Friday, 27 September 2013

Polluted Promises By Dan Elijah G. Fajardo

Hey Everybody! As promised, here is another piece I'm adding to the Enviro-Art section. It's entitled Polluted Promises by Dan Elijah G. Fajardo. Dan (a.k.a dandingeroz) is from Manila, Philippines, and is a Graphic Artist / Illustrator / Tshirt Designer. He has completed a number of works, some environmentally focused and some not. If you want to check those out you can click the link above, which also has a link that allows you to purchase some of his works if you so chose.

I'm also going to provide his deviantart account and tumblr account in case you just want to browse some of his featured works. The picture is pretty self-explanatory in and of itself, which is why I really like it. Here it is!


Thursday, 19 September 2013

Plant Intelligence - Research Update

Hey everybody. Long time since I last posted, but that's life for you right? It may be a bit of time before I can post up another country profile (mostly because I don't want to rush those) so for now I will be posting up some recent articles and studies you should be aware of, as well as continue with the enviro-art postings.

First up, this recent article from Maclean's Magazine, entitled "Shh... the plants are thinking". To give a basic summary, the article discussed some studies that were conducted to show that plants can "keep time, count, and know themselves". Before you get too excited, there has been some controversy in the field over certain terms and whether certain experiments actually exhibited what they claimed to be studying. Here's a general breakdown of some of the historical and recent findings listed in the article:

-Charles Darwin claimed that plant roots spread through the soil in a fine network much like a brain-like organ, in his The Power of Movement in Plants (1881). 

-Frantisek Baluska, a plant biologist at University of Bonn, as well as Stefano Mancuso, professor of horticulture at the University of Florence, are convinced that plant cognition occurs in the root tips—that "roots act like a distributed information-processing network, similar to the neural networks that organize information in computers".

-Susan Murch, associate professor of chemistry at UBC-Okanagan, has been studying the chemical connections between plants and human brains as both make and use the same compounds.

-Baluska has compiled work showing that plants produce painkillers, such as the plant stress hormone ethylene, as well as ether. "Both compounds reversibly render humans and animals unconscious, and make plants unresponsive to stimuli". Murch calls the chemical signals generated by wounded plants “screams.”

-Monica Gagliano of the University of Western Australia has looked into "Plant Learning". "Learning means that an organism can distinguish one kind of event from another, that it can remember, and adapt its behaviour... Gagliano applied to plants test methods devised to study animal learning. Mimosa plants curl their leaves instantly if touched by something they interpret as a threat. She trained mimosa plants to recognize that being dropped from the lab bench was no threat. She dropped each plant 60 times, then introduced a new de-habituating threat (a vigorous shake) to be sure they distinguished one type of event from the other. Then she dropped the plants 60 times more. She found they stopped curling their leaves after about four drops and remembered the lesson up to 50 days later". 

These pieces give a quick summary of some of the research discussed in the article, which can be found in the link above. However, these studies have received criticism under peer review for being a desperate cry for publishing or for being inaccurately measured. Other science journals disagree with certain terms being used, such as "learning" with regards to plants, even if these studies do have a significant weight in quality research.

I did some extra research myself, more curious as to what is meant by "plat counting" and found one study that discussed "plants using molecular mathematics through the night to stave off starvation". This study was posted on The Naked Scientist, and was conducted by Alison Smith and Martin Howard from the John Innes Centre. They discussed how, since there is no sunlight at night, plants must find another way to get energy; they do this by storing some of the energy which they get from sunlight in the form of starch and during the night, which is broken down. The observation was that the rate at which starch was broken down during the night was more or less constant during the night." In addition, if you give the plants unexpectedly early night, different than the light regime they are accustomed to, they're able to seamlessly re-adjust, rebudget so that they can adjust their starch degradation, such that they ran out of their food reserves exactly at the time of expected dawn - even when the sunlight has disappeared earlier than they were expecting. 

