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April 1 - April 30, 2021
Anahita Rao's avatar

Anahita Rao

ZAKOI

Points Total

  • 0 Today
  • 0 This Week
  • 226 Total

Participant Impact

  • up to
    205
    minutes
    spent exercising
  • up to
    30
    minutes
    spent learning

Anahita's Actions

Transportation

Go for a Daily Walk

Walkable Cities

I will take a walk for 30 minutes each day and take note of the infrastructure that makes walking more or less enjoyable, accessible, and possible.

COMPLETED 4
DAILY ACTIONS

Coastal, Ocean, and Engineered Sinks

Smart Seafood Choices

Ocean Farming

I will visit seafoodwatch.org or download the app and commit to making better seafood choices for a healthier ocean.

Completed
One-Time Action

Coastal, Ocean, and Engineered Sinks

Learn about Biochar

Biochar Production

I will spend 60 minute(s) learning about biochar and how it can help sequester carbon.

Completed
One-Time Action

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  • Reflection Question
    Transportation Go for a Daily Walk
    What have you noticed on your daily walks? What have you enjoyed? What infrastructure changes could make your walks more enjoyable or possible?

    Anahita Rao's avatar
    Anahita Rao 4/08/2021 2:46 PM
    I enjoyed nature's beauty and the fresh air on my walk. I would like to see more walking trails in the city areas if you want to go walking to the store for small items so you don't have to drive your car.
  • Reflection Question
    Coastal, Ocean, and Engineered Sinks Learn about Biochar
    Can biochar provide additional benefits besides sequestering carbon?

    Anahita Rao's avatar
    Anahita Rao 4/08/2021 1:00 PM
    In Amazonia, a great agricultural civilization fertilized poor forest soils with terra preta, the first biochar, to feed tens of thousands of people.

    Today, we are rediscovering the value of biochar as the world staggers under climate change, environmental degradation and human poverty.
    Biochar is a super charcoal made by heating any biomass – for example, corncob, husk or stalk, potato or soy hay, rice or wheat straw – without oxygen. All of the cellulose, lignin and other, non-carbon materials gasify and are burned away. What remains is pure carbon – 40% of the carbon originally contained in the biomass.
    Climate change is threatening food security around the world. When farmers use Biochar as a soil amendment they will benefit from:

    • Bigger yields   • Healthier soil   • Lower acidity   • Better water retention 
    • Stronger plants   • Richer soil life   • Less contamination   • Higher fertility 
     • Promotes seed germination 

    ​Biochar seems to have no end of uses that derive from a handful of key characteristics.


    Tiny holes, huge surface area – retaining water for a dry day

    If you look at biochar under an electron microscope, you see an extraordinary moonscape of holes upon holes. What’s this mean? Biochar is an amazing sponge that will hold (absorb) huge amounts of water. All those little holes also provide very convenient condos for soil microbes; we’ll revisit this below.


    pH of 8 – unlocking even poor soil’s nutrients

    Plants like soil that has a nice, neutral pH of say 6.5 to 7, but most soils in the developing world are acid to very acid – 4 to 5.5. In soils this acidic, most plants cannot take up nutrients, even if they are present in the soil. Stick some biochar in this soil, however, and you can push the pH as much as a whole point higher. As the pH rises, more and more nutrients become available to crops.

    Electrically charged surface – very attractive to chemicals

    Biochar is attractive to chemicals of all types. Stick a bit of pure carbon biochar in the soil and six months later it is covered with scales of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and sulphur. It’s become a little mineral ball. Sprinkle fertilizer on the soil and instead of seeing 50% of it leach away with the rain, that fertilizer, too, will glom onto the biochar, providing long-lasting, slow-release nutrition. Stick biochar in a heavy metal contaminated field and soon the cadmium, lead or mercury are chemically bound to it (adsorbed) where plants can no longer take them up and water can no longer wash them away.


    Bug friendly – encouraging soil life

    Plants can’t eat their elements raw. No matter how much they need nitrogen, they can’t just suck it up; they need microbes to digest it first and pee it out as nitrates or nitrites. If you look at the root systems of plants, you find all sorts of similar, collaborative relationships. To put it differently, if you don’t see such relationships, chances are, you can’t grow anything.
    Biochar production is a simple process that anyone can do. Warm Heart has designed cheap and easy methods for converting biomass waste into biochar. The simplest and cheapest method is to dig a hole in the ground. You can also build a cheap biochar oven using an old oil drum, or build a trough.

    Whichever method is used, the process is the same, biomass is burned with a lack of oxygen, turning the biomass in biochar, smoke free.


    Benefits of making Biochar

    If you live in the developed world, field fires are a thing of the past. If you live in the developing world, smoke from agricultural field fires can obscure the sun for days.

    Field fires are often smoky, slow smolders burning the residue of crops containing fertilizers fortified with nitrogen and sulphur. These generate large quantities of greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as methane and the NOxs (nitrous oxides) that are many times more warming than CO2. (Methane has a global warming potential (GWP) of 25, NOx 298!)

    They also produce large quantities of smog precursors such as ammonia and the SOx (sulphur oxides) that react with sunlight to form smog. Finally, that smoke that blocks the sun is PM2.5 – particulate matter so small that it passes through the walls of the lungs into the bloodstream to wreak havoc throughout the body.









