Finding Value in Waste

first_imgThere’s something beautiful about transforming disgusting castoffs into products that are useful, valuable, and healthful.Thank goodness we are disgusted by human waste. Have you ever thought about that? The disgust response keeps us from approaching it as something interesting or valuable, which could pose a severe threat to one’s health. We flush it away, eager to get it off our mind as we enjoy the relief of satisfying nature’s call. But to plants, animal waste is just what they need and want: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium. Plants also flourish with the carbon dioxide we exhale. Conversely, plant waste (namely oxygen), shed as a waste product of photosynthesis, gives the vital breath of life to our bodies. It’s all a matter of perspective. Human waste is just chemistry, after all; and it stores not only elements vital to plants, but a great deal of stored energy. Now, scientists are tapping into the potential in the smelly crap and pee that kids laugh about.An interesting video on this was posted by Live Science. In “Pee to Feed the World,” UC Berkeley engineer William Tarpeh describes a device he has built to turn urine into fertilizer. Out of his concern of the millions of third-world people without access to toilets, he “reimagines” the untapped potential of urine to fertilize crops. The sale of fertilizer and the increase in food production, in turn, can provide funds to manufacture more toilets. Who would have thought that something we hasten to flush and forget could improve the health and prosperity of masses of people living in poverty and squalor?But what about that smelly crap that is the bane of diaper-changing parents? What could possibly come from something so disgusting? Glad you asked. Now read Sid Perkins’ short article in Science News, “Human feces from the developing world could power millions of homes.” Sid, you’ve got to be kidding! He’s not. There is so much energy in fecal matter, it could lift the third world out of poverty, if it could be re-imagined (sans odor) into usable forms. Remember how pioneers gathered cow patties for their campfires?  Remember those who mined bat guano for fertilizer? The factoids in this article are stunning:Almost a billion people in the developing world have no access to toilets and defecate outdoors (such as these children in Bangladesh). But that waste shouldn’t go to waste, a new study argues: Rather than tainting the environment and transmitting disease, it could actually be harnessed to heat or power millions of homes. If all the openly defecated human waste were instead deposited in latrines—and the sludge were then collected and heated in kilns at temperatures exceeding 300°C (572°F) to produce charcoal-like briquettes—it would yield up to 8.5 million tons of charcoal, according to a report released today by the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health. (Those poop briquettes have the same energy content, pound for pound, as coal, the researchers note.) Plus, if openly defecated waste were instead deposited in latrines and then fermented with methane-producing microbes in large tanks, the gas thus produced would be worth as much as $376 million and could be used to generate enough electricity to power an estimated 18 million households.Systems to treat the waste could pay for themselves in a couple of years, the article says.Friday November 19th is “World Toilet Day,” in case you want to plan your party. (Don’t be a party pooper, now.) Actually, it’s no laughing matter. The clean restrooms Americans and westerners take for granted are lacking in most of the world. That video on Live Science mentioned above begins with sad images of children living in squalor, where people relieve themselves outdoors and lack access to basic hygiene. Yet the very substances they eliminate daily, if harnessed intelligently, could lift them out of poverty and improve their lives. What a thought!It’s a dramatic discovery that motivates some scientists and engineers to find ways to turn waste into value. It’s driving Francis de los Reyes, an environmental engineer at NC State University, to go beyond building toilets, PhysOrg says. He wants to find ways to process human waste into useful energy and fertilizer in a sustainable way. If he and his students succeed, the dismal pictures of frowning children, sick and starving, could some day turn into images of smiling, healthy, well-fed bundles of joy, eager to fulfill their potential.Update 11/25/15: The Burlington Free Press posted a headline, “Pioneers of ‘pee-cycling’ tout urine’s value.” Now there’s a switch; something we hasten to flush out of sight has value? Yes; a lot of nitrogen and phosphorus that agriculture can use. “The phosphorus and nitrogen contained in an average adult’s daily urine output is enough to fertilize the production of a loaf of wheat bread,” a researcher says. It performs just as well as costly commercial fertilizer. If people can adjust their attitudes about this, we can expect to see new model toilets that can collect urine separately from feces, and actually collect both for processing and re-use. “Pee from healthy adults is virtually pathogen-free. It contains very few heavy metals. It’s relatively safe to handle, even by amateurs.”To the Christian, “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with thanksgiving” (I Timothy 4:4). Some things like good food are to be enjoyed with pleasure; other things are to be disposed of properly. We shouldn’t think of human waste as evil, but as something to be managed with care and good stewardship. Presumably Adam and Eve were taught, or knew instinctively, how to eliminate waste properly. God commanded Moses to keep a clean encampment when the army was out on the field (Deuteronomy 23:13); each soldier was to bury his waste.  Our Creator equipped us with the disgust response for our good. Some animals are not disgusted as humans are; rabbits will take a second pass sometimes on the pellets they cast off, and dogs return to their vomit, but it is normal and appropriate for humans to strive for bodily cleanliness.The Lord has also given the human mind the creativity to turn castoffs into useful things. This is a great example. We wish the best for the scientists and engineers seeking to fulfill the lofty goal of helping third-world populations use their own waste as a resource to grow crops, heat their homes and gain prosperity in a clean, healthy environment. Finally, here is one positive thing the UN is involved in. Happy toilet day!(Visited 35 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

