Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Simple Green Ideas

Another home-grown idea this week.

Got some old jars around, preferably a little ornamental?

oldOrnJar

Old marmalade jar

Some metallic bronze oil paint…

oldgoldjar

Old gold jar, not finished yet

It will become a present with a ribbon of some sort around the neck for my daughter. Even at nearly eight, she already has quite a collection of earings and ear studs.

I get these jars all the time with imported jams and the like, because Brazilian jam is crap.

 

Satireday on Eco-Crap

ifyoudidntdrinkallmine

The great diesel scandal

How cheap fuel is choking our cities

Diesel’s popularity with motorists has surged, but its green image was an illusion. Now concern is growing over the damage caused by emissions, with children particularly vulnerable

The diesel and the damage done … particulates are one of the worst offenders in air pollution. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Stand at a busy road junction on a bright day and chances are you will see it: a Wacky Races cloud of black smoke left hanging in the air after a car pulls away. These clouds are actually particles of soot – partially burnt fuel from diesel engines – and they are arguably the worst environmental menace facing city-living Britons – and children in particular.

Diesel vehicles have enjoyed a surge in popularity on our roads, rising from less than a quarter to more than half of all cars sold in the last five years. In the recent past, they were even touted as more environmentally friendly than petrol vehicles, because they burn less fuel and so can produce, overall, less CO2. This green image, however, was always an illusion: diesel engines burn fuel less cleanly than petrol-driven models, resulting in a large excess of particulates – the visible clumps of soot left behind in the exhaust fumes.

Particulates are one of the worst offenders in air pollution because they damage the lungs when inhaled. “It has been known for a long time that diesel particles are harmful, and the links to lung cancer have been widely published,” says Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation. “Along with other major factors such as poor diet and smoking, diesel levels in a large city like London have been associated with significant health problems.” For children, especially, this can cause a permanent stunting of lung growth. And the picture may be even worse than current studies show: “There is a growing consensus in the medical community that diesel particulate emissions are more dangerous to health, particularly lung health, than previously thought,” adds Woods.

Yet despite our growing knowledge of the problem, the coalition’s policies – which follow on from equally harmful policies under the previous government – still favour diesel over petrol, and motorists continue to respond by opting for diesel in the showroom and at the pump. Diesel is taxed at exactly the same rate as petrol, a situation that the Treasury argues is fair and shows no favouritism between the fuels. The problem with this argument is that diesel cars travel further on a gallon of fuel than their petrol-driven counterparts, so the tax per mile is much lower.

The answer, according to a growing number of experts, is to tax diesel more heavily and regulate its use more strictly. The British Lung Foundation would firmly support such measures, says Woods. Simon Birkett, founder of Clean Air in London, also supports higher taxes, as does the environmental group Client Earth, and the RAC Foundation, while Friends of the Earth wants a fuel-tax review and Greenpeace says higher taxes in urban areas may be the best approach.

Source: TheGuardian Read more

Simple Green Ideas

This is more of a repurpose. It’s also a personal effort.

Many of us have plants growing around the yard, in pots, tins, whatever.

Plants in odd tins

Plants in odd tins

I began to get so many for the yard, that I did this…

Plants on the street

My plants on the street & Kitty

I used them to make a barrier on the footpath (sidewalk for our American cousins) to prevent vehicles parking there.

Parking on footpaths is epidemic in Brazil, illegal, but everyone does it.

My fear is that the continual weight of cars, and if some idiot parks a truck there, will break the thin unreinforced concrete.

I have another almost ready to add.

The stones are the type used to make the old style roads here, you can find them around the streets. I do and carry them home to repurpose…

The Siamese type cat is the one that is in the process of adopting me. Kitty (pronounced Kitchy in Portuguese) has a belly full of paws and claws, and decided that my place and me are better than her current situation. Last night she got brave enough to jump up on the sofa for the first time while I was watching TV for a stroke. I feed her because she started coming here to steal Clorinha’s food, and I have guessed that she is not getting enough at home to feed both her and her extra baggage.

I realise that such a display on the footpath would be frowned on, if not illegal, in parts of the world where you would have neighbours and/or councils who would order their removal; which is why I live in Brazil and not the First World, my neighbours think it’s lovely despite the crappy looking tins. I am waiting for someone to offer me leftover paint… that I will recycle.

Ponder… why do Americans call it a sidewalk and not a footpath? I walk on my feet, not my side!

Monday Moaning

Invasion of the white appliances

This is scary.

Technology at its worst.

Did you know your washing machines, air conditioners, TVs and fridges are spying on you?

Why your washing machine is a security risk

As washing machines get linked to the net, they might be leaking data

“Hello! Do you need any help, sir?”

“No thanks, I’m just browsing.”

This is a lie. I am not just browsing. I am trying to make a smart washing machine on display in this electronics store cough up its deepest secrets.

On this model, that means I need to simultaneously press a couple of buttons on the control panel to jog it into a mode that shows how it connects to wi-fi. But I need to hold the buttons down for five seconds or so and every time I do that a hovering salesman or woman comes over and I have to abandon the attempt.

