Why you should consider biking to work

Have you ever thought about riding your bike to work instead of driving? While this probably won’t be practical if you live in the suburbs and work downtown in the city, but if the distance is 10 miles or less and there are dedicated bike lanes or wide sidewalks it might be something that you should consider. There are also several advantages that come with biking instead of driving to work that will benefit you and the environment. Here are some of the reasons I decided to park my car and drag my bike out of the back of my garage.

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Good source of exercise

 

Biking is a great way to get in your daily exercise, even if your route is completely flat. It will tone and firm thigh and calf muscles, and burn excess calories. Biking will also provide you with a full cardio workout, and this is always beneficial for your health. Riding a bike is also easy on your joints, unlike running or even speed walking.

 

 

Beneficial to the environment

 

If you’ve ever visited Mackinac Island in Michigan then you’ve seen how pristine the environment is, and noticed how fresh and clean the air is. Cars are not allowed on the island, instead everyone rides a bike to get around. Studies have conclusively shown that smog and other types of air pollution are mainly caused by vehicle emissions, and this is detrimental to the environment and your overall health. If you simply park your vehicle and start biking to work you can feel good that you are doing your part to leave a small carbon footprint on the environment.

 

 

Budget friendly

 

One of the main reasons I started biking to work, weather permitting, was that it is definitely easier on my wallet. Between gas and regular maintenance, driving was becoming an expensive luxury. That isn’t even taking into account toll and parking fees. Biking is basically free, even when you need to put air in your tires. Bike paths don’t come with toll booths, and there isn’t a fee to chain your bike to a rack. Even with gas prices dropping a gallon of gas is still well over a dollar in the States, and this quickly adds up. Maintenance on a bicycle is also significantly less expensive.

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Fun and less stressful

 

Riding a bike to work is fun, at least for me. I love feeling the wind in my face and I never have to worry about getting stuck in a traffic jam. This alone has significantly lowered my stress level, and I’m surprisingly more productive at work now that I always feel relaxed. Even though it is relatively flat where I live I still get to “fly” down some of the streets, and this makes me feel like a kid all over again. Trust me when I say once you’ve tried biking to work, you won’t ever want to be stuck in an enclosed vehicle again.

My opinion on hybrid cars

Hybrid vehicles are becoming more and more popular with every day that goes by. While some say that the fuel savings offered by these automobiles are exaggerated, others have a different opinion and are willing to invest in a somewhat expensive ride. Whatever the case, the fact of the matter is that the only energy source that’s both clean and efficient is electricity. This is the reason so many manufacturing brands and their engineers have been trying to create an electric car that’s practical and reasonably priced. Unfortunately, designing the perfect electric car is yet a dream, in spite of the many technological advancements that have been made during recent years, which is why the only compromise that can be made nowadays consists of getting and driving a hybrid car.

Peugeot 2008 HYbrid air

Peugeot 2008 HYbrid air

Hybrid automobiles are equipped both with an electric motor and with a gasoline engine, which both provide the necessary power in order to get you from one point to the other. The system is designed in such a way to produce low emissions, as well, and one of the greatest advantages offered by such a vehicle is that it does not need to be recharged as actions such as braking take care of this issue.

I’ve decided to look into the matter to see whether it pays off to get a hybrid car or not. After reading several articles on the topic, I came to the conclusion that, depending on the model, these rides may indeed be cost-efficient as they might require just a handful of expenses. However, one of the most important of these costs is replacing the battery that comes along with the automobile. Once the warranty of the battery expires, the cost of a pack can be as high as $5,000 which is off-putting, to say the least, what with many new cars costing the same money.

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One of the most well-known hybrid automobiles is the Toyota Prius. Based on the info that I came across, it looks as if this car has a lower EPA figure when driving in the city rather than on the highway. Any automobile owner is probably aware of the fact that this rule does not apply when driving a car that comes equipped with just a gasoline engine.

In the end, it boils down to two things. One of them is whether you’re ready to make an investment and purchase a hybrid car as most of the ones I stumbled upon are expensive or at least not anywhere as cheap as their gasoline counterparts. The other question revolves around your commitment to respecting the environment. If lower emissions are constantly on your mind, there is no doubt about the fact that owning and using a hybrid car is pretty much the only choice you can make. The simplest way of figuring out whether you’re going to save some money on fuel or not is by going online on sites such as fueleconomy.gov that can help you with putting together several comparisons between the gas engine car you might already be the owner of and the hybrid model you’re thinking of buying.

