How do you take your coffee?

04.25.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

Intensive? Or sustainably grown?

Yes it’s that time in the school year where student’s caffeine and sleep deprivation levels spike preparing for their final exams. Coffee is needed now more than ever. Students drink whatever they can to get their ‘feine fix but do they even realize the impact their choice may make on the environment?

Global coffee production has been shifting towards a more intensive, unsustainable style of growing causing negative effects on the environment, communities, and individual farmers.

This intensive style is characterized by clearing forests or pasture for cultivation, increasing the density of plantings and switching to a variety of coffee called Robusta that tolerates full sun, and produces a high crop yield. This style of farming has been stressed by a dramatic drop in global coffee prices in order to produce the higher demand of cheap coffee made by the consumers. Shalene Jha, assistant professor in The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Natural Sciences, says that: “intensive coffee production is not sustainable, you exhaust the soil and after a couple of decades, it can no longer grow coffee.” Intensive coffee plantations often result in deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and soil depletion leaving communities more vulnerable to flooding and landslides.

Growing traditional or shade grown coffee is defined as cultivating under a diverse canopy of native forest trees in dense to moderate shade. As a result, shade grown coffee plantations provide shelter for migrating birds, attracts and supports valuable pollinators such as bees and bats, and provides ecosystem services such as filtering water and air, stabilizing soil during heavy rains, storing carbon, and replenishing soil nutrients. These plantations can last for centuries because they able to replenish and maintain themselves!

Track your beans! Because you know what they say- environmentally and socially conscious coffees taste so much better!

Go Skyhawks beat finals.

Information from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416125428.htm

Post written by: Celine Hickey

 

What We do to Our Oceans

04.21.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

Scientists say that our oceans changing chemistry is starting to take a toll on the wildlife that lives in the ocean waters. A CNN article recently brought attention to snails in the oceans whose shells were dissolving due to the increasing acidity of the waters. This article shows how delicate the wildlife is in our world and that we need to be extremely careful with what we let spill into our oceans. Toxic material builds up and if everybody puts in even the slightest bit of toxic waste, it can have dramatic effects on our Eco system. http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/26/sea-snails-shells-dissolving-in-earths-increasingly-acidic-oceans-study-says/

Solar Cars

04.15.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

by: Jake Rafferty

What do plants and solar cars have in common? They both get their energy from the sun!

 

Solar Energy Vehicles (SEV) is a company that installs solar panels on the roofs of hybrid cars.  This is a way to reduce the amount of electricity used to charge cars that may have come from fossil fuels.  According to SEV, “the Toyota Prius can operate up to 30 miles per day in electric mode thus improving fuel economy by up to 34-60% (depending on driving habits and conditions).”  The company also offers recycled Prius’s with solar panels for as cheap as $25,000.  Between the cutting back on fossil fuels and the recycling of manufactured automobiles, this company is creating a lot of opportunities to reduce carbon footprints.

Click here to see the SEV website!

Easy Energy Saving Tips

04.01.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

Many of us don’t realize how easy it is to save energy. It can go beyond just turning off lights when we leave a room.  There are lots of ways to save energy in very simple ways. A lot of these methods can even be followed on campus with a few simple switches.

-unplug cellphone chargers, hair straighteners, and any other things that are in an outlet. They still use energy while plugged in.

-power strips are a smart idea because you can shut off all your appliances at the same time.

-When doing laundry, wash clothes in cold water. By doing that, less energy is used due to the fact that water isn’t being heated. Also air dry clothes as much as possible.

-use the correct amount of detergent to prevent extra water from being wasted, causing there to be more energy released

-when doing laundry, fill the machine instead of doing two separate loads each half full.

-change light bulbs in your house to Cfl’s to reduce energy wasted while lights are on.

- Don’t leave the heat or air on while no one is in the room. This applies to dorm life as well as home life. A ton of energy is wasted each year because of this.

-seal cracks in windows to prevent heat loss or ac loss.

- Open windows before turning up the ac.

Written by: Ashley Faghan

http://www.we-energies.com/energy-saving_ideas/money-saving_tips/index.htm

Energy Through Motion

03.25.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

Developing technologies have made it possible to turn motion into useable energy!  It’s been discovered that contact between surfaces creates a charge differential.  This charge differential causes a voltage difference that can be harnessed for useable power.  This makes it possible to reuse kinetic energy for technological uses.  In fact, it has been determined that one human step generates enough electricity to power two, 60-watt bulbs for a second.  Although this is a small amount of energy, a large enough number of steps can produce a significant amount of electricity that can be put towards practical uses.

There are many fields of research looking into this new technology.  In Japan, many train and subway stations (places with high population densities) have installed energy-collecting surfaces.  Although it does not produce enough electricity to power these trains, this electricity is used to power the lights and ticket machines.

This technology is also being used towards hopefully finding a way to charge phones by movement.  Some hope that by placing generators in the soles of shoes, phones can be plugged into these shoes in order to charge them.  Other groups are hoping to place generators on the phones themselves so that contact and friction between the phone and pocket can be harnessed directly to the phone.

