Green

There’s this place, there’s actually at the most recent count 1,682 of them. You can see them, smell them and hear about them throughout Thailand. They are a means of transportation, floating markets and sewage disposal. They may appeal to you, interest you or make your stomach turn. They are a part of Thailand’s history, their economy, their life, their tourism. You can take a ride any time of day to see what they look and feel like, see what is along them and in them.

They are Thailand’s khlongs. On most of the khlongs, especially the smaller ones, there are houses, communities, families and little convenience stores. You can travel on them by water and see them from there or access them by foot, where there are concrete footpaths with railings for walking, bicycle riding, a motorbike can even pass through. You can stop and walk into a little convenience store and buy water, or order and sit and eat a bowl of noodles under a covered area that someone has worked hard to create their home and business, on the house’s front steps. 

I’ve come to know a few of the khlongs in my neighbourhood by being gifted ‘that friend’.  She’s the kind of friend everyone needs. She’s honest, helpful, supportive and kind. She is the one that has a solution to a problem you didn’t even know you had. The one who knows someone, who knows someone who can fix this or that or take you to the place that no one knows about. Anytime I’d find myself in a space with her, at the pool, having a coffee, she’d ask me how things were going, we’d find a natural rhythm of conversation, full of ease and genuine nature.   

I met this friend when I first arrived in Thailand, six years ago. One day, I found myself telling her how running in the Mu Baan at 5:30 in the morning was lovely, it was also getting boring, I was feeling like a hamster running around the wheel, same view, same steps, same feel, over and over even with a change in music genre. She asked me if I’d run along the khlong yet? The khlong, what is a khlong I answered? With that she was off, sharing the way to get there, why it was just outside our village down the street. She informed me of the other’s she knew who ran it in the village and how it was an experience in itself to see the community, built around the paved, uneven, at times unsteady paths.  

My first few jogs along the khlong were with a friend who ran there most mornings, she was faster than I, realising that quite quickly, I decided to learn her routes and ended up going out on my own because as runner’s code goes, if you hold someone back and can’t keep up, it might not be a match, no hard feelings.

Over the last 6 years (with some breaks for a pregnancy and newborn baby phase) I have found myself on the paved, uneven and busy walkways that lean up against the khlong. I duck under bridges, slide left or right to dodge a motorbike, slow down for a family walking to work or school and politely say ‘hello’ in Thai as my signal to let them know I am there and may I pass them, ever so politely. I have jumped over snakes and rooster poo. All too often I’ve just missed kicking a cute little duck or two that jumps out in front of me.  

I enter the khlong and it feels alive, even on the days when everyone is still asleep. With sounds of boats and bikes, I wake a monitor lizard who then slithers scared, down off the wall and into the water. I watch fishing poles cast into the dirty water to serve as breakfast.  The community is warm and kind. They smile, throw up a peace sign or a thumbs up. They clap for us and say good job in Thai. Sometimes they laugh at the crazy farang lady running in such heat while they are sitting relaxing on their makeshift front porch.  

There is a hussle on certain days during specific times. It is busier on the waterway, with all types of boats passing through, empty long tail boats, the trash collection boat, the grocery delivery boat, that stops and beeps and the locals come to the edge and he delivers their weekly order or sudden need. There is the boat packed with melting ice stopping off to deliver and load the pickup truck that waits to spend their morning on the busy roads delivering ice to local stores before it melts.

When Bangkok began talking about a lockdown I found myself running along the khlong one morning, thinking what this would mean for them. What would they be preparing for, how would a lockdown impact them. The one thing I knew those early days in March was they wouldn’t be out shopping for toilet paper and most likely not worrying if there were enough devices for their kids to learn online. But what would they be worried for?  

I learned quickly. As COVID-19 was still undetermined in Thailand and cases were rising a bit. I took my last run on a Sunday afternoon along the khlong in March. The walkways were busier than usual, I was dodging more men fishing, and there were more babies in Daddy’s strong arms than I had ever seen. I suddenly realised it meant parents would be home, living in those small and cosy, tight and warm houses along the water because their work had sent them back, by no choice of theirs. They were now parenting, protecting and entertaining their families. A lot like the scene in our village as well, Dad’s playing basketball, Dad’s riding bikes and holding babies and toddler’s hands. It was the same, yet it wasn’t. 

For months we stayed in our village, determined to follow the rules and show our son’s what that actually looked like. My mind wandered to the families on the khlong often, the families who lived, on our nicknamed “Breakfast Ally” where breakfast was sold and men sat out and drank coffee on a picnic table. To my widowed pal with well spoken English at the far end of the khlong, he was busy working to renovate his home when we last spoke (as I caught my breath), was he able to, did he have the materials coming to him from his friend’s who had boats? 

When restrictions eased in Thailand Pete and I agreed it was potentially ok to head back out and run the streets of Bangkok and our beloved khlong. My first run was filled with emotion, I was alone, it was early. It had been such a long time since I had taken in the environment and smell that is not always refreshing yet invigorating somehow. As I ran, the focus less on pace and distance, more on checking in and looking at the houses and the community. It’s not as if I was able to see that everyone was still safe and happy, honestly it left me with more wonderment than before. As I continued on and saw the fishermen, the babies back in their Mama’s arms, telling me Dad was back at work that was all I needed to see.  

A few weeks and runs later I ran into my pal at the far end of the khlong and my heart nearly jumped out of my chest and my belly bounced to the sky. He was there, talking to a man selling something from his boat. They were deep in conversation, I stood patiently and waited for them to finish. We greeted each other and he told me how happy he was because today was the first day in three months that his friend was able to come and sell his fruit along the khlong. He had been genuinely worried for his friend and unable to contact him during lockdown. After he finished the purchase they exchanged a heartfelt “see you soon.” Then it was my turn and my friend and I caught up over what the last three months had been like for him and his community over a delicious, just purchased, piece of Thai fruit called Longan. He told me that all of this was hard but losing his wife 10 years ago was harder and that he tried his very best every day to be positive and make her proud. 

