Typhoons and Their Environmental Consequences

Hello OnAir Readers!

As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, Typhoon Haiyan smashed into the Philippines a week ago, traveling from there to Vietnam and China. The damages and mortality rates are staggering: 10,000 people have been estimated for the minimum death number, and 600,000 more are homeless.

This catastrophe is not alone, as in the past 10 years we’ve witnessed destructive natural disasters over and over again. Recent studies have suggested that these events may very well be linked to environmental destruction such as deforestation, etc. The areas with such destruction seem to cause an increase in global warming (no surprise there) due to their release of extremely damaging amounts of carbon into our atmosphere.

This latest typhoon is more than likely just going to add to this pattern of carbon dumping, although the amount of carbon that Haiyan’s aftermath will release is yet unknown. We can, however, look to past events and their figures for more information.

In order to put this into some perspective for you guys, let’s turn to Hurricane Katrina here in the US. When Katrina hit in 2005, the amount of carbon released equaled 105 teragrams. To put it into clearer terms, that well is over half of the amount of carbon that ALL of the forests in the US absorb on an annual basis. In the case of the disaster in the Phillipines, the tree tally is already over the 320 million trees uprooted by Katrina. However, luckily for the Philippines, their average coverage of forest is much higher than that of Eastern US areas.

What is interesting to note is that the amount of carbon released does not absolutely correspond with the areas that received the most damage during a typhoon; in fact, the greatest carbon loss during Katrina was found on the very outer edges of the damaged regions. This would be good news if trees were able to regenerate rapidly enough to combat the carbon loss. Also, it is important to take into consideration is that a recent study of the northwest Pacific region has shown that the wind speeds and rainfall rates have been predicted to increase significantly over the next twenty years in reference to tropical storms. If this is true, then the damage from Typhoon Haiyan and those tropical storms to follow, may never fully recover and unfortunately even for those of us on the opposite side of the world will be negatively affected by them in one way or another.

 

OnAir says: What do you think? Do you agree with these climate conclusions? What sorts of things have you seen around the news? Let us know your thoughts in a comment below!

 

Source: www.newscientist.com/article.dn24558-typhoon-haiyan-may-have-created-carbon-burb.html#.UoaZeXm9Kc0

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

BayCycle: Bike by Land or Sea

Want to bike to school, but there’s a river in the way? Fear not: meet BayCycle. This bike features a raft, which means you can pedal by from land to water and back.

Learn more about BayCycle here.  Would you paddle/pedal on one of these bad boys? Let us know in a comment below!

 

Lower bills and lower CO2 levels- Who doesn’t want those two things?

Hey everyone,

Since it’s finally getting colder, like myself, I’m sure that you all are probably trying to keep warm. Heating your whole house is expensive, so wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to keep warm and keep your bills more reasonable? Energy conscious engineers in Madrid may be able to help you out!

Many people have been using solar panels to heat the water in their bathroom for several years now, but the engineers at the Madrid University Carlos III and Politécnica say that they can also be used to heat in the winter and cool in the summer large inhabited spaces. They’ve incorporated solar panels into a gas-based system within a larger absorption machine. This would reduce both energy expenditure and CO2 emissions!

The gas engine within this system generates electricity and can in use the residual heat that is produced in the conversion process during winter months. Then, in summer when we are sweltering, the residual heat powers an absorption machine which cools the water to provide air conditioning.

Pedro A. Rodriguez, the primary author of the study, explained that although it is only compulsory for establishments in order to meet the demand for hot water, a very limited number of them escape this by not having either showers or kitchens. In order to make establishments utilize this new energy system, the energy needs of buildings, one must consider the temporal trends in a specific area.

Although at the moment only businesses, train stations such as the Atocha Station in Madrid, and shopping malls have been utilizing this new green technology, maybe someday soon we all will have the ability to use solar panels to reduce both our energy bills and our carbon footprint!

Source: http://www.uc3m.es/portal/page/portal/actualidad_cientifica/noticias/solar_panels

 

OnAir says: How can you stay green as it gets colder? Let us know your ideas in a comment below!

Powershift2013

Powershift is an event where people from all over the WORLD with like minds come together to learn, hear stories, go to different workshops on the aspects of the environmental issues you want to solve and learn how to “SHIFT THE POWER” to a green economy, and climate justice in your community

This year I was able to attend w/ a free scholarship thanks to Alliance of Climate Education (ACE), and it changed my life. There was so many inspiring keynote speakers and even just individuals my age that told their story in a rap,poem, essay, dance, are, literally anything.

I learned that kids my age CAN make a difference in the world, and you can save the world while having fun!! I came back to Georgia not wanting to go back of course and with more knowledge and wanting to get out to my community and demand environmental justice! Cant wait to attend again in 2015 as a college student!!!

The Government and The Environment… The Breakup

Hello OnAir readers!

After a long hiatus, I am so excited to be back! Hopefully you’ve all had a good start to the school year and you’re settling into your environmentally-conscious routines.