This lead to Alison and Martin's hypothesis that the plants were dividing one quantity by another. Martin commented that, “It didn’t seem to matter how we tried to mess up the plants and the sunlight regimes to which they're exposed, whether we gave them early nights, late nights, whether we altered the intensity of light during the day. We tried lots of things to try to interfere with this process but whatever we did, the plants seem to be able to rebudget appropriately. They would always get the right rates of degradation during the night, so they'd run out of their food reserves at dawn. The only way this seems to be consistent with our data and to be able to do that in all circumstances, was that they were really doing this division calculation, that they knew, that plants knew how much starch they have. They’ll have information about how much time there was to dawn and they would divide these two numbers together to work out the right rate to eat up their starch.” 

Pretty interesting when you really think about it. It gives a bit of a different perspective on life in general, and just how much we actually know about what's out there. It looks like we have a lot more to learn about, especially when it comes to our own planet. Hopefully this was a bit of an eye opener for you as it was for me. I have always felt a need to care for the underdog, those who have no voice, hence my concern for environmental issues. But, to see the different types of intelligence there is, even in plants, is a new thought worth thinking.

All information was taken from both linked sources above and have been quoted accordingly.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Re-Imagine By Yuumei

Well hello there everybody. Long time since I last posted, right? Have no fear, that's all about to change!! I will be posting ALOT more frequently this month and I apologize for the lack of blog posts over the past little while. So, to start off, I thought I would show you another yet amazing piece by none other than Yuumei. This one is entitled "Re-Imagine" and had the following words within its description:

"I will not sit
I will not lie 
I will take my stand
and show the world
my vision
of a better tomorrow"

I just can't get over how vivid her works are, with the colours, detail, and imagery. This work in particular really speaks to the creativity and all of the efforts people take around the world to preserve the environment. In a way, they too are "re-imagining" what could be possible if everyone were to take a stand and make a difference. Without further ado, here is the piece! Don't forget to check out some of Yuumei's other works here!

Re-Imagine  By:  Yuumei

Friday, 31 May 2013

Reverse Graffiti

Today I came across another cool type of "green advertising" or "enviro-art" concept that I had never seen before, and so I thought I'd share it with you! It's called Reverse Graffiti (also known as grime writing, clean advertising, or green graffiti), which is basically like regular graffiti in the sense that images are created on walls and other surfaces, however in this case, the images are temporary. With reverse graffiti, dirt, dust, and build up is removed from a surface using high power washers, fabric, and sometimes detergent, rather than harsher chemicals or inks.

Some companies use it as a form of green/clean advertising, such as BBC, Microsoft, Starbucks, Sony and Green Works (a company that sells plant based cleaners). Others use it as a way to spread environmental awareness, such as Moose (also known as Paul Curtis, a street artist from the United Kingdom and one of the first artists to use this technique), and Alexandre Orion (a Brazilian street artist). Personally, I've been finding these green ads and ideas really innovative and insightful, and this one really strikes me because its foundation is sustainable and it's more focused on spreading awareness rather than just advertising.

Unlike the green billboard post I made earlier this month, this form of green advertising has met some legal backlash. However, since this art does not involve applying paints as it only consists of cleaning surfaces, and since no permanent damage is created as a result, the creators can't necessarily be prosecuted. Below are some featured works with links. More information on The Reverse Graffiti Project collaboration between Green Works and Moose can be found here; and more works from Moose and Alexandre Orion can be found here and here.

The Reverse Graffiti Project  By:  Green Works and Moose

Art Less Pollution  By:   Alexandre Orion (Brazil)

Friday, 24 May 2013

Finland Environmental Country Profile

Next country profile is up! I tried to include the most relevant areas and topics, and seeing how Finland has a large amount of environmental information available it was hard to pick and choose. If you have something you want me to change or add to one of the categories, feel free to let me know.


