Dakota Access Pipeline placed under environmental review

March 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe have, for many years, been voicing concerns about the likelihood of  environmental  hazards from the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). And, once more, the DAPL has made headlines, thanks to a federal judge’s recent decision to strike down permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The USACE has thus been ordered to conduct a more comprehensive analysis via an environmental impact statement (EIS) to ascertain any violations with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The controversy stems from worries about leaks that could drastically affect the environment, especially where the DAPL runs under the Missouri River. Any oil spills in the Missouri River would compromise the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation downstream, by contaminating their lands and drinking water.  Related:  UK carbon emissions decline 29% in past decade “The many commenters in this case pointed to serious gaps in crucial parts of the Corps’ analysis – to name a few, that the pipeline’s leak-detection system was unlikely to work, that it was not designed to catch slow spills , that the operator’s serious history of incidents had not been taken into account, that that the worst-case scenario used by the Corps was potentially only a fraction of what a realistic figure would be – and the Corps was not able to fill any of [the gaps in the analysis],” said U.S. District Judge James Boasberg. The USACE’s lawyer from the Department of Justice has declined to comment. Instead, the Grow America’s Infrastructure Now (GAIN) Coalition made their position known about the judge’s decision. GAIN has been described by the  Business & Industry Connection (BIC) magazine  as “a diverse coalition of businesses, trade associations and labor groups that share a vested interest in creating jobs and strengthening the U.S. economy through infrastructure development.” As GAIN Coalition spokesperson Craig Stevens told NPR news, “Not only does this decision risk one company’s investment, but it could also jeopardize our nation’s economic and energy security moving forward.” Meanwhile, Native American tribes and green lobbyist groups are pleased with the ruling, citing it as a legal victory for the environment. Via NPR Images via Fibonacci Blue

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Dakota Access Pipeline placed under environmental review

Meghan Markle narrates new Disney elephant documentary

March 27, 2020 by  
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Meghan Markle is returning to show biz to narrate a new Disney documentary about African elephants . This will be her first film since the former Suits star gave up her career to marry Prince Harry. The film Elephant will start streaming on April 3 on Disney+. Elephant focuses on Shani, an African elephant, and her son, Jomo, as they migrate across the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. Led by matriarch Gaia and accompanied by the rest of their herd, they face common problems of the modern elephant: predators, diminished resources and brutal heat. Related: Villagers in India knit sweaters to protect rescued elephants from the cold Disneynature and the Disney Conservation Fund will donate some of the film’s proceeds to Elephants Without Borders . This charitable organization focuses on elephant research, education and outreach and works with the government of Botswana and Botswana’s Department of Wildlife & National Parks to run an elephant orphanage . This latest documentary is one of a series of Disneynature films narrated by celebrities. Meryl Streep, Jane Goodall and Morgan Freeman have also done voiceovers on Disneynature productions. Natalie Portman narrated Dolphin Reef, which will also premiere on April 3. You can see a joint trailer for Elephants and Dolphin Reef here . Botswana featured prominently in the royal love story between Markle and Harry. Harry has long been active in conservation work in Africa, having visited since his teens. He became president of African Parks in late 2017 and is a patron Rhino Conservation Botswana. Soon after Markle met him in 2016, Harry invited her to camp in the Botswana wilderness . “She came and joined me for five days out there, which was absolutely fantastic,” he said, according to People. “So then we were really by ourselves, which was crucial to me to make sure that we had a chance to know each other.” The following year, they again visited Botswana, this time to aid Dr. Mike Chase of Elephants Without Borders. + People Image via Wikimedia Commons

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Meghan Markle narrates new Disney elephant documentary

Whats causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations?

