Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
 
September, 30th 2014
17:56
 

January 2015 seems like it’s a long way away, doesn’t it?

It feels like there are weeks and weeks to go before we have to pack up our flying gear and head down to Belize to start aerially surveying the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. But before we know it, it will be January. It’ll be time to escape frigid western Massachusetts and kick our research into gear – and for that, we’ve already begun preparations.

Though surveys of the soft coral have been performed in the past, we’re hoping to use UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the training required to safely fly a UAV is far less than that for complete pilot licensure. Also decreased are the costs associated with equipment and fuel requirements for a UAV in comparison to a full-size, manned vehicle. Finally, the quality – and quantity – of imagery obtainable with a personally controlled, low-flying aerial device is vastly increased due to the lower altitudes and number of passes that can be made by the vehicle.

Whether fixed-wing or multi-rotor, the potential applications for UAV technology in geological and biological survey work are numerous, this particular job being just one example where an eye-in-the-sky really does provide a much-needed overview of the habitat just off the coast of Belize.

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September, 30th 2014
6:59
 

Ethical fabrics are textiles that are manufactured with sustainable production, respect for the environment and elimination of animal cruelty.

Ethical fabric isn’t restricted to hemp and bamboo. An innovative range of sportswear is now being made out of old coffee grinds.

S.Café® is breaking ground in the most unusual way – making fabric out of coffee grounds! The process is very similar to that used to turn bamboo into a viscose-like material. The resultant fabric is soft, light, flexible and breathable and can also be used to produce an outer shell that is water resistant. It’s impregnated with ‘activated’ carbon, derived from coconut, which makes it UV-resistant, wicks water away, keeps the wearer cool and binds to sweat to eliminate unpleasant odors.

blog coffee grounds

So, how would you like your S.Café® pants, with cream and sugar?

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September, 29th 2014
5:23
 

…seems like it’s time for humans to take a cue from them!  Soft bamboo shoots, stems, and leaves are the major food source of the giant panda of China, the red panda of Nepal and the bamboo lemurs of Madagascar.   You’ll often see bamboo in the mix of plants that people give as gifts.  Beautiful to the eye, and yummy in a panda’s tummy, but did you know of the incredible impact of this plant as a highly renewable and eco-friendly material with infinite uses?

A bit of background: Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth.  Bamboo species are found in diverse climates, from cold mountains to hot tropical regions.  Unlike all trees, individual bamboo stems, or culms, emerge from the ground at their full diameter and grow to their full height in a single growing season of three to four months.  A brief life span means culms are ready for harvest and suitable for use in construction within about three to seven years. (Source: Wikipedia  Click the link for more info about bamboo ecology, uses, and history.)

Here is an expansive look at what bamboo can be part of:  Products Made from Bamboo From bamboo beer to bicycles, wind turbine blades, bedsheets, helmets, bathtubs, it is all possible with bamboo!    Lots of great links and discussions on their site.  And check out the video on: Bamboo Renewable Energy.   How will you incorporate bamboo in your contribution to a Smarter Planet?

Bamboo is the main food of the giant panda, making up 99% of its diet.

Bamboo is the main food of the giant panda, making up 99% of its diet.

 

See if ‘a plant life’ is awaiting you: http://www.guaduabamboo.com/partners/

Fun Fact:  There’s actually an American Bamboo Society which was formed in 1979 that has chapters across the U.S.: Promoting the Beauty and Utility of Bamboo… Your source for all things Bamboo, Bamboo Societies, Bamboo Growers and Bamboo Products.  They hold an annual conference and have a bi-monthly Magazine and annual Journal.  Take a look at their site and be inspired!bimonthly Magazine and annual Journal.

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The world’s fertilizer producers have a large task at hand – to feed the world’s need for more fertilizer. The need is so great that the companies are not just accelerating production. New factories are being built because farmers are not getting enough to feed their crops, with fertilizer prices making purchase out of reach for many farmers worldwide. When the new factories produce the much-needed fertilizers, the farmers will be able to buy the fertilizers at lower prices once more. The methods to produce the chemical fertilizers are through fossil fuels. This is a temporary solution for a growing problem that environmental engineers need to address, if any sustainable solution is to be reached.

Read more from the New York Times

Worldwide, fertilizer needs and projections are shown.

Worldwide, fertilizer is needed. Developing countries are relying more heavily on chemical fertilizers, leading to an increased demand.

Fertilizer use is increasing and the dead zones are growing. More fertilizer use is going to lead to more dead zones worldwide, and the pollution caused is only going to grow in the present trend. Solutions are needed. Environmental engineers worldwide are devising ways to provide equivalent alternatives to chemical fertilizer. Fertilizers from solid waste is something sustainable that has great potential, if properly accessed. At the University of South Florida, students are trying to find ways to access the nutrients in solid waste so that a cheap and effective fertilizer alternative can be created. With the goal to limit the leaching (ability to dissolve quickly), the fertilizers USF students are trying to create and test out may last longer. When fertilizers last longer, they don’t need to be replaced as fast. Efficient nutrient delivery is what farmers want for a low price, and USF students are attempting to make that dream into a reality.

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I was pained by reading the article linked below about blast fishing off the coast of Africa. (Yes, you read that correctly – blast fishing: fish being caught by being blasted out of the water with explosives).  It is a very real scenario and needs more Smarter Planet minded folks to come up with alternatives that will help provide financial stability for the fishermen as well as keeping them uninjured and out of prison…

Blast fishing destroying Tanzania’s marine habitats

 

Thankfully, the damages suffered by the marine eco-system and the humans injured by engaging in this dangerous form of fishing have not gone unnoticed.  Read about how Smart Fish  is working to combat the problem.  SmartFish is one of the Largest Regional Programmes for fisheries in Africa covering 20 bénéficiaire Countries in the Eastern, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean (ESA-IO) area. Funded by the European Union and Implemented by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) Jointly with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

A statistic that put things into greater perspective:

  • Each blast kills all fish and other living organisms within a 20m radius, completely destroying the coral reef habitat and there is no natural recovery   Source: SmartFish

 

Ponder that! And consider what will become of the Indian Ocean if blast fishing is allowed to continue…  Will you make a difference with your work now and in future?

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