I feel that research into this field should become a heavy priority.  Energy that we are producing ever day simply through our movement can be harnessed, but is being totally wasted with every step.  Literally.  There are countless possibilities to which this can be applied.  Further pursuit into this area would be a smart move if we hope to enter an age of renewable energy.

Click here to watch a video on a portable charge station for phones!
Or click here to watch a demonstrational video on the harnessing kinetic energy!

Hurricane watch!- Cyclone Lusi hits New Zealand

03.25.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

A little more than a week ago, New Zealand experienced a category 1 hurricane that hit the island with strong winds and coastal flooding. New Zealand has recently been getting less rainfall than usual, but the cyclone delivered little rainfall and mainly winds ranging from 50-90 mph. The winds only caused minor damages to the islands.

More information about this cyclone can be found:

http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/new-zealand-watching-for-rare/24226812

The article used for this blog report:

http://www.earthweek.com/2014/ew140321/ew140321e.html

 

Written by: Celine Hickey

The Story of Stuff

03.25.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

Story of Stuff

     The story of stuff is extremely interesting and it changes the way a person looks at how things are made in our world. We are surrounded by a society that loves to have things that are newer, better, stronger, and faster. We will do no matter what it takes to get things that are exactly that. What many of us do not look at are the consequences of us always needing this new stuff as soon as it is released. Companies watch our every move, and whether we realize it or not, companies make products around our consumption and will do whatever is necessary for us to buy more.  A product that you only have to buy once and will never need to be replaced is not a money making product, is it? Think about it, if a company sells a product and it will last forever, once they sell the maximum capacity of this product where is the money to be made? There is none. Companies realize this and they make products so that you will always need something newer, better, and faster. Not only do companies do this, but many companies make products so that they  will break and you need to buy them again. “The Story of Stuff” looks at the consequences of our need for constant consumption and tries to shed light on what needs to be done.

Dark Chocolate is Good for You

03.19.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

Researchers have just found out the exact reason why dark chocolate is so good for you. Certain bacteria in the stomach take in the chocolate and ferment it into anti-inflammatory compounds and that are good for the heart. They were able to find two types of microbes in the stomach, simply the good ones and the bad ones. The good ones feed on chocolate, growing it, and fermenting it, while the bad ones cause gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Some of the good ones are called Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria, and the bad ones, Clostridia and some E. coli. When these good compounds are absorbed by the body they lessen the inflammation of cardiovascular tissue, reducing the long term risk of stroke. “cocoa powder, an ingredient in chocolate, contains several polyphenolic, or antioxidant, compounds such as catechin and epicatechin, and a small amount of dietary fiber. Both components are poorly digested and absorbed, but when they reach the colon, the desirable microbes take over. ‘”In our study we found that the fiber is fermented and the large polyphenolic polymers are metabolized to smaller molecules, which are more easily absorbed. These smaller polymers exhibit anti-inflammatory activity,”‘

-Hannah Atoynatan

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318154725.htm

School lunch standards

03.18.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

In 2012, federal standards were launched requiring schools to offer healthier meals. This has lead to an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption according to a study done by the Harvard school of Public Health. The study measured food consumption before and after the standards went into effect, however they have shown an increase in food waste. Around 32 million students each school lunch everyday and some coming from low income families, this is their main source of energy for the entire day. Although some organizations and lawmakers are trying to weaken the new standards, they hope the finding of their studies will discourage them. Old school lunches were very high in sodium and saturated fats and low in fiber and grains. “The new standards from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) aimed to improve the nutritional quality of school meals by making whole grains, fruits, and vegetables more available, requiring the selection of a fruit or vegetable, increasing the portion sizes of fruits and vegetables, removing trans fats, and placing limits on total calories and sodium levels.” In the studies they found that although the intake of fruits and vegetables was higher, alot of student were also just throwing them away as they are forced to choose a fruit or vegetable with their meal. The new aim is to increase food quality to stop this from continuing.

-Hannah Atoynatan

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140304071040.htm

Water Bottle Ban in San Francisco

03.17.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

San Francisco is going green. The city’s board of supervisors voted to ban the sale of plastic bottles within the city’s borders. This is a very big step in environmental change for the state of California. This ban follows Concord, Mass, which became the first city in America to ban the sale of plastic water bottles. This action will contribute to the reduction of waste, as well as encourage  the use of reusable water containers. When it id convenient for someone to have something at their finger tips, they are less likely to think about the impact they are having. According to the article, there are 50 billion water bottles consumed every year, and only 23% are recycled. That is an astounding number, especially for one country. Although the ban will not be able to take immediate effect, it is estimated by 2018 it will be in full swing. Moving forward, hopefully other states will follow this good example. The fact that a city as popular as San Francisco can ban the sale of water bottles shows how there only needs to be a small interest in order to generate  a big change.

Written by: Ashley Faghan

 

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/san-francisco-bans-sale-plastic-water-bottles-climate-change