OSHA Announces New Silica Rules

first_imgLabor unions applaud the changesThe AFL-CIO and the Building Trades Union, on the other hand, welcomed the changes. OSHA estimates that 2.3 million U.S. workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica on the job, including 2 million construction workers and another 300,000 who work in brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing.OSHA says that most employers will be able to limit exposure to dust by using widely available equipment that uses water to prevent dust from becoming airborne or ventilation equipment to capture it. The agency also said that it made a number of revisions in the proposed regulation that lessened the burden on employers. The final rule requires employers to:Provide engineering controls (such as ventilation or water) and adopt work practices to limit exposure.Provide respiratory protection when controls are not capable of limiting exposures to permissible levels.Limit access to areas where exposure to dust is likely to be high.Train workers and provide medical exams to workers who are exposed to high levels of dust.OSHA added that “a table of specified controls” is included in the rule to make it easier for construction employers, especially small employers, to comply with the regulations without having to monitor exposures. This information is contained in what OSHA calls Table 1 in the final rule. For example, when the employee is using a stationary masonry saw with an integrated system that continuously feeds water to the blade (such as a wet saw for tile), no required respiratory protection is required. The rule also spells out requirements for workers using handheld saws to cut fiber-cement board, walk-behind saws, and a variety of other tools and equipment.OSHA spokesman Brian Hawthorne said that the agency heard employers “loud and clear” when they said that they wanted an uncomplicated means of compliance, so OSHA compiled a list of common tasks and how workers should be protected. That list became Table 1.Hawthorne also encouraged employers to contact their local OSHA offices, where they would find staffers “briefed and available” to help them be ready when the rule takes effect in June 2017. The Department of Labor has released long-awaited revisions to rules on worker exposure to silica dust, cutting permissible exposure for millions of workers and setting new requirements for employers.Allowable exposure to silica dust in the construction industry will drop from 250 micrograms per cubic meter to 50 micrograms, averaged over an eight-hour period — a reduction of 80%. The final rule comes in two parts: one for the construction industry, which takes effect on June 23, 2017, and another for general and maritime industries, which kicks in the following year.In addition to limiting exposure to dust, employers will also be required to provide medical exams once every three years for some workers, and to keep records of instances in which workers are exposed to silica.The revisions have been years in the making. Silica dust, which can scar lungs and cause diseases such as silicosis and cancer, is produced in a variety of ways in the construction industry — by workers cutting stone and masonry products, for example, and by those working in some manufacturing jobs that use sand, a National Public Radio report said.More than 2 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to silica dust, and Labor Secretary Tom Perez told NPR that scientists have known for decades that rules established in the early 1970s were too lax.“We’ve known for over 40 years that it needed to be strengthened, and it has taken 40 years to strengthen it,” Perez told NPR of the exposure limit. “Many people who are going to work right now and breathing unacceptable levels of silica dust are in for a brighter future.” The construction industry has opposed changesConstruction trade groups have lobbied against tighter regulations, arguing that OSHA should do a better job of enforcing existing limits rather than put new ones into place. A consortium of trade groups called the Construction Industry Safety Coalition — which includes Associated General Contractors of America, the National Association of Home Builders, and some 20 other groups — claimed that OSHA’s planned revisions would cost the industry billions of dollars more than government estimates.The group said that compliance with the 250-microgram limit would cost $4.9 billion per year, 10 times what OSHA was estimating. In addition, it said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a 93% drop in silica-related deaths between 1968 and 2007, suggesting that new limits weren’t really necessary.In a letter to the Labor Department last year, the group also said that the proposed regulations would reduce the number of jobs in the U.S. by more than 52,700, including 20,800 in construction jobs and another 12,180 in industries that supply materials, products, or services to the construction industry.“Our initial reaction is that this appears to be a lost opportunity to improve workplace health and safety,” Brian Turmail of Associated General Contractors told the website ConstructionDive. “Instead of crafting new and innovative ways to get more firms to comply with the current silica standard, which we know would save even more workers each year, administration officials have instead opted to set a new standard that is well beyond the capabilities of all current air filtration and dust removal technologies.”He also warned that new rules could cause construction delays and and increase construction costs “significantly.”last_img read more

