Alberta Cannabis industry uses a solar rooftop to lower the impact on the environment

The solar energy invention is essential for two reasons; firstly, the rays from the sun are unlimited; thus, ensuring that no other natural source is exhausted, and secondly, solar power reduces the overall cost of energy production by a generous chunk. Keeping the same in mind, Freedom, an Alberta-based cannabis industry, shifted their cradle of energy to a rooftop solar system that stretches up to 20 kilometers in the west of Edmonton and is named as the most extensive base of solar operation in the heart of Canada.

Humans who treat the well-being of their country and environment as a part of their duty; this particular cannabis grower does the same. The company has affirmed that these solar panels would help the company to successfully save a lot of money and curb the uncontrolled emission of greenhouse gases formed as a consequence of widespread cannabis cultivation.

The cannabis company’s co-founder and executive director, Troy Dezwart, said: “It is our responsibility to recognize our industry’s impact on the environment and work to do everything we can to minimize it.” The production and distribution of cannabis have increased incredibly in the last few years, especially after the discovery that these natural elements are one of the most beneficial alternatives of antibiotics and synthetic medicines aimed to calm the raging pain ensued by painful diseases.

To make the ends of this ever-growing demand meet, the process of mass cannabis production requires infinite amounts of lights, ventilation, heating, water pumps, and fans. From observations, one can formulate an estimation of the total energy that goes into pooling all these bindings efficiently day-to-day. Even though there is no robust statistical proof, yet, it has been stated that the cannabis growers based in the United States employed enough electricity that could have otherwise supplied power to around 1.7 million houses in 2017.

Now, coming to the specifications of this solar boundary encircling Freedom Cannabis, there are a total of 4,574 panels installed in the entire arrangement laid over an area of 126,000 sq. ft., in Acheson, AB, with a maximum capacity to produce 1,830KW of energy every day. If this scheme follows the initial plan of action with which it initially outlined, the cannabis industry will not only reduce 1,041 tons of greenhouse gas emitted annually but will also procure 8% of the total energy derived from the building.

Every other manufacturer must tread on this brilliant path laid forward by Freedom Cannabis with the interests of the world at heart; however, unfortunately, about 70% of the total cannabis produced in the country is based in the outdoors while legal marijuana is to be grown in the indoors. To bring about a positive change and encourage the other industries to give in to this innovation, this project will need to be equipped with all-round participation from its contemporaries as well.

Virunga National Park Battles to Protect The Critically Endangered Species of Africa

Virunga National Park is a national park in the Abertine Rift Valley, located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country within Central Africa. 

The park was created long ago, a result of the European conservation movement. The idea behind the movement was to establish a protected area in the northeastern Belgian Congo. Originally the protected area was set up in 1925 as Albert National Park. It was later expanded in 1929 to include Virunga National Park. It wasn’t until 1969 that the two parks were merged together as to become just Virunga National Park. 

A massive park, measuring at 8,090 square kilometers, it is one of the first ever areas in Africa to become protected. And for good reason; among the countless other species, there are over 200 mountain gorillas in the park, roughly one-quarter of the entire mountain gorilla population. 

Even as a protected area, Virunga National Park has still seen a lot of struggle. The park has suffered from the many years of war and other armed conflicts in the region. Climate change, community expansion, and poachers are also ongoing problems. Still, Virunga’s team of over 600 rangers do the best job that they can to defend the park and the wildlife that resides in it. 

Mountain Gorilla in Virunga National Park.

The rainforest serves as a natural home for the mountain gorillas, who thrive and raise families in the lush environment. There have been conservation efforts to further assist the gorillas, and while the efforts have done much to restore the species’ population, we still have a long way to go. Extensive deforestation in the region has proved to be very damaging, and the mountain gorilla is still a critically endangered species. 

It’s not just gorillas that are in danger. There has been an extensive battle to protect the elephant population as well. Tens of thousands of elephants are killed on a yearly basis for their ivory tusks. While there was an official ban on international trade that was placed in 1989, which did help the population to recover, there has remained a lot of ivory poaching and trafficking. 

