Showing posts with label Yukon Territory. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Yukon Territory. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Organic farming 'could feed Africa'

Traditional practices increase yield by 128 per cent in east Africa, says UN

By Daniel Howden in Nairobi

New evidence suggests that organic practices - derided by some as a Western lifestyle fad - are delivering sharp increases in yields, improvements in the soil and a boost in the income of Africa's small farmers

Organic farming offers Africa the best chance of breaking the cycle of poverty and malnutrition it has been locked in for decades, according to a major study from the United Nations to be presented today.


New evidence suggests that organic practices – derided by some as a Western lifestyle fad – are delivering sharp increases in yields, improvements in the soil and a boost in the income of Africa's small farmers who remain among the poorest people on earth. The head of the UN's Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, said the report "indicates that the potential contribution of organic farming to feeding the world maybe far higher than many had supposed".

The "green revolution" in agriculture in the 1960s – when the production of food caught and surpassed the needs of the global population for the first time – largely bypassed Africa. Whereas each person today has 25 per cent more food on average than they did in 1960, in Africa they have 10 per cent less.

A combination of increasing population, decreasing rainfall and soil fertility and a surge in food prices has left Africa uniquely vulnerable to famine. Climate change is expected to make a bad situation worse by increasing the frequency of droughts and floods.

It has been conventional wisdom among African governments that modern, mechanised agriculture was needed to close the gap but efforts in this direction have had little impact on food poverty and done nothing to create a sustainable approach. Now, the global food crisis has led to renewed calls for a massive modernisation of agriculture on the hungriest continent on the planet, with calls to push ahead with genetically modified crops and large industrial farms to avoid potentially disastrous starvation.

Last month the UK's former chief scientist Sir David King said anti-scientific attitudes among Western NGOs and the UN were responsible for holding back a much-needed green revolution in Africa. "The problem is that the Western world's move toward organic farming – a lifestyle choice for a community with surplus food – and against agricultural technology in general and GM in particular, has been adopted across the whole of Africa, with the exception of South Africa, with devastating consequences," he said.

The research conducted by the UN Environment Programme suggests that organic, small-scale farming can deliver the increased yields which were thought to be the preserve of industrial farming, without the environmental and social damage which that form of agriculture brings with it.

An analysis of 114 projects in 24 African countries found that yields had more than doubled where organic, or near-organic practices had been used. That increase in yield jumped to 128 per cent in east Africa.

"Organic farming can often lead to polarised views," said Mr Steiner, a former economist. "With some viewing it as a saviour and others as a niche product or something of a luxury... this report suggests it could make a serious contribution to tackling poverty and food insecurity."

The study found that organic practices outperformed traditional methods and chemical-intensive conventional farming. It also found strong environmental benefits such as improved soil fertility, better retention of water and resistance to drought. And the research highlighted the role that learning organic practices could have in improving local education. Backers of GM foods insist that a technological fix is needed to feed the world. But this form of agriculture requires cash to buy the patented seeds and herbicides – both at record high prices currently – needed to grow GM crops.

Regional farming experts have long called for "good farming", rather than exclusively GM or organic. Better seeds, crop rotation, irrigation and access to markets all help farmers. Organic certification in countries such as the UK and Australia still presents an insurmountable barrier to most African exporters, the report points out. It calls for greater access to markets so farmers can get the best prices for their products.

Kenyan farmer: 'I wanted to see how UK did it'

Henry Murage had to travel a long way to solve problems trying to farm a smallholding on the western slopes of Mount Kenya. He spent five months in the UK, studying with the experts at Garden Organic a charity in the Midlands. "I wanted to see how it was being done in the UK and was convinced we could do some of the same things here," he says.

On his return 10 years ago, he set up the Mt Kenya Organic Farm, aimed at aiding other small farmers fighting the semi-arid conditions. He believes organic soil management can help retain moisture and protect against crop failure. The true test came during the devastating drought of2000-02, when Mr Murage's vegetable gardens fared better than his neighbours'. At least 300 farmers have visited his gardens and taken up at least one of the practices he espouses. "Organic can feed the people in rural areas," he says. "It's sustainable and what we produce now we can go on producing."

Saving money on fertilisers and pesticides helps farmers afford better seeds, and composting and crop rotation are improving the soil. Traditional maize, beans and livestock farming in the area have been supplemented with new crops from borage seeds to cayenne peppers and honey, with buyers from the US to Europe. Now he is growing camomile for herbal tea, with buyers from the UK and Germany both interested.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

How to: Recycle Your Computer

One of the best ways to get clean recycling is simple: just ask questions. A reputable recycler should be able to tell you where hardware is sent, and if the company exports or uses prison labor. The recycler should also be able to tell you how it handles data destruction

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Proper Disposal and Recycling of E-Waste

by Justin K. Holcombe



Used electronic devices, known as e-waste, are increasingly becoming a larger part of our waste. Fortunately, there are a number of options available to those who want to recycle their old electronic items.

To address the increasing amount of e-waste, many state and local governments, electronics manufacturers, and non-profit organizations have created comprehensive recycling programs. Several states, including California, Maine, Maryland, Texas and Washington, have even enacted laws requiring the collection of certain electronics.

E-waste recycling options vary across the country. So, the first step to determine what options are available in your area is to review information about your local recycling program. This information is available on Earth 911 (using the recycling locator database at the top of this page), some local government websites and the following websites:

E.P.A. Product Stewartship
National Recycling Coalition
E Recycling Central (includes a list of questions to ask recyclers)
Basel Action Network
Computer Take Back Campaign
In addition to “traditional” recycling programs, some electronics manufacturers and retailers also offer e-waste recycling. Many manufacturer-sponsored programs will accept and process their brand for free. Some accept other brands for a small fee.

