Nov 10, 2009

Home Decoration Planning Bathrooms

Bathrooms and toilets have always been mused as the intellectuals to spend some time alone and do some thinking and be with peace with oneself. An ideal bath retreat at home may not have a spa, a luxurious Jacuzzi or a whirlpool but is still a place that soothes one’s eyes and mind at once and make the person feel comfortable. It is efficient and beautiful at the same time and should be able to make the day for you. Planning and designing a new bathroom or remodeling the one that is already existing needs a careful execution to minimize spending more than your budget and get what you desired originally.
Whether you will be making just a few cosmetic changes or completely tear down the old bath and replace it with a new one depends on the time, space available and your budget. There can be two ways of execution plans you can adopt:

1. Step-by-step plan, and
2. Finishing the complete project at once.
While undertaking the latter approach is of course efficient and cheaper, it may become inconvenient as you may require a spare bathroom to use in the meanwhile, do or manage many things at once including framing, plumbing, light and faucet fittings, tiling and painting and it can be real taxing on your pocket. So, it may be more suitable for only the new bathrooms while you can adopt the former approach for the remodeling projects.
While designing a bath for homes, it is important to take the following into consideration beforehand:
  • Other bathrooms that you can use in your home or your friend’s
  • Make the budget carefully and include the costs of faucets,
    fixtures and light fittings; lumber, cabinets and finishing
    materials; pipes and fittings; curtains, flooring and accessories
    such as towels, spas and warmers and fireplaces.
  • You may want to keep some of the existing features or items, may
    recycle some of the architectural and other items available very
    inexpensively at thrift stores and do a good research into the
    options available to you before buying expensive items.
  • Architectural drafting with detailed drawings and some of the
    computer applications can help you to visualize the features and
    design and décor elements you desire in your finished
  • Be sure to know the requirements and established codes of the
    building, society and locality you live in and the permissions and
    authority letters that you may require before making the changes and
    stick to the rules and regulations to avoid inconveniences later.

Gujarat Univ converts banana plant waste into useful products

Ahmedabad: In what will be music to the ears of banana cultivators, a Gujarat-based agriculture university has successfully converted those parts of the fruit's plant which are usually thrown away as waste into highly useful products, including an edible candy with nutritional values.
Under a project 'A value chain on utilisation of banana pseudostem for fibre and other value added products', Navsari Agriculture University (NAU) professors have developededible candy high in fibre and nutrition made out of central core of plant pseudostem.
The other products include fibre for textile and paper industry and organic liquid fertiliser, which have been developed under the project which aims for efficient use of each and every component of banana plant.
"We have been working on the project for a year and developed a number of products using the banana plant, including edible candy," NAU professor BN Kolambe told PTI.
"This candy is made from the central core of the banana plant pseudostem, which is a nutrition-rich part. The candy has been developed on experimental basis and we are in the
process of standardising the product," he said.

If parts of the banana plant like leaves and pseudostem are used to develop value added products, farmers would be the ultimate beneficiaries as banana is grown in large quantity in Gujarat, Kolambe said. "A sample of the candy has been sent for certification to
the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore. It is still in the initial stage and once we get the certification we would try and find partners for commercial production," Kolambe said.

The professor said that they have been working for the last one year on the project, which aims at developing technology or processes for utilisation of different parts of banana plant which are thrown away. According to Kolambe, banana is cultivated throughout the year in over 55,000 hectares in the state.
And also looking at the demand for banana in the international market and with new technologies evolved for better yield, farmers have shown interest in its cultivation in state mainly in districts of south Gujarat, he said.
"The per hectare yield of banana crop is about 34 tonnes in the state. As a result, in addition to fruit production, huge quantity of biomass (pseduostem, leaves) is generated
which is discarded as waste," Kolambe said.

In the past, some researchers have successfullydemonstrated use of banana pseudostem and leaves for extraction of fibres on a small scale, he said.
"What we are developing is a technology for extracting fibre and pulp out of banana pseudostem for commercial purpose which could be used in textile and paper industry. Presently, banana fibre in India is mainly used for handicrafts and rope, as major problem of non-adoption of fibre extraction technology is low recovery of fibres leading to high transport cost, Kolambe said.
The professor said that during fibre extraction, waste and sap (a watery solution of sugars, salts and minerals obtained from banana pseudostem) are obtained as by-products, which are used for preparing enriched vermi-compost and as liquid fertiliser respectively.
"We have completed the first phase of developing technology or process. In the next stage we will standardise the process for industrial and commercial use," Kolambe said.
"In the final stage we plan to develop an effective marketing network of banana pseudostem based products and attempts will be made to popularise the developed technologies among the entrepreneurs and other stakeholders through awareness programmes," he said.
With the use of technology developed out of this project, the net profit of banana growers is expected to increase by 15-20% as pseudostem fibres will be an additional
source of raw material for textile and paper industries, Kolambe said.

