Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes

Emagazine.com  features an “Earth Talk” column which answers questions about the environment. A Sustainable Life will occasionally share some of these Q&A’s with you.

Dear EarthTalk: I couldn’t believe my ears: “genetically engineered mosquitoes?” Why on Earth would they be created? And I understand there are plans to release them into the wild?

Yes it’s true, genetically engineered mosquitoes, which were bred in the lab to transmit a gene during the reproductive process that kills their offspring, have already been used on an experimental basis in three countries—the Cayman Islands, Malaysia and Brazil—to counteract the quickly spreading mosquito-borne viral infection dengue fever. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that as many as 100 million cases of humans infected with dengue fever—which causes a severe flu-like illness and can in certain instances be fatal—occur annually in more than 100 tropical and sub-tropical countries.

Oxitec first released some of the genetically modified mosquitoes in the Cayman Island in the Caribbean in 2009, much to the surprise of the international community and environmental advocates, many of whom are opposed to genetic engineering in any of its forms due to the unknown and unintended side effects that unleashing transgenic organisms into the world could cause.

In Brazil, where the largest experiments have been carried out to date, the government is backing a new facility designed to breed millions of genetically engineered mosquitoes to help keep dengue fever at bay.

Dengue fever isn’t considered to be a big problem in the U.S. as yet. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that most of the dengue fever cases showing up in the continental U.S. are among those who have travelled to sub-tropical and tropical areas of the world. Still, WHO reports that the incidence of dengue fever in the U.S. has increased some thirty-fold over the last half century.

A proposal by Oxitec to test its transgenic mosquitoes in the Florida Keys has some locals upset. In April 2012, the town of Key West passed an ordinance prohibiting the release of the mosquitoes pending further testing on possible implications for the environment. In the meantime, Oxitec has applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a patent on their mosquito and permission to release them in the U.S.

Tell me what you think about this……

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Friday Feature

As part of the Life University’s ongoing commitment to create a sustainable village community, and in conjunction with the University’s recycling initiatives, the IT department is participating in the Apple Recycling Program for Education. The program, sponsored by Apple,will recycle outdated and unwanted Macs, PCs and peripherals from any manufacturer at no charge. To ensure the safety of secured data, all recycled hard drives will be ground into confetti-sized pieces. Upon completion of this process, LIFE will receive a certificate of destruction for the equipment, will certify that all identifying information is destroyed, and that all electronic waste is safely processed in the United States. Because electronic waste (also known as “e-waste”) can contain hazardous materials, it is imperative that it is disposed of properly.

As a pilot program, LIFE’s IT department will recycle more than 55 pieces of equipment and will prevent numerous toxins from reaching the landfill in keeping with its environmental wellness initiative. For more information on this program or sustainability at LIFE please contact Shannan.George@LIFE.edu.

Apple Drops Green Program

I’m not what most would consider a “gadget guru”. I enjoy the convenience of technology but I don’t have to have the latest and greatest. I replace the gadgets that get broken but I will not buy a new item simply because it’s a newer model. In today’s society I’m probably in the minority as lots of people sleep outside and wait in long lines to buy new products when they hit the stores.

I wonder what those folks think about Apple’s decision to no longer comply with environmental standards set by EPEAT. EPEAT is a certifier and global registry for environmentally conscious electronics and is backed by the EPA. In the past Apple has held a gold rating from the organization.

Although there are two sides to every story, rumor has it that since MacBook batteries can no longer be removed the machines are unable to be recycled. Because of this the computers don’t meet EPEAT standards.

This move comes as a shock since Apple has spent so much time and energy “greening” its head quarters. Apple fans…..what do you think about this?

Source: Ecorazzi.com

Wordless Wednesday

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Source: Alternative Consumer

Pilots to go Paperless

I have a love/hate relationship with flying. I love how fast I reach my destination (versus driving) but I hate the restrictions (like liquids) and all the baggage fees.

American Airlines has plans to ditch 35-lb paper flight manuals and replace them with 1.5 lb Apple iPads. This change is expected to save $1.2 million in fuel annually. A news release states that “By eliminating bulky flight bags filled with paper, (electronic flight bags) mean less weight for pilots to carry, reducing the possibility of injury on duty. In addition, they enable pilots to immediately download updates, rather than waiting for paper versions of required documents to be printed and distributed.”

The airline has run trials on flights from Los Angeles to Asia. The iPads are also equipped to provide an electronic tracking function for electronic charts. However, the FAA still requires pilots to carry a hard copy of the manual as a backup.

Reducing paper and fuel is great for the environment for obvious reasons, but does it compromise safety? Do you feel that the benefits to the environment outweigh the possible issues that may arise from moving from paper to iPads onboard planes? We all know that computers and cell phones malfunction at the most inopportune times. Tell me what you think.

Source: Earth911.com

Photo: faqs.org

Say goodbye to your light bulbs

Did you know that beginning in 2012 there will be major changes in the way that you light your home? In an effort to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions the following changes will take place……..

  • The manufacture of 100-watt incandescent light bulbs will be banned beginning in January 2012.
  • The manufacture of 75-watt incandescent light bulbs will be banned beginning in January 2013.
  • The manufacture of 60- and  40 watt incandescent light bulbs will be banned beginning in January 2014

 2012: 100W phase out; 2013: 75W phase out; 2014: 40W & 60W phase out

What does the legislation say?
Between 2012 and 2014, standard A-line 40- and 100-watt incandescent light bulbs must use 30% less energy, but produce the same light output as the incandescent bulbs most of us use today.

What does this mean for me?
While you won’t be required to throw out your existing bulbs, you may be surprised when trying to find the same replacements at the store. After 2012, you’ll find that these bulbs will have to be replaced with energy-efficient options, such as Halogen, Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) and Light Emitting Diode (LED) light bulbs.

 Standard incandescent bulbs will be replaced with energy-efficient options such as Halogen, CFL, and LED light bulbs.

How much energy can an energy-efficient lighting really save?
The most common alternative to incandescents used today is the CFL. While the upfront investment is more for these bulbs, the cost is more than offset in money savings and product longevity.

Using a GE Energy Smart® CFL vs. standard incandescent bulb

EXPENDITURES EXAMPLE STANDARD 60-WATT INCANDESCENT 15-WATT SPIRAL® BULB
Initial purchase price, per bulb $0.27 $3.77
Replacement cost (need to purchase 7 more) $1.89 $0.00
Energy cost (based on $0.10 per kWh over the life of the 8,000-hour bulb) $48.00 $12.00
Total cost $50.16 $15.77

savings in this example = $34.39

How will this legislation affect you? Were you aware of the changes?

 Source: GE Lighting, Business Wire

 35 days until Earth Day…test your shooting skills on the Plaza!

Easy Bake Ovens…say it ain’t so

It seems as though the traditional Easy Bake Ovens which hit the market in 1963, use a 100-watt incandescent light bulb to produce the heat need to bake. (Remember 90% of the energy produced by an incandescent bulb is lost to heat…rather than to light). Well in 2012 new energy efficiency lighting standards will take effect and these bulbs will no longer be available. (More on these standards next week).

 So Hasbro has decided to “upgrade” the popular toys with the introduction of the Easy Bake Ultimate Oven which uses a more energy efficient heating element. So these toys will not necessarily become extinct…but changed forever.

At least I can say I remember when. What did you make in your easy bake oven? Did you have any idea that new lighting standards were on the horizon?

Source: Mother Nature Network

Photo: The David Blahg