Categories
Environment Media News Science Technology

A Drinkable Book

drinkable book

 

Water Filters in a Book

Dr Teri Dankovich, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh USA has developed and tested a book whose pages can be torn out and used to filter drinking water. Trails are impressive, with the process bringing the water up to US drinking water standards.

The book’s pages contain nanoparticles of silver or copper, which kill bacteria in the water as it passes through. Some of the particles do remain in the water however, but they remain within the legal limits.

Nanomaterials

Now here I have to add my own input to the debate. As readers might know I have written several posts about nanomaterials and it is one of the fields that I work in, and I would question how legal limits are defined.

Nanoparticles are treated like any other particles, and their scale is not taken in account, but this seems to raise some questions. The fact that they are so small means that they can pass easily into the blood stream, so their effects may not be the same as larger particles of the same materials.

So I have to leave an open question mark over the legal issue, but the fact that the water is drinkable is a great advantage. And this leads me to ponder the fact that innovation, and its level of responsibility and ethical justification, must be local. An invention or innovation that brings drinkable water to millions, is portable and cheap and could save many lives, must be seen within its context. Nanoparticles in the water in this situation, may not be same an nano particles found in water because of factory pollution or deliberate addition when other processes might be readily available.

An article on the BBC explains that “All you need to do is tear out a paper, put it in a simple filter holder and pour water into it from rivers, streams, wells etc and out comes clean water – and dead bacteria as well”. And one page can clean up to 100 litres of water. A book could filter one person’s water supply for four years.

The project is looking for funding, so if you are interested and have some money to spare click on the link at the start of the post and pass them over your pocket money.

As a final thought, nanotechnology has come in for criticism from the academic community for its lack of regulation, and rightly so. But it also brings a world of possibilities, many of which like the story above that could transform people’s lives. This is the fine line that interests me in my work, how to make the most of scientific developments at the least environmental and social costs, and for the highest number of people.

Categories
Environment How To Guides

How to be a little greener

We all leave a footprint on the world, just by being alive we contribute to environmental degradation. No matter what you do, you can’t eliminate your effect (offset it maybe) on the world, but you can minimise it.

In this article I am going to look at some very simple things you can do to reduce the impact you have on the planet, making you a greener individual.

Water Usage

The amount of water we use has a big impact on the environment, as well as other people. Last April I posted an article which asked you to question your usage of water. I have included a brief summary of the article

Of all the water on earth, just 0.007% is drinkable, and whilst our usage of water and the number of people on earth are both rapidly growing, water supplies aren’t. Drought is a real issue in many areas of the world and one in nine people don’t have access to safe drinking water.

Rainwater storage tank
Wall mounted water butts are becoming more popular – a great way to collect and store rainwater.

Excessive use (and arguably wastage) of water via things like regular use of hose pipes and using water hungry appliances (like washing machines) when they have spare capacity, can easily be reduced, and can significantly decrease our water usage.

In the comments, there was some great feedback. Jonny suggested using a water butt to collect rainwater to water your garden, saying “it is really shocking to think that many people use drinking water to keep the lawn green“. Shane told us how he plays 5 minute songs when having a shower, so he know when it’s time to get out, and Jean noted how he tries to fix leaks as soon as he finds them, as they are a massive waste of water – and money!

Buy Local

Another step you can take which will reduce your carbon footprint is choosing local. In 2009, I wrote an article on the technology behind food, discussing the journey food takes, and the impact it has on the planet, getting it to our table. Although the figures might have slightly changed, the concept behind the article is still the same: buying local produce significantly reduces your carbon footprint.

Local doesn’t even have to mean that close. Ideally, within 20 miles of the shop you buy is the best sort of ‘local’, however even food that has been grown within 200 miles is much better than food that has been flown across the globe.

Local food not only promotes energy conservation, but it also supports local farmers. Farm shops are a really good place you can get local food, why not check out BigBarn, a site designed to help you find where you can get locally produced food.

Farmers shop
Farm shops are a great place to source local food.

Reuse, Repair and Recycle Technology

It is important to use technology to its full potential, and to keep using it until it is no longer viable. Once something stops working, or is no longer able to fulfil your needs, whenever possible, repair or upgrade it. If your PC is starting to run a little sluggish, try to speed it up again (maybe visit my speed up your computer article) add some more RAM, upgrade the graphics card, and consider increasing the storage capacity.

