Court allows Trump’s border wall to violate several conservation acts

February 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Donald Trump is moving forward with the construction of his controversial border wall, even if it means sidestepping important environmental laws. A federal judge ruled in favor of Trump’s wall construction along California’s southern border, a project that is expected to violate several conservation acts. The federal court ruled that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the power to wave environmental laws in the construction of the border wall, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air Act. The majority opinion argued that the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 gives the DHS power to ignore certain laws when it comes to border security. Related: 10 species at risk of extinction under the Trump administration “Because the projects are statutorily authorized and DHS has waived the environmental laws California and the environmental groups seek to enforce, we affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to DHS,” Judge M. Margaret McKeown said. According to EcoWatch , environmentalists and conservation groups attempted to stop the construction of the border wall in 2017. Building the prototypes for the structure has already violated at least 37 regulations in San Diego County. Once construction begins, environmentalists predict that more than 90 endangered species could be harmed by the time the wall is complete. California is not the only state facing an environmental crisis. Texas is also getting ready to start construction of its border wall , and conservation groups are worried about how the wall will affect one of the most successful butterfly sanctuaries in the country: the National Butterfly Center . A 5-mile portion of the wall will cut through the heart of the property, which has environmentalists worried about how it will affect the 200 variations of butterflies that call the sanctuary home. This includes the monarch, black swallowtail and the Mexican bluewing. Conservation groups are currently attempting to stall construction of the wall in Texas as they scramble to figure out a solution. The Trump administration has hailed the new court decision as a major victory in its effort to secure the border. The White House has not, however, addressed how building the border wall will break dozens of environmental laws and potentially harm endangered species. Via EcoWatch Image via Melissa McMasters

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Court allows Trump’s border wall to violate several conservation acts

Compensation for conservation: water markets are economists’ answer to scarcity

February 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

As cites grow and put more pressure on water sources, scarcity is an increasingly important issue. More than two thirds of the world’s population experience a water shortage every year. Just because water continues to reach your tap does not mean your area isn’t experiencing a shortage. Instead, it could mean your town is forced to tap sources, such as rivers, faster than they can renew. Economists have introduced one solution, water markets, which assign a value to usage under the premise that when something has a dollar value, people are more likely to conserve it. What are water markets? When preserving nature for nature’s sake is not enough to get a company’s attention, sometimes the best strategy is through its bottom line. Related: 7 ways to conserve water and reduce your water footprint Water markets function similarly to the stock market or carbon trading markets, where water usage rights and quantities can be traded among voluntary stakeholders within a watershed. There are different types of trades and markets that vary based on local legislation, infrastructure and government regulation. Ultimately, one water user sells a portion of its predetermined water allotment to another user, meaning it reduces the quantity of water it uses (in exchange for compensation), while the buyer utilizes the agreed upon amount of water. Why would the seller engage in a water market? A farmer, for example, might sell a portion of their water access and use the funding to purchase more efficient irrigation or use it as compensation for reducing their yield. Why would the buyer engage in a water market? A metropolitan area, for example, might purchase water from farmers upstream and use it for urban residents. This enables more efficient use of the water available, without forcing the government to tap into reserves or build expensive infrastructure to reach far away sources. Environmental organizations might also purchase water and then not use it, simply to ensure that an optimum amount of water cycles through the watershed to support healthy ecosystems . Why do we need water markets? Most people consider water a human right and a shared resource; however, this means that people do not necessarily have tangible incentive to conserve . Agriculture is the largest water user, with more than 90 percent of all water going to irrigated farms . But nearly 75 percent of all irrigated farms are vulnerable to scarcity, and almost 20 percent of all irrigated crops are produced with nonrenewable groundwater. This means that a fifth of everything we eat taps the earth’s water supply beyond what the water cycle can naturally replenish. This rate is alarmingly unsustainable. As The Nature Conservancy reported , “Nature is the silent and unseen victim of water scarcity.” But with the rise in severe weather, including flooding and drought , those who are paying attention could argue that nature is not so silent. Not to mention the 844 million people living without adequate access to clean water who are also victims in plain sight. Have water markets been successful? Australia’s Murray-Darling river has one of the most widely cited examples of a successful water market. Established in response to a seven-year drought, the market provides farmers with an alternate revenue stream that helps them stay in business even during times of water crises. Currently, 40 percent of all water used within the extensive basin in southeastern Australia is traded water. Another example comes from San Diego, California , where the water authority pays farmers to reduce water and reroute it to urban areas. This traded water covers one third of the city’s water needs. Reducing water use on large farms — without destroying local economies and food supplies — inevitably has to be a major part of the solution. Unlike carbon trading, which many argue promotes “pay to pollute,” water markets offer “compensation for conservation.” According to The Nature Conservancy , water markets “offer a powerful mechanism for alleviating water scarcity, restoring ecosystems and driving sustainable water management.” Markets, however, are intended to be one solution within a more comprehensive conservation strategy. Other components include enforcing meaningful reductions in water usage —  forcing businesses to innovate more efficient operations, appliances and products. The concepts of trading and monetizing water access are complex, abstract and focus on major players. More research is continually needed to ensure that market approaches do not only benefit the loudest and highest bidders, but to ensure the equity of markets for small and nontraditional users. + ‘The Nature Conservancy’ Image via Diego Delso

