Archive for April, 2013

Pedaling for power: Los Angeles ice cream shop goes green

Peddler’s Creamery invites customers to “create” their own ice cream. Photo from http://www.peddlerscreamery.com.

Peddler’s Creamery, an ice cream shop in downtown Los Angeles, is taking “going green” to a whole new level.

Edward Belden united his love for cycling with his love for ice cream to create a biking machine that churns ice cream. It takes just about four minutes of pedaling to make five gallons of ice cream. So far, Belden said he has had no issues keeping his freezer stocked.

Aside from bicycle-powered televisions in a U.K. hotel and bicycle-powered blender for smoothies, this is one of newest bike-themed green technologies.

Peddler’s Creamery worked out of a mobile unit for its first year and in late April, it moved to a storefront outlet in Los Angeles. According to a TheAtlanticCities.com article: “(Belden’s) storefront, which has been built to LEED standards, incorporates a mixing room made out of recycled pallets and a kinetic bike sculpture. Customers can watch ice cream being made and sometimes get a chance to spin the pedals themselves.”

Peddler's Creamery uses organic ingredients along with their green methods of creating the ice cream. Photo from www.peddlerscreamery.com.

Peddler’s Creamery uses organic ingredients along with their green methods of creating the ice cream. Photo from http://www.peddlerscreamery.com.

The ingredients are not only “processed entirely by human power,” but the food is made from organic ingredients.

Belden has received positive feedback from the people in Los Angeles. Many like the idea of bicycle-churned ice cream.

“You can take a little step back from our modern ways,” Belden said. “It shows you what we can do with our own power.”

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Earth day tips for better living

Buying locally grown food can help reduce fossil fuels needed to create big-name products.

Buying locally grown food can help reduce fossil fuels needed to create big-name products.

Americans are becoming more mindful about the choices they make in terms of food choices and lifestyle habits. Cutting down on certain actions or products can help make a huge impact on the environment, especially when done by a large amount of people.

One of the best days to eliminate pollution of many sorts is by living in a walkable transit-oriented community. This doesn’t mean a compact city; there are many small American towns that “support a walkable lifestyle,” according to a TreeHugger.com blog post.

Biking can seriously reduce annual emissions. Photo from TreeHugger.com.

Biking can seriously reduce annual emissions. Photo from TreeHugger.com.

If public transportation is not an option, biking is a second solution. Not only is it faster and free, but it also provides a workout. A second blog post from TreeHugger.com explains how “cycling to work lowered the risk of death by 40 percent.” Annually, a biker how rides about four miles to and from work avoids over 900 kg of CO2 emissions.

Eating local foods can sometimes spark skeptic comments, it also reduces the amount of fossil fuels that go into making big-name products. Eating local foods also means eating seasonal foods because any food that is available that is not in season was usually created using fossil fuels.

TreeHugger.com lists many ways to practice healthy living that positively impacts the environment.

TreeHugger.com lists many ways to practice healthy living that positively impacts the environment.

According to Redondobeach.patch.com, The United States wastes about 55 million tons of food each year. Raising livestock for their meat accounts for 20 percent of the greenhouse gases each year. If Americans all cut one pound of meat a week from their diet, they would “reduce more harmful gas emissions than (a) car produces during a 750-mile roadtrip.”

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US Air Force keeps energy bills flying low

Since 2012, the U.S. Air Force has been cutting back on how much energy they use. Photo from usmilitary.about.com.

Since 2012, the U.S. Air Force has been cutting back on how much energy they use. Photo from usmilitary.about.com.

The largest energy user in the federal government, the U.S. Air Force, is reducing their energy usage. This group alone uses about 1 percent of the nation’s total energy.

Last year, the Air Force spent over $9 billion on energy and 85 percent of that went to aviation fuel, according to an Environmental News Network article.

Through investments and policy initiatives, the Air Force avoided $1.5 billion in energy bills compared to baseline years for its facility.

So far, the Air Force is on track to meet its goals of  “reducing facility energy intensity by 37.5 percent by 2020.” It is also well on its way to meet its goals of “increasing renewable energy use to 25 percent by 2025.”

A separate article in ENN said the Air Force is aiming to move away from foreign oil and to eliminate carbon dioxide output.

The Assistant Air Force Secretary William Anderson said the goal “was to reduce energy demand, look for cleaner power sources and to reuse captured carbon commercially, for instance to enhance the growth of biofuels or improve oil well production.”

Anderson said: “We believe that we have to find an environmentally friendly way to mine coal and to burn coal. We believe the technology is very close, and we believe that an organization with the market size and presence of the United States Air Force can help move technology forward to make coal a much cleaner and greener alternative across the board.”

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Chinese vessel runs into reef, illegal pangolin meat found onboard

On April 8, Chinese vessel F/N Min Long Yu rammed into a reef in the southwestern Philippines called the Tubbataha National Marine Park. The park is 239,700-acre marine sanctuary and a World Heritage Site.

However, the damage to the reef wasn’t the only threat to the environment, according to a NBC article.

On the second day of exploring the vessel, over 22,000 pounds of pangolin, a protected species, was found. A ban on hunting these creatures has been in place since 2002.

Pangolins, along with hundreds of other illegally hunted animals, yield around $19 billion a year worldwide.  Photo from www.wildlifesafari.info.