Before I left him and told him how thrilled I was to see him, we took a selfie because I honestly never want to forget that moment we shared. While I’ve been writing this article for weeks it suddenly helped me bring it to its closing paragraphs and utmost meaning, which was clearly the universe’s doing. A story of what the khlong has brought to me as a previously bored runner, to a girl living amongst culture and communities that offer richness and kindness at every bumpy, uneven and lively step.  

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by Moira Lawler Medically Reviewed by Kelly Kennedy, RD

You have no doubt heard the advice to drink eight 8 glasses of water each day. But do you know where that advice for avoiding dehydration comes from, and if it is still relevant? Sean Hashmi, MD, the regional physician director of weight management and clinical nutrition for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, says it originally came from a recommendation from the US Food and Nutrition Board in 1945. (1) “But people misread the statement,” Hashmi says. “The second part of the sentence said most of that water you get from food.”

That said, you still need to drink water during the day to avoid health risks like kidney stones. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine, or IOM) generally recommends ½ ounce (oz) to 1 oz of fluid, including water, daily for each pound of body weight. That means if you weigh 150 pounds, you’d need between about 9½ and 18¾ cups of fluid per day. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need more. (2)

The exact amount you need also depends on factors including age, gender, and activity level, says Rachel Lustgarten, RD, a registered dietitian nutritionist with Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.

The good news for those who have a hard time sipping H2O all day: The foods you eat play a big role in keeping you hydrated. Shreela Sharma, an associate professor and registered dietitian at UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston, estimates about 20% of the body’s hydration needs come from foods. “These foods are not just hydrating, but also nutritious and provide various nutrients, including vitamins and fibre,” she says.

Another plus: You don’t have to overthink it. “If you are eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, this should not be hard,” says Julie Devinsky, RD, a clinical dietitian at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. To hit the mark, you can follow tried-and-true nutrition advice by aiming for two to three servings of fruit and five or more servings of veggies daily.

That said, some foods are more hydrating than others. “Foods that rehydrate are typically the ones that hold the most water,” says Garth Graham, MD, MPH, the president of the Aetna Foundation and a cardiologist based in Hartford, Connecticut. Just keep in mind that the fruit or vegetable will lose water if it is cooked. “To optimise the hydration aspect of these foods, it is best to eat them raw or minimally cooked,” Devinsky says. And for the best, most hydrating effect, enjoy these foods with a glass of water. “As much as it is important to eat your daily dose of fruits and vegetables, do not use it as an excuse to skimp on water,” Devinsky says.

Here are eight of the most hydrating foods and some ideas for how to enjoy them.

  1. Swap crisps for cucumbers for a hydrating snack

Devinsky says cucumbers, which are 95% water, are one of the most hydrating options available. The green vegetable is not just a salad topper. Sharma says to get creative about incorporating cucumbers into your diet. For instance, try dipping cucumber slices into dip in place of crisps or making a chilled cucumber soup for a refreshing summer appetiser. Be sure to keep the skin on to reap the most vitamins and minerals.

  1. Dip celery sticks into creamy peanut butter to up your water intake

There is not much to them. They are low in calories (only 14 per cup) and other vitamins and minerals, but they’re very hydrating and made up primarily of water. (3) Celery sticks can be boring to eat on their own, but there are ways to make them more filling. Devinsky suggests pasting them with peanut butter or tuna salad, which can help reduce your carb intake if you use celery in place of bread.

  1. Watermelon is the perfect addition to a summer salad

The refreshing summertime fruit has water built into its name — and that is not just a coincidence. Watermelon is high in water and low in calories (and has just 46 calories in one cup). (4) It is a welcome addition to many summer dishes and works well in gazpacho and fruit salads. Devinsky says watermelon also plays nicely in an arugula and mint salad.

  1. Cantaloupe offers hydrating Potassium and is good in a fruit salad

Even though watermelon is the most obvious hydrating melon, others, such as cantaloupe, should not be overlooked, Sharma says. A 1 cup serving packs 427 milligrams (mg) of potassium, which is about 9% of your daily value. (5,6) The nutrient is important for hydration — it is an electrolyte, which means it helps the body balance its water content. (7) You can eat it solo or in a fruit salad, add it to smoothies, or pair it with prosciutto for a sweet-and-savoury snack, Devinsky says.

  1. Strawberries contain a surprising amount of water

The sweet red fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, with a whopping 162.6% of your daily goal in just 1 cup of slices! (8) That’s not all: Strawberries are also incredibly hydrating and clock in at 91% water. (9) Devinsky suggests getting your fix by serving a strawberry-and-basil salad. Or try dipping pieces of the fruit in melted chocolate or adding to chia seed pudding for a nutrition filled dessert.

  1. Trade your bread bun for iceberg lettuce

All types of lettuce (and other greens like kale and spinach) have high water content, but iceberg lettuce wins as the most hydrating at 95% water by weight. (9) The most obvious way to enjoy it is chopped in a salad, but you can use it in place of a bun on your next burger, Devinsky suggests.

  1. Tomatoes, no matter how you eat them, are hydrating

Tomatoes boast about 95% water content. And, like cantaloupe, they’re also a good source of potassium, offering about 9% of your daily target in a 1 cup serving. (10) Happily, they’re as versatile as they are delicious. You can enjoy them in pasta sauce, stew, fresh salsa, gazpacho, or simply sliced and sprinkled with a touch of salt and pepper.

  1. Bell peppers are a low-carb hydrating food

Bell peppers are about 92% water and are a decent source of fibre, especially considering how low-carb and low-calorie they are. (11) Use diced bell peppers to add crunch to salads and salsas or large slices as an alternative to crisps for scooping hummus or dip, Devinsky says. Stuffed peppers are also a great entrée option, though keep in mind they will lose some of their hydrating benefits during their time in the oven

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The global climate crisis is the emergency of our times. Amid all the fear and sadness of 2020, it remains the overwhelming long-term threat to our planet and to everyone’s health and security.