Population:                                                           5,432,305 (April 2013 – preliminary)*
GDP:                                                                   €194 billion (2012)*
Industrial Production Growth Rate:                     8.8% (2010)*
Environmental Protection Investments:               €260 million (2011 approx.)*
Fossil Fuels in Production of Electricity/Heat:     Decrease by 21% (2011)*
Peat in Production of Electricity/Heat:                 Decrease by 12% (2011)*
Consumption of Hard Coal:                                 Increase by 31% (Jan – March 2013)*

Main Industries:  (Source:  Invest in Finland)
Forestry  - Finland is the largest wood pulp producer in the EU with regards to annual volume; two-thirds of Finnish wood is exported to the EU. (Source:  WWF)
Mining - concentrated in gold, platinum group metals, base metals, diamonds and industrial minerals.
Metals Sector – includes metals manufacture, the further refining of steel and copper products, zinc and nickel for use in the machine, vehicle, construction, electronics and electro-technical industries, and mechanical engineering where Finnish metal processing is well known for its efficient utilisation of energy and raw materials, and holds world-leading positions in a number of processes.
Chemical – is Finland's third-largest industrial sector and manufactures a huge range of products, many of which are used in other industries (such as forestry and agriculture). The products include plastics, paints, oil products, pharmaceuticals, environmental products and petrochemicals.
Cleantech – the overall turnover of the most prominent Finnish cleantech companies was 17.9 billion euros in 2010, with an annual growth rate of 5.6%; the main subsectors are Windpower, Biomass, Energy Efficient Construction, and the Water Sector.

Key Historical Environmental Issues:
Talvivaara Mine Leak:  In November 2012, the mine leaked heavy metals (such as cadmium and nickel) into its surroundings and nearby lakes. The uranium concentration in the water body has risen by 100-200 times its normal level. Greenpeace also reported that poisonous water started leaking out at a speed of 5 000-6 000 cubic
metres an hour. More information can be found here and here.
**Update** As of May 21 2013:  “Talvivaara staff halted the latest runoff of waste water from the nickel mine in north-eastern Finland on Tuesday after the River Lumijoki near the mine turned red and orange”. More can be read here.
Orivesi Goldmine Pollution:  In March 2013 it was reported that the Dragon Mining Company had been draining water into nearby lakes since it had started operations. Presently it is seeking an environmental permit to continue operations, however, a recent environmental study, which was required for the permit, found that the drainage water contained “significantly elevated concentrations of sulfates, nitrogen and metals”. More information can be found here.

Pollution, Environmental Issues & Main Contributors:
Water Pollution – According to the Finish Environment Institute, significant loads of pollutants enter water bodies in runoffs from farmland, managed forests or peat mining sites; in wastewater from municipal waste water treatment plants, industrial facilities, or livestock facilities; in effluent from fish farms; in wastewater from houses in rural areas with no public sewerage system; and in storm water from built-up areas, mines and quarries, or landfills.
Wildlife – According to the WWF, 60% of Capercaillie have been lost in the last 40 years due to forests being fragmented and habitat loss; about 700 forest species are classified as endangered because of forestry.

According to the European Environment Agency, the main drivers of climate change in Finland include:  the Finnish economy, in which energy intensive export oriented industries (pulp and paper, metals) are some of the main drivers behind Finland's high green house gas emissions per capita; increasing transports from and to Finland; changes in society that have lead to a concentration of the population into urban development regions and which have increased travelling distances within Finland plus the use of private cars instead of public transport; and the development of housing and built environments which also contributed to an increase in the use of energy and natural resources.

Acidification:  first became a problem in the 1960s, however, according to the Finnish Environment Institute, concentrations of sulphur compounds declined and buffering capacity increased in all types of lakes in Finland during the 1990s. Some 5 000 smaller lakes in Finland are now considered to be recovering well from serious acidification problems.
Mining Leaks:  although effects resulting from the recent mining leaks may not yet be present in the surrounding environment, these leaks can lead to loss of biodiversity, contamination of water bodies, soil, and wildlife, and, the poisoning of the environment.

