19 June 2011

10 simple ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

1. Use your vehicle less often. Do you really have to drive to the convenience store, to your friend’s house, or to the office? Try to reach your destination by walking, riding a bike, carpooling or using public transportation. A 10% reduction in vehicle use can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 0.2 to 0.8 tonnes per year.
2. Drive more moderately. Accelerating gradually (instead of being heavy-footed) and reducing your driving speed saves fuel and reduces emissions.
3. Keep your vehicle in good operating condition. Proper tire inflation reduces fuel consumption and improves vehicle safety. Well-tuned engines might consume only 50% as much fuel and exhaust only 1/30 the emissions when compared to a similar, poorly tuned engine.
4. Lower your thermostat at home. You can save about 3% on heating costs for every degree you reduce your thermostat setting. After a short while, you probably won’t even notice the temperature difference.
5. Use your microwave oven more often. A typical microwave uses about one-half the energy of a stovetop element.
6. Reduce your computer’s energy consumption. Enable your monitor’s energy saving features when in use. Turn off your computer equipment at night and at other times when it doesn’t have to be left on. An LCD monitor consumes only 20-50% of the energy of a conventional CRT monitor.
7. Use less lighting. Take advantage of natural light when available instead of using electrical lighting. Turn off lights when a room or area is not occupied.
8. Hang your laundry. If time isn’t a concern, try hanging some or all of your laundry to dry instead of using the clothes dryer.
9. Be a smart shopper. When making a purchase, you probably have an opportunity to make an environmentally-wise selection. You can have an impact on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions when buying everything from groceries (which may come in recycled packaging) to household appliances to automobiles. You’ll usually save money in the long run and see other benefits, too.
10. Be open to new ideas. We are continuously being presented with new solutions and opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While the saying "old habits die hard" is often true, adopting new ways of going about our everyday activities - even by making small changes to the way we do things - can have a significant impact on the big picture.

27 March 2011

Flora conservation of the Mongols: tradition and customs

By Erdenetuya Urtnast

The Mongols had imagined trees, grass and other plants as arms and legs of Etugen mother and avoided cutting plants. They believed in that if anyone cut hundred grasses then he or she would shorten his or her life by one year . Also they had been thinking that anyone would be maimed, provided he or she broke up branches and limbs of trees. Especially our people strictly forbade to cut trees during spring season when plant budded and they never cut young trees. Pulling of roots and stem of plants are prohibited as well. Tree worship custom had been being popular not only among the Mongols but also among other peoples of the world.
During prolonged period ancient people had noticed that a river and its’ surrounding area dry up as a bad result of chopping down single or prominent trees of the river bank. That is why they forbade to prune and chop down single, bushy or prominent trees. It was said that all trees in a forest share a root.
Among venerated trees, shamaness-tree veneration has long tradition. Particularly, shamaness-trees have regularly been worshipped in remotest areas where shamanism is predominant and less influenced by cultural transition. Mostly conifers, as well as bushy, spiral, bunched larches and cedars are shamaness-trees. Some of them grow next to a spring which has perpetual gushing of water. It is said that, shamaness-trees are very ferocious and tempestuous.
Another form of plant veneration is luxuriant (shanshi mod or spreading, bushy tree) tree veneration. A shanshi (luxuriant) tree has not to be a ferocious tree as a shamaness tree. However local people respect such trees, tie ribbons and silk scarves up their branches and offer best of food for the trees. Elderly people say that a shanshi tree grows from deep well which has clean water and cutting it would make water spirits and local deities angry, consequently drought and natural disaster would happen. This saying is on a scientific basis. The reason is that such trees are situated on the confluence of ground water sources and retain ground water. So they have stout limbs and luxuriant branches. If cut a shanshi tree or a single, bushy tree then ground water would evaporate and surrounding area would be deserted because of drought and less vegetation. Shanshi trees mostly were worshipped during the middle month of summer and a head of family or a man who has good reputation in the locality carried out the worship ceremony.

Climbing up shamaness-trees and shanshi (luxuriant) trees, breaking their branches, scrounging off offered foods to these trees, treading down their shadow or root, sleeping, whistling, speaking loudly next to these trees and many other improper actions are strictly prohibited. It is said that, an indiscriminate action and a careless mistake towards shamaness and luxuriant trees sometimes bring misfortunes and death.
People from elite stratum including high rank lamas and officials, nobilities and aristocrats had made their personal examples to the public for protecting and recovering the environment and nature. For instance, it was said that in Western Mongolia Lu gun (a duke) focused his activity on protecting of reedy (reed-like) larches which grow on Khan khokhii mountain range.

In Eastern Mongolia Eguzer Khutuktu Galsandash (a high rank lama) cultivated wild cherry in a place named Moiltyn am and there set up cherry grove. Also he cultivated roseroot, sophora, thyme, ribes diacanthum, sandalwood, elm, poplar, willow and other plant. The mentioned examples illustrate that elite people’s initiative have played considerable roles for environmental protection.

Taboos and prohibitions related with plants are aimed for sustainable use of natural yields and conservation of natural pristine condition. They were forbidden to pull out a plant with its’ root, to gather fruits and greens before ripening, to break plant blade, trunk, stalk and limbs. Preparing firewood people had avoided chopping down saplings or young trees, wet trees and beautiful trees. Mostly they gathered dry woods and fallen trees and used as firewood. If it was required to cut trees then they cut few trees from here and there.
Plant protection relevant issues were stated in laws and orders to some degree. In “Ikh zasag”, it was stated that “if dig hole after grown grass, put to death”. In “Khalkha jirum” was inserted a code to outlaw felling of wet trees and saplings in some certain areas. During Bogd khan’s Mongolia period Bogd khan ordered a decree to proscribe felling trees of certain mountains including Bogd khan, Gurvan Songino, Chingeltei, Belkh, Ondur ulaan and Bayanzurkh mountains. Also another decrees were ordered. For example one edict was emphasized to ban renting forest trees for foreigners. In 1911 Bogd khan mountain was titled Khairkhan and banned gathering flowers, berries and fruits and going on outing on Bogd khan and Chingeltei mountains. In 1915, it was forbedden to chop down trees without any permission along river banks of the Tuul and the Selbe. In “Codes of laws of Autonomous Monarchy of Mongolia” was incorporated an idea to forbid felling trees on sacred mountains.

