Biodiversity and us…-Part 5

Water Desalination

Abstract

International Environment month is going now. From the beginning of the world, whatever has been the most impactful part of our world is its biodiversity. From then till today, its impact is so huge that no one can even feel its depth and complexity. So to utilize a little of that and our sins, it’s important for us to go through a analysis.

Biodiversity or Biological diversity is a term that describes the variety of living beings on earth. In short, it is described as a degree of variation of life. Biological diversity encompasses microorganisms, plants, animals, and ecosystems, such as coral reefs, forests, rainforests, deserts, etc.

And after going through and analysis, I’ve found us as the most shameless livings on the earth and it let me feel sorry, very very sorry for some days. In this series, I’ll try to touch there in your heart so that you can also feel sorry, be aware. There will be 4 parts of the document and I’ve also tried to create a map of our duties and responsibilities and so I hope every readers will be with us in each part. Carefully, understanding.

Invasive species: There are three main methods used for control of invasive species: biological, mechanical, and chemical.

Biological control is the intentional manipulation of natural enemies by humans for the purpose of controlling pests.

Mechanical control includes mowing, hoeing, cultivation, and hand pulling.

Chemical control is the use of herbicides.

You can also use a combination of these three methods in an integrated management approach which some authorities would consider as the fourth method.

  • CLEAN YOUR HIKING AND FISHING GEAR

While you may just be trying to take a leisurely hike through your nearest trail, or catch some fish in a local stream or river, you could be unknowingly collecting invasive species from your boots and waders as you hike and fish. Make sure to spray and wipe your boots and waders down after each time used, especially if you are traveling with them, so that you don’t accidentally invite an unwanted species to the party! Anglers are also encouraged to switch their waders from felt-soled, to rubber to avoid harboring invasives. One example of this in the Chesapeake is didymo — also known as “river snot.” Didymo is a type of algae that forms dense mats at the bottom of freshwater streams, and forms thick, heavy mats and can be tough to pull apart or remove from rocks.

  • DON’T MOVE FIREWOOD

Firewood is often made out of dead or dying trees, which are often host to critters like the emerald ash borer — a highly damaging invasive species. Moving firewood can spread these critters from one place to another, which disperses invasive critters even more.

Support your local firewood providers by buying firewood from them, and don’t move the wood once you have it.

  • FISH USING NATIVE BAIT WHEN POSSIBLE

When you go to your local stream, river, or creek to fish, bait can often take the form of an invasive species in a worm or fish. If possible, seek out native bait. When finished fishing, do not dump your bait into the water.

  • VOLUNTEER AT REMOVAL EFFORTS

Invasive species can spread like wildfire — English ivy crawls up the sides of our buildings, covers our forests floors, and climbs up the trunks of our trees. You can do your part by volunteering at a local removal effort, or just taking the time to pluck the invasives from your own yard.

  • TALK TO YOUR LOCAL NURSERY WHEN SELECTING PLANTS FOR YOUR GARDEN

Make sure to visit your local nursery and consult with them about what plants are native to your area. Think redbuds, butterfly milkweed, cone flowers, and more! Say goodbye to the bartlett pear tree, and hello to the dogwood! Your yard, and our ecosystem, will thank you.

  • CLEAN YOUR BOAT BEFORE TRANSFERRING TO A NEW BODY OF WATER

The bottom and sides of boats can carry aquatic invasive species, like different types of algae. Make sure to thoroughly wash your boat before taking it from one body of water to another, as to not spread any unwanted invasives.

  • IF YOU SEE AN INVASIVE SPECIES, REPORT IT

If you live in Maryland, visit DNR’s website to report any sightings. If you live in Virginia, you can report invasives here. West Virginia residents can report invasive species on WV DNR’s website. In Pennsylvania, you can visit the Department of Agriculture’s website for more info on how to report an invasive.

DC’s Department of the Energy and the Environment website is a great resource for all district residents.

