Environment:

 

 

Marine Sanctuaries New Green Games Environmental Chemical Effects Young Artists Revitalize A City Environmental Ambassadors Healthy, Smart Sustainable Living Protecting Your Crops Agriculture Technology

The Ocean Does A Million Things For You. Here's What You Can Do For It.

(NAPSI)—Whether you live in Kansas or on Kauai, the ocean affects your life.

Covering more than 70 percent of the planet, the ocean is a vital source of life on Earth. Every other breath you take originates from the ocean. Weather patterns and climate are influenced by its currents. Seafood provides 13−16 percent of the world's protein.

Human beings depend on the ocean for a wealth of goods and services, yet, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), pollution, climate change and overfishing are diminishing the ability of the ocean to provide many of these benefits into the future.

"The ocean is our planet's life support system, and its health is waning," says Daniel J. Basta, director, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. "We all have a stake in ensuring its health. Recovery starts with our personal actions every day."

Here's what you can do:

Clean up your act. Motor oil, antifreeze, toxic chemicals (including household cleaners), paints and pesticides that run off from yards and pavement frequently make their way to sea. Properly dispose of, or recycle, these products to avoid being a source of this pollution.

Don't trash where you splash. Millions of pounds of trash and debris end up in the ocean every year. A variety of this debris, including cigarette butts, glass bottles and plastics, injure and kill marine life. Keep our waters clean! Practice your 3 R's (reduce, reuse, recycle) to keep trash off the streets and out of the ocean.

Conserve energy. The burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation releases harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that affects ocean life. Biking, buying products made or grown locally, riding mass transit, drinking tap water and using alternative sources of energy are ways to reduce your impact on the environment.

Eat sustainable seafood. Many of the large fish we enjoy eating are fished at levels that can't be sustained. By making informed decisions about the seafood you eat, you're supporting healthy, abundant oceans.

Volunteer. Lend your time to support research, education and outreach at places that work to protect coastal and marine habitats, such as National Marine Sanctuaries.

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Eco Apps Celebrate Earth Day Every Day

(NAPSI)—Anyone with a smart-phone or tablet can have a "green" thumb—and index finger. Online app stores continue to add new, eco-themed apps that turn our mobile devices into portals for environmental education, sustainable products and entertainment. Among the newest are green games that both kids and adults can feel good about playing. From fun to informative, the following are five of the best eco apps available on iTunes:

This Game Cleans Up

Whirleo, the first game developed in conjunction with global eco-charity 1% for the Planet, lets players control colorful, spinning tops on planet Rotopolis. As they travel, each Whirleo cleans up pollutants released by the begrimed Guzzler. Players swipe and tilt their touch-based smartphones and tablets to make tops whirl across land, sky and water. They locate hidden power-ups, discover magical crystals, solve puzzles and unlock new characters while learning about environmental issues. The first seven levels are free. Unlock the full version for $0.99.

Three Wishes for a Green Life

Green Genie is a complete guide to the sustainable lifestyle. Developed in collaboration with a LEED-accredited professional and a professional sustainability consultant, this app is more than green tips; it is a massive collection of green projects and resources. Green Genie shows users how to reduce their impact and save money doing it. $0.99.

Bright Idea that Saves Energy

Light Bulb Finder helps users switch from standard incandescent to energy-efficient lightbulbs. With simple inputs about bulb and fixture types, the app recommends energy-saving bulbs with the right light quality, fit and style. For each recommendation, Light Bulb Finder calculates financial payback and environmental impact. Energy-saving bulbs can be purchased via the app or at local stores. Free.

Another Man's Treasure

Yoink is a fast and easy way to find or give away things close to you. Got a couch that needs a new home? Want a TV for the spare room? Browse the interactive map and be the first to "Yoink" the stuff you want. The first person to Yoink it, gets it, with no bidding, no waiting and no fuss. This free service lets you privately message the giver to organize pickup. Free.

Guided by Goodness

GoodGuide is the world's largest source of information about the health, social and environmental impacts of products and companies. A team of chemists, toxicologists, nutritionists, sociologists and environmental life-cycle analysts rated over 150,000 consumer products. Bar-code scanning reveals how a product scores on a scale of 0−10 and suggests better alternatives. Free.

