Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Un-Halal Treatment of Animals - WARNING: GRAPHIC

This is not what islam teaches us about how to treat animals.


In fact, many of these practices deem the meat none-halal for Muslim consumption.

Check out these references:

Rights of Animals in Islam

Animals that are diseased and/or eat feces are not Halal.

Note for our Judaeo-Christian readers who are unaware of what halal is. Briefly, Halal means "permissible". In the context of foods for human consumption, Halal means "permissible to eat". It is analogous, but not equivalent to kosher. There are many ways that food is considered Halal. For example: dead land animals are NOT Halal, while dead sea animals ARE Halal. Animals that are properly drained of their blood are Halal, while animals that are treated like the some of those in this video are NOT Halal. Some animals in general are not Halal for consumption, such as pigs, animals with talons, claws, or that are scavengers, or carnivores. Also, anything that would harm you, or intoxicate you is deemed none-Halal. Oh, and the proper term for "none-Halal" is Haraam, which you may come to conclude means "un-permissible" or "un-lawful". This, by no means, is the full explanation of Halal. You'd be better off checking one of these links.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Eco-Friendly Bags - a users guide

You have probably already seen that nearly every grocery or department store is offering eco-friendly bags made of recycled material, such as post-consumer plastics, or fabric. These bags can be rather stylish, and in many cases cost less than a dollar. The use of these bags is a good alternative to the use of plastic bags, which have been a heavy burden on the natural environment. Here are some of the facts about plastic bags:

  • Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute.
  • Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.
  • Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade— that means they don’t breakdown into harmless components, they just breakdown into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest.

Using high quality reusable bags for taking your groceries home has the potential for reducing thousands of plastic bags per household. These bags have become quite a fad in the current eco-chic era. The question is though, how committed are we to trying to make a difference rather than just making a fashion statement?
In many cases we tend to buy eco-friendly bags to tame our desire to be eco-conscious, and lead a green style of living, but we then forget to bring the bags along with us to the grocery store. We end up either using plastic bags, or even worse, buy a new eco-friendly bag. Now its probably a good idea to have a few eco-bags to hold all the groceries we have, but when we are buying them at the same rate as we would normally use plastic bags, then there is a problem. And here lies the flip side of using eco-friendly bags; they are only as useful as the number of times they replace plastic bags, and reduce the amount of waste we generate.

Don’t fret too much if you’ve forgotten your eco-bags and feel that it has to be one way or the other and give up on eco-bags. If you find that you’ve forgotten your bags and need to use plastic bags, you can take them to some of the large grocery stores, such as Loeb and Loblaws, where they have receptacles for recycling plastic grocery bags.
The underlying message should be that we should actually lead moderate lives and try not to accumulate too much stuff, thus generating a lot of waste. Buy what you need and suffice yourself with that. There is an old Arabic proverb that states: Contentedness is an everlasting treasure.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Beauty of the Reefs (NG Slideshow)

Lets try not to destroy these beautiful spots around the globe

"The seven heavens and the earth, and all beings therein, declare His glory: there is not a thing but celebrates His praise; And yet you understand not how they declare His glory! Verily He is Oft-Forbear, Most Forgiving!" Quran 17:44

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Where Do Your Gadgets Go?

A couple of entries ago I wrote about a then newly released eco-friendly MacBook Air for my fellow tech enthusiasts out there. The new MacBook Air, boasted a new standard of tech eco-friendliness beyond the energy-wise approach by building the MacBook Air with less toxic components, and reducing harmful chemicals.

Not that you are ready to throw out your brand new MacBook Air, but here's a quick slide show of what's happening with yesterday's nasty waste today.

“And do not cause ruin on the Earth after it has been ordered, but call on Him with fear and longing: for the Mercy of Allah is (always) near to those who do good. ” - Qura'an - Al-A'raaf 7:56

Monday, May 26, 2008

The reality of some "eco-friendly" alternative energy sources. A Muslim Perspective.