Pangolins, along with hundreds of other illegally hunted animals, yield around $19 billion a year worldwide. Photo from http://www.wildlifesafari.info.

Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo, a coast guard spokesman, said 400 boxes were found, each holding “25 to 30 kilograms of frozen pangolins.”

In total, the vessel could have been carrying 2,000 dead and de-scaled animals, said the World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines. The meat and scales go for hundreds of dollars because many Chinese believe they can cure sicknesses.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature said the demand for pangolins is on the rise and “lax laws are wiping out the toothless anteaters from their forest habitat in Southeast Asia.”

There are four species of pangolins and two are endangered. It is still unknown which species was found on the vessel.

WWF-Philippines Chief Executive Officer Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan said that it was “simply deplorable that they appear to be posing as fishermen to trade in illegal wildlife.”

The 12 crew members are detained on charges of poaching and attempted bribery. The men claimed to have wandered into the illegal waters by accident. They face a $300,000 fine – and that’s just for the poaching charges. For the animal meat, they could be fined and imprisoned for six years. On top of that, it is probable that the men will face charges on reef damage and violating the Philippines’ wildlife law.

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Japanese whaling: tradition vs. conservation

Disputes between the Japanese and marine-life activist groups have reached a whole new level.

Last week, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry of Japan released information about how there had been a record low for whale killings in Japan this year. This upset many Japanese people, along with Yoshimasa Hayashi, the minister of the department.

So far, only 103 Antarctic minke whales have been killed. No humpback whale or fin whale deaths have been recorded. This is only 10 percent of Japan’s kill quota. At this time in 2012 this time, the kill quota was already up to 26 percent.

Hayashi blames the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society for the lack of whale kills. In an EMagazine article, Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), a trade group for the whale-hunting industry, describes the intervention as “malicious and unacceptable” because it disrupts Japan’s traditions that involve whale meat.

“Modern whaling takes place on a sustainable basis and is carried out carefully to avoid impacts on overall whale stocks,” said ICR Spokesman Gavin Carter.

Hayashi said he thinks the world is “culturally attacking” Japan and the other countries who use whale meat in their culture. He mentioned how Koreans eat dogs and Australians eat kangaroos and how that is never shown in a negative light.

“We don’t eat those animals, but we don’t stop them from doing that because we understand that’s their culture,” Hayashi said. “Whaling has long been part of traditional Japanese culture, so I just would like to say ‘please understand this is our culture.'”

Sea Shepherd has released statements in which they call whale-hunting an “ecological terrorism.” The group believes killing intelligent animals who communicate in mysterious and complex ways does more harm than good.

Sea Shepherd in Australia have already prepared ships to send to the coast of Japan for the 10th season of interferences in December.

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An updated look at ‘Jurassic Park’ says dinosaurs would be feathered

While many reviewers for Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park in 3D” (released April 5, 2013) said they felt the renewed terror they had when the film first came out in 1993, National Geographic writer Christine Dell-Amore said if the film were updated to current research, the creatures would look much different.

Dell-Amore asked Thomas Holtz, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Maryland, College Park, what the main difference would be.

His response: “Feathers, feathers, feathers, feathers.”

Since the original film came out, many researchers have discovered dinosaurs probably had a coat of feathers. Most of these discoveries were made in Liaoning Province in China. Some specimens have even been found with intact feathers. There is even evidence that the almighty Tyrannosaurus Rex had feathers.

Holtz said, for example, the Velociraptor, a common creature in the “Jurassic Park” movies, would be “as feathered as a bald eagle.” This familiar dinosaur was also only as smart as a opossum, in contrast to its sneaky strategies in the movie.

Feathers would let the prehistoric creatures “keep warm, attract mates, or even protect eggs if dinosaurs fanned their arms over nests.”

The Hollywood industry has rejected the idea to use this updated evidence in “Jurassic Park 4,” which is scheduled to be released in June 2014.

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241 manatees dead in Florida from toxic red algae bloom

Manatees, an endangered sea mammal, have been suffering off the east and west coast of Florida. On the east coast, there were unexplainable deaths. Now, the animals on the opposite coast are suffering from digesting a toxic algae.

While this bloom appears each year, it has hit particularly strong recently. In 2012, 151 of the mammals were killed. In 2013, 241 have died so far.

The Florida Manatee population decreased by over 200 animals due to toxins in the coastal waters. Photo from beachchairscientist.com.

The Florida Manatee population decreased by over 200 animals due to toxins in the coastal waters. Photo from beachchairscientist.com.

Experts do not know why the bloom has been so hard this year. Dr. Martine DeWit, a veterinarian from Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the past windless winter may have helped the algae live longer than usual.

Manatees are not the only creatures affected by this toxin. Other sea life is suffering and humans could be affected when it blows into the air when waves break.

While the population has slowly been making a comeback over the past few years, this recent impact has hit hard.

The state Fish and Wildlife Research Institute expect the number of infected and killed manatees to continue rising.

In a New York Times article, Kevin Baxter, a spokesman for the research institute, said: “Southwest Florida is an area where a lot of manatees are during the winter months. It’s a warm-water area. The bloom has persisted there for quite a while.”

The good news is that the algae had dissipated in mid-March. However, the deaths will probably continue for a few months as remnants of the algae float in the waters and cling to sea grasses.

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