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Do this to cut down excess electricity use

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Electricity is one of the basic necessities that the world is highly dependent on. However, the drastic pace at which we continue to consume electricity will only make its availability difficult over the long term.

The Problem:

Conserving energy is not just about saving on your electricity costs, but also involves being eco-friendly, thereby, protecting the environment. Producing electricity in UAE highly depends on burning oil. This releases an abundant amount of harmful carbon emissions. Using a limited amount of electricity to fulfill one’s needs is acceptable, however, it becomes a major issue when we start consuming excess electricity and start wasting it. Over the past years our consumption of electricity has increased massively to the point where a UAE resident consumes 8,271 kilograms of oil equivalent energy per annum. According to The Gulf News, our electricity consumption alone has more than doubled in the past 10 years.

We may not notice the negative effects of high consumption of electricity at the moment, but it’ll have severe consequences later on, such as:

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  1. Increased Carbon Footprint

In order to get electricity, oil or coal is burnt which causes carbon to be released into the atmosphere. These carbon emissions raise global temperatures by trapping solar energy in the atmosphere, therefore, altering water supplies and weather patterns, which in turn changes the growing season for food crops and threatens coastal communities with increasing sea levels. Local food would become hard to find because agriculture here would suffer from more salty water which is not suitable for farming.

  1. Increased risk of climate change

Recent studies show, climate change could lead to more dust storms and hotter summers in the UAE. The scientists believe that as temperatures increase as a result of climate change, general drying would probably lead to more dust storms. This will also affect human health in many different ways. For example, warming will increase the range of diseases carried by insects.

  1. Higher Energy Costs

A natural consequence of overusing energy is increased costs. This can come in the form of fuel and energy bills. Also, as a result of overusing your appliances and other electronics, you may risk lowering their expected lifespan and therefore have to replace them more frequently. This will increase costs and as well as further impact the environment by generating more waste to dispose.

The Solution:

  1. Home improvements

Design the house in such a way that requires less energy to be consumed. Rooms with larger windows and balconies can be designed in order to reduce the need for artificial lighting during the day. Open the windows when the weather is cooler and avoid using the air condition unnecessarily.

  1. Use solar panels

Acquiring electricity from a more sustainable and eco-friendly source will greatly benefit the environment and in return us as well, in the long run. Moreover, UAE is the perfect place to derive energy from solar panels.

  1. Usage of home appliances

Reduce the usage of electric appliances at home and try to turn them off when not in use. For example:

  • Start the dishwasher only once it’s full
  • Set your clothes washer to the warm or cold water setting, not hot. This can save nearly 500 pounds of CO2 per year if you have an electric water heater
  • Unplug your phone or laptop from the charger when it’s fully charged.

Also small investments in energy saving appliances will be worth it. Although they cost more initially, they save money in the long run. Compact fluorescent bulbs, for example use only 1/4 the energy of an ordinary bulb and lasting 8-12 times longer. Try selecting the most energy-efficient models when replacing old appliances.

  1. Spread the word

Raising awareness amongst family members and friends and encouraging them to reduce electricity consumption will greatly benefit this cause. This can be done at every level and for all ages. After all, young minds bring the most change.

Article written by Safiya Mustafa.

Green Vibes

Be a green planet agent, fight E-Waste deluge

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E-Waste

As new electronic gadgets come on the market every day, consumers clamour to buy them, and in doing so dispose of their old products. But, where exactly do old electronic gadgets go to die? Most are improperly disposed of, and that is the heart of a new growing problem called electronic or e-waste.

Defining the e-waste problem

Electronic waste is not the same as other, more common forms of waste. It is non-biodegradable, and the improper disposal of electronics poses a severe threat to humans and the environment.

E-Waste

‘Electronic waste’ comprises all the electronic gadgets and gizmos that we throw out. They may be mobile phones, television sets, refrigerators, PSPs, entertainment devices, office electronic equipment (paper shredders, printers) and other electronic devices.

The reason e-waste is so difficult to dispose of is because it contains substances which are dangerous to the health and the environment such as Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) which contain high concentrations of lead and phosphors. They are necessary for the product to work, but they are classified as ‘hazardous household waste’.

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The Damage to Humans and the Environment

Waste from consumer electronics contain PCBs, cadmium, mercury and lead. These substances are highly toxic and carcinogenic and, when carelessly handled, can contaminate our food and water supply and even find a way into our food chain, destroying whole ecosystems.

E-Waste

Burning these products is not the answer as this causes toxic fumes to be emitted, as well as creating the potential of inhalation by humans and animals. PCBs have been shown to cause cancer, while cadmium, lead and mercury affect the central nervous system, which can cause cell damage and renal failure. Releasing harmful toxic fumes also affects our environment by further depleting the ozone layer.