Things you can do to have a less polluting lifestyle

You and I are citizens of the earth. Mother Nature nurtures us and provides our needs. There is no better way to give back to her than to live more productively while polluting less. There are many ways of living a less polluting lifestyle but I believe the following are the most essential.

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Educate yourself and share what you know

 

There is a lot of literature on various topics about environmental pollution. All it takes is to devote a significant amount of time reading and studying what is written on the subject. You can search for the effects of water pollution in the environment, which will somehow enable you to recognize the huge importance of one of our most precious resources. Life cannot exist without water. Unfortunately, at the rate we are going, our water resources are now at a huge risk of pollution. Learn about the water pollutants and their effects on the environment.

earth3You can also learn about different pollution facts. This can give you pollution awareness that will ultimately save lives. Once you have the facts, do not hesitate to share them with the community, even just your lunch group. Learn about the essentials of recycling paper, or discover ways to stop global warming. What you learn from your own research and reading could pave the way for you to become more aware of the everyday things that matter in fighting pollution. Plant more trees.

 

Do everyday things intelligently or sensibly

 

Smoking harms you as much as it does the environment. Quit smoking entirely or if you just can’t, dispose of your butts properly. Because they are not only non-biodegradable but also contain very toxic soluble chemicals, cigarette butts should not litter the ground.

Use unleaded gasoline, join a neighborhood or workplace carpool, or drive a hybrid or electric car. Make sure your vehicle is in consistently good running condition to reduce emissions. Whenever possible, reach for the handlebars of your bicycle instead of your car’s steering wheel, especially for short distance trips. Or better yet, walk to your destination when it’s possible.

earth4Practice the 3Rs of solid waste management. Reduce, reuse and recycle. Dispose of waste, particularly plastic or chemicals, in a responsible way. The use of recycled, reclaimed or sustainable building materials is not just cool but also demonstrates your commitment to protecting the environment. Reduce waste in the home by composting kitchen scraps and yard leaves and clippings.

Make use of the free and abundant power of the sun and the wind. Hang laundry to dry. Open a window or wear a sweater instead of reaching for the air conditioner or heater remote. Conserve electricity or gas. Reduce transport fuel for goods by patronizing local goods or foods. This will also help your government a lot. Shop with an eco-friendly bag. Avoid littering.

 

Plastic is a modern invention that no longer belongs in these times

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Buy and use products made with biodegradable materials or that are eco-friendly. Avoid plastic whenever possible. Found in nearly everything these days, plastic is not really recyclable but is only downcycled. This means it can’t be recycled to make the same item but only manufactured into an item of lower quality such as plastic lumber, which can’t also be recycled. The truth is, only a small percentage (less than 10 percent) of all the plastic waste is recovered for recycling. Most ends up in rivers, landfills, beaches and oceans and with the oil component, can be a genuine environmental hazard.

Is climate change real?

The climate has suffered many changes throughout the eras of our planet. Weather patterns and natural phenomena have changed entirely many times in the course of history. Everybody is interested about the changes in our climate, but is it true that is happening now and in a way that can radically affect living species, including humans?

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Many studies have identified global warming as being the major problem that affects global climate. Moreover, studies point that 95% of global warming is due to human activities and, in the future, can lead to extreme weather events that will affect the entire planet. Though there are voices that deny that there’s a significant change in the weather, the vast majority of the international scientific community agrees that climate change is happening at a fast rate and that human activities are to be held responsible for this. The deniers, also known as skeptics, generally argument that the climate change is not happening as rapidly as predicted, that it will not affect humankind or other species and that it may even have positive effects. These arguments are, however, contradicted by the large number of studies on the topic and visible climate changes that bring overwhelming proof that drastic events are taking place right now and not into a positive direction.

 

It would be difficult to calculate the consequences of climate change on the long term, but these may include a series of negative effects that may prove fatal for life on Earth as we know it. First and foremost, certain weather hazards, like tornadoes and hurricanes will become more violent, which means more of a threat for all living beings on the planet. Not only that but, more dangerous weather hazards can affect agriculture in unpredictable ways. As such, food ratios will indirectly be at risk. If this continues for a prolonged period of time, it can lead to lack of food and global starvation.

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In addition to that, global warming can result into the disappearance of approximately 20-30 % of the species living on Earth now. Another consequence of the phenomenon is that the cryosphere (the frozen water on our planet) will meltdown and thus, increase the sea level.  The planetary ocean will become warmer and will gain more acidity. These changes will reflect on species such as corals and shellfish and many others that are sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Moreover, species such as polar bears that are dependent on ice can face dangerous trials and even extinction. In time, climate change will affect the chemical composition of the atmosphere, which may inevitably take an unfavorable turn for all living creatures and may even provoke their death, if these fluctuations become too radical.

