The popular adoption of small ideas can lead to big changes. Here’s one from the TED Talks.
Category Archives: Environment
“Every year, we produce about three hundred million tons of plastic…”
Stone Age, Bronze Age, Industrial Age – Now the Plastic Age is killing our oceans. 19 year old Dutch engineering student Boyan Slat has a plan, but some say they’ve heard it all before and it won’t work. Who is correct?
After watching Slat’s talk at TED, visiting his website and then reading a piece by Stiv Wilson, I’m less excited about Slat’s idea but more determined that we have to find something, some technology or natural process to clean up the mess. Even if we could stop making the mess, that alone won’t be enough.
The sea is cruel and it’s really really really big
The nonprofit I work for, as part of its mission, takes people other than scientists on expeditions to the gyres. Why? It’s simple; we want regular people, like Slat, to understand the scale of the problem and the vectors that contribute to the difficulty of solving it by being informed by a firsthand vantage. So far, we’ve taken one gyre cleanup advocate across the South Atlantic, from Brazil to South Africa. We had 22 days of storms with seas in excess of 30 feet at times. By the time we got to the other side, some 30+ days later, he’d abandoned his hope of cleaning the gyres once he realized how big a ‘place’ we’re talking about. What I find astonishing is that out of all the gyre cleanup proponents I’ve met, none of them have ever been to the gyres.
Read Stiv Wilson’s article The Fallacy of Cleaning the Gyres of Plastic With a Floating “Ocean Cleanup Array”
Thanks to an old friend for telling us about Boyan Slat: “Not sure how effective this young man’s ideas are but I love the enthusiasm of one who is willing to lead and inspire!”
Barbados Free Press has been kicking ’bout hey for over seven years and that is a long time in the blog world to post every day and build credibility with the search engines like Google and Yahoo!. Readership goes up and down with the news stories and when a big event happens we receive tens of thousands of visitors a day. Our best day ever was 44,087 visitors and just last week we did alright when some discussion about Harlequin was flying and 33,669 visitors stopped by.
Those numbers aren’t much compared with the big blogs that drive that kind of traffic and better every day, but we still do 3 million visitors a year at BFP and that’s not bad for a little nothing blog run by a bunch of drunks and the occasional unemployed aircraft riveter. (Anybody want to buy the world’s best set of bucking bars and dimplers – give me a shout! And when I say “the world’s best set” I mean it. It includes some wildly customized bucking bars and cutters that you didn’t even know you needed until you use them. I shoulda patented them a long time ago but it’s too late now.)
Some press release agents think Barbados Free Press is a real newspaper. Huh?
Some people mistake us for a real newspaper (or maybe they don’t) and we receive a couple of dozen press releases a week about anything and everything. Most are boring product announcements but today we see one about a type of grass that does exceptionally well in the Barbados and similar climes. I never considered it before but the press release has me thinking about how a good drought-resistant grass could save big money for a golf course over a few years. Water is scarce and expensive in Bim, so the choice of grass for any type of space should be a carefully considered decision.
Apes Hill Club Nursery is the licensed producer of this Zoysia sod in Barbados. That probably means it’s expensive… but how much water will you save over the years by using this type?
BARBADOS — Bladerunner Farms, the world’s largest privately owned zoysiagrass research and development facility, is proud to announce that Apes Hill Club Nursery, a licensed producer of JaMur Zoysia on the Caribbean Island of Barbados, now has this environmentally friendly turfgrass available for harvest.
The wholesale Apes Hill Club Nursery grows 15-acres of JaMur Zoysia for harvest as sod, along with some 50,000 plants, that are sold to commercial landscapers, land developers and homeowners on the island of Barbados. Ed Paskins, CGCS, is the golf course superintendent at the neighboring Apes Hill Club golf club and was instrumental in developing the Apes Hill Club Nursery.
Before planting the sod farm at Apes Hill Club Nursery, Paskins visited the Poteet, Texas, research facility of Bladerunner Farms to see JaMur Zoysiagrass in a real-world situation. That visit helped him decide to license JaMur Zoysia for use in Barbados.
“You need to know that you’re getting quality and that the person is going to stand beside it. I think that because Bladerunner Farms is a family business and the owner, David Doguet, was willing to put his reputation on the line for the grass was extremely important,” Paskins said.