11 October 2010

Traditional ways for the water protection

By Erdenetuya Urtnast
The Mongols compare the water with the wish-granting jewel and count it as one of the three pure things: A growing juniper is a pure thing, burning incense is a pure thing and flowing water is a pure thing. They look up to the water and strive for maintaining its’ purity. Prohibition observances, religious rituals, laws and life conventions have played considerable roles for environmental protection.

Our ancestors have paid special attention to protect rivers, lakes and springs and basins. Because a water source provides soil humidity and fertility of the surrounding area and it gives chance to survive for animals and plants. The Mongols venerate holy waters and springs. Most of them are capable to cure and heal diseases, weariness and pains. Springs and mineral waters are found in beautiful places. Surrounding areas of springs and mineral waters can be considered places of ecological positive factors or sacred spaces.

They always take care on maintaining water purity, avoid dropping blood and milk to it and prohibit to urinating and pouring dirty water next to water sources. Besides those catching fish and minnows, killing insects and cutting trees and plants around water sources had been discouraged. These kinds of prohibitions were interpreted in connection with guardian spirits of the water. For instance, if anyone polluted the water and touched surrounding area then he or she would be harmed by the spirits of the water. The spirits of the water become angry and bring misfortunes, if rivers, lakes and springs are polluted, and this included bathing, washing and urinating in a water source, or throwing trash into the water. According to shamans’ view, guardian spirits (lords) of the water reside in springs and river beginnings. Therefore, the Mongols have offered sacrifices to the lords of the water, to make them happy.

It was prohibited to set fire next to rivers, lakes and springs, because of mutual contradiction of the fire and the water. After penetrating Buddhism in Mongolia, Buddhist prayer texts for water veneration ceremonies had been written and the lamas started to conduct the ceremony, but inner content of the ritual was not changed.
To worship springs and mineral water, a stone cairn decorated with willow and ribbons was erected near to the beginning of the water source. Mostly lamas, shamans, local intellectuals and some herders performed water worship ritual and they burned juniper and wormwood, prayed, offered dairy products and meat, sprinkled milk and vodka to stone cairn.

Since the four seasons of the year take turn in Mongolia, the growing season is over 4 months long, annual precipitation ranges from just 100 mm in the most arid regions to 500 mm in limited northern areas, and in much of the region is less than 350 mm. Predominant parts of the territory are steppe and desert areas lacking of ground and surface waters. So Mongolians have not only tried to protect water sources such as rivers, springs and lakes but also paid attention to dig wells and keep them clean.
Aside from protecting the environment and receiving natural bounty in proper ways, the Mongols had perceptively noticed laws of nature and lived in harmony with nature.

Human activities and actions impact on nature and environment, but to a greater extent humans and human culture and society exist under the influence of surrounding environment and it is inevitable to follow the law of nature. That is why, in certain days and months of the year they refrained from doing contrary actions against a rhythm and a frequency of natural phenomena. For example before the summer solstice it was not allowed to bath in a river and a lake. Because it was considered that if anyone disregarded this he or she become crippled or deformed.

Natural formation and its’ beauty would get lost and consequently human life and animal growth would be influenced negatively because of careless and harmful actions towards water sources. Therefore, in order to conserve the water, elderly people narrate various oral talks and stories about certain river, lake and spring and unlucky occurrences happened to someone by touching or polluting the water.

31 March 2009

Brief overview about urbanization in Mongolia

By Erdenetuya Urtnast

For centuries or until the early 20th century the Mongols had farmed mobile animal husbandry and used livestock products rather than natural sources, such as using of cow dung as fuel. The territory has sparsely been populated because of low carrying capacity of Inner Asian ecosystem.
Thus it can be said that the urbanization process in Mongolia started only after 1921’s people’s revolution and in actual fact, around 50s and 60s of 20th century it began to take shape as a city because of collectivism, industrialization and “great socialist upbuilding” (socialismiin aguu ikh buteen bosgolt).

At the same time, thanks to cultural campaign (soyolyn dovtolgoo) or cultural raid the nomads started to become citizens of “modern city” by their behavior, hygiene and living style.
It doesn’t mean that I want neglect its’ previous history. The city was founded in 1639 somewhere around Shireet tsagaan nuur of Uvurkhangai aimag far away from its current location as a Buddhist monastic centre and, in 1778 the city settled for good at its current location or along the basin of the Tuul and the Selbe rivers, second of which has already evaporated.
Why collectivism and industrialization must be mentioned in connection with the urbanization? Because giving their livestock to negdels (collective farms) many herders migrated to Ulaanbaatar and became workers of new established industries. A main advantage of the period might be taking care of newcomers’ hygiene and civilized behavior.

Around 1970-1980s new micro districts of apartment buildings were built and since then many of ger settlement families moved into the new apartments. During the period the capital city was a medium sized, considerably clean, tidy and typical Russian style city, even there had been ger settlement areas in outskirt of the city. In the socialist period “to be a citizen of the capital was considered as matter of reputation” and Ulaanbaatar citizenship was restricted for rural residents.
Even though, after 1990’s rural-urban migration abruptly increased because of the variety of factors: social, economical, political, cultural and so on.

Ps: Photos were inserted from www.google.com