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Compensation for conservation: water markets are economists’ answer to scarcity

Biofase has discovered a unique way to recycle avocado pits

February 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

A Mexico-based company has discovered a unique way to recycle avocado pits. Biofase, a startup founded in Michoacan, Mexico, is using discarded waste from the fruit to create biodegradable cutlery and straws in a bigger fight against single-use plastics and food waste. A biochemical engineer named Scott Munguia created Biofase in 2013. The company uses a technique that transforms avocado waste into bioplastics, which are then used to form materials. All of the products the company creates from the pits are fully biodegradable and decompose within 240 days. Related: How to grow an avocado tree from an avocado pit “Our family of biodegradable resins can be processed by all conventional methods of plastic molding,” Biofase explained in a tweet. According to EcoWatch , the organization processes around 15 metric tons of avocado waste every day. Not only is the operation proving profitable, but it is also good for the environment. Apart from the biodegradable utensils and straws, Biofase is preventing a significant amount of agricultural waste from ending up in Mexico’s landfills and surrounding bodies of water. Biofase claims to be the sole biopolymer supplier in its home country of Mexico . The company ships its biodegradable products to more than 11 countries in Latin America. Several chain restaurants also order cutlery and straws from Biofase, including Chili’s Grill & Bar, Fiesta Americana and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. Although Biofase is leading Mexico in the production of biopolymers, new laws will likely create a need for more development in the industry. In fact, several municipalities in the region have passed laws against single-use plastics , emphasizing a growing need for eco-friendly alternatives. For example, Querétaro banned plastic bags in 2017, and Tijuana followed suit the following year. Ditching single-use plastics is a growing trend in Mexico. To date, there are more than 15 laws at city and state levels that are meant to discourage the use of disposable plastics. Biopolymers come with their own disadvantages, but these are a viable solution to the growing problem of plastic waste around the globe. If a company like Biofase can come up with an ingenious way to create biodegradable straws and biodegradable utensils, we can only hope that other forms of biodegradable plastics will follow. + Biofase Via EcoWatch Image via Julie Henriksen

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Biofase has discovered a unique way to recycle avocado pits