  • LEARN ABOUT AND BE AWARE OF THE INVASIVE SPECIES SIGHTINGS IN YOUR AREA

For example, Pennsylvania is currently suffering from an outbreak of the spotted lanternfly, an invasive planthopper that is native to China. Being aware of this can help PA residents be prepared for what to do if they happen to see a spotted lanternfly.

  • PLANT NATIVE SPECIES IN YOUR GARDEN AND YARD

Native species are our best natural defense against invasive species. They require less water, save time and money, and provide vital habitat for our pollinators.

  • CHECK YOUR PET’S PAWS WHEN TRAVELING WITH THEM

Just like your boots and clothes, your pet’s paws are the perfect carrier for seeds. Make sure to check them and brush them off when traveling with your pet!

Over exploitation of natural resources: Conserving natural resources is a broad topic, but here are 10 things we can do to start protecting the earth’s resources.

  • MAKE ELECTRICITY USE MORE EFFICIENT

We use natural resources, such as coal and natural gas, to produce the electricity we use in homes, offices, stores and elsewhere. We can conserve some of that electricity simply by turning things off and unplugging them when we’re not using them and by using more energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs.

Advanced technologies, such as smart thermostats, also help conserve energy by automatically turning appliances on and off as needed.

  • USE MORE RENEWABLE ENERGY

About 63 percent of our electricity comes from fossil fuels, which are natural resources that only replenish over an extremely long time.

Resources like wind and sunlight, however, can also be used to generate electricity, but these resources are renewable. That means once they are used, they become available again quickly. While using fossil fuels to generate electricity burns up finite resources, using renewables does not.

Renewable energy also doesn’t release greenhouse gases, which are causing climate change.

  • PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE FISHING RULES

One-third of the world’s fish populations are overexploited or severely depleted.

Reduced fish populations can alter entire ecosystems and hurt coastal economies that depend on fishing. Introducing new laws —

and ensuring existing ones stay in place — that protect at-risk fish populations and ecosystems is crucial to preventing these problems.

At the consumer level, buying only sustainably sourced fish can help.

Further reading: What Is a Sustainable Fish

  • AVOID SINGLE-USE PLASTICS

In 2016, global plastics production was approximately 335 million metric tons, and about half of that was used to make single-use products, according to the Earth Day Network.

Reducing our plastic use helps us avoid the use of the resources needed to make plastic and prevents plastic waste from harming the natural environment. Substituting single-use plastics like plastic grocery bags, utensils and straws with durable items can help.

  • DRIVE LESS

Gasoline is a product made from crude oil, a finite natural resource and fossil fuel. Car manufacturing also requires many different kinds of natural resources, includes rubber and various metals.

You can conserve natural resources by not owning a car, owning a more fuel-efficient car or driving less. Walking, bicycling taking public transportation and carpooling are all excellent alternatives to driving.

  • RECYCLE MORE AND IMPROVE RECYCLING SYSTEMS

In addition to switching away from single-use plastics, we can also recycle more to help with the plastic problem. Check with your local government or recycling company to see what you can recycle curbside where you live. For other items, you may be able to find a business in your community that can help recycle items.

Improving our recycling systems can also help. Researchers can find new, more efficient ways to recycle, local governments can make recycling easier and businesses can implement recycling programs for their employees.

  • USE SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PRACTICES

Agriculture is necessary but extremely resource-intensive. There are, however, ways to farm more sustainably.

Rotating crops and planting cover crops helps to keep soil healthy. Using fewer chemicals and integrating biological pest control and natural fertilizers can help, as well. Precision agriculture, which uses technology to optimize resource use, can help farmers use less fertilizer, pesticides, water and other inputs.

  • REDUCE FOOD WASTE

Approximately a third of the food produced for human consumption every year gets wasted or lost. Because of all the resources required to grow, transport and prepare the food, this is a huge waste. Keeping track of the food you have, planning meals and shopping trips ahead of time and properly storing food can help reduce food waste at home.

  • PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT

Forests are full of natural resources. The ecosystem services they provide are valued at approximately $33 trillion annually, and about a quarter of the world’s population depends on them to make a living. Yet, we’re destroying forests faster than the earth can replenish them — at a rate of about 60 acres each minute.

Sustainable forest management practices can help prevent this. These practices mimic the natural destruction and regeneration patterns of nature and involve aspects such as establishing protected areas, create a harvesting plan and using logging techniques that are easier on the natural environment.

The Forest Stewardship Council and the Rain forest Alliance Certified certify businesses and products, so consumers can tell which ones are created using sustainable forestry management.

  • TREAT WASTEWATER BEFORE DISCHARGING IT

Water is, of course, crucial to survival, but more than 2 billion people don’t have clean drinking water at home.

Part of the reason for this is that some industrial plants and wastewater treatment plants, especially in developing countries, discharge water into streams and rivers without adequately treating it. It’s crucial that wastewater discharge regulations are enforced if they exist, and that they get introduced that if they don’t yet exist.

Preventing natural resource depletion is vital for the environment, economy and the health and well-being of the human population. We use a vast range of natural resources, but there are even more ways to conserve them.

Pollution is avoided because of its depth and vast vicinity. Poaching: 1. Engage the public

Poaching is primarily stopped or fought by law enforcement agencies. However, the public needs to be educated on the importance of the wild animals they have and why poaching is bad for their economies.

In doing so, they will take action against poaching and report any incidences of poaching, they will also stay away from wild animal land. Additionally, in educating the public, the myths about the medical, aphrodisiac, and religious uses of animal parts will be dispelled.

  • Recruit more wildlife scouts

To protect the animals, more wildlife rangers and scouts need to be recruited. It is a source of income for the employees, and they will help protect endangered animals.

  • Make tougher laws

The legal systems are already in place and they outlaw the practices. However, poaching still continues, meaning the law needs to be toughened. More needs to be done in that front, to curb the demand and trade of animal parts and the selling of wildlife as exotic pets.

Toughening the laws also means that harsher penalties will be dished out to poachers and for other wildlife-related crimes, protecting more animals.

  • Give the animals a sanctuary

Some animals are on the verge of extinction and can only be protected at sanctuaries. The same should be done to more animals, and their populations will go higher.

  • Zoning (Demarcate land for the wild animals)

More needs to be done to outline where wildlife land starts and ends. In doing so, humans will not encroach into such land for construction, settlement, or agricultural land. Those found inside such lands should be treated as poachers, regardless of their reasons when entering, and face the fullest extent of the law.

  • Put more trackers and sensors in the wild

Harmless and undetectable trackers need to be used in wildlife tracking, to enable those at the control rooms to have accurate data on the number of the animals, their location, and any threat that might be upon them.

It is an easy way of managing poaching, logging, and other illegal wildlife activities without having to rangers stay with the animals in the wild.

  • Outlaw the purchase and sale of animal parts and products

Outlawing the buying and selling of wildlife animal parts, especially in animal markets can significantly reduce poaching. If the animal parts are outlawed, few people would go for them and a majority of those in the business will equally shut down. Ultimately, it will reduce the number of animals being killed for their parts.

Degradation:

  • Curb industrial farming

Tilling, multiple harvests and agrochemicals have boosted yields at the expense of sustainability. Responsible regulation of land and agriculture would help, but we need to be frank about our diet too. Evidence shows we should eat much smaller quantities of sustainably-reared, grass-fed meat – if any – less dairy, and much more fruit and veg.

  • Bring back the trees

Without plant and tree cover, erosion happens much more easily. Sustainable forest management efforts and reforestation schemes are key to combating soil degradation. Deforestation in Paraguay is thought to have been reduced by 65 per cent within two years of the enactment of its 2004 Zero Deforestation Law – though it remains a huge problem in the country.

