In last weeks lecture, we were introduced to the resources of the world and how only 16% of the world produces resources. But what was even more suprising was the fact that there was water resources found in the Sahara Desert. This is the largest desert in the world. A hostile but exceedingly beautiful realm roughly the size of Canada.
A team of scientists from the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and the University of Bremen studied marine sediments covering nearly 200,000 years collected from the seafloor off the coast of Guinea in West Africa. Strong off-shore winds transport large volumes of dust from the Sahara and Sahel to the study area.
The researchers also looked for the causes of these major climate shifts to much wetter conditions in the Sahara and found that they were indirectly related to an increase in the strength of the major current system.
Vegetation on the desert
There is rumours of the Sahara Forest Project, this is the proposal to combine two innovative technologies, Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and Seawater Greenhouses, to produce renewable energy, water and food in an area of desert known to be one of the hottest places on earth.
In last weeks lecture, we were introduced to a Twig that is capable of maintaining teeth. The miswak or siwak is a teeth-cleaning twig taken from the Salvadora persica tree known as arak in Arabic. It is a small tree with a curved trunk and splintered bark, Salvadora persica has fibrous branches used as toothbrushes and are known for their pleasant fragrance and a pungent taste. The tree has long elliptic leaves and have greenish to yellowish flowers, which are very small, and round fleshy pink and scarlet fruits. Tolerable to very dry environments, the tree grows in abundance in deserts as well as by river banks and in wet areas.
A 2003 scientific study comparing the use of miswak with ordinary toothbrushing concluded that the results clearly were in favor of the users who had been using the miswak provided they had been given proper instruction in how to brush using the miswak. There is also a toothpaste made from miswak extract that can be purchased in the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe and North America. a turely sustainable way of oral hygiene and has not been introduced to most of the industrialised world.
In last weeks lecture, we were introduced to Foxconn. Before last week I had never heard of this factory and was astounded to hear that this was the backbone of the multi-corporation Apple. As you know, Apple is one of the wealthiest tech companies in the world. There logo is known on every corner of the globe.
It is the largest publicly traded company in the world by market capitalization, overtopping ExxonMobil by some $150 billion, as well as the largest technology company in the world by revenue and profit, worth more than Google and Microsoft combined. It produces some of the worlds most loved technology.
Foxconn have been proved to of the long working hours, discrimination against mainland Chinese workers by their Taiwanese co-workers and lack of working relationships at the company. Things were so bad there that the issue of committing suicide arouse. In reaction to a spate of worker suicides where fourteen died in 2010, a report by twenty Chinese universities described Foxconn factories as labour camps and detailed widespread worker abuse and illegal overtime. In response to the suicides, Foxconn installed suicide-prevention netting at some facilities.
In last weeks lecture, we were intoduced to the laws implemented on Turf Cutting. Ireland is rightly famous for its bogs with an estimated 16% of our land area under peat. Boglands are a part of our culture and heritage, and are home to a unique array of plants and animals. Not only are they amazing habitats but they help to alleviate the effects of climate change by locking away carbon; they act as enormous sponges, storing water and so preventing flooding during heavy rain; and they purify our water, helping to provide our homes and business with a clean supply.
Turf Cutting was always part of Ireland’s indigenous way of life. It was like thatching or hurling, part of the ethos of people who, over generations, perfected the art of self-sufficiency. Practically every farmer had their own turf bank. Turf was dug from the bogs, dried and used as a fuel for domestic use. The turf was cut manually, that is by using a sleán (slane), a turf spade with an iron head and a long wooden shaft. With the introduction of the EU Habitats Directive, the government began to negotiate with the peat industry, particularly those businesses that were operating on designated sites. By 1999, agreements were made to cease industrial extraction on Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). Bord na Móna’s interest in all designated bogs were acquired by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), costing approximately ¤23 million for 7,000ha of land including 4,000ha uncut peatland within SACs. These negotiations were successful because of the low number of companies involved, the availability of funding and the willingness of the companies to avail of compensation. But Turf Cutters were having none of it and began a backlash at the government.
Across the areas affected turf cutters have come together to oppose this ban, with groups springing up in Laois, Sligo, Kerry, Galway, Roscommon, Mayo, and Kildare, under the umbrella of The Turf Cutters & Contractors Association (TCCA). The latter has seen a ground swell of support for the Kildare Turf Cutters Association, one of the most affected areas. By the end of 2013 the Irish state and the EU will have closed 130 bogs across Ireland designating these raised bogs as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). In effect they will prevent families and domestic turf cutters from cutting turf as they have done for hundreds of years. So will us Irish fight for our Heritage or drift even further from our Irish identity???
In last weeks lecture, we spoke about the Economic Growth in countries and Dubai became an interest to me. In 1966, oil was discovered in Dubai. The oil economy led to a massive influx of foreign workers, quickly expanding the city by 300% and bringing in international oil interests. The modern emirate of Dubai was created after the UK left the area in 1971.
