Pause on the causeway as Ann Makosinski unleashes Thermoelectric Power

This great news actually warrants a complete stop, at least I did when I stumbled upon this awesome article yesterday, while browsing the 1 Million Women website. 17 year old Ann Makosinski an aspiring scientist of Canada discovered a way we can now enjoy a hot drink and recharge our phone’s battery through green energy solution.

Ann created a mug with a USB connection called the E-drink, that connects your phone to your freshly brewed hot chocolate or green tea as a source of powder. Now get this its not young Ms. Makosinski’s first sustainable design, in 2013 she attended and won the Google Science Fair and won landed her a place on the Times Magazine 30 people under 30 changing the world at the age of 15 years old with her invention called The Hollow Flashlight this human powered flashlight uses body heat to light up.

Ann Makosinski at Google Science Fair (Photo by BETAKIT)

She stated that she came up with this brilliant idea for the torch while chatting to her Filipino friend who was experiencing frequent power outages following an earthquake making it difficult for her to study. This idea not only created a solution for her friend’s problem but also allowed her to explore more possibilities of heat as an excellent power source for everyday activities.

By using the same Peltier Tiles Technology used to make the hollow torch light from the transfer of harvested thermal energy, Makosinski stated that she decided to collect the lost heat as she waited for her hot drink to cool down enough to be consumed and converted it into electric energy. Although this amazing project is still in development, it is certainly a project that would make our lives much more greener and change the world.

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The Environmental Consequences of Forest Fires

Over the pass two weeks I have witnessed an increased number of forest fires along the northern range in Trinidad and Tobago, Guardian Newspapers reported that Northern Division Fire Service which consist of 11 Fire Stations between Sangre Grande to Chaguaramas recorded 173 wildfires on Saturday 9th May, 2015 and are responding to an average of 100 wildfires per day, as Trinidad and Tobago experiences one of its worst dry season. Now the flames that have engulfed the large portions of the Northern Range forest may seem harmless to those living far away, but it is worth noting that forest fires have a greater impact on our environment and economy.

Fire in the hills in Maraval

Fire in the hills of Maraval

Source: http://www.trinidadandtobagonews.com/blog/?p=2815

A forest fire is defined as being an uncontrolled fire that occurs in the wilderness, forest fires usually occur in hot and dry climates during the hottest months of the year. Trinidad and Tobago forest fires (also referred to as bush fires or wild fires) claims NEMA are signature events of the dry season which normally extends from January to May, the number of fires and the extent of damages they cause, vary from year to year depending on the existing physical and environmental conditions of the land, and the severity of the dry season essentially the amount and distribution of rainfall, factors affecting its severity depends also on the size and frequency of the fires.

Damaged forest as a result of Forest Fire

Source: http://www.ttnaturelink.com/category/ttnaturetrips/page/2

Forest fires can occur from natural causes or human carelessness and accidents, spreading very quickly and clearing acres of land, natural forest fires play a key role in shaping the ecosystem by serving as an agent of renewal and change, but they can be very deadly damaging the ecosystem and many aquatic lives, destroying and damaging vegetation, animal and wildlife habitats, homes and threatening lives, and timber, also they pollute the air with emissions harmful to human health.

Forest fires also releases carbon dioxide (CO2) a key greenhouse gas into the atmosphere and their effects on the landscape may be long-lasting, the most severe consequences will be experienced in the rainy season during the months between June – December, months after the fires have actually burned the forests. This is realized in severe floods and landslides, which occurs when the rainfall directly impact upon the soil instead of a protective forest cover, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization states that the relationship between forest and climate change is intricate, since forest mitigates climate change by absorbing carbon, but they also contribute to climate change once they are degraded or destroyed.

House Destroyed by Wildfire in Belmont, Trinidad and Tobago 

Source: https://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2015-05-11/firefighters-feeling-heat

The only real way to curb the occurrences of  human induced forest fires are through education and awareness, Global Forest Watch, estimates that the economic value of Trinidad and Tobago’s forestry sector contributed US$86.9 million to the economy in 2011, which is approximately 0.4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, hence the importance of the forest to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. While, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service Association Leo Ramkissoon advised the public in a recent interview to be vigilant and report any fire immediately by calling the hotline 877-FIRE (3473), and that they should acquire a fire fighting devices such as fire extinguisher in their homes, in particular to avoid another occurrence of Saturday’s fire in Belmont destroying homes and displacing residents.