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  • Stop or limit ploughing

Pockets of farmers around the world – from Kenya to the Cotswolds – are experimenting with zero-tillage, also known as conservation agriculture. Efforts centre around ensuring no bare soil is exposed, with ‘cover crops’ planted directly after harvest.

These protect the soil while returning nutrients and plant matter too. In warm climates, they also preserve moisture.

  • Replace goodness

Organic farmers who add compost and manure to the soil replenish nutrients while reducing flooding risk and capturing carbon. Circular economy proponents recommend not sending bio- waste to landfill but using it to create organic soil improvers, fertilisers and to grow in. These could then replace fossil-based products such as mineral fertilisers and peat.

  • Leave land alone

Leaving more land alone, despite the challenges of a growing population, is another solution to soil degradation: it takes around 500 years for just 2.5cm of topsoil to be created. Taking land out of production would allow soil carbon to rebuild and become

stable. Experts suggest rotating pastured land used by the meat and dairy industries so less is being used at once.

  • Desalination of water

Water Desalination

Source: ANDREJ NEUHERZ/Wikimedia Commons

Even though more than 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water, only 0.003% of it is fresh water. In many places of the world, annual rainfall is the only way to replenish the freshwater sources.

But what if we could desalinate water? Then we have oceans to help us get fresh water.

But it is easier said than done. Desalination of water is pretty resource intensive. First, the water needs to be boiled, converted to steam and then condensed.

This requires a significant amount of fossil fuels to produce heat. But hope is still at hand as the developments in the field has made filters made up of graphene that can desalinate water with nothing more than hydrostatic pressure.

  • Rainwater harvesting

Rainwater harvesting

Source: Adityamail/Wikimedia Commons

Rainwater harvesting has seen major growth in recent years and this is something everyone should adopt. With rainwater harvesting, homes can store the water they get from rain and then use it when they need it in dry conditions.

In urban areas, only 15% of rainwater enters the ground while in rural areas 50% of rainwater is absorbed into the ground.

Rainwater harvesting provides both urban and rural areas with an efficient option to store rainwater and then reuse it in times of drought.

If a house has a primary water source, then rainwater harvesting provides them with an auxiliary option that they can use when water is not available. Rainwater harvesting is a great way to combat drought and is now encouraged among farmers and herders to provide their agriculture with water in times of drought.

  • Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation

Source: Borisshin/Wikimedia Commons

Drip irrigation hopes to achieve optimum water delivery for plants and optimum moisture in the soil. The advantage of such a system is that it does not result in water wastage.

Nowadays, many companies have come forward providing the market with cost-effective and intuitive drip irrigation systems.

Technologically advanced farms are moving towards IoT inspired drip irrigation systems that can operate without human intervention. The highly targeted nature of drip irrigation ensures that each plant gets the right amount of water delivered right on its roots.

  • Harvesting water from the air

Harvesting water from air

Source: Courtesy of the researchers/MIT

Air as we know it contains many elements, and one among it is moisture. If we could build something efficient to harvest that moisture and condense it, we could harvest water from the air.

And this is what researchers from MIT have done!

This solar powered device uses a large surface area of the pores in Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) to catch water vapor and pass it between two temperatures zones to condense it. A field test conducted in Arizona was a success and now the team hopes to scale up the system so that it can produce many liters of water within a short period of time.

The two major advantages of this system are that it can harvest water without the use of electricity and the ability to produce water in desert climates.

  • Crop engineering

Wheat crop

Source: Pixabay

We can build new mechanisms outside of the plants to keep them watered and safe from drought, but we could also genetically

engineer them to be resilient to conditions where the water content in the soil is very low.

Food production is a crucial part of keeping the population alive. However, droughts can affect the productivity and tip the balance of food available to the masses.

Crop engineering hopes to tweak the genetics of existing crops to help them increase their yield and provide them with better resistance to drought.