Dubai in the 1950s.
On average per capita people live on over 1 million dollars in Dubai. It is a place in the sun for over a million of us who holiday there every year. It boasts a host of luxury apartments that has celebrities flocking. But behind the glitz and glamour of Dubai often lies a murky world of exploitation and an immigrant work force living on the breadline. Every evening, the hundreds of thousands of young men who build Dubai are bussed from their sites to a vast concrete wasteland an hour out of town, where they are quarantined away. Until a few years ago they were shuttled back and forth on cattle trucks, but the expats complained this was unsightly, so now they are shunted on small metal buses that function like greenhouses in the desert heat. They sweat like sponges being slowly wrung out.
Migrants live upto 10-12 to a room in “labour camps” in Dubai.
This clearly states the contrast between Economic Growth to Economic Development and G.D.P. to G.N.P. Our luxaries are other peoples nightmares.
The Dust Bowl a.k.a. the Dirty Thirties, was a ecological and human disaster that took place in the southwestern Great Plains region of the United States in the 1930’s. It was caused by misuse of land and years of sustained drought. Millions of hectares of farmland became useless, and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes.The following link describes what it was like. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2CiDaUYr90
This was the ultimate cause of the wind erosion and terrible dust storms that hit the Plains. There had never been dust storms like these in prior droughts. In the worst years of the 1930s on as many as a quarter of the days dust reduced visibility to less than a mile. More soil was lost by wind erosion than the Mississippi carried to the sea. Although the numbers are not known, hundreds if not thousands of Plains residents died from ‘dust pneumonia’, a euphemism for clogging of the lungs with dirt. The Grapes of Wrath: “And then the dispossessed were drawn west- from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico; from Nevada and Arkansas, families, tribes, dusted out, tractored out. Car-loads, caravans, homeless and hungry; twenty thousand and fifty thousand and a hundred thousand and two hundred thousand. They streamed over the mountains, hungry and restless – restless as ants, scurrying to find work to do – to lift, to push, to pull, to pick, to cut – anything, any burden to bear, for food. The kids are hungry. We got no place to live. Like ants scurrying for work, for food, and most of all for land.”
In last weeks lecture, we were shown the estimation graph of peak oil by Dr. M. King Hubbert. The late Dr. M. King Hubbert, geophysicist, is well known as a world authority on the estimation of energy resources and on the prediction of their patterns of discovery and depletion.
The 100 year period when most of the world’s oil is being discovered became known as “Hubbert’s Peak”. The peak stands in contrast to the hundreds of millions of years the oil deposits took to form. Hubbert’s methods predict a peak in world oil production less than five years away.The present chaos in energy prices may, in fact, be the leading edge of an even more serious crisis. We all have to place our bets; doing nothing is equivalent to betting against Hubbert.
“Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know.”
M. King Hubbert
In last Thursday lecture, as we were discussing the rise in climate change we came across the subject of Methane Hydrates.Methane hydrates (also called clathrates) are bubbles of methane gas trapped in a cage of ice crystals. Methane hydrate deposits occur in locations all over the world. The most concentrated deposits occur under the Arctic Ocean, under the ocean floor on most continental shelves, in locations like the Gulf of Mexico, the Bermuda Triangle, the Dragon’s Triangle south of Japan, and in permafrost surrounding the Arctic ocean. It is reliably estimated that the amount of methane trapped as hydrates globally exceeds by many times the total combined oil, coal and natural gas reserves that have ever existed on earth.
Methane bound in hydrates amounts to approximately 3,000 times the volume of methane in the atmosphere. There is insufficient information to judge what geological processes might most affect the stability of hydrates in sediments and the possible release of methane into the atmosphere. Methane released as a result of landslides caused by a sea-level fall would warm the Earth, as would methane released from gas hydrates in Arctic sediments as they become warmed during a sea-level rise. This global warming might counteract cooling trends and thereby stabilize climatic fluctuation, or it could exacerbate climatic warming and thereby destabilize the climate.
Catastrophic releases of methane gas from hydrates (clathrates) have the potential to cause rapid climate changes. Today, methane hydrates are stored along continental margins where they are stabilized by water pressure and temperature. Methane hydrates may become unstable under influence of ocean warming or slope instability1-2. The estimated present-day reservoir of carbon stored in methane hydrates1,3 is about 10,000 Gt (giga ton), which is a substantial amount compared to 38,000 Gt carbon stored in the oceans, 2000 Gt in soils and plants, and 730 Gt in the atmosphere4 . This implies that instability of these hydrates and the subsequent release of methane gas into the atmosphere could potentially cause strong climatic warming and consistent natural disasters through an enhancement of the greenhouse effect.