The Weather Outside is Frightful

Running errands in the cold November weather is normal for a typical Atlanta go-getter.

However, when the November weather has results like freezing your car overnight, which may hinder your schedule.

Okay, now it’s mid-November and it is normal for temperatures to dropping a little. But the winter solstice is a month away. So why am I seeing icicles now?

You’ve heard of global warming and the Atlanta heat being a scorching 100 degrees. But did you know global warming could also affect the winter seasons?

It’s called Arctic Oscillation. This technical term is used to describe the interaction of the jet stream and Arctic air during the winter.

What does that mean? That means ridiculous cold air can be swept over normal temperature latitudes. This causes severe winter weather throughout most of the U.S.

Surviving these crazy temperatures is a must. I’m not talking about the short-term effects like wearing a jacket or scarf or carrying around an ice scraper. I’m talking about the long-term effects. How can we make it a little more bearable?

The thinning of the ozone layer in the earth’s atmosphere causes global warming. Tips and tricks on how you can reduce the heat and the freeze:

Recycle. Recycling can save at least 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere annually.

Check your thermostat. Keeping the temperature in your house 2 degrees lower in the winter and higher in the summer can save 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

Cooler showers. Using less hot water can save 500 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

Carpooling. This usual tip can reduce 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and it saves you gas money.

 

OnAir says: You know we’re fans of the carpooling. What about the rest of the list? Have you thought about ways you can fight back against pollution? Or do you think it’s a bunch of hooey? Let us know in the comments!

 

Sources: http://www.weather.com/news/nasa-cold-snaps-global-warming-20130129
http://environment.about.com/od/globalwarming/tp/globalwarmtips.htm

New School Year? New Ways To Be Green!

Hey Guys!

Since most of you, like myself, will be starting school very soon I thought we could talk about ways to make this school year your greenest yet!

There are so many easy ways to do this, like bringing a reusable water bottle and lunchbox. Most of those things you already know about, so I thought that I should bring up some ways you may not already know!

Before we get to go to classes and see our friends we have to GET to school, right? Well, how we choose to do that makes a huge difference and has serious effects on the environment as well as one’s health. Here are some ways to make sure that your carbon footprint is lessened this year!

1) Of course the best way to avoid releasing fossil fuels is by either walking, riding a bike or skateboarding to school. Obviously, if you live really far away from school, these aren’t options for you. However, if you live pretty close to your school, this may well be a good option. Not only are these your greenest options for transportation, you will also be getting some exercise! If you choose one of these three options, make sure to be safe–watch traffic, wear safety gear, and practice the buddy system!

2) Another way to cut emission production is by riding a school or city bus. Although they may not be as “cool” as driving a car, you will have time to socialize with your peers and even potentially get some extra study time in the mornings/afternoons. Mass transit is also another way to cut your carbon emissions by two-thirds!

3) The third way to reduce your carbon emissions is by creating a carpool. Carpooling makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons. It is a time and money saver, reduces traffic congestion and pollution, and is a way to get to know your neighbors better!

So, there are several ways for you and your friends to make the most of this year by becoming more eco-friendly! Not only will the earth thank you, but you can also wrack up a bunch of points on this website by doing all of the above activities! Think about it… Why wouldn’t you want to make a positive change this year?

 

OnAir says: What’s another great reason to do all this stuff? Say it with us: AirCreds! Start earning points for your air-friendly acts today!

Do Car Emissions Affect Your Risk of Type Two Diabetes?

Hey guys!

When we’re little, we have generally have no choice in where we have to live, which means that we can’t control what environment we are exposed to. A new study from German researches has showed that children growing up in areas where air pollution levels are high or get higher over a period of time is tied directly to raises in the risk of insulin resistance, and thus diabetes, in children. The research was published in “Diabetologia,” which is the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD).

Now, this isn’t the first time researchers have identified that there are major links between air pollution and other chronic conditions such as atherosclerosis and chronic heart disease. However, these past epidemiological studies that examined associations between long-term exposure to air pollution and type 2 diabetes in adults are inconsistent; and studies on insulin resistance in children are scarce due to the leeriness of specialists concerning research done on children.