Among the other endangered species are the African wild dog, the African penguin, Grévy’s zebra, the Ethiopian wolf, the black rhinoceros, and the white rhinoceros, to name just a few. Thankfully, the African Wildlife Foundation is dedicated to protecting as many of these precious species as they can. They have devised many solutions, which includes deploying sniffer dogs, and training wildlife rangers and law enforcement officers to help prevent wildlife crime. 

Elephants roaming through the Congo’s national park.

And ultimately, the African Wildlife Foundation is just one of many such organizations dedicated to helping the environment. There is also the International Volunteer HQ, Enkosini Eco Experience, ELI Abroad, the African Conservation Experience, among many others. 

For all the damage that the human race has done to the environment, we are also the ones who are tasked with the responsibility of repairing that damage and making this world a cleaner, healthier place to live in, both for our own sake and for the sake of the many wonderful animals who inhabit it. 

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Humpback whales making a comeback and why we need to keep our oceans clean

Experts worried that the waves of extinction could hit the humpback whale. Instead, the whales have made a comeback. If the latest preliminary data is to the believed, there were about 30,000 humpback whales spotted in the Western Indian Ocean recently. Since the 1970s, this is the first time this particular species of whale appeared in a number as terrific as this. A specialized team led by Chris Wilkinson, the Technical Manager of the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria, is dedicated to counting the whales as they make their way past the Cape Vidal, located on South Africa’s East Coast. 

Similar to the animals that migrate to warmer conditions before the onset of winter. The humpback whales switch their breeding spots from the Antarctic waters to Mozambique. After conducting careful surveys throughout 2018 and the years prior, it has been asserted that the total population of the humpback whales in the western Indian Ocean, sum up to a figure close to 30,000.

Considering the ever-swelling depreciation of the land and the oceans, the conservation efforts to bring back the humpback whales in large numbers have proven successful. This phenomenon has implied that if all the straps of animal management are fortified, it will help these mammals locate their ideal environment to grow and thrive without much interference. Out of all the other factors that led to the endangerment of the humpback whales, whaling is the most profound and strenuous one. 

A humpback whale swimming in the Indian Ocean.

Biologists have been trying to delineate the causes that prompted the whales’ disappearance. The implementation of modern vessels used to chase and hunt down these whales, increase the chance of their captivity. Moreover, the fact that the humpback whales are particularly slow and prefer basking in the comfort of the coastal waters increases their vulnerabilities in the ocean. Another factor is that the humpback whales have been the prime target of the hunters since they contain an exceedingly high amount of body fat, a constituent that is otherwise absent in the other water animals. 

The whales spend about 4-5 months of the year in the tropical conditions, as we have already mentioned before, and it is this trend of the humpbacks that have initiated into being the whalers favorite pawn. The whalers would mostly be around South Georgia from spring to autumn every year and slaughtering the whales in abnormally large numbers. During the 1960s, scientists discovered that the population of humpback whales was plunging to an unsustainable level, close to extinction, and it was only then that the International Whaling Commission rolled out stricter laws. Rules and regulations to safeguard the animals and procure them with enough time and a suitable environment to multiply in numbers. 

Laws have been created to terminate the mindless whale hunting; there is also a fair number of them that die in the ocean due to the pollution that they are subject too. Choking on plastic and getting trapped in ghost nets are some of the most glaring reasons for the population to hit the brink. We need to steer away from any further crises. The call of the hour is to keep the oceans clean and let our fellow creations live out their lives peacefully. Presently, Operation Earth 5, along with the rest of the humanitarians, are collectively pursuing this mission.

A Watchdog and a Baby Giraffe Develop a Friendship

Last week at The Rhino Orphanage, in Mokopane South Africa, a local farmer brought in an abandoned baby giraffe he had found. The baby giraffe was only two days old and abandoned by his mother. When the calf was first discovered, he was weak and dehydrated. Caretakers named the calf, Jazz.