…continue reading this article at WorldGolf
by Happy Visitor
You have to wonder about the reasoning behind the Travel + Leisure magazine article about the 2013 World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index.
The WEF rated Barbados at a very respectable 27 out of 140 countries rated and near the very top in a number of categories: Sanitary (1), Hospital beds per population (12), Regulatory framework (13), Prioritization of Travel & Tourism (8), Ground transport infrastructure (9), Affinity for Travel & Tourism (2), Education quality (7) and so on.
But what does Travel + Leisure magazine focus upon? We did poorly for Natural Resources (133). That’s no surprise given our population density, lack of natural resources, water shortage and frankly, successive governments and a population that don’t seem bothered by trash or paving over natural habitats. Yes, we could use some big improvements in that sector, but with all we have to offer and how well we did overall, it is unfair for the magazine to mention one of our few faults without commenting on our overall standing or successes featured in the WEF’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index.
2013 World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (PDF 6mb)
“At best, the age of cheap energy is over…”
Former energy Minister of Denmark
“You need to think of energy in a fifty-year timeframe, and our elected officials are thinking of energy in two year election cycles. That’s ridiculous!”
John Hofmeister, former Head U.S. Shell
One of our old friends sent us a link to the PBS video Earth: The Operators Manual / Powering the Planet – and what an interesting and well-done documentary it is. You can disagree with some of the program or with some of the technologies that are presented as solutions (as I disagree about large scale wind farms) – but you cannot disagree with the theme that we cannot continue on the way we have been. We cannot continue what we are doing. We must find better ways.
Where I disagree with some of the experts is in the area of self generation vs large scale energy generation. The current societal model is to have large central generating facilities – whatever the technology – and accept that over 50% of power generated will be lost during transmission. I say that smaller individual and local community power generation is not only viable, but cheaper and less prone to interruption.
This 1 hour program is well worth your time.
Barbados should give MFC’s a look!
by Robert D. Lucas, Ph.D.
Recently there has been much talk about the diverse means available of obtaining energy from renewable sources (solar, wave, wind as-well-as bio-diesel/gas). However, no mention has been made locally of the use of microbial fuel/factory cells (MFC’s). MFC’s are devices that convert chemical energy into electrical energy as do batteries, via the use of micro-organisms.
Unlike batteries, MFC’s can sustain their output of electricity as long as the chemical input is maintained. Most bacteria are electrochemically inactive and cannot be used in MFC’s. Those bacteria which are capable of producing an electric current are called exoelectrogens. Exoelectrogens, when placed into a suitable medium, transfer electrons (negatively charged particles) to an electrode which has been inserted into the medium. This flow of electrons is facilitated by an active electron transport system, which carries electrons directly from the microbe’s respiratory system to the anode ((negatively charged electrode).
“MFC’s do not depend on sunlight to be able to function. There is no need to have storage facilities for storing electricity as is the case with solar energy.”
The Future Centre Trust has been invited to participate in the Going Green Expo being organised by the Science and Technology Student Committee of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus, on Monday March 4, 2013.
“The Going Green Day is one of the events organised by the Student Committee during the Faculty’s Week of Activities under the theme “Science and Technology – Endless Possibilities” which run from 3rd – 9th March 2013. The main objective of the Going Green day is to heighten awareness on campus of Energy Efficiency.”
The expo runs from 11:30 til 3:00 pm and the Future Centre Trust needs help setting up and running their booth.
How about it, folks? Come and give FCT a hand and you’ll have a chance to meet BFP’s co-editor, Cliverton – who will be hanging about the campus as usual.
So give the Future Centre Trust a call and a few hours help…
T: +1 246 625 2020 | C: +1 246 836 6188 | F: +1 246 620 2021
E: email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
by Graham Findlay of 3G Energy
(left as a comment on BFP’s Wind Turbines at Lamberts, Barbados – How close is too close?)
I build wind farms in Canada, small community scale wind farms. We try to keep set-back distances above the provincial minimum of 550 meters. At 750 meters a resident nearby has to strain to hear the devices, no matter what the weather conditions. At 550 meters, only under certain weather conditions will the noise be heard and even then it’s at a very low decibel level. At 550 meters the noisiest turbines can achieve 40 db or less of sound pressure outside a residence.