Bibliography 

Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, 2015. Fines for Forest Fires may rise – May 12, 2015. Source- http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2015-05-12/fines-forest-fires-may-rise.

FAO, 2015. The role of forest protected areas in adaptation to climate change. source- http://www.fao.org/docrep/011/i0670e/i0670e13.htm

National Emergency Management Agency, 2000. Forest Fires in Trinidad and Tobago. Source -http://wikieducator.org/images/temp/c/c6/20080722170356!Forest_Fire_In_TrinidadandTobago.pdf

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5 Natural Energy Boosters at work

We are living in times when the big rave is an energy drink or to guzzle down a gallon of coffee, I have found myself guilty of at least one to make it through what may feel like the longest day ever.

But determined to motivate myself into reducing the consumption of caffeine, I did some research and found some scary results a study published in the Journal of American College Health stated that teens consuming high amounts of caffeine are more likely to take dangerous risks, that may result in injury or legal troubles another study by Dr. Georgina Trapp of the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia claims that in a significant amount of people caffeine from energy drinks cause them to be shaky and anxious, which could interfere with the performance of normal daily task or cause emotional issues.

During this process I have tried a thing or two but these are my top 5 ways to boost my energy levels without the unnecessary chemicals.

Hit the Gym at noon – I am not a morning person and attend evening university so the only time available is mid day, since starting this routine I find that I am less tired during the afternoon period and my productivity levels have drastically increase.

Drink Lemon Water – This gives me energy and changes my somewhat of a depressed afternoon mood, all I do is squeeze 2 drops into a glass of water and like magic I feel better, all the fatigue is gone. Dr. Oz stated that lemon water provides the body with energy when it enters your digestive tract, and helps to reduce anxiety and depression.

IMG_2648

Take in some fresh air – I am fortunate to have a window seat at work, so from time to time I stick my nose out for 5 minutes, the freshness and sunlight helps to boost my alertness.

Turn up the temperature – I cannot deal with a cold room, it makes me feel sick yes literally sick, my body goes into sleep mode, so I adjust the temperature and this helps me to refocus.

Stretch at my desk – For us hardworking girls that sit all day at our desk trying our best to get the work done, sometimes it could become extremely difficult to fight off the midday crash,  don’t worry help is on the way, try something that would instantly spike up your energy, yoga stretches is an easy option, simply sit up straight and stretch my arms up as to touch the ceiling or stand and walk from one end of the room to another. Studies suggest that this could fight depression and anxiety. The US Department of Health and Human Services state that the best thing you can do for you neck and back is to stretch at your desk.

O boy and the big great bonus is to sip a cup of tea, this always get me alert, American Dietetic Association claims that tea is a great alternative to coffee drinking and that studies have found some tea may help with cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Now tell me your tips in the comment below.

Bibliography 

Health Line, 2015. The Ultimate “Deskercise” Stretch Routine. http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/deskercise#1

Web MD, 2015. Health Benefits of Green Tea. http://www.webmd.com/diet/tea-types-and-their-health-benefits.

Emergency Preparedness Week – May 3-9th, 2015

So, I just returned from an o so important seminar on Emergency Preparedness and thought who better to share my new found information with than my friends. Emergency preparedness week being held from 3-9th May, 2015 and is a national awareness initiative with an overall goal of encouraging people to know their local risk, make plans in the event of it occurring and always have an emergency kit readily available to family members. This knowledge help to  make the community safer and better prepared to face a range of emergencies.

This event was well prepared like somewhat of a cottage meeting where a couple of companies came to display their products, while the local authorities organized the police and fire services to give lecturers, to local residents and all others in attendance.

Natural disasters may be beyond our control, but there are ways to reduce the risk and the impact of whatever emergency we might face, whether natural or human induced. This is capable by making proper preparation to cope on own own for some hours of an emergency the amount may vary based the type of disaster and number of residents affected. Some disasters may block access route to villages like the recent earthquake in Nepal.

