Category Archives: Community

Rivers – Rapidly Releasing Greenhouse Gases

NHT- Blog- XXIV- 20 Jan 2014According to a study published in Nature, rivers and streams release about five times more carbon dioxide than all world’s lakes and reservoirs that cover far more of the Earth’s surface.

As per the studies, the inland water of the planet release approximately 2.1giga tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year. Out of this, 1.8giga tons of carbon is released by rivers and streams that cover approximately 241,000 square miles of the Earth. On the other hand, lakes and reservoirs that cover around 1,200,000 square miles release only 0.32giga tons of carbon.

A report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows that rivers and streams are the source of at least 10 percent human-caused nitrous oxide emissions to the atmosphere. This is three times the amount estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The release of nitrous oxide in streams is because of the nitrogen released into the environment by human activities such as fertilizer use and sewage discharge. Fossil fuel combustion and intensive agriculture have also increased the availability of nitrogen in the environment.

Nitrates are present in many fertilizers and are easily transported by water flow into streams and from there to the sea. A major part of the nitrogen from fertilizers is transported is transported into rivers and streams where it is converted to nitrous oxide which is a potent greenhouse gas. Each molecule of nitrous oxide has 300 times the warming potential of a CO2 molecule. The atmospheric nitrous oxide is responsible for 6% of climate change and is the major source of destruction of the ozone layer. The research shows that rivers and streams are responsible for at least 10% of anthropogenic N2O output which is equivalent to 0.6% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Decreasing the use of factory-produced nitrogen fertilizers is the best way to reduce nitrous oxide in rivers. The efficiency of nitrogen uptake by plants can be increased by farmers by adjusting the timing and frequency of fertilizer application or by changing the kind of fertilizer being used.

Raise Funds for a Cause and be a Helping Hand

Earth Girl- Blog- XVIII- 16 Jan 2014Every time you read the newspaper, you are assaulted by one or the other disheartening news. Other than feeling sad and showing sympathy, there is something concrete you may be able to do. You may decide on a cause you want to fight for, and start raising money for it. The question is – How? Raising money for a cause can be challenging as funds are tight for everyone today.

Let me introduce you with some creative ideas that might help you bring in money for your good cause.

  • Everything today can be recycled and used again in some form or the other. You can spread the word out to your friends, neighbors and relatives that you will be collecting old electronics and other recyclable items for charity and cod them. Retailers and recycling stores offer money in exchange for items such as cell phones, printer cartridges, bottles and cans. You can then donate the collected cash to your favorite charity.
  • You can participate in a charitable walk or run and request sponsors to donate in support of your efforts. Such events have increasingly been successful for charities over the years.
  • Another good idea can be online fund raising that helps you to reach more people and raise more money. You can easily create and run an effective online fund-raising campaign.
  • You can always host a party and gather friends and family and ask all guests to make a donation for your cause.
  • If you’re a kid, you can get permission from your school and place money collection boxes at spots that are easily noticeable. Also add a small sign so that people know what they are contributing for.

If there is any cause near and dear to your heart, I am sure that you’ll do just about anything to lend a helping hand. The only thing you need to remember is that the more people you reach, the bigger a difference you can make. Gather your friends and family and as many people as you can for taking a step towards the betterment of the society.

Smart Phones Affecting the Youth from All Sides

NHT- Blog- XXXIV- 28 January 2014Mobile phones are another revolutionary invention of our times, besides computer and Internet technologies. However, excessive use of cellphone is having negative effects on youth. The researchers have found that excessive use of cell phones by college students is a cause for poorer academic performance, anxiety and unhappiness.

Here are some of the side-effects of mobile phone use in kids:

Cell phones disturb the studies of students during class or lecture. It is noticed that often students are busy texting during class. They become sleep-deprived and lack concentration during school hours.

Small texts and bright screens strain the eyes of the child. Since these devices are designed for reading at close range, the eyes must constantly refocus and reposition to process the graphics and text on screen. Symptoms of digital eye strain that include eye redness or irritation, dry eyes, blurred vision, back pain, neck pain and headaches are often seen in the youth.