That is why we promise to keep reporting on it, raising the alarm and investigating the crisis and possible solutions, until we begin to see genuine systemic change.

A year ago, the Guardian made a pledge to our readers. We promised to keep speaking out about the climate emergency, despite the formidable and well-funded forces who would much rather the subject remained buried. We adopted new language to emphasise the existential nature of the situation. We pledged to deepen our environmental reporting. Our commercial teams decided to reject all advertising from fossil fuel extractors – a first among major media companies. We committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2030. And that was just the start.

Thousands of readers from 130 countries joined us as a result, paying to support open, independent, authoritative environmental journalism that pulls no punches, exposes the depth of the crisis, and challenges us to rethink every aspect of our warming world – how it can be better, more sustainable, more just and more hopeful.

That support has enabled us to maintain a relentless focus on the environment, with almost 3,000 articles over the last 12 months. We have published investigations, scientific analysis, reports on species extinction and air quality – and we have kept the voices of those affected by global heating at the heart of our reporting.

In the past year, we’ve reported from the Arctic and Antarctic, as well as other climate frontlines: the Amazon, the Sahara, the wildfires of Australia and the American west. We reported from the Cop25 summit of governments (travelling there by train). We have closely covered the movements trying to bring about change, such as Extinction Rebellion and the school climate strikes. We dug deep into the loss of wildlife, the problems of air pollution and microplastics, and exposed the most polluting companies on the planet.

We want our supporters to know: when you fund us, this is what you are paying for.

But of course this environmental year has been unique for another reason. A succession of related crises, not least the global Covid-19 pandemic, has brought a new perspective. These crises have starkly demonstrated how so many of our global problems – public health, migration, food security, land conflict, equality, gender and race – intersect with our environmental catastrophe.

For example, many researchers now see a correlation between species-jumping viruses such as Covid-19 and humanity’s deep, destructive incursion into the natural world. Links between high air pollution and increased coronavirus infection rates have also become apparent, thanks to persistent Guardian reporting. It’s becoming clearer than ever that people’s mass migration from the global south over the past decade has been principally caused by changing weather. And we are coming to understand, more deeply than ever, how global heating disproportionately affects communities of colour.

Independent, expert journalism can make a difference. It generates awareness of the problems – as well as the solutions. It galvanises protest and resistance, putting pressure on government and industry to make positive changes. And it promotes and encourages best practice, human ingenuity and innovation that we can all learn from. As Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief when the Paris deal was sealed in 2015, told our environment editor, Damian Carrington: “Without the work of the Guardian the delivery of the Paris agreement would have been far harder or perhaps even impossible … At a time when the darkness of fake news and doubt in science is everywhere, the Guardian is a point of light.”

But words alone may not be enough. We feel the need to act, too. So the Guardian is also trying to set an example. Over the past year, we have renounced fossil fuel advertising. We have eliminated more than 95% of our investment exposure to fossil fuels. We have qualified as a B Corp, a certification that will hold us to high social and environmental standards.

By 2030, we will have completely eliminated two-thirds of our emissions. For the remaining third, we will remove carbon from the atmosphere by supporting the highest-quality offsetting schemes. We don’t expect these changes to be easy, and we may make mistakes along the way, but we will be transparent about our progress and share everything we learn.

Wars have been fought over natural resources for most of human history, and our efforts to coexist with the natural world have been written about for decades, if not centuries. But the crisis before us today is something quite different, for two main reasons. First, the stakes are higher, the planet hotter than it has been for tens of thousands of years. The risk we face is nothing less than the downfall of the civilised world, perhaps in the lifetime of today’s schoolchildren. Second, we can see a path forward that avoids the worst outcomes. The worldwide response to Covid-19 has demonstrated that there can be collective global action if the threat is big enough, and that humans are capable of changing our lives and lifestyles quickly, when the moment demands it.

The threat presented by the climate crisis is big enough. Help us to galvanise the action required by supporting Guardian journalism.

It’s not too late.

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Thailand is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change and its impacts. 

Located on the equator and as part of the Mekong River Basin, the impacts are already being felt — beginning with the most vulnerable. 

This year, the region experienced the worst drought in almost half a century, affecting growing seasons, damaging crops and contributing to one of the worst wildfire seasons in a lifetime.

Meanwhile, Bangkok is sinking up to two centimetres every year, and more than 10% of the Thai population now live in places likely to be underwater by 2050. While the government seems to be lagging far behind in progress, potential solutions already exist.

Project drawdown

In March, scientists published the “Drawdown Review 2020”, “the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming”. The project gathered 100 top climate solutions reviewed and analysed by a coalition of researchers, scientists, entrepreneurs and advocates across the globe.

To help the world reach “drawdown” – defined as the point in which greenhouse gas emissions plateau and decline – the research proposes practical models and policy improvements from existing technologies. 

Why? Because there is no single silver bullet for climate change. To mitigate and adapt to climate change, a broad range of solutions in various sectors and industries have to be taken into account. 

The top of the list consists mainly of systemic changes related to renewable energy, land use, food production, carbon sinks (such as forests, agricultural crops and peatlands), refrigerant management (cooling and insulation), as well as education and healthcare. 

Some other examples include increasing solar power generation, reducing food waste, restoring tropical forests, as well as improving girls’ education and enhancing family planning.

National context needed for global solutions

The Drawdown Review proposed an expansive range of solutions but also cover a broad list of global methodologies. 

To effectively address climate change, these plans will need to be contextual, and most importantly, local.

Fortunately, Thailand has great potential for development. 

Currently, Thailand produces about 15 percent of its total energy from renewables and plans to increase this to 30 percent by 2036 as part of its Alternative Energy Development Plan. The energy systems are in need of extensive development and there are clear opportunities for renewable energy pathways for future development.