The head of the research team, Heinrich, discussed in the article how “although toxicity differs between air pollutants, they are all considered potent oxidisers that act either directly on lipids and proteins or indirectly through the activation of intracellular oxidant pathways.” The stress produced by exposure to extreme amounts of air pollutants may in fact play a major role in the development of insulin resistance, especially in young children.

In this new study, researchers took blood samples from 397 10-year-old girls and boys in a cohort studies. Exposure to traffic-related air pollutants at their birth address were estimated by analysing a combination of emission-levels from road traffic in each of their neighborhoods, population density and land use in the area, as well as the association between air pollution and insulin resistance. This was calculated by the research team by using a model which took into account things like the socioeconomic status of each family, initial birthweight, pubertal status, second-hand smoke exposure at home, and BMI.

To quickly summarize the data for you, insulin resistance levels tended to increase with increasing air pollution exposure, and this remained high even after the adjustment for the other potential negative factors, including socioeconomic status, BMI and passive smoking.

Luckily for us, the results of this study support the notion that the development of diabetes in adults might have its origin in early life and include negative environmental exposures.

If you’re a number lover, I suggest you check out the full data here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130509184817.htm

Greener on this side too…

The grass always looks greener on the other side…especially after a day or two of rain and especially in Georgia. Sometimes I take all the green for granted…sometimes I think it will always be green. But, a few days ago, on my way to school, I noticed something silver peeking out of the green. Actually, it was not just one, but several. Upon a closer look, those silver things turned out to be cans and other waste that were thrown on the ground. It may not seem like it, but waste like these can actually be detrimental to Mother Earth.

How does garbage have an effect on the environment? Well, for starters, garbage pollution can increase toxic fumes in the air as well as contribute to harmful diseases to circulate around.

Land wastes cause chemical contamination. Plastics and toxins in wastes like anti-freeze and other chemicals seep into the ground where they remain. Many modern-day chemicals either do not biodegrade or break down and if they do, they break down into several smaller chemical particles. These particles poison the ground itself and everything that touches it. It could cause contamination in areas like polluted water ways or acid rain created from air pollution.

Contaminated water that evaporates into the atmosphere can fall back to the earth as acid rain, causing the cycle of contamination and pollution to continue. That means the nutrients that plants and trees soak up become contaminated and start dying. If trees start dying, then it would cause an even more detrimental impact on the air. And the green? It’ll become a rarity, thus it’s important to not take the green environment for granted. Click here  for more information.

It’s important to recycle cans and water bottles and properly dispose other things. Plus, if you see cans and plastic bottles lying around, don’t just saw eww and ignore it. Go ahead and pick it up and properly dispose it. On the long run, you’re doing something good for the environment!

Photo credit: Masslive.com

Water and Air Pollution

One might think air pollution is different than water pollution, but that person doesn’t realize that everything in the world is correlated.

First, let’s see what air pollution REALLY means. According to Princeton worldwide net, it defines air pollution as pollution in the air. Meaning, the greenhouse gases released by the machines go in the atmosphere.

So then what happens? The gasses actually condense like oxygen, and then become clouds. As the cloud gets heavier, it starts raining. The rain is not just water, but it is mixed with the gasses. Finally, the rainfall which is contaminated goes into water bodies which contaminate the whole area.

See how it is related? One problem causes the other which causes another whole different problem.

Which should we work on first? Air or water pollution?

OnAir says: What do you think are the biggest causes of air pollution, OnAir community? Let us know in the comments. Also, give a big welcome to our new blogger Rasika! We’re excited to have her on the team. If you’d like to apply to be an OnAir blogger, click here to get started now!

Going to class? Go green!

So, a lot of you will be heading off to college soon. And campus life brings tons of new experiences. But how to make those new experiences eco-friendly? Let’s start by tackling a big one: getting to class.

Dorms are so expensive. A lot of students, looking for ways  to be more economically savvy, either commute from their parents’ houses (if they’re local) or get apartments off campus.

Either way, the journey to campus usually takes a little longer. Many will opt for walking, but sometimes the apartment is too far. Sometimes it will rain. Sometimes, you’ll just be having a bad day.