The Audio Ramp-Up: The Best Transition You Should Be Using

first_imgInterested in the track we used to make this video: “Lifetime Travels” by CymatixLooking for more video tutorials? Check these out.Get Better Results Using LUTs with Lumetri Color in Premiere Pro5 Things Every Filmmaker Should Know Before Making a Feature FilmVideo Tutorial: How to Morph Graphics Using Adobe After EffectsVideo Editing 101: Using The J, K, and L Key Editing ShortcutsHow to Create an Animated Circle Burst in Adobe After Effects Sometimes, your project needs more than a simple cut, but a flashy transition is too much. Enter the audio ramp-up transition.This is by far one of my favorite transition processes, and it has nothing to do with the visuals. It’s super powerful, and the best part is that hardly anyone uses it in short-form content.So here’s one way to improve your transitions without using snappy video plugins — the audio ramp-up. How to Use the Audio Ramp-Up TransitionFirst, find the clip you want to transition from. Then layer either a sound effect, foley element, or song below it.Next, set your audio level to how you want it throughout your clip — not too loud, not too quiet. Make sure that audio track ends right at the tail of your transitioning clip.Finally (the most critical part) ramp up the volume in your selected audio track so it becomes more prominent than any ambient sound. Do this by selecting the Pen Tool and creating a keyframe marker about six seconds before the end of your shot. Create a second keyframe marker at the end of your audio track — only this time, raise it so that it becomes very noticeable. You don’t want it to be overpowering, but you do want it to be clear in the final cut.When your audience watches playback, this effect will create a sort of jarring cut, lending a unique feeling to both scenes.And if you’d like to try a slightly different approach, check this tutorial on transitioning with audio swells.last_img read more

CWG 2014: Boxer Pinki Rani wins women’s 48-51kg bronze

first_imgPinki Jangra brought home India’s first boxing medal from the 2014 Commonwealth Games though she lost her women’s 48-51 kg semi-final bout and had to settle for the bronze at the SECC Hall in Glasgow on Friday.The Haryana pugilist gave a tough fight to Michaela Walsh but the Northern Ireland woman’s height and better reach helped her win all the four rounds of two minutes each.While Judge A gave both the boxers a total of 38 points from the available 40, Judge B gave Michaela a perfect 40, four more than Pinki. Judge C too ruled in favour of Michaela, awarding her 39 points to Pinki’s 37.Pinki made it to the Commonwealth Games after knocking out Olympic bronze medallist Mary Kom in the qualifiers held in India.L. Sarita Devi, Devendro Singh, Mandeep Jangra and Vijender Singh will fight in their respective semi-final bouts later in the day.last_img read more