Maybe there is a better way to plumb the secrets of smart devices. I’m curious about the security on these gadgets as I’ve just bought a washing machine that can communicate its well-being via an app.

More and more domestic gadgets that, since their creation, have been as isolationist as North Korea are now becoming decidedly verbose. And they do most of their chatting via apps. With home routers regularly getting enrolled into scams, I’m wondering if smart washing machines, ovens, tumble dryers and fridges will be next.

Source: BBCNews Read more scary stuff

Opinion:

I find it quite scary that appliances have the ability to transmit information without the user being aware of it. Further, there’s no way you can turn it off!

If this information is intercepted, as the article claims is fairly easy to do, by people with nefarious intent, can they determine when the house is empty?

Does this information make you ripe for the pickings of burglars and ne’er-do-well?

One thing I hate about all this information gathering is ‘targeted advertising’. Which is why I have blocked ALL access to advertisers and beacons from the sites I visit.

The road we are going down is fraught with danger…

Big Brother is watching you more and more, there is no escape.

Personally, I refuse to buy anything, that has this ability, or the potential. Which is why when I bought my new cellphone, I got as simpler model as possible. Smartphones are just too damned smart for my good.

 

Make you Fink on Friday

Just how stupid are we?

Europe’s vultures under threat from drug that killed millions of birds in Asia

After an ecological disaster in India, wildlife groups call for ban on vets using diclofenac in Italy and Spain

A Spanish griffon vulture. Vultures in Europe could be under threat from approval of the use of the drug diclofenac in Italy and Spain. Photograph: Chris Hellier/CORBIS

Wildlife groups have launched a Europe-wide campaign to outlaw a newly approved veterinary drug that has caused the deaths of tens of millions of vultures in Asia. They say that the decision to allow diclofenac to be used in Spain and Italy not only threatens to wipe out Europe’s vultures but could harm other related species, including the golden eagle and the Spanish imperial eagle, one of the world’s rarest raptors.

Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory agent and painkiller, was introduced around the end of the 20th century in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh to treat sick cattle. But when the cattle’s carcasses were eaten by vultures, the birds contracted a fatal kidney condition. Within a few years, vulture numbers had declined by a staggering 99.9% across south Asia. The worst-affected species included long-billed, slender-billed and oriental white-backed vultures. Dead cattle were left to rot without vultures to consume their flesh. Packs of feral dogs grew to fill the ecological gap. The risk of rabies also rose, said health experts. Now diclofenac has been approved for use in Italy and Spain.

“It defies common sense to approve of a drug when there is abundant, solid evidence to show that it is deadly to so many species of birds and that it causes such ecological damage,” said José Tavares, director of the Vulture Conservation Foundation. “We now know diclofenac was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of vultures in India. Several species were brought to the brink of extinction in the process. Once the Indian government realised that, it banned diclofenac. That was in 2006. Now two countries in Europe have decided to give it the go-ahead. It is simply appalling.”

Dr Toby Galligan of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said: “It is utterly brainless to approve a drug which you know has killed tens of millions of birds in such a short space of time. Yet this is exactly what the Italian and Spanish governments have done. Based on some very, very poor risk assessments, they have given approval to an agent that could have devastating consequences for critically important large birds in Europe.” Galligan’s own research has found that diclofenac not only kills vultures but is also fatal to eagles of the genus Aquila whose members include the golden eagle and the Spanish imperial eagle. At present there are only about 300 pairs of imperial Spanish eagles left.

Most worries are focused on diclofenac’s probable impact on vultures, which play a critical ecological role by rapidly disposing of animal carcasses before they rot. “In Africa, vultures have been in severe decline for a long time,” said Tavares. “Then, in south Asia, we had the impact of diclofenac which has left the subcontinent with hardly any vultures.”

Europe is now the last refuge of Old World vultures. (New World vultures, including Andean and Californian condors, are made up of different species.)

A spokesman for the UK’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate said: “As a precautionary measure the VMD will not approve any requests from vets to import products containing diclofenac. Furthermore, we have agreed not to issue any export certificates which name diclofenac-containing products in the list of products to be exported.”

In a bid to persuade the EU to ban diclofenac, a petition – set up privately in the UK – has been signed by 28,000 people so far. It calls on the European commissioner for health, Tonio Borg, and the commissioner for the environment, Janez Potocnik, to intervene. This could be done by diclofenac being referred to the EU medicines agency, which could ultimately ban the drug.

Source: TheGuardian

Opinion:

Sometimes I just outrightly dispair at the sheer stupidity of man.

This is but one example.

When are we as a species going to get our act together?

 

Change the World Wednesday – 30th Jul

followed-blog-200-1xThe 26th was the third birthday for this blog. I have passed 200 followers and more than 1,000 ‘likes’. Actually, I got the 1337 (LEET) award for likes.

likeable-blog-1337-2xEver wondered what this 1337 means, why that is significant?

No, me neither. But I stumbled across the answer in my browsing. It means ‘elite’ and stems from the code used principally by hackers, 31337, later shortened to 1337, LEET.