"Not only this, use of pseudostem based vermi-compost and sap will curtail fertiliser expenses by about 20-25% along with advantage of sustaining soil health," he added.

Nov 2, 2009

5 Deadliest Effects of Global Warming

Green house gases stay can stay in the atmosphere for an amount of years ranging from decades to hundreds and thousands of years. No matter what we do, global warming is going to have some effect on Earth. Here are the 5 deadliest effects of global warming.
5. Spread of disease

As northern countries warm, disease carrying insects migrate north, bringing plague and disease with them. Indeed some scientists believe that in some countries thanks to global warming, malaria has not been fully eradicated.

4. Warmer waters and more hurricanes

As the temperature of oceans rises, so will the probability of more frequent and stronger hurricanes. We saw in this in 2004 and 2005.

3. Increased probability and intensity of droughts and heat waves
Although some areas of Earth will become wetter due to global warming, other areas will suffer serious droughts and heat waves. Africa will receive the worst of it, with more severe droughts also expected in Europe. Water is already a dangerously rare commodity in Africa, and according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global warming will exacerbate the conditions and could lead to conflicts and war.
Droughts are an effect of global warming
2. Economic consequences
Most of the effects of anthropogenic global warming won’t be good. And these effects spell one thing for the countries of the world: economic consequences. Hurricanes cause do billions of dollars in damage, diseases cost money to treat and control and conflicts exacerbate all of these.

Economic consequences of global warming
1. Polar ice caps melting
The ice caps melting is a four-pronged danger.
First, it will raise sea levels. There are 5,773,000 cubic miles of water in ice caps, glaciers, and permanent snow. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, if all glaciers melted today the seas would rise about 230 feet. Luckily, that’s not going to happen all in one go! But sea levels will rise.
Second, melting ice caps will throw the global ecosystem out of balance. The ice caps are fresh water, and when they melt they will desalinate the ocean, or in plain English – make it less salty. The desalinization of the gulf current will “screw up” ocean currents, which regulate temperatures. The stream shutdown or irregularity would cool the area around north-east America and Western Europe. Luckily, that will slow some of the other effects of global warming in that area!
Third, temperature rises and changing landscapes in the artic circle will endanger several species of animals. Only the most adaptable will survive.
Fourth, global warming could snowball with the ice caps gone. Ice caps are white, and reflect sunlight, much of which is relected back into space, further cooling Earth. If the ice caps melt, the only reflector is the ocean. Darker colors absorb sunlight, further warming the Earth.

Global Warming Solutions

What Can We Do?

The evidence that humans are causing global warming is strong, but the question of what to do about it remains controversial. Economics, sociology, and politics are all important factors in planning for the future

Is this possible?
Many people and governments are already working hard to cut greenhouse gases, and everyone can help.
Researchers Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow at Princeton University have suggested one approach that they call "stabilization wedges." This means reducing GHG emissions from a variety of sources with technologies available in the next few decades, rather than relying on an enormous change in a single area.  They suggest 7 wedges that could each reduce emissions, and all of them together could hold emissions at approximately current levels for the next 50 years, putting us on a potential path to stabilize around 500 ppm.
There are many possible wedges, including improvements to energy efficiency and vehicle fuel economy (so less energy has to be produced), and increases in wind and solar power, hydrogen produced from renewable sources, biofuels (produced from crops), natural gas, and nuclear power.  There is also the potential to capture the carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuels and store it underground—a process called "carbon sequestration."
In addition to reducing the gases we emit to the atmosphere, we can also increase the amount of gases we take out of the atmosphere.  Plants and trees absorb CO2 as they grow, "sequestering" carbon naturally.  Increasing forestlands and making changes to the way we farm could increase the amount of carbon we're storing.
Some of these technologies have drawbacks, and different communities will make different decisions about how to power their lives, but the good news is that there are a variety of options to put us on a path toward a stable climate.

Global Warming

What Causes Global Warming?