Improvements/Action/Environmental Law:
Greenhouse Gas Emissions:  total emissions in 2012 decreased by some eight per cent (six million t CO2 eq.) from 2011 and the energy sector’s emissions decreased by around nine percent. They are at its lowest level since 1990 mainly because of reduced consumption of coal and peat and increased net imports of electricity. The target for Finland is 16 per cent by 2020.*
Foresight Report on Long-Term Climate and Energy Policy:  published in 2009 by the prime minister’s office, this report estimated emissions in 2050 under four scenarios, with the goal being to reduce emissions by 80% since 1990. Reports are consistently released tracking Finland’s progress to this and to the Kyoto emission targets. (Source:  European Environment Agency)
Water Protection Objectives:  As of November 2006 the Finnish government enacted a new set of water protection objectives up to 2015, the main objectives being to:  reduce the nutrient loads that cause eutrophication; reduce the risks associated with hazardous substances; reduce the harmful impacts of hydrological engineering and water level regulation; protect groundwater bodies; protect aquatic biodiversity; and restore ecologically damaged water bodies. (Source:  Finish Environment Institute)
Sustainability:  Finland has been top-ranked in the World Economic Forum's Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) since 2000 and is one of the first countries in the world to draft a major national programme addressing sustainable consumption and production, which aims to make Finland one of the most eco-efficient and competitive societies in the world by 2025. This is in response to the lack of stricter environmental legislation, technological improvements and products because of steep increases in total volumes of consumption. (Source:  Finnish Ministry of the Environment)
The Environmental Protection Act (86/2000):  obliges all businesses operating in Finland to be aware of their environmental impacts, risks of their activities, and of opportunities to reduce these impacts and risks. (Source:  Finnish Ministry of the Environment)
Pollution Liability:  polluters must provide financial compensation for any environmental damage they cause, and may be criminally responsible for infractions of their legal environmental protection obligations. (Source:  Finnish Ministry of the Environment)
Waste Policy and Legislation:  is based on the EU waste hierarchy, which sees waste prevention as the primary objective. Waste management objectives include:  recycling, recovery of the material, and using waste as a source of energy. Landfilling of wastes is acceptable only where it can be done safely, and the wastes cannot be reasonably managed in any other way. Environmental permits issued to enterprises may include detailed controls over the amounts of waste that can be generated and how they are to be managed. (Source:  Finnish Ministry of the Environment)

Key Environmental Groups:
Ministry of the Environment:  promotes sustainable development. The objective is to ensure a good, safe living environment and biological diversity, to prevent environmental damage and to improve housing conditions.
Finnish Environment Institute (SKYE):  is both a research institute, and a centre for environmental expertise. SYKE forms part of Finland's national environmental administration, and mainly operates under the Ministry of the Environment; the Institutes's work related to water resources is supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
Carbon Neutral Municipalities Project:  brings municipalities, businesses, citizens and experts together to create and carry out solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Finnish Association for Nature Conservation:  is the largest non-governmental organization for environmental protection and nature conservation in Finland.

*According to the Official Statistics of Finland - Statistics Finland
All Sources Are Linked Above.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Created Destruction By Yuumei

You will probably be seeing a lot more of Yuumei's work posted here and there, mostly because I love her art and the messages she portrays. This one is called Created Destruction and it signifies how some of our creations, such as factories, trash and cars, destroy wildlife and the environment. Yuumei connects the piece to her own personal experience of living in China before moving to the U.S. She said that the air was horrible, that she had many respiratory problems, and that her mom's voice was always raspy due to the poisonous air. She uses this to warn viewers that if pollution continues to build in the U.S., or in other healthier countries, it could very well mimic the situation in China. You can read more of her description here.

Personally, I love the way she integrated the hands into the smog. It really stresses the point that humankind has built up this situation and thus are the ones that need to fix it. I did notice that quite a bit of Yuumei's environmental pieces showcase the dark and negative sides to these issues, mostly because she is trying to gain awareness and send a message. Being an optimist, I'd like to see some more work that really showcases the good people have done to save the environment. Even in this case, having a slight accent in the picture towards this could symbolize that there is hope to make things better and that there are people trying to change the way things have ended up, but, that we all still have a long way to go.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Kuwait Environmental Country Profile

As promised, here is the first entry to the country profiles section. The format and headings of the profiles might change overtime depending on what I find works/looks best or depending on what you suggests works better. I tried to include some of the key pieces of information needed to help string together a general overview of the environmental situation in the country. If there are things you feel need to be included let me know and I’ll add it in. Also, WR means World Ranking, just in case you were wondering.

