It’s been a minute…

Or two! Almost a whole month since I last posted.

My first update… Green Element is now on Instagram! Wooohooo! Being a social media averse person, it took me a while to make this decision. I can confidently say that it was a good decision…well, at least so far. It is a nice place to showcase photos. You can check out the page here.

Second update… well, not really an update but a good suggestion. 😉  Check out Kevin Kimwelle, a Kenyan born architect who designs environmental friendly buildings. He has been nominated for building the ‘Most Beautiful Thing in South Africa’ on Design Indaba. You can read more about his project and vote for him here.

And because good things come in three’s… or so I hear… here’s the 3rd update.

Green Element turned 1!

Thank you for reading… 🙂

Not another conference

Conferences, workshops and trainings are a great way of  advertising, meeting new people, gaining new information and insight on various topics. They are an even greater method of promoting tourism, because a majority of the time these activities are out of town.

In my world, we have had and have myriads of conferences, workshops, trainings and different kinds of fora that deal with issues to do with sustainability, environment, climate change, wetlands, renewable energy, biodiversity, water… the list goes on and on. I have attended a few of these and though a majority of the time I am working, I mostly enjoy them.

However, a trend I’ve noticed over time, is that there are some people who attend literally every training being organised. One of my former colleagues calls them, ‘serial conference attendants’. How effective are these events to the ‘attendants’ and the organisations that they represent?

Albert Einstein, one of my most favourite people, once said, ‘The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing’.

So here goes my questioning:

i. At the end of every conference, training or workshop there are action points. Is there any follow up structure to find out whether the participants made use of the knowledge obtained? Where is the proof of action that has taken place on the ground as a result of the various events?

ii. In an era of 4G internet, webinars and online courses, why must we meet physically so frequently to discuss issues that have previously been discussed… then come up with solutions that had once been suggested but never implemented?

iii. Instead of all the expenses (per diem, flights, accomodation) associated with such meetings, why can’t these funds go towards active action like investing in innovative sustainable solutions such as large scale use of biogas or something? Has anyone done a cost benefit analysis of conferences, workshops and trainings?

thinking-face
Hmmm…

 

 

 

Return

Return in Swahili is Rudisha… and that’s what David Lekuta Rudisha, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion, world champion and world record holder in the 800 metres, did on Tuesday; he returned the 800 M Gold Medal home. See what I did there… 😉 :). I wrote this on Tuesday and thought it was fresh until I saw a similar statement in one of the local dailies yesterday :/. Oh well, Great minds think alike. 🙂

In the spirit of the current Olympic Games being held in Rio, try out this fun test to see what amazing Amazon animal athlete you are. I’m a jaguar, the all star. 

 

Climate Change. IV. Action

Action is taking place all over the world. Okay, at least that’s what it looks like…o_O. We have agreements signed and documents ratified (feels so nice to use that word…ratified). There’s the Kyoto Protocol, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and locally we have the National Climate Change Response Strategy.

We need to understand that climate change is a natural process that is being hastened (like a crawling child running in a 100 metre sprint) by anthropogenic (human) activities such as deforestation. There is hope though, especially if you choose to plant a tree. Or two trees. Or a forest. Keep planting trees when you find the opportunity to. Trees act as carbon sinks so they reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

Choose to recycle, reduce and reuse. This would mean that industries would produce less and again reduce the amount of carbon released to the atmosphere and also reduce the amount of waste released into our waterways which are already under stress.

Choose to use renewable energy. There’s so much to choose from. Solar, Wind, Biogas… I can proudly say that Kenya is a leader in this sector. The Climatescope 2015 report, places Kenya at position 6 in the world and only South Africa and Uganda compete with Kenya at position four and nine on the continent, in the top 10 list.

and/or

Choose to use energy efficiently and energy efficient products. Switch off lights when not in use, use energy saving bulbs, buy products that have an energy efficiency rating (the closer the rating is to A, the better). This will also save you a few coins. 😉

Choose to harvest rainwater for household uses such as loo flushing, house cleaning and garden use. It reduces the growing strain and stress on surface and ground water.

Choose to speak out against actions that are not sustainable. We need to leave this earth better than we found it. Not just because nature is beautiful but for our children and our children’s children. If our great great  grandparents had the same habits that we have today…. Hmmmmm… Wacha tu…

It’s not all gloom and doom if we make the right choices… 🙂

Enjoy the video below… 😀

 

Climate Change. II. Causes

Causes of climate change can be classified into natural and anthropogenic (human caused) factors. Today’s post will focus on the anthropogenic factors; the contributions that you and I make towards these changes/variations in climate.

The earth’s temperature is highly dependent on the balance between the energy entering and leaving its system. The earth warms when it absorbs the energy and cools when the energy is reflected back to space. Some of the things that can change this balance include:

  • Changes in the sun’s energy reaching earth.

The sun follows a natural 11-year cycle of small ups and downs in intensity, but the effect on Earth’s climate is small. (US EPA)

  • Changes in the reflectivity of the earth’s atmosphere and surface.