Due to the difficulty and cost of electronics recycling, as well as spotty enforcement of legislation regarding e-waste exports, vast amounts of used electronics are being sent to developing countries. Lower environmental standards and working conditions make processing e-waste more profitable yet hazardous in those countries. However, as responsible consumers of electronic goods, it is up to us to make subtle changes in our lifestyle and conserve our natural resources.

Protecting Humans and Saving Our World

Here’s what you can do

Become an informed consumer! Being mindful of electronics disposal is critical. There are facilities that specifically deal with this kind of hazardous material. When electronics are handled and sorted properly, e-waste can be a very valuable source of secondary raw materials.

E-Waste

If you need to get rid of an old phone or electronic item, consider donating your used products to social programs—and help victims of domestic violence, children safety initiatives, environmental causes, and more. For each item received, the World Wildlife Fund will receive one dollar.

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Instead of getting a brand new smartphone, why not invest in a ‘modular smartphone’ or a ‘Phoneblok’? These types of phones are more durable and have the technology to change certain parts of the phone making them more environmentally friendly. Being able to simply replace the part of the phone that is broken will reduce e-waste.

Or how about curbing your electronic device appetite a little bit? Want that brilliant new iPhone that just came out? Let it be your birthday gift! Besides, do you really need an extra device? Try finding different uses for the same gadget.

One way to deal with the problem is to see if anyone wants to buy your old tech toys. Many companies have sprung up to take them off your hands, like TechForward which will let you sign up when you first buy your electronic goods, and then, after a certain period of time will buy it from you for a set price.

E-Waste

Some electronics stores offer a convenient ‘take-back’ program. In the majority of cases you won’t receive any money in exchange for your old equipment, but, this at least this provides you with a painless and easy way to get rid of older electronics. Many retailers and manufacturers are starting to offer take-back programmes but you may have to specifically ask them about this. Manufacturers who have publicized their take-back programmes include Apple, Canon, Dell, Epson, Gateway, HP, Lenovo, Lexmark, LG, Sony and Toshiba.

By Prekshaa Veeraragavan

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REFERENCES

1-UAE Interact

2-Green Living Answers

3-Harvard

4-Inquisitr

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Green Vibes

UAE first Arab country to host World Urban Forum

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Abu Dhabi: The Tenth Edition of the World Urban Forum (WUF 10) kicked off from Feb 8 until 13 Feb in Abu Dhabi. The UAE is the first Arab country to host the world’s most important conference on cities and human settlements.

WUF10 is convened by UN-Habitat in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport, the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, General Secretariat of the Executive Council, and the ultra-modern Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

The theme of the Tenth Session is Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation.

The World Urban Forum (WUF) was established in 2001 by the United Nations to address one of the most pressing issues facing the world today: rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies. Convened by UN-Habitat, the Forum is a high level, open and inclusive platform for addressing the challenges of sustainable urbanization.

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The Objectives of the World Urban Forum:
Raising awareness of sustainable urbanization among stakeholders and constituencies, including the general public;
Improving collective knowledge on sustainable urban development through open and inclusive debate, exchange of best practices and policies, and sharing of lessons learnt.
Promote collaboration and cooperation between different stakeholders and constituencies engaged in the advancement and implementation of sustainable urbanization.

Six Dialogues Sessions at the WUF10 will take stock of emerging innovative approaches and practices in harnessing culture and innovation as drivers for sustainable urbanization and provide greater insights into the linkages between urbanization, culture and innovation as a basis for achieving inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements.

The dialogues are:
1. Urbanization, Culture and Innovation Driving Sustainable Urbanization through Culture and Innovation
2. Tradition and Modernity – A Creative Convergence for Sustainable Cities
3. Frontier Technologies and Sustainable Cities
4. Urban Planning and Heritage Preservation and Regeneration
5. Partnerships and Initiatives Supporting Culture and Innovation in Cities

Previous World Urban Forums

Know more about the programmes here

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Green Vibes

What can you do to reduce ocean acidification

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Acidity in the ocean is now reaching the point of saturation. This will eventually reduce the number of ocean creatures especially the corals, which will be hazardous to the ecosystem and the economy of the world.

The Problem

“Acidity”, does that mean ‘hydrochloric acid’, ‘Sulfuric acid’ and so on? Well, it is true that these are definitely acids but, if these were added to oceans wouldn’t it cause a mega explosion! So what is “Ocean Acidification”? As carbon dioxide is given off to the surrounding environment, nearly 25% of the carbon dioxide present in the air is absorbed by the ocean surface which then combines with the other elements present in the ocean water to form acids such as carbolic acid. Carbolic acid dissolves calcium-containing structures like bones, skeletons, corals etc. Thus, ocean acidification is harmful for the aquatic life, as the acid generated at the ocean surface would dissolve the aquatic organisms such as shellfish, corals and the skeleton of other sea creatures.

