Humanity’s impact on the Amazon rainforest has been ‘grossly underestimated’

All too often we seem to take one step forwards… then two steps back. On one hand there’s good news, with the mighty USA, one of the world’s biggest contributors to climate change, finally promising to take worthwhile action to combat global warming. On the other hand there’s dreadful news as new research led by Lancaster University, UK, reveals how humanity’s impact on the Amazon rainforest has been grossly underestimated.

Rainforests only cover 6% of the earth’s surface and they’re restricted to tropical regions. But they are home to more than half of the planet’s plant and animal species. Their sheer diversity is incredible. Which is just one reason why the news released by Lancaster University on 22nd May is so devastating.

Rainforest degradation is almost as devastating as actual deforestation

According to an international team of researchers, selective logging and human-led surface wildfires result in an annual loss of 54 billion tons of carbon from the Brazilian Amazon, with a subsequent hike in the amount of greenhouse gases being emitted. It’s the equivalent of 40% of the planet’s annual carbon loss through complete deforestation, just as damaging as cutting the forest down full stop, and the findings have dismayed those involved in rainforest conservation as well as climate scientists.

The study is the biggest so far to explore both above and below-ground carbon loss from logging and ground-level forest fires. The data is based on samples from 70,000 trees plus thousands of soil, dead wood and other samples taken from 225 sites spread right across the verdant, incredibly rich and diverse eastern Brazilian Amazon.

Canopy damage lets in sun and wind

The process usually kicks off with logging, which normally focuses on precious woods like mahogany and ipe, the felling of which damages nearby trees. Post-logging, canopy damage lets the sun and wind in, which further affects the ecosystem and increases the risk of forest fires. In combination logging and fires hurt the primary forest so badly it turns into a thick scrub, which is capable of storing as much as 40% less carbon than forest left in its natural state.

Throwing away the rainforest climate change book

It’s terrible news when, thus far, most tropical climate change initiatives have focused on cutting emissions through deforestation, without taking into account the emissions from degradation. And it means the book will have to be thrown away in favour of a new way of quantifying the real effects of human activities on the lungs of the world.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - July 6, 2014 at 7:27 am

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5 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Reusable Bags

There is a frightening amount of waste produced each year and this is damaging our planet, as well as endangering the wildlife and sea life.

Reusable bags are becoming more and more popular each year but there is still a huge amount of plastic waste ruining our planet.

The statistics of plastic waste and plastic bags is astonishing and a recent survey explained that an average family will go through around 60 plastic carrier bags in every four grocery shops at the supermarket.

Here’s 5 other reasons why more people should consider using reusable bags instead of plastic ones:

  • Around the world, there are between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags used each year. A massive statistic when you consider it takes just one bag around 1,000 years to degrade into smaller pieces which are still toxic once smaller.
  • Statistics show that there is around 46,000 pieces of plastic debris floating around every square mile of ocean.
  • Reusable bags can hold up to two or three times as many items as plastic bags and can carry more weight too.
  • Eco-friendly bags can be used around 100 times compared to plastic bags which often get used once or twice and are then thrown away.
  • According to the Ocean Conservancy, plastic bags are among the top two items of debris that are found in coastal clean-ups.

As plastic bags never fully biodegrade, they remain in the atmosphere as small toxic pieces which can still prove hazardous to animals and humans. This shows the huge importance on cutting down plastic wastage and by changing plastic bags to reusable ones, you can help the environment and save yourself some money too, especially as plastic bags will soon come with a charge for using them.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - June 27, 2014 at 8:01 am

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What energy saving technology can you introduce in your home?

With the price of fuel rising year upon year, and with no clear sign of slowing down, making sure your home is more comfortable whilst implementing measures to guard against this increase is now very important. This blog will look at the sensible choices for your home which will save you energy and, more importantly, will save you money.

