1 Tahrcountry Musings: 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Out of Station

Between 20th and 28th I will be travelling to areas with no internet facility. There won't be any update during this period.

I take this opportunity to wish all of you A Very Happy Christmas

Monday, December 07, 2009

EcoCradle- Green alternative to polystyrene packaging made from farm waste

EcoCradle, the green alternative to polystyrene packaging made from farm waste and mushrooms is just off the block. The inventors are Bayer and Gavin McIntyre, classmates from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

The product uses 10 times less energy to produce, and biodegrades into a natural fertilizer. It is created using almost no energy, and almost no CO2 emissions. The production cost is comparable to that of polystyrene.

Environmentalist world-wide are pinning lot of hopes on this new material.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Biodiversity Loss Can Put You at Greater Risk of Catching Infectious Diseases

New research suggests that biodiversity loss may put you at greater risk for catching some nasty disease.

According to the researchers, University of Vermont biologist Joe Roman, EPA scientist Montira Pongsiri, and seven others lots of new diseases are emerging and diseases that were once local are now global. A host of new infectious diseases like the West Nile Virus have appeared. Diseases like malaria have reasserted themselves and spread.

The present research is the first linking spread of diseases with biodiversity change, decline and extinction. Investigation in Peru was the first to demonstrate that malaria transmission can rise in response to deforestation. It appears that loss of the structural diversity provided by trees led to higher density of Anopheles darlingi mosquitoes, a potent transmitter of malaria, as well as to higher biting rates. The new research brings epidemiology and ecology together.

The researchers conclude "The standard argument for protecting biodiversity is often that, well, there are medicines out there and you don't want to destroy a forest where you might have a cure for cancer," he says, "and that's true -- but I don't think that's as compelling as the argument that if you cut down the forest you or your kids are more prone to infectious diseases."

Details of research appear in December issue of the journal BioScience available online on Dec. 7.

Friday, December 04, 2009

A Window that Washes Itself

Yesterday I read this very interesting piece of info on Eurekalert. A window that washes itself is now a distinct possibility.

Tel Aviv University researchers have made a breakthrough in assembling peptides at the nano-scale level that could make this futuristic vision come true. The research began as an attempt to find a new cure for Alzheimer's disease.

The scientists have not manufactured the actual material but are developing a basic-science technology that could lead to self-cleaning windows and more efficient energy storage devices in just a few years. Coated with the new material, the sealed outer windows of skyscrapers may never need to be washed again. It can repel rainwater, as well as the dust and dirt it carries.

Details of the research appears in the latest issue of journal Nature Nanotechnology

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Leading Climate Change Scientist Arraigns the Copenhagen Summit on climate change

I read this good piece of writing on Copenhagen summit on climate change in Times Online. Here is a gist of what I read.

Dr James Hansen acclaimed as the grandfather of global warming has branded the Copenhagen summit on climate change next week as a farce. Dr Hansen is the director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute in New York. His was one of the first voices to raise the alarm about rising global temperatures in the early 1980s. His predictions are coming amazingly true.

Dr Hansen says the conference is seeking a counter-productive agreement to limit emissions through a “cap and trade” system. He told The Times that “They are selling indulgences there. The developed nations want to continue basically business as usual so they are expected to purchase indulgences to give some small amount of money to developing countries. They do that in the form of offsets and adaptation funds.” “The fundamental problem is that fossil fuels are the cheapest form of energy. As long as they are, they are going to be used,” he said. “It’s remarkable. They refuse to recognise and address the fundamental problem and the obvious solution.”

Dr Hansen continues “We are going to have to move beyond fossil fuels at some point. Why continue to stretch it out longer? The only way we can do that is by putting a price on carbon emissions. The business community and the public need to understand that there will be a gradually increasing price on carbon emissions. The world must be prepared to abandon coal unless its emissions are captured and embrace a new generation of nuclear power”

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Gift Ideas from Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy works for you and future generations through great science and smart partnerships in nature conservation. The organization is working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than one million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide.

Here are some gift gift ideas from Nature Conservancy that will help protect some of the world's most precious habitats for future generations.

Top 5 Green Holiday Gifts:

Adopt an Acre – in the US or abroad:

Plant Trees in the Atlantic Forest, each tree is just $1

Adopt a Coral Reef

Help Save the Northern Jaguar

Give the Gift of Clean Water

View all available eco-friendly holiday gifts at: http://www.nature.org/giftguide

Monday, November 30, 2009

Smallest Orchid in the World Discovered

Dr Lou Jost, an American botanist has discovered the world’s smallest orchid in the Cerro Candelaria reserve in the eastern Andes of Ecuador. Dr Jost, who works for the EcoMinga Foundation, is one of the world's leading orchid hunters.

The discovery was quite accidental. The orchid was hidden among the roots of a larger plant. The orchid is just 2.1mm wide. The petals of the flower are just one cell thick and transparent.

More than 1,000 orchid species have been discovered in Ecuador in the past century.

Dr Jost has also recently discovered a group of 28 types of orchid of Teagueia genus evolved in a mountainous area the size of London. Discovery of 28 closely related orchids in such a small patch of land has been described as a botanical equivalent of Darwin's finches by the scientists.