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Archive for August, 2009

After 150 Years of Industrialization, Climate Change is Inevitable

By Larry West, About.com

The “greenhouse effect” often gets a bad rap because of its association with global warming, but the truth is we couldn’t live without it.

What Causes the Greenhouse Effect?
Life on earth depends on energy from the sun. About 30 percent of the sunlight that beams toward Earth is deflected by the outer atmosphere and scattered back into space. The rest reaches the planet’s surface and is reflected upward again as a type of slow-moving energy called infrared radiation.

As it rises, infrared radiation is absorbed by “greenhouse gases” such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, ozone and methane, which slows its escape from the atmosphere.

Although greenhouse gases make up only about 1 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere, they regulate our climate by trapping heat and holding it in a kind of warm-air blanket that surrounds the planet.

This phenomenon is what scientists call the “greenhouse effect.” Without it, scientists estimate that the average temperature on Earth would be colder by approximately 30 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit), far too cold to sustain our current ecosystem.

How Do Humans Contribute to the Greenhouse Effect?
While the greenhouse effect is an essential environmental prerequisite for life on Earth, there really can be too much of a good thing.

The problems begin when human activities distort and accelerate the natural process by creating more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than are necessary to warm the planet to an ideal temperature.

  • Burning natural gas, coal and oil —including gasoline for automobile engines—raises the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • Some farming practices and land-use changes increase the levels of methane and nitrous oxide.
  • Many factories produce long-lasting industrial gases that do not occur naturally, yet contribute significantly to the enhanced greenhouse effect and “global warming” that is currently under way.
  • Deforestation also contributes to global warming. Trees use carbon dioxide and give off oxygen in its place, which helps to create the optimal balance of gases in the atmosphere. As more forests are logged for timber or cut down to make way for farming, however, there are fewer trees to perform this critical function.
  • Population growth is another factor in global warming, because as more people use fossil fuels for heat, transportation and manufacturing the level of greenhouse gases continues to increase. As more farming occurs to feed millions of new people, more greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere.

Ultimately, more greenhouse gases means more infrared radiation trapped and held, which gradually increases the temperature of the Earth’s surface and the air in the lower atmosphere.

The Average Global Temperature is Increasing Quickly
Today, the increase in the Earth’s temperature is increasing with unprecedented speed. To understand just how quickly global warming is accelerating, consider this:During the entire 20th century, the average global temperature increased by about 0.6 degrees Celsius (slightly more than 1 degree Fahrenheit).
Using computer climate models, scientists estimate that by the year 2100 the average global temperature will increase by 1.4 degrees to 5.8 degrees Celsius (approximately 2.5 degrees to 10.5 degrees Fahrenheit).

There are numerous modern physical culture systems designed to develop the muscles through mechanical movements and exercises. As Yoga regards the body as a vehicle for the soul on its journey towards perfection, Yogic physical exercises are designed to develop not only the body. They also broaden the mental faculties and the spiritual capacities.

The Yogic physical exercises are called Asanas, a term which means steady pose. This is because the Yoga Asana(or posture) is meant to be held for some time. However this is quite an advanced practice. Initially, our concern is simply to increase body flexibility.

The body is as young as it is flexible. Yoga exercises focus on the health of the spine, its strength and flexibility. The spinal column houses the all-important nervous system, the telegraphic system of the body. By maintaining the spine’s flexibility and strength through exercise, circulation is increased and the nerves are ensured their supply of nutrients and oxygen.

The Asanas also affect the internal organs and the endocrine system (glands and hormones).

Traditionally, Yogis practice Surya Namaskar, the sun salutation, before the Asanas. Although there are many Asanas (8,400,000 according to the scriptures) the practice of the 12 basic postures brings out the essence and all major benefits of this wonderful system.

These 12 Basic Postures are:

1. Headstand (Sirshasana)
2. Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana)
3. Plough (Halasana)
4. Fish (Matsyasana)
5. Forward bend (Paschimothanasana)
6. Cobra (Bhujangasana)
7. Locust (Shalabhasana)
8. Bow (Dhanurasana)
9. Spinal twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana
10. Crow pose (Kakasana) or Peacock pose (Mayurasana)
11. Standing forward bend (Pada Hasthasana)
12. Triangle (Trikonasana)

At the end of the session one must do a deeper, final relaxation.
Sitting postures for meditation and Pranayama include the lotus pose.

Healthy Weight Loss
It is well-known that statistically speaking, diets don’t work over time. There are, however, ways to affect weight loss that will not only result in fewer pounds, but also a healthier body, a more alert mind, and a more peaceful emotional state. Yoga affirmations, exercise, and increasing intake of healthy, enjoyable foods can help to make weight loss positive and permanent. Food doesn’t have to become the enemy and you can create an eating program that is perfect just for you. 

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