6 fascinating lessons for us from the campaign trail

first_imgI recently read a very interesting article from The New York Times about how social science and behavioral economics was used to get out the vote. The article, “Academic Dream Team Helped Obama’s Effort,” details how experts like Robert Cialdini (whom I covered just this past week), formed a consortium that provided research-based ideas on motivating people to take certain actions (especially voting). Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or of any party, the advice the academics provided is very useful to all of us involved in the work of social change. We’re all in the business of compelling people to do things. So I wanted to pass on the most interesting tips.1. People favor candidates – and organizations! – that exhibit a combination of competence and warmth. You want to seem smart but also likable.2. When countering rumors (or myths), it’s a bad idea to repeat them. People may register a denial in the short term, but they only tend to remember the rumor or myth in the long term. Don’t deny or counter something – simply assert your competing notion.3. Use people’s sense of identity to influence behavior. In the election, volunteer canvassers said, “Mr. Jones, we know you’ve voted in the past,” to prompt future voting. We can do the same with volunteers or donors: “Mr. Jones, we know you’ve supported us in the past.” People want to stick to their past behaviors, so this can work well.4. Informal commitments help. Getting people to sign a card promising to vote increases likelihood to vote, for example. Pledging is also useful in fundraising!5. Tell people to make a plan. People are more likely to follow through on a promise if they have a plan, however simple. Ask people to specify when they’ll help you.6. Use social norms. When people were told others in their neighborhood planned to vote, it influenced them. Never forget the power of peer pressure – call out your supporters to inspire others to jump on board.For more fascinating tips on how this worked during the campaign, check out the article here.last_img read more

Is your nonprofit website open for business?

first_imgIs your nonprofit website sending the right message to potential donors? Year-end fundraising season will be here before you know it. Now is the time to clear away the cobwebs and roll out the welcome mat for prospective donors, volunteers, and those who may benefit from your work. If you haven’t updated your site in a while, you might give donors the impression that your organization is no longer active.Worried your site may say “move along” instead of “come on in”? Here are the top issues that can scare visitors away from your nonprofit website (and how to fix them).Broken linksThey’re not just aggravating and confusing for your website visitors, broken links can also be a big red flag for search engines like Google. Having internal links that don’t work or that don’t point to real content can affect how your site shows up in search.How to fix it: Most website platforms and content management systems have reporting that will show you the top pages that are returning an error. Taking a close look at your Google Analytics can help as well. Do some internal testing on your website to make sure all of your links are taking visitors where they should. Stale content Do you still have information about your “upcoming event” on your home page even though the “upcoming event” took place several months ago? Is the last post on your nonprofit’s blog from 2012? This is a surefire sign that no one in your organization is actually looking at your website. To your visitors, it says: we gave up.How to fix it: Make it someone’s responsibility to frequently review your website and do regular housekeeping. If you have a news feed or blog that shows up on your home page, make sure you’re adding new content frequently. If you don’t have a plan to add new items, remove these feeds from your pages. Dated designThis one is somewhat subjective, but there are certain hallmarks of an outdated web design: crazy animations, hard to read text (usually light text on dark background, or a veritable rainbow of font colors), randomly-placed images, to name a few. Geocities is dead. It’s time for your nonprofit website to move on to better things.How to fix it: A complete makeover would be nice, but if that’s not in the cards, focus on fixing the most egregious cosmetic issues within your current design and platform. Start with your key pages and branch out from there. Make it easy to read and remove anything that makes your site look like this. No contact informationThe lights may be on, but without obvious and current contact information, is anyone really home? Your contact details give people an easy way to ask questions and find out more, plus openly listing this information on your website is a sign of trust and transparency. How to fix it: Add your physical address, phone number, and a way to email you to the footer of your website. Place clear links to your “Contact Us” page within your site’s global navigation. No clear way to donateThis is the first thing I look for when I am asked to review an organization’s website, and it’s amazing how many nonprofits still don’t have a prominently placed donation button on every page of their website. Without a clear and highly visible way to donate, you’re effectively telling donors: we don’t need your money. How to fix it: Make your donate button big, bold, and above the fold of your website. Make sure your donate button actually says “Donate Now”, “Donate”, or “Give”. Fuzzy language won’t cut it here. Slow to loadOne Mississippi, two Mississippi … by three Mississippi your website better be finished loading, or most visitors will simply leave. It may not be fair, but people are impatient. They have better things to do than to wait for your carousel of images or Flash presentation to load. How to fix it: Start by confirming there are no technical problems with your website’s platform or hosting service. Then, take a hard look at your website’s key pages and see how you can streamline them by removing extraneous images, code, or other files that are bogging down your site. A reputable web developer can also provide suggestions for other improvements that can speed up your site. (Bonus: Decluttering your site will have a positive effect on potential donors, making it easy for them to figure out what it is you do and why they should care.) Not mobile friendlyWhen your nonprofit website is difficult to load (or completely dead) on a mobile device, you may as well not exist for that smartphone user. 56% of US adults are smartphone users, and they’re becoming more and more likely to read your emails and social media outreach on a mobile device. If your links take them to a site that’s non-functional on their phone, you’ve missed out on another opportunity to connect.How to fix it: You don’t need a complete overhaul to make your website more mobile friendly. Focus on a handful of key pages (think: home page, donation page, contact page, any other pages you point to regularly from emails or social media) and improve them with these 8 tips for making your nonprofit website mobile friendly. (Bonus: Most mobile-friendly website tweaks will improve usability overall.)What are your biggest website challenges? Have you made a recent change to your site that’s made a big difference? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments below.last_img read more

