Adsorption of oil with hair is the adhesion of atoms, ions or molecules from a gas, liquid or dissolved solid to a surface. This process creates a film of the adsorbate on the surface of the adsorbent.
What this means is that hair allows oil to coat, hence effectively absorbing it. And given the surface area, cheap costs, and renewability of hair, this is a great solution.
Hair clippings are a low-tech, yet remarkably effective method to tidy up oil spills In fact, a San Francisco-based environmental non-profit organisation, Matter of Trust, has collected donations of thousands of pounds of human hair to clean up after the thousands of oil spills that happen each year.
Oil spills are an example of the havoc humanity often wreaks on the environment. In the last thirty odd years, the issue of oil spills and their effects has become a much talked about topic (And for all the wrong reasons).
So, how does an oil spill happen?
Oil spills happens when liquid petroleum is released into the environment by vehicle, vessel or pipeline.
It happens on a large scale and is mostly seen in water bodies. We’re not talking about a few litres here and there. We’re talking about millions of litres of oil spilling into the ocean.
Take the case of the M/T Haven Tanker Oil Spill. This devastating event watched approximately 45 million litres of oil fall into the ocean. Not only is this a significant loss, but the damages inflicted upon the environment have long lasting consequences.
And this is just one oil spill out of the many. Hundreds of oil spills take place every year. The news of many which don’t even reach us. Crude oil can be released by tankers on land. In water bodies, the spill occurs due to drilling rigs, offshore oil platforms and wells.
While the sources of oil spills are many, the solutions are limited.
Oil floats on water and prevents sunlight to pass through it. The shiny substance that you see sometimes on top layer of water is nothing but oil which makes it difficult for plants and sea animals to survive.
Underwater plants die. Oil weighs down the wings of birds that can no longer fly easily. It contaminates food, water and destroys the entire ecosystem.
Unfortunately, cleaning up of oil spill is no easy task. Various factors need to be considered before carrying out operations. Some of them being amount of oil spilled, temperature of water, type of beaches and many more.
Currently methods used involve skimmers, dispersants an bio degradant technology. But is there a better way?
The answer lies in your hair.
Have you ever noticed how your hair becomes greasy when you don’t wash it for a while? Why does this happen? It happens because hair is adsorbent.
Adsorption is the adhesion of atoms, ions or molecules from a gas, liquid or dissolved solid to a surface. This process creates a film of the adsorbate on the surface of the adsorbent.
What this means is that hair allows oil to coat, hence effectively absorbing it. And given the surface area, cheap costs, and renewability of hair, this is a great solution.
Hair can also be washed repeatedly and this does not damage its ability to absorb oil. The average person takes around 150 haircuts in their lifetime. Hair is low-cost, easily available and a great alternative to chemical treatments.
This idea was the brainchild of Phil McCrory, a former hairdresser from Alabama and it has the potential to change the environment completely.
One of the most important takeaways from this, is how simple solutions can be used to bring around large change. I hope this encourages each one of you to try learning new things. Because, the solution of the biggest global problems lie in the simplest, most unassuming of places. And it might even be your barber’s floor.
Hair clippings are a low-tech, yet remarkably effective method to tidy up oil spills In fact, a San Francisco-based environmental non-profit organisation, Matter of Trust, has collected donations of thousands of pounds of human hair to […]
The use of big data can help scientists’ chart not only the degradation of the environment but can be part of the solution to achieve sustainability, according to a new commentary paper.
The paper, ‘Opportunities for big data in conservation and sustainability’, published today in Nature Communications, said increased computing speeds and data storage had grown the volume of big data in the last 40 years, but the planet was still facing serious decline.
Lead author Dr Rebecca Runting from the University of Melbourne’s School of Geography says that while we currently have an unprecedented ability to generate, store, access and analyse data about the environment, these technological advances will not help the world unless they lead to action.
“Big data analyses must be closely linked to environmental policy and management,” Dr Runting said. “For example, many large companies already possess the methodological, technical, and computational capacity to develop solutions, so it is paramount that new developments and resources are shared timely with government, and in the spirit of ‘open data’.”
