Gobar Times

Shoes for a cause - October 15 2010

Shoes for a cause

The government of Himachal Pradesh is planning to ban leather shoes in schools. Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal is preparing to send an advisory to school principals. If the response is positive, the government would kickstart the programme soon. The idea has already found favour with Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) boards. Dhumal proposes to introduce canvas shoes instead of the commonly used leather shoes, which are an environmental hazard.

Besides the large number of cattle that are used as raw material by the leather industry, the manufacturing process itself leaves a huge impact on environment. It’s processing employs fungicides, volatile organic solvents, various oils and cyanide based dyes and coal-tar derivatives. During the tanning process, a lot of salts, lime sludge and acids are released which also leave a murky trail.

In search of 'Green'

Blackle is a search engine created by Toby Heap, owner of Heap Media Australia. Although Blackle looks more or less like Google, there is one feature which strikes out, and that is its pitch black back ground. It uses gray and white fonts. The idea behind the black display is that, darker colours on monitors consume less energy as compared to a colourful one like Google. It has saved over 2,000,000 Watt hours since its launch in 2007, claim its creators.

However, this is a highly debatable issue. Some say that a black background actually uses more energy. Others believe that only tube-based Cathode-ray Tube (CRT) monitors show significant difference between the energy consumption of Google and Blackle, the difference is miniscule in Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) monitors.

An Australian tech-journalist Darren Yates said, that even with a CRT monitor, the drop in power consumption through Blackle was a negligible seven watts. Some of the other ‘green’ search engines which claim low energy use are Ecocho, Green Maven, Eco-find and Searchgreener.

Dead sea

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is still dominating the headlines.While the beleagured British Petroleum is struggling to seal the leak, there is something else along with the oil that seems to be spreading – a dead zone.

When nitrogen and phosphorus from farm chemicals are washed into the sea, they boost algal growth. When these algae die, they sink to the ocean bed and use oxygen to decompose, – causing oxygen depletion. As a result, organisms that live at the bottom of the ocean die, creating what is known as the dead zone. Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone is believed to be aggravated by the oil spill – as bacteria that break down the oil also consume oxygen.

Re-inventing the wheel

Cycling uphill has always seemed like a daunting task, right? Not anymore! The ‘Copenhagen Wheel’ developed by researchers in the Massa chusetts Institute of Technology stores the peddler’s energy every time he or she brakes, and then uses it to provide a boost while cycling uphill. According to Carlo Ratti, Project Director, the technology employed in the wheel is somewhat like the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, which performs this whole process of conversion.

Of course, the primary objective is to make it easier for the cyclist to ride,  especially uphill. But it gets better. If a iPhone is attached to the bike with a Bluetooth connec - tion, you can monitor the bike’s speed, direction, and the distance travelled. It also helps in checking air pollution levels!

But what if the bike gets stolen? The Wheel has a smart lock – if someone tries to steal it, the bike goes into a mode where the brake generates the maximum amount of power, and sends a text message to the owner. Nifty, right?

The bicycle has been hailed as the one of the best inventions of 2010, and its snazzy and ultra modern look only adds to the charm.


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Shoes for a cause