Whilst Thailand is not a super emitter by the likes of China or the USA, it is still in the top 25 highest emitters of CO² in the world, which is concerning given the country’s size. 

Cognisant of a need for action, in 2015, Thailand submitted its first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement which promised to reduce net GHG emissions by 20% of 2030 Business and Usual Levels

This may seem ambitious to some, but the targets are not even a decrease of current levels; in fact, these targets would put net CO² emission levels at over double, and close to triple, the country’s most recently published current emission figures

More ambitious targets and action are needed by Thailand to help the world reach even a 2 ℃ scenario. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that world emissions need to be reduced by 45% of current levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to reach 1.5℃ — the more ambitious and necessary of the temperature targets. 

While countries like China, the USA, and those who have already gone through carbon intensive development periods certainly hold the weight of this responsibility, achieving these targets requires the whole world — including Thailand — to play their part in becoming carbon neutral and not increasing current emission levels. 

What must Thailand do?

From analysing the 100 proposed solutions, we have selected 20 as the best solutions for Thailand, ordered by possible effectiveness. 

This is by no means an official list, and while Project Drawdown is a collaborative effort from a coalition of climate scientists, the solutions selected and presented below were done by a single climate scientist with specialities in climate change development and policy.  

  1. Refrigerant Management

Over 50% of Thailand’s electricity is used for refrigeration and cooling, according RAC NAMA Thailand, a company committed to the mitigation of refrigeration in the country

This reliance on refrigerants accounts for 20% of the country’s GHG emissions. Widely used refrigerants like HFCs have a 1,000 to 9,000 times higher capacity to warm the climate than carbon dioxide. 

The demand for these refrigerants are only expected to increase by 2030 — but the careful management of these products can have a powerful positive impact on our emission rates. It should be said that better insulation in buildings in Thailand would also drastically reduce the need for refrigerants. 

  1. Utility scale solar photovoltaics

Solar power has the highest potential in achieving 100% clean energy, according to the country’s Renewable Energy Outlook produced by the International Renewable Energy Agency and the Ministry of Energy. 

With so much sunlight year round, a relatively flat geography, and plenty of available land, Thailand is very well suited to solar power generation though it only accounted for 0.5% of the country’s energy profile in 2016.

  1. Concentrated solar power 

The main difference between concentrated solar power and solar photovoltaics (PV) is that while PV directly converts sunlight into electricity, concentrated solar power uses heat generated by the sun to power steam turbines, similar to the core technology of fossil fuel generation. 

While it doesn’t have the same potential as solar PV, the high levels of heat in Thailand — with Bangkok being the hottest city in the world — makes it an ideal environment for this technology.

However, its dependence on clear skies makes concentrated solar power unsuitable for the rainy season. But because it stores heat rather than electricity, this technology is capable of generating electricity even after sunset.

  1. Health and education

Health and education is the single best way to improve the amount of climate action taken in Thailand. There’s a reason it is so high on the list of effective solutions generated by Project Drawdown. 

It not only educates people on the importance of climate action, illustrating its close ties to people’s human rights but empowers women to family plan keeping the birthrate down. 

Any individual person has a large climate footprint which is why having a child is one of the most carbon intensive actions a person can take. 

This recommendation primarily pertains to population growth – Thailand’s birth rate of 1.53 births per woman is much lower than the global average of 2.42 and only continues to drop.

However, the birthrate can still be further reduced, and climate education does have a great impact on mitigation efforts and thus should be highly valued.

  1. Biomass power

The energy sector is Thailand’s greatest emitter and that is why it has the greatest potential for improvement. 

Every year, Thailand has a terrible burning season which consistently puts Chiang Mai as the worst ranked city for air quality in the world every year, posing a public health concern and threatening human rights. 

According to a joint report by the International Renewable Energy Agency and The Ministry of Energy, Thailand’s greatest renewable energy potential by far lies in solid biomass — which is any plant or animal material used for energy production. 

In Thailand, the most common sources for biomass are agricultural plant matter such as palm fronds, rice husks, sugar cane bagasse, or corn cobs. The burning of these materials can power traditional steam power plants. However, the burning of biomass creates carbon emissions and is more of a ‘bridge’ alternative to help countries transition to 100% clean energy than it is a permanent, sustainable solution.

  1. Reduced food waste

Reducing food waste is the solution with the highest potential impact in Project Drawdown’s global estimates — due to the high greenhouse gas intensity and land use emissions in food production and animal agriculture. 

Although, this food waste often occurs in highly developed countries — reports indicate that 64% of Thailand’s waste is composed of food.

  1. Onshore wind power

Thailand has relatively low wind speeds — however, depending on the wind power technology used, onshore wind power still holds great potential. 

According to the Renewable Energy Outlook, though it has about half the potential of solar power, it still makes for the second best option to achieve 100% clean energy. 

  1. Improved rice production

Rice production is responsible for at least 10% of global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and 9-19% of methane emissions. 

Methane is a greenhouse gas with 34 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide. By improving rice production, Thailand can grow rice more efficiently, sequester carbon, and decrease methane emissions through improved wetting and drying methods, better nutrients, more climate friendly plant varieties, and by using techniques to avoid tillage while seeding. 

Because Thailand is one of the largest producers of rice in the world, these methods can have a big scale impact on greenhouse gas emissions. 

  1. Plant rich diets

Because of the amount of emissions produced by animal agriculture, plant rich diets have been shown to be a very effective way to reduce people’s impact on the environment, as suggested by many reports and studies which all claim that avoiding meat and dairy was the single biggest way an individual can reduce their environmental impact. 

Though these recommendations have more bearing in highly developed countries with high animal protein intake, it can still have a great impact in Thailand where meat consumption is on the rise. 

  1. Alternative refrigerants

The fluorinated gases used in our refrigerants have a potent, significant greenhouse effect. 