March 27, 2020 by  
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Monarch butterflies  are amongst North America’s majestic wildlife. They fascinate with their vibrant allure and migratory prowess. Yet these beauties are under serious threat, as evidenced by drastic population reduction throughout North America. What factors are causing monarch butterfly numbers to dwindle? Habitat loss For monarchs,  habitat  entails food, water and shelter, says the  National Wildlife Federation (NWF)  and the  World Wildlife Fund (WWF) . Specific to monarchs is their habitat corridor, a trek of thousands of miles from Central America’s warm regions, where they overwinter, to areas across the United States and southern Canada, where they stay for spring and summer.  In recent decades, population surveys reveal monarchs declining because of  deforestation  in Mexico, loss of grasslands in the Great Plains’ Corn Belt — which the  Center for Biological Diversity  calls “the heart of the monarch’s range” — and loss of native milkweed plants in the U.S. Such habitat losses negatively impact monarch populations as they breed, migrate and overwinter.   Habitat loss  stems mainly from the deforestation of overwintering areas,  climate change ‘s fluctuating weather patterns, developmental sprawl, plus the conversion of U.S. grasslands into ranches and farmlands. This conversion to farmland for corn and soy has spurred the Center for Biological Diversity’s admonishment against the overuse of  herbicides . These harmful chemicals poison a key player in monarch habitats, their host plant, the milkweed.  Problems with milkweed Milkweed is vital to monarchs. They are host plants, upon which females lay eggs. Once hatched, caterpillars enjoy milkweed as a food source while they grow and develop into adulthood, a process that happens in the first month of a monarch’s lifespan. And, as adults, the  butterflies  feed on milkweed nectar. Several generations of offspring spawn on milkweed during spring and summer months before migration to overwintering sites even begins. According to the NWF, “Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves of milkweed, the only host plant for this iconic butterfly species. As such, milkweed is critical for the survival of monarchs. Without it, they cannot complete their life cycle and their  populations  decline.” Interestingly, milkweed has the toxin cardenolide, which accumulates in caterpillars feeding on milkweed . When these caterpillars become adults, the cardenolides remain, protecting them from predation. Birds and predators veer away, signaled off by the toxin’s presence in the monarchs’ bright wings. Unfortunately, milkweed loss is increasing in the destabilized landscape. Milkweed has lost considerable ground to urbanization, shifting land management practices, climate change and even herbicide misuse, like that of Roundup.  Alarming still are reports by  Science  magazine and  Entomology Today  that well-meaning gardeners have been planting the wrong species of milkweed. There are over 100 milkweed species, and not all are good for monarchs. Sadly, the tropical milkweed species  Asclepias curassavica  is heavily marketed because it is easier to obtain. But this invasive species is not well-suited for monarchs, yet remains the species good-intentioned gardeners are planting rather than the native milkweed species the monarchs are better adapted to. This invasive milkweed is now recognized by the  Ecological Society of America  as an ecological trap for monarch butterflies.     What dangers do these “wrong” species of milkweed pose for monarchs? For one, they harbor parasites, such as the protozoan parasite  Ophryocystis elektroscirrha  (OE), that are harmful to the monarch butterfly. These parasites debilitate monarchs, weakening them via “wing deformities, smaller body size, reduced flight performance, and shorter adult lifespans,” Entomology Today explained. Should these issues with milkweed persist unmitigated, their repercussions would continue to exacerbate the monarch butterfly population crisis.    Pesticide, insecticide and fungicide misuse While media attention has spotlighted herbicides as a culprit, equally important is the fact that monarch butterflies are also vulnerable to  pesticides ,  neonicotinoid  insecticides and fungicides. For instance, a Purdue University Department of Entomology  study , published last summer 2019 in  Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution , revealed that non-target pesticides, insecticides and fungicides have wreaked havoc on monarch butterflies, even at their larval stage. As the study elucidated, “agricultural intensification and a corresponding rise in pesticide use has been an  environmental  concern” that adversely affects beneficial  pollinators , like the monarch butterfly. Exposure to these pesticides, insecticides and fungicides, can be from “direct contact with contaminated surfaces or spray droplets, residues remaining on the soil, and consumption via food resources such as leaves, nectar or pollen.” Just as vexing are pesticides, insecticides and fungicides “applied by aircraft.” The study emphasized the “evidence of lower abundance and/or diversity of butterflies.” Climate change The  WWF  affirms that “monarchs are highly sensitive to  weather  and climate. They depend on environmental cues (temperature in particular) to trigger reproduction, migration, and hibernation.” Their decline is also attributed to “the effects of an increasing frequency of extreme weather events such as drought and severe storms, and extremes in hot and cold temperatures.” No wonder then that the  Environmental Defense Fund ‘s Director of Conservation Studies, David Wolfe, has lamented that “The iconic and beloved North American monarch butterfly is one of the species that has difficulty adjusting to our new climate-stressed world. Its population has declined 95 percent in the last 20 years Yet another way  climate  change adversely affects monarch butterflies is by disrupting their migration. These butterflies can travel between 50 and 100 miles a day, but when extreme weather sets in during  migration , the entire cluster or roost is vulnerable.  “Every year, a new generation of these butterflies follows the same path forged by generations before them. The only thing guiding them on this migration is temperature telling them when they need to travel – like a biological trigger setting them in flight,” Wolfe explained. “But in recent years, the monarch’s fall south migration from Canada has been delayed by as much as six weeks due to warmer-than-normal temperatures that failed to trigger the butterflies’ instincts to move south. By the time the temperature cooled enough to trigger the migration, it’s been too cold in the Midwest and many monarchs died on their trip south.” Even more worrisome, the  Xerces Society , a nonprofit environmental group focused on invertebrates, has reported that warmer temperatures from climate change increase the toxicity of tropical milkweed by increasing cardenolide concentrations. Monarch caterpillars are only tolerant up to a threshold.  EcoWatch  explained, “warmer temperatures increase the cardenolides in  A. curassavica  [the tropical milkweed species] to the point where they poison monarch larvae, delaying larval growth and stunting adult forewings. Native milkweed is not similarly impacted.” Hence, as  invasive  milkweed persists, they further harm monarch populations as temperatures rise in our current  climate crisis .  Diseases, parasites and fungal pathogens Emory University  emphasizes that climate change affects pathogen development, parasite survival rates, disease transmission processes. What would monarch populations be susceptible to? Bacterial and viral infections — like bacillus thuringiensis (BT), pseudomonas, the nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV) — are not unheard of, often turning an infected caterpillar or chrysalis into a darkened or black hue. Parasite attacks can come from tachinid flies or wasps (chalcid, trichogramma). Plus, fungal pathogens in the genus  Cordyceps  also attack. Each of these factors cause harm to monarch butterfly populations.