As Jonny wrote last year, electronic waste is a real problem, computer components can be hard to recycle, and are often toxic. Therefore it is important to try to reduce electronic waste, and when it does occur, ensure it is disposed or/recycled properly.

If you have reused and repaired a device as much as possible, the next step is recycling. Recycling electronic waste is a growing industry, computer recycling and schemes which enable you to recycle mobile phones, so your technology is either properly recycled, or repaired and reused, either resold locally, or distributed to developing countries are becoming ever more common. Many firms (like the one I link to above) are even paying you for your old technology – reduce your ecological footprint, and get paid, what more could you ask for!

Save Energy

There seems to be a growing resistance to nuclear power, fossil fuels are running out and this matched with the lack of investment in renewables, is leading us to a global energy crisis. Every individual can make a difference, by reducing their consumption.

Electrical energyTurning off devices instead of leaving them on standby, switching to energy bulbs, and insulate your home and relatively simple and cheap ways to save energy, which we have probably all heard many times. Steps which involve using smarter technologies, such as getting Remote Heating Control installed and choosing smarter energy using devices are also good ways to save power, and are now also becoming more common.

In Summary

Four of the best ways you can reduce your environment impact are to: be more frugal with water; try and buy local produce; maintain technology for as long as possible, and then recycle it; and reducing your energy usage.

Feel free to critique any of my points, and by all means, suggest your own ideas below.

Categories
Gadgets Technology

The Gadget Show Live 2013

The Gadget Show's 'G' logo at The Gadget Show LiveOn Sunday the 7th of April, I went to the Gadget Show Live at the NEC in Birmingham. It was a really great day, and I want to share the experience with you, I just haven’t had time to finish this post!

First of all I must give thanks to British Gas, who were very kind to give me tickets to the sold out event. As you may know, thanks to a collaboration between Technology Bloggers and British Gas, I have been able to step into the future of smarter living, and experience how technology has the potential to improve our lives. The technology I tested was of course their Remote Heating Control system, and I got to try it a few months before the national roll-out; I reported my findings via a series, which British Gas later posted on their website.

The day was very good fun, and I live tweeted from the event – take a look at our Twitter account and you can find some of the Tweets.

There was a lot of technology on show, some of which was cutting edge stuff, just being brought to the market.

Super Show

I had tickets to the ‘super show’ which was an event in which the three presenters of the Gadget Show: Jason Bradbury, Pollyanna Woodward and Jon Bentley, showcased exciting gadgets, offering various prizes to members of the audience. The show was good, however it did feel slightly commercialised, as pretty much every third word was plugging a product!

Smarter Living

After the show, the first stand (there were hundreds!) I visited was the British Gas stand. They had been kind enough to send me to the event, so I thought it only fair to pay them a visit!

They had designed their stand to look like a home, and had equipped it with all the very latest smarter living technology. Their Safe and Secure security system, Remote Heating Control and smart meters were all on show. It was very well designed and the complimentary Stuff magazine was appreciated!

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Microsoft

A tweet I posted about the Gadget Show, had attracted the attention of the team at Microsoft Windows UK, and they invited me to check out their stand, and to use their bloggers lounge.

As the main sponsor of the event, Microsoft got a pretty big stand – making it hard to miss!

Microsoft's stand at The Gadget Show Live 2013On their stand, Microsoft were showcasing many of their different software and technologies, including IE 10, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Surface, Bing, 3D scanning software and a real time, 3D webcam!

There was quite a lot on display, and the amount of technology was quite impressive, that said, as the event was so busy, they needed it all, as their stand was quite crowded at times.

I got talking to the person manning the 3D printing section, and was then offered (as a blogger) to go to the bloggers lounge. There I met some great guys from the technology giant, including the faces of @IE_UK and @WindowsUK, and the Senior Product Manager for Windows at Microsoft UK. I was given a tour of Surface and IE 10, and got to test them out for myself. I was quite impressed.

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I love Windows 7 and don’t have any problems with it, so I have never really thought about upgrading to Windows 8, however having been given a Windows 8 license, I am going to test it – expect more soon!

AQUAdue Loo

There was some really innovative technology on show this year. One example was AQUAdue‘s toilet system, when you need to flush, a tap which runs into a basin on top of the loo, starts to run. Use this to wash your hands, and it fills up the toilet for the next flush. What a great idea to save water and space!