After determining what options are available, it is important to determine whether a recycler is operating under strict environmental controls and high worker safety protections. A few general questions to ask include:

Is the recycler certified (such as an ISO 14001 environmental management certification) and does it follow a set of industry recognized guidelines?
Does the recycler actually recycle most of the e-waste materials collected (It is best if the company can recycle 90 percent or more of the materials)?
Does the recycler have written procedures for removing and disposing of mercury lamps in electronic products? Many manufacturer and government sponsored programs have extensive online information detailing the way in which recycling is handled.
In addition to choosing a recycler, it is also important to prepare your e-waste for recycling. For computer recycling, one important concern is to erase all data from the computer before sending it off for recycling.

However, this should be a factor regardless of what one does with an old computer because electronic data can be retrieved from hard drives. There are many options (such as software) to ensure that the data is permanently erased.

In fact, many recycling firms will scrub the hard drive and certify that all data has been erased. Before sending your computer to a recycler, check to verify that this option is available.

Manufacturer Specific Programs
Apple
Dell
Hewlett-Packard
Acer
Toshiba Trade-In and Recycling Program
Gateway
Lenovo/IBM (will also accept other e-waste of other computer manufacturers)
Sony
Panasonic
Epson
Retailer Programs
Circuit City (Easy-trade in program)
Best Buy
Staples (accepts computers, monitors, laptops, and desktop printers, faxes and all-in-ones)
EPA Plug-In Partners (lists manufacturers, retailers and service providers that offer recycling of e-waste)
Donation
EPA–lists options for donating or recycling e-waste
Techsoup–lists non-profit organizations and recyclers of e-waste
Goodwill (some locations accept computers)–website includes tips on how to donate computers
Cell Phone Recycling/Donation
Motorola (accepts all brands for free)
Nokia (accepts all brands for free)
Call to Recycle
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (donation of cell phones)
Call to Protect
Verizon Wireless (accepts phones at Verizon stores)
AT&T Wireless (accepts phones at AT&T stores)
T-Mobile Wireless (accepts phones in stores and by mail)
Sprint Wireless (accepts phones in stores and by mail; recycling proceeds go to charity)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Geo-Engineering for a Tailor-Made Planet

Written by Michelle Bennett

Geo-Engineering is “the deliberate modification of Earth’s environment on a large scale “to suit human needs and promote habitability”‘ (via Wikipedia). Until recently it was the stuff of science fiction, a god-like power regulated to unseen aliens or super-futuristic societies. Occasionally planetary catastrophe also ensued.

Yet with climate change and global warming sparking alarm across the globe, some scientists have started to explore the possibility of altering the natural environment on a global scale. Several strategies are outlined below:

There are other proposed methods, of course, so consider these as an introduction only. It’s important to note that geo-engineering scientists do not propose this as solutions to global warming, but as emergency measures to avert large-scale human suffering. The only reason it has been suggested that we consider implementing these strategies in the near future is because, in the view of Dr. Paul Crutzen, “there is little reason to be optimistic.” He was referring to current international political efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses.

Of course there is controversy and plenty of people who disagree with implementing geo-engineering. Scientifically, there’s the problem of data; we simply don’t know enough about these huge natural systems to safely manipulate them. There’s also the consequences we are certain about: in most cases, the benefits and detrimental effects will be unevenly distributed across the planet. While one part of the world prospers under cooler climes, another would have their problems compounded.

Who can make that decision? What are the ethics? What would be the social, economic, and cultural implications of upheaval, conflict, and/or refugees in the areas that benefit? Even if we do manage to (partially) improve the weather, the social impact across the globe could negate the benefits. Geo-engineering (but not necessarily geo-engineers) assumes that humans being can and should manipulate the planet to improve their lot, but many people have pointed out that we must still change our habits and lifestyles regardless. Whether we attempt geo-engineering or not, we must still invest in renewable resources.

Geo-engineers propose this as an “emergency only” measure, but in my opinion, using it with even the best intentions could set a dangerous precedent. Global warming is an unintended form of geo-engineering; is it wise to fight fire with fire? Is it ethical to combat one “evil” with something slightly “less evil”? Could any nation, organization, or individual with enough money hijack the globe by using, or threatening to use, geo-engineering against the populous?

Technology will play a critical role in combating and adapting to climate change, but at some point we will have to limit ourselves. Where should we draw the line, and who will decide? Many critics of geo-engineering agree that we should spend our energy and resources on a solution to the problem, not just to treat the symptoms. There is no fast or simple fix; if we intend to live well for the long haul, we’ll just have to adapt to the limitation of our planet - or expand onto another.

What do you think? Take part in a discussion on our Green Options forum
(Tropical Storm Nargis courtesy of NASA)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Earth 911

Earth 911

Electronics
Electronics have revolutionized our lifestyle. Telephones, radios, TVs, computers and cell phones are items we use daily. These items make up the bulk of electronics that threaten the environment, because of their hazardous ingredients.

This section of waste is referred to as electronic waste, or e-waste.

Reuse and proper recycling prevents e-waste from reaching landfills, provides usable items to organizations that need them and recaptures valuable resources.

As new products hit the market, relevant information and resources are necessary to ensure old items are properly discarded. So, next time you upgrade that cell phone, or get the latest video game system, think twice about what happens to the old gadget:


Donate it. Either give it to a friend or family member that could benefit from a change. Old to you, is new to someone else. There are also organizations that collect old electronics and resell them for profit.
Consider renting or leasing electronics. If you’re going to upgrade in a year anyway, why waste the money?
If you do buy, buy green! With the ever changing and growing field of technology, companies make better devices that are more aware of their environmental impact. Research a product before you purchase it and support businesses that are doing their part.

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles

http://www.ewastedisposal.net