Monday, November 26, 2012

Environmentality 21 November 2012

Dear Environmentality Listeners,

Jaime, Smokey and Sarah were joined by our resident gardening expert, Jodi Jackson, to discuss what everyone loves to grow and eat, tomatoes.

We recommend that you listen to the podcast as Jodi has many great tips and pointers that will help your tomato plants produce a bountiful crop.  And it is still not too late to plant your tomatoes! Here is a summary of Jodi's tips:

  1. Get your soil pH right through using a soil test kit.  This will help you determine whether your soil is towards the acid or alkaline side of the scale.  Tomatoes are acid loving plants and thrive in pH 5.5 soils.  Other plants tend to prefer netural pH soil.  Chook poo, mushroom compost and well rotted manure - these are examples of matter which all promote soil acidity.
  2. Jodi grows tomatoes commercially and has developed a method to promote root growth and strong plants.  Seedlings are planted whereby 2/3 of the stem is under the soil, and excess shoots are removed.  Only the top 1/3 of the tomato plant and folliage remains.  Jodi has had success with this method, however controversial!
  3. Ensure lots of organic matter, compost and a fist full of rock dust is dug into the soil before planting your tomato plant.  Rock dust acts like a slow release fertiliser.
  4. Brown marks at the bottom of a plant is a sign of dry soil.  Dig in more organic matter around the plant and mulch heavily with straw.  The leaves will tell you how moist the soil is. 
  5. A sprinkle of potash around the plants feeds them and sets the flowers and fruit.  Blood and bone is another useful top dress.
  6. Jodi using three stakes per plant.  One is the 'leader' in the middle, and guides two lateral shoots along the other stakes.  
  7. An organic bacteria non toxic spray (BT spray) can be used to deter white cabbage butterfly.
  8. You can make new plants with off shoots lower down the stem from your existing tomato plants.

Image by Y. Larratt

Some upcoming events:
- Bright Industries are hosing a non-for-profit event selling donated plants at Dallas Drive, Broadmeadows on Saturday the 1st December.
- Jodi will be demonstrating how to make tomato plant cuttings at the Craigieburn Gardens 10-12pm on Sunday 2nd December.
-  The Hume Indigenous Group are hosting a once a year event on Wednesday 12 December, 78-81 Pearcedale Rd Broadmeadows 10-2pm.  There will be DIY activities, raffle, music and more.

We played the following excellent tunes:

Astrid - Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Love - The Red Telephone
Grizzly Bear - Southern Point
Sweet Dreams - The Grates

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Environmentality 31st October 2012

Dear Environmentality Listeners,

Following on from last week Smokey and Sarah are discussing top ten environmental successes based from a list has compiled by Joe Laur from Greenopolis.

This week we will start from Number 1….

1.     Cleaner Water

As they say, water is the essence of life.  Without water, especially clean water, all life on earth cannot exist.  The necessity of having clean water and waterways has been the element of change for working towards a cleaner and greener earth, it has been one of the largest worldwide challenges to overcome and it also links in with social justice and human rights issues.  Policies implemented in many countries across the globe have helped with the clean up of our water sources and waterways enabling us to have access to clean water and ultimately befitting our environment.  Technologies such as being able to treat wastewater have helped to assist the world to become a cleaner and greener place.

2.     Pollution Prevention

Pollution prevention is a way to describe actions that decrease the amount of pollution produced by a process; this could be consumer consumption, industrial production or even driving a car.  Over recent years pollution prevention strategies we have seen are lead removed from petrol, household recycling bins, green chemistry, renewable energy generation and cradle to cradle design to name a few.  This has allowed high numbers of pollutants taken away and have saved not only lives but our environment as well.

3.     Cleaner Air

I am sure most of us remember growing up the issue of the hole in the ozone layer, and the monumental international agreement of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.  Without international co-operation the ozone layer would not have had a chance to recover (it is expected to recover by 2050).  The protocol has been reviewed several times to ensure that our air is cleaner and we have fewer pollutants entering our lungs or the atmosphere. 

4.     Renewable Energy

We all know what renewable energy is now days, right?...We now drive along our streets to see solar panels on houses and see the ‘green energy’ options on our power bills.  Renewable energy can come from many natural resources including sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal.  Increased climate change concerns and high prices of oil, coal and energy production have lad to governments and communities taking action increasing and supporting the push for renewable energy supply and consumption. 