Each home is different and will be defined by its unique characteristics. This means that no particular energy saving measure is the right one for you. This is why we have covered a range of different technologies to give you an idea of what they cost, how much they save, and which one you should opt for. Before you jump straight in and make a rash decision, a great idea is to have knowledge of each technology and how they work, whilst also understanding your own home.

To understand which improvements will benefit you the most, you should have your home assessed by a local contractor. They will be able to advise you in an impartial manner as to what the best solution is. You can then discuss in greater detail, moving forward to create a home which leads to a greater energy efficiency whilst also helping you save money for other things, like family days out to the zoo for example!

From walls insulation, to energy saving light bulbs and even solar panels, there is a plethora of technology which is currently available; so continue reading to find the post popular, the most effective and also the most cost-effective measures that you should be considering.

Loft insulation

Loft insulation is one of the most efficient ways of ensuring that you keep heat escaping from your home. You can save around £15 a year on your heating bills by simply installing 270mm thick insulation. The thickness plays an important role and anything between 100 mm to 270 mm can be effective, but the thicker you go, the more effective your insulation will be.

Wall insulation

There are two types of wall, solid walls and cavity walls. It doesn’t matter which type you have in your home as both can be insulation in order to improve the energy efficiency of a property. If your home has uninsulated cavity walls, it’s very easy to fix this, and whilst costing between £450 – £500, you will make this back in around four years.

Solid walls, despite perceptions, aren’t very good at keeping in the heat. In fact, they lose heat twice as fast as uninsulated cavity walls but insulating them can save you upwards of £270 a year – many older builds have been constructed with solid walls, so find out before you buy the property.

Energy saving LED lightbulbs

Replace any older light bulbs you have in your home with newer LED energy saving bulbs, it’s that simple. It may not sound like such a revolutionary change, but you will definitely notice a difference when you closely examine your energy bills. Every little helps, after all.

Boilers

Newer boilers are a lot more energy efficient than all of the older models. You should always check the age of a boiler when moving into a property whilst ensuring that it is Energy Saving Trust recommended. Boilers have an energy rating, with ‘A’ being the most efficient, and ‘G’ being the lowest. If you opt to replace a G-rated boiler, it could save you around £305 a year on running costs alone.

Check your appliances

All appliances such a fridges and freezers now come with an energy rating (much like boilers) which ranges from A to G, with A being the most energy efficient. When buying new appliances, ensure they are at the most efficient end of the spectrum whilst if you are moving in as a tenant, ask the landlord about the appliances which are already at the property.

Double or triple glazed windows

If you have A-rated double glazing windows installed at your home, you can save somewhere between £90 – £100 on heating bills compared to if you lived in a single-glazed property. If you are unable to have them installed, heavy lined curtains can help keep the heat in.

Solar Panels

Free Electricity Forever - How to Get Free Solar Power from Photovoltaic Cell Panels

Free Electricity Forever – How to Get Free Solar Power from Photovoltaic Cell Panels

Solar panels, which is also known as solar photovoltaics (PV) capture the sun’s energy using photovoltaic cells. These cells don’t actually need direct sunlight to work and can produce energy on cloudy days. By converting the sunlight into electricity, solar panels can be used to power household appliances and lighting.

It can cost around £7,000 to install solar panels, and whilst the larger the system, the more it will cost, but the savings will be much larger over time. South-facing panels will be more effective than panels which are say, on the north-facing roof of your property. Whilst solar panels are the most effective money saver over time, they are the most expensive to initially install.

Water saving devices

Installing a water meter is a fantastic way to keep tabs on your water usage, it will effectively stop you flushing water down the drain. Also make sure to check your home for any dripping taps, this is because a drip can waste gallons of water every day. Energy saving shower heads will also save you money whilst also offering you a pleasurable showering experience.

When looking to install energy saving technologies at your property, there is now a huge range of different measures which can be hugely effective, not only saving you energy, but also saving you money in the process. From effective insulation to energy saving light bulbs, there are many options which suit all types of home – so it doesn’t matter if you live in an older build or a newer property, you will be able to make positive changes very easily.


