' Green Boarding Pass
Sunday, October 20, 2019

Can Blockchain and The Environment Go Together? Yes! Learn About the Zero Carbon Project

Carbon emissions are generated by the burning of fossil fuels and are one of the reasons behind global warming. Renewable energy alternatives are available in the market but the reality is that these options are not affordable for everyone. 

The objective of the Zero Waste Project is to create a market where renewable energy is affordable for everyone and ultimately reduce carbon emissions to 0%. Sounds great, right? But how does it work?

Zero Carbon Markets achieve lower prices for renewable energy alternatives by creating intense competition between suppliers. Zero Carbon Suppliers can source from fossil fuels but pay a small premium to offset the carbon emissions using international carbon credits Zero Carbon Tokens

Consumers will have a wide range of choices for their energy supply and would earn Zero Carbon Tokens rewards from their individual smart contracts. 

Zero Carbon Suppliers have to pay a transaction fee to be part of the Zero Carbon Market, which can only be paid with Zero Carbon Tokens. Consumers can then sell their Tokens rewards to the suppliers for actual cash. This way up to 70% of the transaction fees is recycled.

When the number of consumers grows, the demand for Zero Carbon Tokens will grow with it. This demand will result in higher transaction fees which will help to replenish the Zero Carbon Tokens Pool.

The Zero Carbon Market is available for commercial and domestic consumers. Simply register and see what are your options!  

If you want to know more about the Zero Carbon Project, check their website or their Frequency Asked Questions page

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Documentaries to Watch The Coming Winter

Winter is right around the corner and with it, grey skies, rains and winds come along (at least in Ireland 😂). This kind of weather is not very encouraging to get out of home! So why not spend some time watching some interesting documentaries and maybe learn something new? 

Here is a short list of some of my favourites documentaries on diverse topics: 


Photographer Richard Hamilton decides to buy 100 acres of the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest with the idea of stopping loggers from cutting down trees. This 3 episodes long documentary series, even though was filmed before the recent news about the fires in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest (have a look at my post 'Conclusions About The Fires in The Amazon Rainforest' to find out more), gives an insight of the current situation in the Amazon Rainforest. 

This documentary may be available to watch with a quick search on Google ;)

'Food, Inc.' (2008)

This documentary is focused on mass food production in the United States. However, we could all sympathize with the situation described in the documentary as this may be a reality in many other parts of the world. 

This documentary may be available to watch with a quick search on Google ;)

'Our Planet' (2019)

David Attenborough relates at a big scale in this mini-series of documentaries the beauty and mysteries of seven different habitats. This documentary differentiates from other nature documentaries by showing the actual impact that climate change and our actions are having on the planet.  

This documentary is available on Netflix

'Blue Mission' (2014) 

Oceanographer Sylvia Earle shares her vision on the evolution of the oceans and the current situation at a global scale. Her organisation, Blue Mission, introduced the concept of 'hope spots', which are areas within our oceans that are proposed by the organisation to be protected the same way we protect our lands by declaring them natural reserves. 

This documentary is available on Netflix

'The Great Hack' (2019)

This documentary is different from the general line of this blog but is very interesting. The Great Hack goes into details about the Cambridge Analytica case and the power of social media as a tool to manipulate people. 

This documentary is available on Netflix

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Dark Side of Wildlife Tourism

In my previous post Are Zoos Good or Bad? I expanded on the positive and negative sides of zoos. This is a controversial topic as some people believe that zoos are detrimental to wildlife for the simple fact of keeping a non-domestic animal in captivity, while other people see zoos educational and entertaining. In other words, the ethic behind zoos is open to argument.

On the other hand, wildlife tourism in some parts of the world is a whole different story. 

What is called wildlife tourism? Wildlife Tourism includes touristic activities where animals are involved. Examples of this are:
  • Circus shows where animals are involved.
  • Photos with exotic animals (snakes, elephants, slow loris, etc) at a cost.
  • Animals ridings, being elephants the most common example.

And the list can go on...

Wildlife tourism may be organized in a sustainable manner. For instance, when it comes to visiting the Skellig Islands in Ireland (see my post on my visit to the Skellig Islands here), which are an important reserve for puffins and gannets among other birds, only a limited number of tours are allowed per day in order to protect these natural reserves. 

However, most commonly in South Asian countries (with special mention of Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam), where tourism is the major source of income and the illegal traffic of animals is at its peak, wildlife tourism can be the worst nightmare for wildlife

Tourists every year travel to South Asian countries and take photos with exotic animals, attend to animal shows, get elephant rides and similar as a form of entertainment. 

The demand for these type of touristic activities is the cause for which more wild animals are captured from their natural habitat to be in a cell and be terrorized so that tourists can take a cute picture to add on Instagram, enjoy how tigers dance salsa or have a peaceful ride on an elephant. 

As a traveller, be aware that these behaviours are not natural behaviours for animals.