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The effects of climate change are various and hard to calculate, as they can affect most processes going on on Earth. Some of them will generate others that will affect other processes and so forth. The consequences are too complex and can only be approximated or guessed no matter how detailed the scientific research is. However, though we cannot exactly predict what will happen if the natural rhythm will be derailed, we know that its effects will most probably be negative and transform the Earth into an inhospitable environment for its inhabitants.

Why I adore lightweight fishing gear

Most fishermen will go for heavier fishing gear than the one they actually need, for reasons of safety and because they can put heavier lines on a stronger rod. Though I used to share in this idea, as I experienced with various rods and reels, I understood that ultra-light and light equipment is a top choice for many fishing situations and should not be ignored. In fishing terms, when you say ultra-light or light you are referring to the power of your rod, which will indicate how easily the blank will bend when a pressure is applied to it. The lighter the gear, the easier it will bend.

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It is true, you can’t tackle large fish species with it, but lightweight gear comes with a couple of advantages no other gear comes with. The first one is that it is, obviously, easy to handle and maneuver, even for less experienced anglers. As such, a beginner could start training in the art of fishing using this type, before going to a heavier category. That is not to say a skilled fisherman could not benefit from using one, as fishing with lighter equipment is a good exercise. Maneuvering a lighter rod demand more attention from the handler, as the line may break if you reel it in sloppily or at a fast rate.

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Another plus that comes with using light equipment is that it offers you a complete and more rewarding fishing experience. A lighter rod will force you to find ways through which you keep the fish hooked, while it struggles to go back into the water. You won’t be able to just reel it in, because the line may not handle all that pressure and break, so you’ll have to master techniques to fight a fish, which is extremely useful, especially for bass.

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Talking about bass fishing, an ultra-light rod is exceptional to use with smaller lures, which bass is very fond of. As such, it will give you more chances at catching one if you’re an amateur bass fisherman. In addition, a UL rod will be more sensitive than any other rod, especially if teamed up with the proper lines, so if something’s biting, you will sense it immediately.

 

Personally, I’ve learnt much more about fishing with light equipment than with any other equipment category, as it made me pay attention, have patience and handling my rod with precision and security. Honestly, I believe that’s why I rarely come back from a fishing trip empty-handed.

We need to stop deforestation

There are many reasons for which forests are being cut extensively. Firstly and most important, wood is one of the most used and needed resources in the world. Secondly, people cut wood to practice agriculture. We are all aware of the negative effects which the cutting of trees brings, but we rarely understand it in a meaningful way, a way that will determine us to take action.

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>> Forests protect us, provide us with oxygen, shelter species of animals and plants that would otherwise disappear, reduce carbon dioxide, etc. The benefits we get from it alive are far larger than the ones we obtain on short term by cutting the forest irrationally.  A couple of facts about the effects of deforestation:

>> Forests play a major part in climate change because they absorb carbon dioxide emanations and release oxygen, a function that keeps the atmosphere clear and the air healthy for our lungs. Right now, it is estimated that roughly 15% of the greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere are due to excessive deforestation.

 

>> The forest shelters a major part of all theearth2 living creatures; approximately 70% of the
species existent on Earth lives in the forests of the world. Most of them will disappear if their natural habitat is lost. Some already endangered animals or plants that are to be found only in certain parts of the world (and when I say some parts I say in some forests of the world) will become extinct if their ecosystem is destroyed for sure. This is  one thing that always happens when man decides to change the course of nature, the balance that  has been built in millions of years of evolution is disrupted and that entails negative consequences for the entire planet, sometimes, not only for us. It is actually shocking that we haven’t yet got to comprehend that all the money in the world will be useless if we don’t have where to live anymore.

>> If you cut trees from a forest in great numbers, the forest loses part of its canopy. That causes high fluctuations in temperature: it makes days hotter and nights colder, which can be fatal for some species of plants that are not able to adapt to these abrupt temperature swings.