5.     Removing Toxins

The removal of toxins in items we use everyday such as in insect spray and fertilizers have not only saved lives it has also saved the environment and animal species.  Toxins are still found in items we use everyday like BPA in plastics and there has been a large community push to remove these toxins so we can lead healthier lives.  Toxins are also released into the environment as items such as plastics break down, it is said that the mix of plastics and seawater release toxins into sea creatures and ultimately affecting the food web.

6.     International Co-operation

As mentioned above international co-operation is necessary for us to be able to combat issues such as climate change.  The world is all connected and does not recognize borders; pollutants don’t check in with customs!  In recent years international organisations such as the United Nations have been working towards international treaties to combat climate change.  Some say that the conventions have not meant anything or lead to substantial change.  International dialogue increases governments to cooperate and work together to take action towards combating climate change and environmental issues.

7.     The Rise of Grassroots

Grassroots organisations and movements are often formed at a local level to address concerns of an issue affecting the community.  A lot of the issues grassroots organisations and movements are working towards get higher exposure than before with the help of technologies such as the internet, this results in a higher number of movement moving from a local concern to a global issue.  This means that a concern facing a small community on the other side of the world can now have a larger backing and audience from the other side of the world.  This phenomena has assisted greater partnerships between grassroots organisations and non-government organisations, governments to international organisations such as the UN.  We are becoming a global community.

8.     Putting Pollution on the Balance Sheet

By placing pollution on the balance sheet this has allowed business to reduce the levels of pollutants, what business wants to look like they are polluters?  This incentive trades pollutants and places a price on them it can cost $1600 per ton to emit Sulfur Dioxide, that’s a lot of money going up in the air.

9.     Reporting and Transparency

Joe Laur from Greenopolis highlights Back in the ‘80s, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan said that if we required industries to report their release of toxins publically, the problem would begin to correct itself.  U.S. industries have reduced TRI emissions on the Toxics Release inventory (TRI) by 50–75% since 1988. No CEO wants to be Number 1 on a toxic release list.  The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) are working towards making environmental and social reporting as common as financial reporting. 

Last but defiantly not least…

10. You Woke up and Gave a Damn!

This is where we as environmentality listeners come into play; you and your fellow community members are responsible for social change, without you the drive for a more sustainable future would be lost.  For generations we have been working towards a cleaner and greener future and keep up the good work!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Environmentality 24th October 2012

Dear Environmentality Listeners,

Jaime, Smokey and Sarah are exploring the top ten environmental disasters based from Time Magazine’s Time Lists.

Lets start from number ten…

10.  Three Mile Island

On March 28th 1979 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor partly melted down.  This disaster ignited fears surrounding the nuclear power industry.  Time magazine highlights that although this was known as one of America’s worst nuclear disasters, nothing really happened.  There were no fatalities and the operation is still producing nuclear power today.  Funnily enough, this disaster coincided with the release of the Jane Fonda movie “The China Syndrome”, which is a film that explores the nuclear power industry and the cover-ups of a nuclear power plant.

9.  Minamata Disease

Minimata is a town located on an island named Kyushu in Japan.  Over several years locals had witnessed unusual behaviour amongst animals, predominantly domestic cats.  Time magazine describes the felines would unexpectedly convulse and at times leap to their deaths into the ocean.  The residents referred to this phenomenon as “cat dancing disease”.  The first human who contracted Minamata disease was in 1956.  The symptoms of the disease encompassed convulsions, slurred speech, loss of motor functions and uncontrollable limb movements.  Upon exploration into the disease it was identified that it was a result of industrial poisoning of Minamata Bay by the plastic manufacturer Chisso Corperation, which in turn was one of the town’s largest employers.  In the wastewater pollution it was found to have large amounts of mercury and additional heavy metals, which found its way into fish and shellfish and in turn was a large component of the local diet.  As a result thousands of residents have experienced symptoms of the disease with some people dying as a consequence of the pollution.  There has been slow progress in receiving compensation for the local town people.