Commentators noted that 2.3 million km2 of forest was lost over the years 2000 to 2012 and that dynamic marine and coastal ecosystems have revealed similar declines. An analysis of over 700,000 satellite images shows that Earth has lost more than 20,000 km2 of tidal flats since 1984.
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently seeing governments making rapid (health) decisions based on fairly sophisticated data analysis,” Dr Runting said. “There may be opportunities to learn from this and achieve a similarly tight coupling of analysis and decision-making in the environmental sector.”
Co-author Professor James Watson from the University of Queensland said with platforms like Google Earth Engine and the capacity of satellites to track and send information quickly to computers, big data was capable of identifying eco-health risks globally.
“What the big data revolution has helped us understand is the environment is often doing worse than what we thought it was. The more we map and analyse, the more we find the state of the environment, albeit Antarctic ice sheets, wetlands, or forests, is dire. Big data tells us we are running out of time,” Professor Watson said.
“The good news is the big data revolution can help us better understand risk. For example, we can use data to better understand where future ecosystem degradation will take place and where these interact with wildlife trade, so as to map pandemic risk.”
Dr Runting said big data has been pivotal in quantifying alarming spatial and temporal trends across Earth. For example, an automated vessel tracking and monitoring system is being used to predict illegal fishing activity in real-time.
“This has allowed governments quickly investigate particular vessels that may be undertaking illegal fishing activity within their jurisdiction, including within Australian waters,” she said. Similarly, Queensland’s Statewide Landcover and Trees Study uses satellite imagery to monitor woody vegetation clearing, including the detection of illegal clearing.
Professor Watson cited a similar example. “Global forest watch has been a game change for monitoring the state of the world forests in near real time. This can help identify illegal activities and informed active enforcement of forest conservation around the world,” Professor Watson said.
The paper also noted positive environmental changes due to human intervention such as greening seen in large expanses in China, which was driven by large scale national policies, including forest conservation and payments for restoration.
IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons
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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Mendocino announced it will now be conducting inspections seven days a week for invasive mussel species, with help from the Sonoma County Water Agency, an increase from the current weekend inspections. The inspections will start every day on Sunday, March 1, and the inspectors will be looking […]
DECATUR, Ala. – A series of interesting events happened before and after 3M disclosed it failed to obey federal law by releasing certain manufacturing chemicals or the waste of those chemicals into the Tennessee River. 3M sent that disclosure letter in April. WHNT News 19 was told just weeks before the EPA may have been at 3M’s plant in Decatur in mid-March. WHNT News 19 went through official channels at the EPA to find out if it happened. As of […]
1. Recycle the CO₂ content in the atmosphere: Just reducing the greenhouse gase emissions is not a permanent fix for the problem. Today Startups are going the extra mile and are trying to recycle the CO₂ in the atmosphere. More importantly a cost effective way needs to be found to store that amount of CO₂ which we pull out from the atmosphere.
2. Energy Storage: Wind and Solar energy are becoming cheaper but the issue is no electricity is generated when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. Hence, the requirement for a storage system for electricity is even greater, either through molten salt, flow batteries to store such huge amounts of electricity.
3. Safe Driverless Cars: Companies have been testing autonomous vehicles for a long time now. But we have also witnesses accidents during the testing stages. Driverless Cars face a big challenge in situations like heavy traffic or during drastic weather conditions. Every transforming idea comes with an even greater amount of execution in mind. Safety is what Tech Companies should keep in mind while building Driverless Cars.
4. Earthquake Prediction: Number of Earthquakes, Tsunamis have been on the rise in nations such as Indonesia, Japan, India, Sri Lanka to name a few. Technology to preempt such natural disasters hours before impact could help save many lives and help in evacuation in time.
5. Artificial Intelligence: Recently a company named Boston Dynamics introduced an Embodied A.I. in the form of Atlas, a robot copying the actions of a soldier. It had a body but it can’t play Go, where AlphaGo beat the word’s best Go Player. AlphaGo is intelligent but lacks a body. Atlas has a body but lacks intelligence. Bringing or integration of both is any way will not only be a milestone in A.I. but just imagine an A.I. that could communicate in the Physical World just like Humans and Animals do.
