Thursday, 10 July 2008

Reducing cow burping 'is key to tackling climate change'

Fun fieldwork for a team of Argentinan scientists who are measuring the levels of methane in cow belches in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Methane, produced by cows, is a more dangerous global warming gas than carbon dioxide. One of the world's biggest beef producers, Argentina has some 55 million heads of cattle grazing on the famed Pampas grasslands.
Scientists have strapped plastic tanks to the backs of cows in order to collect their belches and study their methane levels. The scientists say that as much as 30% of Argentina's greenhouse gases could come from cows, and hope this study will find a way to cut down on emissions by changing the diet and lifestyle of the animals. The grass that cows eat is hard to digest and broken down by bacteria in the animal's four stomachs. With no oxygen, the bacteria turn into methane. Most gas comes from the front, not rear, ends of the cows.(phew!!!) The average dairy cow in the UK belches out about 100 to 200 litres of methane each day. Pardon you.

School Geography. What’s it all about.

Thanks to Dan Raven Ellison for this one. Great movie making! Look at the list of jobs geography is useful for. Now tell me if geography is an anachronism. (Look it up Carrick kids!)

Pre-quake changes seen in rocks

Scientists have made an important advance in their efforts to predict earthquakes. A team of US researchers has detected changes in rocks that happened hours before tremors. They used sensors lowered down holes drilled into the quake zone.
Referring to the 12 May Sichuan quake, which claimed thousands of lives, Dr Niu told the BBC: "What happened in China was that a lot of children were killed in school in their class; so if we can predict earthquakes even by a few minutes, we can help then to evacuate the classroom."
Read the complete article from the BBC here.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Water or Blue Gold?

Nice article here in today’s Independent on this issue. Some of you have been hearing me for years about how important water is in the world and how the next big war will probably start over this. (Depressing stuff). Read this article and you’ll see what I mean.

Urban traffic control measures

Electronic bollards
Watch this video and see if you think these are a good idea or not.

How important is the Rainforest to the world?

Most people don’t realise just how important the rainforests are for ALL of us. Deforestation releases more CO2 into the atmosphere each year than all of the world's planes, trains and automobiles put together! The truth is that cutting down the rainforests for farming and grazing produces more CO2 than all the UK energy used in our homes. Each hectare of rainforest - roughly the size of two football pitches - an area almost the size of England and Wales is cut down every year releasing billions of tons of CO2 into the air. The destruction results in millions of people being made homeless while causing animals and plants to be extinct. Read the whole Telegraph article here.
Go also to the Rainforest Foundation site here for some interesting photos.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Life in a Slum

Sanitation in Ethiopia's capital city- Addis Ababa leaves a lot to be desired - and it is the poor who are most at risk. The World Health Organization estimates that 64% of people in Ethiopia have to do the toilet outdoors. People need to be educated on how to take good care of the water they fetch to avoid contamination. The UN has declared 2008 the International Year of Sanitation. When will things improve? How? What an we do? Read the BBC article here. Also have a look at previous posts on this including one comment that gives you an additional site to access. All good reading.

Biofuel caused food crisis

Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% according to a World Bank report. Rising food prices have pushed 100m people worldwide below the poverty line, estimates the World Bank, and have sparked riots from Bangladesh to Egypt. Government ministers here have described higher food and fuel prices as "the first real economic crisis of globalisation". It argues that production of biofuels has distorted food markets in three main ways. First, it has diverted grain away from food for fuel, with over a third of US corn now used to produce ethanol and about half of vegetable oils in the EU going towards the production of biodiesel. Second, farmers have been encouraged to set land aside for biofuel production. Third, it has sparked financial speculation in grains, driving prices up higher. Supporters of biofuels argue that they are a greener alternative to relying on oil and other fossil fuels, but even that claim has been disputed by some experts. Read the complete Guardian article here.
Also of interest might be this page. The Independent also discusses this matter here.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Old Age

Nice site here on life expectancy and some of the problems of an ageing population . Thanks to Alan Parkinson for highlighting this one. Use the links to see the case studies and just browse. Good for Development and Health at Higher and Int 2 as well as good background reading for S Grade.
I like the bit about why women live longer. They haven’t put in my answer – “Superior intelligence!!!!” Yeh I know everyone is groaning. Notice I’m not apologising though.
Link here

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

India baby girl deaths 'increase'

The number of girls born and surviving in India has hit an all time low compared to boys. ActionAid suggested the increasing use of ultrasound technology may be a factor in the trend.
The document says that Indian woman are put under intense pressure to produce sons, in a culture that predominantly views girls as a burden rather than an asset.
It says many families now use ultrasound scans and abort female foetuses, despite the existence of the 1994 law banning abortion of girls because of this.

Plastic pollution in the ocean

Look at this video and find out how disgusting people really are!
Here’s the second one.
Thanks to Tony Cassidy for highlighting these.

To develop a quarry or not

Good video here stating arguments for and against this type of development. Who would you vote for and why? Would you think the same if you lived in the are or if you were unemployed?
Thanks to Miss Ellis for highlighting this one.

Japan wrestles with ageing problem

Each day Matsu Yamazaki goes out of her small house in Tokyo to walk through busy streets to work at her family's grocery shop.
It would be unremarkable except for the fact she is 103 years old!
Pensioner numbers growing
For Japan that is the problem - by 2055 the government is predicting pensioners will be around half the population.
The numbers of the very oldest are growing steeply and that means rising costs.
Just under a third of Japanese people over the age of 85 have Alzheimer's or some other kind of dementia, a very similar rate to the UK.
So the increase in the very oldest has created unprecedented pressures.
The growing proportion of the elderly are a significant political influence in Japan.
No party can afford to ignore their votes.
The dilemmas faced by Japan now lie ahead for all the major economies whose populations are also ageing.
A rapid growth in the very oldest can create a heavy burden for families, and a financial headache for governments.
Read the rest here. Watch the video on this page too. Sorry can’t download this one.