Building Destroyed by Nepal Earthquake 

Source: http://qz.com/400088/nasa-technology-located-four-trapped-earthquake-victims-in-nepal-by-detecting-their-heartbeats/

It is absolutely essential that we deal with this issue as a matter of importance in three key paarts:

Know the risk: knowing the specific risk as it relates to our community and region can help us better prepare for instance in Trinidad and Tobago, we have two seasons wet and dry, hence when we are in our rainy season during the months of June-December we are prone to flash flooding,

Floods in North West Trinidad and Tobago 

Source: http://ttnewsflash.com/?p=1957

While during our dry months we experience a number of forest fires, this affect the hillsides and roadways, these hazards leave the population vulnerable to flooding.

Forest Fire 

Source: http://caribmove.blogspot.com/2011/05/professor-norman-girvan-on-existential.html

Make a plan – It will help us and our family know what to do since they may not be together, this is especially important when there are infants and elders in your family, they must be aware of what need to be done in the event of a disaster, this could mean life or death. This plan should include:

  •  out-of-town contact, such as a friend or relative, who family members can call to let them know they are safe.
  • ensure that family members how to text. since during an emergency it’s often easier to get a text message delivered rather than a phone call.
  • teach all your children how and when to call 911 for help.

Emergency kit – now this can either a DIY project follow instructions here for you or you can purchase an inexpensive one here or another but more costly, could be found here but this has enough supplies for a family of four, it will be based on your preference which you choose.

The key is to try to assemble your kit well in advance since disasters can happen at moments notice, this is necessary since you may need  to survive on your own after a emergency so ensure you have enough water, food and other supplies to last at least four (4) days.

Pointe – a- Pierre Wildfowl Trust – An Island Paradise

Indian Peacock

Source: http://aimtvgroup.com/rawtravelblog/?p=397

Pointe-a- Pierre wildfowl trust: a must see situated on oil refinery lands, this nonprofit trust covers 25 hectares and is a sanctuary for endangered birds (including the scarlet ibis), this trust was established by Richard. S. Deon in 1966. This trust is a national non-profit organization to protect endangered birds and waterfowl and breeds other birds for future return to the wild. There is also two lakes, trails, a learning centre with natural history displays and a small Amerindian museum, along with accommodation for overnight stay.

Biodiversity is the variety of different species living in a habitat. In its simplest term meaning the bigger and greater the range of species in one environment, the more diversity we consider this environment to have. While an ecosystem is a community of living organisms in conjunction with the non living components of their environment interacting as a system.

Sitting Area in Wild Fowl Trust

Source: http://www.freewebs.com/thenestsiparia/wildfowl%20trust1.jpg

The wild fowl trust, although it is not a natural wetland it is a good stimulation of natural wetland ecosystem because it consist of both abiotic and biotic factors. This man-made wetland ecosystem, is home for many types of birds also providing feed and a resting places for these birds on migration.

Ecosystems consist of life forms existing in a symbiotic relationship with their environment. Life forms in ecosystems compete with one another to become the most successful at reproducing and surviving in a given niche, or environment. Two main components exist in an ecosystem: abiotic and biotic. The abiotic components of any ecosystem are the properties of the environment; the biotic components are the life forms that occupy a given ecosystem.

Abiotic components of an ecosystem consist of the nonorganic aspects of the environment that determine what life forms can thrive for example temperature, average humidity, topography and natural disturbances water and wind.

The biotic components of an ecosystem are the life forms that inhabit it. The life forms of an ecosystem aid in the transfer and cycle of energy. They are grouped in terms of the means they use to get energy. Producers such as plants produce their own energy without consuming other life forms; plants gain their energy from conducting photosynthesis via sunlight. Consumers exist on the next level of the food chain. There are three main types of consumers: herbivores, carnivores and omnivores. Herbivores feed on plants, carnivores get their food by eating other carnivores or herbivores, and omnivores can digest both plant and animal tissue, see more information in my previous post importance of the ecosystem here.

Black-Bellied Whistling Tree Duck

Source: https://hypertonicblog.wordpress.com/2013/01/

An ecosystem is a community of living organisms (such as plants, animals, and microbes) in conjunction with the non-living components of their environment (such as air, water, and minerals soil) interacting as a system.

