Monthly Archives: September 2012

WIN ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION TO CANADIAN GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE

Once again here’s your chance to win a one year subscription to Canadian Geographic Contest.

Select your choice from three submissions for the November issue cover.  Next click ‘Enter Contest’, fill in your information and click enter ~ just so easy.

http://ofsys.com/T/OFSYS/SM2/2/S/F/en-US/3616/3951740/F9hX7Rrk.html

Best of luck to all and congratulations to the winner.

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WATER POLLUTION THREAT TO CHINA’S POPULATION

Metro Basin Blues

Water pollution poses a real threat to china’s northern, urban population. Could constructed wetlands help? 

The following excerpts are taken from Water Canada Magazine, September/October publication.

Around the globe, there is concern about the effects of china’s rapid economic development on the air, land, water, and energy resources, as well as the ways that the country’s complex and sometimes less-than-efficient bureaucratic system may impact environmental policy implementation. the most serious of these challenges have been linked to the country’s declining water supply, which not only suffers from considerable pollutants, but also is insufficient for the country’s massive population and rapidly growing economy.  Water pollution is rampant nationwide, while water scarcity has worsened severely in north china. the problem is not only environmental— insufficient water is already limiting industrial and agricultural output in some areas. If solutions are not found and implemented, scarcity threatens to negatively impact china’s high economic growth rate and food production.

Treating China’s wastewater: Centralized wastewater treatment systems are the prevailing solution for water pollution control in many industrialized countries. to a large degree, this approach solves the problems of sanitation very efficiently. However, at the end of 2002, the official rate of municipal wastewater treatment in china was approximately 36.5 per cent, which is far from adequate given China’s serious water pollution.  Constructed wetlands (CWs) for wastewater treatment have great potential for application in china. the biogeochemical cycles of wetland plants can help transform and mineralized organic matter found in wastewater.  over the last 100 years, we’ve learned how these processes work, and recognized that many could be replicated with CWs. they’re now viewed as a viable treatment option for many different waste streams, including municipal, mining, dairy and wine-making. they’re also an attractive and stable alternative due to cost and energy savings. additionally, there are the advantages of multi-purpose reuse of the resulting high quality effluent, as well as self-remediation and self-adaptation to the surrounding conditions and environment.

Case study: Tianjin Airport Economic development Zone:  Two mega cities of china, Beijing and Tianjin, as well as the Hubei Provinces are within the region of the HaiHe river basin. the HaiHe river basin contains 10 per cent of the entire population of china, which is about 118 million people, as well as being the main source for providing fresh water to Beijing and Tianjin (Domagalski et al., 2001). this basin is facing a decrease in water levels during low precipitation leading to drought and water shortage during the dry season. It also faces serious contamination problem—the annual amount of wastewater discharged into the rivers is about four billion megagrams, and is also a major contributor to pollutant loadings in the nearby Bohai sea (Domagalski et al., 2001).

Located southeast of Beijing, Tianjin is the sixth-largest city in China (greater metropolitan population of 13,000,000). considered the economic hub of Tianjin, the Binhai new area is a new zone designated to host a number of key industrial zones, waterfront development areas, and commercial and residential properties, for nearly two million people. the region is a representation of china’s objective to modernize its coastal cities while promoting economic development.

Due to the severe impacts of urban development on water quality in Binhai new area, Tianjin, and the HaiHe river basin, the proposed solution is the implementation of two CWs at TaedZ. In collaboration with Tianjin University (TJU), Lindsay, Ontario’s Centre For Alternative Wastewater treatment at Fleming college (CAWT), Queen’s University in Kingston, and aqua treatment technologies, this location has been selected as a demonstration site for wetlands technology in a rapidly developing urban area, to address the issues of surface water degradation… China’s diverse climate and sources of wastewater allow for unique research conditions and a variety of parameters to be addressed simultaneously that would not be possible in another location.  In addition, China’s economic growth conditions add to the innovative nature of the project, and allow for new developments while taking into consideration social issues. after extensive applications in similar geographic and climatic regions in Canada such as the prairie region and southwestern Ontario, the technology may eventually benefit Canadian communities as well. 

Annie Chouinard is a graduate student in the department of civil engineering at Queen’s University.  She is conducting research in China at TJU.