Noise from gear-boxes? Ever heard of gearless turbines? Ultra-low sound pressure? The energy from these devices at that frequency cannot travel far. The main issue from low frequency sound is the extent to which a person is experiencing it in his/her normal surroundings. In an urban environment, it’s all around and nobody complains. It comes from traffic, restaurant ventilation, cooling fans, wind flow through and around building structures. It’s there and yet people don’t notice it. It seems disingenuous to attack wind turbines for this effect when the physics of the experience show it to be below known harmful thresholds.
The wind resource on Barbados is amazing. It’s too bad that community organizations are not yet organized to step forward and become energy activists, and therefore owners of power generation equipment. It’s very satisfying to members of an energy co-op when they see revenue flowing in every month. It’s a shame to leave energy generation to the monopolists. Wind and solar energy generation opportunities should be owned by anybody who is interested.
Thanks to an old friend for this interesting short. Aside from the astounding and beautiful photography and the scale of the ice ‘calved’ from the ice fields, I did not know that the ice fields have retreated more in the last 10 years than in the last 100 years.
Those who say that human activities don’t alter the earth’s climate are living in some sort of reality warp. Any pilot who has flown into New York City on a winter’s day will tell you about micro-climate: about how the heat, thermal mass and exhaust from this great city causes local climate changes including temperature inversions and dangerous wind shears, local icing, and restricted visibility – depending upon the prevailing winds and other factors.
If that’s what we can do on a purely local basis, imagine what humans do around the globe! When they burn the fields in Brazil, it’s Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) for hours when there is no real need of it. It’s the same in the Philippines – only there crop burning usually makes big and violent rainstorms. You can see them forming over the smoke if you’re sober!
Have a look at this short for the visuals and for the message. Visit the website too: Chasing Ice
Barbados should be into Butanol, not Ethanol, to power autos – but we lack the vision and leadership
“It would appear that, only certain persons in this society are founts of knowledge and that their opinions and ideas are adhered to, even when they are talking on subjects outside their area of technical competence.”
by Robert D. Lucas, PH.D.
There was an article entitled “Deal to turn whisky ‘leftovers’ into bio-fuels for cars”, in a local newspaper of Wednesday 26th September 2012. The same news item was aired on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Monday 24th September 2012. It was reported in paragraph five of the article that, ninety percent of the stuff which comes out of the distillery is not whisky. It is leftovers like daff and pot ales which are high in sugars. It is planned, as reported in the article, to utilize these leftovers for the manufacture of butanol (an alcohol) for use as a bio-fuel. I have some points and observations which I will now make.
In the past (letters to Advocate: 7th June, 1998; 31st July, 2002; 3rd August, 2004 and 18th May 2006) I have advocated that yeast by-products (which are a high quality source of protein) from rum manufacturing, be utilized in the manufacture of rations for livestock locally. As I pointed out then, alcohol is a toxic by-product of the metabolism of molasses by various strains of yeast Saccharomyces cervisisiae. Once a threshold level of alcohol is reached, the yeast die off; but considerable amounts of free molasses remain. The yeast can be separated and used as a source of high-protein input for animal rations. The cell-free extract can then be distilled to remove ethanol. The residual liquid can be fermented to obtain more alcohol. Alternatively, selective pressure can be used on S.cervisisiae, to obtain strains of yeasts with increased tolerance to ethanol. The same trait can be obtained using genetic engineering techniques, to obtain improve alcohol tolerance of yeasts.
Butanol beats Ethanol for vehicles!
In 2006, in a letter (“Ethanol not the only manufacturing solution”), I proposed that the alcohol of choice for use as a bio-fuel be butanol. Continue reading
Robert D. Lucas, Ph.D.
I have been doing some research on the development of degradable plastics locally. I have been able to develop an edible degradable plastic using glucose which is stable under certain conditions. There are certain challenges which have to be over come when using glucose. It is necessary to give some background on the status of degradable packaging and on how I became involved in the present research.
At present, there are four other methods of making degradable packaging. One of the methods, uses gelatinized starch which is molded under pressure with cellulose. In the second method, starch is extracted from maize, fermented to give lactic acid, which is then polymerized. Thirdly, there is the use of genetically modified bacteria, which are fed sugars. The latter process is complex and expensive. In the third method, use is made of methanotrophic (bacteria which utilize methane), in an aerated medium obtained from waste-water from plants (food, sewers etc.), to which has been added certain salts. Methane is then pumped through the system, and is polymerized by the bacteria.