“No man is an island,” this saying is also true for organisms in an ecosystem. No organism exists in isolation. Individual organisms live together in an ecosystem and depend on one another. In fact, they have many different types of interaction with each other and many of these interactions are critical for their survival.

¨The different ways organisms obtain their food and energy. Sun → producers → primary consumers → secondary consumers → tertiary consumers.

Symbiosis interaction such as:

  • Commensalism: is a relationship between two species in which one clearly benefits and the other is not harmed.
  • Parasitism: is when two different species, where one benefits and the other is harmed (host).
  • Mutualism: is when two organisms of different species “work together” each benefiting from the relationship.

Now a renewable resource is a resource which is replaced naturally and can be used again, for instance oxygen, fresh water, solar energy, timber and biomass. Renewable resources may also include goods commodities such as wood, paper and leather.

Mankind benefits in a multitude of ways from ecosystem collectively, these benefits are known as ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are regularly involved in the provisioning of clean drinking water and the decomposition of waste. Mankind benefits from the ecosystem service in ways like provisioning such as production of food and water, regulating such as the control of climate and disease, supporting such as nutrient cycle and crop pollination and cultural such as spiritual and recreational benefits.

Species of plants found in the wildfowl trust:

Fern, lotus, nyphia, queen of flowers, weed grass, calba tree, silk cotton, poui, mahogany, naked indain tree, calabash tree, paper bark tree, mango tree, bayleaf, Chinese tamarind, sahari leave.

Species of animals found in the wildfowl trust:

Tilapia, peacock, black belly whistling tree duck, wabine, dragon fly, turtle, macaw, scarlet ibis, Muscovy duck, jesus bird, gallinule, snake bird, pacu, white face whistling duck.

Special thanks to the student of College of Science, Technology & Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT) who are responsible for the research in this post.  

Reference:

Ecosystem. (n.d.). Retrieved May 4, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosystem

Khan Academy. (n.d.). Retrieved May 4, 2015, from https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/CAS-biodiversity/why-is-biodiversity-important-ca/biodiversity-and-ecosystem-funct/a/ecological-interactions

Natural resource. (n.d.). Retrieved May 4, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_resource

Pointe a Pierre Wild Fowl Trust – An Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved May 4, 2015, from http://www.papwildfowltrust.org/index.php/about-us/an-overview.html

The 2 Main Components of an Ecosystem | The Classroom | Synonym. (n.d.). Retrieved May 4, 2015, from http://classroom.synonym.com/2-main-components-ecosystem-2576.html

The 2 Main Components of an Ecosystem | The Classroom | Synonym. (n.d.). Retrieved May 4, 2015, from http://classroom.synonym.com/2-main-components-ecosystem-2576.html

Glass Recycling – Clever DIY Ways

I feel super embarrassed when I take my garbage out and all you can hear are the sounds of glass bottles knocking against each other. Somehow I judge myself, wondering what my neighbors are thinking, that I have been drinking all weekend. Well I have a clever solution for this embarrassing feeling.

Yes you guessed it recycle my glass waste, I have now made a pledge to say to to waste. Let’s state some facts courtesy Glass Packaging Institute – glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled infinitely without losing quality or strength, 80% of recovered glass packaging are made into new glass bottles, recycling glass has great environmental payoffs. It saves raw materials and its consumption, lessens demand for energy and cuts CO2 emissions see more here.

These are just a few of the ways you can recycle your old glass bottles at home:-

1.     Use your old wine bottles as a vase – some people cut the top using a bottle cutter purchase hereyou will have all you need to get the job done or you can use a special jig DIY instructions here when using the jig you would need to heat the bottle up and cool down until it breaks apart, following which you sand down the edges with a Dremel. That’s a bit too much work for me so I prefer to clean my old wine bottles, fill it half with water and stick my favorite flower into, this usually decorates my room beautifully for about 3-4 days.

