Monday, November 28, 2011

Green Teen: 5 Ways Technology Saves Endangered Species

Society's obsession with technology has caused us to lose sight of the damage we cause on the world outside of the computer--from pollution to excessive waste to destruction of animal species due to destruction of habitat. However, here's five ways technology helps when it comes to saving endangered species:

1. Analyzing people: A new predictive analytic software by IBM analyzes people and finds areas to target conservation efforts. By doing this, they can figure out which people to target and not waste their time talking to people who have no interest in conservation.

2. "Fish & Chips": Without technology, over-fishing would not have happened in the degree that it has occurred in these past few years (look at The Cove documentary for a look on how it affects dolphins). However, Barbara Block teamed up with Monterey Bay Aquarium and they are part of an important project of tagging up bluefin tuna and tracking them down in an effort to save them from going extinct. Bluefin tuna are on the brink of extinction. The project plans to find a balance so fisheries can still get their tuna for sushi without decimating the population.

3. Robotic deer: It hasn't saved endangered species yet, but it could in the future. The idea is simple: using robotic deer to catch poachers who hunt deer outside of hunting season. If it was used for tigers (which are due for extinction in 12 years if something isn't done!) or elephants, the plan would be even more helpful towards endangered species.

4. DNA Zip Codes: Every year, 80 million or so sharks die because of a human fetish for shark fin soup. Sharks are vital to an ecosystem because they pick off the unhealthy and sick animals. The more sharks in an ecosystem, the healthier it is. It has always been impossible to track down where the shark fins come from--until now. New technology has allowed scientists to discover "zip codes" in the DNA of the shark fins; "By analyzing part of the genome that is inherited solely through the mother, we were able to detect differences between sharks living along different continents - in effect, their DNA zip codes," said Dr. Demian Chapman, leader of the research team and assistant director of science of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science. "

5. Barcoding DNA: the International Barcode of Life--iBOL, barcodes the DNA of animals across the globe to protect them from poaching or over-hunting. The project assigns a unique barcode to each individual species' DNA so that one day, anyone with a scanner can read the DNA and know exactly which species they have come across. This system can keep a watch on our food supplies and save species at the same time. Already, 87,000 species have been barcoded and 25 countries have joined in the efforts to build up the database. The project expects to have half a million species by 2015.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Green Teen: Clean Air Means More Money?

We've all heard that pollution negatively affects human health--and it makes sense. Things like smog are unnatural, clog your lung like black dust filling it from the inside.

However, efforts to regulate toxins in the air are always pushed back. The reason given for this is that "environmental safeguards will paralyze an economic recovery."

But a study done in 2011 done by the National Bureau of Economic Research makes a good care--that environmental standards can be beneficial for the economy, if you look at the effects of pollution on humans and how that affects their working ability.

The study shows the when the concentration of atmospheric ozone fall by 10 ppb (parts per billion) an agricultural worker's productivity will increase by 4.2%.

This reaches a logical conclusion: that "an investment in human health is an investment in the economy."

With the holidays coming around, everyone's going on mass decorating time. Christmas lights outside the house as well as inside; on the tree, around the living room, etc. The holiday time is one of the times where we use the most energy and it's because sometimes people never turn off their lights until it's time to take them down.
To save some energy and some money, make sure to turn off your lights when it's daytime--no one's going to notice them anyways and you save money. Turn them back on at night, when you can notice them and appreciate them.

iPhone Apps that Help:
This iPhone app decodes al those "green" labels to tell you which products actually help and are green, and which don't. It's called Eco-Labels and lets you know which eco-products are the real deal and which products are just putting it for the good reputation. It costs $0.99, but it is definitely super helpful when shopping!
Also, you can visit to get try the alternate version of this app.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Green Teen: Better Way to Clean Up Oil Spill

Dr. Tom San Giovanni, orthopedic surgeon and president of Mendes Oil Trap Technologies, teamed up with one of his patients, Joe Mendes, who patented a system to clean up oil spills
They were motivated after the big BP spill last year during the summer that polluted the water, killing all sorts of wildlife, and "fouling thousands of miles of shoreline."

The Mendes Oil Trap is basically floating plastic crates, filled with oil-absorbing material made from recycled plastic bottles--they can be "deployed" to encircle an oil platform or a spill, and are chained together to protect the shoreline (like train cars). They are also designed so that they can be towed by boats.

This seems to be an easier method than the boom that was used previously to clean up the spill--boom is basically an oil containment device--orange inflatable floating lines designed to contain oil on the water's surface. Even experts say that boom works in a limited way as it can't contain oil in choppy waters. In the ocean, it contains maybe 10% of the oil.

They plan on researching and developing a little more to make the trap more commercially available and to convince big oil companies to invest in his traps as opposed to boom and chemical dispersants.

EcoTip: Buy a thermos in place of using a new water bottle everyday. Saves you the trouble of having to spend 2 to 3 bucks every time you run out of water bottles and saves the planet the trouble of plastic. I'm sure we've all seen the Brita commercial, that the U.S. produced enough water bottles to circle the globe 154 times--and none of these were recycled. Think of supply and demand: the more people use water bottles, the more they're going to be produced, which means that there's still a significant number of people who don't properly dispose of those water bottles.