AQUAdue toilet system

3D Printing

TARDIS 3D printout
3D printed TARDIS cufflinks.

The 3D printer Microsoft were using on their stand was an Up! 3D Printer. On another stand there was a firm called Denford Ltd there, who were showcasing the capabilities of a 3D printer. Probably the best giveaway I got from the event were some 3D printed TARDIS cuff links – as a techie, and a Doctor Who fan what better freebie could you get?

The technology has been around for a few years now, however it’s now starting to become mass market. Fancy a 3D printer? Well they aren’t as expensive as you might think, here’s a link to somewhere you can buy an Up! Mini 3D printer for less than £1200!

3D printed objects
An Up! 3D printer and some printed objects, included a printed TARDIS, castle and Yoda.

Microsoft were also using the Up! 3D printer to showcase their 3D scanning technology. You could get your head scanned, and then a miniature version printed out, right there and then – how cool is that! Gadget Show presenter Jason Bradbury seems to think so too, as he went to get his head scanned and printed! Take a look below.

Gadget Show's Jason gets a 3D printout of his head
The Gadget Show’s Jason Bradbury gets a 3D scan and print out of his head.

Too Much!

It was a really great day, and there was far too much there for me to talk about it all. Some of the best bits I have mentioned above, there’s loads more that I haven’t mentioned, mainly because I don’t want to run too far over 900 words – people tend to switch off after that!

I think from the number of tweets and images in this post, you can see that there was a lot going on 🙂

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Categories
News Technology

Top 10 Emerging Technologies

A couple of weeks ago the World Economic Forum published a document on its blog called “The top 10 emerging technologies for 2013”. I thought it might be interesting to have a look at what they say. The article can be read here. The comments are my own interpretation however.

World Economic Forum

1. Online Electric Vehicles.

About 100 years ago a scientist called Tesla demonstrated that electricity could be provided wirelessly. Today there is an idea that electric cars could drive while being recharged from electromagnetic fields created from cables under the road. The cars would need much smaller batteries of course.

The problem with this technology seems to be that it is difficult to measure how much power is taken, so difficult to bill for, nothing more than that. Take a look at this article about other ways of cutting pollution from transport systems.

2. 3D printing and remote manufacturing.

Much has been written and the technology undoubtedly carries advantages, but did you read my post about 3D printers potentially being used to make gun parts?

3. Self Healing Materials.

A great idea but this and other uses of nanotechnology and its production practices need to be regulated, as does the disposal of such materials. We don’t know enough about the effects upon human health as the recent report cited in another post on this blog demonstrates.

4. Energy Efficient Water Purification.

Must be a good thing. Some of Christopher’s thoughts on the issue here.

5. Carbon Dioxide conversion and use.

Geo-engineering offers the possibility of drawing carbon dioxide from the air and storing it underground, but this technology is extremely controversial. This article entitled Engineering a Solution to Global Warming gives an idea of some of the ethical debate surrounding such processes.

6. Enhanced nutrition to drive health.

Genetic modification of plants to make them more nutritional. Much has been written about the GM issue, it is certainly not as simple as it may sound. Great commercial interests are involved, as are problems of cross fertilization and non-reproducibility. See this article on the Bassetti Foundation website about the Vatican and its interests in the problem.

7. Remote sensing.

The buzz-phrase Smart City is all over nowadays. Have a look at this article for some ideas of how using sensors might improve urban life.

8. Precise drug delivery through nanoscale engineering.

Medicine is the area in which nanotechnology research shows its greatest potential. The problems of regulation still exist as brought up in the article above, but the possible advantages for society make this type of research extremely valuable.

9. Organic electronics and photovoltaics.

This article mentions solar panels made using fruit and vegetable juice instead of silicon, and the printing of circuits using organic materials is already a reality. Silicon is more efficient at the moment, but expensive, polluting and will eventually run out, but if scale is not a problem these solutions work well.

10. Fourth generation nuclear reactors and waste recycling.

Making nuclear energy cleaner and better is the goal. The questions of safety and sustainability as well as real cost are not raised however, again not an argument that can be expanded upon too much as it is extremely polarized, but there are cleaner and safer ways to produce electricity as the article about electricity generation cited above shows.