With the amount of refrigerant usage in Thailand, the country can greatly lower its emissions by not only managing its consumption and disposal, but also shifting to alternative refrigerants such as ammonia or captured carbon dioxide.

  1. Forest Protection

Forests are one of the most effective ways to sequester carbon, being one of the significant ways Thailand continues to keep emissions down. The country has long had a goal of 40% forest cover, making it is crucial to hold the government accountable to this goal and perhaps even increasing it as urban development and intensive agriculture expands. 

  1. Distributed solar photovoltaics 

Rooftop Solar PV is a market that remains largely untapped in Thailand. Distributed solar photovoltaics — the bulk of which is rooftop solar panels — are a powerful way for consumers to take energy production into their own hands, giving households and companies the ability to generate electricity for profit. 

Over the years, the price of solar energy technology has dropped considerably and continues to do so. In rural or remote areas, solar PVs can also provide access to electricity, bypassing the need for large scale power grids.

  1. Improved clean cooking stoves 

Around 30% of Thailand’s households still use traditional biomass fuel for cooking, which is still listed as a major source for the renewable energy in Thailand. 

But annually, well over 4 million people die as a result of these fuels due to its indoor air pollution. Traditional biomass also produces 2-5% of the world’s greenhouse gasses, which makes clean cooking stoves a practical and promising solution to not only reduce climate impacts but also save lives.

  1. Public transit

Public transit is used quite widely across Bangkok and Thailand, but still highly lacks the infrastructure to be truly effective. 

Though these transit systems are consistently packed, traffic in Bangkok is still one of the worst in the world. The transportation sector is the highest emitting sector in Thailand.

Building on existing infrastructures to increase capacity, energy use, access, comfort, speed and other improvements could easily help promote Thailand’s public transit and drastically reduce the number of cars on the road, and in turn drastically reduce Thailand’s emissions as well as air pollution.

  1. Tropical forest restoration

This solution is only further down on the list because our existing forest must be protected before it can be restored. Despite Thailand’s goal of achieving 40% forest cover, set in 1975, forest cover has actually gone from 53.5% cover in 1961 to 31.6% in 2014

Continued pressure has slowed this downward movement almost to stagnation, but deforestation slowly continues. Tropical forests are extremely crucial for our climate and environment, serving as vital carbon sinks and ecosystems, thus making it a top priority for climate action.

  1. Electric cars

Much of Thailand uses cars that emit huge amounts of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane — highly toxic contributors to climate change and greenhouse gases. 

While producing more cars may not be the answer to our problems, electric cars can vastly reduce emissions and improve air quality, especially in big cities like Bangkok.

  1. Biochar production

Biochar, produced by slowly baking biomass through a process called pyrolysis, can sequester large amounts of carbon and help enrich soil. 

This is a viable solution for Thailand because of the huge amounts of biomass we have. 

As previously mentioned, biomass should be treated as a transitory form of energy. The same material cannot go through the both processes, thus while biomass is the more powerful recommendation as of right now, biochar can continue to put these materials to good use sequestering carbon, once biomass production begins to be phased out by cleaner forms of energy. 

  1. Peatland protection and rewetting

Peatlands are a type of wetlands made up of partially decayed organic matter that has immense carbon storage capacity — despite only covering only 3% of the world’s surface, they store more carbon than anything but oceans and store one third of the world’s soil carbon. 

However, if not protected, this carbon sink can turn into a big carbon emitter. There is a substantial amount of peatland in Thailand — around 45,300 to 64,500 hectares — all of which needs to be protected. 

  1. Recycling

The infrastructure and culture for recycling in Thailand still lags far behind. 

Recycling is an important way to curb emissions from manufacturing and landfills. However, what’s more important than recycling is to avoid the consumption of single use products altogether — policy for this should be quite easy to implement if finally taken seriously. 

  1. Alternative cement

Cement is the second most consumed resource on the planet after water — accounting for an estimated 8% of global emissions

While the top five highest producers — dominated by China and India — produce 71% of the world’s cement, Thailand is still among the top 15 in an industry that spans 160 countries.

The most common form of concrete is a combination of crushed limestone and aluminosilicate clay that is roasted in a kiln, a process which is extremely harmful to both human and ecological health. Alternative cements can reduce emissions by using materials like volcanic ash or industrial waste products that upsurge the most carbon and energy intensive process in cement production. 

Though Thailand is beginning to take big steps toward cleaner production, it still has a long way to go as one of the largest producers of cement.

To push for more climate action in Thailand and work towards implementing these proposed solutions require individual change and governmental pressure. 

Equipped with the knowledge of what has to be done and how we might achieve it, we can put more concrete pressure on the government and the people around us to act. 

The technology and methods to actualise the change we need to save our planet exists. The twenty solutions listed may not all necessarily be the most applicable in our context, but the Drawdown Project has presented us with viable options that are being implemented in the world right now. 

The next step is to call for these technologies and methods to be invested by our government and other relevant organisations — that they be put into policy, and that those around us demand the same. 

Perhaps for many of you, climate change has sat on the back burner, particularly with the current political situation. 

However, there is no denying that climate change should continue to be a priority issue for all of us. 

Without immediate and drastic change over the next few decades, billions, particularly the most vulnerable, will suffer. We implore you to take to the streets, demand action from the government, get involved in your local community, or even just spread awareness about these issues and solutions.

Drawdown Review

A renewable energy outlook for Thailand published by IRENA: 

https://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2017/Nov/IRENA_Outlook_Thailand_2017.pdf

https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/SubmissionsStaging/NationalReports/Documents/52047631_Thailand-NC3-1-Thailand%20TNC.pdf (page 32 Most up to date emission portfolio from Thailand by the UNFCCC – also divided into sectors and GHG)

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As if we did not have enough to worry about we are coming into the mosquito season and have to be wary of Dengue fever. Please follow this sage advice from our American colleagues and stay safe from yet another plague.