A research project from Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) has successfully improved corps in the way they use water, up to 25% more efficiently.

Researches have been done by various organizations around the world in efforts to engineer crops that can withstand the harshness of droughts.

  • Solar pumps

Solar pumps

Source: USDA NRCS Texas/Wikimedia Commons

The most common method that we use to water crops or provide water to livestock is by pumping it out of the earth. However, pumps do consume electricity, which in turn, consumes more fossil fuels.

Solar pumps are gaining popularity because they do not use up electricity from the mains to pump water for irrigation. The governments around the world are realizing the potential of solar pumps and some have even started granting subsidies for farmers to install them cost-effectively.

  • Recycling organic waste

The most common method that we use to water crops or provide water to livestock is by pumping it out of the earth. However, pumps do consume electricity, which in turn, consumes more fossil fuels.

Solar pumps are gaining popularity because they do not use up electricity from the mains to pump water for irrigation. The governments around the world are realizing the potential of solar pumps and some have even started granting subsidies for farmers to install them cost-effectively.

  • Planting more trees

Tree plantation

Source: Juan Ortega/Wikimedia Commons

This is might sound like old-age advice, but planting tree is the best way to reduce damage from drought, improve the quality of the environment and increase the success of precipitation.

Many countries have started their efforts by turning arid lands into forested by planting trees and saplings.

Wildfire: Fire as a solution

Perhaps the most important shift the federal government can make is to alter its longstanding ethos of fire

https://news-media.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/22105814/Wildfires_Infographic_combined-366x1110.png suppression above all else, according to Stanford researchers. Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, are funded and staffed primarily to fight large fires, rather than prevent them from happening in the first place. That approach has led to massive accumulations of wood and plant fuels in forests.

Stanford research led by Tony Marks-Block has found that incorporating traditional techniques into current fire suppression practices could help revitalize American Indian cultures, economies and livelihoods, while cost-effectively reducing wildfire risks.

“The time-tested technology that California Indians used for millennia is prescribed fire, and as many Indigenous fire leaders say, we need to embrace fire instead of fear it,” said Marks-Block, who received his doctorate in anthropology from Stanford in 2020, and is now an assistant professor at California State University, East Bay.

Decentralized associations of landowners that cooperate on prescribed burns already exist in California, but government support is required before the practice can be rapidly expanded across private and public lands.

“If state and federal governments invested the amount of money they spend on wildfire suppression for prescribed fire, wildfires would be much less costly and damaging in the long-run,” Marks- Block said.

Closer cooperation between private landowners and state agencies that manage adjacent forests on vegetation management and firefighting will also be key, according to Bruce Cain, a professor of political science in the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences and the Spence and Cleone Eccles Family Director of The Bill Lane Center for the American West. Because land use is a state and local matter, the federal government needs to encourage more prevention efforts through grants and expedite regulatory procedures that incentivize prescribed burns.

Ensuring that prescribed burns maximize risk reduction and ecological benefits will require high-quality simulations of fire risk and impacts. The federal government should develop and make available so-called “catastrophe modeling” tools for use by its agencies and communities on or near federal lands, according to Wara.

Similarly, the Biden administration could build on existing proposed federal legislation to provide grants for community-wide defensible space and home protection, according to Rebecca Miller, a PhD student in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources within the Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences who has published work outlining a range of approaches to significantly increase the deployment of prescribed burns in California. This could also support much- needed local, broad-scale wildfire protection efforts in high-risk communities.

Promising technology

Long-term chemical retardants, such as a Stanford-developed hydrogel formulation, could go a long way toward helping prevent wildfire ignitions in known high-risk areas, such as roadsides and utilities infrastructure. These technologies could also support controlled burns by protecting critical infrastructure within the burn area, or by helping to prevent fire escape.