1. Recycle the CO₂ content in the atmosphere: Just reducing the greenhouse gase emissions is not a permanent fix for the problem. Today Startups are going the extra mile and are trying to recycle the CO₂ in the atmosphere. More importantly a cost effective way needs to be found to store that amount of CO₂ […]
Scientists found that frogs DO jump out of the water as it gets hot. They are smarter than we are.
If you put one in boiling water it will hop out, but if you gradually increase the temperature of the water it will let itself be boiled. It’s meant to warn us about slowly developing dangers in addition to obvious ones.
As metaphors go, a boiling frog works. Step into the realm of reality and the metaphor breaks down. Dr. Victor Hutchison, at the University of Oklahoma, dispelled the myth when he studied frogs’ reaction to temperature changes in water. He followed the procedure outlined for a proper frog-boiling; put a frog in cold water, and gradually warmed the water up. (He stopped well before the boiling point.) The frogs most definitely did jump out when the water got too warm for them. So that aspect of the metaphor breaks down.
What about the other aspect? If we want to get really gruesome, we can discuss what happens when you throw a frog into boiling water. No one has done this as an experiment, but scientists are pretty sure they know what will happen if someone did. Getting dropped into boiling water would be serious trouble for a human, and we have nice thick skin and quite large legs. The surface of the body parts that were exposed to the water would be damaged or destroyed, but we’d have enough muscle mass to get out of the water, provided the edge of the container was close and we didn’t go into shock. A frog is not nearly as big as we are. The boiling water would destroy its muscles to the point where it could not hop out and would die in the water.
So the real story should be the exact reverse of the “fact” that’s so often quoted. Put a frog in some cold water and heat it up slowly, and the frog will hop out. Drop a frog in boiling water and it will be boiled alive. Is it me, or does that sound even scarier?
Earlier this month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their landmark report on Global Warming of 1.5°C which warned the world has just 12 years to limit global warming in order to avoid extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty. So now feels like as good a time as ever to talk about the future.
What’s IS the world going to look like in 2050? or in 2100? And what role will water resources play in it all?
Here in Australia it’s already clear that growing city populations and the drying climate have impacted the water storage levels. And in Perth, meeting our water supply demand by storing rainwater in dams is a distant memory. Clean drinking water in Perth is now sourced almost entirely from groundwater (~ 46%) and desalination (~45%) with less than 7% attributed to rainfall. Worryingly, almost half of people in WA don’t know where their drinking water comes from! If recent events in Cape Town teach us anything it’s that public awareness of clean water supplies is a crucial element of resource sustainability.
As water-related problems get more complicated we need to get smarter – the water industry needs digital disruption; machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) are combining to disrupt the way water businesses operate
As time goes by water is likely to play a larger role in political tension as well; both on a national and international scale. Researchers from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) analysed past “hydro-political interactions” (instances of conflict and cooperation over water resources) in international river basins to identify where conflict is likely to emerge around the world.
So in the spirit of National Water Week, we here at Urbaqua encourage you to take a moment to think about the role that water currently plays in your life, how important clean water resources are to the way we live, and what you can do at an individual level to help relieve the enormous pressures that we’re collectively facing on sustainable clean water.
It’s National Water Week and the theme is ‘Water for Me, Water for All‘. Earlier this month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their landmark report on Global Warming of 1.5°C which warned the world has just 12 years to limit global warming in order to avoid extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty. […]
Urban farming is when traditional farming such as growing food, bee keeping and raising animals or fish is practiced in urban areas. This can be within or around cities and in villages. In recent years urban farming as become more popular due to environmental awareness and a demand for organic food.
Benefits of Urban Farming
Urban Farming in sustainable – Whether on a small scale like a personal garden or a larger scale with green spaces if managed and looked after it can provide food for many years. Jobs can be created too if it is a larger space.
Urban farming helps the environment – The fruits and vegetables planted benefits the local air by using carbon up in our air due to pollution. Because the food is grown and distributed locally it also reduces the carbon footprint left by the usual transportation of food from farms to supermarket.