The problem we are facing regarding environmental challenges, such as climate change, is not solely the onset of such dramatic shifts in global trends, but is the ill-devised approach to dealing with these issues. Lets take the example of carbon dioxide emissions that have been linked to climate change and may very well be the amplifier of global warming. The approach that major stakeholders are taking doesn’t seem to be so much as a move to cleaner, more sustainable fuels than it is a move from oil-reliant technologies, and the reliance on foreign energy sources. This kind of mentality seems to be driven primarily by international politics and the fact that reliance upon international energy sources is not politically or economically stable. The question begs, why not resort to alternative fuels that will allow nations to be independent of one another? Well, with that kind of mentality driving innovation we may find ourselves falling backwards in our greenness and the greenness of our energy technologies, by resorting to less viable energy sources, that in fact can be even more harmful to human health and the environment either directly or indirectly. One very important concept to understand before we proceed is that we will not be running out of oil any time soon (just over 42 years - not a lot though). This may come as a shock, but it is true. What we will be running out of is economically viable sources of oil and other fossil fuels. What this means is that oil will still exist past the "oil crisis", but will not provide the desirable return on investment from extracting such fuels as oil, and tar sands. This concept is referred to as the EROI or Energy Return On Investment. In this case, investment not only means financial, but also energy investment. After all, as it costs money to make money, it costs energy to get energy. Lets start off with oil, which has an EROI of 1:20 globally. This means that for every unit of energy spent to extract crude oil, 20 units of energy are gained. This doesn’t seem too dire, but consider that it used to get 1:60 a couple of decades ago. With the current EROI of oil in mind, lets take a look at some of the alternatives to crude oil and how it measures up. Now, you will notice that I will not be discuss wind energy, or solar energy because neither technology is really being given much attention by the big energy companies who hold just short of a monopoly on the market. Because of that, advancement of these technologies is not moving at the speed that would be accomplished had there been a stronger focus on these truly renewable, sustainable, and unlimited sources of energy. As for some of these new technologies that are being labeled as “green”, “environmentally friendly”, or “Eco-conscious,” in fact still derive their energy from not so green sources, or non-viable environmental resources. Lets take ethanol for example, which is an extraction of corn through a distillation process. This fuel source has an EROI of close to 1:1, which is not at all viable. We’d be better off preserving the energy that goes into growing, farming, and cultivation, which by the way is done by machines that run dirty inefficient fossil fuels. In addition to the ill-planned "greenness" of ethanol production, cutting into food staple yields for fuel production creates a tight food budget, driving up food costs, and placing a greater demand on other grains. Not to mention that these grains are often transported long distances consuming energy in the process and affecting fuel prices, and the cycle goes on. But it's a cleaner fuel, well not really. First, as mentioned the processes that are in place to cultivate and produce ethanol are run on dirty fossil fuels. That combined with the fact that the EROI for ethanol is 1:1, not only have we NOT decreased the amount of green house gases, but we are doubling it with this process. Secondly, there is no infrastructure such as pipelines to transport ethanol, so it must be trucked around the country, in diesel operated trucks. I think the picture is clear there. Thirdly, what about the actual combustion of ethanol? Is it really cleaner? Well, No! Yes, the burning of ethanol produces less green house gases, but it also produces Volatile Organic Carbon (VOCs), and Nitrous Oxides (NOx). VOCs, like formaldehyde and acetic acid, both known carcinogens and menthol , a hazardous pollutant are released from ethanol. As for electric cars (not hybrids), this is truly an interesting case, since people tend to see them as pristine machines, that have zero emissions, which is true up until you reach the charging station, which derives its energy from coal and other fossil fuels. In the US, close to 50% of energy production is from coal burning plants. Coal as a source of energy in electrical power plants has been going on for a long time and is trying to be phased out, but because of its high EROI, which is about 1:80, there is such a strong inertia to give up such a highly polluting source of energy in favour of technologies, such as solar (EROI 1:20) or even things such ethanol (EROI; 1:~1). We are actually fall ing back in a carbon heavy energy consumption, after moving from coal to oil, then to natural gas, and ethanol, we are turning back to coal, and tar sands (EROI 1:3), which are very carbon heavy and very dirty, and greenhouse gas heavy polluters. The real solution to our environmental challenges is to focus on truly renewable sources of energy like wind, tides, and solar. We must also understand that we’ve allowed ourselves to dip into such a lazy, wasteful state of living that it will be close to impossible to sustain our way of living, and the mentality that “if I can afford it, its all good” because that will only drive us to be more greedy, and to struggle to upkeep this standard of living. If we looked at things such as our resources, food, water, energy, etc, as being a bounty and a blessing from Allah rather than some thing we have attained through hard work, we will have a more natural view of the world, where things have a nature beyond the dollar amounts we tag them with, and thus we may be more inclined to preserving this earth and the bounty herein for our children and grandchildren to come. References: http://www.eia.doe.gov/ http://www.theoildrum.com/ http://www.energycrisis.net/ASPO-USA/2005/http://auto.howstuffworks.com/ethanol-facts.htm http://www.cleanhouston.org/energy/features/ethanol.htm