Without further ado, here is Kuwait’s Country Profile.


Population:                                                  2,695,316 (July 2013 est.)*
GDP:                                                           $165.9 billion (2012 est.)*
Industrial Production Growth Rate:             8.7% (2011 est.)*
Electricity From Fossil Fuels:                     100% of installed capacity (2009 est.)*       WR: 20
Crude Oil Production:                                 2.682 million bbl/day (2011 est.)*                 WR: 11
Refined Petroleum Products Production:   902,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)*                        WR: 25

Main Industries:
Oil and Petroleum - Its oil fields were first exploited in the 1930s, and since the development of the petroleum industry after World War II and independence in 1961, oil has dominated the economy, making up around 90% of export revenues.*
Other Key Industries Include:  petrochemicals, cement, shipbuilding and repair, water desalination, food processing, construction materials.*

Key Historical Environmental Issues:
1975 Shuaiba Ammonia Plant Evacuation – due to gas leakages causing health problems to residents.
Kuwait’s Oil Well Tragedy of 1991 - As the 1991 Persian Gulf War drew to a close, Iraqi forces set fire to approximately 600 oil wells, which burned for seven months. The Gulf composed of poisonous smoke, soot and ash; experienced black rain; and, lakes of oil were created. Livestock and other animals died with lungs blackened by the liquid (Source:  Time Magazine).

According to the Kuwait Allergy Website, some of the main contributors preventing Kuwait from improving their air quality include:
1. The steady increase of vehicles, heavy machinery and factories in a very concentrated area of the country.
2. The fixed residential areas that remain unchanged since the new Kuwait was found and of which have high concentrations of air pollution.
3. Proximity of residential areas with some of the biggest oil fields in the world, and which remain the largest source of pollution and income for the area.
4. Proximity to pollutants from warheads used for ongoing conflict in the surrounding region.
5. Lack of local regulations for inspecting the gases omitted from vehicles, factories, and other sources.
6. Frequent and major malfunctions in the oil refineries and storage.

Air Pollution:  (Source:  Kuwait Allergy Website)
-Short term exposure exacerbates existing pulmonary and cardiovascular disease and increases the need for medical attention, and death.
-Long-term exposure increases the cumulative risk of chronic pulmonary and cardiovascular disease and death.
-The increase of the allergic diseases has occurred in parallel (not in causal relationship) with the increased use of fossil fuels.

Kuwait is known to have established and continually improved their EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment System) practises to protect and conserve the environment. EIA is considered one of the foundations that underpin environmental planning to achieve the objectives of State development plans while at the same time ensure the achievement of sustainable development.

Key Environmental Groups:
Environmental Monitoring Information System of Kuwait (eMISK):  “is an ambitious system initiated by the Environment Public Authority (EPA) of Kuwait. eMISK aims to establish, build and maintain a comprehensive geo-environmental database of Kuwait… Among the main goals of eMISK are to raise awareness at all levels of Kuwaiti Society of the values of the environment, and to place authoritative scientific information at the center of decision-making”.
Environment Public Authority (EPA) of Kuwait:  Their vision is to promote environmental awareness and to create a great behavioural and cultural shift in dealing with the environment in which we live. Their mission is to provide a cultural, scientific message that is concerned with environmental affairs in the State of Kuwait and to document the environment condition in the sea, air and land through a professional teamwork. This teamwork tends to use state-of-the-art instruments in order to form a documented and comprehensive scientific encyclopedia.
Kuwait Environment Protection Society:  deals with protecting the environment and eliminating the causes of pollution on both local and regional levels.

*According to the CIA World Factbook
All Sources are Linked Above.