“Every year we hear the same refrain: If only catastrophic fires could be prevented in the first place,” said Eric Appel, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering and a fellow in the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

Earmarked federal dollars and streamlined environmental reviews would dramatically boost the use of such prophylactic solutions, according to Appel. Currently, the U.S. Forest Service evaluates long-term retardants, but primarily for fighting fires that have already started. There is no clear mechanism for regulation of prophylactic solutions, so agencies tend to “pass the buck” rather than apply the technology, Appel said. “We need to clarify who is responsible.”

Congressional support

While preventive efforts, such as prescribed burns and retardant treatments, are essential, bipartisan congressional support may not come easy. In that case, the Biden administration should focus on organizational and leadership change to realign priorities of federal land managers, according to Wara. New leaders could shift organizations’ approaches to recognize positive ecological and societal roles that “good” fire plays on the landscape, and do

everything possible to facilitate its presence so “bad” fire can’t get a toehold.

Changing mindsets

While governmental agencies may sometimes be slow to adapt, there are strong signs that Westerners are ready for a new storyline when it comes to wildfires.

A survey conducted by Cain and others showed that people’s personal experience with wildfires may lessen partisan differences over climate policy. A soon-to-be-published study led by Gabrielle Wong-Parodi echoes the finding, linking people’s firsthand fire experience with an increased likelihood to take actions, such as supporting carbon tax policies, that could eventually lessen the likelihood of wildfires.

“Policymakers who want to change the trajectory of wildfire destruction would do well to tap into people’s lived experience,” said Wong-Parodi, an assistant professor of Earth system science in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. “It’s hard to underestimate how powerfully these fires have altered people’s lives and outlooks.”

wildfires-fires-forest-smoke-ash

  • Make sure you are following all of the local regulations and laws regarding burning fires during various times of day, year, and what materials and substances are permitted to be burned. If you do not see a sign with the rules find a park ranger or someone close by and keep a list of the rules and regulations on hand.
  • Keep up to date with the weather forecast so you are sure not to burn any substances while there are high winds or other treacherous conditions. Certain areas are more prone to wildfires than others so make sure that you check with the area to see if they are more at risk than other areas.

The Wildland Fire Assessment System will give you an updated map on which areas are more at risk. Weather is one of the biggest reasons why wildfires occur. Always keep in mind the weather before you ever even plan your trip.

  • Only light fires in areas that are easily controlled locations. Make sure when you are creating fire pits or other fires that you are doing so in areas that are controlled and fires cannot spread into other areas. A fire will need to be contained so that it will be easy to put out especially if a dangerous situation would arise.
  • Do not burn any materials that are combustible or unusual in nature. Do not throw garbage onto campfires or any other materials that should not be burned. You should only be using materials that are organic such as leaves, woods, or yard waste. If you put unusual materials into a fire it is only going to make the fire spread at a rapid rate which causes more problems for the area you are in.
  • If you are a cigarette smoker it is important not to smoke cigarettes where you are not supposed to. If you do smoke you need to make sure that you put your cigarette out completely before disposing of it.

Under no circumstances should you throw cigarettes onto the ground. Make sure they are completely put out and dispose of them properly. Most camping and picnic areas do not allow smoking so if you are going to smoke you need to know the rules beforehand.

  • Teach your children the rules and safety precautions of camping and being outdoors. Make sure they know to stay away from fires and to always allow an adult to start and put out fires. Many wildfires are caused by unattended children near fires. Teaching them the ways of nature could make all of the difference.

Wildfires are an unfortunate occurrence but they can be prevented. Learn the rules of the area in which you are camping and make sure you are following them explicitly. They are extremely dangerous and cause quite a bit of danger to our land and the habitat of many creatures.

Following the rules could save the lives and homes of many people and blessed creatures that are on this earth. Humans are the number one cause of wildfires and can be the number one solution as well. Be the solution and know the rules.

Severe solutions have been included in those solutions which cover solutions for over consumption as well as specialization matters.

However, let us be united and conscious once, I believe we can make the world green again.

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