Well it looks like we got most of it covered at Technology Bloggers anyway, cutting edge as we are.

Categories
Charity News

Blog Action Day 2012

Today is Blog Action Day! In 2010 I blogged about water. In 2011 I blogged about food. This year I am going to blog about the Power of We.

So what is Blog Action Day? For a quick recap, here is an extract of my article from last year:

Every year (for the past four years) on the 15th of October, there is a global Blog Action Day, where bloggers around the world write about one common problem in the world today, in order to try to raise awareness of a pressing issue.

Today is the 6th Blog Action Day in internet history, and tens of thousands of bloggers around the world will today be blogging about the Power of We.

The Power of We came about as a topic after bloggers were asked to vote on what topic they thought Blog Action Day 2012 should cover. Topics such as community, equality, anti-corruption and freedom (as suggested by yours truly) were all very popular, so the Blog Action Day team decided to make the theme the Power of We, a topic that encompassed community, equality, anti-corruption and freedom.

What To Blog About

Blog Action Day - The Power of WeThis year I am really at a loss as to what to blog about. Not because I have no ideas, but because the topic is so broad that I could write 10 posts on all different areas encompassed by the Power of We.

Here are just some of the ideas I had

  • Focusing more on the freedom side of things, I could have discussed the power of people when we all act together and the influence we can have. The Arab Spring is a fantastic example of this, when people act together they can crush oppression. Libya is probably the best example of how this happened, people worked together and eventually managed to bring down the Gaddafi dictatorship. Yes lives were lost and change was not without suffering, and that is wrong, however now Libyan people are in the process of forming a democratic state. The country now has an elected General National Congress, and is moving forward.
  • If I had gone down the equality route I could have talked about how equal rights are becoming recognised as important across the globe. A great example I could have talked about would be the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The London 2012 Games were the first ever to see every competing nation have both men and women competing, a massive step forwards in terms of gender equality. Also the global recognition the Paralympic Games received was a fantastic achievement. For the first time, the Paralympic Games had big sponsorship, like the Olympic Games has, suggesting that discrimination against disabled people has decreased, and people are now more open an accepting. Someone is no less a person just because they have a disability, and it would appear that more people are starting to understand this.
  • I could have discussed how every single person on this planet has the ability to make a difference to the world we live in. Maybe not everyone is capable of revolutionising the world, however we all have the ability to influence and affect others, and it is what we choose to do with that influence and how we decide to interact with other people that makes us who we are. Everyone has the chance to be kind to someone else at some point, some people more than others. If we were all to seize every opportunity imagine what a better place the world would be.

There are so many different ideas and topics that I considered writing about, however in the end I decided to focus on an area much close to my heart.

The Power of We means community, what we can achieve if we work together. Co-operation for the greater good.

The Power of We is everything Blog Action Day stands for, relatively small and powerless bloggers from across the globe, uniting on one day, all posting about the same topic, to try and change something by raising awareness. In the past the day has been used to raise awareness about the environment, hunger, poverty and other critical issues. Blog Action Day has led people to donate to charity and has created a better understanding among many of pressing global issues.

I have no doubt that Blog Action Day has improved the lives of people around the world. The project has managed to get some fantastic associates such as Oxfam and ActionAid, because of the great work it does.

Blog Action Day's logoSo, what about my post?

I am going to talk about the community we have here, the one you are a part of. The Technology Bloggers community. Okay we aren’t changing the world on a global scale, however we play our part.

The key word is community. We are all here working together in order to build a better blog, from which we can all prosper. Fantastic writers from all across the world contribute to our blog, giving readers a diverse range of material to read.

Why do we read? To enrich our lives, to learn new things and become knowledgeable on a topic. Reading makes us smarter, it opens up our mind to new ideas and concepts.

In return for their work, our writers get exposure to our hundreds of loyal subscribers and our thousands of monthly of readers.

Ultimately there only needs to be two people for the system to work. The writer writes the content, the reader reads and comments. The reader learns something and/or is able to take a new perspective on something, whilst the writer receives valuable feedback on their work. Just two people, and yet so powerful when working together.

Man kind wouldn’t be where we are today without co-operative work. When we work together as a team we can achieve more. It says it in the name: Together Everyone Achieves More.

Co-operation has built society as we know it. Every day, billions of people across the world go to work and co-operate with each other, to enhance and improve our world.

