Category Archives: Environment

Health tip: When eating at sit down restaurants…

Chili’s, Outback, T.G.I. Fridays… Sit down full-service restaurants remain a hot spot for anyone looking for good filling meal. As great as the food and atmosphere might be, a lot of damage (as far as goals to get fit) can happen here. Most of the entrées at these establishments contain well over 1000 calories, couple that with a drink and you might end up consuming over 1500 calories in one meal!

While many might argue that self control issues need to be addressed to prevent over-eating. The easiest way I have found to control this bingeing involves taking a ‘to-go’ container with you. As soon as your food arrives, simply place a good portion of it into your container.

The reasons I promote taking your own container is one can pack away the food as SOON as it arrives not after one is already stuffed and because of the environmental impact of the styrofoam boxes. Styrofoam is not a part of most curbside residential recycling programs, even though it is labeled with the recycling number 6. Styrofoam is made from polystyrene and is extremely bulky and lightweight, which makes it costly to recycle polystyrene in small quantities.

The second important step involves limiting/eliminating the amount of soda you consume at the establishment. Free refills often urge people to down several cups. These cups often hold 22-32 ounces, that’s more than enough. Limiting oneself to water might be the safest way to avoid any possible urges to order a refill.

These little changes in habits might seem pointless but everything adds up. The weight loss you might not see now will arrive 6 months later. I by no means am a pinnacle of human fitness, verbalizing these goals just helps me keep with it.  Just enjoy the journey and try to keep everything moderate.

7/24/08 – 4.6 miles in 42:34

Advertisements

Bicycles on the rise

A vicious comeback! Commuters around the country are dusting off their old two-wheelers — or buying new ones — to cope with rising fuel prices. Bill Nesper, the spokesman for the League of American Bicyclists said, “People are riding bicycles a lot more often, and it’s due to a mixture of things but escalating gas prices is one of them.”

I went to a local bicycle store the other day to fix my old bicycle and all customers were talking about the high gas prices. I for one am glad to see people willing to make changes that will increase their well-being as well as help the environment. I am one that has joined in this new ‘fad’ and have been biking to work for a solid week and plan to continue. Besides the obvious health benefits I have seen a chunky increase the money I save.

The increase is apparent but according to the League of American Bicyclists, less than half of 1 percent of Americans ride a bike to work. I for one will be excited to see this number rise.

7/07/08 – 2.4 miles in 27:10 (slow run with Paulette and Sparky)

Florida Offshore Drilling… ARE THEY CRAZY?!?!

I guess my title reveals which side of this issue I am on. Recently Governor Charlie Crist reversed his long-standing support for the federal moratorium on offshore drilling for oil and gas. Recently Crist endorsed Republican candidate John McCain’s proposal to eliminate the restrictions on offshore drilling. Instead, each state could decide whether to drill in waters off its shores.

Crist cites the rising oil prices as the driving force behind his reversal of position. He recently explained, “My heart bleeds for them,” referring to the families in Florida affected by the rise in gas costs.

People need to stop looking for short cuts to ensure short-term security. This is a classic case of the government trying to look for a quick fix. Sure the price of gas might ease up but one needs to look deeper into the issues. Besides the stupendous consumption of gas this will continue to drive, I feel people need to look to change their lifestyle. Alternative energy and energy conservation has been in the forefront recently, (due to high gas prices) we need to embrace this and try to change our over-consumptive ways. Enough of my hippy rant, back to the issues.

When one thinks of Florida, one visualizes sunny, warm vacations by luscious beaches, cruises, or theme parks. There is no denying that Florida’s tourism industry bring a LARGE portion of the state’s total revenue. People flock to Florida from throughout the country as well as the whole world. For a quick decrease in gas prices, these politicians risk ruining this thriving industry. In a state plagued by hurricanes and tropical storms how can one justify setting up offshore rigs to drill for oil? I understand that oil spills are rare and far between but there is no way to risk an industry that makes up the largest sector of the state economy.

I am by no means a political expert, but I am simply calling this as I see it and as a resident of Florida.

Cyclone Nargis

3 May 2008: A terrifyingly severe cyclone makes landfall into the impoverished nation of Burma (Myanmar). Dubbed “Asia’s Hurricane Katrina,” Cyclone Nargis produces 215 km/h winds (135 m/h equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane). Initially forecasted to strike Bangladesh (somewhat protected by the mangrove forest) or Burma’s mountainous northwest, Cyclone Nargis became one of Asia’s deadliest storms by hitting land in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta in central Burma and setting off a storm surge that reached 25 miles inland (the picture on the right shows the delta before and after the storm).

Picking and choosing what aid to allow into Burma, the military junta that runs the country should face immense scrutiny. The true degree of devastation unknown, over the course of a week we have watched the death toll rise from 4,000 to over 22,000 with foreign observers saying 100,000 may have perished.

With much needed aid being blocked off by the government, the military leaders appear to be putting their pride and entrenched suspicion of foreigners before the lives of their people. As sad as it may sound, natural disasters often offer a chance for people to witness how great humanity can be with so many willing to help… This sad situation shows that the world cares, but the government in Burma doesn’t. With the number of corpses rising, help HAS to be accepted soon or the rate of disease will grow rampant. I sincerely hope the situation improves.

Without direct access, the only way for me to help the relief effort is monetarily. I have done so through google to Unicef. I hope everyone else does the same.

5/07/08 – 4 miles in 37:06

Gas Prices in the US

It’s quite easy to complain about the drastic increase in gas prices. Looking at straight facts, the US remains a cheap location to fill up. Out of 155 countries surveyed, U.S. gas prices were the 45th cheapest, according to a recent study from AIRINC, a research firm that tracks cost of living data. The data below shows the findings from the firm.