One more useless fact bought to your screen by too much coffee.

Small is back with us this week.

The world returns to normal.

Click the banner for the full post

This week’s CTWW is about batteries.

The reusable type.

 

If you are not using rechargeable batteries, please make plans to buy them when you next need batteries. As you replace single-use versions, be sure to recycle them rather than toss them into the trash bin.

 

OR …

If you have already made the switch to rechargeable batteries, please find one single-use item in your home and replace it with a reusable version.

 

OR …

If you’ve banned single-use items from your life, please share one of your favorite “upgrades” to reusable.

 

I have had a bad experience with battery rechargers. I gave up on them as I had six go ‘fut’ within a short space of time and at around R$35 a time, that’s expensive.

I actually use very few batteries. I have my TV remote that I rarely use (I turn my TV off at the set), which leaves the batteries enough power to run my wall clock for a couple of months. So I get double use from my normal batteries.

I changed my camera from an external rechargeable battery type, to an internal rechargeable battery, that has never failed me.

That’s it! No other batteries in the house.

Sharing one of my favourite upgrades to “reusable”; here’s one that will surprise you:

pizzabox

Old pizza boxes

Yes, I upgrade, repurpose and recycle my pizza boxes.

When Clorinha was a kitten, she’s a big pussy now. I used my pizza box base with sand as a litter box.

When it’s full, put on the lid for easy stinkless disposal.

My litter boxes went on the compost heap, and turned over the compost on top. Two months later… POOF! All gone.

Now that she’s a big pussy, my pizza boxes go out for the recycle collection.

That’s all for this week.

 

Make you Fink on Friday

kidgardening

Ramifications

Global decline of wildlife linked to child slavery

Children enslaved as fishing labour in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana

New research suggests the global decline in wildlife is connected to an increase in human trafficking and child slavery.

Ecologists say the shortage of wild animals means that in many countries more labour is now needed to find food.

Children are often used to fill this need for cheap workers, especially in the fishing industry.

The decline in species is also helping the proliferation of terrorism and the destabilisation of regions.

According to a study in the journal, Science, the harvesting of wild animals from the sea and the land is worth $400bn annually and supports the livelihoods of 15% of the world’s population.

But the authors argue that the rapid depletion of species has increased the need for slave labour. Declining fisheries around the world mean boats often have to travel further in harsher conditions to find their catch.

In Asia, men from Burma, Cambodia and Thailand are increasingly sold to fishing boats where they remain at sea for many years, without pay and forced to work 18-20 hour days.

“There’s a direct link between the scarcity of wildlife, the labour demands of harvests and this dramatic increase in child slavery,” said Prof Justin Brashares from the University of California, Berkeley, who led the study.

“Many communities that rely on these wildlife resources don’t have the economic capacity to hire more labourers, so instead they look for cheap labour, and in many areas this has led to the outright purchasing of children as slaves.”

This exploitation also happens in Africa, where people who once found their food in the neighbouring forests now travel for days to find prey.

Fishers to pirates

Children are often used by hunters to extract wildlife from areas that would be too costly to harvest.

The researchers contrast the outcomes of the collapse of fisheries of the north east coast of the US and in the waters off Somalia.

The decline of fish stocks is increasing the need for slave labour to work on the boats

Source: BBCNews Read more

Change the World Wednesday – 23rd Jul

No photos to bore you with today.

Nothing really to update either;

Click the banner for the full post

So let’s roll right along with this week’s CTWW.

This week Small has done a bunk.

She’s M.I.A.

Actually, I knew this was coming, just didn’t know when. She’s moving.

Good luck! I hate moving house.

So, the CTWW is continuing what we did last week. Click on the CTWW banner or visit my last week’s CTWW post.

This week my old cellphone gave up the ghost. I can’t complain, it was given to me, the same as my first cellphone. I have had 10 years of cost free cellphones.

I eventually got a new one on Monday.

Steam Punk Cellphone

Steam Punk Cellphone

Of course, it’s made of plastic. Only Steam Punk cellphones are made of steel.

I had looked around some shops and all they had were smartphones, I didn’t want a smartphone, I am smart enough to figure most things out.

I eventually found a kiosk selling such items in another department store I visited.

Simple, camera, music, sms, qwerty keys and it even makes phone calls. $129 (about US$55); it fitted the budget.

I expected it to come coddled in plastic and was pleased to find that it didn’t.

Only the battery was sealed in a small plastic bag, that and the rest was packed in a simple cardboard box.

Now, I have the problem. How to dispose of an old cellphone. It’s not repairable, it was too old when I got it; so that is not an option. I am looking now for a responsible way to dump it.

Not so easy when you live so far out of town. The velho oeste (Wild West) where I live is devoid of such niceties.

In the meantime, it RIPs with other PC bits and pieces in a box waiting a solution.

Perhaps the monitor repair chappy, knows. When I see him next, I’ll ask.

My new cellphone, Fire Orange…

So that’s my continuation of last week’s CTWW on plastics.

%d bloggers like this: