Ecology

Why We Should Start Waste Management

Waste management is something that every household, business, education and medical institutions should learn or implement. In the United States, a study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that an American would produce about .75 tons of waste every year. About 90 % or 325-375 million tons of toxic wastes are being dumped by industrialized countries every year. United Nations received reports of waste management problems from about 60 % of countries in the 1992 Earth Summit.

It is not about just the environment that we would have to worry about. Wastes not properly disposed can cause huge health risks to people or communities surrounding the area where the wastes were disposed. The United Nations Development Programme estimates that there are five million fatalities every year because of not properly disposing wastes.

Improper waste disposal could increase dangers of increasing vermin and pests. They could spread in the community, a common disease called dengue brought by mosquito bites is very dangerous disease often times associated with stagnant water and piles of garden wastes. People could also be vulnerable to leptospirosis or infection that you could get from vermin urine and feces. Litters like broken glasses or scrap of metals can also cause tetanus.

Another danger about improper waste management, would be hazardous materials and poison which could affect the environment and the community. Medical or health care wastes can have radioactive isotopes which could get into water and result into polluted bodies of water where your kids swim. Aside from health care wastes, human wastes can also be very dangerous when disposed improperly, especially if they come from people who are suffering from certain diseases. This could also contaminate sources of water.

Unkempt yards and streets could also give an impression about the people who live in the area. It could affect the economy of the community, it is unlikely that entrepreneurs would like to invest in a community that does not invite security and safety.

Most people think that waste management is all about spending sizeable amount. Actually, it does not have to be like that. Not managing and dumping wastes irresponsibly tends to be more costly. Think about the loss of income from not trying to save on equipment and appliances.

Disposing hazardous wastes is another major problem. Hazardous wastes are actually very much present in our household. According to U.S. EPA, there are about 1.8 million tons of household hazardous waste being disposed every year. And most homeowners are not even conscious that they are storing hazardous chemicals in their cupboards.

Waste management could actually be summed up in three simple words: reduce, reuse and recycle. In United Kingdom, the country’s recycling efforts was able to help reduce 10-15 million tonnes of CO2 emission every year. Homeowners and other institutions could start by segregating trash, monitoring quantities and kinds of wastes being disposed, and making sure that they are being transported out of your site properly.

Waste management training could be given to employees, workers and staff. Having a waste management plan and people committed in carrying it out, will make the plan successful.

Solar Energy – New Discoveries

The day may not be far off when the use of solar energy becomes a norm. There is now a deep conviction among experts that given a few years time, solar power will be in high demand that the cost will go down, inexpensive enough to undercut the prices of oil-generated electricity.

Previous predictions that it will still happen in a decade may no longer be true. The anger generated by the recent prices in oil and its vulnerability to market forces and other events may have already been enough to polarized people, governments and scientific communities into seriously considering a reliable alternative energy source.

You can not get a source more reliable than the sun. Even today homes that uses its power does not only benefit from the silent, energy generating, inexhaustible power of the sun, it also spikes up the prices of their homes. Those that have solar powered homes are even reimbursed for the surplus power that they supply to the power grid.

Presently, heliostats, photovoltaic cells and plate collectors are being used to collect the energy by focusing these panels towards the sun or constructing and installing the panel’s on spots where the sun shines most. Development in technology as we all know often has a snowball effect. It never stops rediscovering and reinventing that the speed of development could often be surprisingly fast.

Today, a polymer foil, thin as a sheet of paper and lighter by 200 times when compared to the regular glass collecting plates, are being developed. Chances are, these new inventions and discoveries could very well have a great potential for mass production. Previously, the glass-based materials used for heat collection need expensive substrates and require additional support for mounting due to its weight. The polymer foil, being very light could now be attached even to the walls of a structure.

So confident are scientists in the development of this technology that while the polymer foil is being developed, a plastic solar cell, based on nano technology is gaining breakthroughs. This plastic material can collect the power of the sun even on a cloudy day through harnessing the infrared rays is believed to be five times more efficient than the current technology.

While plastic materials for harnessing the power of the sun are not new, it is only recently that this plastic composite could harvest the infrared portion. Previously, only the visible rays are generated, the infrared part, which is half of the power of the sun, is invisible.

Currently, the best plastic solar cells could only harness 6% of the suns energy, with further study and development, this new plastic solar cells are expected to harness 30% of the suns solar power.

Scientists and researchers alike agree that ultimately, solar farms will be harnessing all our energy requirements and costs of power will drop. Today the price of solar powered energy is about 3 to 4 times per kilowatt hour compared with conventional electricity. That could change dramatically though the development of the existing technology and recent discoveries.

The roller pressed flexible plastic materials and the polymer foil are only two of the best hopes in arriving at a cleaner, greener and safer environment that could ultimately free the planet from its dependency on the depleting supply of oil.

What to Expect in a Marine Biologist Interview

Some students are particularly interested in becoming marine biologists. However, you need to gauge your personal strengths, skills, knowledge and capabilities to fully determine if it is the right career for you. There are different branches of science, but only a handful of individuals can truly have the patience and interest in knowing more about the vast mysteries that fill the ocean depths. Here are some things you can expect in an interview.

Initial Questions

First of all, you have to know what marine biology means. How is it different from other branches of science? Indicate the advantages and disadvantages of studying marine biology. Although there are no real disadvantages when it comes to comparing marine biology from other branches of science, remember that ocean life is more vast than anything you have ever known on land. Most of the ocean is still unexplored and unknown, even though technology has improved significantly in the past few decades.

Also indicate your reasons for wanting to pursue the course. Some marine biologists want to practice to hopefully solve mysteries and find treasures in the waters. Others are activists who want to protect aquatic life. Others are simply interested and have the right tools and mindset to patiently study the changes and adjustments with regards to time and the world in general.

Relations and Branches

You have to know a number of things about marine biology, such as the different habitats, the various organisms, the most popular animals and plants, microscopic organisms, ecosystems and other effects that inland activities and technology have on the ocean. Take note that oceanography, molecular biology and environmental management are related occupations to the field. You can also study these and determine which field you want to invest in.

Personal Interest and Numbers

You can have other advantages and benefits as a marine biologist. You will most likely be asked which experiences triggered you to pursue such course. You can gain the advantage later on of taking rare photos, experiencing rare events that affect the ocean significantly such as typhoons and natural calamities as well earning a big salary, depending on your job and company. The average salary of marine biologists could be anywhere between $45,000 and $60,000. You can also get summer salary from grants. If you plan to teach, you can expect lower salary. A full professor can earn higher at about $65,000 to $100,000 each year.

Responsibilities

Since the profession of marine biology is very wide, you can expect to have specific responsibilities, depending on your assignment and the area that your group intends to study. Some of the jobs that you may have include feeding and observing activities of different organisms like worms, clams and other sediment-eating animals. You may also do more interesting activities such as following whales, sharks or manatees. You can also be assigned to determine the different phases of reproduction and the triggers that cause animals to migrate to different oceanic locations.

Your responsibility may take a few weeks or several years, depending on the project. You should expect to develop solutions for different challenges and predicaments underwater. Marine labs contain different equipments that you have to use and master over time.

What You Need To Know About Hazardous Waste Management

Hazardous. The word seems to conjure a threatening feeling and is sometimes automatically associated with death. Even when using hazardous to describe waste, it is done so not with relative ease. The picture of poisonous chemical-waste materials then comes to mind, whose warnings—often represented by the proverbial skull and bones—are even more threatening. But the truth is, these kinds are not the only hazardous waste people have to deal with. There are, in fact, safe materials (such as household products) that, after use, can qualify as hazardous waste. Hazardous waste is anything that has potentially dangerous ingredients and properties, and that which may put to great risk public health and the environment if an effective hazardous waste management system is not in place.

With that description in mind, hazardous waste can be anything from the oil generated by factories and industries to the cleaning chemicals used at home and the pesticide used by gardeners. Generally, these are the products that are corrosive, flammable, radioactive, explosive, toxic, and reactive. As products, careful use is necessary, and as waste materials, proper storage and disposal is likewise important. Failure to establish hazardous waste management may result in health problems and, in some serious cases, death.

Managing hazardous wastes
Because of the associated risks, the government in general and households and companies in particular should institute appropriate hazardous waste management. And every effort should begin with distinguishing which products end up as hazardous waste. This is important to properly separate them from all the other waste materials and to have a secure place for storage. Hazardous waste is usually stored in containers—some use drums—and should be labeled. Pouring hazardous waste down the sink is not encouraged as doing so can contaminate the groundwater and may harm surface plants, animal life, and the water systems at large.

Businesses, especially those that are big hazardous waste generators, hire agencies and individuals to help them manage, transport, and dispose of their hazardous waste. Households, on the other hand, normally rely on the services and facilities established by local governments. In some cities, for instance, collection programs are enacted where hazardous waste materials are picked up door-to-door. The core principle here is that every entity, whether a household or a company, is responsible for its own waste and is taking every measure to properly manage and keep it from harming the environment and many lives.

Once collected and transported, hazardous waste materials would be then disposed of. One common method of disposing them is through incineration. Commonly done with medical waste, incineration involves burning the waste. Another method of hazardous waste disposal is waste injection, which means depositing the waste deep down the ground.

The success of hazardous waste management lies in the enactment of legislations, which gave way to the creation of facilities and agencies that would ensure proper hazardous waste management is taking place. Assuming individual responsibility also plays a big role. Although compliance is a major factor, concern for lives and the environment usually encourages accountability.

Solar Energy – It is Popular. So Why is it Not Yet Widely Used?

The fact is, the 350,000,000 terawatts of power available from the sun is so huge that an exposure to a full sun in only 15 minutes will be enough to generate the world’s energy requirement

Compare that with energy that is generated by nuclear and fossil fuel. Presently, the available data for fossil and nuclear fuel is 10,800,000 terawatts which we all know to be non renewable.

To produce electricity, utility companies burn fossil fuels that translate to 1.3 pounds of carbon dioxide to produce 1kw of electrical power. This unwanted CO2 emissions are dumped into the atmosphere. This then translates into each typical home being accountable yearly for 22,000 pounds of CO2 emissions.

The harnessing of the sun’s rays is clean and safe. It produces no emissions and it is practical and may in the years ahead, prove very economical. In the United States, only 0.1% of power that is generated is solar energy driven. So what are the obstacles?

According to the Wall Street Journal (in an article that was released in its August 2008 issue), there are groups, backed by political groups that are lobbying against the putting up of transmission lines for solar power. The construction of distribution lines for solar energy is also being blocked by environmental activists that restrict the delivering of solar energy to those who want it in their homes.

Another obstacle is that the power grid in the United States which was designed more than 100 years ago is now so congested in many regions. To deliver the solar power to consumers, scientists and engineers will have to come out with another cost efficient plan to transfer huge amounts of energy from one location to another.

Solar panels are considered expensive. Although a home increases its value by folds when solar powered, the costs still could be prohibitive to most that unless the non silicon flexible solar panels that are now being developed are released for market consumption, powering homes through solar energy could still be very limited.

Other forms of rewards to avoid fossil fuel use should still be effectively placed. The 30% tax cut to projected cost previously awarded will be more attractive if other federal credits are included to encourage further investments.

The global warming issue that has been brought to the papers is a recurrent subject of talk shows and remains to be a good news item. Also, the too unstable pump prices, should and for most part, already be a good incentive to use this alternative source of energy.

However, effective solar energy transmission to homes will remain to be very hard unless these obstacles are breached. Assuming that these obstacles are solved today, it will still take some 10 years to convert 20% of American homes into solar energy users. Meanwhile, solar panels on individual homes remain to be the most viable alternative.

The good part to solar energy quest is that technology is advancing very rapidly. Nano technology for solar power is being developed and may be available in five years time. Other breakthroughs in cell designs are also being developed that could, in the next few years, be a cost-effective way of generating energy without having to rely anymore on fossil and nuclear power.

What is Marine Biology?

Several individuals have always dreamed of becoming a marine biologist, but not many is actually informed about the real extent and coverage of the practice. Marine biology is a branch of science that particularly deals with aquatic life. You have to understand the different features to determine if it is the right profession for your capabilities and interests.

Definition of the Term

Marine biology is described as the study of life forms that live in saltwater or usually ocean environment. Several life forms may be included in the studies such as the analysis of fish, plants, marine mammals and other microscopic organisms. Marine biology may also cover the entire ocean ecosystem, or a particular kind of life form, including its interactions with other living beings and the habitat.

Marine biology may also be described as studies in the field or the analysis of information collected from different ocean sites. It can be very comparative in nature, such as analyzing the same bacteria that live in different oceans. It can also be specific on the particular species.

As a Science

Marine biology is highly related to other kinds of science, like climatology since it has effects on life forms in the ocean, animal behavior and oceanography. Some marine biologists may focus on the biological nature of a given animal, while others focus more on the behavior of the animal. Several times, individuals refer to marine biology only as the study of marine mammals, such as dolphins, seals and whales.

In reality, it represents a minor part of marine biology study. There are only limited marine mammals compared to large numbers of fish, plant and single-celled species in the ocean. Some less interesting species may have limited studies compared to the more glamorous marine mammals.

Grants and Activism

Marine biology sometimes can involve activism, since some scientists achieve high levels of education. Marine biology should be understood together with other existing sciences. Many individuals now aim to protect the ecosystems of the ocean, thus improving in their speaking and writing skills.

Several marine biologists can apply for grants. There are usually marine biology sites located in landlocked countries and states. Oceans and its many life forms have various effects on different areas. Prehistoric marine biology may also assess the tissues of extinct ocean life forms that still exist in areas where saltwater bodies are no longer found.

Knowing the Benefits

Marine biologists also continue to study to understand the nature and determine the many benefits of organisms in the ocean that can be highly helpful and supportive to human life. The different life forms in the ocean can have potential health advantages as well as provide the means to developing new medicines.

Some are even very helpful in preserving and protecting earthbound life forms. Marine biology has always fascinated people since several of the species in the ocean are still unknown. Some parts of the ocean remain inaccessible because of depth or temperature. Marine biologists are always open to the opportunity of becoming a part of new discoveries.

What Is Waste Management?

Everyday activities—down from the mundane to the complicated—play a major part in waste production. It is estimated that people produce 4.3 pounds of daily waste individually, and if taken together, they can account for the heaps and tons of produced waste materials each year around the world. In the United States alone, an estimate of 208 millions tons of solid waste is produced every year. That excludes the liquid, gaseous, and other forms of waste materials, which are also considerably high in amount. As the global population booms, waste production is expected to increase in speed and measure, and unless proper waste management is practiced in households, companies, universities, industries, and practically everywhere, Earth will eventually turn into one big garbage planet, where pollution and waste-induced diseases are widespread.

Waste management is essentially the systematic handling of garbage. It involves the proper way of collection, transportation, and disposal of waste materials. Waste management has been a significant issue addressed in the modern and industrialized generation largely owing to the fact that more waste materials are produced today than during the early generations, a critical increase resulting from population explosion and industrial revolution.

While it seems to be a modern response to waste production, waste management is not at all a new practice. Records from all over the world showed that early people had a way of managing and regulating their garbage. One of the common ways of waste management before was digging pits to contain solid wastes. As the civilization progressed, waste management practices became more regulated. As far back as 500 BC, for instance, there were existing policies in Athens Greece that required people to dispose of their waste materials in areas at least one mile from city limits. In 1388, the English Parliament in England banned waste disposal into the water systems. And in 1885, the United States built its first incinerator.

Waste management methods and procedures have improved since then, with emphasis on their relevance to modernity and quantity of produced waste. Incineration, for instance, is still a common process of waste disposal. With the use of incinerators, waste materials are combusted and are converted to energy. This waste-to-energy benefit is proven helpful to many industries, although there have been environmental and health concerns over the creation and emission of dangerous pollutants and chemicals during the burning process.

Using landfills is also a common method of waste disposal. Landfills are basically a big piece of lot where truckloads of waste are gathered and buried. In some countries, using landfills is the most common way of waste disposal primarily because they are relatively cheap and don’t require intricate machineries. Since landfills can potentially attract vermin and emit dangerous landfill gas, landfills have to be well-designed and credibly managed.

Waste management is also targeting to minimize waste, an effort that eventually gave way to the global campaign to recycle. Recycling means reprocessing some or all parts of an item to make a new or completely different product. Scrap metals and papers are two of the most recycled materials today. To date, several people and organizations are committed to recycling, whose collaborated efforts are contributing to proper waste management.

Solar Energy – This Commodity is Not for Sale

If anything good came out during the recent increases of the fuel oil prices, it is that once again, there is a merry interest in alternative sources of energy. Even when pump prices has been decreasing like nothing we have seen before, the uproar created and the pain it did to business will have a good chance of sticking. The desire for alternative sources of energy is on the forefront and may it stay there for good – as it should.

Extracting oil from crops is a good idea; the downside is that food supplies could be dramatically reduced. Wind power is another excellent thing except for the many buts that wind power generation have.

If costs is the main objection to solar power generation that should be the least of worries.

The installation of solar panels is until today, considered a specialized job. Like any commodity in the market, when the demand is high but the supply is limited, the cost increase. As more and more homes clamor for alternative sources of energy, better technology and more labor is drawn to the job that market forces could take place and result into much lowered prices. This though is still in the future.

Today the reality is the instability and the unpredictability of pump prices. But even if it does provide stable and predictable price movement, solar energy is free and it is inexhaustible.

While the technology of tapping out this resource is not, homes that are solar powered are getting back dividends in terms of higher appraisal for their homes, confidence in not being surprised by power shortage and outage, not being dependent on the fluctuation in power prices and the definite advantage of having provided a better environment solution.

Today, the typical ways at tapping this resource usually are:

-Through a Heliostat – this are focusing collectors composed of mirrors that are aimed at the sun to collect the energy. The temperature that heliostats could provide reaches more that 4,000 degrees centigrade. This high temperature is sufficient for use even for furnaces.

-Through Flat Plate Collectors – employ a system of pipes. The water inside the pipes becomes heated and is ideal for heating purposes like schools, homes swimming pools, offices etc.

-Through Solar Distillation – instead of heat, this provides water. The mechanics is similar to the processes of plate collectors except that this is generally used to steam salt water. To do this, tanks and ducts are usually installed in surfaces that receive a good sun. Through the heat, the salt water turns into steam and when the steam condenses, the water is collected for regular use.

-Through photovoltaic Cells – These are the most common type of collecting solar energy characterized by solar panels installed in rooftops and other flat surfaces that there is a good sun, converting the power collected into electricity.

Unlike any products, whether refined or manufactured, the processing of solar energy do not need additional costs of energy to power it up. It is energy generating by itself. Except maybe for regular inspection and replacement of parts (when it employs a mechanical device), the tapping of solar energy is virtually maintenance free. Once installed, it could be used for as long as needed for the amount of energy, (depending on the capacity of the unit), which the owner requires.

Various Life Forms in the Ocean

Marine biology involves the study of different life forms in the ocean, both plant and animal. Scientists and individuals continue to show interest in the ocean since there are still so many things left undiscovered. Some parts of the saltwater environment remain unknown simply because human beings cannot access these readily. You have to know more about the hierarchy of the life forms and how each interact with each other and the environment.

Microscopic Beings

Microscopic life in the ocean is very diverse and is understood in the least sense by individuals. Viruses, for example, is rarely explored and considered. Phytoplankton’s function and role is understood better because of its vital position as the most numerous primary producers in the planet. Phytoplankton is grouped into cyanobacteria or blue or green algae or bacteria, diatoms, different kinds of algae like brown algae, red algae and green algae, euglenoids, cryptomonads, chlorophytes, dinoflagellates, prasinophytes and silicoflagellates.

Zooplankton is usually larger and may not be microscopic. Several protozoa are zooplankton, including radiolarians, dinoflagellates, foraminiferans and zooflagellates. Some of the beings are also phytoplankton, with the plant and animal type usually breaking down into very tiny organisms. Other zooplanktons can include arthropods, polychaetes, cnidarians, urochordates and annelids.