When it comes to fending off itchy mosquito bites, synthetic repellents are not your only option. Find out what else works to ward off pesky mosquitoes.

by Deniz Sahinturk Medically Reviewed by Ross Radusky, MD

Citronella candles and fans are two ways to keep mosquitoes away.

(Sarah can you change the pics with stock please)

Warmer weather means revelling in outdoor activities like hiking, sunbathing, and barbecues. Along with these plusses comes one tiny nuisance: mosquitos. These pesky pests, which thrive in warm weather, can put a damper on anyone’s summer fun. But there are ways to deter mosquitos, so you can enjoy the sunshine.

The most common method used to repel mosquitoes is Deet spray, according to a survey published in July 2018 in Peer J — The Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences. Deet spray has the longest lasting effect against mosquitos, but there have been some concerns over potential side effects of the spray, including skin irritation, redness, rash, swelling. 

Joseph Conlon, a retired US Navy entomologist and technical adviser for the American Mosquito Control Association, says there is no need to worry, though.

“Deet is a product registered by the EPA [Environmental protection Agency], and poses no unreasonable risk,” Conlon says. “If you use it judiciously there should be no problem — I mean, don’t drink it.” Listen up Mr. Trump! But there are other ways to thwart mosquitoes if you don’t want to use a synthetic repellent. In fact, according to the survey, 36% of people prefer to use natural repellents.

“The results show that in the future, there won’t just be a marketplace for synthetic repellents, but for natural repellents as well,” says Immo Hansen, PhD, who worked on the survey.

When using natural repellents that are applied directly to the skin, it’s important to use EPA registered ones and always check the labels, reminds Conlon. If you have sensitive skin or known skin allergies, it’s a good idea to test your skin first by applying a small drop of essential oil on the inside of your forearm.

Here are 7 natural ways to prevent mosquito bites:

  1. Lemon Eucalyptus

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified lemon eucalyptus, an EPA registered repellent, as an active ingredient in mosquito repellent. In a study published in June 2014 in the journal Fitoterapia, lemon eucalyptus essential oil was found to provide 100% protection against mosquitoes for up to 12 hours.

“It is a very good repellent,” says Conlon. “Just do not use it on kids younger than three years old; it hasn’t been approved for them.”

Bonus: Lemon eucalyptus also helps relieve the symptoms of the common cold, like congestion and coughing.

  1. Catnip oil

What most people know about catnip is its effect on cats. But it can also be used as a culinary herb or smoked like a cigarette. Research shows that it can be used to repel mosquitos, too. Yet this does not mean that catnip oil, which is acquired from catnip by steam distillation, will make you suddenly attractive to cats, according to Stephanie Maslow-Blackman, wellness advocate and essential oils instructor.

“The difference between the oil and the plant is that when you extract the oil from the plant, the oil won’t have the side effects the plant might have. For example, if you’re allergic to trees and use cedar wood oil, you won’t be experiencing an allergic reaction,” Maslow-Blackman says.

So if you want to have more cat friends, you’ll have to find another way. But this oil is EPA approved and will give you seven hours of protection from mosquitos, according to Conlon.

  1. Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil is a natural insecticide and a mosquito repellent, according to the American College of Healthcare Sciences, based in Portland, Oregon. You can mix this oil with other scents, like lemon, and rub them onto your skin for a minty scent. But, Maslow-Blackman stresses, “Peppermint oil is a hot oil,” which means it can cause a warm sensation when applied directly to your skin and might cause a skin rash. To prevent this, she suggests diluting the peppermint oil with a carrier oil, like canola oil.

  1. Lemongrass oil

According to a study published in July 2016 in the World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, lemongrass oil is comparable to commercial mosquito repellents. According to Maslow-Blackman, combining lemongrass oil with another essential oil (like cinnamon bark oil) will make its repelling effect stronger. 

Party. Snacks on the table
  1. IR3535

IR3535, a synthetic amino acid, is one of the most common active ingredients in insect repellents. Repellents containing IR3535 come mostly in cream form, and are available in most drugstores. The amino acid messes with the insects’ sense of smell and is an excellent repellent, according to Conlon. “It has no toxicity and gives you eight hours of protection,” he says.

  1. Use a fan

David Shetlar, an Ohio State University professor of urban landscape entomology, told Cleveland.com that mosquitos are bad fliers. So if you’re sitting outside on a summer day, bring an electric fan with you to keep the mosquitoes away.

  1. Eliminate standing water

Any pools or puddles around your home or yard can quickly become a mosquito breeding ground, according to the Mayo Clinic. Tips to keep the area around your home free from these insects include:

Unclogging roof gutters

Emptying kids’ pools

Changing the water in bird baths weekly

Making sure rain is not accumulating in trash can lids

Storing flowerpots or any other unused containers upside down

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“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” 

While I was standing on the summit of Phu Chi fa waiting for the sun to rise, I could not help looking at this amazingly beautiful planet and it pained me immensely to think about the rate at which we are destroying it. It felt surreal to stand so close to a mist of floating clouds and watch the beautiful sun turn the earth into shades of orange with her gold droplets.

This beautiful hill station is located in northern Thailand near the border of Laos. I was told that it is still considered an undiscovered place so I was super excited but when I climbed the summit at 5.30 am, there were so many people there. It is a popular destination amongst locals and I saw some foreign visitors too so I would not really call this destination unexplored but that should not be a big concern if you really want to visit. It is easy to get there by car from Chiang Rai, I stayed there overnight to ensure I was on time for the sunrise. Standing and watching the sunrise over the misty mountain was such a surreal experience, it was one of the most glorious displays of nature I have witnessed. My pictures can never do justice to what I witnessed with my own eyes.