For this week I’d like to focus on something that I’m sure you’ve all read and heard about this week: the government shutdown. Now, you may be wondering how this coincides with the environment. The answer is simple: the government has basically everything to do with the environment, and this is the second major hit to the environment by the Federal Government this year alone (March 1st- EPA Budget was cut significantly). The EPA, which is of course a government agency, has also been shutdown; only 7% of EPA employees will continue to work as normal, at least until their contingency money runs out.

Due to this massive reduction, there will be no monitoring of water or air quality. This lack of monitoring will more than likely give many corporations a free pass when it comes to pollution production; after all, who’s to stop them now?

The other most obvious and instantaneous effect of this shutdown was the closure of every single national park and zoo. States’ local economies will lose $76 million per day in tourism revenue that would normally come from lodging and the sale/rental of recreational gear and services according to the National Park Service. This is doubly a shame since it was the anniversary of Yosemite this week.

The final major effect of this shutdown is that all those who have been working diligently on creating and passing laws and clean up efforts for the benefit of all necessary green sectors have been stopped short. Thus, the shutdown may not initially affect you, but the impact of reduced environmental protection and regulation definitely will in the not so distant future. We will reap the effects of our nation’s leaders choices.

 

OnAir says: What gets you fired up about the environment? What do you think the adults in your life–school, town, state–could do better? Let us know in the comments!

Ecological Footsteps

Here’s a small biology lesson that tied in with helping to reduce air pollution. While reading my biology textbook, I came across a peculiar term – ecological footsteps. Now what in the name is that and how does it involve us?

Ecological footstep is a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems. It represents the amount of biological productive land and sea area needed to supply resources for humans to consume. This includes areas that food is produced, land for buildings and roads and ecosystems for absorbing its waste emissions such as carbon dioxide.

Wait, did I read that right? Carbon dioxide? Yep! Carbon dioxide. Since the 1970s, humanity has been in ecological overshoot with annual demand on resources exceeding what Earth can regenerate each year. Overshoot is a vastly underestimated threat to human well-being and the health of the planet, and it not very adequately addressed.

We have to take care of what we exploit from the lands – because our ecological footsteps are on overdrive. So cut down on your consumption for needing energy and other resources – let’s make a a goal to slowly reduced our ecological footsteps!

(image from footprintnetwork.org)

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!

I waste, you waste, e-waste

When it comes to technology, we’re constantly upgrading. It felt like only a month after I’d bought a Samsung Galaxy phone that the shinier, larger, improved version of it came out. There’s nothing wrong with upgrading, but with the limited life spans of our electronics, most of us are just throwing away old electronics without thinking of the whether that’s the best method of disposal. Most discarded electronic products end up in landfills or exported to other countries where their toxins are released into the air, soil, and water.

Electronics waste represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills, but makes up 70% of overall toxic waste. Almost all electronics contain toxic materials that can be harmful to people and the planet like lead and mercury. Smartphones and laptops even contain heavy metals like cadmium, beryllium, or arsenic, which can build up in our bodies and the environment. The disposal of electronics from the United States is rarely handled within the country but instead sent to developing countries where the metal is extracted or burned producing dangerous toxins.

Some companies are moving in the right direction and removing certain toxins from their products, and others have started take-back programs that aren’t merely green washing but showing sincere changes.

These are great steps, but you can also get involved by holding an e-waste collection drive like my local elementary school or even handing down or reselling your technology. As consumers of these products, it’s our responsibility to make sure that our gadgets are being handled properly after they’ve served their purpose and that they’re also being made with less toxins before they enter out eager hands.

Rent-A-Bike

Have you heard about the newest eco-friendly thing going on in the big cities? Well, here’s a hint: rent-a-bike. That’s right! You can rent a bike from one part of the city to get to the other part and return it to its “slot”. It’s a lot like renting out a car on a trip or those shopping-car things in the malls for little kids. It’s a great idea for a step forward in helping the environment.

This mean of transportation has become popular in cities like Chicago, New York, Washington DC and Miami. Specially designed to have a little basket for briefcase and book bags in the front along with a GPS, this is one of the coolest ways to help lower air pollution.

This bicycle-sharing rental program has swept several big cities into frenzy. According to the Chicago Tribune, the federally funded program is envisioned for the public to ride the bikes on short trips of mostly 30 minutes or less, instead of taking a taxicab or a bus or, worst of all, driving.

This new way of transportation is definitely geared towards saving the environment and keeps a couple of bills in your pocket. According to Denver’s B-Cycle bike sharing program, a 4-mile bicycle trip keeps 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air that would have been emitted by a car driving the same distance. On top of that, it’s not just a great workout but a way to avoid that nasty traffic congestion. It’s more convenient, affordable and helps overcome theft and storage barriers.

This is a great idea and I hope it comes to Atlanta soon as well. As they say, one pedal forward for a man, one giant race for mankind.