Most expensive places to buy gas

Rank Country Price/gal
1. Bosnia-Herzegovina $10.86
2. Eritrea $9.58
3. Norway $8.73
4. United Kingdom $8.38
5. Netherlands $8.37
6. Monaco $8.31
7. Iceland $8.28
8. Belgium $8.22
9. France $8.07
10. Germany $7.86
111. United States $3.45

Cheapest Oil Prices

Rank Country Price/gal
1. Venezuela 12 cents
2. Iran 40 cents
3. Saudi Arabia 45 cents
4. Libya 50 cents
5. Swaziland 54 cents
6. Qatar 73 cents
7. Bahrain 81 cents
8. Egypt 89 cents
9. Kuwait 90 cents
10. Seychelles 98 cents
45. United States $3.48



Hidden data not strictly in the numbers above is what each government does with extra revenue received from gas taxes. For example, most of the European countries (with astronomical gas prices) use the revenue from taxes to fund improvements in public transportation. These improvements along with the high price of gas breeds a culture content with using public transportation for all needs.

The former EXTREMELY low price of gasoline in the US led to the purchases of automobiles into virtually every household. On a per capita basis, Americans use three times more oil than Europeans. With the recent increase in prices, people feel the crunch but remain committed in their love affair with cars.

Americans must accept the consequences of overconsumption and learn to adapt. Improvements will come with slight changes to our way of life. Making concerted efforts to reduce gasoline consumption by walking, carpooling, and using public transportation can reduce the price of gas, help the environment, and increase fitness. Accept responsibility, make some changes and let’s improve our world.

Orangutan spotted fishing with spear-like stick

This picture takes “monkey see, monkey do” to a whole new level. Apparently this male Orangutan had seen local fisherman with spears in the Gohong River. Attempting to emulate the fishermen, this Orangutan hangs off some overhanging branches, thrashing about the water striving to spear passing fish. Although the method required too much skill for him to master, he was later able to improvise by using the pole to catch fish already trapped in the locals’ fishing lines.

The extraordinary image, a world exclusive, was taken in Borneo on the island of Kaja, where apes are rehabilitated into the wild after being rescued from zoos, private homes or even butchers’ shops.

The validity of this picture may come into question but any doubts can be immediately squashed with the appearance of this and other amazing images in Thinkers of the Jungle: The Orangutan Report. The book provides great sapience into the amazing behaviors of Orangutans. The ground breaking book shows photographic evidence of previously unrecorded abilities; such as fishing and swimming. Available on May 5, the book should be a must read/see for adults and children alike.

I’m a huge proponent of saving all wildlife but if anyone would like to direct your efforts towards Orangutans, visit redapes.org or orangutanrescue.org.uk.

Earth Day : Meat Consumption

Another Earth Day passes on, little attention, no change. Most people hold the thought process that one person cannot make a difference. Why not make the change, spread the word, and invoke change in others? At any rate this post is going to expose some truths of the livestock industry and its impact on Earth.

In his 1975 bestseller, The Eco-Spasm Report, futurist Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock and The Third Wave, suggested a positive hope for the world’s crisis. He anticipated “the sudden rise of a religious movement in the West that restricts the eating of beef and thereby saves billions of tons of grain and provides a nourishing diet for the world as a whole.” This has not come to fruition, if anything, the opposite holds true.

Statistics show that Nigeria’s per-capita meat consumption is approximately 6.4 kilograms a year, China’s is about 23 kg, but, Canadains consume an average of 65 kg a year and the citizens of the US eat 95 kg. This shows the meatcentricity of Western society.

People do not view meat consumption in the same light as other commodities. Most associate over-consumption with gas, electricity, and water. A quick analysis of meat, where it comes from, and what goes into producing it provides insight into the true cost of producing meat.

Like all the products we buy, meat is made up of inputs. The largest are water, grain, land, and energy. Others include hormones to promote growth, antibiotics to prevent disease, and fertilizers and pesticides to grow the feed

To produce a kilogram of grain-fed beef, it takes, on average, 10 kg of grain and 680 liters of water (only what the animal consumes). In comparison, according to a study in California, 1 kg of tomatoes requires 190 liters of water, 1 kg of potatoes requires 198 liters of water, 1 kg of wheat requires 209 liters of water – but 1 kg of beef requires a whopping 43,500 liters of water (this takes into account the water needed to grow the feed along with the water needed to raise the animal). Even rice, which uses more water than any other grain, requires one tenth the water needed to produce meat.

In order to meet our demand for meat, millions of tons of grain are diverted to feed livestock. More than 1/3 of the world’s total grain harvest is fed to livestock. Another requirement to raise livestock is land. An equivalent amount of land can feed six times more people eating a plant-based diet than people eating a meat-based diet.

Besides consuming an immense amount of resources, livestock also creates large amounts of garbage. Production of 1 kg of edible beef leads to 40 kg of manure. The manure and urine waste, plus the pesticides and fertilizers used to grow feed, are among the largest sources of water pollution in North America. With the population steadily increasing and the average person consuming more meat, the consequences could be disastrous.

Having said all this, I by no means am promoting vegetarianism. I feel the awareness of these facts can lead to people eating healthier by substituting some meat meals with vegetarian meals. Everything in moderation. In addition I feel that grain diverted to human consumption could solve some of the world’s hunger issues. We can all make a difference, every little bit will help. Let’s make some changes if not for the environment, at least for ourselves.

4/21/08 – 5.5 miles in 49:02 (8:54 per mile pace)