Sculptural wood cabin is an alpine retreat with magnificent views

February 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Perched high on weather-beaten mountain is the Hooded Cabin, a sculptural wood cabin with a rugged exterior and a sleek interior. The contemporary building is the work of Arkitektværelset , a Norwegian architectural practice that embraced the many environmental and building challenges that the project posed. From the high altitude mountain conditions of Imingfjell, Norway to the strict building regulations, the limitations not only shaped the iconic form of the retreat but also encouraged “playful creativity” from the designers. Set at an altitude of 1,125 meters within an area close to, but not within, the danger zone of avalanche activity, the 73-square-meter Hooded Cabin is surrounded by a wild and windblown snow-covered landscape. The architecture team wanted to take advantage of the sublime landscape and oriented the little wood cabin to face panoramic views of the lake. A “hood” element was created to protect the glazed opening and comply with building codes, which stipulated gabled roofs angled at 22 to 27 degrees. “We kept the original idea of a ‘protecting hood’ from the initial project sketches,” head architect Grethe Løland of Norwegian studio Arkitektværelset said in a project statement. “The ore pine roof protects the ‘eyes’ of the cabin in the front and prevents rain to dribble down the main entrance in the cabin’s ‘neck’. The building becomes an understated iconic sculpture in an area that most cabins look alike, and our clients really liked its form.” Related: This Norwegian alpine cabin fits together like a 3D timber puzzle For a more striking visual effect, the cabin’s outer shell is built from angled unpainted pine paneling that contrasts with the black-painted main cabin “body.” Norway’s strict building codes also called for sectioned windows, standing wood paneling and triple bargeboards. Large windows bring nature and plenty of natural light into the sleek and modern interior, which is lined with oak floors and paneling. Built to sleep up to 12 people, the wood cabin houses a kitchen and living room at the view-facing front of the building, while the rear consists of the master bedroom, bathroom, a sauna that doubles as a guest room and an open attic that fits eight. + Arkitektværelset Images by Marte Garmann via Arkitektværelset

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Sculptural wood cabin is an alpine retreat with magnificent views

Verizon pledges $1 billion for programs that help the environment

February 15, 2019 by  
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Verizon is fulfilling its promise to better the environment. Keeping true to its commitment to corporate responsibility , the telecommunications company has allocated $1 billion to spend on programs that have a positive impact on the environment. Last year, Verizon committed to convert 50 percent of its energy consumption to renewable sources over the next six years. To that end, Verizon borrowed $1 billion worth of funds from green bonds to pay for projects that invest in renewable energy sources at its production facilities. This includes hydrogen fuel cells, solar technology and wind farms. “This is now a real game changer,” Verizon’s chief sustainability officer Jim Gown explained. “The whole goal of this new bond was to focus on a new, unique funding source.” Related: Denmark to build 9 renewable energy-producing islands south of Copenhagen Verizon would not have been able to fulfill its promise of renewable energy without the new bonds. According to Fortune , the bonds were a major success because more people were purchasing the low-cost bonds than they had to sell, which resulted in a low borrowing rate. The company did not reveal how low the rate sank. Green bonds have become a popular way to fund environmental projects over the past five years. Last year, these types of bonds raised more than $167 billion across the world, and experts believe that number could reach as high as $200 billion in 2019. Verizon is on a growing list of companies that are using green bonds to fulfill their promise of corporate responsibility. Apple , for example, previously borrowed $2.5 billion to fund projects, while Telefónica, a cell phone company based out of Spain, took out $1.1 billion this year. Along with funding renewable energy projects, Verizon plans to use the bonds to increase efficiency in its facilities. Most of the $1 billion the company borrowed will be used to better the environment, but some of it will go toward installing LED lighting and smart sensors to reduce energy use when employees are gone. The company is taking its commitment to corporate responsibility a step further by also spending money on its reforestation program, which seeks to plant new trees in Miami and Puerto Rico, areas that have recently been devastated by hurricanes. + Verizon Via Fortune Image via Shutterstock

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Verizon pledges $1 billion for programs that help the environment