Better quality nutrition – Growing and nurturing locally gives you control of how you feed and grow your plants. Pesticides can be avoided, it is well known organic food is better for us. It can also be a family or communal project, in particular it teaches children about food and encourages them to eat their veggies.
Food brings people together – For centuries food has brought communities together whether due to a religious holiday or traditional festival. Urban Farming in communal areas can bring the sense of pride in community back.
Makes the concrete jungle green again – Having a urban farming space brings green back to a typically grey space. Here is a great example of how Chicago brought some green back to its city:
Urban Farming is a worldwide movement and cities all over the world are taking a step to improve their cities:
Prinzessinnengarten, Berlin, Germany:
Lufa Farms, Montreal, Canada:
Sky Greens, Lim Chu Kang area, Singapore:
How can I start Urban Farming?
We can all contribute to making our planet a green place. You don’t need access to a huge garden, it can be a small herb pot, chilli or tomato plant. Here are some easy options to get you started for any budget in a variety of styles. Links added for you already:
Grow Me – Hot stuff chillies – £6.99
Grow It Chilli Plant – £12.99
Indoor Allotment (Grow your own herbs) – £24.99
Personalised Wooden Planter – £29.99
*Prices correct at time of posting.*
Whether it is for yourself or a gift, Urban Farming is accessible to anyone and we can all reduce our carbon footprint. These small and affordable ideas are how to can begin to dip your toes into growing your own food. What One Change Now will you make to start your own green space?
Urban farming is when traditional farming such as growing food, bee keeping and raising animals or fish is practiced in urban areas. This can be within or around cities and in villages. In recent years urban farming as become more popular due to environmental awareness and a demand for organic food. Benefits of Urban Farming […]
Winefield & Associates, Inc. (W&A) finds contaminated brownfield properties to acquire and redevelop on the West Coast with an emphasis on Southern California commercial and industrial locations. Most of the properties we source are in premium infill areas and have clean values ranging from $2 million to $20 million. After W&A conducts thorough due diligence on its target acquisitions, we develop appropriate syndications to finance and manage the remediation and redevelopment processes. Our unique value proposition entails using our environmental engineering backgrounds and experience with third-party remediation funding to turn blighted properties into beneficial assets for their communities.
“The best way to design a circular world is to consider that waste should not have existed in the first place.”
This article is published in The Beam #6 —
The Circular Economy is a regenerative system in which resources are kept in use for as long as possible; with maximum value continuously recirculated. Products and materials are offered as a service so that they can be recovered and regenerated at the end of each service life, i.e. no more cradle to grave, just cradle to cradle.
The Blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, a blockchain is inherently immune to modification of the data.
The Ex’Tax Project is the proposal by Eckart Wintzen to bring tax on resources up and tax on labour down, creating a proper incentive to use abundant materials instead of scarce ones. Lower taxes on labour would make it more affordable to benefit from the abundance of the capacities of people, boosting labour force, craftsmanship and creativity.
Now, let us imagine that these three innovations, put to good use, could set up the foundations of a new era for any societies across the planet. One could be designing them in such a way to generate well-being on earth, for all of us. Not possible? Let’s see.
Redesigning our economic model
The best way to design a circular world is to consider that waste should not have existed in the first place. This is now recognised as a fact: waste is the result of a poorly designed economic model based on the ownership of a product, as well as its legal responsibility, both transitioning from manufacturers to end-consumers, thereafter ending in landfills. Our ‘throw-out’ economic model ensures that the more we buy products — often for single use — the more often we need to buy them to satiate our dependency. At the end of this chain, we end up with gigantesque amounts of waste that we try harder to repurpose. Today, we have to design waste out of our systems at the front end of the design stage, making durable products, preferably offered as services. They would be used for our needs and then, once fulfilled, would be designed to pass on to the next user, after repair, maintenance or refurbishment.
Here waste is considered the root cause of our environmental challenges. But does that suffice to address our systemic challenges?
“The best way to design a circular world is to consider that waste should not have existed in the first place.”
