Tag Archives: Ecosystems

Home Aquaponic Water Garden

The burgeoning commercial use of hydroponics – the growing of plants in water without the use of soil – has led to the development of aquaponics, where fish are raised in the plant water, suppling the bulk of needed nutrients without the need of constant monitoring and the frequent adding of outside supplements. In commercial applications, large-scale tanks are used and thousands of fish are raised, supplying nutrients to large agricultural crops.

Now, however, you can combine this economical and ecologically friendly method of growing of house plants with the additional hobby of maintaining a home aquarium, enhancing your green linving and raising your favorite tropical fish, with the home aquaponic Water Garden.

Aquaponic Home Water Garden

A low-maintenance, mini aquaponics ecosystem, the Water Garden is a self-cleaning fish tank that grows organic sprouts and herbs. The fish feed the plants and plants clean the water, Continue reading

Plastic in the Oceans – Far Worse Than Imagined

Back in December of 2013, I wrote “The Plastisphere”, about the giant colonies of microbe-infested plastic remnants that have grown and continue to grown in the world’s oceans. This is a monumental problem as sea life and water fowl feed off of them, leading to their suffering and death, and spreading bacteria even to humans.

But now recent studies have determined new and additional crises in the growing contamination of the oceans by plastic.

Several studies recently conducted through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation have investigated this ongoing process, including the latest one, “The New Plastics Economy – Rethinking the future of plastics”, a product of Project MainStream, conducted under the auspices of the World Economic Forum.* Their reports of these studies advocate for the New Plastics Economy initiative and the “circular” economy, making the re-use of plastics a singular priority. Their reports show that goods worth over $2.6 trillion annually are sent to the world’s landfills and incineration plants, including 32% of plastic packaging that escapes collection systems. And much of this eventually ends up in the world’s oceans. Continue reading

Say Goodbye to the Monarch Butterfly, Forever

Monarch ButterflyWhen I was a kid, in the summer and in the balmy spring and fall of Southern California, butterflies were everywhere. There were all types, all sizes, and all colors, but by far the most magnificent were the Monarchs, with their seemingly giant wings, brilliant orange-and-black luminance, and slow, thoughtful flight from flower to flower. As I grew older over these many decades, butterfly sightings have become no longer an everyday event, but an infrequent pleasure, and seeing a Monarch has become an especially rare occurrence. Science has now told us why, and that it appears that the further existence of the Monarch butterfly is doomed.

We have modern society and the quest for riches to thank.

Despite a delicate and fragile appearance, butterflies are actually very hardy creatures, as is the Monarch in particular. The ritual of the Monarch includes bird-like two-way migrations of thousands of miles across North America and deep into Mexico.* They will fly 50 to 100 miles per day, for periods than can exceed two months, flying only during the day, and roosting along the way at night. It is in the oyamel fir forests of Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains, 10,000 feet above sea level, that Monarchs call home each winter, and that is where they hibernate. They hibernate for warmth in clusters of as many as tens of thousands of butterflies in a single oyamel fir tree. Continue reading

The Rain Garden

As climate change continues to produce drastic weather events around the world, including overall warming across icy waters and land masses covered in sand and soil and concrete, droughts wreck havoc with ecosystems and with the lifestyles of area inhabitants.

From the New York Times, Jan. 17, 2014, about northeastern California near Lake Tahoe:

“Cattle ranchers have had to sell portions of their herd for lack of water. Sacramento and other municipalities have imposed severe water restrictions. Wildfires broke out this week in forests that are usually too wet to ignite. Ski resorts that normally open in December are still closed; at one here in the Sierra Nevada that is open, a bear wandered onto a slope full of skiers last week, apparently not hibernating because of the balmy weather.”

In Southern California, it is temperatures in the 80s, more raging fires, and municipality-imposed watering restrictions across the wilting landscape. Governor Jerry Brown has declared a drought emergency, as mid-summerlike weather engulfs the state, weather drier even than last year’s extreme conditions.

California’s snowpack that forms over the winter and melts in spring and summer to provides water for more than 25,000,000 of the state’s residents has now been measured to be 20% of its historic average.

Putting aside the questions of availability of potable water for drinking, cooking, and bathing, the impact on gardens and lawns is staggering. But it does not have to be. Planning and preparation, and a little do-it-yourself yard work, and any able-bodied homeowner can create a self-sustaining rain garden that can flourish at a time of limited water availability.

Mature Rain Garden Rather than letting rainwater run across roofs, driveways, sidewalks and gutters, and into the sewer system to be contaminated with waste and poisons, create a system where rainwater is captured, collected, and diverted to plants and grasses. Continue reading

Article: The Plastisphere

For decades billions of people the world over have thought little of discarding used up plastic products, plastic containers, plastic packaging, and anything and everything made of plastic. They toss into rubbish containers cardboard and plastic packages that once contained everything from a new pair of scissors to a dozen batteries, they toss plastic trays that once contained a meal heated in a microwave, they toss a 99¢ pen now depleted of ink, and they toss bottles that once contained water, juice, or soda.

More than 90% of the people doing this never think about what will happen to that piece of plastic after the trash man picks it up and rushes next door for the next container of discards. Approximately 245 million tons of plastic is produced annually, Continue reading