Fill your eyes with all the stunning colours and natural splendour.
Take deep breathe and smell the white sand and crystalline water.
Then think about how far you would go to save this.
A visit to the Great Barrier Reef is a life-changing experience. One of the natural wonders of the world.
Photo By Ciambue – https://www.flickr.com/photos/ciamabue/6106191035/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40691429
Sadly, new aerial surveys have found that back-to-back severe bleaching events have affected two-thirds of Australias’s Great Barrier Reef. This is the second year in a row that the reef has been hit by severe bleaching. This year, the bleaching has spread further south. The underlying cause for the bleaching is global warming.
A proposal to pump cold water on the Great Barrier Reef to help stave off the bleaching has been described as an band-aid solution. Admittedly to use $9m to pump water does not address the underlying problems linked to rising water temperatures. Yet, few of us would say that using a plaster is a waste of time and money to dress a wound.
What do you think? How far should go we go? What kind of solutions are required to save the reef?
Creating a closed loop economy for the fashion industry!
An industry where the textiles are biodegradable and also serve as nutrients for future textiles and products.
Biodesign is an exciting approach to design and fabrication. The term refers to the incorporation of living organism as essential components in design. The underlying idea is that the incorporation enhances the function of the finished work. This approach is different from biomimicry, there the idea is to use nature as inspiration for new ideas and ways to solve a problem. It is a brave step away from imitation and mimicry to use and integration. Boundaries are dissolved and new hybrids of living objects are created.
“biodesign is not about merely taking cues from organic structures and operations. It’s about harnessing the machinery of the natural world to perform as nature does: storing and converting energy, producing oxygen, neutralizing poisons and disposing wastes in life-sustaining ways… In the wonderland of biotechnology, bacteria is beautiful, moss is electric and decorative tiles are animated.” New York Times
The overall winner of the Biodesign Challenge this year was taken home by artist Luke Jerram. His Glass Microbe is a symbol of mixing art, design, and biology.
His sculptures have been shown in museums all over the world and you can buy limited editions print of his sculptures here.
The biologically derived filament that can be used to knit garments both by hand or machine. The filament is composed of alginate, a polysaccharide found in the cell walls of brown algae. In modernists cuisine sodium alginate is used, this product is derived from brown algae. This product is mostly used with calcium salts to produce small caviar-like and large spheres with liquid inside. The spheres burst in the mouth creating an explosion of flavours that burst in the mouth.
The alginate is typically used in sheets, which is a bit of a problem for a fashion designer. The students decided to change the form and they used a syringe to extrude the alginate into calcium chloride. The created a structure that resembled yarn. Experimentation with the filament led to a material that was surprisingly elastic.
The goal was to find a product that could reduce greenhouse-gas emission and toxic waste in the textile industry.
Note: This product is not ready for production yet it may provide inspirations for designers to look for more sustainable ways of producing textiles.
Cycling highways is a fundamental and welcome change
in how cities treat bicyclists.
Ways to lure commuters out of their cars are needed! I love my bike but to be honest, riding a bike in the UK is not a real pleasure since you share the roads with cars. Many car drivers are not keen on sharing the lanes with bicycles and the freedom of riding a ride is often dampened by the feeling that you are regarded as a nuisance as well as running the risk of having an accident.
Germany has started to build a network of wide bicycle thoroughfares in an attempt to encourage a more healthy lifestyle and to protect the environment. In Germany, increasingly more people are using bicycles and charging stations for electric bicycles are now being built along the highways. Spare part and free air pumps are offered in kiosks where you can even have a shower! Companies have started to create dedicated parking spaces for cyclists.
The underlying idea is not to get rid of cars but rather to create a safer city where people have more choices. The idea to only build multi-lane streets for cars, while cyclists have to use narrow lanes that are not well maintained is slowly changing. The idea to focus on planning purely for cars sounds old-fashioned and dated.
Imagine a four metres (13 feet) built only of cyclists. In Germany, this dream is being realised and a 100-kilmotmer long bike highway that is 4 metre wide is planned to run from Hamm to Duisburg. This highway for bicycles will connect four major universities and it will pass through cities, farmland and industrial areas. Cleverly this bike highway will run parallel to a highway for cars so that car commuters can watch the cyclists enjoying the exercise.
Bikes represent fun, freedom and fresh air. Transforming this pastime and “odd” way of commuting to work into not only a cool way to commute but also a way to show that you care about your health as well as the environment require that more councils are making plans for not only the usual cycling lanes but highways that are wide so that you can overtake slower cyclists, few traffic lights and environmentally friendly surface.
The autobahn was built to allow cars to cover large distance without leaving the network, a similar way of thinking is needed when planning highways for bikes.
A rendering of the planned bike highway set to span from Hamm to Duisburg, Germany.
Lima is a city filled with black vultures or gallinazos. The black rather big birds can be seen perched on the most iconic building in Lima. Just like pigeon remind humans in many cities of aspects that we would rather ignore so does these birds with their wrinkly heads and glowing beady eyes, remind the residents of Lima about the neglect, trash and poverty.
Now these birds who are often linked to death and decaying things are helping the residents to improve the environment. the birds have been equipped with GoPro video cameras and GPS trackers and they are helping the to track down humans who engage in illegal dumping and fly-tipping. The trash on Lima’s street are a serious health risk particularly in the poorer areas which are drowning in rubbish.
After a walk with my dog, I wonder what animals that can be used here to track down the humans who have dumped all the cans and the paper rubbish not to mention all the broken glass. My dog loves to sniff at everything, but broken metal cans are really dangerous for not only dog’s sensitive noses but all wildlife. What does it look like where you live? And what animals would you like to equip with a GoPro?
