell off to markets that specialise in illegally trading them. It was very hard to get rid of them from Cameroon, where this episode took place, before taking off for Chad, where more elephants were killed off, before fleeing to Sudan.  These episodes remind us that elephant poaching occur regularly, and now somehow the trade has been traced to Chinese aristocrats.

Ivory is very prized amongst the locals here, and there is growing demand amongst the Chinese middle class too, for ivory, now, because they like to buy cigarette holders, chopsticks and even tiny elephants, carved out of nothing but ivory. In neighbouring Hong Kong, a station of illegally driven trade is already in existence, where for a three thousand dollars you can buy a pound of illegal ivory.

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The prices have increased in the last four years, because a pair of tusks, carved out into numerous forms, were less valuable previously, marking the increasing difficulty in getting hold of them, nowadays. The poachers are paid much less in Africa for their acts, but locally, it’s still more than enough to live a comfortable life, and criminal masterminds are now flourishing in this trade. The money is even attracting terror gangs, all the way from Somalia, and from certain factions of the army in the DRC, and the Central African Republic.

Apart from protecting the animals, this intermix of terrorism and criminal activity is posing an increased threat to peaceful coexistence; add to it, how it is creeping its ways onto several countries, means that there needs to be a greater commitment to protecting ecodiversity, than President Obama’s administration is interested in doing so presently – so far, they are more concerned over how terror groups have been linked to creeping criminal activity, and the presence of the UN is national parks in Africa, is the only think keeping the poachers at bay, on most days.

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California Calling!

California has been making waves with it’s ideas on the environment. Can you call back a time, when greenhouse has emissions, weren’t a part of the conversation? Think back and you will see that in the 1990s, the topic wasn’t as huge as it has become now, and for very good reason.

The levels of these emissions has considerably risen since the era, but a newly introduced bill in the “Sunshine State’ aims to combat all of that, and push it back to the lower state of existence it once belonged to, during the nineties. But as the new bill tries to make itself comfortable, in its new position, it raises some important questions of how businesses aim to deal with all of this new change.

So many of them rely on fast production, which harms the climate but their production, in turn fuels California’s growth. It is expected that other states will follow through with this new idea on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, more than usual because California is recognized as that signalling craft for political change.

Can you imagine how many businesses could stand to be impacted, with this new change? This change has seen many seasons coming: a strong recession, a small tax-heavy budget, only made politicians think how to focus on the problems at hand, rather than think more on pressing challenges.

So, the White House has released this white paper that outlines the aim to reduce the gas house emissions level by 2025, with the help of the Environmental Protection Agency, and various other government bodies.

California is home to a handful of companies that prioritise addressing environmental concerns, such as Honda, Ford, Hyundai, Toyota and Tesla Motors. Although, Tesla Motors is more niche-market in the automobile department, it has seen a reduction in revenue forecast, for hybrid cars, unlike the remaining bigger automobile makers. Nonetheless, this has created more jobs, that are friendly to the environment, than most, because of what these businesses represent.

Global warming happens when greenhouse gases trap heat to make the planet warmer, than usual, and the sad part of this story is that this effect is entirely man-made, and has been so for the last 150 years. Burning fossil fuels, to provide for electricity, heat and transportation, is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gas is mostly emitted from electricity production, transports, industry, agriculture, forestry and the technology you use in your homes and offices. Earth Day was recently celebrated across the world, and now this new piece of legislation aims to help the environment and make room for us to correct our ways.

Some of the ways you can already do this, at home: change your light bulbs, the five most frequently used, heating/cooling your room within reason, insulate your home by placing measures, such as weather stripping, recycle, save water, have a “green” yard, buy environmentally-friendly automobiles (renewable fuels aren’t as expensive, as often thought of!), and take public transport, whenever you can, rather than driving to work.

What’s your Carbon Footprint?

The effects of climate change can be disastrous to say the least. They damage our rainforest, our crops, our plantations, and our natural environment. WWF UK recently unveiled a new controversial scheme titled The Carbon Footprint Calculator. On average every individual who has taken part in the survey had a mean index of 2.5 planets as a response. My responses was a high of 2.3 planets but we only have one planet we call home. The survey is controversial because it lists ideas you can adapt into your lifestlye that would not only stifle you as a normal human being out and about with your daily activities, it would also make you such an idiotic bore.

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You should give up meat for vegetables, should opt to purchase jewelleries less because the harmful effects mineral extraction can have on Earth, and the most strangest of all – go easy on getting that awesome Porsche you’ve dreamt of as kid. I mean, I take the bus or all forms of public transport wherever I go but that doesn’t in anyway mean that I should say no to “mere luxuries” that should come naturally to me just because we are still working on inventing greener fuel, and a much more cool (the green kind!) motor system for our hybrid cars, our electric cars, or plain old sexy motor cars.

As much as I love our planet and the weather in KL (it always rains here!), the truth is that ozone depletion over the years has had a drastic effect on Earth. The more the Earth heats up, the stranger that climate behaviour gets – you get hot, cold, dry every couple of seconds and this erraticness is more than just puzzling. The last 100 or so years (that’s a lot of damage for a long time, we should make our love for Porsche pay with!) saw the most developed nations burn up too much coal, gas, oil like there is no tomorrow and offset all that damage by cutting down rainforests.

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The way to battle climate change is plant more trees, so that they can absorb carbon dioxide and keep the harmful effects of global warming to as minimal as possible. I think the survey does help you determine where you rake on the scale, and also break free from the spin cycle of “turn the lights off later” and do something good for the environment today = I feel that the weather will love you for it!