Sleep in this restored WWII air control tower full of historic charm

February 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

A unique Airbnb listing in Scotland is inviting guests to stay at an amazing restored WWII air traffic control tower. Located in the Scottish Highlands area of Tain, the HMS OWL Air Control Tower dates back to the second world war, when it was used as an airbase for planes coming in and out of the country. Now, the tower has been renovated into a vibrant guesthouse with design features that pay homage to its military past. The old air tower is located in Tain, a former WWII air base that sits adjacent to the North Coast 500 Scenic Route. The former military structure was bought by Justin Hooper and Charlotte Seddon, who converted it into their family home. The family lives on the first three floors, but the top floor of the building is available for rent starting around $100 per night. Related: Sleep hundreds of feet in the air in this renovated air traffic control tower The five-year renovation process was extensive, but the couple went to extreme lengths to retain the military character of the building. To blend the tower into the expansive grassy landscape, Justin and Charlotte painted the exterior a jet black. They also left the original steel-framed Crittal windows that let in optimal natural light into the property. On the interior, large concrete pillars and exposed brickwork gives the living atmosphere a chic,  industrial feel. Large leather sofas and chairs, along with a wood-burning stove, make the living space extra warm and inviting. The top floor’s  unique guest room sleeps up to two people in a comfortable king-sized bed and beautiful en suite. The room has plenty of large windows to let in natural light as well as to offer the stunning views of the Scottish countryside. + HMS OWL Air Control Tower Via Curbed Images via HMS OWL Air Control Tower

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Sleep in this restored WWII air control tower full of historic charm

Earth911 Podcast, Feb. 15, 2019: Meet GoingZeroWaste.com Creator Kathryn Kellog

February 15, 2019 by  
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In our continuing conversations with sustainability writers and bloggers we … The post Earth911 Podcast, Feb. 15, 2019: Meet GoingZeroWaste.com Creator Kathryn Kellog appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Podcast, Feb. 15, 2019: Meet GoingZeroWaste.com Creator Kathryn Kellog

Footprint by Footprint: Calculating Carbon

February 15, 2019 by  
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Every day of your life, across everything you do and … The post Footprint by Footprint: Calculating Carbon appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Footprint by Footprint: Calculating Carbon

How Can I Reduce the Cost of My Solar System?

February 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Eco Tech

Have you considered installing a solar power system on your … The post How Can I Reduce the Cost of My Solar System? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Lyft vows to help customers find electric vehicles with Green Mode

February 14, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Lyft is making important strides to decrease carbon emissions in the ride-hailing industry. The company just announced a new initiative called Green Mode, which will make it easier for customers to find electric vehicles (EVs) through the platform. The company, which was the first of its kind to get a carbon-neutral label last year, is planning to introduce a score of electric vehicles in 2019. Putting thousands of EVs on the road will offer a more eco-friendly alternative to customers while putting more money in the pocket of its employees. According to Lyft , the Green Mode program will eventually be incorporated in cities around the world. The company hopes that introducing electric vehicles to cities will significantly curb carbon emissions and reduce the number of gas-powered vehicles on the road. With electric vehicles producing half as much greenhouse gases as their traditional counterparts, Lyft’s program is promising. Lyft will introduce Green Mode in Seattle first before branching out into other cities in the United States. Other locations have yet to be announced. Once the program is widespread, customers will be able to use Green Mode in the company’s app to filter electric and hybrid vehicles . The Green Mode program is also beneficial to drivers. Individuals who use Lyft are always looking for ways to decrease fuel costs, and providing electric vehicles would be a major step to make that happen. That is why Lyft plans to offer an electric vehicle rental service, in which drivers can rent EVs without worrying about mileage or maintenance costs. The company would also pay for the insurance. Lyft will incorporate the rental costs into the driver’s weekly rate. Because electricity costs much less than gasoline, this will put more money in the pocket of drivers who use electric vehicles. In fact, the company estimates that its Green Mode initiative will save employees thousands of dollars every year — and that only accounts for fuel savings. + Lyft Image via Lyft

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