And it is called Spiritual Ecology

From Ladakh to Bhutan, Buddhist nuns and monks from 60 centers in the Himalayan region work on environmental protection. From cleaning up rivers, to installing solar panels, the nuns and monks approach the environment with a sense of compassion, recognizing the interdependence and inter-connectivity of all things.

Life Giving Water

Water quality is a good predictor of human health. When the water is good, life is good and when the water is bad, you get sick people and sick environment.

Intact forests  play an important role to ensure that ensures there is fresh, clean water for both wildlife and human beings. But deforestation disrupts the water cycle.

The removal of trees results in the groundwater tables getting depleted because the trees lose their function of helping the soil absorb flowing water. The land then becomes unproductive as soil properties responsible for supplying soil nutrients are leached from rain falling freely on the soil. The large quantity of sediments washed away from deforested areas end up in streams and river cause high turbidity and siltation, causing negative  impacts on fisheries further downstream as far as the reefs.

The surest way to ensure a good water supply is to keep forests intact.

water necklace

Green Economy – does it include you?


It is commendable that the the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has plans for a green economy as was shown in the supplementary spread in the Post Courier to commemorate the World Environment day on June 5, 2012.  It is an ambitious plan for PNG to boldly state that she will reduce her in-country emission by 50% in the year 2030, but I guess having an ambitious plan is better than having no plan at all.

I read the supplement from cover to cover but to my disappointment there were no options for green development for me and my household. Being conscious of my carbon footprint an wanting to reduce it, I am eager to participate in the green development. After all, forestry and agriculture is the biggest source of emission in PNG with subsistence agriculture contributing 28-43% of emission. My family still depend to some extent on landuse activities to support our livelihood.

That got me thinking, what would the compounded energy use of average PNG families like mine be like in 2030?  The PNG population has doubled in just twenty years between the year 1980 and 2000. From that, let us assume that population doubles every 20 years for PNG. By 2030, population would have more than doubled from the current 6/7 million. What percentage of the families in the year 2030 would have access to green energy and what percentage would be still depending on nature for their energy needs? The low carbon activities encouraged by the government though commendable are still too technology-intensive for individual families.

So how can families be meaningfully included in a green economy? One option is for families to bring back the three R’s. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Searches on the internet revealed that recover and rebuy have been added to the list of the R’s bring the R’s to 6.

Reducing consumption prevents wastage in the first place. It is the most preferred method of waste management and goes a long way toward protecting the environment. Waste prevention means consuming and throwing away less.

Items can be reused by repairing them, donating them to charity, or selling them. This also reduces waste. Reusing products, when possible, is better than recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed before it can be used again.

Recycling transforms materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. Furthermore, recycling generates environmental, financial, and social benefits. In other countries, materials like glass, metal, plastics, and paper are collected, separated and sent to facilities that can process them into new materials or products.

In order to make recycling economically feasible, we must buy recycled products and packaging. When we buy recycled products, we create an economic incentive for recyclable materials to be collected, manufactured, and marketed as new products. Remember, you’re not recycling unless you’re buying recycled products.

At the same time, as we plan for emission reduction activities for industries, we should not underestimate the power of little changes that families can participate in. After all families are at the base of the pyramid from where businesses are built. A changed mindset starting from families can pay great dividends in business as individuals make decision based on what is good for them as well as for the environment.

The Great Pacific Plastic Soup

Rubbish dump found floating in Pacific Ocean is twice the size of America

A rubbish dump twice the size of the United States has been discovered floating in the Pacific Ocean.

The vast expanse of debris, made up of plastic junk including footballs, kayaks, Lego blocks and carrier bags, is kept together by swirling underwater currents.

It stretches from 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan.

Because the rubbish, which has been called a “plastic soup” and a “trash vortex”, is translucent and lies just below the water’s surface it cannot be seen in satellite photographs.

American oceanographer Charles Moore discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by chance in 1997 while taking a short cut home from a yacht race.

He said: “Every time I came on deck there was trash floating by. How could we have fouled such a huge area? How could this go on for a week?”

Around a fifth of sea junk is thrown off ships or oil platforms – the rest comes from land

He warned that the rubbish could double in size over the next decade if consumers do not cut back on their use of plastics. More than a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die every year as a result of plastic rubbish.

Syringes, cigarette lighters and toothbrushes have all been found inside the stomachs of dead seabirds.

The rubbish can also be dangerous for humans, because tiny plastic pellets in the sea can attract man-made chemicals which then enter the food chain.

Research director Dr Marcus Eriksen said: “What goes into the ocean goes into these animals and onto your dinner plate. It’s that simple.”

Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer compared the rubbish to a living entity. He said: “It moves around like a big animal without a leash.”  Describing what happens when it reaches land, he said: “The garbage patch barfs, and you get a beach covered with this confetti of plastic.”

The rubbish dump is made up of two linked areas either side of Hawaii. Around one-fifth of the junk is thrown off ships or oil platforms, while the rest comes from the land.

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