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A Dash Of This And A Pinch Of That

(NAPSI)—We have all experienced it. You are at your favorite restaurant anticipating a great meal, but when you take your first taste, you realize something isn’t right. The chef was in a hurry and left out one of the key seasonings—salt. You reach for the salt-shaker and sprinkle on some to adjust the taste to your liking. Or maybe you’ve had the opposite experience. Your meal arrives and it is way too salty so you send it back.

Whether you knew it or not, the simple act of adjusting the seasoning is similar to what toxicologists routinely do—determining the right amount of an ingredient or chemical to use and predicting the effects of chemicals based on how much is used. Too little and it doesn’t do what it is intended to do. Too much and it is unpleasant or potentially harmful.

This simple experiment also dictates the way we use chemicals in every aspect of our life, from the vitamins and drugs we take to maintain or improve our health, to the use of preservatives to prevent spoilage in food we eat or products we use.

Understanding how the chemical is used is important but understanding the response is crucial. The question we need to ask about how much salt is too much is related to health effects, so measuring changes in blood pressure with increasing amounts of salt used may be the more critical thing to test. In each case, we are looking to relate the amount we used with the effects we experience in an attempt to find the right balance.

The use of dose-response can also be used to predict effects on the environment. The amount of exhaust from the car you drive makes a difference in the concentration in the air in the community. In an urban setting, the number of cars is much greater and the concentration of automobile exhaust in the air would be expected to increase. If levels of exhaust in the air get too high, it becomes unpleasant and possibly unhealthy. The amount released and the effect on air quality is predicted based on the number of cars in an area (dose) and the health effects observed (response) and is used by government agencies such as the EPA to set community air quality standards.

Both the dose and response are critical for this concept to be useful. Knowing how much we used without knowing the effect does us no good and knowing effects without knowing the amount that caused the effect is likewise not useful. However, together, these two elements provide us all with a powerful tool for making decisions that impact our health and environment.

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Young Artists Help Revitalize Their City

(NAPSI)—When thinking of Detroit today, images of abandoned buildings and urban decay may come to mind. That’s what many folks think Detroit has become in the face of escalating unemployment, rising poverty and increasing crime. But there is a growing community of creative individuals who are undaunted by the stereotypes and are banding together to revitalize this once-great city.

By moving back into the city and taking advantage of inexpensive living spaces, they support restaurants and retailers while creating an inviting vibe in what was once a nearly abandoned urban center.

Just look at 22-year-old Veronika Scott, a graduate of the design program at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. Today, she’s running a nonprofit company based in Detroit that produces innovative, self-heating coats that transform into waterproof sleeping bags. She calls it “The Empowerment Plan” and hopes to produce 1,000 coats in 2012. The Empowerment Plan provides homeless with skills they need to earn a living, creating the coats needed to survive the winter.

Another CCS graduate, Kobie Solomon, 33, is also doing his part to bring vibrancy back to downtown Detroit. Kobie is a celebrated graffiti artist who combines his formal training as a fine artist with his passion for “aerosol art” with stunning results that have earned him commissions from a variety of clients, including Reebok, T-Mobile and General Motors. He recently completed the largest single graffiti mural in Detroit’s history at the Russell Industrial Center, a former auto factory turned into a professional center for commercial and creative arts.

And then there’s the young, talented musician Sean Forbes, who is deaf. His mission is to build a bridge between the music industry and deaf people. He grew up in Detroit, experiencing great music in his own way. Now, he is the co-founder of D-PAN, the Deaf Professional Arts Network, a non-profit organization that focuses on translating popular artists’ songs into American Sign Language music videos. His enthusiasm has captured the attention of actress Marlee Matlin, who appeared in a music video with him, and Jack White and Bob Dylan, who have both donated songs for D-PAN’s use.

These three entrepreneurial artists are being featured in a new three-part television series airing on Ovation in June called “Motor City Rising.” The series features many others who are using art and creativity to make a difference.

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 Youth Stepping Up As Environmental Ambassadors

(NAPSI)—When it comes to protecting the environment, the younger generation’s involvement is sometimes limited to recycling paper and picking up trash. At 4-H, however, youth are tapping into their math, science, engineering and leadership skills to make a positive impact on their environment.

Birch Run High School in Saginaw County, Mich., was paying to remove the used cooking oil from the cafeteria without any thought as to how it could be reused.

Five teens in the school’s 4-H Club came up with a plan to collect the used cooking oil and turn it into bio-diesel fuel that could run some of their school buses.