Ultimately I think this year I may have gone a little too broad in my choice of topic. I had so many ideas, and wanted to write about everything, and I think I have sort of tried to. I am not sure how well it has worked, this certainly isn’t your conventional post.

What are your thoughts, and will you be blogging about the Power of We?

Categories
Environment Science

Think about your water usage

How often do you think about your use of water? Serious question, one which some of our readers will undoubtedly say all the time. Those living in areas of almost constant drought will have water as a very pressing issue on their mind, most of the time.

But then there are some of us, who might not really consider it as much. The authorities are in control of it right? If they aren’t, strictly regulated private companies are, so we are good, yeah?

Water is a resource which we all need, and cannot possibly live without. Whenever scientists are looking for life on other planets, one of the first things they try to work out, is was there ever water on this planet, and is there now? Why? As water is a key component to life as we know it.

Sadly, water is a very scarce resource, and according to National Geographic, a mere 0.007% of our planets water is drinkable. That’s right, just 0.007%. The rest is in the oceans, and the majority of the 3% of freshwater left, is locked up in ice, which ultimately melts into the sea.

0.007%

As I am sure you heard, in October last year, (2011) the earth’s population reached 7 billion, and is still growing. That 0.007% figure is not getting any bigger, but the population is – rapidly. That is why, currently, on the earth:

One in Five People Don't Have Access to Safe Drinking WaterThat’s right, 1 in 5 people living on our planet does not have access to a safe supply of water which they can drink. If the population is 10 billion by 2050, that statistic could increase to 2 in 5, or maybe even 3 in 5.

In the 20th century, the global population tripled, the use of water sextupled – grew by six times. Los Angeles can support around about 1 million people with its water supply. It currently has a population of 4 million – see a problem? Elsewhere in the USA, in less than 5 years, Central Florida could potentially run out of water.

Drought

Some places in the world are naturally dry, and frequently suffer drought. Some places are naturally wet, and frequently suffer flooding.

The thing is, most of us probably don’t think we are in drought right? Say you live in the UK, like me, you probably think our water supplies are fine yes? Recently in the news we have been notified most of the UK is in drought, but are we really? Well the answer is yes, and many other areas of the world might be too, you might not realise it, but where you live could be. Check out this drought monitor, to see if your area is. You can toggle the time period on the left hand side, as you may be in long-term drought, but not short-term and vice versa.

Look after it

We all need to learn to look after our water better. We are not getting any more, so we need to be more careful with what we have. Our lives quite literally depend upon it.

My question to you is how much water do you use? According to Thames Water we use around 8 litres every time we flush the toilet. Brushing our teeth with the tap off uses 1 litre, whilst brushing them with the tap on (assuming a 2 minute brush) uses 12 litres. Our dishwashers typically use 20 litres, whilst our washing machines thirst for a giant 45 litres.

Hose pipes

Everyone always moans when we go into a hosepipe ban. What is the point? Surely I use just as much water as other activities, so why ban that? Well it doesn’t. One toilet flush is around 8 litres, but one hour of hosepipe use is 540 litres. That’s right, 540!

Lets assume you are washing your car. Say it takes you 20 minutes. With a bucket, you would typically use 10 litres – 2/3 buckets. What about with a hosepipe? Well, you would use 18 times as much water, a staggering 180 litres!

More refugees (25 million) were displaced by contaminated rivers in 2008 than were forced to flee from war zones. I don’t have more recent figures, but I would assume the figure would be much greater. The UN state that around every 15 seconds, as child dies from a water-related disease – poor sanitation, which 1 in 3 people on the planet suffer from.

One in Three People Lack Access to Adequate SanitationHow can you save it?

Depending upon how much you use, will determine how much water you could potentially save. Here are some great starting points:

  • Turn the tap off when cleaning your teeth – you could save 11 litres
  • Fill your kettle to the minimum you need, don’t fill it half full, or to the top if you are only making 1/2 drinks!
  • Use a bucket to wash your car and save yourself 170 litres
  • Don’t put your dishwasher or washing machine on until it is full – two washes uses twice as much water
  • Don’t leave the tap running when washing up or cleaning vegetables
  • Fix leaks – if you have one dripping tap, it could use a staggering 3,120 litres a year!
  • Take a water test, to see how efficiently you are using your water

Saving water is very important, and it can save you money.