We know, it’s hard. #firstworldproblems

The point is, you want to get where you’re going without hurting the environment, right? So here are some suggestions for keeping it green:

  1. Ride your bike. Especially if it’s sunny out, why wouldn’t you want to? Riding bikes is just so much fun! What if it rains and the sidewalks are too slippery for bikes, you say?…
  2. …just walk. Take an umbrella. And put on your rain boots. We promise it won’t kill you. And sometimes it’s pretty soothing to go for a relaxing walk in the rain, especially if it’s just a steady patter. However, if it’s storming…
  3. …take public transportation. Many cities–especially ones with colleges and universities–at have bus systems set up to make campus more accessible. If this isn’t the case…
  4. …bum a ride off of a friend. (The buzzword here is “carpool”.) If a car is necessary, double-up (or triple-up!) on the way. You get where you’re going, you get some social time, and you keep a couple extra pollution-spouting vehicles off the road. And while you’re bumming rides…

Have any more suggestions? What ways are you getting to campus? Do you have a plan? Let us know in a comment below!

What Hurricane Sandy Could Say About Global Warming

Hey everyone, so as you guys know, Hurricane Sandy has been all over the news, and for good reason. It’s been wreaking havoc in the New York and New Jersey areas, and has really established itself as one of the worst storms the U.S has faced in recent times.

One of the issues that has been raised in Sandy’s aftermath has been whether the storm was closely related to climate change, or global warming. One research scientist at The Earth Institute at Columbia University, Radley Horton has been studying the potential causes and conditions that resulted in Hurricane Sandy. In an interview with NPR Horton told them that while it couldn’t be stated that global warming was a direct cause of the powerful storm, connections between the two could be made.

The rising sea levels and temperatures of the world’s oceans were said to be connected to the storm. As the planet warms up, the oceans heat up as well, and warmer water strengthens the power of storms like Sandy. Increased flooding could be the result of higher sea levels in the future.
In a separate article, researchers at Beijing Normal University in China found that the frequency of large storm surges has increased since 1923, and that in warmer temperatures large storms are more likely.

With these recent studies and with America dealing with Sandy’s aftermath, I think we should all look for climate change discussion to increase and hopefully gain a more important place in government policy. While we can’t know for sure that global warming is putting us at bigger risk of large storms, we can’t look past the connections. The articles are below if you guys want to read them, they give more examples of possible causes of storms such as Sandy and how climate change plays in.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=hurricane-sandy-spins-up-climate-discussion

http://www.npr.org/2012/10/31/164043372/sandy-raises-questions-about-climate-and-the-future

Saving the Planet: One Tasty Bite at a Time.

Thanksgiving is coming up, and you know what that means: the season of face-stuffing is about to begin. Between Thanksgiving, various holiday parties, and New Year’s celebrations, the American social scene centers around one thing: food.

Yeah I know, the holidays are supposed to be about family and fellowship. We all say that, but I know it’s really about the tasty, tasty treats that you only get to eat this time of year.

Now as you can imagine all those trips to and from the store aren’t great for our air or the environment. Think about all the exhaust fumes that your car pumps into the air each time you go to and from the store. Just remember that every mile is about 1 pound of air pollution. So what can green choices can we make to help?

Green: Bike or walk to the store.

Riding your bike is a great way to cut the everyday air pollution that comes from short trips. It’s definitely a great way to start solving the problem. Not to mention you can exercise while running errands. What a time saver!

Greener: Buy local.

Buying foods from the supermarket is super-convenient, but it can be bad news for the earth. Just think about all the energy (and air pollution) it takes to ship the things you buy to the supermarket. Say you live here in Georgia and buy avocados from California. That’s 2,456 miles away. And when you consider that every mile driven puts one pound of pollution into the air, we’re talking about almost 2.5 tons of air pollution for one avocado truck. Seriously?

So how can you enjoy your tasty holiday foods (and everyday foods), and still cut air pollution at the same time? Well, it’s really pretty simple – the idea is to buy local.

You can cut out the thousands of miles, and tons of air pollution by making a trip to your local farmer’s market. They bring in local, organic foods that are way fresher (didn’t spend a week on a truck), taste even better, and are from local businesses near you. Check out the Dekalb County Farmer’s Market, that place is incredible.