At The Rhino Orphanage, based in the Limpopo Province, lives a dog, a watchdog named Hunter. Hunter resides in the sanctuary and protects the Rhinos from predators. When Jazz, the giraffe, came to the reserve the resident watchdog Hunter rapidly began to care for the new strange calf. Not long after, Hunter and Jazz were inseparable.

The workers at the non-profit organization noticed Jazz and Hunter were always together. The baby giraffe is being fed leaves and given IV therapy to help him become stronger and stay hydrated. Hunter is still there when Jazz is feeding, and they have been observed sleeping together too.

Jazz and Hunter sleeping at the Orphanage. Credit: AP

Mammals naturally need companionship, like humans, to reduce their stress and they need their community. Hunter’s fellowship to Jazz during his time of recovery has no doubt aided the calf. The caretakers expect that Jazz will be released to the wild soon and live out his days eating leaves from tall trees in the Savanna.

Plant more Trees To Restore Healthy Balance In Your Life and For The Planet

Are you a part of the busy city life that keeps on stressing your mind all the time? Probably, you need to schedule a walk to the forests that can recharge you to the peak energy levels. Yeah! It is scientifically proven that just a small connection to nature can enhance your psychological balance. Spending some time in the forests can result in some real physical and mental health benefits. Even if you spend around five minutes in the natural greenery, it may improve your overall health by a considerable level. And the best part is that it doesn’t leave any side effects behind. 

Incredible health benefits of connecting to nature:

  • Enjoying a visit to forests can improve the functionality of your immune system.
  • It lowers down the blood pressure levels. 
  • People who spend more time with nature are likely to enjoy a better mood with reduced stress levels. 
  • Nature can improve your concentration level, especially in the kids who have ADHD.
  • Spending time in forests can speed up the recovery from illness or surgery.
  • It improves energy levels to a great extent.
  • Forests and trees can improve sleep levels.

Recently a study was conducted in the University of Hong Kong on almost 160 people who were made to take part in stressful scenarios. They were either subjected to give tough maths test, prepared to deliver a speech, or made to stand in front of cameras or judges. When they were under the peak stress, they were allowed to view a 10 minutes video of trees planted in the city streets. The readings about their stress levels were recorded during this activity, and it reflected considerable reduction with the view of trees. 

A young man walking through a stream and leaving the city life behind.

When we breathe in the fresh air, it makes our body cells function better with the dose of antifungal and antibacterial qualities. Sitting in the forest for some time can balance your stress hormones and decrease the level of depression, anxiety, anger, fatigue, and confusion. Being a part of natural activities, such as looking at water, plants, birds, or spending time in nature, can give a considerable boost to our cognitive brain. With this, we can naturally enjoy better focus and higher concentration.  

You can also capture some images in the greenery to collect some memories for life. Those collections can help you lower your stress levels in the future, as well. Science Alert Reports say that it regulates the health of the nervous system while improving sweat production, myocardial contractility, and heart rate. 

Emerald Ash Borer Beetle on a tree in Ontario, Canada.

Another study reveals that emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), referred to as EAB, is a species of metallic wood-boring beetle native to East Asia, including China and the Russian Far East. Yet, the species has infested North America, harming the ash trees. EAB has provided some stats about how human life will be without trees, and the details are terrifying. EAB infestations lead to higher cases of lung and heart disease. It had been observed that EAB was linked to additional 15,080 deaths due to heart problems and 6113 deaths due to lung disease. 

To ensure a healthier life and a happier planet for the coming generations, we must make efforts to plant more trees around us. The efforts should not be limited to the rural areas; instead, it is good to fill city streets with trees and greenery. 

The Struggle for the Survival of the Northern White Rhino

Have you ever heard of the white rhinoceros? Residing predominately in Southern Africa, it is the second largest land mammal in the world, next to the elephant. They have the potential to weigh over 2,000 kilograms (2 tons) and can be as tall as 1.8 meters (6 feet). They tend to be more mellow than other species of rhinoceros, and their hump prevents them from swimming. Their average lifespan ranges from 35 to 40 years.