It's time to give water a second thoughtPlease, think about your water usage, as it is something that affects us all.

Categories
Environment News Science

We need to act on climate change for the sake of others

In the South Pacific ocean lies three tiny atolls that go by the name of Tokelau. These islands have a population of around 1,500 people, around the size of a big village.

The Tokelau islands
The three tiny atolls that make up Tokelau

However, bad news is on the way for the people of Tokelau, as climate change is threatening every single one of the residents lives. Droughts are a real problem in the area, as despite being surrounded by sea water, there is very little freshwater that locals can use. Climate change means that rains are decreasing in the area, and drought is increasing.

The second issue for this tiny group of islands is the sea itself. Sea levels around the world are rising for two main reasons: ice caps are melting, and thermal expansion (when water gets hotter, it expands) – these are both caused by climate change, i.e. global warming of the planet.


The final issue for these tiny atolls is that they are made out of coral. Coral is a very delicate substance, that requires very specific conditions to grow and survive.

Basically, these islands are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and it doesn’t look like their situation is getting any better.

It is rather unfair of one to say that the use of fossil fuels on these islands is what has sealed their fate, as compared with the likes of China, the USA and the EU, the islands have virtually no greenhouse gas emission – they probably are responsible for less than 0.0001% of global emissions, leaving the rest of the world responsible for the other 99.9999%.

Despite this, Tokelau has announced that by September 2012, there will be no greenhouse gasses produced there at all, they will run 100% on renewable energy! Photovoltaic solar panels will make up 97% of their energy, whilst the rest will come from local coconut oil made into biodiesel. What is really amazing is that its per-capita income is only about $1,000 per year, a fraction of that in many western countries.

Why is Tokelau bothering though? Their fate is sealed, sea levels will rise further, drought will increase and coral will decline. However, this tiny group of islands believes that if they make a stand now, maybe, just maybe the rest of the world will follow.

The people of Tokelau will most likely be taken in by nearby neighbours, however their home islands will be lost forever, along with their natural beauty and potential. But that’s not the point.

I believe that Tokelau is a warning for what is to come for the rest of the earth. Climate change is happening and it’s real. If we carry on the way we are, we will almost surely destroy the planet we call home.

I have read predictions that by 2050 most of the worlds megacities and centres of economic and political power will be underwater. That includes the likes of London, California, the Netherlands and Bangladesh. That’s a lot of people who will be affected.

We need to take a stand now, for the sake of the future of planet earth.


A Europe centred picture of the Earth

Why not install solar on your roof? It could heat your hot water or power your electricity, even creating extra which you could sell back to the national grid! Why not have a small wind turbine set up in your back garden, that could do wonders for your energy bills!

Think about it. It is our world, we need to look after it.

From the bottom of my heart I ask that you think green, save resources and our home. We really are so lucky that in the whole of space, the perfect conditions came about so that our planet were ever to exist, with it’s vital magnetism and ozone layer, which helped to create and now sustains life.

Earth suspended in spaceWhat’s your opinion on this?

Categories
Charity News

Blog Action Day 2011

It’s not often we post on a Sunday. In fact I think this is the first time we ever have. The reason for this post is clearly one of high importance then…

UPDATE: I have since discovered that this is our second post on a Sunday, the first being a warning to potential writers about providing copied content – another (although slightly less) important matter.

Every year (for the past four years) on the 15th of October, there is a global Blog Action Day, where bloggers around the world write about one common problem in the world today, in order to try to raise awareness of a pressing issue.

This year the day have been moved back to the 16th of October (today) as that makes it coincide with World Food Day. Unsurprisingly, this years Blog Action Day theme is on food.

A history of Blog Action Day

The first Blog Action Day was held in 2007. The 2007 theme was the environment. At the time, one of the main global concerns (not that it isn’t even more so now) was regarding the sustainability of our current way of life, and the environmental impact, be it global warming, climate change, ecosystem instability or environmental degradation.

The world is in our hands
A green coloured globe represents the environment, which is held carefully in someone’s hands – representing how we control the future of our planet

Blog Action Day took off with a bang with around 20,000 blogs taking part, of which, there were around 20 in Technorati’s top 100 blogs – at the time. This proves that from day 1, Blog Action Day had a big influence, giving it a big potential to actually raise awareness and improve things that it petitions for.