Greenest: Grow your own.

Ready to really go the extra mile? Let’s talk about having a garden at home. Check out our Pinterest board for ideas.

Believe it or not, growing your own veggies is easier than you think. Just imagine walking into the back yard to grab dinner. You’ve not only cut out nearly all environmental costs, but you’re probably saving lots of money—while eating better quality food.

Super-Ridiculously Green: Go vegetarian.

This one might not be so popular. But hear us out.

Environmentalists have started spreading the word that going vegetarian or vegan packs an even bigger punch in the fight for clean air. When you don’t have to transport thousands of livestock for food, you cut out a good chunk of transportation-related pollution. Also, let’s face it—that all-bacon diet is probably not the healthiest decision you’ve ever made.

And think about this: we’re not talking all-or-nothing here. A lot can be changed just by becoming a sometimes vegetarian. Some research shows that cutting out meat even one day a week can make some pretty dramatic changes to air pollution AND health.

If you’re worried about missing out on all the tasty holiday foods, here’s a solution for that problem.

Even if you always buy local, or grow your own produce, there are still some things you have to get from the store. That’s ok—sometimes you just have to get what you need. Just remember the more local products you buy, the better off our air is!

For a full breakdown of the benefits and costs of buying local or international foods, check out this infographic.

Tomorrow is International Walk to School Day!

Guess what? Tomorrow is International Walk to School Day!

But of course, you already knew that.

So we want to see you strut your stuff to and from school tomorrow. It’s good for you, and it’s good for the air.

In case you need some more encouragement, below are a few things that you may not have considered yet–but first, see what one of our student bloggers, Zoe Spencer, has to say about clean commuters at her school:

And now for some walking facts:

Walking to school promotes physical health: Seems like a no-brainer, right? Well walking to school is a great way to get some easy exercise in each and every day. While it may not seem like you’re pushing yourself too hard, every little bit helps.

Walking to school keeps our air clean: Walking to school throws a huge punch on behalf of our environment. For every person that walks to and from school, that’s one less car on the road emitting toxic fumes and polluting our air.

For every mile you drive, your car puts 1 pound of pollution in the air. That is a ton of pollution! Let’s face it, no one likes breathing polluted air, so why not drive less?

Walking to school is social: Get together with some of your friends or neighbors and walk to school in a group. It’s a great way to socialize and catch up on things you’ve missed (gossip), and to get your day started with a positive attitude.

Walking to school makes a statement:  Stand up for our environment. You can show your parents, teachers, and community leaders that we don’t have to rely on cars for everyday transportation. Your example will show everyone how easy it is to walk in your community. You could be a trendsetter!

16 year-old makes big changes on a global scale…

…$78 million worth of big changes, to be exact.

16 year-old Azza Abdel Hamid Faias, an Egyptian student, has found a relatively cheap catalyst to help break down plastic waste and turn it into bio-fuel feedstock.

Azza at the 23rd European Union Contest for Young Scientists

Azza’s discovery was made when brainstorming on how to reduce Egypt’s trash consumption, nearly 100 million tons per year. The idea of breaking down plastic garbage to be used as a bio-fuel starter has been around for several years, however it’s Azza’s catalyst discovery that is the real breakthrough here. All other methods have been regarded as too costly to be efficient, but this newly discovered catalyst, aluminosicilate, has been proved to break down waste and simultaneously produce methane, propane, and ethane, which can be used to create ethanol.

According to Azza, the technology could “provide an economically efficient method for production of hydrocarbon fuel,” including 40,000 tons per year of cracked naptha and 138,000 tons of hydrocarbon gasses – the equivalent of $78 million in bio-fuel.

Azza’s proposal is already attracting loads of attention, including that of the Egyptian Petroleum Research Institute, as well as interest from major energy companies worldwide.

At only 16 years old, this teenager has made a discovery that could change the world. We know she has a bright future ahead. We also know that she is not the only young mind working towards a better planet.

Even ideas that seem small-scale at first can turn out to have a big impact. So we want to know, what things do you do make your part of the world better? Let us know in the comments!