2.      Pen holders, bathroom toothbrush or makeup holder – just attended a conference and on the display was these lovely makeup holders, made from beer bottles not sharp edges nothing. Apparently, the designer told me that all she did was cut the wine or beer bottle in half or based on here desired design requirements, using an old fashion kit found on eBay similar here, then sand blast to smooth the edges, this is particularly important since glass would cut you horribly bad. You could even have some letters and shapes applied on the outside, to identify the purpose.

Recycle toothbrush holder 

Source: http://plastolux.com/cuttin-glass-and-takin-names.html

3.     Gratitude / Blessing Jar – this is my most favorite I spotted this while browsing Karen Civil’s Instagram account when I saw she had a gratitude jar here, I started and encouraged my friends and sisters to come along for the journey. Karen Civil’s jar cost $15.00 but I made one for free, all you need is a old jam jar, thoroughly clean, pieces of paper, pen and you have a gratitude jar, the idea is to fill it with all the good things that happens in your life, like an accomplishment, enjoyable moments etc. then on December 31st you open the jar and reveal the wonderful year you had.

4.      Glass Dispenser – screw on plastic dispenser from Trader Joe’s here or you can recycle the dispensers from shampoo, conditioner or lotion bottles, just screw on top any glass bottles a bit of trial and error, may ensue before you can find the right fit and then you have a unique DIY soap or lotion dispenser for parties, events or even to use around your home.

This is a quite soap dispenser made from a Coke bottle

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/glass-coke-bottles/

Candle Holder – this is the easiest one of them all you would need is a glass bottle with a long neck, a candle just stick a candle into the bottle neck, light the candle and you have your self a candle holder for your dinners and special events. I use them for the occurrence of a power outage.

Glass recycling is both simple and beneficial, instead of sending our glass to landfills, that can take up to a million years to break down we can use cleaver way to reduce waste and use around our home, while being environmentally sustainable.

On Board with the Environment. 

Our Waste Management Differences – Culture Shapes US.

Hello my fellow environmentalist, how are you guys doing this wonderful Sunday afternoon? I am currently as tired as can be no relaxing for me today. Had some errands to run in preparation for the week ahead.

But lets talk about this pass week, while traveling home from work on Wednesday afternoon, I met a Nigerian doctor working in Trinidad and Tobago, I am very appreciative of our encounter and the one thing in particular it taught me was how to recognize culture and how much it shape our mind, body and soul. It is quite shocking how a complete stranger can teach you so much about your own culture, it’s like someone on the outside looking in, we could never see our-self. I came up with the idea for this blog post while speaking to this culturally flavored Nigerian man, a conversation I completely enjoyed.

You see our conversation started with food, I love any African food, heck I love food in general so obviously  my conversations usually starts there, lol no seriously. Eventually we began to talk about nature and development, actually we were arguing about which country had better environment and naturally beautiful land space and of course I had to get one in that Lagos the former capital of Nigeria is one of the dirtiest cities in the world because of its poor waste management structure, his point was not that Nigeria don’t have poor waste management habits but that they were better than many other countries like India, Congo, Togo, Guinea Republic at least just the ones I remembered where piles of rubbish lined the streets and the sewage thick layers can be spotted in the near by rivers.

Lagos which means lake is a beautiful island situated in the north east of Nigeria, it is the largest city in Nigeria and fastest growing city in the world read more about Lagos here, my point is that in Trinidad and Tobago we are a bit more conscious of our surroundings, we have a proper working waste management system, in which much improvements need to be made so that we can move away from land-filling to more conservative ways such as reduce, reuse and recycle, but we tend to hold on to our rubbish until we get to a garbage bin usually at every corner. Waste management is an important aspect of my society, my visitor did not share that same view, there are more important thing like education to utilize our resources on, he said.

Waste in Lagos

http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology

My friend delightfully informed me that there is no proper rubbish service in his country, hence there is nowhere to put garbage, if your kept it at home it would just pile up to the ceiling, and if you did not want it in your home, you would put it outside wherever you like, it really doesn’t matter. So you might as well just plop it out on the road anywhere.

My overall goal for highlighting this conversation, well I do not intend to insult a country’s struggle with waste management but to reflect and appreciate my government’s efforts to prevent littering, promote recycling and encourage proper waste management habits, it make me much more eager to accept my role of being an environmentally responsible citizen of Trinidad and Tobago.