Working with environmental issues and being aware of the changes that are occurring on our planet can be an inspiring process but it can also make a person feel depressed. Watching some of the damages and predict what the future will look like can leave a person with feelings of anger, frustration and despair. It is difficult to change people’s perceptions and behavior and this may further enhance the feelings of hopelessness.
Yet being resilient to the “gloom and doom” is important and psychology and thinking skills may not only help a person to deal with these issues but also to provide insights into the underlying reasons for some of the human behaviours that have a negative impact on biodiversity and ecosystems. Psychologists may provide insights into factors that are driving consumption as well as barriers to engage people in making a contribution towards creating a better foundation upon which to build our societies.
Changes in the environment and climate changes are usually not sudden, rather they are a slow process where the quality of life is degrading over time. The uncertainty and the roller-coaster ride where one day the changes seems like the end to life as we know, while the next day they seem like exaggerations, creates an uncertainty about the future. And this uncertainty can have a negative impact on a person’s psychological health.
We have a preference for short-term gain, we try to fix things here and now. Yet, the effects our actions have on the climate and the environment are in the future. This means that it is difficult for us to make the changes. Social psychology research suggest that telling people about the benefits for changing their behaviour does not necessarily change their behaviour. A more fruitful approach is the influence of other people.
So if we build communities where people are recycling or reducing their consumption of certain products more and more people will eventually be influenced and the chances are that they also will make better choices.
Of course, not only psychologists can make a contribution to discussions about the environment. Other social scientists can provide insights into human, group as well as organizational behaviour, philosophers can provide insights into underlying ideas about the importance of nature, and artists about the aesthetic value of nature. By working together across disciplines a broader platform upon which ideas and solutions can be developed are created and we increase the chances that more people will become involved and that they will actually chance their behaviour.
We may gain inspiration and enhance our well-being by interacting with nature, but we also need to seriously explore questions such as “What is the best way to motivate people to change behaviours that have a negative impact on the environment?” Telling people that their behaviour is bad is not an approach that is going to make people change.
We need to do things together that shows people why we care and love nature.
An underlying assumption in today’s legal systems is that nature is a property
and humans and corporations are seen as its property holders.
Every year, animals and nature are exposed to injustices as a result of human “progress” and “development”. What if animals and nature had rights? Does it sound like a weird or perhaps even crazy idea?
Article 1 in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth describes Mother Earth as a living being with rights just as humans beings, while Article 2 deals with inherent rights such as the right to be respected. Humans have obligations which are explored in Article 3, for example, “establish precautionary and restrictive measures to prevent human activities from causing species extinction, the destruction of ecosystems or the disruption of ecological cycles”. Finally, Article 4, lays down the definitions such as the term “being” are defined as ecosystems, natural communities, species and all other natural entities which exist as part of Mother Earth.
Cormac Cullinan is a practising environmental attorney and author of the book Wild Law. In this book, he explores the idea of a legal philosophy that restores an ecological perspective to our legal system. Cormac manages the tricky task of working within the legal system that often legitimizes the extermination of species and disrespect Earth, with being involved in a movement to change the underlying rules and points of views.
Yet we did not start our journey on Earth by ignoring the rights of nature. Although it may be difficult to point to a specific time when this shift took place there are a couple of milestones that lead to the ideas that underlies our thinking and legal systems. Ideas of philosophers such as René Descartes and Francis Bacon highlight that humans are fundamentally different and superior than everyone else on Earth. Also, during the Industrial Revolution, we started to use coal, oil and gas to change the world. The changes that took place during this period further supported the idea that we are superior, we could use and explore resources in ways that had not been possible before.
So perhaps it is time to developed a new view upon our relationship with nature and animals. And the ball has already started rolling. . .
The falling leaves drift by the windows.
The autumn leaves are red, gold, orange, pink and maroon.
It is understandable that we become more aware of leaves during autumn. The changes that occurs in autumn leaf colour affects deciduous trees and shrubs. The phenomenon affects normally green leaves and green leaves are green because of a pigment known as chlorophyll. When this pigment is abundant, which it is during growing season, the chlorophyll’s green colour dominates. This means that all the other colour are masked out but during autumn the level of chlorophyll drops and we can see all the other colours that have been hidden during spring and summer.
But there is more to leaves than their vibrant colours. There are many different leaf shapes in nature and nature has designed some of the most amazing shapes to solve problems.
The leaves of some trees such as sacred figs has a unique shape that helps to channel water off the surface. The water is dripping off from the tip – drip tips! These types of leaves are more common in shady and humid conditions and after a heavy rain the leaves dry quicker as compared to leaves without drip tips. Under these conditions it is good to stay dry since a wet surface may enhance the leakage of nutrients from the leaves. In addition, this shape may also increase photosynthesis.
Green leaves of plants are the equivalent to photovoltaic panels and leaves absorb solar light. Yet excessive heating of leaves can damage the chemical structure of the leaf. A temperature above 40-45 degrees C (104 – 113 Fahrenheit) can damage the leaf and many leaves have a very light structure to avoid overheating. The size of leaves are also related to the temperature where smaller leaf sizes are found in warm places. Many leaves capture water, like bromeliads, and some are built to minimize the damage of strong winds.
Looking at the shape of leaves can inspire new ideas such as how design roofs to minimise the effects of heat, how to divert water or indeed how to collect water. Admittedly, looking at the spectacular autumn colours may be more visually satisfactory, but the way leaves change colours might also spark new ideas. Seeing possibilities with the way nature has solved problems is enormously fun and you are never bored even if the rain is pouring down.