Scientists have spent decades figuring out what is causing global warming. They've looked at the natural cycles and events that are known to influence climate. But the amount and pattern of warming that's been measured can't be explained by these factors alone. The only way to explain the pattern is to include the effect of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted by humans.

To bring all this information together, the United Nations formed a group of scientists called the International Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. The IPCC meets every few years to review the latest scientific findings and write a report summarizing all that is known about global warming. Each report represents a consensus, or agreement, among hundreds of leading scientists.
One of the first things scientists learned is that there are several greenhouse gases responsible for warming, and humans emit them in a variety of ways. Most come from the combustion of fossil fuels in cars, factories and electricity production. The gas responsible for the most warming is carbon dioxide, also called CO2. Other contributors include methane released from landfills and agriculture (especially from the digestive systems of grazing animals), nitrous oxide from fertilizers, gases used for refrigeration and industrial processes, and the loss of forests that would otherwise store CO2.
Different greenhouse gases have very different heat-trapping abilities. Some of them can even trap more heat than CO2. A molecule of methane produces more than 20 times the warming of a molecule of CO2. Nitrous oxide is 300 times more powerful than CO2. Other gases, such as chlorofluorocarbons (which have been banned in much of the world because they also degrade the ozone layer), have heat-trapping potential thousands of times greater than CO2. But because their concentrations are much lower than CO2, none of these gases adds as much warmth to the atmosphere as CO2 does.
In order to understand the effects of all the gases together, scientists tend to talk about all greenhouse gases in terms of the equivalent amount of CO2. Since 1990, yearly emissions have gone up by about 6 billion metric tons of "carbon dioxide equivalent" worldwide, more than a 20% increase.

Air Pollution

Comes From Many Sources

Smog hanging over cities is the most familiar and obvious form of air pollution. But there are different kinds of pollution—some visible, some invisible—that contribute to global warming. Generally any substance that people introduce into the atmosphere that has damaging effects on living things and the environment is considered air pollution.

Smog hanging over cities is the most familiar and obvious form of air pollution. But there are different kinds of pollution—some visible, some invisible—that contribute to global warming. Generally any substance that people introduce into the atmosphere that has damaging effects on living things and the environment is considered air pollution.
Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is the main pollutant that is warming Earth. Though living things emit carbon dioxide when they breathe, carbon dioxide is widely considered to be a pollutant when associated with cars, planes, power plants, and other human activities that involve the burning of fossil fuels such as gasoline and natural gas. In the past 150 years, such activities have pumped enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to raise its levels higher than they have been for hundreds of thousands of years.
Other greenhouse gases include methane—which comes from such sources as swamps and gas emitted by livestock—and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were used in refrigerants and aerosol propellants until they were banned because of their deteriorating effect on Earth's ozone layer.
Another pollutant associated with climate change is sulfur dioxide, a component of smog. Sulfur dioxide and closely related chemicals are known primarily as a cause of acid rain. But they also reflect light when released in the atmosphere, which keeps sunlight out and causes Earth to cool. Volcanic eruptions can spew massive amounts of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, sometimes causing cooling that lasts for years. In fact, volcanoes used to be the main source of atmospheric sulfur dioxide; today people are.

Industrialized countries have worked to reduce levels of sulfur dioxide,
smog, and smoke in order to improve people's health. But a result, not
predicted until recently, is that the lower sulfur dioxide levels may
actually make global warming worse. Just as sulfur dioxide from volcanoes
can cool the planet by blocking sunlight, cutting the amount of the
compound in the atmosphere lets more sunlight through, warming the Earth.
This effect is exaggerated when elevated levels of other greenhouse gases
in the atmosphere trap the additional heat.

Most people agree that to curb global warming, a variety of measures need to be taken. On a personal level, driving and flying less, recycling, and conservation reduces a person’s "carbon footprint"—the amount of carbon dioxide a person is responsible for putting into the atmosphere.
On a larger scale, governments are taking measures to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. One way is through the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement between countries that they will cut back on carbon dioxide emissions. Another method is to put taxes on carbon emissions or higher taxes on gasoline, so that people and companies will have greater incentives to conserve energy and pollute less.

Acid Rain

Effects Felt Through the Food Chain

Rotting vegetation and erupting volcanoes release some chemicals that can cause acid rain, but most acid rain falls because of human activities. The biggest culprit is the burning of fossil fuels by coal-burning power plants, factories, and automobiles.