8.  Seveso Dioxin Cloud

In the Italian town of Seveso on the 10th July 1976 an explosion of a chemical plant discharged a thick white cloud of dioxin.  Dioxins are highly toxic by products of industrial activities, and are known to be environmental contaminants and can penetrate organinc matter such as humans, animals, soils and flora.  About a month after the dioxin cloud settled on Seveso Time Magazine had reported that a farmer had witnessed his cat die before his eyes, upon picking up his deceased cat its tail fell off.  When the cat was exhumed for investigation the only remains of the cat was its skull.  Approximately four days after the disaster humans began to feel symptoms from the poisoning as a result of the dioxin being released.  People started exhibiting nausea, blurred vision and, especially among children, the disfiguring sores of a skin disease known as chloracne. 

7.  The Aral Sea

The Aral Sea is located between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and is known for its “graveyard of ships”.  The once thriving Aral Sea was decimated after the 1960’s Soviet irrigation project resulting in the diversion of numerous source watercourses causing the formerly fourth largest lake on earth decreasing the Aral Sea to 90% of its earlier glory.  The area is now a desert that creates salt and sand storms that kill plant life and has damaging effects on Humans and animals alike.  The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon toured the area in April 2010 and witnessed the rusting former fishing trawlers and other vessels are now slowly rusting away in a new dessert that stretches for miles.  Ban Ki-Moon commented; "It is clearly one of the worst disasters, environmental disasters of the world. I was so shocked."

6.  Tokaimura Nuclear Plant

At the time, this was Japan’s worst nuclear disaster.  On the 30th September 1999 at the town of Tokaimura, three workers had incorrectly mixed a uranium solution resulting in a “blue flash”, one worker was knocked unconscious and the others were nauseated and their hands and faces were bright crimson.  While killing two of the workers hundreds of other people were exposed to several levels of radiation.

5.  The Exxon Valdez

The evening of the 24th March 1989 saw the oil tanker Exxon Valdez run aground on the Bligh Reef located in Alaska’s Prince William Sound.  10.8 million gallons of oil started spilling out into the unspoiled waters, ultimately distributing the oil across 500 miles across the coastline.  This oil slick killed and injured thousands of sea and land wildlife such as birds, otters, seals and fish.  At the time the Exxon Valdez incident was named the worst man made environmental disaster in U.S history.  Thousands of people organised to clean up the huge disaster. 

4.  Love Canal

The love Canal is located near America’s Niagara Falls in the state of New York.  Hundreds of residential dwellings and a school are located in the area and were built upon 21 000 tons of toxic waste.  In the 1940’s and 1950’s the industrial waste was buried by a local company and over several years the waste started “bubbling” up into backyards and basements.  By 1978 the issue was inescapable and the local residents sold off their properties to the federal government and left the area.  This disaster initiated the foundation of the Super Fund Program that assists the clean up of toxic waste locations.

3.  Kuwaiti Oil Fires

At the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War Saddam Hussein sent in his troops to blow up the Kuwaiti oil wells.  His theory was if he couldn’t benefit from the profits from the oil no one else can.  Roughly 600 wells were set alight and were burning for seven months, throughout this time black rain fell and lakes of oil were formed.  With the mix of oil, soot, sand and gravel this resulted in a layer of “tarcrete” hardening the surface of 5% of the country.  Thousand of wildlife and livestock perished as a result of the oil fires.

2.  Bhopal

The region of Bhopal, India was the recipient of an accident from the Union Carbide Pesticide Plant on the end of December 1984.  The accident released 45 tons of poisonous methyl isocyanate across the region resulting in thousands of deaths within hours, and around 15 000 over the next few months.  Over 500 000 people being affected by this disaster resulting in blindness, organ failure, awful bodily malfunctions and birth defects.  The corporation paid out half a billion dollars to the “victims” of the accident, with some people saying that this amount of money is not large enough to cover the cost of the decades long magnitude of the issue.

And now for number one...

1.     Chernobyl

In the town of Chernobyl in the Ukraine on the 26th April 1986 a reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant had exploded.  The explosion caused a nuclear meltdown and propelled enormous amounts of radiation into the atmosphere, to put this into perspective, it was said that the fallout was larger than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki incidents combined.  The radiation drifted across what was then Soviet Russia and toward Europe resulting in thousand of children becoming ill particularly with thyroid cancer.  Still to this day there is an off limits zone of a 20 mile radius from the plant. 

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