There are two subspecies; the southern white rhinoceros and the northern white rhinoceros. The southern white rhinoceros remains plentiful, with roughly 20,000-21,000 of them, making them a low concern item on the conservation status. The northern white rhinoceros, however, is in a far more precarious position.

Adult White Rhino’s in South Africa

In 1960, there were around 2,360 northern white rhinos out roaming the Central African wild. By 1984, however, their population had been drastically reduced to about 15, a tragic circumstance of civil violence and poaching.

Fast-forward from there to December of 2009, and the population was further reduced to a mere eight. These rhinos, thankfully, were all safety kept within zoos, but the situation nonetheless appeared bleak. Of the eight which remained, only four of them were potentially fertile. It was these four which were transported to the Ol Pejeta wildlife conservancy, located in Africa. The idea was that the greater warmth and more extensive grasslands would be ideal for getting the rhinos to breed, and thus paving way for the subspecies’ recovery.

It was a noble effort, but alas, it did not pan out. While there were multiple mating attempts, the rhinos remained barren. As the years went on, the rhinos grew elderly and began to pass away. Sudan, the last remaining male, passed away on March 19, 2018. This leaves Fatu and Najin, a mother and daughter, as the only two northern white rhinos left, both of whom were ultimately deemed incapable of bearing calves.

A ranger touches Najin, one of the world’s last two remaining female northern white rhinos (Photo: Xinhua / Barcroft Images)

Despite this, all hope was not lost. Scientists had made preparations ahead of time. Since 2014, they had been gathering and freezing semen from the northern white rhinos, including from Sudan. The process is known as vitro fertilization, where the egg and sperm are fertilized outside the body. If the process were successful, it could help restore the species’ population.

Things continued to look up when, after a delicate procedure, a scientific team successfully retrieved eggs from Fatu and Najin. This was something which had never before been attempted on northern white rhinos. The eggs were then fertilized with the frozen semen, and embryos were successfully created. The embryos are now being stored in liquid nitrogen, and when they are ready, they will be transferred into a surrogate southern white rhino mother.

While it ultimately remains to be seen if the process will be successful from here, so far things have looked promising. We must remind ourselves the importance of doing everything we can for our precious environment, and for the creatures who inhabit it.


A Plastic Eating Mushroom has Been Discovered

Did you know there’s a mushroom which consumes plastic? Whereas organizations such as The Ocean Cleanup are dedicated to cleaning plastic out of oceans and rivers, nature has proven to us there are other ways to be rid of plastic pollution. 

It’s called the Pestalotiopsis microspore. It is a rare fungus which was discovered several years ago, inside the Amazonian rainforests of Ecuador. It has the ability to consume polyurethane, the essential ingredient in plastic products, and convert it into organic matter. 

Even better is that Pestalotiopsis microspore does not need oxygen to survive. This would make it perfect for feeding on and clearing up landfills. 

What’s even better still is that this fungus can fulfill more than one purpose. Designers Katharina Unger and Julia Kaisinger, along with scientists at Utrecht University, have modified the original Pestalotiopsis microspore to create something entirely new. 

Known as the Fungi Mutarium, this prototype creates a unique, edible fungal food product. It uses mushroom-esque pods of Ajar, which is a seaweed-based gelatin, and the pods act as a nutrient base for the fungus. The pods are then filled with plastic and covered up. The fungus eventually devours the plastic, along with other sugars and starches, leaving behind a mushroom-like cup. The cup can either be filled with other food, or eaten by itself. The whole process, from beginning to end, takes several months. 

But how do these Ajar pods taste? According to Katharina Unger, it depends on the strain of fungus, but it often has a sweet, licorice-like flavour. Having watched a video demonstration of how it works, that makes me want to give Fungi Mutarium a try. They look tasty. 

The project was developed not only to help dispose of plastic waste, but also to revolutionize global food production. Given the sheer number of people around the world who go hungry every night, a widespread food source that converts trash into something edible would indisputably be of great value. 