I was told that the name Pu Chi Fa translates to, ”The mountain that points to the sky” and it definitely lives up to its name. When you are viewing the sunrise from the top of the summit, it literally feels like you are in a dream. I spent some time there after sunrise too, a lot of people start leaving after the sunrise but I really enjoyed staying there and clicking pictures. You can walk around the summit and discover different paths, I walked down one path and tried clicking some pictures. This is a dream destination for landscape photographers and if you can get there very early, it is possible to set up a tripod right in the front. The change in colours and the way the clouds come out after the sunrise is interesting to watch.

The best way to go there is by car from Chiang Rai, it’s roughly 2.5 hours. If you want to watch the sky turning from dark purple to pinkish orange, it is recommended to reach there as early as possible depending on the time of the year. You can get this information through local people or websites, I went there in December and the weather was a little chilly. I stayed at a local hotel, there are lots of options for tents too if you are interested in camping overnight.

My schedule to visit Phu Chi Fah in mid-December looked like this:

4.45am: wake up

5:15am: Leave our guesthouse in a songthaew for the summit, the guesthouse owner had her own songthaew. It took 10 mins.

5:25am: Begin the 760 metre hike up the Phu Chi Fa Forest Park trail (15 to 20 minutes)

5:40am: Reach the summit, wait for the sunrise and click photos of the summit’s silhouette 

6:55am: Sunrise is complete!

7:00am: Stay and watch the mist clear up around the mountain tops

8:00am: Start walking down the summit (20 minutes)

8:20am: Take a songthaew ride back 

My biggest disappointment was that there is still so much single use plastic being used by all the resorts there. It is important for travellers and travel makers to protect the environment, it pains me to see the lack of education and understanding that nature needs to be loved and cared for by human beings. I carried my own water bottle and strongly recommend to avoid single use plastic when you travel to the mountains.

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I am always excited to attend events which focus on creating awareness towards a zero waste lifestyle. Ecotopia was an event organised to focus on a green community of mindful people who believe that they can create a better world. Events like this are a reminder that there are many eco conscious entrepreneurs in Bangkok who are eager to mitigate climate change and we as consumers must support them. The money we spend is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in so we must ensure we buy products which are not harmful to the planet and the animals which coexist with us. Human action or inaction will determine the future of our planet.

The event was extremely well organised and I loved all the different booths they had focusing on different aspects of sustainable living. I particularly enjoyed meeting a farmer who showed me a prototype of a kitchen waste composting machine, he had different sizes. I had an idea about the importance of composting kitchen waste but I have always struggled to do it properly so it was interesting to learn things which seem so basic but we have all forgotten.

There was a booth for upcycling plastic, It was interesting to watch the artistic process. Precious Plastic Bangkok which focuses on recycling plastic bottle tops into something useful was also present at the event. I really love the colourful flower pots they make from waste plastic, it would be amazing if more entrepreneurs can find solutions to recycle all the plastic which is lying in our oceans and threatening marine life and destroying our planet.

The booth I really enjoyed was the one set up by Fashion Revolution Thailand to make masks from natural dyes using various methods of tie and dye. I made my own mask and dyed it in natural indigo. Chemical dyes used by fast fashion are polluting our water bodies and the idea behind this booth was to create awareness for people about natural dyes and to be mindful in consuming fast fashion.

My biggest concern is can such events become mainstream? Can eco conscious brands make their prices affordable? I have spoken about this to a few brands and they tell me that prices will come down once demand goes up and those of us who can afford to support these brands must continue to spread awareness and hopefully we can collectively solve the issue and cocreate a better tomorrow for the future generations.

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I was invited at the weekend to come and see the Banyan Golf Club and their accompanying Residences and Village and where they are now renting out 17 private pool villas (pets allowed) and 69 lagoon-side pool access villas the 52 villas on a monthly basis for just 25,000B a month. With this enticing package, Banyan Hua Hin has adapted its business strategy to focus on offering Thai residents a fully integrated healthy and active lifestyle experience. Banyan Village has already been very popular with the Thai residents with over 60% of the inventory now rented.

We also saw the delightful Residences at the rear of the property where buyers can work with their architects to create purpose built luxury homes ranging from THB11.9 million and upwards.

I was checked in to the Village and shown to my two bedroom 120 square metres villa for the weekend. They are spacious two bedrooms, two bathroom units with a small fully fitted kitchen and a high ceiling lounge/dining room with direct access to a lagoon swimming pool at the rear. Fully equipped with the latest fixtures and state-of-the-art technology, including high-speed Wi-Fi, the villas are ideal for families who want to experience alfresco living, away from the crowds. All residents are assured of seclusion in a self-contained village with 24/7 security. A daily housekeeping service is also provided.

The villas are laid out in small clusters in separate cul de sacs so you are able to park your car right outside. The gardens are nicely tended and gardeners were working all weekend on the grounds. There is a central administration building at the front and there will, I understand, be a fine dining restaurant and all day dining there soon.

In the evening we were invited to see the sister golf club, one of the finest in Thailand. They had an event organised for their members a fine dining wine event with six courses, each course accompanied by a fine wine. 

The course is set in the picturesque rolling hills less than 15 minutes from the resort. It is well run by the Golf Club Manager and Director Stacey Walton who has been there for 12 years  since it was planned and opened. The staff are very professional and the main building or club house is set looking out over the most delightful vista. I was met by Stacey who took me to Mulligan’s a bar alongside the clubhouse looking over the last tee.

The award winning 18 hole championship course nestled between the mountains and the sea on Thailand’s glittering gulf coast boasts a spectacular par 72 course featuring undulating fairways, manicured greens and a variety of different tee boxes making it fun, enjoyable and challenging for golfers of all levels. It is no surprise therefore, that the course won the “Best Golf Club Experience in Asia Pacific” award in 2019 and was named on the Rolex “World’s Top 1000 Golf Courses” list in 2012. 

That evening we had a wonderful meal and the rapport and camaraderie amongst the group of members was a pleasure to watch whilst we were wined and dined with a definitive feast of first class food and wine. At the end of the evening I drifted off back to the resort to retire and slept like a log!