Another effect of cell phone is that the youngsters are now far from away from their families. They don’t have time for their families.

It causes disruption in learning, whether it is at home while doing homework, or during class time. A ‘conversation’ starts with an incoming message as kids are not able to exercise strong self-control.

Another problem with cell phones is the peer to peer interaction that goes on daily. Sexting is not uncommon in the society where mobile users transmit and share inappropriate or images among friends, including those of violent or sexual nature. Mobile phones are used as a viral communication tool to send a message to a large number of contacts at once.

Besides the academic performance and nature of students, mobile phones also adversely affect their health. Not only they carry important data, but germs too. Most of the mobile phone users put their phone in places where it can pick up germs. The bacteria might remain confined to the skin, or burrow deeper into the body and cause infections in bones, joints, surgical wounds, heart valves and lungs.

Maternal Depression Affecting Infants

NHT- Blog- XXXV- 29 January 2014A recent study led by Dr. Anqi Qiu and colleagues at the National University of Singapore found that depression among pregnant women may have an impact on their developing babies. The impact of maternal depression is not restricted to infancy, but can also extend into toddlerhood, preschool age, and even school age children. Maternal depression triggers the same brain change in the children that are at an increased risk of developing depression themselves.

Structural MRI imaging was used by researchers on infants to evaluate the size of the amygdalae. The study showed that a tendency for abnormal amygdala function was transmitted from mother to child during fetal life. The study also suggested that maternal depression contributes to a life-long increase in the vulnerability to mental illness in children.

Such children show changes in the amygdala which is an important brain structure responsible for the regulation of emotion and stress. They experience a greater probability of problems with behavior, cognitive development and mental health. In certain cases, children are either born too early or with more complications even before delivery.

Depression damages the interactions between parents and children. Children with a depressed parent themselves develop symptoms of depression, along with other psychiatric problems and behavior issues.

The researchers believe that mental health screening should be included with the medical evaluations that women undergo when they discover that they are pregnant. Mothers who recovered from major depression gave birth to children that experienced significantly decreased symptoms and diagnosis of mental illness. Successful treatment of a depressed mother has a rapid effect on a child’s mental health.

The research shows that untreated maternal depression has potentially negative effects on the developing fetus. Many people think that depression should not be treated during pregnancy. Contrary to this, attention to maternal physical and mental health is an extremely high priority. The risk is reduced to a great extent by systematic screening of pregnant women for depression and initiating effective treatment.

Tribal Knowledge to Help US Battle Against Climate Changes

Blog1-NativeTribesThe way they farm, forest, hunt, manage land and water is commendable. I am talking about none other than New England’s native tribes whose sustainable ways of dealing with nature were destroyed by European colonists a few centuries ago. Now, the same ways have proved to be helpful in making modern America adapt to climate change, says a research.

This is for the first time when scientists reviewed effect of climate changes on native tribes and their response to these changes. The research has come out in the form of a special journal titled, ‘Climatic Change’. This contains 13 articles and all of them are based on tribes’ traditional knowledge on ecology. The study focuses on how these traditional ways can help in bringing out a scientific solution which would help people adapt to climatic changes.

One of the articles in the journal said that New England settlers created a series of environmental and human changes that spread across North America giving rise to human diseases, invasive species, deforestation and over harvesting. The research also identified social and ecological factors that lead to environmental changes. It was seen that before the arrival of Europeans, the colonists, the deciduous forests in the area were biodiversity rich and more than 80 percent of New England was covered with them. The natives were devoted to preserving these resources and carried the same practice for years.

But the indigenous communities were attacked by diseases and they gradually estranged their known environments. This led to the disappearance of local ecological knowledge and land tenure innovations. The ecological degradation that was caused by New Englanders was without the consent of indigenous land managers and way beyond repair.

The research concludes on the note that today’s tribal members who are still close to nature like fishermen, land managers and farmers may play a great role in invention of scientific strategies that help adapt to climate changes in the United States.