Global Warming Poses a Threat to Emperor Penguins

The biggest threat to emperor penguins may not be leopard seals or even killer whales, but a much larger predator: global warming.

Climate change, which is quickly melting the sea ice this species depends on for survival, could cause dramatic drops in the number of emperor penguins across Antarctica by the end of the century, a new study finds. Specifically, more than two-thirds of Antarctica’s emperor penguin colonies will decline by more than 50 percent by the end of the century under future climate change scenarios.

The researchers, from France, the Netherlands and the United States, are pushing to have this iconic species listed as endangered before its numbers hit critical lows. Doing so, the researchers said, may establish “a new global conservation paradigm for species threatened by future climate change.”

The research, detailed on June 29 in the journal Climate Change, is based in part on a 50-year intensive study — supported by the French Polar Institute (IPEV) and Zone Atelier Antarctique (LTER France) — of an emperor penguin colony in Terre Adélie, East Antarctica. Researchers have been closely monitoring the Terre Adélie population each year, collecting biological measurements of the penguins there and charting the population’s growth and decline.

 

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Source: mnn.com

The Many Ways to Recycle Styrofoam

Expanded polystyrene, commonly referred to as Styrofoam (trademark of Dow Chemical), is a material that is used to make some of the popular materials for packaging and shipping, including food storage containers. Though manufacturers continue to use this material in large quantities, many consumers are concerned about how its disposal may affect the environment. The issue of pollution and degradation have prompted some companies to develop Styrofoam recycling techniques, including dissolving, crushing, or reusing this material to create new products. There are several options when it comes to choosing a method.

One of the ways to recycle Styrofoam involves melting the material down in a recycling oven. Recycling ovens are designed to handle the demands of Styrofoam recycling and can shrink the material to a fraction of its normal size by getting rid of excess air. This results in a by-product that largely consists of petroleum. Others use organic compounds or chemicals, including citrus oil called limonene, to dissolve the Styrofoam without the use of recycling ovens.

Styrofoam can be recycled by placing it out for pickup or taking it to a local recycling center. Curbside recycling programs are the most convenient method; however, due to contamination rates and transportation coordination, most communities do not have Styrofoam curbside recycling programs.

If curb pickup is not available in your community, look for a mail-back program offered by Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers. This program offers the opportunity to mail Styrofoam to their center for recycling. Because Styrofoam is light, this program is a fairly economical recycling method. Remember to get rid of all debris from the Styrofoam before breaking it into pieces that go into a box for shipping.

Another way to recycle Styrofoam is to donate it to someone else who can re-use, or re-use it yourself. Some grocery stores or shipping retailers, like UPS, accept foam to re-use for their packaging. Some schools might also take leftover Styrofoam.

For businesses that receive a large volume of Styrofoam, it is best to arrange with a recycling company to pick up the material. Company requirements for equipment and storage vary, but storage containers can typically remain outside in a bin where Styrofoam is kept dry, clean and unexposed. It is a good idea to find out how the company accepts the material, whether it should be stacked, condensed, bagged or bailed.

More programs are introduced regularly to make it easier for consumers and businesses to recycle Styrofoam. Many communities have these types of programs, and if there is none in your community, you can consider re-using the Styrofoam in creative ways or use the mail-back programs.

Egypt to Open the World’s Largest Conservation Centre

Thirteen years of planning and construction will culminate in the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) August 15, 2015. Designed to be an engineering masterpiece, the museum is situated on a plateau in the shadows of the Pyramids of Pisa. Built to replace the museum founded in 1902 in downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square this modern marvel will be home to over 100,000 exhibits.

Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mohammed Ibrahim was on hand to oversee the signing of the contracts to begin building the third phase of the 32,000 square meter project. The Egyptian government is hopeful the museum will be a major tourist attraction and estimate between five and eight million visitors annually.

The GEM will house what is believed to be the largest state of the art conservation center in the world. Plans call for open air exhibitions in the Piazza and other outdoor parks on the grounds while providing permanent exhibition galleries, special exhibitions, virtual and large format screens.

Hideki Matsunaga of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, who has provided major funding to the project as well as essential knowledge, boosts that this museum will be comparable to any of the iconic museums in the world such as the Louvre, the Met or the British Museum.

