Wednesday, March 01, 2006

You can make a difference - Tip 1

My friend S. has started a really cool thing. She has noticed (rightly so) that we do not do enough to help protect our environment. This is not news, but we all know the UAE is not an environmentaly-friendly place, what with all the building construction, car fumes, destroying natural habitats in order to build islands in the middle of the sea, etc.

She also realized that not everyone has the time, energy or passion to go out there and become an environmentaly-friendly activist....but that we can still all make a difference, no matter how small it is.

So, once a month, all of S.'s friends (including yours truly) get a newsletter highlighting a small tip that we can all apply in our daily lives. And I decided to share S.'s tips with you (S. I hope you don't mind!), because I think that although we might already know about some of the facts she states, it can't hurt to think about them again, and realise that each and every one of us can, in fact, make a difference.

So here is the first "You can make a difference" tip:

  • When shaving or brushing your teeth, if the water is running: 15 litres get wasted for the teeth (10 bottles of water).
  • Another 40 litres for shaving (26 bottles)
  • A little math: 5L per min of running water. If it takes 3 min to brush, twice a day, every day for one year only, that's 10 950 litres - 7 300 bottles. For teeth only. ONE person.
  • If the tap is dripping at the rate of one drop per second, expect to waste 10 220 liters of water per year. time you brush your teeth or shave, make sure you turn the water off. And make sure that tap is not dripping!

Oh and S., happy early birthday! Have fun tomorrow!


This article was published in today's (March 5th) Emirates Today. It's as if they read my comment about Nakheel's PR publicising their efforts to maintain and improve marine life!

Development giant Nakheel is to employ Japanese technology in an attempt to enhance the marine environment near its man-made islands in Dubai.

Abdul Rahman Kalantar, General Manager of Nakheel Planning, Infrastructure and Utilities Division, announced the venture after a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Taisei Corporation.

“Introducing seagrass plantation technologies can further enhance [marine life near the Palm Jebel Ali], providing a rich ecological marine environment in which fish and other sea life can thrive,” Kalantar said.

Seagrass is a crucial nursery for young fish and provides shelter to smaller marine organisms. It is also the primary source of food for the dugong, an endangered marine mammal that is known to inhabit UAE waters.

The marine system is vulnerable to changes in its environment, particularly when the amount of sunlight that reaches the sub-surface vegetation is reduced by sediment and dredging, as has been seen around the island projects.

The Japanese company and Nakheel will study suitable locations for transplantation trials on the sea floor around The Palm Jebel Ali. A similar project has already been undertaken at The Palm Jumeirah, which is reportedly doing well.

“Before The Palm Jumeirah site was developed, there were virtually no signs of life – 95 per cent of the grid survey points during the ecological investigations fell on bare sand or mud. Currently, abundant life is generating as a result of our marine projects,” Kalantar said.

However, Environmentalists have taken exception to Nakheel’s claims that its islands were built in previously bare areas.

“The Palm Jebel Ali... was built on a marine reserve that had some of the most diverse coral in the entire Gulf region,” said Dr Aaron Bartholomew, a marine biologist at the American University of Sharjah.“Nothing artificial can compare to what was lost. It is a drop in the bucket,” he added.


Geo said...

Greetings Dubai Sunshine. Just been reading your post on Emirates Today (page 4, Fri, 3rd March 2006) and about your friend S's fantastic revelation that we should do more to protect our environment.

While I support your ideas for reducing waste and resources conservation (are we all shutting off the water while we brush our teeth and shave?)... I know enough to say that your statement about "destroying natural habitats in order to build islands in the middle of the sea" is based on common false perception, little substance and zero research.

Ask the local fishermen how barren was the sea bed across much of the Dubai coastline before The Palm developments? Check out the fishery studies, which have been showing steadily declining fish populations during the decades preceding The Palms and well before the first grain of sediment was moved to reclaim any new coastal land space.

The brains of Dubai are causing a great vision to materialize: 65km of original coastline is being extended to over 200 times that amount to bring foreign investment into this city to help make Dubai a better place... but our opinions are being shaped not by factual data, but by press articles trying to start controversy that are inadequately researched, at best... (Hey! who cares ... controversy gets readers and having more readers let's the newspaper sell more advertising space).

How many of your good blog visitors realise that the 10s (and ultimately 100s) of kilometres of natural rock that is being submerged and used to create the protective breakwalls for these island developments are actually new eco-habitats that are beginning to attract fishes, corals and other sea life. Maybe some temporary disruption will occur - but for the first time in decades fish stocks are actually increasing. Didn't you read about how Taisei (who are building the tunnel between the fronds and crescent at Palm Jumeirah rescued over 2000 fish of varying species?

Hmmm! .... doesn't sound like "destroying natural habitats" to me. Try using the terms: "ecosystem encouragement", "increased sustainability" and "habitat creation".

Dubai Sunshine said...

Thanks for the comment Geo. You obviously know much more about the subject than I do.

You are right, I do get my information from newspapers, but if what these newspapers are saying isn't true, and if their only objective is to stir controversy, then why doesn't a company like Nakheel (who I am sure can afford a good PR agency) step forward and deny those claims, and better yet, prove them wrong? I am sure the newspapers would publish that as well

Anonymous said...

Hey Geo,

How much did Nakheel pay you to say that?

Nakheel OFF!

Geo said...

DS - You make an excellent point about the PR agency. Don't know the answer to that one. What I do know is that Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Reuters and CNN have all done in depth documentaries on these Dubai projects - some of them presented underwater footage of the new environmental conditions... I didn't see the shows myself, but the reports I got from people who did see them indicated positive signs of environmental recovery. I guess this is PR in itself.

As for the comment made by "Anonymous" - how can a person test themselves to be sure they're not a brainwashee?

I am not a fan of property development companies. There's a lot the industry could do to improve safety and their image with respect to the environment, but the local developer named by "Anonymous" didn't invent land reclamation, nor do they hold a monopoly on the method. There are many others doing similar work all along the Gulf coastline, as well as other coastlines around the globe... but just like anything - there's the right way and the wrong way to do it!

As for the local developer - all I'm saying is there are more seagrasses and more fish coming to Dubai to set up house close to and within these reclaimed land masses - which leads me to the conclusion that things may actually be better than we think.

So "Anonymous" don't get me wrong - I'm not blaming you, but try to think for a moment: we can't stop development, but perfect 100% sustainability is also currently an ideal concept. What we can all realistically do however, is to take little steps to improve this place's overall sustainability, which I think is what Dubai Sunshine's intention was really about.

If we all went to Google and ran a search for: Reducing Waste - then we started to try out one new idea and got a new friend on board every week - how much smaller would our city's eco-footprint be by New Year's Eve?

…and Hey! If we get really good at this maybe we might even all deserve a name?