2008 saw an equally important matter being raised: poverty. Poverty is a very pressing issue, and is part of the UN’s 8 Millennium Development Goals which it hoped to meet by 2015.

In 2009 the theme changed to climate change. The phrase ‘global warming’ used to be used before we realised that it wasn’t a very good term, as it’s not just warming that is likely to take place.

The world’s climate is so intricate and complex that you couldn’t say that increase in greenhouse gasses via intensive farming of rice, rearing of cows, burning of fossil fuels, cutting down of rainforests etc. would cause global temperatures to rise, as it wouldn’t necessarily do that everywhere, all the time.

Melting Ice Caps - A Sign of Climate Change
Melting ice caps are a symptom linked to climate change

Hence the term climate change was born in order to supersed the term ‘global warming’ in describing the likelihood of an increase in extreme and irregular weather/climate patterns.

In 2010 Blog Action Day moved onto stressing the importance (and scarcity) of water. Currently most people in the developed world use far more water than should really be available to them, if all water supplies were equally divided.

Only 3% of the world’s water is freshwater, of which the majority is ‘locked up’ in the form of ice. This means that less than 0.007% of all the worlds water drinkable and accessible. This matched with an exponentially rising global population is why over 20% of the world’s population don’t have access to safe drinking water, and one in three people around the world have inadequate sanitation.

One in Five People Don't Have Access to Safe Drinking Water2011 – Food

Now down to matter in hand – Blog Action Day 2011. As I have already mentioned, today is World Food Day, and Blog Action Day’s focus for this year is food.

World Food Day marks the 1945 foundation of the Food and Agriculture Organization, a UN project aimed at achieving food security for all, as well as making sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality, nutritional food, to lead active healthy lives.

Why should we worry about food?

In the words of Blog Action Day’s website:

“We use food to mark times of celebration and sorrow. Lack of access to food causes devastating famines, whilst too much is causing a generation of new health problems. It can cost the world, or be too cheap for farmers to make a living.

The way we companies produce food and drinks can provide important jobs for communities or be completely destructive to habitats and local food producers. Food can give us energy to get through the day or contain ingredients that gives us allergic reactions.

Food can cooked by highly skilled chefs with inventive flair, or mass produced and delivered with speed at the side of road. It can be incredibly healthy or complete junk and bad for your health. It can taste delicious or be a locals only delicacy.

Food is important to our culture, identity and daily sustenance and the team at Blog Action invite you to join us to talk about food.”

Nobody alive today can live without food for more than a month, and a lack of inadequate amounts/types of food can also kill.

Many people don’t realise it, but the greedy ‘Western’ lifestyle is the main reason for food issues around the world. Developed countries are getting too fat, whilst undeveloped ones are not getting enough food. According to the UN, malnutrition kills a child around the world every 15 seconds. That is heart breaking.

Westerners waste so much food, it is disgusting, even more so because of the fact that there are people who don’t have enough of the right foods (or any food at all for that matter) to eat.

How can you help?

If you want to help on a personal level there are two main things you can do.

  1. Try to source as much of your food as locally as you can. This helps local producers, as well as reduced greenhouse emission and water loss from undeveloped countries who use vast amounts of their scarce water to produce food for us. Some global food purchases can be justified, so try to pay attention to where your food is coming from and what the impact of getting it to you is.
  2. Donate to a crisis. There is currently a famine in Eastern Africa, and charities are there to help, but they need your help, be it through voluntary work or capital donations. I an not listing any charities, as it’s often better to decide yourself which ones to support.

You could also blog about the topic. If you have a blog, I wholeheartedly recommend you help to raise awareness yourself. If you read this a day or two late, don’t worry you missed the date, sill write about it and raise awareness. I missed the day last year, but I still blogged about it.

Blog Action Day suggest some topic areas you might like to discuss, which can be helpful if you are not sure where to start.

Blog Action Day 2011 Bagde
Technology Bloggers is supporting Blog Action Day!

If you do decide to write about Blog Action Day, you can register your blog with them, on their official list, so that they know roughly how many blogs took part.

The final way (I can think of at the moment) to help the Blog Action Day cause is to like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. Technology Bloggers is already doing this.

Please do your bit for the world and support Blog Action Day in whatever way you can.