Written by Jennifer Smith on behalf of the Green Deal Shop, your one-stop-shop for the UK government’s Green Deal.

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Posted by Guest Author - June 18, 2014 at 11:53 am

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How to Save Energy and Water with Smart Landscaping

Landscaping your home is a natural way to preserve your way of life cheaply and efficiently.  There are many ways to cut down energy costs in your home.  Most people think that this involves buying some kind of new technology such as solar panels to cut down on your utility bills.  Most wouldn’t consider shaping the land around you as a way to save money and not simply doing so for the looks of your property.  The way you design your plot of land can actually be very helpful in saving money and preserving out natural resources such as water.  When done the right way you can actually seek a return on your investment from doing so.

Landscaping for Shade

Providing natural shading for your home is a very simple way to keep cool in the summer and prevent high utility bills from constantly running your air conditioning.  When trying to accomplish this you need to think about the suns path across the sky as it relates to your home.  Be aware of what windows face the sun in certain times of the day and this will help you determine where to place trees and bushes to help shade your home.  You will want to think about how much of a shadow you will need to cast to effectively block the sun rays from your home.  Studies have shown that this can reduce you’re air conditioning bill anywhere from 15-59%!

Landscape Windbreaks and Efficiency

On the reverse side of planting tress to block the sun, you can also better insulate your home in the winter time by planting trees that will block cold winds in the winter time.  Trees with dense foliage such as the Evergreen tree can help cut down on the cold air impacting your home.  In addition adding fencing around your yard will help to break the wind from swooping across your property.  Studies for this have shown improved cost savings up to 40%!  Constantly running your heater is just as if not more expensive than running your air conditioning.  Adding shrubbery will also help to collect snow instead of it piling up near your home.

Landscape Water Conservation

There are many helpful options you can consider to save water from using the proper landscaping techniques for bushes, trees, and grass.  One very effective way to conserve water is using mulch around your shrubs and trees.  It helps to cool the ground and roots to encourage healthy plant growth and blooming.  When it comes to watering your plants it makes more sense to do so when the sun is low and not as intense.  This will prevent the water from evaporating into the air and will let it soak into the ground so the plants can absorb more of it.  Properly aerating your soil will help to channel the water into the ground instead of it running off to areas you don’t need it to be.  A final tidbit for water conservation is to plant similar types of bushes and shrubs together in order to have uniformity in their water needs.

Being aware of your landscape is a very practical way to save money and live more comfortably.  Controlling the temperature of your home by blocking sun and wind is simple and very helpful in reducing your utility bills.  Using the right planting techniques will also help you to conserve water and use it more efficiently.  Landscaping can be fun, and impact your home in many positive ways.


This article was authored by Oscar Stan.  Oscar is currently studying electrical engineering at UCF in Orlando, FL.  As part of his internship program, Oscar is currently working with FacemyerAC.com.  If you would like to read more of Oscar’s writings or connect with him, you can reach out to him on Google+.

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Posted by Guest Author - June 14, 2014 at 9:55 am

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New hope for Indonesian rainforest conservation

Indonesia enjoys one of the biggest tropical rainforest environments, and also suffers one of the world’s worst deforestation rates. It is the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases worldwide, after the US and China. But there are signs of progress.

Illegal clearance, corruption and weak governance

Millions of hectares of the nation’s rainforest have been illegally cleared over the last few decades through logging, plantations, timber, pulp, paper and the palm oil industry. In 2010 the Norwegian and Indonesian governments signed an agreement to impose a moratorium on clearing peat land and natural forest. It was part of an effort to support the country’s ambitious goal to slash emissions by 26% for 2020, but the forest clearance continued, mostly because of corruption and weak governance.