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Our Garbage, and the amount of food we waste. Enough Said. Now Do something about it!

"And waste not by extravagance, Verily, Allah likes not those who waste" Qur'an Al-An'aam v:141.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Wireless Fridge: Refridgeration without Electricity

For hundreds of years a similar type of cooling has been employed by desert dwellers around the world. The concept is explained by a simple law of thermodynamics. When moisture comes in contact with dry air it evaporates. You see, water has this amazing characteristic of having a very high retention of heat (it is used in cooling nuclear reactors after all).

This ancient technology has been used for cooling water for hundreds of years. Mohammed Bah Abba took this idea one step further. By placing one pot inside another and filling the gap in between the two pots with moist sand he was able to create a refrigeration system that requires nothing more than a little bit of moisture.

The moist sand filling the gap between the two pots draws heat away from the inner pot and dissipates the heat through the evaporation of the moisture. The inner pot is filled with perishable foods that would normally last for mere days, but with this system can last for weeks.

Mohammed Bah Abba's invention awarded him the Rolex Award for Enterprise, and has been recognised as a very important contribution to societies with limited energy resources, or where energy costs are prohibitive. Many families no longer rely on their children to "rush sell" their food goods and can now sell when the demand arises due to the reduction of spoilage. Many children can now continue going to school because their families need less of their time to sell their produce.

Mohammed is a a lecturer at polytechnic college in Northern Nigeria, and comes from a family of pot makers. He drew on his childhood experience and invented his Pot-in-Pot cooling system in 1995 and received the Rolex Award in 2000. He has been recognised by the United Nations and has worked as a consultant with them.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Plant a tree for $5.50, & see it on Google Earth

This is one article from my blog. To see this and other articles click here!
If you are the kind of person who doesn't like to get outside too much, and abhors the idea of getting your hands dirty, but are still concerned with how little you are doing for the health and beauty of our planet, consider this. You can, for as little as $5.50, have someone plant a tree for you in Indonesia, and watch it grow.
The program offered at MyBabyTree.org allows you to simply and securely pay to have as many trees you as you want to be planted on your behalf. On top of that, you will receive a note indicating that you tree will be planted and the exact coordinates where it is located. Through integration with Google Earth you can then watch your trees progress, as well as receive information about the forest it is now a part of.
This is the response I received when I donated to have a tree planted in Borneo:
Alternatively, you can participate locally with you municipality or local organization when they go out to plant trees. Organizations in Ottaawa, such as Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, and even the City's Municipality offer programs for planting trees locally. Even MAC and MYO have organized programs to initiate tree planting in and arround Ottawa.
Besides, if you plant a tree locally, yourself, you get this personal connection to it, plus you can go out and give it a hug whenever you feel like it.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Snow in Saudi Arabia, Global Warming or Global Cooling? PART 2

For PART 1 and other articles click here!

Now that we've established the way the Earth works, and a bit about what climate is, we can now talk about the occurrence of snow in Saudi Arabia as one point of data that can contribute to the hypothesis of climate change.

As we've established that global climate is an average measure of temperature and precipitation, we can also interpret these abnormal conditions that we are seeing in Saudi Arabia.