From Circular Economy to circular societies
Rethinking relations between the economic and the environmental is a great approach to hopefully fixing the way we live by sharing access to resources. The Circular Economy is often considered as being our next economic model given that it provides a response to businesses’ economic resilience. But how about adding a social dimension as well as a holistic value-based method to the current model, ensuring we stay within boundaries while aiming for the genuine well-being of all? Why not, whilst wearing these “circular lenses”, also rethink the origins of our societal negative externalities? If waste is the root cause of our environmental patterns, poverty is the one to consider for our social systems. If we can design waste out, why not apply circular thinking to design poverty out too? This way the model´becomes fully inclusive, ensuring all will benefit.
Neither waste nor poverty are produced in nature. Both are inventions of our economic systems. They need to be eradicated at the same time so as to shift the paradigm once and for all. This advanced approach of eradicating both waste and poverty out of our system is what we call ‘Circular Economy 2.0’. And this could be made possible with the help of new technologies and tax regimes.
Blockchain or the Internet Of Value
Touted as being the “biggest innovation of the past 250 years” (Tapscott, 2016) the blockchain’s inherent architecture means we have the capacity to be even more effective with how we transact and exchange values. Up until now, price has determined our values in the market place, often at the cost of society and planetary boundaries. Imagine a system where the value of the transaction is determined by the level of impact a good or a service has on the planet and its people. Imagine being able to transact intangible values, such as love, wellbeing, harmony. Imagine being able to digitise the impact of our transactions, recording transparently and immutably, those transactions which align with the key principles of a Circular Economy and those that don’t.
Now imagine what an incentive such a mechanism might have on influencing consumer and producer choices. With Blockchain technology: supply chains, products, services, communities can all be cryptographically stored on an immutable ledger; all capable of being coded to demonstrate the extent of their — positive or negative — impact on natural and social capital.
In effect, the Blockchain will allow us to redefine how we currently see value. Our ‘current see’ or currency has historically been very limited. With Blockchain, (our emerging ‘current see’) we can transact meaningful, regenerative values alongside financial values. Thanks to Blockchain, the Internet of Value (IOV) has arrived. We can start engaging with consumer choices that value the earth and its people as if they mattered more than centralised profit shares. Blockchain has the capacity to eradicate the linear extractive and destructive aspects to stocks and shares. It will allow us to truly take stock and share our collective bounty and creativity.
A truly decentralised and distributed economy
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, finite resources have become increasingly controlled by centralised corporate structures. To date, around 1,318 transnational corporations currently control the majority of the planet’s informational, material, energy, financial, food and water stocks and flows (Glattfelder, 2011). There are obvious benefits to centralised systems but as the core concepts of a Circular Economy identify, centralised control (when viewed from a living systems perspective) leads to imbalance, brittleness and low resilience thresholds. The 2008 global financial crisis is testament to the consequences of depending on too brittle a centralised financial system. Global inequality is also such a consequence of centralised control systems with eight individuals alive today owning a combined wealth equal to the collective wealth (or poverty) of four billion fellow human beings.
With Blockchain, decentralised local economic systems can thrive, where the decision making process is designed through community consensus, with specific protocols determining how value is created, measured, transacted, and evenly distributed. This approach is far more analogous to a living system, where decentralised coordination of local resources ensues, resulting in zero waste and zero poverty. Blockchain is fundamentally the same as a complex adaptive system, upon which decentralised apps (DApps) can be built to ensure more regenerative distributive, diverse, socially inclusive economic activity can take place. A system where the flow of resources can be designed to key environmentally safe principles but also socially just circular principles, all listed here:
Safe Principle #1 “Preserve and enhance Natural Capital by controlling finite stocks and balancing renewable resource flows”;
Safe Principle #2 “Optimize resource yields by circulating products, components and material at the highest utility at all times in both technical and biological cycles”;
Safe Principle #3 “Foster system effectiveness by revealing and designing out negative externalities”;
Just Principle #4 “Equity makes business sense as services could be design to address the needs of all”;
Just Principle #5 “Developing people’s ability promoting any means of exchange is a priority as one should be accessing more with less in a service-based economy”;
Just Principle #6 “Using labour is innovative as in a systemic regenerative model all abundantly available renewable energies should be considered”;
All of these principles can be architecturally configured within decentralised autonomous organisations (DAO’s), where consensually agreed upon protocols determine how value is measured, tracked and exchanged. Blockchain technology (BCT) is ripe for circular economic interaction. BCT offers a shift from centralised vertical scaling to distributed lateral scaling. BCT ‘smart contracts’ enable decentralised and secure resource sharing, anywhere between peers who are hyper connected via the same smart contract platform. With the application of BCT, organisations and communities can design and build smart contract platforms which will rapidly upscale equitable circular economic activities through digitally integrated value chains — built for resilience — used within the multiple realms of not for profit community initiatives, private businesses and even local governance (for instance, human-centred Circular city structures).