Central American Water Resource Management Network (CARA)

CARA, founded in 1999, is a water resources training network funded primarily by CIDA (Canada‘s equivalent to USAID), the Canadian International Development Agency.  It is run by the Universities of Calgary and Waterloo, with the former the lead university. David Bethune is the coordinator. CARA is a water resource training network focusing on building local capacity to improve the management and protection of Central American water resources.  

The following excerpts are taken from a Water Canada’s September/October 2012 article,  “Making It Local.  The CARA program empowers students in Central america to manage groundwater resources in their own backyards.” by Kerry Freek and Brendan Mulligan.

Eighty-percent of Central America’s water supply comes from groundwater, and that includes some huge urban water supplies, says University of Calgary’s David Bethune. “With population growth, deforestation, and poverty, the stress on watersheds in central america is huge,” he says. “the natural water balance is being altered, and a reduced natural recharge is affecting the groundwater supply.”  For a region that relies so heavily upon threatened groundwater supplies, central america, like many developing countries, desperately lacks qualified individuals to make decisions about water use and management … With funding from Canada’s International Development Research Centre, Farvolden initiated a program to train future hydrogeologists at the University of Costa Rica.  In 1995, Bethune and Ryan travelled south to help begin the first project. In the first cycle, they had students from Colombia to Guatemala.  Soon, there was a strong consensus that other countries would like to have similar programs.  They continued the program in Guatemala, Nicaragua and, later, El Salvador, Honduras, and Bolivia. As the current project director for the Central American water resource management network (CARA), Bethune now manages the Canadian International development agency (CIDA) funded program that supports six master of science programs in Central America … Within a short period of time, the CARA programs are becoming self-sustaining.  That, says Bethune, is the key. “The intention is independence from Canadian support. the people managing and developing water supplies are from their own country.”  The program in Nicaragua has been particularly successful.  CIDA has rewarded the initiative with additional funding for a project titled community water management in Nicaragua and Central America, which Ryan is directing.  The two are also involved in Hydrogeologists Without Borders (HWB), an organization formed to provide further assistance to CARA students and other similar programs and NGOs.  HWB is currently funding five Central American master’s students in the field of hydrogeology in their own regions.

PEACE IS THE ONLY WAY

The International Day of Peace, sometimes unofficially known as World Peace Day, is observed annually on 21 September. It is dedicated to peace, and specifically the absence of war and violence, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone for humanitarian aid access. The day was first celebrated in 1982, and is kept by many nations, political groups, military groups, and people.

To inaugurate the day, the “Peace Bell” is rung at UN Headquarters (in New York City). The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents except Africa, and was a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan, as “a reminder of the human cost of war”; the inscription on its side reads, “Long live absolute world peace“.

Individuals can also wear White Peace Doves to commemorate the International Day of Peace, which are badges in the shape of a dove produced by a non-profit organisation in Canada.

Some of the favorite quotes ~

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” ~ Mother Theresa

“Be the change that you want to see in the world.” ~ Mohandas Gandhi

 

“Peace cannot be kept by force.  It can only be achieved by understanding.” ~ Albert Einstein.

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace.  One must believe in it.  And it isn’t enough to believe in it.  One must work for it.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Love is the way to peace,

for love is the

greatest power on earth.

ADDENDUM :  Thinking ahead to next year’s International Day of Peace, I would like to invite all of our readers to submit to me their thoughts, quotes, images, music, short videos, etc. telling me which country you live in and I will use your information to create our collective contribution to next year’s International Day of Peace. 
I think it would be great fun to hear from as many countries as possible. 
I will send my e-mail address to anyone who wishes to contribute – just mention this in a comment reply on this blog.

CORAL REEF ALLIANCE PHOTO CONTEST

Whether or not you are a photographer, I think you will be impressed with the mission of the Coral Reef Alliance non-profit organization and you will also appreciate seeing the stunning photography submitted by former contest winners.

If you think your photography can equal or surpass some of the amazing entries seen below then definitely you should be interested in submitting your ‘winning’ photo to the ongoing Coral Reef Alliance Photo Contest.

Originally founded in 1994 to galvanize the dive community for conservation, CORAL has grown from a small, grassroots alliance into the only international nonprofit organization that works exclusively to unite communities to protect our planet’s coral reefs. We provide tools, education, and inspiration to residents of coral reef destinations to support local projects that benefit both reefs and people. We currently work in Hawaii, Mexico, Honduras, Fiji, and Indonesia.

Enter your favorite coral reef photographs in CORAL’s ongoing E-Current Contest for a chance to win a copy of Reef ~ a gorgeous coffee table book featuring beautiful coral reef photographs.