>> The fourth negative consequence that deforestation entails is the erosion of the soil. That is something that concerns us – the human species directly. The roots of trees keep the soil from eroding and causing vegetation growth problems, but they also prevent landslides, which means your house won’t slide down the hill one day, carrying you with it. These are events that are taking place right now and about which we hear everyday on TV.

earth3If you are fascinated with apocalypse movies, you have one going on right now, under your eyes, and it’s not spectacular and there’s no superhero that is coming to our rescue. Deforestation is a matter of individual change. If all people would plant a tree, in a couple of years you could see the difference. For now, we need to focus in adopting policies that prohibit trees cutting in a destructive manner and find ways to replace wood as an economical resource with other reliable options.

Why the catch and release policy is important for fish stock conservation

You might have heard about the catch and release policy if you’ve been fishing for quite a while. If you still have any question regarding this technique, we’re here to shed light on the theory so that you’re able to understand it better and decide if it’s the right thing to do for what you have in mind.

Louis Cahill Photography

First of all, it should be emphasized that the catch and release policy is highly recommended for preserving the population of endangered fish. Let’s take this example – say you’ve gone fishing for bass but you accidentally catch another species, one that you know it’s on the list of the ones that are about to disappear from the local ecosystem. Do you keep it or release it back in the water? The ethical thing to do would be to release the fish because this is the only way you will contribute to saving populations that might sooner or later become extinct.

earth1However, this theory does not apply in the case of invasive species, some of which are well-known for the negative impact they can have on local ecosystems. Common invasive fish include carp, Nile perch, lionfish, and believe it or not, bass.

While PETA argues that the catch and release policy goes against the system and doesn’t do all that much for taking care of the environment, there are several simple measures that you can take so that you’re able to release the fish efficiently and avoid damaging it. Any fish can become exhausted after putting up a fight, so if you notice that the fish is tired, we recommend changing the tackle so that you’re able to catch your target faster. Also, it might be a good idea to utilize circle hooks, particularly if what you’re doing is fish with live bait. If you always want to catch a type of fish to bring back home with you and cook, try to become an expert by using the right equipment and by perfecting your technique so that the chance of getting a different fish species drops significantly.

earth3Handle the fish as gently as possible and be sure to keep your hands wet so that you don’t remove the slime that you might find on the surface of the skin, gills and other body parts. On the same note, try to avoid touching the eyes and gills and if possible, rely on utilizing a special release tool such as a dehooker. Finally, one of the most important recommendations is to release the fish in a timely manner so that it’s able to recover its organ functionalities.

The most dangerous invasive fish species

First of all, what are invasive (fish) species? An invasive species is a species that is introduced to an ecosystem, other than its original environment and, in time, causes so much damage that it unbalances the ecosystem, giving birth to a series of negative changes that can even jeopardize the existence of that specific habitat.

It can happen in many cases, but here we are talking about invasive fish species. There are a couple of nosey species that are too bored to mind their own business and they cause havoc anywhere they go, hence nobody likes them. What they do to piss off other species (including humans) is eat all the fish and leave none for all the other species that rely on the same food. Consequently, a lot of fish and plants die. Here are a few of the most invasive species out there.

 

  1.       Carp

asian_carpThe invasiveness of the Carp is globally known. This common fish is able to destroy even the most balanced ecosystems with its erratic behavior. For other fish, the carp is like having a new roommate: completely wrecks your space organization and destroys everything in his path. Apparently, the carp is able to stir mud in water, as it looks for food near the roots of plants, turning the water unclear and dirty, which has a negative effect on many species of plants and fish. Though many campaigns have been undertaken to stop the carp from invading and destroying aquatic ecosystems, until now, all of them have failed.

 

  1.       Northern Snakehead

northernSnakeheadThis particular fish has two main characteristics that make it so dangerous to many ecosystems: it multiplies fast and it can survive several days on dry land, which makes it a danger for both environment, being able to spread diseases and harmful bacteria on water and dry land altogether. Of course, they are also endowed with great appetite.

 

  1.       Mosquito fish

mosquitofishThis small and innocent looking swimming creature is able to ruin a nice environment like no other fish. It is true, you wouldn’t say that, given the fact that they have a 4 to 7 cm length, but they compensate their small size with eating double their body weight. They can eat up to 167% of their body weight daily. However, in this particular case, people had it coming. The mosquito fish is known to feed with mosquito larvae (hence the name) and some people decided to populate ecosystems with this species in order to exterminate mosquitos. It didn’t go well. Not only the fish did not eradicate mosquitos, but they have shown they can feed with many other species to such an extent they became persona non-grata and nobody likes them anymore.