The Plants

There ocean has very diverse plant life. Microscopic photosynthetic algae provide a big portion of the photosynthetic output of the world compared to all the terrestrial forests. Majority of the niche occupied by sub plants on terrain are usually known as seaweeds that build kelp forests. The intertidal zone is an ideal place to find plant life in the ocean, where beach grass and mangroves may proliferate. These can function as habitat for other animals.

The Fishes

Fish has transformed several biological functions from other big organisms. Fish breathe by getting oxygen from the water through the gills. The fins function by stabilizing and propelling fish in the water. Some of the most popular fishes include clownfish, sardines, bottom fish, sharks, barracuda and ling cod. Fishes will thrive in different depths and parts of the ocean, depending on their need. Some will migrate to other regions depending on the current temperature, habitat and availability of food.

Reptiles, Birds and Mammals

There are many reptiles that live in the sea like sea snakes, saltwater crocodiles, sea turtles and marine iguanas. Majority of these reptiles have to come back to land to lay their eggs. Some of the extinct species like the ichthyosaurs transformed and no longer needs to return to land. Several seabirds are also present such as penguins, albatrosses and gulls. These spend most of their time in the ocean, while others prefer to stay inland.

There are mainly 5 kinds of marine mammals. The polar bear is considered a marine mammal since it greatly depends on the ocean. Cetaceans include toothed whales like porpoises and the sperm whale. The sea otter is part of the Family Mustelidae. Sirenians include the sea cow, manatee and dugong. Seals, walruses and sea lions are grouped as pinnipeds.

What Is Solid Waste Management?

By definition, solid waste is a waste material that is composed of less than 70% water. It can be anything from kitchen waste to electrical waste. A huge part of produced waste is made up of solid waste. In fact, according to statistics, each person produces around four pounds of solid waste everyday. This enormous production has greatly concerned a lot of people primarily because if not managed well, solid waste will worsen pollution, spread diseases, and cause danger to human health and other living species. For this reason, the call to practice solid waste management has become more persistent over the years.

Solid waste management is the proper monitoring, sorting, transportation, and disposal of solid waste. In modern society, solid waste management efforts are backed up by different legislations and campaigns. For instance, collection programs, in which waste management companies pick up solid waste from households, are instituted by local governments and carried out in different communities. In places where there are no collection programs, residents are required to drop off their solid waste at locally established waste facilities.

But because a considerable percentage of solid waste comes from other sources than households, trash bins are scattered in areas with high passerby traffic such as parks and streets, to name a few. Industrial waste, on the other hand, is usually managed by the generators themselves. They usually have their own facilities for treatment and disposal of waste.

Once collected, a great bulk of solid waste goes to incinerators and landfills. These disposal methods, however, have negative impact on the environment, thus a significant percentage of solid waste is turned over to different treatment facilities. Recyclable solid waste, which often includes scrap metals, papers, glass, and bottles, undergo certain processes to make new products. To encourage people to recycle, recycle bins are usually made available in many parts of communities. Biodegradable or organic waste materials, on the other hand, are made into compost. Composting in some areas is mandated by legislation and in such communities, compost bins are provided to residents. Hazardous waste, or that which is potentially dangerous when disposed of like battery and fluorescent light, is also usually recycled.

Modernity paved the way to the massive production of solid waste. And this has become one of the many gripping environmental issues faced by the world today, especially because the problem in solid waste transcends the “now” generation. Whatever is done, or not done, to solve the problem affects the heritage of the next generation. In developed countries, solid waste management has become a priority and certain systems are fully operational. Same is true with some developing countries. However, many other countries need to catch up.

Truth be told, hardly anyone thinks of garbage. Once something graduates from its intended use, it is immediately considered trash, thrown off, and then forgotten. But solid waste management is everyone’s responsibility. It is not solely for governments to practice. Not only for businesses. And not for a few individuals.

Everyone makes waste and it is only necessary that everyone takes part in properly handling solid waste.