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Whats causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations?

Sperry introduces shoes made with ocean plastic

March 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Undoubtedly, one of the world’s most pressing issues is the massive amount of plastic waste that is clogging our oceans and waterways on a daily basis. Thankfully, some companies are converting this ocean plastic into useful products for the everyday consumer. Already well-known for its attractive boat shoes, American footwear company Sperry has just launched Bionic, a new type of eco-friendly boat shoe that is made with textiles spun from ocean plastic. Dating back to 1935, Sperry is an American shoe line that specializes in stylish and durable boat shoes. Its shoes are beloved by professional and amateur sailors, who also have a front-row seat to the shocking amount of plastic waste that is suffocating our planet’s water systems. Related: New line of men’s swimwear is made from recycled ocean plastic Working under its motto of “Look Good. Do Good.”, the footwear company has just unveiled a new line of eco-friendly boat shoes that are made out of recycled plastic waste. Working in collaboration with the teams from Water Keeper Alliance and Bionic Yarn , Sperry created the new Bionics collection, which features various boat shoes that are made with fabric spun from recycled plastic bottles. Once the plastic waste is collected from marine and coastal environments, it is then sent to be turned into eco-friendly yarn and fabric. Each shoe has the same rugged structure as Sperry’s regular collections, but the Bionic boat shoes feature that eco-friendly twist. In fact, according to Sperry’s calculations, each pair of shoes is made out of the equivalent of five recycled plastic bottles. Each item in the collection varies in cost, ranging from $30 to $100 per pair, with a range of styles and colors to choose from for both adults and children. + Sperry Images via Sperry

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Sperry introduces shoes made with ocean plastic