Katharina Unger has made another fantastic discovery. It turns out there’s multiple species of mushrooms that will consume plastic, some of them much more common than the Pestalotiopsis microspore. Among these is the oyster mushroom, which too is edible. 

Despite the overall success so far, there are other hurdles still to overcome. Actually convincing people to eat these unusual mushrooms may be a challenge all of its own. There are also more studies which need to be conducted to determine if the mushrooms really are safe to eat. 

Regardless, there will be many benefits to reap if it does take off. Plastic consumption aside, these mushrooms can also remove pollutants from soil, as well as converting waste into biofuels, and they can even be used for furniture and building materials! Even if the mushroom is not used for any of these, it is still far more biodegradable than plastic, which takes hundreds of years to decompose on its own. 

The future of mushrooms may hold a lot of promise. It just goes to show that effective solutions will often show up in unexpected ways. 


The Ocean Clean Up Crew Unveil The “Interceptor”

Born in July 1994, Boyan Slat is a Dutch entrepreneur and inventor who uses technology to help combat global problems. In February 2013, he founded The Ocean Cleanup at a remarkably young age. The organization has since expanded to a team of around 80 people, of which Boyan is currently the CEO. 

In 2018, Boyan led his team to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive vortex in the Pacific Ocean utterly loaded with pieces of floating plastic and other garbage. It is, in fact, the largest collection of plastic in all the oceans. 

In their efforts to clear the mess away, The Ocean Cleanup launched its first ever plastic-cleaning device. It was a 2,000-foot U-shaped array known as “System 001,” nicknamed “Wilson.” Unfortunately, Wilson’s sensors and satellite system began to malfunction, and its collected plastic began to leak back into the garbage vortex. Although the device was still successful in clearing out some of the plastic from the vortex, and it thankfully did no environmental damage of its own, ultimately it brought back to port for repairs. 

In summer of 2019, The Ocean Project tried again with a newer and better cleanup device, “System 001/B,” which used an underwater parachute to slow the device’s movement through the water, as well as inflatable bags to speed it up. 

Alas, the new design ran into another problem. It used a cork line to help contain the plastic, in a similar manner to lines that divide the lanes of a swimming pool. As it turned out, the line wasn’t tall enough to prevent plastic from passing over. It will be necessary to improve upon this and make the cork line taller to ensure the device works correctly. 

The Ocean Project still has not given up, and is determined to continue their clean-up efforts at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In the meantime, they have focused their efforts on clearing up river pollution. On October 26th, 2019, they unveiled their latest invention, called “The Interceptor.” Having been in development since 2015, it too is built around cleaning up plastic, capable of extracting anywhere from 50,000kg to 100,000kg of trash per day. 

In fact, multiple Interceptors have been built. Two of them are already active in Jakarta (Indonesia) and Klang (Malaysia) respectively. A third Interceptor will be set up in Can Tho in the Mekong Delta (Vietnam) while a fourth will be set up in Santa Domingo (Dominican Republic). There has also been an agreement made to set up another Interceptor near Bangkok, and an in-progress agreement for another one in LA Country (USA). 

While there has been some trial-and-error, everyone at The Ocean Project deserves praise and recognition for their innovative methods and for all the hard work they’ve done to make this planet a brighter, cleaner, and safer place. We all could take some inspiration from them, both in their good cause and in their refusal to let their setbacks stop them. 

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Thailand’s Skies are Raining Seed Bombs

Deforestation is a growing problem across the globe as humans are cutting down trees, and forest fires are occurring at an alarming rate. The earth is unable to sustain itself and produce the regrowth required for a balanced ecosystem. Consequently, additional initiatives are necessary due to the severe loss of the earth’s vegetation.

The nation of Thailand is aiming to fix damages caused by the impact of large industries and land being used for agriculture and livestock. Thailand officials had been reminded of the concept of seed bombing. Seed bombing is a concept that originated from a Japanese farmer.

