Archive | May 2011

A Letter to Dear Mother Nature

Oh Dear Mother Nature

Where do I begin to explain?

Your splendor, magnificence and your pain

Your beauty is one of a kind,

As you light up the day and the night,

From the highs of Mt. Everest, to the oceans beneath,

You have shown your true self in the diversity within,

The plants tell of your tale, from the seed that flowers and blooms,

To the unique aroma of flowers and herbs,

To the clean simplicity of fresh growing grass,

And to the grace and speed of birds and animals,

The lightning and thunder tell of your forces and your rage,

As you whisper in my ear through the changing winds,

As I feel the sense, gentleness and force of the breeze,

the heat of the sun and the cool of snow,

How I long for the silence, the harmony & the peaceful distraction

From this noisy world’s cares and troubles,

A life beyond thought is what you offer,

How I wish I could escape , relax & be carried away,

To the joys and Wonders of Nature,

To discover the mystery that lies deep,

With which you inspire & motivate,

You are a perfect orchestration; every day a true masterpiece

Your beauty is ever changing, ever inviting,

A stunning backdrop creating heaven on earth

Yours Truly,

Vella K.A, The Natural Traveler

Bio-mimicry at its Best!

Bio-mimicry is a term that refers to ways in which human beings use ideas derived from nature in order to come up with environmental friendly and sustainable solutions to the different challenges that we face in the world today.

And so today I thought I should share with you one of the projects that has REALLY  inspired me.

Harvesting Water out of Thin Air

In Africa, a large percentage of women and children are walking long distances and spend most of their time in search of what has now come to be known as the blue gold-Water.  More than 300 million people in Africa lack clean water. What really breaks my heart is that even after all this, the kind of water collected is murky, muddy and very polluted….water that is unsuitable for human consumption. Their health is endangered by micro-organisms in the water. Babies are often sickened when women must mix infant formula using the dirty water.

This situation has driven an MIT graduate student is to work to make water available for the world’s poor by refining the tools and techniques of fog harvesting.

His idea was inspired by a beetle found in the Namibian Desert on the west coast of Africa. This beetle, whose scientific name is Stenocara gracilipes  has found a distinctive way of surviving. When the morning fog rolls in, the Namib Beetle, collects water droplets on its bumpy back, then lets the moisture roll down into its mouth, allowing it to drink in an area devoid of flowing water.
What nature has developed, Shreerang Chhatre wants to refine, to help the world’s poor. Chhatre is an engineer and aspiring entrepreneur at MIT who works on fog harvesting, the deployment of devices that, like the beetle, attract water droplets and corral the runoff. This way, poor villagers could collect clean water near their homes, instead of spending hours carrying water from distant wells or streams. In pursuing the technical and financial sides of his project, Chhatre is simultaneously a doctoral candidate in chemical engineering at MIT; an MBA student at the MIT Sloan School of Management; and a fellow at MIT’s Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship.

Access to water is a pressing global issue: the World Health Organization and UNICEF estimate that nearly 900 million people worldwide live without safe drinking water. The burden of finding and transporting that water falls heavily on women and children. “As a middle-class person, I think it’s terrible that the poor have to spend hours a day walking just to obtain a basic necessity,” Chhatre says.

A fog-harvesting device consists of a fence-like mesh panel, which attracts droplets, connected to receptacles into which water drips. Chhatre has co-authored published papers on the materials used in these devices, and believes he has improved their efficacy. “The technical component of my research is done,” Chhatre says. He is pursuing his work at MIT Sloan and the Legatum Center in order to develop a workable business plan for implementing fog-harvesting devices.

Read Full Story

Green Quotes!

Only when the last tree has been cut down,
Only when the last river has been poisoned,
Only when the last fish has been caught,
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

Cree Indian Prophecy

Merging Art with Nature

One of the most common ways in which people use to express their feelings and thoughts is through Art. There are various forms of art in which one can choose to express him/herself and this includes music, performing arts like acting and acrobatics, through graffiti, and even through drawing and creating  pieces of art images.

Environmentalists have now decided to take the knowledge of nature to another new and exciting level, Environmental Art.

Environmental Art is one of the-not so widely known-forms of expressing oneself. It offers an opportunity for one to reflect, meditate and get inspiration from the beautiful and natural art surroundings, and this is what we has come to be termed as interactive observation.