 

  1.       Nile Perch

Nile perchAs the name informs us, this fish comes from the sacred Egyptian river, but it changed continent when it was brought from Ethiopia to populate Lake Victoria at the end of the 1950’s. As it can reach extremely large dimensions at maturity, feeding on basically every living creature that gets in their way, these fish have massively destroyed Lake Victoria’s ecosystem, leading to affecting nearby ecosystems as well and at a massive economic exploitation of the area for fishing purposes by major companies. Their destruction capabilities are increased due to the fact that females can lay 21 million eggs at once, so there’s hardly a chance to just fish them all.

 

  1.       Lionfish

lionfishThis species of fish possesses one physical trait that makes them fearful predators: their numerous venomous spikes and the ability to eat a lot. As they are hard to attack, due to their physical attributes, they can spread peacefully while killing other species and destroying habitats. According to environmental agencies, it is highly unlikely that the invasion of the lionfish is stopped at this moment.

Bowfishing for Carp – The Essentials: Fishing Glasses

As I intend to do my part in sustaining the native biodiversity, I recently took on bowfishing for carp. Because this kind of fishing is actually a crossover between hunting and fishing, it means that one must have good aim when trying to aim for fish.bowfishing

But why do I take on bowfishing for carp? First of all, carp is a noxious species that causes a lot of damage in the US. They cause damage to vegetation, they take up space from native species and they contribute to the degradation of water quality. All these are reasons enough to hunt for carp and make sure to limit the damage this species causes in our waters.

Here’s short preview of how large these things can get:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOgfHkP8Mqs

 

Bowfishing is a recommended method for fishing for such species. If I used the common fishing equipment, I would risk catching other species that are native to our waters, and therefore, deny the purpose for which I hunt carp. So, I prefer bowfishing, since this way, I know that what I am doing is really fishing carp and not some other fish.

 

Still, as I mentioned a bit earlier, I have to have good aim if I really want to be successful in my bowfishing trips for carp. A pair of fishing glasses, and one that is really reliable should be on my list, I decided as soon as I thought about bowfishing. One way to identify carp in the water is to make sure that you are not mistaking the glare spread on the water by the rays of sun with the movement of fish. So a good pair of fishing glasses should be one capable of reducing glare.

fishing glasses

As I have read some articles on the best fishing glasses ( like the one here fisherpants.com) and what makes a good pair what it is, I understood that polarized glasses are the answer. They are capable of reducing the quantity of light that reaches your retina, so you can see clearly when you are bowfishing, for instance. Of course, one should not forget when shopping for a pair of glasses that a good fit is hard to beat. Since I have quite a particular face shape, I need to make sure that the glasses I intend to purchase are really a good choice for me. I will continue to search for a pair of good fishing glasses and I will let you know when I found a good model. I really hope that will improve my bowfishing skills, so I can get rid of more carp.

Becoming a Better Citizen of the Earth

 

The term Citizen of the Earth may sound a bit too vague, so I will try to explain it first. What I believe is that in order for life to continue on this planet, we need to pay more attention to preserving its species, especially those that are in danger. As someone who wants to become a better Citizen of the Earth, I strongly believe that this is the first amendment, and that at least something I want to do for as much and as long as possible.

There are many things one can do to become a better Citizen of the Earth, and I am striving to live my life according to the principles that derive from them. For instance, I am trying to minimize my waste and the consumption of energy. It is not only to save money on my monthly bills, but also because I believe that each person can bring their important contribution by doing something, even the smallest thing, every day.

 

What I want to talk about in my blog is how to protect habitats against invasive species, through traditional methods like hunting and fishing. Invasive species are a threat for biodiversity, because they practically take over the habitats of species that have been in their natural environment for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

Here are some of the invasive fish species in the US – Asian carp and Snakeheads

invasive carp invasive snakehead

Invasive species do a lot of harm, besides what can be seen at first glance. They can pollute the water, spread diseases and poison the earth. As a Citizen of the Earth, I believe it is my duty to do something about this. As global warming is affecting our planet more and more, dealing with invasive species will become mandatory. However, using methods that affect the habitat of native species is not a good idea. That is why hunting and fishing still remain the best ways of removing the invasive species from these habitats and reducing their impact.

A short video about the Asian carp problem:

The figures are quite scary. 50,000 non-native species are currently residing in the US, although not all of them are invasive. The damages caused by these invasive species cost our economy over 120 billion dollars each year. There is something anyone can do, in order to stop this silent invasion. We can all use our skills as hunters and fishers and reduce the number of specimens trying to take over the land, the water and the natural habitat of the old inhabitants of this world.