The community joined in by donating its used cooking oil and the program now has 2,500 gallons of used vegetable oil to turn into bio-diesel fuel.

In San Leandro, Calif., another group of 4-H’ers decided to reduce its community’s environmental footprint. Californians use hundreds of thousands of tons of polystyrene each year for packaging food, which accounts for a large percentage of the litter recovered from storm drains.

By educating restaurants, consumers and public officials about the negative effects of using non-biodegradable plastics, the 4-H’ers convinced the community to use alternative products.

Across the country in Oxford County, Maine, 200 students at the 4-H Camp & Learning Center are building underwater robots to identify milfoil—a weedlike substance that grows in fresh water. As an invasive species in the region’s 11 lakes and ponds, milfoil can prevent fishing and swimming, and contaminates clean drinking water.

The 4-H’ers use a video camera and GPS technology to identify the milfoil, so they can deal with the problem.

These 4-H’ers also do their part to educate the public about the environmental dangers of not cleaning off boats properly-the leading cause of milfoil buildup.

According to The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, conducted by Tufts University, compared to their peers, youth in 4-H are nearly two times more likely to plan to go to college, are three times more likely to contribute to their communities, and are more likely to pursue studies or a career in science, engineering or computer technology.

4-H’s positive youth development programs are developed by the nation’s 111 land-grant universities, and provide young people with first-hand experiences in learning how to limit humanity’s impact on the environment. By taking part, youth are prepared to make a difference. For more information, visit www.4-h.org.

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Healthy, Money-Smart, Sustainable Living

(NAPSI)—Small decisions can make a big difference over time on your carbon footprint, and some of the “greenest” decisions you can make begin at home.

Fortunately, there are several easy, affordable ways to lead a greener lifestyle at home.

1. Get some fresh air. From the cleaning supplies you use to the off-gassing of new furniture, carpet and paint, your home carries airborne toxins that can cause health problems if they become trapped and increase in density. Counteract this by bringing fresh air inside.

Your green action: Intermittently open windows on opposite sides of a house to encourage a cross-breeze. In a two-story house, open a window downstairs and a window upstairs. As warm air rises, it will exit the top-floor window. In places like kitchens and bathrooms, where moisture can accumulate and trigger mold growth if left unaddressed, spot ventilation can be achieved with exhaust fans. It’s also important in rooms with gas appliances to offset carbon monoxide. Exhaust fans can be noisy. Look for those rated 2.0 sones or less.

2. You hold the power. Being money smart may mean rethinking the way you use gas and electricity in the home.

Your green action: Take care of your appliances for maximum energy efficiency. Plugged-in appliances consume energy even when they are turned off or in standby mode. This phantom load, particularly from power adapters, computers and TVs, can account for as much as 10 percent of your home’s energy consumption. Place power strips throughout the house and shut down power at the outlet versus on the appliance.

Also, make sure your appliances are operating at maximum efficiency. Clean your dryer’s lint trap after every load and scrub it with an old toothbrush once a month to get rid of the film left behind by dryer sheets. Clean your refrigerator coils, which can accumulate dust, at least once a year. Pull the refrigerator away from the wall and unplug it. Then remove the cover panel on the back to expose the coils and use a long-handled brush or handheld vacuum to remove dust.

3. Be water wise. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a family of four in the United States uses about 400 gallons of water daily--70 percent of which is for indoor use.

Your green action: Install low-flow plumbing fixtures. High-efficiency clothes washers and dishwashers are ideal but they can be expensive. An alternative is installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. A low-flow showerhead can save a household up to 2,300 gallons of water a year. A faucet aerator attaches to the end of a faucet and slows the water flow, while adding air to maintain water pressure. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends aerators with a maximum flow rate of one gallon per minute.

Learn More

You can find more good energy- and money-saving ideas from the Keller Williams Realty guidebook Green Your Home: Healthy, Money-Smart, and Sustainable Living Begins at Home online at KellerInk.com or Facebook.com/GreenYourHome.

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Farm To Table: Protecting Your Crops

(NAPSI)—You may not think of farming as a gamble, but farmers know all about taking risks. Minimizing those risks is essential to a farm’s survival, and the growing need for some crops means farmers must maximize their yields to stay competitive.