NOVEMBER CONTEST DEADLINE: October 15, 2012

Each winning photograph will be featured in an edition of E-Current, CORAL’s free electronic newsletter. The names of winning photographers will also be posted on the CORAL website with their photographs, which will be available for download as desktop wallpaper. All entrants will receive a subscription to E-Current.

Some of my favorites are:

 Winner of the May 2011 E-Current Photo Contest: Mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus) in Laha, Ambon, Indonesia by Christopher J. Crowley

 Winner of the January 2009 E-Current Photo Contest: Southern stingray (Dasyatis americana), Grand Cayman Island, by Jeremy Ellis 

Winner of the May 2010 E-Current Photo Contest: Spine-Cheek Anemone fish (Premnas biaculeatus), Wakatobi, Indonesia, by Matt Grace

Links ~

Site for previous winning photographs ~ http://www.coral.org/wallpaper

Photo Contest .pdf document ~

http://www.coral.org/files/pdf/photo-contest-flier.pdf

Enter contest ~

http://www.coral.org/node/3965

We hope you enjoyed your visit with us today and if you are a photographer ~ we wish you the best of luck! 
Keep your comments coming ~ we love hearing from and learning about our readers.

AWESOME WATER CASTLES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

I find it amazing to think that one can travel around the world and visit such wonderfully preserved water castles today.

Wikipedia definition ~ A water castle (German): Wasserburg or Wasserschloss) is a castle or stately home whose site is entirely surrounded by moats or natural water bodies. Topographically water castles are a type of lowland castle.

I created the following video for you
and posted it on YouTube ~ I hope you enjoy it.

Best watched in full screen mode to appreciate the incredible photography.

The remarkable choice of sites, the remarkable French and Italian renaissance architectural style of the buildings, the remarkable artistic landscaping of the adjacent Baroque style formal gardens, and the remarkable use of surrounding water all add up to a fabulous trip back in time when these castles were a vibrant and functioning force within the various countrysides.

The stories behind the origins of various water castles are in themselves a most interesting history lesson and the photos a treasure trove of unsurpassed beauty.

Some of my favorites are:

Chambord Castle, France ~This castle was originally commissioned by Francois I, so that he could be closer to his mistress. But when the affair was over, the castle was mostly forgotten. The Chateau – with its giant hallways and ornate decorations – was picked apart and left to crumble until the Post WWII-era, when it was finally restored.

Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark ~ Frederiksborg Castle is a water castle in Hillerød on the Danish island of Zealand . It is the largest and most important building of the Northern Renaissance and today houses the Danish National Museum.

Chenonceau Castle (France) ~ Chateau Chenonceau was under the direction of Diane de Poitiers who was the king’s mistress at the time. But when the king passed away, his widow, Catherine de Medici, forced out the mistress and made the Chateau her own place of residence. During World War II, the castle served as a barrier between the German-controlled puppet government in France and the actual free world.

Trakai Island Castle (Lithuania) ~ Trakai Island Castle is exactly what its name suggests: an entire island. The castle was made with thick, brick walls, firing galleries galore and is surrounded by a series of locking gates. The castle currently serves as a prominent tourist magnet.

Mont Saint-Michel (France) ~ Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky tidal island and a commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilometre (just over half a mile) off the country’s north-western coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. The population of the island is 41, as of 2006. The island has been a strategic point holding fortifications since ancient times, and since the 8th century AD it became the seat of the Saint-Michel monastery, from which it draws the name.

Links ~

http://thumbpress.com/20-amazing-castles-from-around-the-world/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_castle

You all know that by now we love hearing from you ~ remember that your comments can make a difference in the content of future blogs that we think you’ll enjoy.

UPDATE ~ “SENSELESS CRUEL SLAUGHTER OF BABY HARP SEALS”

In response to our Sept. 12 blog ~ a plea to sign the petition to help save Zak and Miki, (two harp seal pups, due to be slaughtered at Aquarium des Iles in Quebec, Canada), one reader asked for more background information.  The following is what I’ve managed to come up with. 

I hope this information will help anyone else who might be undecided about signing the petition.

Please remember that September 15th is the deadline!

Harp seals face slaughter at aquarium:

http://www.globalanimal.org/2012/09/14/harp-seals-face-slaughter-at-aquarium/81511/

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/332556

http://www.care2.com/causes/harp-seal-pups-slated-for-death-at-aquarium.html