The simplest explanation would be that the increased temperatures of the globe overall have increased the rates of evaporation of the Earth's water bodies. This increase in evaporation would cause increased moisture in the air. The added moisture coupled with the cold air, which is not unusual for Saudi Arabia this time of the year would produce SNOW! See how snow works.

In general there is another way of looking at the phenomenon of global warming, and that is as climate change. As mentioned in the previous article about snow in Saudi Arabia, the Earth is one system of climatic changes that over the bigger picture can be viewed as having a long time line of climate changes. What is happening in the world right now is that certain places are undergoing local climatic changes that are affecting the overall climate trend of the Earth. Places that are usually very cold are now not as cold, while places that used to be very hot are also less hot. But when trying to balance the changes in temperature in the colder regions of the world with the changes in the temperatures in the warmer parts of the world we find that there is still a positive gain. That is that even though some places are getting cooler the change in their temperature is smaller than the places that are getting warmer. For example:

Lets say that Saudi Arabia's average temperature in the winter is around 4 degrees. With the recent drop in temperature lets say that the average will now be 3.9 degrees (This is a serious exaggeration, not to mention the use of a single data point).

Here in Canada (Ontario) lets say the average January temperature is -14 degrees With the recent increase in temperature over the last couple of years it is now -13.5 (These are not real figures, and are used for explanation only)

If you do the math you find that the change in temperature in Saudi Arabia is -0.1 While the change in Ontario is +0.5. The net change being +0.4 degrees.

Now this is not really the case. The example I've used, if true, would cause a lot of problems in the world as we know it. I'm sure you've all heard of the worries of sea level rising, and polar bears becoming extinct. But be certain that if we don't heed these signs, we will be heading for something very serious. Take a look at some of NASA's videos on these factors.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Snow in Saudi Arabia - Global Warming, or Global Cooling? PART 1

This is one article from my blog. To see more articles on my full blog click here! For PART 2 and other related articles click here!

It has been a while since I’ve read an article that really surprised me with the amount of ignorance that spews out of some people. Newsbusters just published an article supposedly exposing the bias of climate change alarmists by not reporting on the “global cooling” that’s happening in Saudi Arabia. The recent snow fall and sub zero temperatures have disrupted the countries functioning in affected parts, and caused the death of two people. Besides the absurdity of the idea that “global” change of any sort is limited to a particular locale, in this case Saudi Arabia, these “liberal investigator” are absolutely ignorant of the way climate change works. This doesn’t really matter to them since the average person doesn’t know who climate change works either. So they don’t really need to understand anything beyond their own view point in order to propagate their anti-liberal slurs. (For the record I’m neither conservative nor liberal). That being said, the one thing that the “reporters” at Newsbusters were right about was that there was no reporting of the anomalies in Saudi Arabia’s weather by the North American News Media until a few days after. This is not to say that the “liberal media” is trying to hide the facts, but simply that the media in general is not a perfect entity in reporting on the happenings of the world. Before we start, I think we can safely establish that snow in Saudi Arabia doesn’t mean the entire world is going to freeze. No where in the hypothesis of climate change or global warming, or any science for that matter, do we rely on a single point of data for testing the truth of a phenomenon. To explain a bit about how Global Change happens we need to lay down some principals on how our world works. First of all, The source of the energy on Earth is oil, right? Wrong, the source of the Earth's energy is the Sun. The Sun's heat reaches the Earth driving the basic mechanism of converting this energy into organic life in plants, all the way to driving the movement of the ocean current and the atmospheric currents. Now, when the energy from the Sun reaches the Earth a large portion is reflected back to outer space and a portion is absorbed by the atmosphere. The Heat that does reach the Earth's surface is absorbed during the day and is re-emitted into the atmosphere over night (and is why it is cooler at night). As you may know the gases that make up the atmosphere are responsible for retaining some of this heat so that the ambient temperatures are tolerable for life (otherwise it would be too cold to live on Earth, like Mars). videoCredit: NASA Secondly, the atmosphere is contiguous. That means that all geographic parts of the atmosphere are connected and are dynamic in their interactions with each other. In other words it’s all one bunch of air that moves around depending on the over all climate, and the weather at the time. It’s important to clarify that climate and weather are too different things. Climate is the average temperature and precipitation of a particular part of the world all year round for many years. While weather, on the other hand is a short snap shot of the temperature that occurs in a day or a few days, in a small area of the globe. So when we talk about global warming, we are referring to the global climate, since you can’t have a one uniform weather condition all around the world for an extended period of many years (at least not yet). What you can observe is a global climate; an average of temperature and precipitation over a long period of time all around the world. This is what we refer to when we talk about climate. Thirdly, there are dynamic mechanisms in the oceans that play an important role in maintaining the global climate. These mechanisms can be offset using the right magnitude of change. What is known as the Oceanic Conveyor Belt, is driven by salinity changes in the oceans' waters, as well as temperature gradients. These current distribute heat to different parts of the world. videoCredit: NASA To be continued...(coming next how climate change works, and how snow in Saudi Arabia can be reason for concern)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Environmentally Elegent Tech - A Greener Apple