Fortunately, a better understanding of risk management can give farmers a greater edge in the high-stakes, high-reward world of modern agriculture.

Corn prices have recently seen record highs, while demand for soybeans continues to grow. The United Soybean Board points out that global consumption of soybeans is projected to increase by 70 to 80 million tons annually during the next decade.

U.S. farmers are the world’s top producers of corn and soybeans. As droughts affect other soybean-producing countries such as Brazil and Argentina, the challenge facing growers in the U.S. is a familiar one: How will they manage their crops and maximize yields to take advantage of international demand?

Multiyear research conducted by BASF and university partners shows growers can significantly improve production with the right management plan. A comprehensive pest management plan includes:

• Herbicides to control yield- robbing weeds;

• Fungicides to protect against diseases that crops are susceptible to because of unpredictable weather conditions;

• Insecticides to protect crops from damaging insect pests.

According to the research, using a complete pest management program in corn led to an average 11.7 bushels per acre increase over the common approach that involves applying a mix containing a popular herbicide, atrazine.

Researchers took this yield increase and, based on the commodity prices for the years when research was conducted, calculated a revenue increase. Weighing that against the cost of the comprehensive pest management program, the return on investment (ROI) was $2.70 for each $1 invested over the common approach.

In soybeans, the research found that a complete pest management program led to an average 6.8 bushels per acre increase over a common approach that involves a simple application of the herbicide glyphosate.

During one year of the soybean studies, researchers found an ROI as high as $3.47 for every $1 invested over the common approach—well above farmers’ common goal of $2 returned for every $1 invested.

For more information, contact an authorized BASF retailer and visit GrowersAdvantage.basf.us.

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Using Technology To Meet Global Demands

(NAPSI)—Understanding and employing new-age technology is proving crucial for agriculture to continue to advance and meet the growing global demands so future generations can enjoy food security.

Modern science can identify key traits of a plant to breed improved varieties with the highest possible yield and generate new and cost-effective production methods. In other instances, genetic modification can be used to achieve traits such as disease resistance or herbicide tolerance.

Today’s agriculture has a difficult task at hand: to feed an evergrowing population. Luckily, agriculture is armed with cutting-edge technology, helping farmers and industry professionals meet the rising demand for food. Farmers now walk through fields planted with drought-resistant corn, holding smartphones equipped with weed identification apps, using all forms of technology to grow more from less.

Within the past decade, the number of farms with Internet connection has increased by 20 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farmers are using the Internet to get up-to-date information on commodity pricing, connect with other professionals via social media networks and broaden their agriculture knowledge.

Farmers now take the Internet directly out to the field. Smartphone use among ag retailers was up 25 percent in 2010, allowing farmers to stand amongst their crop and look up images of pests or diseased plants, access the most recent commodity pricing to better negotiate, or receive storm updates before the clouds roll in. GPS systems allow farmers to deliver tailored inputs for crops on a field-by- field or even row-by-row need.

Weather continues to be a factor in crop yield and farm productivity. Last year in Texas alone, drought led to a record $5.2 billion agricultural loss. Syngenta and other seed companies have developed drought-tolerant corn seed to prevent such loss. Using new technologies like drought-tolerant seed is an important frontier for producers as they strive to improve yields and keep up with global demand. The global population is set to reach 9 billion by 2050, meaning farmers need to achieve at least a 70 percent increase in food production. Losing yield due to weather or other challenges is no longer an option.

Bringing plant potential to life is how the firm focuses on helping to feed the world. The company invests more than $1 billion a year in research and development projects.

Syngenta scientists have also contributed to Golden Rice; rice that has been genetically engineered to contain beta-carotene and other carotenoids. When consumed, the carotenoids are converted into provitamin A. Once approved for general distribution, Golden Rice is expected to contribute significantly to an effective, inexpensive and simple solution to vitamin A deficiency, a major global health problem caused by impoverished diets.

The company’s scientists are helping to meet growers’ needs by developing new ways to increase crop yields, help crops resist diseases and insects, increase quality and meet consumer demands.

Helping farmers grow more from less while preserving land and water is vital for future food security.

 

Note to Editors: ©2012 Syngenta. Important: Always read and follow all bag tag and label instructions before buying or using Syngenta products. The instructions contain important conditions of sale, including limitations of warranty and remedy. The Syngenta logo is a registered trademark of a Syngenta Group Company.

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