There are many examples of blockchain based initiatives emerging exponentially. The most powerful promise of BCT however, is the opportunity for humanity to redefine how it values itself within an economic context. To date it has been our utilitarian capacity, our level of productivity that primarily deems us as economically valuable. With Blockchain and the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), we have an opportunity to reimagine and redefine what makes us unique. Perhaps we can be here to demonstrate our infinite creativity on a finite planet and recognise that we are able to be valued not for what we can extract from each other (our utilitarian capacity), but for what we can learn from each other (our creativity, diversity and uniqueness).
A tax system put to good use
A tax shift from labour to pollution redirects the creative force of entrepreneurs from focusing on reducing headcount to smart resource use. In this approach tax is not a penalty on innovation; innovation can run freely, as long as it’s safe and, hopefully, just. This approach makes it more likely for people to find new roles if and when their chores are taken over by machines, and within the context of our environmental boundaries.
The greatest opportunities exist when technology supports, complements and amplifies the talents of people, as explained above. If we want humans to flourish in balance with our natural systems, it is time we update our tax systems to match 21st century challenges.
Optimizing the Circular Value
Only humans can perceive value. Introducing the notion of circular value creation could ensure our priorities would remain on addressing people’s needs thanks to material circularity. With this ultimate goal in mind, well-balanced societies could rely on a human-centred Circular Economy — with a Humansphere(5) at its core -, be powered by a safe and just tax program and fueled by a carefully designed Blockchain strategy (among other diversified means of exchanges).
Designing waste and poverty out of our systems is a vision we can work towards with collective passion, audacity and hard work. We may be successful, we may not, but at least we are trying harder. The vision is set. Tools are available for its implementation. This is now a matter of leadership and collective willingness to succeed.
Building genuinely designed equitable circular societies is no longer a dream. It could be our reality.
(1) Environmentally Safe Circular Principles are the three core principles of the Circular Economy, as proposed by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation;
(2) Socially Just Circular Principles are three added circular principles proposed by the concept called the ‘Circular Economy 2.0’, adding the two missing dimensions to the Circular Economy: the social dimension, and an approach to the optimization of value, Circular Value, ensuring our circular design truly leads to a genuine paradigm shift;
(3) New humans roles could be reinvented based on two new business models: humans-as-a-service and humans-as-a-resource, but not limited to.
(4) Optimization of Circular Value (#OCV) is an approach of a new concept of value creation based on our ability to regenerate natural, economic and social cycles.
(5) As proposed in the concept of ‘Circular Economy 2.0’ (eradicating both waste and poverty out of our systems), a Circular Humansphere is inserted in the circular economy ‘butterfly diagram’ to enhance the decision-making process when designing a project or a service. It is based on our three stocks of available resources (Natural Capital, Human Capital, Remanufactured Capital) as well as our abundant or endless flows of energies available (renewable energies available from the Natural Capital as well as from the Human Capital).
All I could think of was….. say my name. Say my name. In the pounding surf, in the wind shivering the palms. In the quiet of your arms. Say my name. It has been a total of 168 Days since Hurricane Maria made landfall & 182 Days since Hurricane Irma made landfall on the island […]
In recent years, renewable energy has become more affordable. For this reason, most researchers have started looking for alternative sources to reduce the escalating costs of energy. The emergence of new sources of renewable energy is expected to result in a less polluted environment. Below are 5 renewable energy sources poised to make a difference. […]