Power to the people…

Thankfully the country’s population is finally beginning to understand the crippling economic costs to destroying their precious rainforest resource. It’s becoming clear that the benefits of more employment and better infrastructure really don’t compensate for loss of forest environments, and locals are starting to put pressure on the government. As a result several large palm oil, pulp and paper industries in Indonesia have pledged zero deforestation, and the government is finally beginning to prosecute companies that don’t comply.

Palm oil industry changes on the cards

The executive director of the Indonesian Palm Oil Association, Fadhil Hasan, said that the palm oil industry is moving in the right direction at last, although sustainability won’t happen overnight. The good news goes on, with the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil Standard becoming mandatory by the close of 2014, and the country’s government launching the sustainable palm oil standard.

A changing picture for 2014

The Indonesian Palm Oil Association says only a few plantations are being set up in natural forests. Local people say otherwise, claiming clearance is threatening their future and comes at their expense. But it looks like things are slowly changing for the better. Let’s hope we see the picture changing throughout 2014 and into the future.


Guest post by the Rainforest Foundation. You can view their analysis of palm oil usage in UK products here.

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Posted by Guest Author - June 11, 2014 at 7:57 am

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World Ocean Day June 8th – A Look at the Oceans of the World

Did you know that about 90% of the ocean is still unmapped and it could take 125 years to complete the mapping task?

Oceans of the WorldInfographic by Avoca Water.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - June 10, 2014 at 7:00 am

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Environmentally Friendly Car Guide

This infographic discusses the benefits of using eco-friendly cars which emit less pollution compared to traditional cars, while also showing you how to drive traditional cars more economically.

Environmentally Friendly Car GuideInfographic by Southside Motor Factors.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - June 10, 2014 at 6:52 am

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Forests of the World

Our forests are depleting at an alarming rate. 90% of the land based animals and plant life in the world live in our forests, 1.6 billion people depend on our forests for their livelihood and one third of the world’s surface is covered in them. This infographic gives you an overview of some of the essential data about the forests of the world.

Forests of the World

Infographic by Crowe Sawmills.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - June 10, 2014 at 6:44 am

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Infographic on Water Wastage

Did you know that in some parts of the world people survive on 3 gallons of water a day, that is the equivalent of 1 toilet flush?

every drop countsInfographic by http://www.avocawater.ie/

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Posted by Eco Warrior - May 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm

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Teaching Your Children to be Eco-friendly? Use Behavioural Psychology To Create Good Habits That Last a Lifetime

We all want this world to be a better place for our children and for generations to come. This is not an easy goal to achieve instantly but is more of a long play that requires a lot of effort and creativity. As with all kinds of activism everything starts at the grassroots level and just as Gandhi profoundly proclaimed: “be the change you want to see in the world”, we should encourage our children to be environmentally aware and help them form good green habits that will provide a healthier environment for them, and following generations, to live and learn in.

So, how do you go about teaching your little ones to be ‘green’? Encouraging environmentally friendly behaviours in school age children can be simple and effective as long as we follow 3 basic principles:

  • Reinforce positive behaviours in your child through praise and rewards
  • Make environmentally friendly activities into ‘play’
  • Ensure that your child’s actions turn into habits through frequency and repetition

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a mechanism though which we can stimulate our child’s development and steer them in the desired direction. Every positive behaviour our child is displaying (or behaviour we teach them) is rewarded trough either verbal affirmation or physical reward. Parents can create week-long or month-long plans where they can mark off every positive eco-friendly behaviour child exhibits.

For example, when we see that our child turns off the tap whilst brushing their teeth, or switches off the lights when they leave a room, we can mark it off with a star or a sticker.

The BBC website here has a downloadable week long sticker chart and sticker pack that parents can print and cut out with their children. At the end of the week you can also download and print out a ‘Green Star’ certificate on which children can draw pictures of what they did to earn their Green Star.

Make it fun!