Higher levels of acid means lesser life span for sea animals. This is referred to as ocean acidification. According to the “Planet Earth Herald” this is now becoming a huge problem; the acidity of the ocean at the surface level has increased by a factor of 30% within the past two centuries. What’s more is it’s expected to increase by another 150% in a century to come. This increase in the percentage of the acidity in the oceans can be proven by a decrease in the pH. A decrease in pH indicates acidity while an increase in the pH indicates basicity.

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Today the pH on the surface of the oceans has dropped to 8.1 from 8.2, which clearly shows a 25% increase in the acid levels of the oceans within a span of 200 years. This is very crucial especially to the Middle Eastern countries as they are located on the Arabian Peninsula that is surrounded by water bodies on all three sides of the land: the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. Fishing and pearl rearing is a major source of income for the Arab World with about 30 million people of the Arab world directly dependent on corals for food resources, coastal protection and most importantly tourism.

A large part of the UAE economy is dependent on fishing and tourism. If you visit the Dubai Pearl Museum you will learn about pearl diving and you’ll understand the role it plays in the culture. But in addition to the pearl diving exhibits, you’ll also see the beautiful corals that are present around the waters of the UAE. The increase in the levels of acidity in these oceans will reduce the number of fish and corals surrounding the Arab world, which could have a knock down effect on GDP and economic growth. So in order to maintain both economic and ecological stability of the Arab countries, it is important that we turn our attention to maintaining the pH of the oceans on a global level.

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The Solution

Although ocean acidification is a very alarming problem, it can eventually be eradicated in a few years from now. All it takes, is for you to take a step forward and try weaving the following suggestions into your everyday life!

1 – Eat Blue

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—Eat lower on the food chain

Smaller fishes are found in abundance compared to that of the larger fishes and also contain smaller amounts of mercury, which makes it very healthy. This includes squid, mackerel, sardines and mussels.

—Eat Local

Eat the fish varieties that are local unless they have been depleted in the local waters. This includes tuna and hamour.

—Avoid Eating frozen food!

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Frozen seafood like fish and shrimp contain higher carbon dioxide gas emission but cost lesser.

—Eat MSC Certified Fish

MSC, which stands for “Marine Stewardship Council”, certifies seafood that is caught or raised in a sustainable manner and is recommended for consumption.

2 – Use Green Gardening Techniques

Run off from washing your cars and watering your plants contains higher levels of carbon and nitrogen gas. This will get into the oceans and increase the levels of ocean acidity. By reducing the use of fertilizers and managing water and energy effectively you can reduce your emission of carbon dioxide from your gardens!

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3 – Reduce Car Use

Consider adding a bicycle or walk into your routine. And be sure to carpool, if you’re going as a group, instead of using multiple cars

4 – Use Hot Water More Efficiently

Wash your clothes in cold water instead of in hot water. Use lower temperature settings of the heater and wrap it with insulation. This can help in keeping the temperature in control by slowing down the production of the acid on the surface of the ocean.

5 – Drive Smart

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Begin to drive your vehicle only after making sure that the tires are inflated, as deflated tires will result in the increased emission of gasoline into the atmosphere. Check and refill your tires to reduce the amount of gasoline, and consequently carbon dioxide emission.

6 – Waste Less Food

Reduce the wastage of food, especially meat. This is because meat production results in the release of large volumes of carbon dioxide gas into the surrounding environment. This in turn increases the concentration of the acid on the surface of the ocean.

7 – Run a Home Energy Audit

Many utility companies offer free or subsidized audits, which typically involve evaluating appliances and lighting, checking insulation, and looking for air leaks around doors, pipes and windows. By running home energy audits regularly you can check the amount of carbon dioxide emission at your home, and work to mitigate it.

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8 – Use Alternative Form Of Energy

Burning fossil fuels results in the production of massive amounts of carbon dioxide and is in fact the root of global warming. The use of alternative form of energy like water and wind energy will eventually result in the reduced emission of carbon dioxide gas.

9- Plant More Trees

In order to control the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere it is important to increase the number of trees especially in the cities where there is a huge concentration of automobiles. The trees absorb the harmful carbon dioxide gas released by vehicles and industries. This way less carbon dioxide is released in the atmosphere and consequently less is absorbed into the ocean.

 

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By Gaayathri Veeraragavan

References

About corals 

(www.heritage.org/index/country/unitedarabemirates)

(http://planetearthherald.com/top-10-environmental-issues/)

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(http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-ocean-acidification/)

http://www.nrdc.org

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