The museum will be equipped with an advanced security system and will have environmental screens, which allow for that open air feel while environmentally controlling the atmosphere to protect the artifacts. The Sierpinski exterior will create another masterpiece in the desert similar to the great pyramids. A translucent material will allow nighttime illumination to filter inside creating an awe inspiring effect.

Construction is planned to continue nonstop to ensure the museum opens on time according to Ibrahim. Egypt’s Orascom Construction Industries and the Belgian BESIX Group, the two companies contracted to build the GEM, echoed their commitment to have the project completed on time. Estimated cost for this third and final phase of the construction is set at $810 million, of which the Japanese are contributing 65%.

The two completed phases house the conservation center with labs, storehouses, energy center and a fire-fighting unit. Artifacts have already been brought to the conservation center and are being prepared for final exhibition next August.

Asia Infrastructure Centre of Excellence Commences Operations

SINGAPORE: Singapore has moved a step closer to fulfilling its ambition of becoming an infrastructure hub, as the Asia Infrastructure Centre of Excellence (AICOE) commenced official operations.

The centre — a joint initiative of IE Singapore and the Asian Development Bank — is funded at S$17 million over three years.

It is expected to boost Singapore’s position as it aims to become an important deal maker in the Asian infrastructure space.

Many Singapore companies are global players in the infrastructure sector — from airport management to water plants and power generation.

The expertise involved is exportable and the government hopes that with the AICOE, more public-private partnerships (PPP) for infrastructure projects will be structured out of Singapore.

Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State for Trade & Industry and National Development, said: “The AICOE will be working with governments in the region to structure PPP projects, and to explore ASEAN’s capital markets to finance or refinance such projects.

“Areas that the initiative will fund are wide-ranging, covering power generation, water management, transport infrastructure and more.”

AICOE is expected to begin consultations with the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Asia is expected to need US$8 trillion worth of infrastructure from 2010 to 2020.

But since 2008, the number and value of infrastructure projects in the region have remained flat.

Speaking at the 2nd Asia-Singapore Infrastructure Roundtable, Mr Lee said “there is much potential for Singapore to play an active and leading role in the region’s push for better infrastructure”.

And government agencies, including IE Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Economic Development Board (EDB), are working in tandem to that end.

MAS has been collaborating with the World Bank on the World Bank-Singapore Infrastructure Finance Summit, while EDB is working with the Singapore Management University and Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy on an executive programme, the Asia Leaders Programme in Infrastructure Excellence (ALPINE), which will groom upcoming leaders in project development.

IE Singapore is working to develop an Infrastructure Development Programme at the tertiary level, to ensure a pipeline of talent for the sector.

It has also launched an internship with the National University of Singapore, that will allow students to undertake infrastructure-related internships with nine industry partners. The first run, which was oversubscribed by three times, will commence in May 2014.

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Source: channelnewsasia.com

Japanese Fashion Trends

Japanese people are generally known for their creative and unique outfits. Three of the major Japanese fashion trends seen today, include the following: Harajuku, Cat and Furisode trends.

Harajuku
The Harajuku Fashion, which stems from the Harajuku District in Tokyo, and is known as the Birthplace of the Universal Concept “Kawaii”. Harajuku fashion is imaginative and vibrant, to the point of seeming eccentric at times to the older generation. There are many types of fashion in Harajuku including the unique Japanese Lolita style with emphasis on girlish cuteness and coquettish beauty, the medieval aristocrats-inspired Gothic style, the Gothic Lolita style that is a combination the two, and the ballerina-inspired style that mixes vibrant, colorful tops with a tutu skirt. Hats and leggings of all kinds are also popular in this area. Lots of bright colors are generally used, with no set of specific rules.

Cat
Then there is Cat Fashion. Cat’s are popular pets in Japan, and Cat Fashion has become popular among young Japanese woman in their teens and twenties. Cat’s are admired in Japan for their independent nature and the way they move, and cat lover’s want to express love and admiration for their cats through their clothing.

Cat-themed fashion items include clothes, shoes, Alice headbands, jewelry, and other accessories. Some popular items include blouses made from cat-print materials, skirts and pants designed as large cat faces using buttons and embroidery, and T-shirts printed with big cat faces. There is also hats and headbands with cat ears available.

Furisode
Trends in Furisode is another style, but stems from more traditional roots. It features long sleeves that hang down to the ankles or calves, and has its origins in the Heian period (794-1185). By the early Edo period (1603-1868), the Furisode had become the standard formal wear for women that weren’t married. The garments are also said to protect against disaster and disease by shaking off misfortune with their long sleeves. The modern twist to this style, is using more modern colors, and contrasting the color of their Furisode to their Obi, (sash).