Resources and inspiration for the next 90 days

first_imgWhere does the time go? There are just ninety days left until the end of the year. This means that you’re probably putting the final touches on your year-end fundraising plans and have a solid campaign ready to go. Not so much? First, don’t panic. There’s still plenty of time to create a solid plan and get the most out of the year-end giving season. Take a deep breath, then carve out some time to review your goals and start honing your campaign materials. Here at Network for Good, we recently published two free fundraising guides that can help you plan your marketing efforts and create a great appeal. You can download them here (registration required): How to Make the Case for Giving 7 Steps to Your Best Nonprofit Marketing Plan EverSecond, surround yourself with inspiration and smart advice. Our goal is to supply both with this blog, and here are a few of our favorites to add to your list:Future Fundraising Now: No-nonsense practical advice from Jeff Brooks, one of our favorite fundraising gurus.Sasha Dichter’s Blog: Big thoughts on giving from the mastermind behind Generosity Day.Sea Change Strategies: Alia and Mark offer simply brilliant thoughts on nonprofit storytelling, effective appeals, strategic planning, and everything in between.Fundraiser Grrl: When you need a laugh, Fundraiser Grrl totally gets it.For more inspiration, check out the Nonprofit Boot Camp and Social Media for Nonprofits conference happening on October 10 & 11 in San Francisco. Our friends at Social Media for Nonprofits have put together some great workshops to help your organization be the best it can be. There’s still time to register, and you can save $20 off with the code “N4G”.last_img read more

Women’s and Children’s Health: No Time for Complacency

first_imgPosted on October 3, 2012August 15, 2016Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)On September 29th, The Lancet published a commentary, Women’s and children’s health: no time for complacency, by Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet. The commentary describes discrepancies between research groups that estimate maternal and child mortality. Horton calls on these groups to work together to reach some level of consensus in order to help country leaders and program implementers to make important decisions.  He also discusses big challenges with equity, accountability and monitoring of recent pledges for women’s and children’s health.When new figures for under-5 child mortality were released this month, the headline message was that aid works. Deaths among children younger than 5 years fell from an estimated 12 million in 1990 to 6·9 million in 2011. That remarkable achievement means that 14 000 fewer children now die each day than in 1990. There are many examples of success. In Niger, rates of under-5 mortality almost halved between 1998 and 2009. Rates of reduction of newborn mortality have also accelerated since the 1990s. These are truly impressive results, fully deserving of celebration. But not complacency.Read the full commentary here.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:last_img read more

Developing World Gains Open Access to Science Research, but Hurdles Remain

first_imgPosted on November 2, 2012August 15, 2016Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Recently, the Guardian’s Global Development Network posted an article, Developing world gains open access to science research, but hurdles remain, that describes the rise in commitments from various groups to ensure that their research is openly accessible to all. The article also explores the many persistent barriers to increasing open access publications around the world.From the story:These are heady days for supporters of open access (OA), who argue that the results of publicly-funded research should be made freely available to all, not just those who can afford subscriptions to the scientific journals in which they are published.Earlier this year, the World Bank announced that it would adopt an open access policy for all its research outputs and “knowledge products”, which will be entered into a central repository to be made freely accessible on the internet.Last month, the British government said that, in future, it will require all the research it funds in British universities to be made openly accessible, with authors paying publishers a fee (funded out of research grants) to make this possible – a position already adopted by the influential Wellcome Trust. The move was rapidly followed by an announcement from the European commission that the same rule will apply to all commission-funded research.The UK’s Department of International Development recently announced all its research will be made freely available. And publishers such as BioMed Central are pioneering open access journals in developing regions such as Africa.Read the full story here.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:last_img read more