Posts tagged Environment

Blue-Green Algae – What’s Lurking in Your Swamp Might Save the World

The headlines are wreaking of investments in algae – yes that yukky stuff that can actually be very toxic to sea life. Wouldn’t you know, the Swamp Thing is poised to have big value. 49302168

According to an article by ScienceDaily “Algae are tiny biological factories that use photosynthesis to transform carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy so efficiently that they can double their weight several times a day.

As part of the photosynthesis process algae produce oil and can generate 15 times more oil per acre than other plants used for biofuels, such as corn and switchgrass. Algae can grow in salt water, freshwater or even contaminated water, at sea or in ponds, and on land not suitable for food production.”49302194

This oil can be used for gas, diesel, and jet fuels. Algae biofuel is also compatible with existing engines, existing storage, distribution, and delivery infrastructure. However the most important aspect is that algae-based biofuels have a low carbon footprint as they do not require the use of forests or large areas of land for production.

Some other wonderful aspects of algae-based biofuels:
– Algae biofuel is carbon neutral; only emits C02 that it absorbs.
– Algae reproduces very quickly, maximizing biofuel yields.
– Algae biofuel can scale to even possibly replace oil.

The world’s first algae fuel-powered vehicle, dubbed the Algaeus. The plug-in hybrid car, which is a Prius tricked out with a nickel metal hydride battery and a plug, runs on green crude from Sapphire Energy — no modifications to the gasoline engine necessary.

The world’s first algae fuel-powered vehicle, dubbed the Algaeus. The plug-in hybrid car, which is a Prius tricked out with a nickel metal hydride battery and a plug, runs on green crude from Sapphire Energy — no modifications to the gasoline engine necessary.

– Algae biofuel is commercially viable on an industrial scale.
– Algae biofuel can become price competitive with oil.
– There are no soil requirements for algae biofuel.
– Algae can be produced locally for food and fuel.
– Algae biofuel does not damage food prices.
– The algae biofuel industry is growing quickly with a bright future.
– Algae yields much more biofuel per acre than other fuels.
– Algae photo-bioreactors require very little land.
– Algal fuels do not impact fresh water resources.
– Algae biofuel can grow in salt water, freshwater or contaminated water.
– Human waste and sewage can be used to grow algae biofuel.
– Algae can be used to filter C02 from coal plants and create biofuel.
– Algae biofuel is more practical than solar power.
– Algae does not compete with food resources like other biofuels.

Pulled from the headlines – look whose investing in algae biofuels:
“One of the nation’s wealthiest American Indian communities is a major investor in a start-up with the twin goals of making fuel from algae and reducing emissions.”

“Exxon to Invest Millions to Make Fuel From Algae”

“Dow Chemical’s long-term interest in the ethanol produced by the algae is as a replacement for natural gas to make plastic.”

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A Thought on Food and Pollution

By Julie Gengo

While planting out own veggies or buying from farmers markets are excellent ways to help reduce our carbon footprint, going green with food should also refer to the food itself. Polluting our own bodies with unhealthy choices and food that contains more non-food items than food items is one way that we can take care of our inner selves so that we can have the brain capacity to deal with the outside world…..just a thought.

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Eating Wild Foods in the City – A Blog Post by Kyra

I like to share inspiring blogs from other people. This one especially caught my eye.

Eating Wild Foods in the City
By Kyra

Sea of Pansys by Julie Gengo

Sea of Pansies by Julie Gengo

Perhaps due to being raised in the country I have a propensity for eating random wild plants. Only when I moved into a urban setting did I begin realizing how fortunate I was to grow up in an environment where I wasn’t taught to be afraid of the living things around me. It was also then that I realized that people were often completely unaware of the amazing resources for free food surrounding them.

One common example I can think of is the dandelion. In the city, Dandelions are usually regarded as annoying weeds that must be exterminated at all costs. However, dandelions have multiple other uses, such as winemaking with the heads and/or roots, tea, and salad greens (the young leaves are extremely tasty, but once they get older they turn very bitter). Along with dandelions, violets, roses, clover and vetch all have edible flowers and can be used fresh in salads or whatever else you like.

Of course it’s important to consider the pollution factor with this. Picking plants to eat from next to a highway, for example, might not be all that advisable. And planting a garden in the city is a bit more complicated what with the need for soil tests etc. But my general feeling is that the amount of chemicals, hormones and radiation that most grocery store food is subjected makes eating it not a lot better than eating wild foods from the city, or food grown in city soils. There was a lot of debate over this in the Permaculture group I’m part of…people seem to feel much less comfortable with toxins they are immediately aware of. So it’s up to you where your comfort zone is.

Something else you might want to take notice of is if your city is actually planting edibles. In a city in Illinois where I was living the local University had hundreds of Aronia bushes growing around their buildings- Aronia happens to make lovely wine! In Montreal where I now live the city has started using chard and dill, among other leafy greens and herbs, in their planters city wide! Keep your eyes open.

A great project could be taking on the creation of a fruit/bush map for your city. This would involve going around and finding all the hidden apple trees and raspberry bushes which have been built around and squashed into alleyways and bike paths that could be a source of free food for you and other animals. You will undoubtedly find a plethora of resources at your fingertips! For some helpful tips and examples of fallen fruit maps, go to Fallen

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Mystical Winter Tale Personifies Nature

Light Boxes - a novel by Shane Jones

Light Boxes - a novel by Shane Jones

Sometimes a novel comes along and it grasps hold of the familiar in a way you’ve never imagined. In his first book, Light Boxes, Shane Jones does exactly that. Light Boxes is a magical journey that personifies nature and the elements. A small town in Vermont is seized by February for over 900 days. The brutal force of February traps, confines and snatches the town’s residents leaving behind a trail of dismay and heartbreak. Perhaps this is a view of what the future holds if we truly don’t respect and support our earth and its elements. While the book is not an environmental commentary, at least I don’t think it is, it does, through its surreal drama, place us in a loop of relentless environmental trauma. In this case the town folk were able to fight back. It wasn’t too late to restore balance.

The way that Light Boxes relates to our very real environmental climate challenges is that is reinforces the notion that if we choose to ban together we can create realistic ways of preventing disaster. The sadness these characters experienced could indeed manifest in our lives if we were hit by serious climate consequences as a result of inaction. The good news is that with logic, intelligence, passion and perseverance, we too can win this fight and restore balance to our planet.

By the way, I loved this tale as the seekers of summer never gave up their battle. The story comes complete with wonderful and exiting adventures and characters that are as unique in their essence as every snowflake that falls from the sky.

Be well, live green and read Light Boxes.

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