So between the very new and vibrant, to the very animalistic, to the traditional with a modern twist, Japanese Fashion Trends continue to push the envelopes of fashion and are as unique and varied in style with themselves, as they are with the rest of the world.

Eco-conscious Living in Asia

Asia has the largest population of any continent. It is also home to some of the most egregious environmental problems. However, that is quickly changing. Many Asian nations have started to become conscious of the need to clean up and protect the environment.

One Asian country which is taking major steps to improve their environment is Singapore. They have created a Green print program designed to encourage eco-friendly, sustainable living in their public housing estates. The program includes the building of underground pipes and a pneumatic system to facilitate refuse collection.

Another program is installing vertical greenery, solar panels and even secure facilities for parking bicycles. They are also installing ‘green’ roofs in 9 low-rise blocks and an energy-efficient Elevator Energy Regeneration System in an 18 block area. This program is designed to encourage residents to increase their recycling efforts, choose greener ways to commute, and decrease consumption. The new green program will increase community farming and install energy-efficient electrical appliances and solar powered home and street lights.

Shanghai’s contribution to Asia’s move towards a greener environment is an innovative one. They are constructing the first eco-friendly skyscraper in the world. Called the Shanghai Tower, the wind-powered skyscraper is the world’s second tallest building. It is an example of China’s new sustainable urban construction. The building has earned 3 stars in China’s Green Building rating system and the LEED Gold Standard. The building’s turbines produce 54,000 kWh a year in renewable energy.

Unique construction techniques created an air pocket which cools the building in summer and insulates it in winter. Recycled local materials were also used in constructing the skyscraper, 1/3 of which will be public green space. Plus the building is designed to achieve carbon neutrality.

The Chinese are also building an environment friendly ‘Great City’ using sustainable development practices designed for high density urban living. The city will house, educate and employ about 80,000 people while using 48% less energy and 56% less water. It will also produce 60% less carbon dioxide and 89% less landfill waste.

Residents will be able to walk to any destination within the city within 15 minutes. Mass transit will take people to the areas surrounding the city. It will also preserve the topography and 15% of land area will be used for green space.

Sweetlife Festival Returns to Washington DC in May

Sustainability, organic, local foods, carbon offsets, collection, recycle, redeem, are all contemporary buzzwords associated with a rising movement of environmental responsibility and sustainability by encouraging an integration of these values into everyday life and also as a solution for social problems as well as the health benefits of a preservative, additive free, sustainable diet.

In the Washington, D.C. area there is a home for this type of vision, it is SweetGreen. SweetGreen started in 2007 by three college students. In only 7 years, it has blossomed into 10 stores across D.C., 3 stores in Maryland and 1 in Massachusetts.

SweetGreen’s founders came together with five hundred people in 2010 to fellowship with like-minded people in the community the original store serves. That gathering, combined with live music and in only 4 years, grew into the SweetLife Festival. The festival hosts over twenty-thousand people and over 20 musical acts on its solar powered stage including, Lana Del Ray, Foster the People, Fitz and the Tantrum and platinum rap artist Two Chainz along with many other groups an individual artists.

This party with a purpose is held in the Merriweather Post Pavilion, located in Columbia, Maryland, which is thirty minutes from the D.C. metro area. It is a celebration and a continuation of the values on which SweetGreen was founded. This means the festival is carbon neutral, achieved by the purchase of green tags and state-of –the-art solar panels.

Parking at the Pavilion is always free but for more sustainable travel they are providing a “Rock and Bus” billed as luxurious and affordable and also the new ride sharing system Uber. The waste from the festival is used in making compost through a company called Fatworm Composting. Each vendor is charged with providing compostable containers, napkins and utensils. Even event goers can get into the act with a system that offers free stuff in exchange for their trash.

The food section of the party is provided through a large farmers market where festival patrons can purchase sustainable food and also meet and learn from the farmers with the vision to pursue these sustainable, organic methods. The festival even features sustainable beer companies including Flying Dog, who will be featuring beer brewed specifically for the event.