How to stop unsustainable wildlife tourism? Simple, if you don't demand there will be no offer

I invite you to see this short video from the National Geographic to get more of an insight on this matter:

Monday, September 30, 2019

Are zoos good or bad?

Who has not visited with the family a zoo at some point in their life to appreciate the beauty of some exotic animals that you may never get a chance to see in the wild? Yes, just like me, is likely that most of you have been at least once to a zoo either as a child or as an adult.

I mean, who would not enjoy looking at the clumsy penguins walking over ice, or attending to a show of sea lions doing human alike things, or looking at the lions resting on the grass! 


Is it normal to have lions living in a cell located in Dublin?

Is it a natural behaviour for sea lions to salute us shaking their 'hand' (flippers) as we would do? 

Zoos may have educational, conservational and research purposes. To be fair, zoos managed sustainably, can be an excellent method to teach people about different species, habitats and just nature in general

Conservation programmes take place in zoos to preserve endangered species and prepare some specimens to be reintegrated into the wild. Zoos may also start genetic material, such as sperm and eggs from endangered species, that can be used in the future to produce offsprings. This way there is always a tiny hope of saving species that are currently endangered. 

Research helps to understand the species and their behaviour. Better understanding and knowledge on the species and their habitat may contribute to more appropriate conservation measures. 

However, another important purpose of zoos is entertainment. This basically means that zoos are adapted for people's entertainment and therefore animal rights are not always a priority. This may be reflected in the space provided to animals (you may notice that there is more space for people than the animals themselves), the number of animal shows the zoo offers at an extra cost and the species living at the zoo (conservation initiatives in zoos may be based on aesthetics, or to put this into context, most people don't go to the zoo to see an endangered species of turtle). 

Specimens raised in captivity do not have the survival instinct that specimens raised in the wild. This is one of the reasons why some of the conservation programmes to reintegrate specimens of endangered species raised in captivity into the wild do not work. Once these specimens are liberated into the wild, where something as simple as eating is not as easy as in the zoo, the chances of them surviving are small.

Also, not all zoos have the same resources. Some zoos have the animals is horrendous conditions, while others may have the animals in similar conditions to what they would find in the wild. This may depend on the location of the zoo and the regulations in the area. 

Here I leave you a 20 min Tedx Talk from the Detroit Zoo on the origin and future of zoos, expanding also on their efforts to create new standards for future zoos around the world:

So coming back to the question on the title of this post: are zoos good or bad? Well, it depends! 

To have a better answer to this question, I encourage you to do your own research before visiting a zoo, and here is a list of questions you should try to answer before paying an entrance ticket to one: 

  1. What is the zoo's primary source of income? Be concerned if sales tickets are the main income! 
  2. How are the zoo's expenses broken down? It's a bad sign if more money is spent on marketing than conservation programmes. 
  3. Does the zoo have animals not suited for its regional climate? Animals should live in conditions as close as possible to what they would find in their natural habitat. 
  4. How does the zoo acquire their animals? Do not support the traffic of animals! 
  5. Is the zoo certified by any nationally or internationally recognized institution? This would set some standards!     
Sunday, September 22, 2019

Become a Scientist Volunteering for Earthwatch

About a month ago I signed up for a very interesting volunteering opportunity to take part in the Water Blitz project created by Earthwatch.  The event consisted of carrying out water quality tests in water bodies across the city of Dublin, for which you are provided with a free testing kit containing:
  • Phosphate and Nitrate Colour Cards.
  • Phosphate and Nitrate test tubes.
  • A water measurer for sampling.
  • Blue nitrile gloves. 
Click here to see what is like the experience taking water samples and carrying out the testing with this kit! 

Don't worry, you don't need to be an expert to carry out the testing. All sort of information and guidance is provided for you to feel fully comfortable doing it.  

Today I decided to do the testing in the Tolka River and the Royal Canal. I honestly had a great time helping for a good cause!

Earthwatch is an international environmental organisation that applies a 'Citizen Science' approach in their projects. The organisation runs projects around the world focused on Oceans and Coasts, Fresh Water, Climate Change and Wildlife and Habitats

What 'Citizen Science' means? This is a method to get people involved and familiar with science while getting valuable data that will contribute to research projects and inform future policies. As Earthwatch is an environmental organisation, using a citizen science approach is a smart way of enhancing environmental awareness on the effects that our population has on the immediate natural surroundings. 

Why is water quality a concern? Industrialization and civilisation can have severe impacts on the water quality of natural water bodies. 

Agricultural, industrial and residential land uses can generate water runoff with excessive quantities of nutrients including phosphate and nitrate. Application of fertilizers in agricultural lands and poorly treated domestic wastewater are two of the most common causes of the increase of nutrients in water bodies. This may lead to the eutrophication of water bodies among other environmental impacts. 

After my experience today I would definitely recommend you, wherever you are, to check out Earthwatch's website to find out if there are any projects happening in your area. If you are looking for environmental volunteering opportunities in Ireland I invite you to have a look at my post 'Environmental Organisations to volunteer for in the island of Ireland'.