I became involved in the research, as a result of a proposal of mine, which was entered in the National Council for Science and Technology (NCST’s) innovative competition. As a result, the Barbados Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC) became interested in my proposal. BIDC purchased some basic pieces of scientific equipment and the NCST allowed me the use of their forty-foot container which had previously been converted into a laboratory, located in the Ministry of Commerce’s yard. Apart from the BIDC’s equipment, I have funded all of the chemicals and other bits of equipment myself. I am not paid for doing the research; I want to make that absolutely clear. Continue reading
Are You Ready?
As the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season enters its winter years, I find myself being very thankful once again and somewhat reflective on related matters.
Thankful that as an individual, my friends, families and co-workers (in Barbados) were spared. Thankful that as a citizen of a country that is still largely dependent upon tourism and foreign exchange to pay for its imports, that once again our little rock has again escaped without major incident (knock wood).
Proof that once again God is a Bajan (or at the very least, holds some special status in Barbados). However, there are those of us who were not as fortunate. In particular, our brothers and sisters in Jamaica and our northern neighbours in the U.S. of A re: Hurricane Sandy. Lives have been lost and devastated and billions of dollars of damages have been incurred (with recovery efforts still ongoing).
Reflective about the fact that despite all of the things that Man (and Woman) has accomplished, Mother Nature proves time and time again that she is still driving the bus and that we are just along for the ride (despite the fact that some of us behave in an unruly fashion on occasion). Continue reading
Mandatory National Youth Service: A good idea that could save our young people from themselves
by Arthur M.
The Barbados government’s plan to institute a mandatory ‘draft’ of young people between the ages of 15 and 29 for two years of community service is an excellent idea that should be implemented right away. The critics of the plan are welcome to voice their objections in a free society and although I share some of their concerns about ‘enforcement’ of the service, I vote yes. We must do it.
The need is too great and the benefits to the youths and the country are too precious to waste any time. Do it now!
Mandatory service in the National Youth Service serves many good purposes that have nothing to do with the promoted financial benefits. Joint mandatory service makes our youths work with each other for the common good. This will teach young people how much Bajans can accomplish if we work together.
Hopefully the lessons learned will continue after the two years service is completed and many will discover how fulfilling it is to become active in community service.
Serving your country will be taken to a whole new level for thousands of local youth.
Under a new National Youth Service, to be implemented by Government as part of the island’s new National Youth Policy, all Barbadians between the ages of 15 and 29 will be mandated to give hundreds of hours of civic national service spread over two years.
Government is hoping to gain “considerable” financial savings by deploying these youth “to youth development programmes such as the Holiday Camps, youth and community groups and sports clubs”.
… from Barbados Today All Must Serve
I suggest that for the first year of their participation in the programme, all young people do nothing else except clean up garbage around the island. During the second half of their service they can move into other specialized service areas but everybody should have to start by doing the first half of their service picking up garbage in organised work crews.
The mandatory nature of this ‘low’ physical labour no matter how wealthy or educated the family or individual will teach mutual respect throughout our society. Think of two Bajans meeting 20 years from now, one a bank manager and one a road worker: both will have served as youths doing physical labour picking up garbage, working with others both rich and poor.
Then there is the practical aspect of the first year garbage work: this country is awash in garbage to the point where it is impacting our ability to proudly host tourists. Tourism is our #1 economic foundation. Without it we would be finished. Look around Barbados right from the City to the roads and gullies: garbage and more garbage, so much garbage that our reputation is being attacked and any thinking person would have to agree that the place is looking badly.
Have you been along the ‘new’ boardwalk lately? Have you walked down some of the paths and gullies that used to be so beautiful? A piece of rubbish there and an old shoe there and a wrapper and soon anyplace becomes a rogue tipping site. The National Youth Service could keep these places clean and foster an increased awareness in the population.
If you have to clean it up you probably won’t contribute to the mess.
It is too bad that this good idea of mandatory service for our young people was so long in coming.
B’town garbage photo
courtesy of stolen from The Bajan Reporter
What exactly has Minister Denis Lowe accomplished during his term?
Five years ago we heard the current Minister of the Environment and his fellow DLP candidates explain that the then BLP government had been negligent about flooding and the environment in general.