The purpose for the party and all proceeds go to SweetGreen in Schools, which educates the surrounding community and schoolchildren about the importance of sustainable eating. The program is in its third year and is collaborating with the DC Farm to School Network. The festivals partners are Kenny Produce Company, Honest Tea, Uber, Flying Dog, Acme Paper Supply Company, Tito’s Handmade Vodka of Texas, Kind Healthy Snacks and The Nature Conservancy.

Becoming Vegan

It is  estimated that there are approximately one million vegan Americans, and the trend is gaining more force every year. While some people begin this lifestyle for animal welfare purposes, many other choose vegan-ism in an attempt to better their health and prevent disease. However, a vegan diet can prove challenging. It requires you to drastically overhaul your eating habits and food choices, and also forces you to pay better attention to food labels. Here are some of the important considerations of becoming vegan.

By its very principles, vegan-ism shuns the consumption, and often the use, of any animal-derived products, including eggs, seafood, dairy and by-products like gelatin and tallow. Instead, vegans focus on a plant-based diet that can include grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables and nuts.

Associated Challenges
Although avoiding animal products in the diet has been strongly associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, obesity and some cancers, it’s not a perfect diet. Vegans may find it difficult to get adequate amounts of many essential nutrients, resulting in deficiencies that can cause health problems.

Vitamin B-12, which is mainly found in meats, is something that is rarely available in plant foods. For that reason, it’s critical for vegans to supplement with a seaweed-based B-12 product. B-12 is needed for red blood cell production, proper nervous system maintenance and regulation of heart rhythms. Deficiency can result in pernicious anemia, cognitive problems, neurological disorders and an increased risk of cardiac arrhythmia.

Heme iron, the most bio-available kind of iron, is solely found in animal products and is therefore nonexistent in a vegan diet. These people may find it difficult to maintain proper iron levels without supplementation. This can lead to anemia, physical weakness, menstrual irregularity and infertility.

It’s also incredibly difficult for vegans to get enough protein in their diet. Most plant foods are very low in the nutrient, and even nuts and legumes don’t contain as much as animal products. Therefore, it may be necessary to use a plant-based protein concentrate supplement to achieve optimal intake.

Another common issue with vegan-ism is more a matter of choice. Many people on this diet find it tedious and time-consuming to prepare each meal from scratch, and it’s also easy to get bored with the diet. This drives many people to consume pre-packaged junk foods, a surprising variety of which is entirely vegan. On its own, this kind of behavior can lead to obesity and related health problems. In order for vegan-ism to truly be effective at improving health, it’s important to incorporate plenty of fresh, wholesome and minimally processed foods into your daily diet.

Understanding Dubai’s Social Etiquette

While the modern city of Dubai welcomes visitors from all over the world, visitors should respect that Dubai is a Muslim city and take into consideration how they dress and the way they conduct themselves while there. Before making a visit, it’s important to become knowledgeable in the social etiquette and culture in Dubai.

Modest Dress
Visitors to Dubai, especially women, should dress modestly while in conservative areas and in public places where they’ll be seen by other people. Although swimwear is acceptable, it should only be worn around the swimming pool and the beach, taking care to be covered up elsewhere. Shorts and T-Shirts are also acceptable attire when visiting Dubai, however if you intend on visiting a mosque or another religious site, you should dress a bit more formally in loose-fitting clothes that cover the shoulders, arms, and legs. That applies to both men and women, with women also being required to wear a headscarf before being allowed into a mosque.

Courteous Behavior
In terms of behavior, courtesy and hospitality are important virtues in the Arab community and visitors will be treated with friendliness and given a warm welcome. When in the presence of new guests, it’s important to stand, as men are also expected to stand when a woman enters the room. When a visitor is greeting a member of the opposite sex who’s Muslim, you shouldn’t be the one to initiate a handshake as both Muslim men and women (mostly women) may not wish to shake hands without someone of the opposite sex because of religious reasons; you should only participate in a handshake if they extend their hand first.

Body Gestures
If someone offers you food, you should accept it with your right hand, which is also the hand you should eat with. You should also never point or beckon with your finger and if you must make a hand gesture, use your whole hand to make the gesture. Also, while in public, you should make sure the soles of your feet are hidden and that you’re not pointing your toes at anyone.

If you find yourself sitting in front of an important guest, you shouldn’t cross your legs as doing so is considered rude. And if you happen to be hosting Muslim guests, it’s important to keep in mind that you should never offer them an alcoholic beverage or any pork.