‘Learning through play’ is a concept that applies cognitive theory principles as developed by the Swiss psychologist Piaget. A child’s mind is not capable of abstract thinking and logical reasoning until around the age of 11 or 12. Through his research Piaget discovered that younger children learn whilst interacting with the world and forming experiences, thereby making play a crucial part of children’s learning processes and further aiding their development.

There are several ideas you can implement to help your child pro-actively learn the rules of ecology that are both fun and beneficial.

Planting Vegetables

Plant vegetables in your garden with your child that can then be used to make colourful healthy salads and snacks as 1 of your child’s 5 a day. You could make your veggies into food monsters and other fun characters and shapes. Not only will it be a fun activity for your child but it will also encourage them to eat home-grown vegetables that are free of pesticides and which would form healthy eating habits for many years to come.

pic2 pic3

For inspiration have a read about this father who created cartoon themed lunches to teach his children the importance of eating their greens.

Another great activity to encourage your children to positively play with their home grown food would be to create these DIY play plates. Using a porcelain marker you simply draw basic backgrounds (a park, a forest etc.) on to your plates and then bake them to set the design. Cut up lots of fruit and veg shapes and your children can make scenes like the ones below. All of this play will create positive associations with their vegetable patch and encourage them to tend and care for it.

pic4

To get you started, Better Homes and Gardens have produced this children’s vegetable garden layout plan and this article on growing a herb ‘pizza garden’ is also worth a read for inspiration.

Play at School

You can promote green activism on a larger scale by getting involved with the Parent Teacher Association at your child’s school and suggesting some smart and fun play ideas for children to participate in. Organise games for ‘Earth Day’ every April 22nd. Junk modelling is a great activity that can be used as a basis for making recycling fun and creating cushions and play costumes out of old jumpers and fabrics can be used to start a conversation about upcycling. This website has 34 craft projects for upcycling with children.

pic5You can organise a fundraising day at the school, where children would bring old glass bottles in for recycling and gather donations for Ecology charities. You could make it an interclass competition with a small prize (perhaps children’s gardening tools and seeds) for the class that bring in the most.

A lot of schools will have their own range of book and shopper bags which they give to children and parents. As part of the PTA you could campaign for these to be made of biodegradable fabric. Why not get your school to order blank bags and ask the children to decorate them using fabric pens? They could be encouraged to draw ‘green’ scenes with a prize for the best three. Read about the guys over at Teach Humane who did this project with their kids.

Turn New Behaviours into Habits

Helping your child to form a new habit is a challenge and time-consuming. As parents we must model positive behaviours ourselves and not be inconsistent in any way. Work your new environmentally friendly activities into your child’s routine. Children thrive when they have a solid routine to work with and this repetition will really help to ground what they have learnt. Reinforce your green ethos at all times. For example, when rewarding your children for a job well done always do this with something sustainable and in line with the lessons you are trying to teach them. Also, always make any rewards systems you use achievable. If you child struggles to ‘win’ then they will become frustrated and likely give up or rebel against the new habits you are trying to instil into them. Consider getting your extended family involved to add in a little bit of accountability. Tell grandma about the new vegetable patch and encourage her to ask your child how things are going with it to try and encourage them to keep it going.

Further Eco Friendly Task Ideas to Do With Your Children

  • Donating old toys to the charity shop.
  • Helping to sort the recycling into the appropriate bins.
  • Completing a sponsored event with the proceeds going to charities such as the Wildlife Trust, PETA or Greenpeace.
  • Planting trees in your garden to help reduce green-house gases.
  • Create a green scrapbook with leaves collected from the park
  • Decorate your own plant pots

Check out these Pinterest boards for LOTS more ideas:

Through small actions each one of us can make a difference and improve the state of the environment to make world a better place for ourselves, our children and future generations.


About the author: Joanna works with who http://www.stuartmorris.co.uk/ who produce bio degradable textile products for fund-raising purposes. When she is not writing she enjoys gardening, crafts and keeping fit.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - May 24, 2014 at 4:47 pm

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