Jack Ma to Spearhead the China Global Conservation Fund

Chairman and CEO of the Alibaba Group Jack Ma announces the formation of the China Global Conservation Fund at The Nature Conservancy’s global board meeting in October 2011. The purpose of the fund is to assist with directing China’s wealth into global conservation efforts. Ma has been a trustee of The Nature Conservancy’s China program since 2009 and became a part of the board of directors for the organization in 2010.

The Importance of Organic Cotton Farming

organic-cotton-farming

So most of us have been using cotton all our lives – cotton sheets, towels, clothes… It’s supposed to be a natural product, isn’t it? So what’s the difference with organic cotton? I thought organic was just related to those tomatoes?

Food and clothing are two major product groups which have direct contact with our bodies. So shouldn’t we care what kind of processes and ingredients go into making these products? An easy example is organic fruit and vegetables, and the general knowledge that they are grown without the use of pesticides. Who wants to eat pesticides?

The same principle applies for other organic products, in this case, organic cotton towels. Conventional cotton is grown using lots of toxic chemicals, like pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Organic cotton is not.

The term organic describes a method of farming without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides or fertilisers, sewage sludge, irradiation or genetic engineering, and are certified by an accredited independent organization. It is a system of farming that strives for a balance with nature, using methods and materials that are of low impact to the environment. (Courtesy of Organic Exchange)

The differences between organic cotton and conventional can be seen through farming processes, such as seed preparation, soil preparation, water, weed control, pest control, and harvesting. The basic premise of organic cotton at the farming level is facilitating what the earth does naturally.

Conventional cotton growing creates a dependent cycle of chemical use which hinders nature from doing its job, and therefore creates the need for more chemicals to compensate. With conventional cotton, the pesticides and herbicides used to keep pests and weeds at bay takes all the good nutrients out of the soil in which the cotton is growing. Then in order for the cotton to grow, the soil needs more chemicals in the form of synthetic fertiliser in order to boost its nutrients. The methods used with organic farming including crop rotation and hand hoeing mean that weeds and pests are kept at bay naturally, and the soil is nutrient rich with organic matter. A staggering statistic is that conventional cotton growing accounts for approximately 25% of the world’s insecticide use – that takes a fair chunk of responsibility for spraying all those chemicals into the air.

The certifications OE 100 and OE blended which ensure our products are organic, extend beyond the farming level, right through to production and finishing of the organic cotton towel product. After farming, the production of the raw cotton into towels requires yarn production, whitening, finishing and dyeing. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 ensures the final product is suitable for human use, and sets strict limits on the amount of harmful substances contained in textiles.

In particular it includes:

• legally banned substances such as carcinogenic dyes
• legally controlled substances such as formaldehyde, softeners, heavy metals or pentachlorophenol
• substances which can be harmful to health such as pesticides, allergenic dyes or organic tin compounds
• parameters such as colour-fastness and a skin-friendly pH value, intended to prevent health problems

Eureco’s Bio Organic Cotton range uses cotton sourced from Europe, India and Turkey. The products are certified organic by the Organic Exchange standard OE 100 and OE Blended. It is certified safe for human use by Oeko Tex. It has been manufactured in accordance with the environmental standard ISO14001.

What Are Sub-Sea Cables?

subsea-cables

It is easy to take our ability of communication for granted. In fact very few of us know that this is result of the vast amounts of man-power, effort and money used to construct the world’s sub-sea cables which lay hundreds of feet below us on the ocean seabed. Connecting together all the continents with the exception of Antarctica, these cables allow us to call friends and relatives overseas as well as use the internet among other things.

The first submarine communication cables carried telegraph signals before they began carrying data communications. In August 1850 the first subsea cable was laid across the English Channel and was made of copper wire coated in natural gutta-percha. The first message to be sent by subsea cable was from the Queen to the US President in 1858.However, many of these early cables were damaged by the application of excess voltage before cables were laid permanently after 1866.

Since the 1980s, each cable has used optical fibre technology to pass faster broadband signals. These cables are typically 69 millimetres in diameter and tend to be a lighter weight in deeper waters. The wire is typically insulated by a number of protective layers including copper, polycarbonate, petroleum jelly and steel wires inside a polyethylene casing.

There are over 1000 cables both domestically and internationally distributed throughout the world and these will vary in size depending on the depth they are placed. Some are buried so that they don’t get caught up in trawler nets or damaged by anchors. Cables can also be damaged by large sea animals such as sharks as fish bites have often been found, however cables are quite vulnerable to harsh weather conditions and earthquakes.

The largest of the underwater cables is the FLAG (Fiberoptic Link Around the Globe) cable which stretches 28,000 kilometres and links the United Kingdom to Japan via the Middle East. There are also several cables linking Europe to the US and Canada, the US to Asia and cables that interlink the islands such as the Philippines and the Caribbean. Cables surrounding Asia have been hijacked by pirates on one occasion with the T-V-H cable linking Thailand to Hong Kong and Vietnam being cut and used for scrap. Several cables were also damaged by the Japanese Tohuku tsunami in April 2011.

Subsea cables are extremely reliable and account for a high percentage of communication link ups by comparison to those of a satellite and count for 99% of the world’s communication methods due to their speed. For example; the maximum transmission bit rate of the first sea cables was 45 megabits per second.

However there are issues with subsea cables. Although they pose minimal environmental threat, they have been intercepted during wartime as the USA tapped into several USSR cables during the Cold War.

Although some cables are rendered out of use whilst those which are working require regular monitoring and repairs they play a pivotal role in the way we communicate.

Herbal Supplement Demand and the Need for Medicinal Plant Conservation Around the Globe

medicine-plants

Strategies for understanding medicinal plant conversation need to be developed based upon local awareness and practices. Not only do many pharmaceuticals contain medicinal plant derivatives, but approximately 70 – 80% of the global population depends upon herbal remedies and about 25 – 40% of prescription medications in the United States alone are comprised of plant-based active ingredients.

Many regions around the world depend on medicinal herbs to help maintain the overall health of it’s inhabitants, however the demand in the marketplace for these plants has caused a drain on the natural environmental resources of these locales. The most common forms of negative environmental impact are a loss or degradation of habitat, and excessive harvesting practices.

With the emergence of new herbal health supplements on the marketplace, especially those whose ingredients are gathered from the wild, the demand often is greater than what can bet met by legally obtain supply. In order to protect the indigenous populations against exploitation and environmental damage, a conservation plan needs to be instituted which will help to prevent unethical and illegal abuses. Unfortunately, too many regional communities are the victim of this type of threat, which stems from an effort to procure financial gains.

Because of the multifaceted nature of the factors involved, conservation of medicinal plant life requires a recognition of not only the potential environmental impact, but the cultural impact as well.

According to Mark McIntyre of malehealthreview.com, one of the largest regions for medicinal plants and knowledge of their use is in Asia. He says, for instance, that in the just the Himalayas and surrounding areas there can be found more than 10,000 species of plants used for medicinal and aromatic purposes, which provide income to roughly 600 million inhabitants living there. Nepal’s residents have long practiced Ayurvedic medicine, which is influenced by Buddhist and Hindu philosophies, which stress the importance of life balance.

Medicinal plants which are found in high altitudes often are known for their quality and potency, which is why they are frequently prized by not only the local population but supplement companies and drug manufacturers as well. The regional economic impact from harvesting these plants commercially is significant, providing somewhere around fifty percent of rural household income.

Many health-related herbs are also collected from the forests of Malaysia, where they also provide a significant impact to the economy, though an exact figure is not known since there have been no national studies conducted.