Environmental art first emerged in the 1960’s in response to the environmental movement and the quest for a green revolution. It is now one of the best ways of enhancing our relationship with nature, understanding how the environment works and also helps in reclaiming damaged environments. It helps us to be appreciative of nature and its diversity.

Environmental art can be in exist in various forms. It can be made from recycled objects, or it can be in form of land art.

Gas Station made from Recycled Materials

One way in which one can decide to best portray environmental art and especially Environmental Land Art during events such as weddings, where landscaping is done in such a way as to create shapes of different wild animals and objects.

Fatal Quest for Self Destruction

We human beings are not responsible for our existence. By the time we become self conscious we are already many years old. Likewise, human kind became conscious of its existence in the world many millennia after the world had been in existence. The world we find ourselves in is not our own; we are a tiny part of it. Other creatures and inanimate things are as much as part of the world as we ourselves. It is an error on our part as creatures to conduct ourselves in this world as if we, members of this generation, are the only creatures that matter, and we are the owners of the world.

We are in a serious ecological crisis, a crisis into which we have plunged ourselves. The intelligence with which we human beings are endowed has turned us into careless plunderers of the fruits of creation. Human kind is on the verge of self destruction through technological inventions and innovations that undermine rather than enhance the various components of creation that make life on earth possible.

First came the World War 1 (1914-1918) which was followed by the World War 11 (1939-1945). Both wars paint a grim picture of what all this meant to man and his environment. Missiles were launched, bombs detonated, grenades set and machine guns used to kill men in massive numbers. The environment suffered too. Though silently destroyed, it did regenerate as the rule of nature dictated. So much time has elapsed and this war has evolved to what is now known as terrorism. Enmity between nations over resources, religion, race and tribe has generated a new wave of dreaded fear among the peoples.

And though overlooked, death has penetrated the agricultural sector. In ancient times, man obtained his food through hunting wild game and gathering plant materials. His population was low and his activities had little impact upon the environment. Though farming is being practiced all over and especially in the rural areas, hunger has still been on the rise for the last decade. And important as it is, man is losing interest in the sector which is now being commercialised as a business venture. Among the factors that determine access to food by man is money.

A wealthy person has access to lots of foodstuffs, gets fatter and fatter by the day, becomes vulnerable to all sorts of diseases, has access to quality medical services and solves the ‘obese’ issue by getting access to a local gym in order to fit into societal size eight requirements. Always on the scale curious on whether the ‘appropriate’ size has been reached. On the other side of the world is a very poor person so poor that even access to food becomes a huge struggle day in day out. Some even die because of lack of it. Over-reliance for food donations here becomes the norm, and wrinkled skin, weak and a lesser than eight body sizes is what they’ve got to show for it. While this is happening, poverty is driving man to clear forests to get firewood, practise poor farming methods to over-cultivate his land in an attempt to increase food production. The result? Well, you guessed it right-desertification.

The industrial agribusiness sector has become the main consumer of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, herbicides and worse still, the 12 most dangerous chemicals. Both sides of the coin have negatively impacted the environment. With the current advancement in science and technology as well as the continuous increase in population, we are producing so much waste that the environment is almost becoming over-saturated. Over-consumption has led to a massive waste problem on open spaces. Landfills are already filled up, our rivers and lakes have become centres of pollution. In an attempt to solve this situation, some have even gone to the extent of dumping such toxic waste in the deep oceans. And while urbanisation is growing faster by the day, taller buildings, sky scrapers, expansion of road, communication infrastructure, traffic jams are occupying everywhere. Land pollution, water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution, what more has man left to pollute?
This has spelt doom for the aquatic life beneath. Small and big animals, microscopic and macroscopic plants, all have been endangered. Some animals have been forced to relocate as the quest for survival continues. The land animals and plants have not been spared either; wild animals have been sought after in the national parks, national reserves and in other unprotected wild environs and killed for their products such as their skin, hide and tusks. Wild plants have been choked up to death by invasive plants or overexploited for sale as medicinal or for beauty.

While the quest for more energy led to the industrial revolution which has brought about so many different innovations and inventions, the result of this has turned out to be the biggest threat for man’s survival here on earth. Forests are disappearing, and fast. Pristine mountain tops are being stripped of coal in an attempt to speed up the industrialization process which has become the top most priority for all nations as the atmosphere becomes choked up with GHG.

There is much to be done to turn the tide on the decline of the environment. The challenge now is for the African governments, institutions, organizations and the general public to awaken to the realities of just how fragile our earth actually is.