Solar powered hotel opens in Indian wine-growing region

March 27, 2020 by  
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Mumbai-based firm  Sanjay Puri Architects  has just completed work on a beautiful hotel in northern India known for wine production. Built on a base of locally-sourced natural stone, the Aria Hotel is a stunning design carefully stacked onto the landscape that boasts several passive and active features to make it incredibly  energy efficient . Located in the ancient city of Nashik in the northern Indian region of Maharashtra, the  beautiful hotel  is located right on the banks of the Godavari River. The idyllic location includes the river on one side and rising hills on the other, providing guests with a beautiful area to reconnect with nature. Related: Rundown lodge near the Nile River is now a solar-powered eco-resort According to the architects, no soil was taken out of the site or brought into the site during the construction process to protect the natural topography. Stacked multiple levels high, the hotel is built on a base of locally-sourced natural black basalt stone . The north side of the building includes several modules with large balconies that look out over the river. Throughout the suites as well as the common areas, the hotel boasts an abundance of natural light  thanks to several floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors. Additionally, the spaces, including the main courtyards, are naturally ventilated, further reducing the hotel’s energy usage. The hotel meets an estimated 50% of its energy needs thanks to a rooftop solar array . In addition to its clean energy generation, the hotel was installed with a rainwater collection system that provides water for irrigation. All of the luxury units boast large rectangular balconies that are angled to frame the incredible views of the river landscape. However, these angled outdoor spaces with overhanging roofs were also specifically designed to provide shade and  minimize heat gain  throughout the interior spaces. + Sanjay Puri Architects Via v2com Photography by Dinesh Mehta and Sanjay Puri

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Solar powered hotel opens in Indian wine-growing region

MVRDV designs a sustainable urban living room for Shenzhen

March 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Dutch architecture firm MVRDV has unveiled its competition-winning designs for the Shimao ShenKong International Centre, a new “three-dimensional urban living room” for the heart of Shenzhen’s Longgang district. Selected from nearly 30 competition entries, the winning proposal, also known as the Shenzhen Terraces, will introduce over 20 programs to a thriving university neighborhood. The project also focuses on sustainability and will integrate passive design principles, native landscaping, recycled materials and solar panels.  Named after its architecture of stacked plateaus, the Shenzhen Terraces project references forms of the nearby mountains while its predominately horizontal lines and curvaceous shapes provide a visual contrast with the vertical lines and hard edges of the surrounding high-rises. The terraced design also creates opportunities for large overhangs to mitigate solar gain as well as spacious terraces filled with plants and water basins for cooling microclimates . Bridge elements link various buildings to create a continuous elevated route.  Related: ZHA unveils LEED Gold-targeted OPPO headquarters in Shenzhen “ Shenzhen has developed so quickly since its origins in the 1970s,” said Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV. “In cities like this, it is essential to carefully consider how public spaces and natural landscape can be integrated into the densifying cityscape. The urban living room of the Shimao ShenKong International Centre will be a wonderful example of this, and could become a model for the creation of key public spaces in New Town developments throughout Shenzhen. It aims to make an area that you want be outside, hang out and meet, even when it is hot — a literally cool space for the university district, where all communication space can be outside. It will truly be a public building.” As a sustainable hub, the 101,300-square-meter Shenzhen Terraces will be home to a pedestrian-friendly landscape, a bus terminal and a mixture of functions — such as an art gallery, library, conference center and outdoor theater — conveniently placed near high-rise housing, commercial complexes and educational facilities. The landscaping, designed in collaboration with Openfabric, will mimic the curvaceous architecture and will feature native sub-tropical plants and recreation zones.  + MVRDV Images by Atchain via MVRDV

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MVRDV designs a sustainable urban living room for Shenzhen

Episode 213: The pandemic’s impact on the clean economy, geoengineering geek out

March 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Plus, highlights from this week’s webcast on how retailers can embrace the circular economy.

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Episode 213: The pandemic’s impact on the clean economy, geoengineering geek out

At-Home Pandemic Activities to Keep Your Family Sane

March 27, 2020 by  
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School and nursery closures are upon us in the UK … The post At-Home Pandemic Activities to Keep Your Family Sane appeared first on Earth911.com.

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IKEA, Nordstrom, Walgreens on the many opportunities for circularity in retail

March 27, 2020 by  
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From recipes for recommerce to changing packaging ingredients, the retail sector is integral to adoption of the circular economy. Don’t expect a cookie-cutter approach.

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IKEA, Nordstrom, Walgreens on the many opportunities for circularity in retail

Earth911 Inspiration: What Provides Survives — Simon M. Lamb

March 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco

Today’s quote is from writer, businessman, and conservationist Simon M. … The post Earth911 Inspiration: What Provides Survives — Simon M. Lamb appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Inspiration: What Provides Survives — Simon M. Lamb

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