When sunlight reaches the earth, it is either absorbed or reflected depending on the surface and atmosphere. Light coloured surfaces such as snow and clouds tend to reflect the most sunlight (this is known as surface albedo) while dark coloured surfaces such as the ocean, forests and soil absorb more sunlight.

Land use changes and global warming as a result of the green house effect (see below) have affected reflectivity. Land use changes such as deforestation for human activities (settlements and agriculture), means that less energy is absorbed on land and also means that less carbon is absorbed by forests. More carbon in the atmosphere translates to the greenhouse effect which then translates to warming of the earth’s atmosphere. Global warming translates to melting of the ice caps which means that in the polar regions, more sunlight is absorbed by the oceans. Warmer oceans means a change in the weather (stronger hurricanes)… Domino effect…

  • Changes in the greenhouse effect

A blanket is formed in the earth’s atmosphere by an excess of greenhouses gases (GHGs) such as:

  • Water Vapour which mostly occurs naturally and has the least contribution to the blanket.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced from human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation (Forests act as carbon sinks, they absorb CO2,so when they are cut down, less carbon dioxide is absorbed and more is released into the atmosphere).
  • Methane (CH4)  is produced from the decomposition of organic matter from landfills and agriculture. It absorbs more heat that CO2 but is less abundant in the atmosphere.
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O) has its main source in the agriculture sector (organic fertilizers) and in the burning of fossil fuels. 

These gases absorb that energy making the atmosphere retain heat. This process is known as the, ‘greenhouse effect’.

Read more about the causes of climate change here, here and here

If you are a visual person, these kiddie videos below can help you understand the causes better:

and

and finally

Next week, we’ll have Climate Change. III. It’s real

 

 

 

Just Imagine

A few… Okay, many years ago I shared this in a Geography class and they thought I was mad.

Studies show that the Sahara, one of the largest, driest and hottest deserts in the world was once green. Cave paintings have been found in different countries that the desert covers, showing the presence of animals such as lions, giraffes and hippos which are not normally found in deserts.

Just imagine!

surprised

Read more about this here, here and here. 🙂

Climate Change. I.

I’m sure you’ve heard of this somewhere.

Climate and Change are two popular words right now; especially when used together.

It has become the norm nowadays that when it is too cold, climate change; too hot,climate change. When the rainy season is early, climate change; when the rainy season is late, climate change. Ice caps are melting, climate change. Deserts are spreading, climate change. Floods have increased, climate change. Hunger, climate change. Poverty, climate change. I could go on and on…

So lets first look at the two words:

Climate according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), is the average weather of a specific place over a period of 30 years. So climate has a system which has five main components which involve measuring the atmosphere (air), the hydrosphere (water), cryosphere (water in solid form e.g. ice), land surface and the biosphere (flora and fauna- plants and animals).

Change– to become different; to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something)different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change describes it as, “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”

So climate change is a difference from the normal. But it can only be called a change if it stays in a different state from the original for 30 years or more. If it is for a few months or years then it is a variation. For example, what Kenya is experiencing is a climate variation. However, more often than not, a variation eventually leads to a change.

Variability may be due to natural internal processes within the climate system (internal variability from the interactions between air and water for example), or  as a result of  variations in natural (for example volcanic eruptions or changes in solar radiation) or anthropogenic /human caused (such as emission of greenhouse gases and deforestation) external factors. (WMO)

So next week ,  we’ll have Climate Change. II. Causes.

 

 

 

A Rubbish Rant

One of the things that I simply cannot wrap my head around is littering. I have really tried to understand why we do it…but I just can’t.

Okay fine, so you pay taxes and therefore have indirectly paid for the street sweepers salary but would you spit or throw rubbish on your tiled/cemented or even earthen floor because you have a paid cleaner coming in?

This year, on World Oceans Day, the focus was on plastic pollution; the littering that happens on the beaches and in the oceans and the effects that it has on the different species. Google Chris Jordan’s images on birds and plastic. So sad. Dead birds found with ingested plastic from the littering on beaches and oceans. These animals literally choke on what we throw. We have amazing brains, they have pea brains. So they’ll eat whatever they find. I don’t know whether people expect the litter to miraculously disappear or walk itself into a rubbish can/pit.

irUcyJ1466414630In Nairobi, one of the reasons why we experience so much flooding is because of the amount of trash that goes into our drainage systems. It clogs the drainage system and water just piles (no water can’t pile…It builds up…What does water do?…Accumulates). Water accumulates. We loose millions of shillings as a result of flood related damage and this is avoidable.

A little responsibility goes a long way. Throwing litter in the right place does not really require much energy and besides littering is really shady.

Just Imagine

Out of the total volume of water on the earth, freshwater makes about 2.5% of the total volume.

70% of the 2.5% is in the form of ice (glaciers)  and permanent snow cover (don’t know how permanent though with global warming); almost 30% of the 2.5% is groundwater and only 0.3% is easily accessible on the earth’s surface (lakes, rivers, streams and ponds).

The rest of the water, slightly more than 97% is saltwater (oceans).

Source: UNWater

surprised
Source: emojibase.com

Just Imagine!