The ancient practice of “tsuchidango” or “earth dumpling,” now referred to as seed bombing, was discovered in the 20th century. Masanobu Fukuoka, a farmer, also known as an advocate of “Do Nothing Farming,” propagated the idea. The earliest known record of seed bombing goes back to 1930 when planes were used to reforest certain areas in the mountains of Honolulu.

Trees in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

Thailand officials fancied the idea and believed seed bombing was a viable solution. Their answer to deforestation was wrapped in a mixture of earth, clay, and compost, to facilitate germination. The government put together a five-year plan implementing a reforestation pilot project, with the aid of the Thai military.

The first mission was in May of 2019, in the forested region of Phitsanulok, in lower northern Thailand. The government used military transport planes to release a series of “seed bombs.” These seed bombs consisted of pits and germs from native plants being dropped from the sky, like a bomb into degraded forests and vegetation.

The reforestation from the air will be monitored and evaluated by Environmental Specialists, with expectations of positive results. As the missions continue throughout the year of 2019, this new technique expects the seed bombs to aid in the planting of thousands of trees. As a result of using the plane, approximately 950,000 trees can be planted in a day.

Location of Phitsanulok region, in lower northern Thailand.

The Thai people anticipate the recovery of their degraded forests and yearn to re-green their country again. Dropping seed bombs from planes is not the only effective way. Humans can collect seeds and kernels and wrap them up in clay, dirt, and leaves. Once completed, throw it into an area which is lacking trees or green space.

Perhaps one should consider this as a future goal. Go for a walk, play in the dirt, pick up seeds, and throw them around.

Rare Pink Dolphin Gives Birth to Pink Calf

“Pinky” A rare pink dolphin in Louisana.

A rare pink river dolphin named “Pinky” has given birth to an extremely rare pink dolphin calf in Louisiana’s Calcasiey River. The pink river dolphin, also known as The Amazon River dolphin, or boto, is commonly found in freshwater rivers and lakes in the Amazon and South America. Conversely, Pinky has been a resident of the Louisiana River for the past ten years. The locals adore her. The citizens are ecstatic to watch Pinky and her calf swim down the river and hopefully produce a pod, which is a group of dolphins.

A local charter boat captain in Louisiana, Captain Rue said, via The Sun:

“The mammal is entirely pink from tip to tail and has reddish eyes. The skin appears smooth, glossy pink, and without flaws. Surprisingly, it does not appear to be drastically affected by the environment or sunlight as might be expected considering its condition, although it tends to remain below the surface a little more than the others in the pod. I feel very fortunate to have seen this incredible mammal and lucky to be able to work and live in the area where such a fantastic creature frequents. Our guests are always thrilled at the opportunity to spot such a unique mammal, and we look forward to it being around for some time to come.”

Pinky and her young calf

Photographs and videos of this dolphin have been widely circulated due to the rare occurrence of albino dolphins. This River Dolphin is often referred to as a “pink” dolphin because of its pink coloration. In actuality, it is an albino, and albino dolphin calves are typically born dark gray, but slowly turn pink as they age.

Several influences on their final color are their behavior, capillary placement, diet, and exposure to sunlight. When the dolphins get excited, they can flush bright pink, similar to humans blushing. 

Unfortunately, the population of these warm-blooded mammals is on the decline. There are approximately 9,000 pink dolphins left in the world. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in its latest Red List published in November 2018, River Dolphins habituating in the Amazon River are endangered. 

They are incredibly vulnerable in certain areas due to dams that fragment and threaten specific populations. Additional threats such as contamination of rivers and lakes are also hazardous to the survival of the boto dolphin. Humans have played a part in the declining population due to sometimes accidentally killing a dolphin when they are fishing in the deep waters. There are a variety of delicate reasons that are leading to the decline of the pink dolphin population.

Humans must work together to save endangered ecosystems such as the Amazon rain-forest and its rivers that run throughout Latin America. There are more species than just the river dolphins, which need saving. These are the critical moments in our time to step up and take action.