This is one article from my blog. To see this and other articles please click here! The new MacBook Air has a few environmental tricks up it's very slim sleeve. I know I haven't spoken, on this blog, about tech from an environmental point of view. But it should be know that I am a gizmofreak. Steve Jobs Keynote at macWorld 2008 just ended with some awesome news for environmentally minded technofreaks. To begin you need to know a bit of background about the hazards of technology. No, I don't mean the dangers of using your cellphone while driving. I'm talking about the environmental hazards that are associated with the components of the various electronic equipment and gadgets that we use on a daily basis. Besides the space that all these gadgets (and their packaging) take up in landfills and garbage dumps, there are a plethora of chemical hazards to be concerned about. For instance, some materials that go into the making of electronics, and pose a major environmental hazardous are as follows: Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Copper, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, Zinc, PCVs and PCBs. Some may argue that these materials are extracted from the environment in the first place, so why are they hazardous when we dump it back in? It has to do with the form in which they are present. Most of these chemicals are trapped in rocks and in a different chemical form that is not harmful to the environment or human health. Once we extract these chemicals and process them they become highly toxic to wildlife and humans. Once our 20inch CRT monitors, and our once latest-cellphone-on-the-market are no longer our favorite possession, and are condemned to the junk pile these chemicals begin to leach out of the electronics. Everything from the plastic casing and glass, to the circuit boards contain these chemicals. Some leach at a higher rate than others, but the end result is the same. These chemicals are leached into soils, water reservoirs; taken up by wildlife, plants; biomagnified through the food web, and then bioaccumulated into our diets. It's not a pretty sight. But it's not all gloom and doom just yet. We can still do things about it. There are a number of e-waste recycling programs where they will reuse certain components of your discarded electronics and safely dispose of other parts. The other option is to opt for an environmentally sound piece of beautiful engineering in the hottest outfit in town. Here I'll let you know about some of the outstanding features of the MacBook Air. A totally wireless laptop in Mac's line of outstanding laptops. By totally wireless, I mean totally wireless including the use of optical drive through remote drive. It also boasts, and I mean boasts in every sense of the word, to be the thinnest laptop ever made. Compared to the previous title holder the Sony TZ series, which is between 0.8 inches at the front to 1.2 inches at the hinge. The MacBook Air, current title holder, measures in at a phenomenal 0.16 inches to 0.76 inches The thickest point being thinner than the thinnest point of the competition. Here's where this Apple turns its greenest. The aluminum casing is fully recyclable. This is great because the aluminum we get comes from tropical soils, and is becoming scarce. It is also "the first" to use a mercury-free LCD display with arsenic free-glass. The circuit boards are BFR- and PVC-free. To top it off, and intuitively so, the packaging uses 56% less materials than their sister macbook products. Now that's a piece of hardware I'd gladly carry around with a happy environmental conscience. But a sore pocket at $1,799US. Check out the MacWorld website for more details about the MacBook Air. Keep the peace, Photos are form http://live.gizmodo.com/