After breakfast the following morning I was treated to a massage at the onsite spa which was a pleasure. That afternoon after lunch at the Banyan Golf Club we were invited to join the academy, where they offer two hour and three day options to learn the sport or improve your technique led by John Wither the clubs resident professional. The “Play Golf in 3 Days” package includes expert coaching, video analysis and driving range sessions and more.

Next month in August and September Hua Hin has an annual golf festival where the Banyan and Black Mountain courses charge a discounted rate of just 1,950B per round and the other 9 courses in and around Hua Hin charge just 1,000B plus buggy, caddy, etc. This would be the ideal time to stay at the Village, far from the madding crowd in downtown Hua Hin, and enjoy some of the best golf courses in SE Asia. You will probably chill so much at the Village that you will stay on a couple more months!

While staying at Banyan Village, guests are given the Banyan Privilege Card which provides up to 50% discounts at top restaurants, attractions and activities in Hua Hin and can also take the opportunity to visit BeWell, a fully certified family health centre on site which provides a range of services from health checks to nutritional assessment and advice. 

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Some people are fortunate enough to have a safe home, enough good food, some form of transportation and enough friends to help them weather the storm of Covid-19. I am one of those. I live in a small ocean side town in southern Australia, and it is beautiful, clean and relatively quiet after the tourist season.  I count myself very lucky. 

I like to be busy, to use my time productively. I retired reluctantly and set about learning Thai, building a house in Hua Hin and travelling extensively to use the time I suddenly found on my hands. My idea of bliss is to do three different things in one day. When I travel I actually make a chart and at the end of the day, fill in the parts of the day. Maybe that is the teacher in me. No, not maybe. It is the teacher who makes the schedules. 

Most of my life I have been lucky and productive and active. Not so now. Now I am suddenly not busy at all. My physical movements have been “cabined, cribbed, confined” not through any choice of my own. All the time I want and then some. 

“Life is not a dress rehearsal.” Is what I think. I have created a three part isolation day. It is not for everybody but it is for me, and it seems to be working fine. As you will see, there are actually four parts and one is optional.

In the morning I exercise. I do XBX – an old Canadian air force series of exercises; I do a walk or run tape and I have a few other exercises. Some days I do Pilates as well. Then a leisurely shower and equally leisurely breakfast, I tidy whatever needs to be tidied in either the garden or the house. That is my morning, part 1 done. (I have to confess the house and the garden are quite small: so, it is not an onerous task. Both the house and garden are tidier than they have ever been). This part is not optional.

In the afternoon I exercise my brain. Part 2 is learning a language on DuoLingo. I think there are better online platforms for learning a language and when I have finished DuoLingo. I will switch to another. Hopefully the world will be open to travel again, and the language learnt will be useful. 

I am also studying one of thousands of courses offered on Coursera. It is on Modern Art and my aim is to try to understand it. As soon as I have finished this one, I will go on to another. I also read for an hour an afternoon just to keep new information coming in. 

A very important part of the day is connecting with people. I consider that to be Part 3. I make at least three calls on WhatsApp or FaceTime or some other visual platform and write at least three emails to people. It is important to reach out to people in the way they feel most comfortable. I even make phone calls! This is also the time that I do any paperwork for the house or myself.

The optional part is the projects, and I have many. A collection of poems I have loved, sorting through years of memorabilia and digitising it, sorting out the cookbooks and taking out the good recipes, watching programmes streamed to air as all audiences are in their homes.  

I finish the day writing in a diary to record who I spoke with and what my thoughts were for the day. With the best will in the world the days seem very much the same, even with the parts, and I want to be able to look back on this time with some knowledge as to what I did. 

That is my three part day with extras. The physical, the mental, the social and the optional of the day. It is not my usual day, but it is the best I can do. 

Maybe a schedule will be useful when I can get out of the house. But then I will be able to hang out with my family and friends. 

As my Russian friends say “We shall see” what I do when I no longer have all the time in the world.

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“It is an example of how to repurpose an abandoned structure and increase green spaces in Bangkok through cost-effective design.”

Bangkok’s new “Skypark,” built on an abandoned, never-completed Skytrain track, could become be a model for turning the capital’s unused spaces into much-needed green areas. Such an initiative would also boost public health and mitigate the impacts of climate change, urban experts told Reuters. Chao Phraya Skypark, scheduled to open later this month, connects neighbourhoods on both sides of the Chao Phraya river. The new green space is built on an elevated rail line that lay unused for more than 30 years.

According to the director of the Urban Design and Development Centre, a consultancy that led the project:

“It may not be large, but it has outsized importance as a catalyst for urban regeneration. What’s more it can also change the way people look at public spaces. It is an example of how to repurpose an abandoned structure and increase green spaces in Bangkok through cost-effective design.”

The shortage of green spaces in Bangkok and other crowded cities has recently come under heavy scrutiny, triggering a rush to parks for exercise, fresh air and sunlight. According to a study last year by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, the health benefits are clear: city dwellers tend to live longer in leafy neighbourhoods.

Bangkok is predicted by some climate experts to be an urban area among those hardest hit by extreme weather conditions in coming years. Flooding is already common during the monsoon season, but by 2030 nearly 40% of the city could become flooded each year due to more intense rainfall, according to World Bank estimates.

Skypark, measuring 280 meters by 8 meters, makes it easier for residents to access nearby schools, markets and places of worship, The goal, according to the UDDC director, is to replicate Paris’s “15-minute city”, where people can reach their destination within 15 minutes of walking, cycling or using mass transit.”

Throughout Asia’s space-starved metropolises, developers and planners are increasingly turning to so-called “dead land” under bridges, flyovers and viaducts.

“Chao Phraya Skypark can be a model for swathes of unused land under the city’s expressways. Parks and rooftop gardens can reduce air pollution and harmful emissions, and also limit flooding.

“With Skypark we have shown it is possible to create green spaces from existing structures that can be valuable in fighting climate change.”

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