Save “Sundarbans”, a World Heritage site, the world’s largest mangrove forest from “Rampal Coal Plant”

Do you know the name of the world’s largest mangrove forest? It’s name is the Sundarbans. In Bengali “Sundar” means beautiful and “Ban” means jungle. ” Yes, this jungle is as beautiful as one can dream about in stories such as The Jungle Book.  It is in Bangladesh, a small country in South Asia, and the forest is situated in the southwest part of the country. It is the home of the Royal Bengal Tiger, incredibly ferocious, marked with black stripes all over its yellow body. The region also has pythons, deer (chitra with white spots), elephants, alligators, monkeys and birds of many species. The forest is also the home for many trees which are endemic to the area. Unfortunately, the trees are being cut down for the need of expanding the human habitat to support the country’s massive population. Smugglers  are also cutting the trees as it has high demand to be used as the raw materials in many factories, cooking, producing matches and paper illegally.

But the Sundarbans faces its largest threat right now when the government agreed to establish a power plant called the Rampal Power Plant. The power plant will be a coal-powered power station to be founded  in the Rampal area in the Khulna division in Bangladesh. The planning of this proposed power plant was agreed between two countries: India’s National Thermal Power Corporation and Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB). The joint-venture company is called Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company. Perhaps it was for friendly relations between the two countries, but plan is not friendly to the environment. According to environmentalists, this project is designed in a way that highly violates the preconditions that was set up by the Department of Environment (DoE) which says that the “location of plant, 14 kilometers from the Sundarbans, violates one of the basic preconditions which says such projects must be outside a 25-kilometer radius from the outer periphery of an ecologically sensitive area.”

The Sundarbans is in the List of Wetlands of International Importance, deemed by the Ramsar Convention to be incredibly important, not just in an ecological matter, but in culture, economic, and other matters. The proposed location will not only occupy over 1800 acres of land, but India has abundant coal as a natural source, so millions of tons of coal that will be brought to the power plant in Bangladesh by ship. Environmentalists say the ship that will bring the coal will not be covered which will pollute the air with coal dust and other toxic substances, and also it will pollute the nearby Poshur river with its waste and other debris which will affect the waterbody of the mangrove forest and will be highly detrimental to the marine life and surrounding ecosystem of the Sundarbans. Many species are already endangered by the human encroachment, which will be made even worse by a large industrial presence.

The Sundarbans are a part of UNESCO world heritage. The Indian and Bangladeshi government deny the allegation that this coal based power plant will be detrimental to the environment to the environment, but construction of the Rampal Power Plant has temporarily stopped nonetheless due to protests. The Sierra Club, a highly esteemed organization with roots stretching back to the beginning of the environmentalist movement and founded by famed activist John Muir, and several other organizations are demanding a petition to stop this project. I think the Sundarbans is not solely the asset of Bangladesh, it is an asset of the whole world. We as world citizens must protest this industrial encroachment to save the home of the Royal Bengal Tiger and join to abolish the Rampal Power Plant.

This is my blog # 5. This blog is very close to my heart, I spent two years of my childhood living in Jessore, Khulna division which is close to Sundarban.  Sundarban is considered one of popular tourist destinations in the world.

You can get  a glimpse of Sundarban by visiting following link

Urban Outfitters bag (extra credit)

I have been working at Urban Outfitters for some time and we do not use plastic bags for the clothes but we use what Urban Outfitters likes to call “reusable bags.” So since I work at Urban and have acquired a few of these bags I wanted to see if the bags are actually reusable and for how long. I went to the Urban Outfitters website to see if I can find something that talks about their bags. This is what they say, ” We are passionate about eliminating single-use items, especially those that pose a threat to the environment like plastic. Our Urban Outfitters stores use lightweight, fabric shopping bags that customers can reuse for many purposes beyond retail. Made of polypropylene fabric that does not tear, the bags can be washed and used for many years. We love seeing our customers using them for grocery shopping, a book bag or even an overnight tote!” After reading this I decided to take their advice and use the bag to do all of these things. If you’ve never shopped at Urban Outfitters than you wouldn’t know what the bags look like, but in my opinion they’re really cute and they come in different colors and sizes. Since I shop there alot I had all of the sizes and decided to use them for different things. The smallest bag I used to hold some clothes for a “overnight tote” like they suggested and it worked fine I couldn’t fit too much stuff inside because it was too small and it was a little awkward to carry because one of the straps had ripped off. I would’ve been better just using a purse or something. Then I used the big ones as grocery bags and it was terrible. I guess I put too many things in each bag, even though they were pretty light things, and it ripped as I was walking up to my dorm. Then I wanted to see if the bag was actually washable. It shrunk some after drying it and when I was stretching it back out the bag ripped. In the end I think the bags can only be used for really light things and they aren’t really durable. But on the bright side the bag is made of polypropylene which is a recyclable material and you can use it more than once if you wanted to. I appreciate Urban for at least trying to reduce their ecological footprint and attempting to make their bags reusable and recyclable. I now just reuse the same bag for putting in clothes that I just purchased, that way I am reusing the bag and not taking a new one every time. Im not sure if the production of these bags costs more for retail stores but I feel like if all retails stores decided to be a little more conscious about their impact on the environment like Urban Outfitters then there would be a significant impact on plastic in the world. Also Urban Outfitters has cute clothes so I definitely recommend shopping there.

This is a picture of their bags.

Tiny Microenvironments in the Ocean hold clues to global nitrogen cylcle

I was reading an article by Environmental News Network about how microenvironment in the ocean could tell us more about the global nitrogen cycle. According to the article nitrogen is essential to marine life because some sea life require nitrogen in processes such as photosynthesis.In a research study done by Thomas Weber at the University of Rochester they saw that small mircroenvionments in the deep ocean can help track the cycling of nitrogen in the sea. If you don’t may not know what a microenvironment is it is the immediate small-scale environment of an organism or a part of an organsim, especially as a distinct part of a larger environment. In the research they found that the small microbes that remove nitrogen from the water that are in these microenvironments are more widespread than scientist previously thought. Weber says, “the previous understanding of the nitrogen cycle was that nitrogen was lost from the ocean in only three regions where oxygen is scarce. If we wanted to predict how the nitrogen cycle would respond to climate change, all we needed to do was predict how these three low oxygen regions would expand or contract. Our study changes that picture by showing that nitrogen loss is actually happening over much larger regions, and we think about how the ocean as a whole is changing.” The three regions that he talks about are: two off the coast of the Americas, just north and south of the equator and one on the Arabian Sea. These three regions are known as “dead zones” because only anaerobic microbes can live here because most sea life “breathe” or respire using oxygen. When there is no oxygen in the water the microbes respire using other compounds like nitrate ( a form of nitrogen). Which removes nitrogen form the ocean. Weber made a computer model that takes this new genetic information from these microbes and found that, ” anaerobic microbes exist not only in areas of unoxygenated water, but somehow thrive in areas of the ocean where there is oxygen, Nitrogen, therefore, may be lost across much of the ocean, not just in areas where oxygen is scarce.” With this new information they can redraw what the nitrogen cycle of the ocean would look like and according to Weber this change suggests that this anaerobic metabolism is a response to climate change because global warming causes ocean temperatures to rise which results in and increased loss of oxygen and therefore affects the nitrogen budget across the world. This relates to our class because we see the effects of climate change and how these microbes could be adapting to the changes in sea temperature. I tried to sum up the article as best as I could but I will attach a link if anyone would like to read it. Its very interesting and I think its crazy how these findings can shift major things like nitrogen cycles in the ocean. This is just a reminder that climate change is a real thing and that we have to do everything we can to save our oceans.