  • Anahita Rao's avatar
    Anahita Rao 4/08/2021 12:54 PM
    Five ways to ensure the fish you eat is healthy for you and for the environment.
    We hear a lot about what's wrong with the seafood industry these days. Our oceans are polluted and acidifying, affecting fish in ways that we're still learning about. Thanks to the prevalence of overfishing, one-third of global fish populations are overexploited and dangerously depleted. Meanwhile, mercury levels in fish are extremely high—and getting higher—due in large part to all the coal we burn.
    But there’s good news, too. As the sustainable-food movement flourishes, consumers are developing a keener awareness of the fish they eat and demanding more information about its origins—and its hazards. Here are six important things to consider when shopping for seafood.


    Think small.
    Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that can disrupt brain function and harm the nervous system. It’s especially threatening to pregnant women and young children. As a general rule, smaller fish—think squid, scallops, sardines—contain less mercury than larger varieties like tuna and swordfish, which are higher up the food chain.
    Why's that? Because when bigger fish eat smaller ones, the predators also absorb their prey's contamination in a process known as biomagnification. So when a tuna eats a bunch of anchovies, the tuna is accumulating the mercury of those anchovies into its own body.


         
    This handy chart helps you figure out which fish are safer to eat than others when it comes to avoiding mercury.


        LEAST MERCURYMODERATE MERCURYHIGH MERCURYHIGHEST MERCURY

    Enjoy these fish | Eat six servings or less per month | Eat three servings or less per month |    Avoid eating
    Anchovies              Bass (Saltwater, Striped, Black)                Croaker (White Pacific)                                          Bluefish
    Butterfish                Buffalofish                                                       Halibut (Atlantic, Pacific)                                    Grouper
    Catfish                        Carp                                                                Mackerel (Spanish, Gulf)                                   Mackere(King)




    • Fred Desai's avatar
      Fred Desai 4/12/2021 12:01 AM
      There is a documentary movie on Netflix called “seaspiracy” which we were told is enlightening. Bakhtavar and I r planning to watch it soon. 
  • Reflection Question
    Coastal, Ocean, and Engineered Sinks Smart Seafood Choices
    Many states and countries have advisories on eating fish. Find out what is advised for your region. Do you think your diet choices fall within these guidelines? What steps do you need to take to make sure that they do?

    Anahita Rao's avatar
    Anahita Rao 4/04/2021 2:20 PM
    Many of the fish we enjoy are in trouble due to destructive fishing and farming practices.
    You can make a difference for our ocean by making responsible seafood choices.
    The way some seafood products are caught or farmed can harm the ocean — both wildlife and the ecosystems they call home. Choosing sustainable seafood items can protect our ocean and ensure a healthy supply of seafood into the future.
    Around the globe, 3 billion people get a significant amount of their protein from seafood. This demand continues to grow each year. To meet this demand, people are harvesting more seafood — often in ways that deplete natural populations, damage sensitive habitats and pollute our ocean waters.
    Farming seafood — known as aquaculture — can help reduce the pressure on wild fish stocks. In fact, more than 50 percent of the seafood we eat today is farmed. As the global human population grows, this number will continue to increase. But seafood is not always farmed in a responsible way, and these operations can damage the environment. Sustainable fishing and farming practices can meet the growing demand for seafood today while preserving our ocean resources for tomorrow.

    One of the biggest threats to our ocean is overfishing — catching too many fish, too fast for the population to recover. As a result, some fish stocks crash. Ninety percent of fish populations are currently fished at, or beyond, their sustainable limits.
    Fishermen feel the brunt of overfishing too. When populations collapse, fishermen can lose out on critical income. Strong management regulates catch so that fisheries remain healthy and thriving. Sustainable fishing practices protect the long-term health of the ocean — and the coastal communities that depend on it


  • Anahita Rao's avatar
    Anahita Rao 4/04/2021 1:58 PM
    Global warming and associated climate change are becoming a threat to almost all the ecosystems on the earth.
    Climate change is affecting food security and human life due to warming, changing precipitation patterns, and the greater frequency of some extreme events. The main cause of global warming is the continuous increase in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) like CO2, CH4, N2O and fluorinated gases due to several anthropogenic activities. Therefore, reducing the increasing concentration of GHG is necessary to slow down global warming and climate change. Among several options of greenhouse mitigation, application of biochar into the soil is gaining popularity due to several advantages over other options. Biochar is a highly stable form of carbon derived from pyrolysis of biomass at relatively low temperatures. Application of biochar into the soil has been reported to provide multiple benefits like increase in crop yield, nutrient and water use efficiency and several environmental benefits. Recalcitrant nature, relatively higher carbon content and easily available feedstock make biochar a highly sustainable and quick option for carbon sequestration into the soil. Biochar application into the soil not only helps in carbon sequestration but also provides a better option for managing agricultural residues. The application of biochar has also reported for reducing a considerable amount of methane and nitrous oxide emission from the agricultural field due to its priming effect on the soil. Biochar yield, physical properties, and carbon content varies with the type of feedstock and pyrolysis condition. Therefore, the rate of carbon sequestration and mitigation of greenhouse gas is also highly variable, however, the biochar application ultimately leads to a positive contribution towards climate change mitigation. However, most of the reported benefits are confined to laboratory and field trial at institute level, widespread adoption of biochar on farmer’s field is still lacking.