Acid rain describes any form of precipitation with high levels of nitric and sulfuric acids. It can also occur in the form of snow, fog, and tiny bits of dry material that settle to Earth.
Rotting vegetation and erupting volcanoes release some chemicals that can cause acid rain, but most acid rain falls because of human activities. The biggest culprit is the burning of fossil fuels by coal-burning power plants, factories, and automobiles.
When humans burn fossil fuels, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are released into the atmosphere. These chemical gases react with water, oxygen, and other substances to form mild solutions of sulfuric and nitric acid. Winds may spread these acidic solutions across the atmosphere and over hundreds of miles. When acid rain reaches Earth, it flows across the surface in runoff water, enters water systems, and sinks into the soil.
Acid rain has many ecological effects, but none is greater than its impact on lakes, streams, wetlands, and other aquatic environments. Acid rain makes waters acidic and causes them to absorb the aluminum that makes its way from soil into lakes and streams. This combination makes waters toxic to crayfish, clams, fish, and other aquatic animals.
Some species can tolerate acidic waters better than others. However, in an interconnected ecosystem, what impacts some species eventually impacts many more throughout the food chain—including non-aquatic species such as birds.
Acid rain also damages forests, especially those at higher elevations. It robs the soil of essential nutrients and releases aluminum in the soil, which makes it hard for trees to take up water. Trees' leaves and needles are also harmed by acids.
The effects of acid rain, combined with other environmental stressors, leave trees and plants less able to withstand cold temperatures, insects, and disease. The pollutants may also inhibit trees' ability to reproduce. Some soils are better able to neutralize acids than others. In areas where the soil's "buffering capacity" is low, the harmful effects of acid rain are much greater.
The only way to fight acid rain is by curbing the release of the pollutants that cause it. This means burning fewer fossil fuels. Many governments have tried to curb emissions by cleaning up industry smokestacks and promoting alternative fuel sources. These efforts have met with mixed results. But even if acid rain could be stopped today, it would still take many years for its harmful effects to disappear.
Individuals can also help prevent acid rain by conserving energy. The less electricity people use in their homes, the fewer chemicals power plants will emit. Vehicles are also major fossil fuel users, so drivers can reduce emissions by using public transportation, carpooling, biking, or simply walking wherever possible.

Effects of Global Warming

And the effects of rising temperatures aren’t waiting for some far-flung future. They’re happening right now. Signs are appearing all over, and some of them are surprising. The heat is not only melting glaciers and sea ice, it’s also shifting precipitation patterns and setting animals on the move.
Some impacts from increasing temperatures are already happening.
  • Ice is melting worldwide, especially at the Earth’s poles. This includes mountain glaciers, ice sheets covering West Antarctica and Greenland, and Arctic sea ice.
  • Researcher Bill Fraser has tracked the decline of the Adélie penguins on Antarctica, where their numbers have fallen from 32,000 breeding pairs to 11,000 in 30 years.
  • Sea level rise became faster over the last century.
  • Some butterflies, foxes, and alpine plants have moved farther north or to higher, cooler areas.
  • Precipitation (rain and snowfall) has increased across the globe, on average.
  • Spruce bark beetles have boomed in Alaska thanks to 20 years of warm summers. The insects have chewed up 4 million acres of spruce trees.
Other effects could happen later this century, if warming continues. 
  • Sea levels are expected to rise between 7 and 23 inches (18 and 59 centimeters) by the end of the century, and continued melting at the poles could add between 4 and 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters).
  • Hurricanes and other storms are likely to become stronger.
  • Species that depend on one another may become out of sync. For example, plants could bloom earlier than their pollinating insects become active.
  • Floods and droughts will become more common. Rainfall in Ethiopia, where droughts are already common, could decline by 10 percent over the next 50 years.
  • Less fresh water will be available. If the Quelccaya ice cap in Peru continues to melt at its current rate, it will be gone by 2100, leaving thousands of people who rely on it for drinking water and electricity without a source of either.
  • Some diseases will spread, such as malaria carried by mosquitoes.
  • Ecosystems will change—some species will move farther north or become more successful; others won’t be able to move and could become extinct. Wildlife research scientist Martyn Obbard has found that since the mid-1980s, with less ice on which to live and fish for food, polar bears have gotten considerably skinnier.  Polar bear biologist Ian Stirling has found a similar pattern in Hudson Bay.  He fears that if sea ice disappears, the polar bears will as well.
Source for climate information: IPCC, 2007