During the 2007 election campaign, Dr. Denis Lowe and other DLP candidates said that the Owen Arthur BLP government:
- failed to pass an Environmental Protection Act.
- didn’t care about valuable wetlands and natural flood buffers.
- failed to establish standards and laws for drainage to guide developers and builders.
- failed to take effective action to ensure that property owners kept their lands debushed and free of stagnant water that breeds mosquitoes.
That was five years ago, so let’s listen to what Dr. Lowe is saying these days… Continue reading
“During the visit, Barbados Environment Minister Dr. Denis Lowe said he was aware of China’s commitment to good environmental governance and its concerns about climate change and other issues which occupied the consciousness of global planners.”
… from a Barbados Government press release (reprinted at the bottom of this post)
“China warns foreigners to stop monitoring its pollution. The Chinese government claims it’s making serious efforts to clean up pollution. But as this horrifying report shows, much of their ‘success’ has involved simply moving their toxic industries out of sight…
Untreated industrial waste is pumped directly into rivers… the water is used to irrigate crops.”
… from the new documentary film Cancer Villages – China
What exactly does Barbados hope to learn from China about managing the environment?
If you’re going to speak, at least speak the truth – better to just keep silent than to perpetuate a lie. At least that’s what I was always taught.
In recent years China has seen mass riots and violent government responses when the citizen-slaves stand up to stop the ongoing slaughter of humanity caused by their government’s callous and long term disregard for people and the environment.
All those low priced Chinese goods you purchase are low priced for a number of reasons: government & private slave labour camps, sweatshops, rampant pollution and the communist disdain for individual human rights and human life.
“I often wonder about folks 200 years ago who purchased cotton and sugar…
Did they care that slaves suffered to provide the products at a certain price?
Every Barbadian should ask their own heart…
“Should we be taking gifts and buying products from a Chinese Communist government that relies upon slavery as a vital part of the economy?”
To the communists, people are always a government resource – never individuals. Where the state is supreme and individuals exist only to serve the state, these kinds of environmental abuses and disasters are at their worst. (See China Hush: Amazing Pictures, Pollution in China)
In the eyes of the Barbados Government, China can do no wrong. Like a dog begging for a cookie, Barbados will do anything and say anything for China – just as long as we know we can pick up some scraps thrown our way. Continue reading
Sometimes you stumble onto a photograph that says more than a thousand words. This is one of those images.
Haiti is on the left and the Dominican Republic is on the right. We can debate the reasons for this contrast (and the reasons for the contrast are important), but there is no debating the difference itself.
We have so much to be grateful for here in Barbados – but when talking about the environment are we more on the path to the right side of the photo, or the left? Which path are we choosing for our grandchildren?
Photograph by James Blair courtesy of The Guardian.
The Garden is going well!
The Future Centre Trust’s last Saturday in the garden was so successful I just wanted to let you all know how well the garden is going and invite you to our next garden day this Saturday the 28th of July. Julia, Paula and Lorraine have done such a great job so far. They have developed the banana circle, developed a list of plants and trees on site, worked with a landscape architect to create drawings for the garden, developed a veggie plant list for us to procure and helped the FCT find buyers for our produce.
The Future Centre Trust
“We have 166sq miles to make this country home, to feed ourselves, to dispose of our waste, to provide jobs, to welcome the 1.1 million visitors per year, to make a sustainable use of the resources we are blessed with and to enhance our general well being. Land use policies must be fervently considered to ensure a sustainable future for all those living now, and those to come, if Barbados is to continue to prosper in a holistic manner. What we do to our lands, we do to ourselves.”
… Future Centre Trust
After 8 years of hard work at The Future Centre Trust, practical environmentalist supreme Nicole Garofano headed home to her native Australia.
When she first arrived in Bim back in 2004, Nicole thought she would visit Barbados for three months. Fortunately for us she stuck around and devoted almost a decade to making our home cleaner and better in so many ways. In her last few years her voice became louder cautioning about our loss of agricultural lands and the dangers of giving up on producing as much of our own food as we can.
Shawn Cumberbatch’s article in Barbados Today gives a good overview of the legacy Nicole Garofano leaves for Barbados. There’s lots more to be done, but Nicole added well to the foundation laid by Doctor Colin Hudson and others.
Barbados Today: Dream fulfilled